|IOWA CEMETERIES, KEOKUK COUNTY|
SUNNY RIDGE CEMETERY
South Plank Township
Sunny Ridge Cemetery (sometimes called Lutheran, Evangelical, German Creek or Brick Church Cemetery) is located three and one-half miles east of Sigourney, Iowa, on Highway 92. It is on the south side of the highway with an entrance on the northeast corner of the cemetery grounds.
This cemetery is completely fenced with no gate at the driveway entrance into it. There is a small white frame chapel standing approximately in the spot where the Brick Church stood. This chapel was used in years past for funeral services. The cemetery is kept well mowed, except the portions of the grounds where there are no graves.
[Picture not Available]
(This picture was taken from Highway 92, northwest of the cemetery, looking southeast.)
Charles Seger and wife, Warranty Deed
Description: Two acres square out of the North Fractional Half of the North Quarter of Section 4, Township 75 North, Range 11 West of the 5th P.M. ?? the conditions of this deed is that so long as it remains in possession of the above said denomination or among other Protestant Denominations, is not valid and should be conveyed to a denomination not authorized by this instrument, then the above said premises to fall back to the original owners or their heirs or assigns.
In 1857, the Evangelical Church, which had out grown its log church located south of Stony Point school on the Henry Mohme farm, bought a two-acre plot of ground from Charles Seger and his wife, Caroline. The deed was made to the "Lutherian" Denomination, but the religious group which purchased the property belonged to the Evangelical Synod of North America, with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. (The cemetery has often been erroneously referred to as the Lutheran Cemetery.)
[Picture not available]
A brick church building was erected on this two-acre plot and a home for the pastor was built near the church. It was decided to use some of the ground for a burial plot and the burials were made in rows in the order of death dates. The rows of graves began northeast of the church, the rows running from north to south from the public road toward the church. Because the burials were in date sequence in rows, families are scattered in the "row" section of the cemetery.
In 1887, the Evangelical Church constructed a church building in the town of Sigourney, to provide a more central location for the church members many of whom lived in Sigourney or in the rural areas south and west of Sigourney. Services were also conducted in the Brick Church (Evangelical Church) east of Sigourney for those members who lived in the immediate vicinity. The two Evangelical Churches continued for a time.
In January, 1904, at a meeting of the church members of the German Creek congregation (Brick Church), it was decided to enlarge and beautify the cemetery where over 200 persons were buried. They decided to get away from the use of "row burials" and lay out lots to meet the wishes of families. They also decided to sell the parsonage and old barn so the lots could be measured and laid out and a new fence put around the cemetery.
From minutes of meetings of the Evangelical Church at German Creek, there is evidence that the members took great pride in improving and beautifying their church grounds. They decided in June, 1904, that their members be allowed to join the church, yet retain their full right of expression in the affairs of the Evangelical Congregation of German Creek.
In November, 1904, the plans were discussed for laying out the additional lots, the size of which were to be 12 x 20 feet. After reading the church books, the following persons were to have a right of ownership of the possessions of the congregation: John Beinke, Wilhelm Beinke, H. Duensing, Sr., C. H. Wolfe, D. D. Buehneman, F. F. Wickenkamp, D. Bakehouse, W. Wickenkamp, Sr., H. Wickenkamp, Jr., F. Bakehouse, Albert Polke, Fred Meyer, Fred Schwenke, Ludwig Koch, W. Wickenkamp, Herman Luers, Andrew Kadel.
On November 27, 1904, the laying of lots having been completed, the group met to give opportunity for the members to draw for lots. The former officers of the old parish were relieved of their offices since the congregation was not organized as such any longer. In place of the officers of the congregation, the owners of the cemetery directed three men to handle the cemetery business. Wilhelm Beinke, F. F. Wickenkamp, and D. D. Buehneman were elected to take care of these duties. A constitution was formulated, the owners of the cemetery to meet every two years to elect three men from their midst to take care of the cemetery business. Office was to be held for two years.
From the minutes of the cemetery owners (members of the Evangelical Church of German Creek), it appears that meetings were held every two years; however, the time of meeting was changed from January to the fall of the year. The main interest was always in the care of the buildings and the cemetery grounds.
In the year 1914, a storm came through the area severely damaging the Brick Church. In the September 20, 1914, meeting, Fred Bakehouse, Charles Seger, and Dick Schimmelpfennig were asked to tear down the remainder of the building. Wilhelm Beinke, Fred Bakehouse, Henry Duensing, and Chris Pfannebecker also helped dismantle the building. The committee – Bakehouse, Seger, and Schimmelpfennig were to solicit funds for a new building to be erected in which to have funeral services and to serve as a chapel on the grounds. John Schwenke and Henry Schwenke built the new structure.
On October 12, 1917, the officers of German Creek Cemetery were: F. C. Bakehouse, President; Dick Schimmelpfennig, Vice President; Oscar Pfannebecker, Secretary, and William Meyer, Treasurer. In 1917 the name of the cemetery was changed to Sunny Ridge, previously called German Creek Cemetery.
On June 10, 1926, a permanent trust fund was created and earners were to be used for the maintenance of the cemetery.
In recent years there have been no regular business meetings of the cemetery group and no election of officers. Oscar Pfannebecker, who is now deceased, looked after the cemetery for ten or fifteen years. After his death, Denver Pfannebecker, brother of Oscar, has been taking care of the cemetery business. Denver Pfannebecker is an uncle of Mrs. Kenneth (Helen) Linder and Mrs. LeRoy (Nettie) Olin.
There have been gifts of money and bequests to the cemetery. The proceeds(?) from the permanent funds and the money received through the township trustees are used at the present time to keep the cemetery mowed and the fences in repair. At the present time the Chapel is not in use. The cemetery records at the present time are with Denver Pfannebecker. He has worked faithfully in caring for the cemetery and looking after the business connected with it.
At first, few of the persons had headstones or the headstones since the cemetery's beginning have been broken or removed. Apparently a list of the burials was kept with the names, birth dates, and death dates, but that list has been lost so it is impossible to know who has been buried in the church plot in the earlier years.
Because the spaces between the stones standing in the cemetery rows do not seem uniform, the space allowances may have varied for infant and adult burials. There is no certainty as to how many may have been buried in one row. The rows appear to be approximately 100-110 feet in length with about 22 to 24 bodies per row.
There is no plot of the row section, but the lots later laid out are recorded in the record book. The diagram that follows is a sketch of relative proportion.
M (no name readable; no other information)
V Henry Pfannebecker, Sr., b. Jan. 26, 1824; d. Dec. 28, 1905
* M designates Funeral Home metal marker
* V designates Veteran
Burials next to ?? ???? end (Row 11)
Burials By Lots – Lot 1
(Lots 5 to 11, inclusive, are not for sale)
M Mary Schwenke, 1880-1965
(Lots 17 to 22, inclusive, not for sale)
(Lots 28 to 33, inclusive, not sold)
Lot 34 – No apparent burials
Burials in row of lots between Chapel and Row Burials, from east to west.
For all of the burials mentioned here, no stones identify the burial spaces.
Albert Bakehouse (age 86) reports that as a child he remembers that there was a small plot the size of a few graves with a picket fence around it to the south of the brick church building and he had understood that there were graves in the enclosure. He does not remember whether there were stones there or who else was buried there.
Emma Fairchild (age 88) reports that two small children who were brothers of her father, Henry Cassens, died and were buried in the plot in the southeast corner of the cemetery grounds (above mentioned plot). The area must have contained a spring, as the ground seemed rather soggy and wet, so some of the bodies of the adults and small children were removed and reburied in the row section. A number of the adults and children were not taken up as their next of kin felt that they did not want to disturb the burials. That area was kept mowed and relatives cared for the graves of their family members. In recent years there has been no mention of that plot as a burial grounds and few people know that one ever existed in that corner of the cemetery grounds.
Mrs. Augusta Hauschild reports that Amanda Hauschild, the mother of her husband, Peter Hauschild, was buried in the row section of Sunny Ridge Cemetery. He died about 1916; the exact date is not known. Her husband had a sister, also named Amanda Hauschild, buried in the row section. She died sometime in the early 1900's.
Mrs. Elmer (Lottie) Hauschild reports that her husband, Elmer, had a half-brother, John Hauschild, buried in this cemetery. No dates are known. Henry Hauschild, a brother of Elmer, is buried in what is designated as Row 11, but there is no stone. He was born September 24, 1878, and died July 21, 1950.
Mrs. Louise Buehnemann Strohman, wife of Louis Strohman, says that her grandmother, Louise Buehnemann, was buried in Sunny Ridge. She does not know the birth or the death dates.
Freda Bruns reports that according to the old death records of the church and cemetery, Caroline Schimmelpfennig, her great grandmother is buried in Sunny Ridge Cemetery. Her death date is July 30, 1878. It is believed that her stone was in Row 8, where there is only the base standing now in the beginning of that row.
Albert Bakehouse says that in the row section northeast of the Chapel there are three of his aunts (sisters of Fred and Dick Bakehouse) buried there. Two died when they were very young, about two or three years old, and one when about twelve years old. There never was a tombstone there and he does not know the approximate dates.
Mrs. Malina Ahrens Herrick reports that her great grandfather, John Schroyer is buried in Sunny Ridge Cemetery. He died June 2, 1878. His birth date is not known at this time.
Transcribed by Diane Muir. Thanks so much, Diane!
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