Odebolt & St. Martin's Cemetery


Odebolt Cemetery
A view of the cemetery looking northwest toward the town of Odebolt.
Photo by Charles Hanson

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VOL. 1, NO. 48

The Odebolt Cemetery

The cemetery association contemplates extensive improvements of the ground this season.  A building has been put up at the north-western corner of the enclosure for keeping the sexton’s tools, etc., and another building is in contemplation for the shelter and convenience of persons visiting the cemetery.  The grounds of the association comprise about three acres and were year before last seeded to tame grass which is settling in nicely.  A carriage way which enters the grounds at the eastern side and describes a circle near the centre [sic] of the enclosure is to be graded and graveled, and the circular space, which is owned by Mr. H. C. Wheeler, will be tastefully ornamented.  This cemetery is used as a burial place by the people of several adjacent townships, as well as those of this township, and we are glad to see that the Association are public spirited enough to put the cemetery grounds in good shape.  We are requested by them to ask all those indebted to the Association to come forward and pay, as they rely in a great measure upon what is due them to make the improvements contemplated.

The Catholic cemetery, comprising about the same number of acres, lies west and adjoining the ground of the Association.  The interments have been much fewer in this and the fence in many places is down.  We hope to see the place put in better shape before long.

Click to enlarge
January 6, 1900 Cemetery Deed
J.H. Babcock & Mrs. H.G. (or H.S?) Babcock
Singed by Henry Hanson

Odebolt Cemetery

(Source:  “As Time Goes By”, Odebolt, Iowa 1877-1977, printed by The Odebolt Chronicle May, 1977, p. 247)


The first Odebolt cemetery was located one mile east and one-half mile south of town.  When the railroad came through in 1877, it was necessary that this location be changed.  It was at this time that H.C. Wheeler donated the original portion of the present site, which was from the middle gate of the present cemetery [1977] to the old tool house where (the) well is located and south to road.  Approximately 76 bodies were brought in from the first cemetery.  Remaining additions to the cemetery were donated by the late W.P. Adams, and the last addition in 1968, consisting of 2 acres on west end, was donated by W.O. Bridge, of Shinrone, Inc., formerly Adams Ranch.  This newest addition is being plotted at present time [1977] but no lots have been sold yet.

On June 23, 1879, the first officers of the cemetery were elected in the law office of John M. Zane.  The following men were named: H.T. Martin, president; W.W. Shanks, secretary; John Wright, treasurer; Z.W. Sparks, E. Geist and John Bruce, trustees; the first sexton was Samuel Kennedy.


In the 1882 secretary’s minutes, the following item was written “Some measure must be adopted to keep people from driving their teams over the graves.”


A few early improvements were made, but it was not until 1888 that a well was dug and the cemetery fenced.  The fence is still intact.  Special mention should be made of Henry Hanson who served as President from 1895 until the time of his death, in 1937.  He planted many trees and sponsored other ideas to beautify the cemetery.  Other officers, trustees, and sextons throughout the years [until 1977] have been:

Presidents:  H.T. Martin, C.W. Sutton, Henry Hanson, Fred Gilbert, George Hanson, M.H. Paul, Russell Kennedy, Almer Noyd.

Secretaries:  W.W. Shanks, C.W.Sutton, Wm. Graham, C.W. Smith, F.W. Stolt, Al Hanson, C.A. Teaquist, J.C. Barkley, Alvin Krusenstjerna.

Treasurers:  John Wright, W.W. Shanks, G.M. Taggert. J.A. Reynolds, Aug. Lundberg, Walter Reynolds, A.W. Lewis, Walter Wadsley, Phyllis Krahl, Joyce Metier, Nancy Witt, Fern Kessler.

Trustees:  F.W. Sparks. E. Geist, John Bruce, Wm. Graham, James Taylor, C.W. Sutton, H.C. Wheeler,  Jos. Mattes, Wm. Sampson, John Wright, N.B. Umbarger, J.W. Younie, J.A. Davenport, J.P. Goreham, J.A. Cranston, F.W. Stolt, A.C. Petersmeyer, Alfred Nelson, Fred Frevert, Fred Gilbert, Fred Raasch, John Fuchs, Wm. Umbarger, Arvid Huldeen, Ira Selby, John Kuhl, Alvin Krusenstjerna.

Sextons:  Samuel Kennedy, L. Schmitz, Wm. Graham, Theo Schroeder, Chas. Wood, L.H. Nunemaker, Chas. King, A. Bloom, Roy Haefner, C.A. Teaquist, J.C. Barkley, Stanley Dublinske, LeRoy Lundblad, Rus Hokanson, Glen Mandernach, Wm. Venzke.


A tombstone with the name Catherine Mummey engraved on it, whose age at her death in 1894, is listed as 99 years 8 months, would have been born in 1795 during George Washington’s Presidency (1789-1797).  This would be one of the earliest birth dates in the cemetery.  This stone is located north of center drive, approximately halfway between the old tool shed and the fence.


On Memorial Day each year, a very impressive service is held at the gravesite of the Unknown Soldier at 10:00 a.m.  This service is conducted by the American Legion and the Legion Auxiliary, assisted by members of Women’s Relief Corp, local ministers and the Odebolt-Arthur School Band.  As of Memorial Day 1976, a total of 155 War Veterans had been buried in this cemetery.  N.B. Umbarger (Confederate), Capt. E.C. Scarlet (British Capt.), Grand Army of Republic - 38 Veterans, World War I - 80, World War II - 29, Korean Period  - 5, Unknown - 1.  As of January 1, 1977 there are 2,226 burials in this cemetery.

Present officers [1977] of this association are:  Paul Fox, President; Tom Down, Secretary; Ralph West, Treas.; Glenn Rohlf, W.E. Story, Almer Noyd, Milton Paul, Bartley Ogden, Trustees.  Henry Chester, Sexton.

Monthly meetings of this association are held at Swanson Insurance Agency with the annual meeting held in Town Hall.


The St. Martin’s cemetery is located adjoining the same site as that of the town cemetery.  Donations have been made by both Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Adams.  Mr. Wheeler donated the east three-fifths in 1879 and the west two-fifths was donated by Mr. Adams in 1915.  The east three-fifths was surveyed and plotted in 1885.  In the early days, the Catholics buried their loved ones on their own land, and then moved the bodies when the cemetery was established.

        By Lola Paul   (transcribed by B. Ekse)  

Odebolt Cemetery Listing at Iowa Gravestone (Off-site)

Odebolt Cemetery listing at Find-a-Grave (Off-site)


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