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Descendent of Rienzi Cemetery founder shares history

2:01 PM, Jan. 14, 2013  |  Comments
Mark Boardman is the great-great-great grandson of Rienzi Cemetery founder Nathaniel Tallmadge. Boardman visited Rienzi in late December 2012.
Mark Boardman is the great-great-great grandson of Rienzi Cemetery founder Nathaniel Tallmadge. Boardman visited Rienzi in late December 2012.
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Rienzi Cemetery was founded by Nathaniel Tallmadge in 1845. Rienzi experienced a bit of ancestral excitement when Mark Boardman, great-great-great grandson of Nathaniel and Abby Tallmadge, visited the Rienzi grounds on Dec. 31.

The Tallmadges buried their 19-year-old son, William, on top of what is now referred to as "goat hill," after he was killed in a hunting accident. William used to look out of a window of the Tallmadge house toward a hill that was part of their property. One day, while they were inspecting it, William told his father of his liking for the hill and added, "When I die, I wish to be buried right here." Four weeks later, on June 12, 1845, they unfortunately granted his wish.

William's monument reads "the first sleeper beneath these sacred shades." That was the beginning of Rienzi Cemetery, named by Tallmadge after a novel about a famous Roman patriarch, Cola di Rienzi. It is estimated that Rienzi Cemetery now has 30,000 graves.

Boardman was actually in Fond du Lac to research the paternal side of his ancestry, who are also buried at Rienzi. He was surprised at the reception he received upon arrival. Mark's great-great grandmother, Mary Louise Tallmadge Boardman Baldwin, daughter of Nathaniel Tallmadge was married to Napoleon Boardman, also buried at Rienzi. Mark said "Mary Louise divorced his great-great grandfather, Napoleon, and remarried as a Baldwin."

Rienzi Cemetery is located two miles south of State Road 23 on County Road K, east of Fond du Lac. Rienzi Cemetery is a non-sectarian, non-profit 501 (c) (13) cemetery owned by the people who choose Rienzi for their final resting place.

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