Mule Cemetery

99 Counties | FIND Iowa
Jul 21, 2024 | 02:55

Why might people hold honored regard for their animals?

The Nelson Pioneer Farm in Oskaloosa is the home of a rare cemetery just for mules. 


Abby Brown:

There are tens of thousands of farms in Iowa. Some of them, over a hundred years old. This farm, the Nelson Pioneer Farm, is one of those historic farms. People come here to take tours and learn about pioneer life. But there's one special feature here that you won't find anywhere else: a mule cemetery! Mahaska County is home to the only mule cemetery in Iowa. That's right, mules! So, why were two animals given such a special grave site? Well, these were no ordinary two animals. A long time ago, Daniel Nelson, the man who settled on this land and created a farm, bought two mules named, Jenny and Becky, and made them part of his farming operation. The mules would pull wagons and help plow. What makes Jenny and Becky even more awesome is that they were Civil War veterans. They pulled gun and supply wagons for the Union Army. They were true working members of the military. The Nelson family, who lived and worked on this farm, were animal lovers. They appreciated the decades of farm work that Jenny and Becky did for them. So, after the mules retired from farm work, the Nelsons would let families visit and even let kids ride on them, making Jenny and Becky well-known members of the community. Jenny the mule died in 1888 at the age of 34 and Becky the mule died in 1897 at the age of 42. Legend says that the Nelsons buried the mules with their heads resting on satin pillows. There are thousands of cemeteries in Iowa loaded with history, but this one is unique we're two animals who served our country and were valued members of the family farm are honored.

Every county in Iowa has a rare story to tell. Thank you for exploring Mahaska County with me.