Hamilton Cemetery & Mausoleum

Map to cemeteries in the town of Hamilton and Village of West Salem

Hamilton Cemetery is situated just west of West Salem on busy Highway 16 right next to Christ Lutheran Cemetery. According to the deed records [vol. 40, p. 200], a two-acre area was sold to the trustees of the Hamilton Cemetery Association for $500 by Robert & Christiana Rand on May 29, 1871. The warranty deed mentions that the property at that time was bounded on one side by the La Crosse County Agricultural Society and the Fair Grounds.

Hamilton Cemetery from Hwy. 16, June 2000However, interments in the cemetery note deaths that occurred twenty years previously. The oldest burial is that of Betsy Leonard, a 15-year-old girl, in August 1851. Hers is the first death in the Town of Hamilton according to the History of La Crosse County, Wisconsin(1881), p. 692.

A second parcel of land was added June 15, 1897, when trustees of the Hamilton Cemetery Association, represented by Washington Gates, Alexander Johnson and William S. Gilfillan, purchased almost 76 square rods from Henry D. Griswold for $150. Many West Salem pioneers are buried in Hamilton, including the Thomas Leonard family who is credited with the founding fof West Salem.

Hamilton Cemetery Mausoleum, March 2000The idea for a mausoleum was first proposed by the Peoples Mausoleum Company president J. L. Rose and the secretary O. A. Rose. An organizational meeting April 20, 1914, resulted in the formation of the Hamilton Mausoleum Association which was to "supervise, protect and maintain the welfare and rights of the members in the maintenance and operation" of the mausoleum. Louis C. Sanders held the post of president for the first 26 years.

On Sept. 9, 1920, the debt for the mausoleum was satisfied and the Peoples Mausoleum Company turned over title to the Mausoleum Association. The mausoleum was separate from that of the Hamilton Cemetery Association, but the cemetery association held a majority vote to maintain authority over the building and grounds until 1975 when the Association voted to relinquish maintenance and upkeep to the Cemetery Board.

There are 120 crypts in the mausoleum. A large fireplace is the focal point of the mausoleum and large stained glass windows. Some of the pioneers of the West Salem community are interred here.

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