South Plank Township


The location of Old Bethel Cemetery is about five and one-half miles east of Sigourney, in the field south of Highway 92. It is southwest of the Bethel United Methodist Church. It is near the center of Section 2.

Physical Features

(Discussed under history)

Land Description

Diedrick Snakenberg and	                                                      Warranty Deed
Mary Snakenberg	                                          	                      Consideration $10.00
	                                                                                              Dated March 21, 1863
           to	                                                                                      Recorded September 3, 1863
	                                                                                              Deed Record L, page 183
Trustees of German Members of the
Methodist Episcopal Church of German
Township, Keokuk County, Iowa.

Description: Nine rods 21 links north from the beginning of the Southwest corner of the Northeast Fractional Quarter of Section 2, Township 75 North, Range 11 West of the 5th P.M., commencing then and running 12 rods east, from thence 13 rods 11 links north, from thence 12 rods west, from thence 13 rods 11 links south to the place of beginning on the west side of the aforesaid described land, containing one acre.


In 1844, a small group of German immigrants who had come to this area of Keokuk County held neighborhood religious meetings in the homes of the various members of the group. That was the beginning of their interest in a more central meeting place and a year later a 16 x 18 log cabin was built where services were held.

In 1844-1846, the Rev. John Mann was the first minister of the Bethel German Methodist Episcopal Church, which was the oldest German Methodist Church in Iowa. In 1848, a second and larger log church was constructed. After this log church was outgrown, a frame structure was built. The Old Bethel Cemetery was near the church and some headstones may be seen on the picture of the first frame church which follows.

[Picture Not Available]

In time it was considered advisable to relocated the Bethel Methodist Church to be more easily accessible by public highway. A new site was acquired and the new church building constructed, which is the present church on Highway 92, six miles east of Sigourney.

When the new Bethel Cemetery ground was purchased in 1882, diagonally across the road from the new Bethel Methodist Church, burials were made there. Some bodies were removed from the Old Bethel Cemetery and reburied in the new. There is no list of those whose bodies were transferred, nor is there is a list of those buried in the old cemetery.

Because of the location of the Old Bethel Cemetery in the field without a good access road, few people went to the cemetery other than those who had very close relatives buried there. Those who had memories through family connections with the church, its services, and its influence were concerned about the cemetery's care. In the last decade, the owner of the surrounding land has removed the head stones and placed them against a barn in the farm building lot. These were the stones and pieces of stones the cemetery listers read.


There is no information at this time about the existence of a plat.


The following stones and pieces of stones were read by the listers. Where pieces could be fitted together by design or other identifying marks, they were read as a unit.

Henry A., son of B. and M. A. Keeler, d. April 6, 1870; age (broken; could be 1 mo.) 6 das.
(stone broken)

Anne C,. wife of Henry Seaba, d. Oct. 17, 1879; in the 83 year of her age.
(stone broken in half)

Daniel Orsborn (this was a broken piece; no other portion of stone was found)

Lily, dau. of C. and S. A. Seaba, d. Aug. 11, 1871; age 1 yr. 2 mos.
(stone is broken; remainder of age cannot be read)

Henry Seaba, d. Mar. 21, (stone broken; other part cannot be found)
(He came from Germany)

Jacob Hatter, d. Sept. 23, 1860; age 32 yr. 11 mos. 6 das.

Jasper M., son of J. & N. (likely Hatter) (Stone broken; cannot find part about his death or age)

Ma (remainder of name is broken off as stone is broken in half) wife of J. J. Jaques, d. Feb. 12, 1859; age 24 yrs.

(First name is broken off of stone) Jaques, b. Mar. 12, 1857; d. Jan. 6, 1862

(Name broken off), ___________, 1866; age 68 yrs. 7 mos. 20 das.

(Stone broken, only age appears) age 64 yrs. 11 mos. 29 das.

(Stone broken), __________ 4, 1860; ________ yrs. 7 mos.

Frederika A., dau. of J. & J. Winegarden, d. Dec. 16, 1869; age 1 yr., 1 mo. 20 das. (Top of stone is broken off)

William, son of J. and B. Goering, d. Aug. 29, 1872; age 6 yrs. 4 mos. 20 das. (This stone is not broken)

(Marker with "R.W." on it)

Josephein, dau. of J. and M. Gross, d. July 21, 1876; age 2 mos. 21 das. (This stone is not broken)

John, son of J. and A. M. Gross, b. June 27, 1862; d. Dec. 18, 1875 (Stone is broken only at edges)

Rachel Wollf, d. July 31, 1863; age 20 yrs. 9 mos. 16 das. (Stone is broken)

(First name not readable) Scharnhorst, d. Sept. 27, (year broken off); age 75 yrs. (remainder of age broken off) (This stone was broken into many pieces.)

Additional Information

Mrs. Estella Hinnah Luers reports that her father's brother, Wilhelm Hinnah, born December 1, 1863 and died October 27, 1881, is buried in Old Bethel Cemetery. Perhaps two or three infant brothers and sisters are also buried there.

Mrs. Grace Scott reports that John Snakenberg, her great grandfather, was buried in Old Bethel. She does not know his birth or death dates.

Mrs. Edna Kuhn Hoffman reports that her grandfather John Henry Gruber, born in 1826 and died in 1863, is buried in Old Bethel Cemetery.

Transcribed by Diane Muir. Thanks so much, Diane!

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