"Unser Lieber Gottesacker" (Our Dear God's Acre): An Iron-Cross Cemetery on the Northern Great Plains

By Timothy J. Kloberdanz, photos by Bob Pierce

Markers XXII, Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies, Association for Gravestone Studies, Greenfield, Massachusetts, 2005, 214 pages, softcover

Note: The article on "An Iron Cross Cemetery on the Northern Plains" appears on pages 160 to 181.

The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is pleased to provide this important annual publication of the Association for Gravestone Studies.

Kloberdanz writes: "There are literally hundreds of cemeteries on the Northern Great Plains that include examples of richly ornate wrought-iron grave crosses. Most of the iron-cross cemeteries can be found in the Dakotas, eastern Montana, western Kansas, southeast Texas, and the Canadian prairie provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. One of the oldest of these prairie graveyards is also one of the most accessible and the most visually stunning: the "Old St. Mary Cemetery" (1885-1914) located west of Hague, North Dakota. The Old St. Mary Cemetery went by still another name, "Unser Lieber Gottesacker" (Our Dear God's Acre). The term was used by the original German-Russian settlers who settled in the Hague area. The early immigrants felt a special attachment to the old cemetery because it held the remains of many individuals who came directly from "Russland" (Russia - the Old Country)."

There are a total of 21 black and white photographs included with the detailed well documented article including examples of the iron crosses and the German-Russian crossmakers: Paul Keller, Michael Schmidt, Jacob Schneider and Jacob's son, Diebert Schneider. These four blacksmiths were born in Black Sea German villages of the Kutschurgan District, today located near Odessa, Ukraine.

Timothy J. Kloberdanz, is the scriptwriter and narrator for Prairie Public Television's 2002 award-winning documentary, Prairie Crosses, Prairie Voices: Iron Crosses of the Great Plains.

Markers XXII

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