Digital Exhibits No Place to Bury Their Dead

History records Chauncey Leverich as the first death in Austin. He was hit on the head with a wagon spring in August 1856 while breaking up a fight at his saloon and hotel. After lingering for five or six days, he died. Without an established cemetery, he was buried near the back corner of his saloon, probably under a window. As more people died in Austin, they were often buried in vacant lots.

Original tintype of Chauncey Leverich. Chauncey was an early businessman and built the first frame house in Austin in 1855. He is also infamously known as the first person murdered in Mower County. Mower County Historical Society, 88.39.47
An artist’s drawing of the events that resulted in the murder of Chauncey Leverich. This was published in the special Mower County Centennial edition of the Austin Daily Herald on April 17, 1956.
On September 19, 1872, the Austin Register recorded the removal of Chauncey Leverich’s body from his original burial place to Oakwood Cemetery. The 1884 Mower County History book says Leverich’s saloon was located where D. B. Smith’s Agricultural Implement Store was at the corner of Chatham Street (1st St. NE) and Bridge St. (2nd Ave NE). Today, this is the parking lot behind the Mower County Government Center.

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