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Johnson Cemetery
11600 Stark Road
Tooele County
Utah  USA
Postal Code: 84071-9712

Cemetery notes and/or description:




In 1942 The US Army took possession of the property now known as Deseret Chemical Depot located in Rush Valley, Utah. Included in the 19,354 acre package was a 118 'X 24' parcel of land known as the Johnson Cemetery. Sometime in the Mid 40's the army fenced the cemetery, covered it with 10 inches of gravel and sprayed a sterilant to prevent the growth of weeds. Other than an occasional visit by members of the Johnson Family the Cemetery seemed to be all but forgotten.

In May of 1997 that all changed when a couple of Chemical Agent Munitions Disposal System (CAMDS) employees approached the then Commanding Officer, Col. Robert Caughlin and requested permission to cleanup, plant flowers and perform some badly needed maintenance at the cemetery. Col. Caughlin liked the idea and directed them to DCD's Director of Risk Management & my Supervisor Walt Levi. As the cultural resource point of contact for DCD I was instructed to oversee the project.

At the beginning of the project, it was not known exactly how many graves were in the cemetery. We thought that it contained 7 or 8 burials but felt it would be easy enough to get the information from County or State records. To our surprise, the only useable information we uncovered was a copy of a genealogical chart and a census taken in 1900 which identified Hanna Meredith White and her family. So other than the information on Lovina (Vinie) Johnson and the White Children, no other records could
be located.

It was decided that we first get an accurate count of the burials at the cemetery, and it was at this point that the cleanup and planting of flowers blossomed into a major renovation project. In an effort to make sure that the project was handled properly I contacted the director of the Utah State Historical Office Mr. Max Evans who directed me to the Utah Compliance Coordinator Jim Dykman. After speaking with Jim and making sure that our undertaking was in compliance with all state, federal and army regulations. It was decided that we try and get some professional assistance.

Don Southworth, a local Historian/Archeologist of Sagebrush Consultants volunteered to come to DCD and conduct a preliminary assessment of the cemetery. Don stated that the gravel would have to be removed and a "Ground Scraping" of the cemetery would be needed in order to identify how many burials existed. He also called our attention to the fact, that although the White children had died in the late 1800's the headstone was no older than approximately 1920. He felt that someone must have purchased the headstone and placed it there at a later date.

DCD requested that Dugway Proving Grounds Cultural Resource Management Officer, Kathleen Callister assist in the oversight of the project. Ms. Callister agreed and immediately suggested that prior to the ground scraping that we first perform a sweep of the area using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). We enlisted the services of a Geophysicist and pioneer in the use of GPR, Clarke Davenport of NECRO Search International. Chris Menefee, a Geologist employed by Agiess Environmental INC also volunteered his services.

In July of 1997, the above mentioned individuals and six DCD/CAMDS employees completed the GPR survey of the cemetery to include approximately 12 feet around the outside perimeter of the fence. In late October Mr. Southworth supervised the ground scraping which yielded a total of thirteen burials.

After completion of the ground scraping three noteworthy situations came to light.

1- Burial No. 03 (see map) was longer than the others, approximately seven feet long. Don stated that it the individual was quite tall, or it was possible the burial contained the remains of a female and her infant child. He further stated that it was customary for the early pioneers to bury an infant at the head of its mother if the deaths occurred simultaneously, or within a short time of one another.

2- At the beginning of the project, the headstone of the White Children was located in the center and just east of burial No. 03. Both the GPR and the ground scraping indicated that there was not a ground disturbance at that location. The situation resolved itself when burials 13 & 14 looked to be those of two
infants. After a lengthy discussion with all involved it was unanimously decided to place the headstone at the head of those two burials. We assumed that when the family returned years later to place the headstone that they may not have known where the graves were located. Or it may have been placed there when the army removed the headstone to pour the gravel. They may have lost track of where the headstone was originally located.

3- The GPR indicated ground disturbances between burials 01 & 03 and outside of the fence west of burial No. 04. Both of these areas were slowly scraped to a depth of approximately 31/2 feet, but there was no indication of any burials. Although, what looked to be remnants of tree roots were found near the No. 04 burial.

Restoration of the Cemetery consisted of the following:

* Installation of Flagpole
* Graded & graveled road from Harrison Road to and around cemetery.
* Conducted Ground Penetrating Radar Survey.
* Restored Venie's Headstone and the Wrought Iron fence around her grave.
* Performed Ground Scraping in and around cemetery
* Outlined each burial with bricks and covered each grave with plastic and decorative rock
* Placed individual Foot Markers at each burial.
* Conducted records & file search of county and state records.
* Placed Memorial Stone and Plaque in cemetery.
* Repaired and painted fence posts around cemetery.
* Encircled the cemetery with 568 feet of 3/8" chrome chain.
* Planted cactus garden.
* Installed Meditation Bench near flagpole
* Install highway sign on Harrison Road
* Plan and coordinate Restoration activities.

Natural/Cultural Program Manager
Deseret Chemical Depot
Rush Valley, Utah



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Johnson Cemetery
Added by: K. Pitcher
Johnson Cemetery
Added by: Kit and Morgan Benson
Johnson Cemetery
Added by: Kit and Morgan Benson
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