Prairie Home Cemetery

Chapel
On December 3, 1849, Nathaniel Walton sold three acres of land to Waukesha township. This was the beginning of Prairie Home Cemetery. 

The first official burial was the mother of Reverend O.F. Curtis. Although, there is evidence of burials as early as 1835.

On April 30, 1864 the cemetery was expanded when another five acres were purchased from Silas P. Sawyer.

Nathaniel Walton sold another 15.5 acres of land to the cemetery in July of 1881. 

For many years, any tax paying person who lived in Waukesha township was entitled to a free lot, 25x20 feet in size, that could accommodate several burials. Non-tax paying persons were entitled to half a lot.

An office building was constructed on the grounds in the spring of 1890. This was later included in the present chapel building.

The official count of burials was 3,305 on May 2, 1895.

Waukesha was incorporated as a city in 1896 and the city took control of the cemetery. A cemetery commission, consisting of three members, was appointed to oversee operations. The first board of commissioners included John L. Gaspar, Orlando Culver and Frank H. Putney.

In 1911 35 acres were added to the cemetery. In 1915, an ordinance passed which set up a fee structure to help with the costs of the cemetery.

In 1937, the chapel and office building was built with a fund of $25,000 that had been accumulating for years. Money was donated and collected by Mr. and Mrs. John L. Gaspar, Chauncey J. and Miss Clara J. Patterson, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Blair, Dr. and Mrs. M.A. Hadcock, H.J. Frame and Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Frame. The original building consisted of a chapel, offices, restrooms and basement that stored caskets during cold weather.

The official count of burials was 9,990 at the end of 1945.

Up until 1952, graves were dug by hand. Modern power tools were purchased and allowed the grass to be cut with mowers and graves dug with machines. 

In May of 1954, 31 acres of Industrial School land was purchased from the state for $18,600 to expand the cemetery.

In March of 1963, the Common Council approved the demolition of the Civil War era "Pest House". During the 1960s, the cave at the grotto was covered over and the area was converted to an area reserved for the burial of babies and young children.

In 1981, the number of grave sites had grown to 16,630. 

More recently the cemetery has seen the build of a new mausoleum complex called Autumn Garden, the creation of Cremation Garden and a prairie for natural burials. The first natural burial was in 2010. 

Today there are over 24,000 burials at Prairie Home Cemetery.