Book on McPherson County, SD Cemeteries Published

July 20, 2005

The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is pleased to announce publication of the book, "Researchers Guide to McPherson County South Dakota Cemeteries". The book was developed from research provided by Selma Job Lapp and Keenan L. Stoecker and compiled and prepared for publication by Duane E. Stabler.

The book includes: 1) a historical overview of McPherson County; 2) photo postcard images; 3) Names and locations of cemeteries; 4) Data about births and deaths of individuals buried in each cemetery; 5) Maps to locate the cemetery in the county; and 5) color photos of many of the cemeteries.

Selma Job Lapp writes: "I had the idea of documenting the cemeteries for many years but I never did anything about it. Then I received a letter from Margaret Freeman stating that Duane Stabler was seeking volunteers to record the McPherson county cemeteries. The original idea was to photo the cemeteries but the project grew to include the names of those buried in each cemetery." Selma states "the information comes from church records, courthouse records, word of mouth, newspaper obituaries and the funeral homes. The Eureka newspapers were in German so it was a challenge to read the obituaries which started as early as 1904." Selma recalls her experiences in accessing the cemeteries as follows, "Some of the cemeteries were very remote and took a pickup truck to get close to them. Then, we had to figure out ways of climbing fences which sometimes wasn't too easy but we did it!"

Keenan L Stoecker states: "When I learned of this project, I just felt I had to be a part of it. This project was too important to me as it is something that had to be done. I was able to extract information from the Leola newspapers into the late 1800's, in fact as far back as to the time that a prairie fire that almost burned Leola to the ground. Unlike Selma, my work was mostly in English which made the job a little easier. I was also able to collect the information from the three Hutterite colonies who invited me to the colony, gave me tours and were very gracious in sharing their information." Keenan goes on to state that "if Duane had not been able to take what Selma and I had extracted and convert it to something that could be published, this information would never have been available. It would have remained in drawers or never completed."

Duane E. Stabler states: "This was an idea that stemmed from my visit to my Great Grandparents gravesite at the Neudorf Cemetery. That occurred perhaps 15 years ago when my uncle, Albert Stabler, first took me to visit the site that was relatively remote and difficult to access. It was then that I realized that information about these ancestors, buried in gravesites throughout McPherson County, needed to be recorded. That idea stayed with me until 1999 when I approached Margaret Freeman at a Germans from Russia convention. Since Margaret had a vast amount of experience with the Glueckstal Colonies Research Association, I thought it would be good to gain her opinion. She agreed that collecting such information was a valuable service and it was a way of preserving important information. I asked Margaret to find some volunteers that could do the research since it was not easy for me to do it from my home in Minnesota."

Duane goes on to say "without the work that Selma, Keenan and the other people who assisted them in locating information, this book would not have been possible. I've tried to add some other information, such as an early history which was provided by Bruce Mehlhaff, when he heard about the project, early photo postcards from my personal collection and the maps which I created to assist those who have never been to McPherson County. It's my hope that future researchers can pick up this book and gain an understanding of where their ancestors are buried and if they think they wish to travel to that gravesite, they can do it. After all, many people who live on the West Coast, Canada and other places do have family who risked much and settled in McPherson County. If those wishing to visit can't., well there are color photos to give them an idea of what the cemetery looks like. I'm very thankful that we were able to make this dream a reality. The positive comments I've had from people buying and seeing this book makes the effort all worthwhile and I hope it inspires others to consider recording their counties in a similar way. The NDSU Libraries at Fargo, and in particular the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection have been very helpful in bringing this book to the public."

Margaret Freeman states "This is a most impressive book that sets it apart from other cemetery books. The color photos and maps are wonderfully done. It truly is a book that everyone should consider buying."

To order the McPherson County, SD book, send $65 plus $8 postage payable to NDSU Library. Mail to: Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, McPherson County SD Book, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599. Website address to order is:

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller