The Old St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery (Friedhof) and Church - Hague, North Dakota

Hague, Emmons County, North Dakota

The Old St. Mary’s Cemetery has twenty-two wrought iron-cross sites named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, which were nominated by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Most of the founding families of the Hague area, southern part of Emmons County, North Dakota, were Black Sea Germans who were of Roman Catholic faith.  These families immigrated in the 1870s and 1880s from the mother colonies of the Kutschurgan District, South Russia, today located near Odessa, Ukraine – Baden, Elsass, Kandel, Mannheim, Selz and Strassburg.

In the Markers XII publication of the Association of Gravestone Studies, Dr. Timothy J. Kloberdanz writes: “Old St. Mary Cemetery west of Hague, North Dakota, includes the decorative iron work of at least four German-Russian cross makers: Paul Keller (1864-1923); Michael Schmidt (1875-1921); Jacob Schneider (1852-1934), and Jacob’s son “Deport” or “Diebert” (Tibertius) Schneider (1877-1941). All four blacksmiths were born in South Russia, principally in the “Kutschurgan” Black Sea colony area northwest of the port city of Odessa.”

"Most of the crosses in the Old St. Mary Cemetery undoubtedly were fashioned by Deport Schneider.  Deport married Rose Scheer (Rosalia Scherr), and two of their sons, Louis Schneider (1901-1987) and Jake Schneider (1902-1961), became talented cross makers as well. Both Louis and Jake eventually moved from the Hague area and settled on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation (about 35 miles across the Missouri River and west of Hague), where they made numerous iron crosses for Sioux Indians as well as German-Russians.”

“Not surprisingly, all four of the Schneider cross makers shared a preference for double-bar iron crosses with a basic diamond design. Louis preferred to use the iron from buggy wheels, and Jake made his crosses from large wagon wheels.”

The Schneider family cemetery plot has an enclosed fence with double-bar iron crosses that were made by Deport Schneider.  Few of the wrought iron crosses include name plates or identification. The cast-iron commercial crosses appear to be similar to crosses manufactured in Chicago and St. Louis.

St. Mary's Catholic Parish, Hague, ND: A Brief History 1890-2015

Brochure- click to enlarge


Kloberdanz, Timothy J., photographs by Bob Pierce. “Unsere Lieber Gottesacker: (Our Dear God’s acre): An Iron-Cross Cemetery on the Northern Great Plains”, MARKERS XXII, Association of Gravestone Studies, 1995, pages 160-181.

Markers XXII. "St. Mary's Cemetery, Hague, North Dakota". Annual Journal of the Association of Gravestone Markers, Greenfield, MA, 2005, 214 pages.

Vrooman Nicholas Churchin and Patrice Avon Marvin, editors, Jane and Wayne Gudmundson, photographers. “Iron Spirits”, North Dakota Council of the Arts, Bismarck, ND, 1982, 116 pages.

Wald, Katie Glatt. “Hague Area Book II: The Past 100 Years and Its People”. Hague, ND, 1989, 424 pages.

Wald, Katie Glass. “Hague, North Dakota Centennial: 1908 – 2008”. Emmons County Record, Linton, ND, 2009, 512 pages.

Wald, Katie Glatt. “Hague, North Dakota: History of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Town of Hague”, Hague, ND, no date, 134 pages.


Filming for a new Prairie Public Television Documentary, At Home in Russia, at Home on the Prairie

St. Mary’s Catholic Church & Cemetery, Hague, ND, Dakota Memories Heritage Tour, September 19, 2009

St. Mary’s Catholic Church & Cemetery, Hague, ND, Dakota Memories Heritage Tour, September 17, 2011.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church & Cemetery, Hague, ND, June 20, 2014

Cemeteries in Emmons County, North Dakota

Marquardt, Lewis R. “Eiserne Kreuze of Emmons County: A Forgotten Folk Art”, Heritage Review, Germans from Russia Heritage Society, Bismarck, ND, April, 1980, pages 11-16.

Lewis R. Marquardt writes in his article about the five categories of fabricated metal crosses:

  1. Single-bar cross
  2. Double-bar cross
  3. Diamond cross
  4. Cross with circle [St. Mary Cemetery, Hague ND]
  5. Parallel bars with circles

Prepared by:
Michael M. Miller, Director & Bibliographer
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
NDSU Libraries
PO Box 6050, Dept. 2080
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
June, 2016

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