Mysteries of Old Settlers Cemetery

By Maureen Vander Sanden

WATERFORD: In celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, Explore Waterford will offer
another fascinating event highlighting the village’s earliest years, as part of its Preserving Our Past (POP)
Volunteers have been busy digging through old archives and uncovering records to present “Mysteries of
Old Settlers Cemetery,” on Tuesday, May 24 at 6 p.m. at Waterford Public Library, 101 N. River St.
Attendees will learn about the forgotten Old Settlers Cemetery and the group’s current mission to restore
the sacred place located on the west side of North Jefferson Street, where a number of Waterford’s
earliest settlers are buried.
Much of the history presented comes from volunteer Bob Gariepy Sr. who has spent endless hours at area
libraries, universities and governmental buildings uncovering how Waterford came to be. He will be joined
by local volunteers and hobbyist genealogists Liz Noble and Judy Gambrel, who have been busy
researching those known to be buried at Old Settlers.
The Explore Waterford Historical Sites Committee is currently working with the Wisconsin Lutheran
College Department of Anthropology to reveal some of the cemetery’s mysteries and preserve the site for
generations to come.
“These cemeteries are physical representations of our local past,” said Dr. Ned Farley, Wisconsin Lutheran
College associate professor of anthropology, who is leading the project. “They represent the culmination
of generations of family traditions that have resulted in the establishment and growth of our Wisconsin
communities. By closely studying them, we uncover hidden histories relating to the past and preserve the
memories of those families that risked life and limb to transition the Wisconsin territory into a state.”
This is the fourth annual POP event presented to the community in an effort to educate, preserve and
build more hometown pride by celebrating its 186-year history. Light refreshments will be served.
Postcards depicting old images of Waterford will also be available for sale.
Those who attend will learn about:

– Restoration efforts and fundraising plans for the historic site
– The stories of some of those buried and their impact on the community
– Old maps and other images that helped to form the village as it is today
Those who cannot make the event but would like to learn more about Waterford’s past can visit and click on the “community” tab then drop down to “Legacy of Waterford” where
the bulk of the group’s history research is contained.
Don’t forget to take the Heritage Walk
In 2018, the group unveiled its self-guided Downtown Heritage Walking Tour. Another ode to the village’s
rich past, this short downtown stroll includes 12 historic locations with stories to tell. Pick up a brochure
at the Explore Waterford Office, 123 N. River St., and scan QR codes for a full history, or, download and
print a copy from the “Legacy of Waterford” website, by clicking on “Walking Tour.” Or, just breeze
through town and find the bronze plaques adorning each site that contain tidbits of their respective pasts.
Tour brochures will also be available at the May 24 POP event.
For more information or to donate, visit or contact TanyaManey at (262) 534-5911 or