Neighbors: Volunteers keep cemetery from disappearing in ND prairie
It's a cemetery that could have disappeared in the North Dakota prairie. But thanks to some volunteers, the Norman Lutheran Church cemetery east of Kindred has been restored.
It’s a cemetery that could have disappeared in the North Dakota prairie. But thanks to some volunteers, the Norman Lutheran Church cemetery east of Kindred has been restored.
Last October, a plaque was erected and dedicated on the site.
Hank Trangsrud, West Fargo, one of those who worked on the restoration, sent information about this to Neighbors.
The work included ridding the cemetery of weeds, then, with the help of Prairie Restoration, Hawley, Minn., native prairie grasses were planted.
Hank and Greg Plath, Kindred, prepared an area on the west end of the cemetery to install a plaque. It is near a cross and the reset grave stone of Clara Stenjhem.
Clara was 3 when she died in 1881. Hers is the only grave stone still on the site.
Norman Lutheran is considered the oldest continuuously active Lutheran church in North Dakota. Its first building, a log cabin, was built in 1872. The cemetery is located near that site.
The church was founded by settlers from Norway.
Church records indicate at least 46 people were originally buried in this cemetery, but several later were moved to a new cemetery.
Hank says not all grave had stone markers. Some had wooden markers which have deteriorated. So it is possible there are up to 30-some graves still in the cemetery.
The plaque says the log cabin was moved several times, ending up at a Sons of Norway park about a half mile northwest of the present church. It was dis-assembled in 1949, shipped and reassembled at the Norwegian Emigrants Museum in Hamar, Norway, where it stands as a tribute to the early Norwegian Lutherans who settled in North Dakota.
The restoration of the cemetery was originated by the late Harold Thrane.
Harold, who lived near the cemetery, was a World War II veteran who flew with the famed Flying Tigers in China. He is the one who erected a cross on the old cemetery site.
His brother, Ralph, St. Paul, participated in the dedication. He gave a history of his family’s involvement in the farmland on which the cemetery is located.
Hank reported on the restoration efforts and the Rev. Helen Kuhen, Moorhead, the interim pastor of the church, gave a reading and prayer.
Then Ralph and Erik Berg, Kindred, president of the congregation, unveiled the plaque.
It all was a guarantee that the tiny 1-acre cemetery and the graves of those buried there, including little Clara, will not be forgotten.
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