Return to Seward Diary, August 2001

                                                                                                                                               Alice Imig Stipak2001
"Return to Seward Diary, August 2001, Entry #4"

Discovery in Greenwood

                  [see many grave photos at bottom of this page!]

                  SEWARD CIVIC CENTER

Thursday, August 9, 2001, after lunch

As we pulled out of our parking space in front of the Seward Civic Center, I savored our good fortune at having met Della, the daughter of a first cousin of my grandfather George Imig, right there on the street. Was it just the nature of a small town of 6,000 for everyone to know each other and often be related? Or was it truly a stroke of luck to unexpectedly run into so close a relative after 70 years of separation? Whichever the case, I was glad for the success of my reckless "shotgun approach," hailing total strangers to ask if they had heard of my family surnames.

Suddenly, to our left just a couple of blocks east of the Civic Center, we saw "IT" for the first time. By "IT," I am referring to what is by far the oddest thing in Seward, the Time Capsule. As my brother applied the brakes so we could get a good look, we gawked at the large white pyramid and the strange giant sideways "W" displayed prominently on a lawn, just yards from our car. The sign read, "WORLD'S LARGEST TIME CAPSULE -- GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS 1977."

Later, we would be told how two brand-new cars and myriad other generation-specific items had been locked in there, presumably for the enjoyment of future Sewardites.

Curiosity satisfied, we turned left at 2nd Street and drove north. Surprisingly quickly, we spotted a cemetery ahead on our left in an area of impeccable yards and homes. We jumped out, and while I was focusing my camera on the "Greenwood Cemetery" sign, my brother charged purposefully through the gate.

Not having a map of the cemetery, and seeing that it was not an impossibly large one, I began to zoom to and fro vacuum-cleaner style among the gravestones, greedily sucking in the names and waiting for a familiar one to grab me.

Meanwhile, Brian, who had made a beeline for the very back area of the cemetery, was now yelling, "Yo!" and waving his arms at me. Thrilled that he had apparently made an interesting find, I high-tailed it toward him, only missing a beat to make a mental note of some MAYLAND stones I would want to get back to later.

As I neared him, my eye was caught by our first stone, a large pink upright marble beauty gleaming in the sun with four precious capital letters, I M I G.
IMIG STONE close-up
IMIG STONE with 5 Imig graves

I had never before seen one like it for our family, and the sight of it brought my heart to my throat. I was struck and somehow comforted by the realization that the marble is a similar color to the one Brian and I had chosen for the grave of our dear mother, June Imig Stipak, one sad November day in 1995, far away in Sacramento, California.
June's Grave in California

I lovingly touched the stone, and it warmed my Imig fingers as I moved slowly around to the other side. I then saw five stones in the ground directly in front of the IMIG family stone. Impatient in my excitement, I started reading the names upside-down while I walked toward them:

OTTO AUG. IMIG 1887-1887

Yes, oh yes! Here lay none other than my grandfather's parents, Carl and Anna!

On Anna's left was her sister Katharina, Carl's first wife. Carl and the sisters were first cousins, and, as if that weren't enough, Anna's first husband was Carl's brother Friederich. After the early deaths of Katharina and Friederich, Anna and Carl married each other, combined their families of nine and six children, and then for good measure had one son together, my Grandpa George.

To the left of Katharina was her infant son Otto, who was born and died in 1887, the year of Katharina's death; did she die in childbirth, I wondered? To Otto's left was Elizabeth, known as "Lizzie," an unmarried daughter of Katharina, who lived to the age of 27. Picturing old photos I had seen of Carl, Anna, and Lizzie in my mind, I greeted them from the bottom of my heart, caressing their resting place with the blue eyes they had given me.
Five Imig Graves

"Brian," I marveled aloud to my brother who was examining stones in the next row, "These are Grandpa's parents!"

"There are some really old graves over here, with German written on them," he replied, and immediately captured my attention. I pulled my eyes away from my great-grandfather Carl's family to see Brian hovering over some incredibly ancient-looking stones.
Brian at Old Imig Graves

Not daring to hope that they might be yet more of our ancestors, I walked around from the back of the stones to stand next to him. Together we admired the largest one of the group, an unusual double gravestone, elegantly designed, with two separate stones rising together from a base that had "IMIG" engraved in big letters. They come together in an arch at the top with a relief carving of hands clasped together lovingly. Never have I seen a more touching portrayal of husband and wife sharing eternity.
Friedrich and Johanna Pleines Imig Double-Stone

Enchanted, I kneeled down to squint in the bright sunlight at the inscriptions on the faces of the worn white stones. My heart fluttered as I read the names: "Friedrich Imig" on the left, and "Johanna Imig" on the right. With a start, I hurriedly checked the dates, Sep. 9, 1819-Dec. 16, 1883, and July 16, 1825-Jan 3, 1895, all written in German. "Brian," my voice trembling slightly now, "These must be our great-great-grandparents! I can't believe it!"
Friedrich and Johanna Pleines Imig Double-Stone Close-up

I had heard from Imig researcher-cousins that our great-grandparents Anna and Carl were buried in Greenwood. But it was a complete surprise to discover Anna's parents here. Mesmerized, I listened reverently while my brother read aloud and roughly translated the fading German, including passages from both the New and the Old Testaments, inscribed on the aged but remarkably well-preserved stones. The following week, Udo Strickfaden, an Imig researcher in Germany who is married to our distant cousin, would kindly decipher the least legible text:

[Friedrich's stone inscription:]

Hier Ruhrt
Sep. 9. 1819
Dec. 16, 1883
64 y.3m.7d.
Lasset uns ihn lieben
denn er hat uns zuerst
geliebt. 1st Johannis
Kap 4. Vers 19.


Here Rests
Sep. 9. 1819
Dec. 16, 1883
64 y.3m.7d.
Let us love Him
because He first loved us
1st John
Chapter 4, Verse 19

[Johanna's stone inscription:]

Hier Ruhrt
Juli 16.1825
Jan. 3. 1895
Alter [Aged]
69 y. 5m. 18d.
Ich habe dich je und
je geliebt darum habe
ich dich zu mir gezogen aus
lauter Guete
Jeremia Kap. 31. Vers 3.


Here Rests
July 16.1825
Jan. 3. 1895
69 y. 5m. 18d.
I have loved you
with an everlasting love
therefore I have drawn you to me
with loving kindness.
Jeremiah Chapter 31, Verse 3

The hot, dry ground of the Greenwood Cemetery was alive with grasshoppers and memories. As I cast my eyes out over the gravestones near my joyfully rediscovered great-great-grandparents, they became filled with names like BLUHM, GARNER, GEMBLER, GRAFF, IMIG, KALTENBORN, MAYLAND, PLEINES, SCHROEDER, WALL, and WILKEN. Clearly, very many of my Grandpa George Imig's uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, and in-laws were buried all around us, everywhere I looked. And I wanted to meet them all.

[Coming next: Return to Seward Diary, August 2001: "Heaven Can't Wait"]

      Alice Imig Stipak, a grateful granddaughter of Seward

*Please note that the following 3 photos were not taken by Brian or me. Rather, I respectfully and gratefully scanned them from the "Welcome to Seward, Nebraska" brochure I picked up at the Civic Center. I would like to extend my gratitude to the Seward Area Chamber of Commerce, who produced and distributes this lovely brochure at no cost to us visitors. I missed taking photos of the Civic Center or the Time Capsule when I was there, and the aerial photo courtesy of Whistler Aviation of the Courthouse could only have been taken from a plane, of course.

Seward Civic Center
Seward Time Capsule
Courthouse, Aerial View


Greenwood Cemetery Entrance 1
Greenwood Cemetery Entrance 2

Bluhm Family Stone 1
Bluhm Family Stone 2

Imig and Breitenbach Stones

Mary and Harry Garner Graves

Gembler Family Stone
Alice G. and Egbert Gembler Graves
Katherine I. Gembler Graves
Nicolaus Gembler Grave

Alfred Graff Grave
Ernest E. Graff Grave
Graff and Imig Stones
Laura H. Graff Grave
Theresa [Graff?] Grave
William Graff Grave
William Graff Family

Imig Family Stone 1
Imig Family Stone Close-up
Alice Imig Stipak (living) in Greenwood
Brian Imig Stipak (living) in Greenwood 1
Brian in Greenwood 2
Anna Imig Grave
Carl Imig Grave
Elizabeth Imig Grave
Five Imig Graves
Fredrick C. Imig Grave
Frederick E. Imig Grave
Frederick E. Imig Grave Closeup
Friedrich and Johanna Pleines Imig Double-Stone
Friedrich and Johanna Pleines Imig Double-Stone Close-up
Graff and Imig Stones
Kathrena and Carl Imig Graves
Kathrena Imig Grave
MarieW. Imig
MarieW. and Fredrick C. Imig
May (Imig) Ernest Wall
Otto Aug. Imig
Unknown Imig Baby Grave

Wall and Kaltenborn Stones

Mayland Family Stone 1
Mayland Family Stone 2
Alma Mayland
Anna E. (Imig) Mayland
Clara Mayland (Living)
Henry D. Mayland Grave
Milton H. Mayland Grave

Emma (Meyer) and William Schroeder


Emma (Meyer) and William Schroeder
Schroeder and Wall Stones

Wall Family Stones

Helena Wall Grave
Marie "May" (Imig)Wall Family Graves
May (Imig) and ErnestWall Graves
Wall and Kaltenborn Stones
Schroeder and Wall Stones

Johanne M. Wilken Grave
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Updated 15 Sept 2001
Copyright Alice Imig STIPAK 2001. All rights reserved. Commercial use of this material is strictly prohibited.