State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries

SAPIC is a non-profit organization 501 (c) (3).
Contributions are deductible under sections
170, 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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Next Meeting

The next SAPIC meeting will be April 14, 2018 in Burlington, Iowa. The meeting will begin at 10:00 am. The meeting will be held in the lower level of the Des Moines County Heritage Center at the NW corner of 4th and Columbia in Burlington. It's the old Burlington Public Library building. Enter through the door on the south side of the building, the one on Columbia St.

The easiest way to get there it to take US 34 east to exit 263, the last exit before the river. At the bottom of the exit ramp, take the first right onto Columbia St. Drive on Columbia through three intersections and you'll have the Heritage Center immediately on your right.

We plan to have coffee, juice, donuts, and cookies for attendees.

There are several places in downtown Burlington to have lunch. Big Muddies is in the old Rock Island freight house just north of the US 34 bridge and has a lovely view of the river. The Drake is near the river as well. Martini's is atop the building at 410 N. 4th and has a lovely view of the river and downtown area. Napoli Pizza is on N. 3rd near the railroad tracks. La Tavola is a block and a half south of the Heritage Center in a building that once housed the stoneworks that created the first Civil War memorial monument in Iowa. Lindo Mexico is at 8th & Jefferson.

There will be a short presentation on Burlington's Aspen Grove Cemetery which is 174 years old (3 years older than the state of Iowa) and houses two territorial governors, two Iowa state governors, four Civil War generals and hundreds of Civil War veterans. If anyone is interested and the weather cooperates, we'd be pleased to take people out to Aspen Grove before or after lunch for a brief tour.

Other upcoming meetings:

SAPIC will meet in July of 2018 in DeWitt, Iowa (Clinton County).
SAPIC will meet Oct 13, 2018 in Winneshiek County.

If your group or organization would be interesting in hosting a SAPIC meeting in the future, send an email to John Heider at, with "SAPIC meeting" as your subject. Usually there are 35-40 attendees at a meeting. The host usually provides coffee and some refreshments prior to the meeting, as some members travel a great distance. Meetings usually start at 10:00 AM. Some hosts provide lunch (sometimes as a fund raiser), but that is not necessary.

SAPIC was organized in 1996 with the following goals:

A. To identify all cemeteries in Iowa

B. To take such measures as are necessary, possible and reasonable to protect these cemeteries, and the monuments contained in them, from danger due to natural causes or from human encroachment.

C. To provide guidance and educational materials for use by the people entrusted with the preservation of these cemeteries and monuments contained in them.

D. To compile and distribute information about the proper maintenance techniques for these cemeteries and the monuments contained in them.

E. To provide advice and information to legislative bodies empowered to pass legislation creating a legal framework for the protection, the preservation and maintenance of these cemeteries and the monuments contained in them are enforced.

F. To act as a monitor of the administrative and management personnel of these cemeteries, to ensure that the legal measures for the protection, preservation and maintenance of the cemeteries and the monuments in them are enforced.

Bylaws for the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries

History of SAPIC

The State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries was formed in 1996 as a result of legislation that allowed for each of the 99 counties to create a County Cemetery Commission. The focus of these Commissions was to rescue untended pioneer graves and cemeteries and to take responsibility for the upkeep of such sites. May is proclaimed Cemetery Appreciation Month each year by the Governor of the State of Iowa.











Our Pioneer Cemetery Concerns

Iowa law defines a Pioneer Cemetery as one in which there have been 12 or fewer burials in the past 50 years. If you know of a cemetery that qualifies for this distinction, and would like to have it recognized, please contact the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries to have it recorded. The law was changed from six to 12 burials in 2009 under 'standings bill' SJ 1150, and was signed by Gov. Chet Culver on May 26, 2009. See our PURPOSE above.

SAPIC Cemetery/Grave Marker Survey

SAPIC developed a survey form for the detailed documenting of cemeteries. The public is encouraged to use this form for documenting and/or recording cemeteries anywhere, whether they be pioneer, city, church, private, etc. and regardless of condition. A Word version is available for typing directly into the boxes and a PDF version is available to print and write on. Please send us your completed forms for archiving by email, and mail: State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries, 5716 Kingman Ave., Des Moines, IA 50311.

Microsoft Word version                    PDF version

Do not let this form scare you! Recording a cemetery of any size does require extensive dedication, but with the diversity between cemeteries, it is unlikely that every field will be filled. It is still important to do your best and complete the survey as fully as possible. Some of the fields will require additional research away from the cemetery, including the utilization of the library, courthouse and online information. The goal of this form is merely to serve as a guide with terminology to better understand our cemeteries and as a starting point towards cemetery restoration. Many abandoned cemeteries are far from what the pioneers had envisioned in their cemetery's future. We can prevent what remains of our cemeteries from facing the same fate. There are no regulations requiring cemeteries to use this form, but many wish they had a universal form to record their cemeteries and prevent what currently exists from entering oblivion. For those of you who are determined to undertake this challenge, we commend you!

Check out Patriot Outreach and their current restoration project for-

Iowa Governor (Colonel) Samuel Merrill's resting place

Please include a membership application (if not already a member) which can be found here


Dennis N. Britson, Director
Regulated Industries Unit, Iowa Securities Bureau
601 Locust St., 4th Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319-3738
(515) 281-5705 or toll-free (877)-955-1212
Lara Noldner
Bioarchaeology Director
700 Clinton Street Building
Iowa City, IA 52242-1030

Membership Dues

Thanks to all of the SAPIC members who have renewed their memberships. Your support is greatly appreciated! If you haven't done so yet, you may send your dues to SAPIC Treasurer, Brad Hughes, 308 Sunset Lane, Grimes, IA 50111. Annual dues are: Individual - $25; Household - $35; Organization or business - $40. Lifetime dues for an individual - $200. Membership includes the SAPIC newsletter "Grave News." All donations welcome and tax deductible. Membership Application

Iowa Cemetery Laws and Procedures
Please note, the number of burials requirement to be designated as a Pioneer Cemetery has been changed to 12 since the original law was passed.

Meet the winners of the Carter Awards
Nominations due July 1 each year

E-Mail List: The Iowa Cemeteries e-mail list is hosted by SAPIC member Fred Reese. To join this list send an e-mail message to  Leave the subject area blank. Put only the word subscribe within the body of the message (nothing else). You will receive a confirmation that you have been subscribed to the list, along with instructions on how to participate. Note that there are hundreds of people on this list. Not every post is necessarily from a member of SAPIC. Most people on the list are genealogists searching for relatives, want directions to a cemetery in the state of Iowa, or who have questions about Iowa cemeteries. Everyone participates in answering questions.

Books and videos related to cemetery preservation and restoration are now available through a lending process. See links for details.

SAPIC Book & Video List        Book/Video Loan Form        Loaning Policy

Resetting Gravestones, such as Military Markers


Researchers may submit photos and transcriptions of gravestones and may connect with kinfolk. Care should always be taken when relying on the accuracy of information inscribed on grave markers as well as the information posted to these sites; double check your facts for everyone's benefit.

Last updated April 5, 2018. Please send updates to