Pioneer Settlers' Cemeteries of Steele County, Minnesota

Author: Ron Houghtelin of Owatonna, Minnesota - 1992

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Made available to The Steele Co. genealogy pages by: Ron Houghtelin

Pioneer Settlers' Cemeteries of Steele County, Minnesota

   This record of Steele County Minnesota cemetery's was made in an effort to maintain the valuable vital statistics and genealogical information that is only recorded on the markers as they stand in the individual cemeteries It is very likely that some of the older stone markers have sunk and vanished from the possibility of any record being made from those.

     Most of the cemeteries have cemetery boards and have burial records that will be more exacting and more accurate. This is not an attempt to duplicate those records, but to make an easy record that is available to those persons interested in genealogy and family tree work in Steele County Minnesota.

     I made a special effort to record the information from the older stone markers that possibly are the only records of those persons. I did not attempt to check burial records with actual cemetery burial records as this would involve even a much larger project than could be extended.

      I spent some time in the Steele County Recorders office where several of the cemeteries are recorded from early surveys and plat maps. I added the names of burials mentioned in these surveys in this report when I could.

      At this time I have recorded most of the rural cemeteries, except the cemeteries located in church yards except Litomysl. This cemetery was vital to the earliest settlement records of Bohemian/Czech emigrants to this county and is included with this report.

     Other church yard cemeteries are also vital as they are associated with the early emigrants of the German's, Norwegians, and the Danish people that settled in Steele County after 1855. Some of the church yard cemeteries are mostly burials of the second generation and the markers are in most cases not in immediate danger of being lost as to the information written on them. The older stone markers that were made of the white marble and lime stones that are washing or deteriorating and the information will then be lost forever.

       Again some of this information is stored with the individual cemeteries and possibly the Steele County Historical Society has at least a partial record and the Tuttles living in Medford have a very complete record that they have made of the county cemeteries on 3x5 cards.

      This record will be helpful to persons that are tracing families in Steele County Minnesota. I have not attempted to record the larger cemeteries in the county except the oldest stone markers in Forest Hill in sections 1 and 2 that are very old stones and also in Sacred Heart in the front part again mostly the older stones.

      St Johns Cemetery located next to Forest Hill is also newer and has mostly second generation Germans settlers although possibly some original emigrant settlers are buried there also. I am certain the records of this cemetery are well documented. It would be nice to have all these records in a single volume but even getting the records together for these volumes was an enormous task.

      I have separated the cemeteries into Nationalities. This is done for the benefit of persons tracing families. As we know, names relate to nationalities. You will find other nationalities (names) in the different cemeteries but you will find that as the cemetery is mentioned as a particular nationality, most of the burials in that cemetery will be mostly from that nationality.

      Note: example. If you are looking for a person that is of a German family or name, then looking in the German cemetery records would in most cases help find the persons very quickly. By not having the church yard cemetery records of the county, one would have to check the churches records too. Very possible this record missed a person as this record only recorded the actual stone markers (I did not miss very many of the stone markers in a cemeteries that I recorded and I did the best I could to read each and every stone marker that I could find)

     I recorded the information from the stone markers as I found them in the language they were inscribed in. I do not read German, Bohemian/Czech, Norwegian, Danish (Scandinavian) so just as I found the markers I recorded them. I very quickly learned the months days years, mother, father, born died, etc in the various languages.

      Also of course the very earliest settlers in Steele County were the Eastern Americans that came from the East coast and those Americans that came from the states and places like Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and a lot of these American settlers came in from Wisconsin or settled briefly in Wisconsin or other states and just passed thru and found land in Steele Co.

    After 1860/1870 the first wave of settlers was over and many people moved on west toward Western Minnesota and North and South Dakota but people could not settle areas that were still dangerous to the exposure to the Indian situation west of Steele County.     Steele County has American cemeteries (English names) that are very early in the counties history. Very fragile, as many of the cemeteries are marked with the traditional old white Marble markers, which is very vulnerable to the elements and now the problem of acid rain really speeds up the deterioration process.

      As a child in down town Owatonna Minnesota, the various languages of the German, Bohemian/Czech, Norwegian/Danish were heard as common place and were some of the original older settlers speaking in their national language, and some were the second generation, but now most of this is lost in Steele Co.

      The early immigrants coming from other countries did not readily mix with the other nationals and were also rather Leary of the American settlers they found as their neighbors when they first came to this place. Each National group and the Americans tried very hard to keep their culture and language, also customs of their life style and traditions they brought with them from the old country.

       At first they kept separate from each other but the National barriers broke down as another generation came and when I was born in 1931 most of the barriers were coming down in the melting pot process in Steele County. The results are that people of all the different Nationalities in Steele County are mixed and now we are all Americans.

      The cemeteries show Steele County people have always been loyal and patriotic (All Nationalities) and some have died in service to this country. Many have served and came home and lived in the county and now rest in Steele County cemeteries with military markers of the service and command they served in. Some were noted as veterans, and many were commemorated by the GAR, Am Legion and the VFW. in all wars, since the settlement of this county and some veterans served before the county was settled and they came along with the migration of the early settlement. Many veterans are found in these records and many are not known.
             Ron Houghtelin Owatonna Minnesota - 1992.