Historical Society meets at St Patrick-Cedar Sept. 7

Stories of Greene County’s 10 pioneer cemeteries

~by Chuck Offenburger for the Greene County Historical Society

The Greene County Historical Society will meet Friday, Sept. 7, at historic and beautiful St. Patrick Catholic Church in Cedar Township west of Churdan, with Ada Ross telling stories about the pioneer cemeteries in the county.Those 10 cemeteries are the burial sites of many of the county’s earliest settlers. Although most of them are no longer active cemeteries – in other words, there haven’t been any burials for years – they are still overseen and preserved by the 6-member Greene County Pioneer Cemetery Commission. They are appointed by the county’s board of supervisors.

Ross, of rural Jefferson, has been a member of that commission about 10 years, and is now its secretary. Its new president is Peg Semke, also of rural Jefferson.

The commission was organized in about 1990, with Valerie Heater Ogren, the county’s longtime champion of local history and genealogy, taking the lead.

“What Valerie saw back then was that many of these oldest cemeteries were in deplorable condition,” said Ross. “The worst was probably Old Franklin in the southeast part of the county. There were cows grazing in it, their residue was in the grass, stones had been knocked over, trees and brush had grown up. It was a mess.”

Ogren told the supervisors back then that the pioneer cemeteries needed “advocates for clean-up and protection,” Ross said. The commission fills that role.

Preceding the Friday, Sept. 7, program, there will be an $8 lunch at the church basement at 12 noon, with RSVPs for members due with their community contacts by midday Wednesday, Sept. 5. Members of the public who want to eat lunch for $10 should phone vice-president Nancy Hanaman at 515-436-7684. The 1 pm program in the church sanctuary is free and all are invited.

“St. Patrick’s, Cedar,” is no longer an active parish in the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City, but funerals and a St. Patrick’s Day mass are still held there. The church has been renovated, improved and is now maintained by a committee of volunteers, who’ve made it a unique historic site in the area.

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