College student preserves graveyard
Katelyn Olson can show you where she might be buried.
The Bethel college student has marked her family’s plot and those of other Zion Lutheran Church members as she updates a cemetery map the church has used since 1989.
Larry Hiller, the graveyard’s caretaker, asked Olson to tackle the project which now takes up a sewing room in the basement of Olson’s home five minutes from Goessel.
“He just approached me one day and was like ‘hey, you like history, do you want to do the map?’” Olson said.
She received the map from Hillsboro Historical Society, which had been using it for a genealogy project.
The oldest graves are in the bottom right corner of the graveyard. They date from Zion Lutheran’s charter in 1904. The most recent are from this past year.
Olson has been compiling the new map by using the old one, which is handwritten. Reserved graves are marked in pencil on the new map.
Some of the names are barely legible from time or wear, which means Olson has to instead rely on grave rubbings from tombstones.
She has been transcribing the names to a spreadsheet that is to be transferred onto the new map.
“On my little spreadsheet, I have who they are and where they are,” she said. “Bold is who died, italicized and underlined is for reserved.”
Hiller got to choose his grave site as well, though Olson recalled some conflict with his spouse.
“He wanted to be buried near the grain,” she said, “but his wife wanted to be near the trees.”
Last modified Aug. 4, 2021