Considered a rural or garden cemetery, Oakdale Memorial Gardens in Davenport, Iowa has graves dating back to the Victorian Era.
Established in 1857, it was designed by Captain George F. de la Roche, who had finished the design of Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C. five years earlier.
Oakdale is an independent, non-profit cemetery and is located on 78 acres along Eastern Avenue. It is one of the Quad Cities’ oldest and most beautiful graveyards, highlighted by century-old Oaks, gently rolling hills and knolls, and a beautiful reflecting pond near the cemetery entrance.
Soldier’s lot is located in Section 11 of Oakdale Memorial Gardens. Originally, soldiers were interred in multiple areas of the cemetery, before the burials were consolidated into Soldier’s Lot. As of Dec. 1885, 174 Civil War soldiers were buried in Soldier’s Lot. Around 1888 roughly 160 remains in Oakdale Cemetery were removed and placed in the Rock Island National Cemetery and the Keokuk National Cemetery. In 1900, the remaining interments were consolidated into the Grand Army of the Republic plot within Oakdale Cemetery, the location of all subsequent government burials. In 1940 the Grand Army of the Republic conveyed all interests in the plot to the Oakdale Cemetery Association and the United States acquired the lot in 1941. Today, interments within the Soldiers Lot include 71 Civil War dead, seven of whom were killed during the Battle of Fort Donelson, TN and were the first Iowan casualties of the Civil War.
The most famous “resident” is probably the legendary jazz artist Leon Bismarck “Bix” Beiderbecke. The celebrated cornet player’s grave site receives thousands of visitors each year, bringing international recognition to the Quad Cities and Oakdale Memorial Gardens. Incidentally, Bix’s brother, Charles Beiderbecke, was a sexton at Oakdale at one time. Other notable burials include congressmen, Civil War generals, feminist pioneers, jurists, industrialists and artists.
The cemetery also contains a section for the burial of pets. It’s called “Love of Animals” Petland. Granite stone benches in the brick common offer a beautiful setting, and each grave is given a permanent marker to memorialize your pet’s final resting place.
A brief look the Victorian Era cemetery, Oakdale Memorial Gardens: