Norwalk's Woodlawn Cemetery has had a self-guided walking tour pamphlet available for several years, and every now and then (when I feel ambitious) I lead guided walking tours in the summer.
One of the tours will take place at 1 p.m. July 18 and the other is set for 1 p.m. Aug. 22. Meet at the public mausoleum.
The very first actual burial in Woodlawn was a six-month-old infant, Herbert Barnhart. He was the son of John and Juliette Roscoe Barnhart, who lived on Drake Road northwest of Norwalk. The Barnharts moved to Keokuk Co., Iowa, after the Civil War. Little Herbert's original monument still exists and is a stop on the tour.
Woodlawn Cemetery is operated by the Norwalk Cemetery Association, a nonprofit corporation organized in 1854 to establish a new cemetery for the town. Prior to that time most burials took place in the Episcopal Cemetery behind the church on West Main. This location was a chronic problem, though. The church sold burial lots there but there never was a care program established. Cows and pigs roamed freely through the grounds and there was no attention given to cutting grass, trimming brush, etc. After Woodlawn was opened, many burials were transferred from the old cemetery.