This blog reviews the cemetery of Zion Lutheran Church – Alva. Included is the history of the beginnings of the cemetery, church death register, cemetery census and references to other sources of information.
Ultimately, our Christian faith is directed towards God’s Kingdom and our sure hope that when we fall asleep in the arms of Our Savior we will live with Him. Fully aware of this fact, it was considered important that a cemetery be established. No single issue occupied more attention according to the minutes of congregational meetings than that of establishing such a location. It was decided on October 27, 1901, that a “committee for the church cemetery shall look around for an enclosed piece of land of at least two acres.” Apparently no progress was made because on December 26 the congregation empowered the Trustees to purchase a cemetery without further delay. From the minutes of January 1, 1902:
Since, in reference to the church cemetery, nothing yet could be determined, to the existing members of the committee [E. Wamhoff, J.H. Schaefer, H. Schierloh] four new members were added, namely Wm. Breford, Wm. Quast, A. Wiersig, and Gottlieb Kletke. These shall determine a site.
Here we have a classic example of enlarging the committee to resolve the problem. This also serves as an appropriate place to be reminded of the fact that we are related to these people. It sometimes happens in churches that a single project can inexplicably be dragged out even when everyone wishes to see it concluded. The issue became painfully unavoidable when, on January 26, Ernst Heinrich Kletke, son of E.G. Kletke, died in childhood. In May the Kletke family lost a second child, Gustav Erich. Later, in October, Pastor Herman Meier and his wife lost their young daughter Klara.
The first cemetery plot for these three infants was located 1 mile east and 1 mile south of town and then a short jaunt east into the pasture. This land would be later owned by Ernest Meyer. The story is told that the three children were buried at this site but later had to be moved. The reason why the cemetery was moved remains unknown. Perhaps the desire to locate the cemetery on more level ground inspired the decision. Regardless, it was Rev. Meier and E.G. Kletke who took it upon themselves to move the bodies of their deceased children. Hildegard Kirmse, daughter of E.G. Kletke, recalls the story of their moving these graves. Mr. Kletke told Meier that he wanted to take one last look at his son, Erich. He removed the lid of the coffin and saw that the boy looked just as he did when he was buried; perfectly preserved. Meier, following Kletke’s lead, opened the coffin of his daughter, but the body fell apart.
It looked as though the matter was settled when the minutes of August 24, 1902, state, “It was resolved to purchase for the amount of $50 the place which until now has been used as a church cemetery. It was also resolved to fence in this piece of land.” However, in the minutes of October 5, 1902, we read, “Mr. H. Ritter and Mr. A. Petermann were appointed as a committee in order to negotiate with Mr. J. Wiebener the matter of the church cemetery.” Finally on January 1, 1903, a plot of ground two acres in size, two miles south and one and a half miles east of Alva, was purchased from Albert Wiersig to serve as the burial grounds for those Lutherans welcomed into the Church Triumphant. It was to this location that Mr. Kletke and Rev. Meier moved their children. It remains there to this day and testifies to the many men, women, and children who fought the good fight and kept the faith.
The first two pages of the Zion Lutheran Church – Alva Death Register are shown as illustrative examples of the church death and burial records. These two pages cover the first 10 years of the cemetery.
The following census of the Zion Lutheran Church – Alva cemetery was prepared in 1982.The cemetery has been expanded with a section added to the east side since this census was taken, So this census begins on the northeast corner of the middle section of the cemetery.
The website called Oklahoma Cemeteries.includes a webpage which provides a list of burials at the Lutheran Cemetery, Woods County, Oklahoma. See: http://www.okcemeteries.net/woods/lutheran/lutheran.htm
Find A Grave
Search for individual memorials in Find A Grave at https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/1996499/lutheran-cemetery
Lutheran Cemetery, Alva, Woods County, Oklahoma, USA; is at Latitude: 36.76763, Longitude: -98.63319 and is less than 4 miles from Zion Lutheran Church, Alva, Oklahoma.
- The history section of this blog was taken from Zion Lutheran Church – Alva, Oklahoma 100 year celebration book “Zion Lutheran Church 1899-1999 Alva, OK”.The text was reformatted as well as various spelling, grammar and other modifications were made.
- Zion Lutheran Church – Alva Death Register.. Source: Scanned from Zion Lutheran – Alva – Church Records, December, 2003.
- Hildegard (Kletke) Kirmse, Lutheran Cemetery Census, “Woods County Oklahoma, Rural Cemeteries”. Cherokee Strip Volunteer League,1982.