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Conservation center member will share stories of Story County pioneers
By Amber Long
Daily Correspondent
Issue date: 2/7/03
Section: City of Ames

Cemeteries can be places of undiscovered stories and treasures, especially in Story County.

Amy Yokum, staff member at the Story County Conservation Center, said she set out to find the stories of pioneer cemeteries in Story County. She will share what she's learned this Sunday in a lecture entitled "Stories in the Stones: Histories and Stories from Story County Pioneer Cemeteries" at the Ames Public Library.

Yokum will discuss her findings at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Community Room at the Ames Public Library, 515 Douglas Ave.

Pioneer cemeteries are cemeteries where people were buried before 1900, she said. Yokum said the cemeteries are full of high quality cultural and prairie remnants.

Past research on this subject was conducted in the 1970s by Colleen Nutty, a former ISU graduate in anthropology, who led the way for future research, said Kathy Svec of the Ames Heritage Association.

"Colleen's work was groundbreaking in the genealogy field at that time," she said.

Svec said Nutty's research provided information on the way people lived in the 18th century.

Yokum said she began researching the Story County pioneer cemeteries based on Nutty's thesis because it sparked her personal interest.

She said she found most of her information on the Story County genealogy Web site, then explored the cemeteries to find the real evidence.

Yokum said she conducted research in the areas of gravestone examination and causes of death. This led to a great deal of information in the epidemiological area, she said. "I found a diphtheria epidemic that swept the Story County area in the late 1880s," she said. "It was interesting and almost addicting to find this information."

Svec said the Ames Heritage Association attempts to provide an array of programs about local history. "This is extremely interesting to people who like history," she said.

Svec said she invited Yokum to speak to the Ames Heritage Association after she found out about Yokum's extensive research on the cemeteries.

A short meeting of the Ames Heritage Association will follow Yokum's presentation on Sunday. All AHA members are invited and the public is welcome.

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