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Women's Cemetery Walk

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Sometimes the most delightful things in one's community are right under one's nose; you just have to know where to look ... for instance, along an unassuming sidewalk leading from the Yates Center High School to YC Graceland Cemetery!

In the first decades of the twentieth century, for the most part, countians walked nearly everywhere they needed to go, which included visiting the Yates Center Graceland Cemetery on the north end of town. Walking to the cemetery on foot was largely effective, though whenever it rained, local roads became a muddy mess. This was especially a problem during Memorial Day events, which at that time, was known as "Decoration Day."

To address the problem of an impassable, muddy road leading from "in town" up to the cemetery, the energetic women of Yates Center first lobbied to have North Main Street graveled, and although they succeeded, it wasn't the best solution. For many, the gravel was hard to walk on, and pedestrians and buggies/cars had to continually dodge one another.

The concerned women's clubs therefore decided to advocate for a sidewalk being built that would lead from where today's YC High School sits to the cemetery grounds. Unfortunately, the "city council" at the time vetoed the idea, saying it was far too costly. Undaunted, the women's clubs - including the Rook Club, Embroidery Club, and twenty other organizations - banded together and started raising money on their own. They even placed tin cans around town with signs that read "a penny an inch."

Eventually the women's clubs succeeded in raising the money ($1854.25), and the sidewalk project was completed by Memorial Day 1928. On Armistice Day, November 11th, 1928, along with the bandstand by the YC Courthouse, the sidewalk was dedicated to local veterans, and if you look on the corner of Bell Street and Main Street, you can still find the original memorial-marker that reads: "Memorial Road Erected By Federation of Women's Clubs 1928." Like many other secret caches in town, this memorial also hides a time-capsule beneath it - in a copper metal box - containing information on the project.

Despite the sidewalk now being ninety years old, most of it remains in tact. So if you're looking for something to do around town, why not take a walk through local women's history!

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