Scott County’s Rotten Bridge

If you read this blog, you already know how much we love solving local history mysteries around here. Our latest one, featuring a peculiar epitaph referring to a tragic death, is perfect not only for this chilly month known for its ghosts and spooks, but also for this month of continuing bridge troubles.

In our Accession Collections is a collection of research materials on Scott County Cemeteries, compiled by Scharlott Blevins and Lorraine Duncan.

In one of the files is a photo of a unique gravestone:


The unusual inscription reads:

Dearest brother thou has left us
And thy loss we deeply feel.
But it was Scott Co.’s rotten bridge,
That you had to suffer for,
Oh we shall never forget you
Dear brother Frank

Naturally, we wanted to know a little more about poor Frank—and perhaps something about that “rotten bridge”—but the photograph doesn’t provide his death date or his last name.  We weren’t even sure which cemetery was pictured.

Our only clue was the gravestone in the background, which a sharp-eyed co-worker identified as belonging to Charles Meyer.

According to the Scott County Iowa Cemetery Search, which is maintained by the Scott County Public library System (hi, guys!), Charles Meyer is buried in the Maysville Cemetery in Hickory Grove Township.

Furthermore, a Frank Meyer was buried there, too, in 1897.

A search of Access Newspaper Archive—a subscription database that is available on all public workstations at all of our library locations—soon provided the obituary of Frank Meyer, who fell foul of a very rotten bridge, indeed, as witnessed by his brother, Henry:


The Daily Iowa Capital, Tuesday, August 31, 1897 page 4.

Mystery solved!

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