Johnson Cemetery

 

A HISTORY OF THE JOHNSON CEMETERY ASSOCIATION
by
FRED KIECHEL

Gate at Johnson Cemetery

The following facts may be of more than passing interest to people of this community, many of whom are not acquainted with the beginnings of the Johnson Cemetery or know that the present burying ground is not the original either in size or location.

In 1883, two years after the railroad had been built and the Lincoln Land Co. had located the town of Johnson, J. P. Miller, owner of the west half of section 7, including the west part of town, platted a small tract of land for cemetery purposes, naming it, "Johnson Cemetery". This tract was south of the present M. E. church parsonage, just south of the railroad tracks. I still have a deed for lot 98 in this plot of ground, which deed is signed by Mr. Miller and his wife, Katherine; it was drawn by John C. Greer, first notary and banker of Johnson.

Snodgrass family plot

This tract was hardly suitable for a cemetery, a fact that from the first was quite apparent. It was low and poorly drained, had little room for expansion and had other faults. So some five years later, a movement was started to secure a more sightly and suitable location. Meanwhile the legislature had passed laws governing cemetery activities, so at a meeting of those interested an association was formed in legal manner. A board of trustees, consisting of T. J. Alexander, chairman, L. D. Fletcher and T. E. Snodgrass, was chosen; Daniel Casey was selected as treasurer and Benton Aldrich as secretary. Then the search began for a more suitable location, Mr. Miller at first refused to admit his poor choice of location and to provide the new association with more suitable land, so the committee secured an option on five acres in the southeast corner of section 6, then owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Snodgrass, now the farm of A. L. Adams, Johnson merchant. Mr. Miller then bowed to the inevitable and offered to sell the five acres where the Cemetery now is situated, at a price of $100 per acre. This offer was accepted and Riley J. Gilbert, then county surveyor was engaged to survey and locate the outer lines. The ground was seeded down and the late Julius B. Johnson; an expert civil engineer platted the grounds; laying out lots and burial spaces in orderly manner, providing for drives and walks, etc. Special inducements were made to those who had made interment in the old plat and arrangements were made with John Walton, relative of Wm. H. Hawley to move the interred bodies to the new grounds.

By the time these preliminaries were made it was too late in the season for any planting to be done, but early in the spring of 1899, Mr. Aldrich and myself drove to the Harris' nurseries near Tecumseh and purchased evergreens, shrubs and ornamental plantings for the grounds and in the next few days Mr. Aldrich and I set these out. A week later, I procured the elms for the "circle" and the north side and these were added to our efforts. For nearly half a century I have watched, with ever increasing pride, these plantings grow into stately trees and bowers of beauty, enhancing their surroundings.

Miller-Snodgrass family plot

As stated above, the Johnson Cemetery association was organized in 1888, according to the laws of the state; is recorded in Book 1 of miscellaneous articles, page and deposited in the archives of Nemaha county, recorded by Thomas H. Gillan, then county clerk. The personnel of the board had changed, of course, but had remained a sort of "family affair". With the resignation of L. D. Fletcher, in the '90's, I was appointed to his place and have been a member of the board continuously to this day. Other members today include: D. Clarke Casey, grandson of Daniel Casey, the first treasurer; J. A. Johnson, son of Julius B. Johnson, above mentioned; H. R. Aldrich, grandson of Benton Aldrich; and Mrs. Elsie Wallar, daughter of the late T. E. Snodgrass, one of the original trustees and who served in that capacity until his death.

At the present time there are 107 lot owners in the Johnson Cemetery Association and the interments number 290. These figures are significant when we consider that in this immediate section there are eight other burying grounds. If the exact number of burials in these nine cemeteries were known, the aggregate would make an impressive total, and would show the rate of mortality in an average rural community in a given period of time.

Helen & Gene Snodgrass grave

Many of the early pioneers in this section have their final resting place in the Johnson Cemetery and their posterity comes ever and again to strew flowers o'er their graves in grateful remembrance. I have spent more than half my years in the service of this Association and have seen our cemetery changed from a barren field to one of the most beautiful burial grounds to be found anywhere. By the immutable laws of nature, I shall soon be compelled to yield my task to other hands and shall leave the part I have played as above outlined, as a fitting memorial to my posterity and to generations yet to come.

FRED KIECHEL
Johnson, Nebraska.
November 1st, 1935.


JOHNSON CEMETERY AUXILIARY
by
MADGE BROADY

The following was originally published under the heading "More Reminiscing The Johnson Cemetery" in The Johnson Rag on July 12, 1988.

About 1900, the Johnson Cemetery Auxiliary was organized. Mrs. George Dominey served as president, Dona Stuck as secretary and Jeannie Zook as treasurer.

Memorial stone at Johnson Cemetery

Mrs. Augusta Ottersburg, Mrs. Jeannie Zook and Mrs. Mae Clarke were the finance committee who collected money to hire Tom Humphrey to make the cement blocks for a side walk from the west side of town to the cemetery. The names on the donors were put on their blocks.

In October 1963, the county asked that they might remove the blocks for safety reasons and they were sold for $2.00 a block. The side walk has served as a pleasant walk from town and it was a favorite biking place for the young. Many of these blocks were purchased by family members.

The Cemetery Auxiliary was disbanded in the 1990s but with their tireless efforts many fund raising events were held.

Sidewalk at Johnson Cemetery




Donations to help support the upkeep of this cemetery may be sent to:
Treasurer
Johnson Cemetery Association
P.O. Box 215
Johnson, NE  68378.

This is not an official website of the Johnson Cemetery Association.
This site is owned and maintained by Omer Leslie Snodgrass II and is in no way affiliated with the Johnson Cemetery Association


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