Fall Color at Rienzi Cemetery

Cemetery Shade

Cemetery Shade

Old cemeteries can offer some of the most peaceful and serene beauty that you can find in Fond du Lac County, but until recently I’ve always been apprehensive about walking in cemeteries for recreation.  I was afraid that my mere presence would be disrespectful to the departed or their families.  But then I came to realize that by visiting a cemetery and reading the occasional headstone I am actually honoring the memory of those that have passed.  After all, isn’t the purpose of being buried in a cemetery with an epitaph engraved in stone so that 150 years from now someone might see it and wonder, “Who was this person and what was life like for them?”

Nathaniel Potter Tallmadge moved to Fond du Lac County when he was appointed Governor of Wisconsin Territory in 1844.  Shortly after, Nathaniel’s 19-year-old son William died and was buried on a hill next to the Tallmadge home.  Eight years later Abby Tallmadge, Nathaniel’s wife, donated eight and a half acres, including the burial site of their son and other family members, for a public cemetery.  Today Rienzi Cemetery resides on 100 acres of beautiful, wooded hills and is the final resting place for over 24,000.

Much of Fond du Lac’s history is reflected in the family plots and grave stones of Rienzi Cemetery.   The cemetery is open to the public most days, and walking tours are offered several times each year with live actors portraying early settlers. 

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