O'Brien County Cemeteries   

Here is a link to O'Brien cemetery maps.

Cemetery location data provided by TopoZone.com, which in turn uses United States Geological Survey coordinates. The coordinates are entered into the Microsoft® MapPoint ® online mapping site to generate cemetery maps. The maps give turn by turn driving directions; and allow the user to zoom in, pan left to right, up and down, etc. Created for IAGenWeb courtesy of Rich Lowe Jr.


Located just north of Germantown. Oldest readable date is 1881.


This cemetery is located in the southeast corner of section 14. The oldest readable date is 1876, and the latest 1889. It includes a civil war veteran named Gano. Many of the burials are children and are believed to be diptheria victims.


This cemetery is also unnamed. It was probably a Lutheran cemetery as St Emanuel's Lutheran Church was located nearby. Oldest date is 1888 with the surname Steuck, and most recent date is 1952.


Another unnamed cemetery, this one includes the surnames Brinkert, Steuck, and Buse. The oldest date is 1892 and the latest 1957.


Located in Section 7 of Grant Township across the road from the Covey Church. This cemetery dates back to 1874  when Wm Slock promoter of the cemetery was buried. The last burial was in 1943. Early religious affiliation was Congregationalist and later Methodist.


Located south of Hartley. The oldest burial is 1876 and the cemetery is still active.


The earliest date for this cemetery is 1880 and the last burial date 1967. The cemetery is located in Section 12 of Highland Township


Located on the east side of Mapleside Church. Earliest burial is 1886.


Liberty Cemetery is located on O'Brien County Road B62 (also known as 500th Street), 1 mile west of State Highway 59. This intersection is 1.2 miles south of the entrance to Calumet, IA. Oldest date is 1875.


First established in 1883 with the first burial of 2 year old Eliph Hastings who died May 17 1883. The cemetery was moved several times in the first years and the name changed from the original Union cemetery to the present Prairie View East and Prairie View West.


The earliest date in this small cemetery is 1913.


Located in Primghar, Summit Township, Section 36. The earliest date is 1877.


Located in Summit Township, Section 2, one mile south of Sanborn.


Located one mile west of Sanborn on the south side of Highway 18 in Section 34 of Franklin Township. The earliest date is 1879 and the cemetery is still active.


Located east of Sheldon on the north side of East Ninth Street in Floyd Township Section 32. The oldest burial is 1871 and the cemetery is still active.The cemetery has been listed and is on the O'Brien site.


Located across the street from the East Lawn Cemetery. The oldest burial is 1876 and the cemetery is still active.The cemetery has been listed and is on the O'Brien site.


Located in the southeast part of Sheldon in Floyd Township, Section 32. the oldest burial is 1894.
The cemetery has been listed and is on the O'Brien site.


Located just north of the Waterman Cemetery in Section 8. Oldest date is 1893.


Contains a monument which reads "In memory of the Pioneers Hannibal H. Waterman 1821-1908; wife, Hannah H. Waterman 1836-1923. First white settlers in O'Brien County, Iowa. Arrived July 11 1856" An adjacent monument reads "In memory of Grand Army of the Republic Union Forces of the Civil War 1861-1865 and James P. Martin, Iowa's last Civil War Veteran who died Sept 20, 1949" Several Civil War veterans are reportedly buried in this cemetery. Oldest date is 1870.


Located 1/2 mile east of road going by the old Waterman house. Monument states: "Hannibal H. Waterman Cemetery. Established 1859. Dedicated to the memory of the 15 pioneers who rest beneath this sod. Erected by the American Legion of O'Brien County 1938." Burials here are Owen S. Waterman, age 10 yrs, died Dec 10 1871; Leon Grant Waterman, born Oct 5 1869, died May 6 1870; A son (unnamed) Waterman age 3 weeks, died May 14 1859; A son (stillborn) of Mr & Mrs H.H. Waterman ;Dr. Luther E Head, died Sept 21 1872 (a civil war veteran); Mr Hycks, brother-in-law of George & Ezra McComber; Mr. Prince; Baby, 1 1/2 yrs old from the Judd Allen Family; Mr & Mrs Robinson; Daughter of Mr. & Mrs Robinson, age 19 yrs; Son Decatur, age 18 or 19 yrs; Mr & Mrs Swim; Baby boy, age unknown; Two children of the Coffman family; Archibald Murray, 1871; James A. Dewitt. (The Archibald & Dewitt bodies have been removed to the Peterson, Iowa Cemetery).


Located along the road near the original Waterman homestead a marker states:"Fred Fieldman, Died January 1873" Reportedly, he was a German immigrant who died on the land he homesteaded in the 1860's.

The following transcription was made by Alan Nicholson:

Sutherland Courier, 27 May 1948, p 1

Col. 3

Sutherland's Well-Kept Cemeteries Ready for Memorial Day Observance Monday [article accompanied by photograph of cemetery, and of Caretaker Emil Selk]

Memorial Day, Americans everywhere will visit the "silent city" to honor the memory of their dead. Whether it be in town or at some obscure burial ground, nowhere will be found any comparable in size, to equal the beauty and tranquility of Sutherland's Waterman and Calvary Cemeteries. Waterman cemetery is almost as old as Sutherland itself, and rich in history of the early settlers of the community. From a small beginning of about an acre in the early 1880's, the burial tract has been expanded until today it covers an area of approximately 10 acres. Its "populace" has now reached a total of more that 1200 from the first interment in 1884, marked with an unpretentious, weatherworn, white headstone, as the final resting place of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Arbuckle.

Tragic Incident

History recalls that tragedy occasioned the first burial in the cemetery, that of Mr. Arbuckle who was killed by lightning in a terrific windstorm in July 1884, as he lifted the trap door of the cellar for his family to get away from the storm. And Mrs. J. A. Sweeney recalled that Mr. Sweeney, neighbor of the Arbuckle family, dug his grave, the first in the cemetery. She relates further that her recollection of that storm is stamped upon her mind, for teaching school at that time, her pupils, including the Arbuckle girls, hovered close to her, fearful of the force of the wind and the lightning. Tragedy dogged the family still further, for only six months after Mr. Arbuckle's death, Mrs. Arbuckle, despondent over her bereavement, took her life by poison. She had sent her small son, then too young to attend school, with the older children that day and committed suicide sometime after their departure. She was missing when they returned home in the afternoon and it was several days later before her body was found some distance from the house, near a creek, on the farm now occupied by the Ernest Streufert family.

Arbuckle Location

The Arbuckle burial lot is designated as Block One, lot 76, in the original area. It is located to the left and a short distance east of the main entrance to the cemetery, beside the driveway. Surrounding that timeworn monument may be found some smaller, and less obtrusive, and larger, more elaborate ones. However, in the newer section, the east portion of the cemetery, no headstones are visible, provision having been made by the cemetery association, that lots be sold there with that understanding. Only a flat marker, flush with the ground, is used.

And other graves, those in "Potter's Field", the free burying area, in which are laid to rest those unfortunates, who have no means to defray expenses, are lacking of any markers. This area is to be found about midway on the north side of the cemetery, and contains only a small number of graves.

It is true that some headstones bear dates of deaths earlier than those of the Arbuckles, but hearsay is that they were moved from other burial places to Waterman.

Cemetery Established

Almost as soon as Sutherland was incorporated, in 1882, there was established a "tract of land (continued on page 2) for cemetery purposes". Records reveal that C. J. Sieh and his wife, and H. P. Sieh, single, established the Sutherland cemetery in 1885, after having platted it earlier, and that same year made another brother, A. J. Sieh, a trustee. In 1888 James Porter became a partner of A. J. Sieh and the cemetery was conveyed by deed to them and the name changed to Waterman cemetery. The original owners had platted the area of approximately an acre into lots, enclosing it with a wooden fence. It was from A. J. Sieh and James Porter that the Waterman Cemetery Association, organized and incorporated in 1902, acquired the cemetery. Additional ground to the north, east and south was purchased from F. M. Gaskill at that time, and in 1939 additional territory was purchased from R. W. Lee.

Organization of the cemetery association in 1902 was brought about after Mr. Sieh and Mr. Porter offered it to the community for consideration. G. K. Schultz, as president, and W. P. Davis, secretary, served as its officers for the first year. All lot owners are members of the association and are entitled to vote at the annual meetings. Finances for the association were raised in its beginning by popular subscription and sale of lots. Acquisition in 1932 of a 120-acre farm, by a defaulted mortgage, has been a source of revenue, whereby in these later years, improvements have been made possible at the cemetery. This farm is located in Clay county near Everly and is leased to Adolph Shoenrock, who has been its tenant for seven years.

Women's Auxiliary

Much credit for the present beauty of the cemetery is due to the untiring efforts of the women of the community, who in 1902 formed an auxiliary to the cemetery association. For 30 years the auxiliary functioned, paying dues of 25 cents per year and holding food sales to raise money with which to buy flowers and shrubs, and doing much of the actual work. Different indeed is the present method of caring for the cemetery from the early days, when "bees" were organized to plat the lots, plant trees, build and gravel paths, etc. Some of the original 90 Scotch pines planted in the early 1900's are yet to be seen, standing in stately splendor around and about the grounds.

Today's well-kept appearance and beauty of the cemetery is due in great measure to the work of Emil D. Selk, who takes justifiable pride in his duties as sexton. He works long hours day after day from early spring until late fall to maintain that "look". Especially is it true of his efforts to have the entire grounds in tiptop shape for Memorial Day.

And he will tell you, too, of the changes and methods of caring for the cemetery since he began in 1939, when he succeeded Floyd Hill, who had served as caretaker for a number of years, and who in turn succeeded Chas. C. Drake. For the first five years of the nine that Emil has been working, he mowed the grounds with a hand mower. Mrs. Selk and their daughter, Dorothy, would cut the grass from around the monuments by hand at least three times during the summer. It would take them a week to finish the work, while now with the recent addition of a trimmer, Emil does the same work in about nine hours. And he now has two power mowers with which to cover the entire cemetery. Until the power equipment was added he mowed only the area that had been opened for lots.

New Equipment Added

Emil's new "gadget", the trimmer, besides cutting the long grass from the headstones, doubles as a sidewalk edger when flipped over. In addition to the mowers and trimmer the association recently purchased an "earth wagon" for Emil's use in transferring dirt from graves. It is a 4-wheel side-dump trailer, with a yard and a half capacity.

Visitors to the cemetery will notice that the iron fence has acquired a new coat of paint. Emil did the entire job with a 4-inch paint brush, spending long days in last summer's hot sun. The tool shed also has been dressed up with a new coat of paint. A lean-to has been added for storage of the new earth wagon.

And Emil spends some winter time in the cemetery also, for it is his duty to dig each grave. Many a time in sub-zero temperatures, he has spent long hours, digging through many feet of frost. But Emil takes all this in stride, for it is part of his "job". He says mankind as a whole is very considerate. Occasionally some thoughtless person will cause unnecessary work for him, such as leaving huge branches for him to clear away after Decoration Day. But mostly, he wants his "visitors" to know and feel that their work of beauty for the day is a source of pleasure for him also.

Present officers of the Waterman Association, those people who guide the work of the corporation, include Cora Ewoldt, president, Mrs. Alfred Wittrock, secretary, and Mrs. Ella Peters, treasurer. A committee of two, John Meyer and Alfred Wittrock, take care of the farm interests.

Calvary Cemetery

The history of Calvary cemetery as the private burial grounds for the members of Sacred Heart parish is comparatively modern. In 1907 Right Reverend Phillip J. Garrigan, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City, purchased two acres of land from Henry Jalas and under the direction of Father Le Cair the ground was blessed, platted, and named Calvary Cemetery.

The records show that the first member to purchase a lot in the new parochial cemetery was Michael Betz Sr. The first member to be interred was Julius Rainville in 1908; and in the same year Mr. Betz died and was also buried there. Approximately 75 persons have been interred in Calvary to day.

Last year a Crucifix of art stone, 16 feet high, was erected in the rear center of the cemetery. Shrubs and flowers decorating the plat, were for the most part, planted by individual parishioners.

(Editor's note: the early day history of Waterman cemetery is rather sketchy, no authentic records having been kept until organization and incorporation of the cemetery association in 1902, and since then some of those records are not complete. If anyone has other records other than what has been used in today's paper, we shall be glad to publish them, and thus help to further preserve the facts.)


Sutherland Courier, 10 June 1948, p 3

Col. 6

A Correction

In the story of Waterman cemetery published recently, we stated that Mrs. Franklin Arbuckle had committed suicide six months following the death of her husband. The period was about six weeks according to information given by Miss Lena Brady and Mrs. Mary Thiessen.

For more, see this article.

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