Researchers Guide to the McPherson County, South Dakota Cemeteries

Book review by Edna Boardman, Bismarck, North Dakota

Stabler, Duane E. Researchers Guide to the McPherson County, South Dakota Cemeteries. Compiled by Selma Job Lapp and Keenan L. Stoeckter. North Dakota State University Libraries, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Fargo, North Dakota, 2005, 285 pages, and Supplement Index of 48 pages, softcover.

Family historians who trace their American roots to McPherson County, South Dakota will find this compilation of cemeteries of great value. Three persons, Duane E Stabler, Selma Job Lapp and Keenan L. Stoecker have endeavored to locate every burial place in the county, whether it be a church yard or a family plot related to a homestead. Lapp and Stoecker photographed in color all the burial places they could locate, an amazing achievement of itself. Stabler took on the job of editing and compiling the photographs of the graves plus some archival photographs of the area taken from postcards. He organized the exhaustive lists of the persons buried in the graves, including information about each person when available. The cemeteries are listed twice, alphabetically and by township, and persons buried in each are listed alphabetically. Maps in the back of the book provide assistance in locating each burial place.

An early history of the county by Bruce Mehlhaff appears in the book, but sadly he makes no reference to the identity and origins of the European settlers who took up residence in great numbers in this county--the Germans from Russia. The overwhelming majority of the names listed are from that ethnic group. Even the affiliation of Margaret Freeman, acknowledged as the person who helped locate volunteers for Stabler when this project was first discussed, was given only as GRHS. This is the Germans from Russia Heritage Society. The placement of McPherson County within South Dakota is also not given except in a context deep within the book, so requires a trip to the atlas. But these are minor grumbles. This was an impressive five-year effort, and the editor/compiler, his co-workers, and a small army of others who assisted them provide information otherwise almost impossible to come by.

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