NEWBERN CEMETERY is in Liberty Township Sec 1. It is located southeast of Lacona, Iowa on the county line road. It is at the corner of Lucas County where the counties of Lucas, Warren, and Marion meet. The Lucas County portion – Straddles Lucas/Warren County Line. Part of this cemetery is located in Warren County while the 3 sections to the south and west are in Lucas County.
On the one hand, it doesn't seem fair that the dead live with one of Lucas County's best views. On the other, if this high point above the White Breast Creek valley weren't occupied by a cemetery, it most likely would be occupied by a rural McMansion, fenced, screened and restricted. As it is, anyone can unlatch the Newbern Cemetery's east gate, walk back to its northwest corner, take a deep breath and just look.
According to local lore, the Rev. Joseph Howard, farmer and Cumberland Presbyterian preacher who arrived in the Newbern vicinity in 1850 and was the first EuroAmerican to claim this spot, allowed a traveler to be buried on the highest spot of his farm, starting the cemetery. He deeded the land to the public in 1871 and additions have been made since. He died during 1875 and is buried here, too.
The cemetery straddles the Lucas/Warren county line a mile and a half west of Newbern village, but the road from one to the other is not straight, so a few twists and turns are required. That's the county line road cutting due west across the White Breast and into the distant hills between two tombstones at the top here.
The oldest sections of the Newbern Cemetery are for the most part full, so an annex guarded by a sentinel oak has been added to the east, on the Warren County side of the line.
The town of Newbern was laid out by Ransom Davis in 1851, and he built the first house. In 1853 Joseph Howard was in charge of the first post office which was just over the county line in Lucas County. There were four cabins between Knoxville and Newbern and one between Newbern and Chariton.
Rev. Howard lived west of the south corner of Newbern on the south side of the road toward Lacona. He started holding church meetings in his home, which started the Cumberland Presbyterian Church on October 10, 1853. The church building was erected in 1857.
An early burial in the cemetery was Peter A. Davis, who died September 30, 1852, at the age of 2 years, 6 months and 29 days. The first death recorded in church records was that of Harvey Willoughby, Jr. He died January 11, 1857 at the age of 1 year, 6 months and 25 days. By October 15, 1899, there had been twenty-five deaths. Graves of members of the Mason and Riggs families were moved to Newbern Cemetery from their orchard.
The first recorded birth at Newbern was Jennett Francis Howard, September, 1854. The first marriage appears to be Rev. Joseph Howard's son James B. Howard marrying Nancy Riggs and Howard's daughter, Martha marrying Luther Riggs. The double ceremony was performed in the Howard home in Lucas County on December 31, 1857.
The first board of ruling elders of Cumberland Presbyterian Church were Joseph H. Stewart, Samuel J. Howard and John T. Howard. The first deacons were A.C. Cunningham and Luther Riggs. Fred Hunerdosse was a ruling Elder for thirty years.
The United Brethren Church was organized on April 23, 1869. The first pastor was R.S. Byrd. On the board were Phillip Newman, John Bonebrake, and Enos C. Gunter.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated August 9, 1856. On February 29, 1920, the M.E. Church, the U.B. Church and the Presbyterian Church united to become the Federated Church of Newbern. In 1943 the building (formerly used by the Methodist Church) was destroyed by a tornado. The community remodeled it and named it the Newbern Community Church.
Newbern reached its peak of fifty residents in 1881.
"Please be respectful, do not hunt at night, do not disturb mourners, and leave this peaceful and revered place in good condition. Remember to practice CITO, always. Thank you."
Cemetery and Death Records of Warren County, Iowa, Warren County Genealogical Society, Walsworth Publishing Company, Marceline, Missouri: 1980.