At Evergreen Home Cemetery in Beatrice, a few yards away from U.S. Highway 136, there are a group of graves marking the final resting place for local infants and babies. The only thing noting this area’s importance is a plot marker, and instead of a number a sign reads “Babyland.”
Robin Butler said she noticed the marker in 2019 while she was teaching her grandson to drive. She made him stop so she could get a better look.
“I rolled my window down and saw that sign that said Babyland, and I was appalled,” Butler said. “I thought maybe it was something from the 1800s. This certainly couldn’t be where the babies are placed, but I did a little bit of research and found that this is where they are placed.”
Butler said she met other people with children or relatives at Babyland through her job at Harman-Wright Mortuary, and that they decided to organize a way to add more to the space.
The group is currently fundraising to put a statue of a five-foot tall angel holding a child just east of Babyland, with a path leading up to it, trees near the highway for noise reduction and privacy, and a new sign that reads “Little Angels”.
Butler said the staff at Harman-Wright Mortuary, as well as Fox Funeral Home and Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel, have reached out to her in support of the Little Angels project.
Three families have also already purchased memorial benches that will face the statue.
One of the benches was purchased by committee member Kendra Sand, who lost her daughter, Kennedy, last August when she was 17 weeks pregnant.
“It was a really hard loss for our family, so this means a lot to me,” Sand said. “She’s buried out here, and I come out to visit and it’s noisy. It’s not very peaceful, and it’s kind of hard to just sit and be with her because of the noise. And there’s no wind barrier, so it’s kind of an odd spot to sit. I haven’t come out as much as I would like to. So this means a lot, that there will be a special space where anybody can go.”
Butler said the organization has raised over $1,400 for the project so far, and that they’re planning to have it completed by September. The project is estimated to cost over $20,000 total.
People interested in donating toward the project can mail checks payable to Beatrice Cemetery Association to Little Angels, PO Box 967 Beatrice, NE 68310.
The organization also has a couple of fundraisers coming up, including a family night at the Beatrice Sonic on Tuesday, May 18 from 5-8p.m., where 20% of their profits will go towards the project. They also plan to have a 5K run/walk with a car show, raffles, food trucks, a bounce house and other activities on Saturday, Aug. 14. More information and sign ups can be found at runreg.com/little-angels-5k
Butler said they also plan to be at Homestead Days and other events in the community throughout the summer to sell window decals, bracelets, and memorial bricks that will lead up to the statue.
More information and updates on the project can be found at the Little Angels of Beatrice Facebook page.
Story by: Monica Brich for BEATRICE DAILY SUN