East Granville Cemetery

Historical Articles
Milwaukee County Wisconsin Genealogy

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Old Cemetery Stirs Memories
Source; The Milwaukee Sentinel, Feb. 15, 1954

The Old Cemetery on the southeast corner of the Tripoli Golf Course, on the Good Hope Rd., at 43rd St, may be neglected, but it's not forgotten. Since we mentioned it a week ago we've heard from, or of, such pioneer Milwaukee County families as the Neilsons, Hassels, Schlapmans, Radkes and Oefleins, who have friends and relatives buried there.

The Neilsons' 80-acre farm and the Hassels' 79 acres (one acre having been reserved for the churchyard and school house) comprise the Tripoli Country Club.

The original Neilson, Cornelius, to settle in the Town of Granville was of Scottish ancestry. His grandfather, John Neilson, established the Quebec Gazette after stopping at Philadelphia on his way to Canada long enough to learn the printing business from the old master Benjamin Franklin. He learned it well, too, for the Quebec Gazette issue commemorating Queen Victoria's coronation was printed in gold and is now a collector's item.

JUST BEFORE the outbreak of the Civil War, John Neilson's grandson, Cornelius, and his wife, bundled up their 3-year-old son and came to the northwest corner of Milwaukee County to raise wheat. In passing, it might be noted that in 1880 the Badger State led the nation in the dollar value of flour and grist mill products.

The little family lived in a log cabin until Neilson found time to build a solid stone house that still stands at the west end of the golf course. For years the log cabin served as summer kitchen and store house.

Cornelius Neilson raised nine children in the big stone house, one of whom was to make a name for himself in medicine. The only one of those children living is Mrs. John McGovern, 6251 Upper Parkway, N.


The original Hassel came from Hanover, Germany, as a young man and was married here 100 years and four months ago, almost to the day. He too, lived the first years of married life in a log cabin. Hassel later built a brick house at 6641 N. 52nd St. His son, John, now edging 80, lives there.

The little church, around which the Good Hope Rd. cemetery grew, was built in the middle 1840s and was of Methodist denomination. Those with whom we've talked who recall attending services there in their youth, say it was lovely, rustic edifice. The pulpit and pews were painted white. Evening gatherings were lighted by kerosene reflector lamps.

BETTER REMEMBERED by a later generation is the old school, Granville District No. 2, that stood just east of, and adjoining the churchyard. We talked to several young old-timers, who attended this typical all-eight-grades-in-one-room country school and one lady who taught there.

Frank W. Hassel was one of the pupils. He said that when the original building was replaced by a new one Albert Laun, who had the farm across from what is now the Tripoli Country Club, moved the old construction to his place and used it as a shed.

He also told us that the "steps to eternity," which still stands and which we mistook as belonging to the old church, are the steps of the "new" school which has long since disappeared. Hassel should know, for he helped to build them, just before the turn of the century.

Among Hassel's schoolmates was Mrs. Irving Prahlow, who lives on the corner of Green Tree and Good Hope Rds. Her 96-year-old mother, Lena Schlapman, still is living. Another of Hassel's school chums was the late Walter Neilson, a pioneer in the Milwaukee medical profession. We'll tell you about Dr. Neilson tomorrow.


Neglected, Yes, But Not Forgotten
Source: The Milwaukee Sentinel Feb. 18 1954

ONE OF THE LAST members of the Neilson family to be buried at the little Methodist cemetery on the Good Hope Rd. at N. 43rd St. was Walter H. Neilson, M.D. 1857-1922.

Neilson is an important name in the history of Milwaukee medicine. It was this Dr. Neilson who founded Trinity Hospital and was one of the organizers of the Milwaukee Medical College which was to grow into Marquette's famous school of medicine.

His widow, who live in Delafield, told us the doctor was born in Valcartier, Canada, near Quebec, and was of Scottish ancestry. His father brought him to the town of Granville at age of three when the father purchased a farm that is now part of Tripoli Golf Club.

The boy was raised on the farm and went to Granville Rural District No. 2 one-room school. He received his education in medicine at the Rush Medical College in Chicago. Then Dr. Neilson spent the rest of his life practicing and teaching medicine in Milwaukee. He is well-remembered for his work among the poor in the 2nd and 3rd Wards.

DR. NEILSON OWNED the farm on which the Byrnwood Country Club now is located. Mrs. Neilson says they always spent part of their summers there, living in the old colonial home which the Brynwood members used as a club house until they built a new one.

During these vacations they often visited the old cemetery, caring for the Neilson plot and others. Mrs. Neilson ways the last meeting of the cemetery board of directors was on Sept. 26, 1915. Since then, Mrs. Neilson relates, the people who have relatives buried there have sort of lost interest although she and a few others have been going out regularly to leave flowers and to do whatever they could to honor the memory of their dead.

A discouraging factor has been vandalism. Some years ago hoodlums pushed over a number of headstones and broke some beyond repair, since then nature has been busy trying to hide the desecration with grass and underbrush.

ON SEPT> 15, 1922, the proud, dignified, confident, 65-year-old Dr. Neilson arrived at his office early, as was his custom. AT 9 that morning he suffered an attack, coronary thrombosis, and died 12 hours later. The next day the following editorial appeared in the Sentinel: "In the light of current comment on the alleged decline of the medical practitioner of the old school, the career of Dr. Walter H. Neilson stands out as a shining example of the type of doctor who was a compound of science, charity and personal friendship.

"He infused into his work and daily routine the quality of human interest and made his name beloved by patients and students. When he took up his practice in Milwaukee 41 years ago, he at once made the most of such opportunities as he found in the city at the stage of its development, and perhaps opportunities for personal development in medical practice were more numerous before the advent of modern specialization.

"It is recorded that he soon became known among the poor as one of the medical Good Samaritans who seem to be wearing out their life in the service of mercy and yet miraculously live to a ripe old age.

"The same genial personality and fatherly interest, by the testimony of his students, was radiated in the classroom. As dean of the medical college which is now part of Marquette University, Dr. Neilson has a large share in shaping the careers of many medical men whose remembrance of his profession and personal guidance will long survive him as a living monument."

As we said at the beginning of this series, the little cemetery on the Good Hope Rd. may be neglected, but our memories of those who rest there will keep us from ever forgetting it.

East Granville Cemetery

The Milwaukee Sentinel May 27, 1968
By Dean Jensen

Brown Deer-On Thursday, Memorial Day - when thousands in the area will be going to the burial places of loved ones - the East Granville cemetery probably will be without visitors.

About the only persons who set foot in the 123 year old cemetery these days are duffers looking for errant golf balls.

The tiny, neglected cemetery at the northwest corner of W. Good Hope rd. and N. 43rd st. lies just east of green No. 1 of the Tripoli country club.

Any relative or friend who postpones visiting the cemetery this Memorial day may not have the same opportunity on Memorial day, 1969. The Milwaukee county highway and expressway commission plans to acquire the cemetery for a road improvement project.

Except for John M. Neilson, Waukesha, who has five relatives buried at the site, few persons are likely to mourn the death of the cemetery.

Today the burial ground is littered with beer cans, pop bottles and yellowed newspapers.

A rustic fieldstone church at one time provided a nearby place for grief stricken relatives to pray. But its walls have since crumbled and all that remains of the Methodist edifice is a pile of rubble.

Ankle deep weeds and creeping plants grow in a tangled mess, making it all but impossible to locate the markers of some of the buried. Somehow, though, nature sees to it that flowers are in bloom in the cemetery ever Memorial day. Just now, lilies of the valley and wild geraniums are poking their white and purple heads through the scraggy mat of weeds and covering the ground.

Expet for the interment there of Neilson's mother, Bessie in 1962, there have been no burials in the cemetery in 43 years, according to Ervin Schneeberg, former town of Granville clerk.

Some of the headstones in the cemetery date back to 1845-the year a small group of settlers formed an association and opened the burial ground.

Plans are to exhume the remains of each grave and reinter them in Wisconsin Memorial park, 13235 W. Capital dr., Brookfield, according to Robert G. Polasek, assistant county corporation counsel.

There are 54 family burial plots in the East Granville cemetery and there are believe to be at least 90 individuals graves, Polasek said. Preliminary estimates indicate that it will cost more than $650 to transfer the remains of each dead person, he added.

Polasek said that the remains from each grave would be placed in a new vault and that inscribed memorial markers would show where the new burial places are in Wisconsin Memorial Park.

"It will almost be like having a new funeral for each person," he said.

Neilson, 58, said he strongly opposed the county's plans to destroy the cemetery. Buried in the cemetery besides his mother, are his father, Dr. Walter H. Neilson, a prominent physician wo died in 1922, a sister, his father's first wife, and an infant sister of his father's.

"If I died tomorrow I wold want to be buried in East Granville cemetery," he said. "I have no desire to be buried in Wisconsin Memorial park just because there wold be somebody ther to run a lawnmower over my grave every day."

Neilson's father served as secretary of the last board of directors of the cemetery. Records that Neilson now holds sow that the cemetery association held its last meeting in 1915.

State law provides that cemeteries come under the control of municipalities wherein they lie when a cemetery association abandons or fails to manage them for a period of five or more years, according to Polasek.

The cemetery automatically became the property of Granville five years after the association held its last meeting, he said. When the village of Brown Deer consolidated with Granville in 1955, the cemetery became the property of Brown Deer, Polasek said.

"Brown Deer apparently owned the cemetery all these years, but it wasn't until we received a letter form Mr. Polasek in March that we learned it was ours," said Mrs. Carrie L. Olsen, deputy village clerk.

In May, the Brown Deer village board passed a resolution requesting that the county acquire the land for widening W. Good Hope rd.

Neilson, when told of the county's road plans, said: That all sounds so arbitrary. it hink they're taalking a little too fast."

He said he would investigate the possibility of halting the county's road plans, although he made it clear that he was "Not going to lie down in front of bulldozers or anything like that."

LeRoy Boehlke, Germantown, who has a great-great-grandmother buried in the cemetery, said he "would like to see it saved as a little historical spot."

He conceded, however, that "you can't fight progress." About a month ago, Boehlke replaced the weathered stone marking the grave of his ancestor, Anna Catharina Boehlke, with a new red granite marker.

Neilson said the burial ground was given to the newly formed association 123 years ago by Daniel Small, a wealthy farmer whose home once stood on the same site as the clubhouse of the Tripoli County club.

Minutes of the early meetings of the cemetery association show that the group "resolved that the poor shall be buried for $2," he said.

Somewhere in the cemetery a slave is buried, Neilson said.

"I don't know if he was a black man or white man," he remarked. "It's not generally known, but there also were some white slaves before the time of the Civil war," he observed.

He said he also heard the story that "one of Jesse James" boys was buried there, but I wouldn't vouch for the accuracy of this tale." Neilson said an area was reserved for "strangers who died while passing through the area."

Ralph Voelker, 67, of 4469 N. 36th st., hadn't visited the cemetery fo 55 years, but he entered the burial grounds the other day when he saw a reporter's car parked outside the sagging wire fence.

Voelker said that when he was a 2 year old boy he worked as a chore boy on one of the nearby farms, "and one night the family and I came over here for some kind of prayer meeting."

He was told by the reporter that the county had plans to destroy the cemetery."

"It's a shame," Voelker replied, shaking his head. "It's a shame...all that history buried here."

Source: The Milwaukee Sentinel June 7, 1968
The county highway department has been authorized to acquire the entire East Granville cemetery and move graves of 110 persons buried there to new locations.