On Saturday, August 22, Tim Shelly, his son Michael Shelly and cousin David Steele reset and cleaned the headstones of several of T.C. Steele’s family who are buried in the Waveland Methodist Cemetery. These include:
- James Armstrong Steele (1784 – 1855). T.C. Steele’s grandfather was born in Rowan County, North Carolina. He died at age 71.
- Samuel Hamilton Steele (1823-1861). T.C. Steele’s father died at 38 years of age. After becoming ill, he was taken to family in Bainbridge, Indiana for care and died while there.
- Ida Belle Steele (1857-1859) – T.C. Steele’s sister, who died as a child.
- Mary W. Steele (1859 – 1859) – TC. Steele’s sister, who died in infancy.
The grave is located in the Waveland Methodist Cemetery, behind the present day vacant church (referred to as The Baptist Church) located at 121 Green Street, just east of the library on the north side of Green Street. The cemetery is cared for by Brown Township Trustee, and does not belong to the former Baptist Church in front of the cemetery, which is in private ownership.
Construction on the Baptist Church in front of the cemetery began in 1867 and dedicated in 1869. This current brick structure replaced an earlier wood structure built on land deeded by John and Lucinda Milligan in 1842. John Mulligan platted Waveland in 1835 and Samuel Steele (T.C. Steele’s father) rented a saddle shop from John Milligan.
Buried on either side of Samuel are his daughters, the sisters of T.C. Steele. Ida Belle (1857-1859) to the south, and Mary W. Steele (1859-1859) to the north. Both girls died in infancy. James Armstrong Steele is buried a few feet to the north of Mary W. Steele.
There are three distinct Steele legacy artifacts remaining in Waveland:
- The T.C. Steele boyhood home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
- The unnamed Steele painting which hangs in the Carnegie Library (Waveland Public Library, 115 Green Street), donated by T.C. Steele at the opening in 1915
- And the burial sites of his grandfather, father, and sisters in the Waveland Methodist Cemetery
Cleaning and care for the headstones will occur annually going forward, using best practices outlined by Cemetery Conservators for United Standards.
Waveland was founded in the 1830’s by pioneers, and from 1849 to 1878 Waveland was home to a Presbyterian college called Waveland Collegiate Institute and later changed to Waveland Academy. The railroad came to town in 1873, and streetlights tow year later in 1890.
Downtown Waveland, circa early 1900’s; Waveland Town Plat, 1873. Samuel Hamilton Steele’s saddle shop was located on east side of Cross Street, between Howard and Main Streets.
T.C. Steele and his first wife Mary Elizabeth (Lakin) Steele, called “Libbie” or “Bess” met at Waveland Academy, probably in the year 1867. They were married on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1870 at the home of Libbie’s aunt and uncle (Kate and James Lakin), about one mile east of Rushville, Indiana.