Winnett 2016

Petroleum County Conservation District – Winnett Cemetery Restoration

Winnett Cemetery, established in 1916, is the archetypical prairie cemetery of eastern and central Montana communities. The markers represent the homestead settlement era, the oil boom of the 1920s, and the slow decline in rural population thereafter. While relics of the homestead settlement era are representative of many communities east of the Divide, the oil boom relics are specific to the Winnett area. The grave markers are made from locally available materials, which is typical of the prairie communities in the early 1900s. These materials include sandstone, iron spikes, and railroad ties. Furthermore, the cemetery is a physical reminder of the hardships endured by the settlers of the early 20th century.

The cemetery included misaligned rows, lost markers, and areas filled with undocumented graves. The disorganization made it difficult to locate family plots and individual graves. Using a grant from the History Foundation, the Petroleum County Conservation District employed Archaeo-physics and the University of Montana Archaeological School to complete a geophysical survey. This data was used to create a field map locating all known burials.