HOMER -- If you ask the president of the Dakota County historical society why he likes history, he'll tell you he never did in the first place. But Dennis Reinart fell into the position of the Dakota County historical society president as a way to bond with his wife, and because he loves talking to people.
"I had lunch -- no, breakfast -- with an old-timer in Dakota City [...] He asked me where's the oldest cemetery and I said you oughta know that! And he said it's the Omadi, I said oh?"
There was no such cemetery marked in town, despite records of it existing. Thus began a treasure hunt for said-cemetery. Reinart got to wondering - how do 12 to 30 gravestones go missing? And what about the families of those buried there?
"How do I say this? You gotta remember, is anybody gonna check on me in 100 years?"
The descendants moved. The original town waned in size from 400 to 40 in the 1860s, perhaps because of a silver rush. Now that the town is coming back to life, the mystery is coming out.
Reinart is following old maps, and the water.
"We're not really sure where the creek was at that time," Reinart noted.
He thought he had pinpointed a bushel of trees that he thought the cemetery may be under, but then a man claimed to have seen the cemetery as a kid. In that case, there couldn't be fully grown trees covering it.
To make matters more difficult, in the 1850s, records were marked by property owners rather than street names.
Reinart said they weren't too excited about the news, having spent around a quarter of a million dollars on the property.
The next step is for a team in October to survey the land using radar to check the soil for differences that would indicate where graves are.
Reinart is eager to close the case.
"I love a good mystery," he said.