On April 24, 1908 Frank Shelby Blades, cemetery sexton, went over the cemetery, locating graves and getting the names of those buried there. He found 1331 graves: 1172 in family lots, 159 in potters field. For twenty years individuals and clubs continued to promote a change in ownership. The push to have the cemetery become city and township property was driven by the desire to have a cemetery better managed and cared for. There were numerous articles referring to the cemetery as the city of weeds, and the land of sandburs.
Finally upon vote of the people in the November 2, 1926 election the Cottonwood Park Cemetery became the joint property of the city of Sterling and Sterling Township for the selling price of $1,600. Ordinance #484, January 27, 1947 officially changed the name to the Sterling Community Cemetery; noted purchase to include all unsold lots, streets and alleys except certain lots retained by the I.O.O.F. for burial purposes.
The city put in a water system before Memorial Day 1928, making it possible for every lot owner to water his lot easily by using fifty feet or less of hose. For early settlers, coming from a culture where cemeteries were to be park-like and where family reunions and picnics were held on Memorial Day or on burial day, the Sterling Community Cemetery needed more work. As Gladstone said, Show me the way in which a nation or a community cares for its dead, and I will measure with mechanical exactness the tender sympathies of the people, their respect for the law and the land and their loyalty to high ideals.