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Officials Want To Learn More About Historic Johnson Co. Cemetery

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Officials in Johnson County want to learn more about a historic cemetery on county owned land. The county believes they can learn more about the cemetery, which is located just west of Highway 218 near Iowa City, by nominating the grounds for the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery is part of the Johnson County poor farm, all of which could soon be placed on the Registry.

"It's something we're interested in doing," said county supervisor Rod Sullivan. "We like to get [the entire farm] designated."

The poor farm was opened in the 1850's as a place to house the poor and mentally ill. The Johnson County Asylum still stands as part of the farm. The cemetery is hidden several hundred yards from the Asylum, where wooden cells once served as rooms for the mentally ill.

"It's really a piece of history," said county supervisor John Etheredge.

Not much is known about the cemetery, which is surrounded by trees and marked by a sturdy wooden cross. Sullivan said there is the potential that it is the resting place of more than one hundred former residents.

"We don't know and hopefully we can learn more," he said. "But the first step is getting the farm [on the historic register]."

The Johnson County Historic Preservation Commission will hold a public meeting about the nomination process of the farm to the National Register of Historic Places Wednesday night. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Johnson County Historic Society, 860 Quarry Road, in Coralville.

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