In Grove, Iowa, an eighth of a mile east of the intersection of County Route 16 and 2300 Street, stands a granite marker that was placed to note the location of the first church and school established in Shelby County.
The town of Galland's Grove was established at the location in 1847 by Abraham "Able" Galland.
Galland had crossed the 328 miles of Iowa from Nauvoo, Ill., in 1846. In 1847, he followed an old Indian trail north from Kanesville through Pottawattamie and Harrison counties. He was looking for honey. He had been told by an Indian agent that honey could be found north of the original camp established by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which at that time was the border of the United States. He found his honey at what he named Six Bee Tree Grove. In 1848, he brought back honey to Kanesville, now known as Council Bluffs, Iowa.
In addition to honey, there were great virgin stands of native American black walnut trees around Six Bee Tree Grove, both highly valuable and sought after commodities.
In late 1849 or early 1850, the site was renamed Galland's Grove. Galland built a small log church there, which also served as a school on weekdays.
Galland did not go west with the Mormon migration to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. He remained at Galland's Grove until his death in 1857.
His obituary in the Council Bluffs newspaper simply states he died and was buried at the Galland's Grove Cemetery. With the passage of time, the site of the cemetery was lost.
Some three years ago, the Historical Pioneer Research Group and the Western Iowa Pioneer Cemetery Association were working on a project at the nearby Holcomb Cemetery. Two sisters, Linda Dickman and Elaine Ehlert, said they had something we might be interested in.
They had the pioneer journal of their great-great grandfather, William Smith. William was not related to the Prophet Joseph Smith or his brother Hyrum but was in Nauvoo at the time of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum. He crossed Iowa in 1846 and followed Galland north to Galland's Grove.
In William Smith's journal, he recounts his wedding solemnized in the little log church in 1853. He said that after the ceremony the group walked to the courtyard through the graves, which provided information that there were burials near the original church.
As we were unable to locate the grave of Galland or his wife, Amy Furby, in any of the nearby cemeteries, we concluded that they had to be buried behind the old log church.
Using ground-penetrating radar, we were able to identify nine graves in the area we knew to be where the log cabin had stood.
With the Smith journal and the results of the ground-penetrating radar, the long lost burial site of the Gallands was found, along with seven others known to be buried in this little piece of hallowed ground once known as Galland's Grove.
On Sunday, June 24, the cemetery was dedicated with some of Galland's descendants in attendance.
With the help of the Historical Pioneer Research Group, the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Western Iowa Pioneer Cemetery Association, Community of Christ Church and the Harrison and Shelby Genealogical Societies, this work will continue. Because of this ongoing effort, other Mormon pioneer settlement locations with their cemeteries, roads, crossroads and way stations so vital to life in the pioneer period will be found.
With the continual cooperation of these volunteers, we hope to find and preserve other lost and neglected sacred burial places.
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