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A marker of history

By Staff | Sep 17, 2010

Rugby’s Dale Niewoehner has begun crisscrossing the Pierce County countryside with a specific purpose in mind – locate and document every cemetery peppered throughout the 30 townships.

It’s an ambitious project, but when finished will provide a valuable record for years to come.

Hardly a week goes by when someone researching family history doesn’t contact county officials seeking information on grave sites.

While the location of many are known, thanks to early records kept at the county recorder’s office, there are some which are not documented and that’s where Niewoehner hopes to fill the gaps.

He plans to take a photo of every cemetery and include some information about each one, as well as known single grave sites.

This history will eventually be given to the county recorder’s office as well as be included in the planned 125th history book which will be published in time for next year’s Pierce County-Rugby quasquicentennial.

These cemeteries are often forgotten about, but provide an important link to the past, said Niewoehner, who owns and operates Niewoehner Funeral Home.

His knowledge and familiarity of these cemeteries and his interest in local history made him the right person for the project. However, it’s one that will take time to complete, he admits.

Some of the prairie cemeteries are well-kept and easily visible along township roads while others are not so easy to spot. Trees and bushes have overtaken the grounds and the headstones are hidden.

Many of those buried were early settlers to the region and the cemeteries tell a sad tale of the trials and tribulations of prairie life in Pierce County at the turn of the century. Many cemeteries contain markers of many infants who died shortly after birth.

Surprisingly a good number of the cemeteries remain active and hold burial services. Others, however, are no longer active.

In addition to locating cemeteries, Niewoehner is also interested in documenting single grave sites. If landowners know of any on their land, they are encouraged to contact Niewoehner at 776-6222.

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