Benton Cemetery Project - 2015

HISTORY

The towns of Partzwick and Benton sprang up after silver was discovered on Blind Spring Hill in late 1864. While these two towns never housed large populations, they probably provided services (hotels, stores, stables, breweries, post office, Wells Fargo, etc.) to several thousand miners and ranchers within a ten to twenty mile distance. It was during this time that the Benton Cemetery was established on a hill just north of Benton, overlooking the town.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE CEMETERY

Benton Cemetery was public in the beginning; but, sometime after the 1920s when Warren Davis purchased the entire property and perfected the land title, the cemetery was considered private. Local citizens from the surrounding area continued to be buried there, with the permission of the landowner. This practice continues today. Benton Cemetery is located on Bramlette Trust property. No one has ever been charged for burying a family member in the Benton Cemetery, but today the Bramlette Trust requires that family members obtain permission, place a permanent grave marker, and take responsibility for the grave upkeep.

ISSUES AND CONDITIONS OF CEMETERY

The following issues and conditions are found at the Benton Cemetery:

1. Historian Tom Dillwith has documented more than 130 persons buried in the Benton Cemetery; however, only about 25 percent of the graves are adequately marked and no documentation or maps of the unmarked graves exist.

Action: Historic Benton Hot Springs non-profit (HBHS) proposes to design, fabricate, and install a sign at the entrance identifying Benton Cemetery. Bramlette Trust has committed to providing funds to match donations for the sign.

Action: Prior to finalizing the inventory of persons known to be buried in Benton Cemetery, conduct public outreach in local newspapers and media requesting additional information from residents and relatives about persons who may have been buried at Benton Cemetery. Use this public outreach to generate support and donations for implementing this project.

Action: Tom Dillwith intends to compile articles and obituaries of persons buried in the Benton Cemetery. HBHS will develop and publish a document for public use identifying persons buried in the cemetery and include articles and facts about many of their lives.

2. Although the “unkempt” appearance of the entire cemetery is somewhat appropriate for the historic town, some cleaning and grooming is needed.
Action: HBHS proposes to organize work days to clean and groom the cemetery.
3. Grave markers and fencing around some of the oldest and more prominent graves need repair.
Action: HBHS proposes to coordinate repairing and rebuilding some of the interesting grave fences using volunteers.
4. Cemetery security is necessary to prevent vandalism and thief.
Action: Bramlette Trust installed and locked a gate to discourage vehicles from driving to the cemetery and reduce the risk of grave marker vandalism and thief. Persons with disabilities, or anyone who is visiting family graves, are allowed to obtain the key at the Inn at Benton and drive to the cemetery. Others are allowed to walk, using the self-guided history walking tour publication.
5. A written policy for obtaining permission to bury family members in the Benton Cemetery is needed.
Action: Bramlette Trust intends to develop a written policy concerning who can be buried in the cemetery and understandings associated with burials.
6. Since many of the grave sites in Benton Cemetery are not marked, there is a real concern about inadvertently disturbing “old” graves when a new burial site is selected.
Action: A map delineating the area suitable for future burials must be developed and used to plot future graves. Generally speaking, no new grave sites will be allowed within the current grave site area, or to the west of it.