Return to Seward Diary, August 2001

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"Return to Seward Diary, August 2001, Entry #7"

Secrets of the Stones


Graves at Seward Cemetery

Participants in Seward High School Graduation, 1914:
Faculty and Board of Education:
                  Revs. LUDWICK, REYNOLDS, ROHRBAUGH

Landmarks: SEWARD (old high?) SCHOOL
                  SEWARD "NORTH" CEMETERY [Grave photos listed at bottom of page]

Thursday, August 9, 2001, early evening

At about 6:30, Brian and I became concerned that we were making our delightful Imig cousin Della miss her dinner, so we thanked her for her wonderful hospitality and left in our rental car.

A block north of the Seward Town Square, Brian located a very promising restaurant with a salad bar, pasta, and a nice variety of food. We decided to drive around a little and see more of Seward while it was still light, then come back there for dinner.

We set out to try to find the old Seward High School that our grandmother Alice (Hageman) Imig had graduated from in 1914. She wrote about it in her memoirs, and had kept her graduation program all those years.

"In September, 1911, I entered Seward High School in the ninth grade, graduating in May, 1914. During High School, I played the piano for many functions, including the march at noon and close of school each day, as the pupils marched out of the auditorium. During the four years in High School, a neighbor girl I had grown up with in the country and I, roomed and boarded with a lady in town, going home on week-ends. During my Junior year I belonged to the Girl Scouts. While having a meeting after school, south of town by the river on May 10, 1913, a storm was brewing in the south west and looked vicious. I, among others, left and hurried to our home a mile away, reaching there just as a tornado struck that area of town. Fortunately, my girl friend and I, and two others in the house, reached the tornado cellar just in time. But nine people near us were killed by the tornado.

"In May, 1914, I graduated from High School, and for the graduation exercises I was the first one on the program, playing "Caprice Hongrois" on the piano. Since I majored in Normal Training in High School, I received my Teacher's Certificate, allowing me to teach all elementary grades in a one-room country school..."

Memoirs of Alice (HAGEMAN) IMIG

We had seen an old photo of the former Seward High School building, and were under the impression it was still standing. But when we found the current "Seward High School," that didn't look like it at all, it was too new. On the southwest side of town we spotted a likely looking, dignified old red brick building, and pulled over to take pictures. The sign said "Seward Middle School." Perhaps it had changed functions, and might be the same building as the old Seward High School, we speculated.

Two mothers were there picking up their kids, so I asked them if this was the old Seward High School. They consulted with each other, and agreed that they thought it was, that additions had been built onto it many times so its appearance had changed. Still not sure if this is where Grandma went to school or not, we got back in the car.
SEWARD SCHOOL, north side
SEWARD SCHOOL, east side

Usually I am much more "food-oriented" than Brian, and it had been a long time since our memorable lunch at the Corner Cafe. But on this day my greatest hunger was not for calories, but for family. Maybe we could just make a "quick" run out to the Seward Cemetery before dinner, I suggested, the one everyone seemed to refer to as the "North Cemetery." Knowing how precious this opportunity to research our family in Seward was, and having already magnanimously resigned himself to genealogy being the highest priority of our trip, Brian once again steered the car north.

A couple of miles out of town we came upon the sprawling and stately Seward Cemetery, on the east side of the highway.
SEWARD CEMETERY Entrance Sign Close-up

We drove through the gate at 7:00 and immediately saw a nice big IMIG family stone on our right, exactly where Della had told us that some of our Imig kin were buried. Brian pulled over, and I pounced out to examine the stone.

Near the Imig stone were the graves of my grandpa's first cousin, Della's Uncle Jacob Imig, and his wife Anna E. (Graff) Imig, along with all of their children and a few grandchildren. Here was the final resting place for all of those vibrant people whose faces I had seen a little while ago on Anna and Jacob Imig's family photo page in Wilma (Rocker) Mayer's genealogy booklet: Edwin and Verne, Erwin and Martha, Jacob and Gretchen, and Ted and Vera. I remembered Jacob's Gregory-Peck good looks in their photo, appearing every bit the adoring husband with his lovely wife, Anna E. Graff.
Jacob IMIG Grave
Anna (GRAFF) IMIG Grave [see also at bottom of page under "IMIG, Family of Anna (GRAFF) and Jacob IMIG"]

To my surprise, just across from the Imig family stone was a large FOSLER stone. My mother's Aunt Grace Pearl Hageman had married into the Fosler family, so just in case these Foslers were "ours," I approached the first grave in the group.
Fosler Family Stone

"Grace Fosler," the inscription read, and I dropped to my knees. "Aunt Grace, Aunt Grace!" I sobbed, throwing my arms around her stone and clutching it tightly. This really got to my less sentimental brother Brian, who walked over to stand by me supportively.

"She didn't live to be that old, either," he commented gently.

"Huh?" That didn't sound right, our grandaunt had been given a full 88 years. Confused, I pulled myself back from my sorrow, wiped my eyes, and took a second look at the stone. "Grace I. Fosler," it actually read, with middle initial "I," and the dates were indeed wrong. This was not my great-aunt Grace after all, I realized. Rather, it was the grave of Grace Irene Fosler, the daughter of Orin Seth Fosler's brother Ira G. FOSLER and Maude ANDERSON. This Grace was the niece of my great-aunt Grace's husband.
Grace I., Maude (ANDERSON), and Ira G. FOSLER Graves

Although my grief had been sincere, I couldn't help but see the humor in my dramatic mistake. I threw my head back and laughed, astonishing my brother. "Dear Grace," I said aloud to my relative by marriage, "Forgive my confusion. I do hope you are resting in peace."

A few yards to my right I soon found the real grave of my favorite great-aunt and her husband. I quietly spoke to her from the deep place opened by my earlier, slightly misplaced tears. I thanked her for the wonderful time I had visiting her 30 years ago to the month, when I stayed overnight in her charming 2-story farmhouse. I recalled my fascination with the stories she had shared of growing up on the old Hageman farm with my Grandma Alice, and the photos Orin had taken of real live Nebraska tornadoes. I told her how sorry I was about the passing of LaVerne, her first-born child, just three days earlier. I vowed that I would continue her and LaVerne's work on tracing our family roots and keeping us all together through changing times.
Orin Seth and Grace P. (HAGEMAN) FOSLER

After communing with our beloved great-aunt Grace, I wondered where her son Wayne Orin Fosler and his infant twin Wilma Mae and sisters Evelyn Lucile and Helen Viola were buried.

Looking around, I was again amazed to see an intermingling of my mother's Hageman and Imig sides. Previously, I thought the two names had only come together once, in the marriage of her parents, George Imig and Alice Hageman. But it was apparent that they often crossed paths in the Seward community. Here, in the Seward Cemetery, graves of my Imig cousins were neighbors with those of my Hageman grandaunt and Fosler relatives.
IMIG and FOSLER Stones

Just then I heard my brother say, "Hey, Al, look at this!" I looked up and saw Brian admiring what was to us the "neatest" thing in the Seward Cemetery, the Imig Bench. The Imig bench was built out of the same elegant rose-speckled marble used for the Imig family stones in both this cemetery and in Greenwood, and also picked by us for our mother's gravestone in California. It had "I M I G" inscribed in capital letters on the front.

I accepted the invitation of the Imig Bench and sat down for a few moments in the late-summer evening sun amidst the resting area of my Imig and Hageman-Fosler relatives. The simple but magical bench seemed to provide a meeting place for living and departed family members. For awhile I reflected mystically on this strange, two-sided thing we call life and death.

My favorite childhood aunt, Virginia "Ginny" Imig, died tragically of an allergic reaction to a doctor's prescription for a skin problem at the age of 35 when I was only eight. For years, I felt her unseen presence and loving guidance with me in my backyard and in my classrooms. Sitting on the Imig bench today, I listened for the whispering spirits of Grace and Orin and Jacob and Anna and the others. I thought of their numerous descendants now walking the earth who still hear the echoes of their finished lives and are yet nourished by their unforgotten love...

Having found all the relatives I could in this part of the huge Seward Cemetery, I stood up from the Imig bench and wandered north toward a field of old-looking stones. While Brian took some shots of the northwest and north-central part of the cemetery, I scouted for more family graves.
[Photos of SEWARD CEMETERY posted here:]
Seward Cemetery West 1
Seward Cemetery West 2
Seward Cemetery North 1
Seward Cemetery North 2

Luck was with me, for I soon stumbled upon the grave of my great-great-grandfather, Abraham WALLICK, father of my grandmother's mother, Martha "Viola" (Wallick) Hageman. His stone is a tall, post-shaped beauty, and the inscription is in legible condition. It broke my heart, however, to see the base on which it rests crumbling badly and in need of immediate repair, lest his stone topple over and sustain damage. I made a mental note to try to raise funds to get that fixed before it was too late.

As the emblem next to his grave attests, Abraham was a veteran of the Civil War. I felt awed pride well up in my heart as I recalled that Abraham had been wounded in battle in May 1863, when General Ulysses S. Grant opened the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi. I think Great-Aunt Grace told me he lost an arm, but I'm not sure.
Abraham WALLICK Grave
Abraham WALLICK Grave Close-up

At the top portion of Abraham's gravestone is an engraved star, with the following inscription inside it:
"Comp. D Iowa Inft."
Below that star the inscription reads:
"In Memory of
Born Jan. 1, 1819
Died Jan. 17, 1892
Aged 73 yrs. 16 dys.

To the left of Abraham's grave stands that of one of his sons, William Melville Wallick, equally tall and of similar design. The cross-shaped emblem for veterans of the Spanish-American War is planted next to his stone, and the date of his early death made me think he might have died in combat.
Abraham and William Melville WALLICK Graves
William Melville WALLICK Grave

His inscription reads:
"Wm. M. Wallick
Mar. 14, 1863
Apr. 26, 1900
A Member
of Co. L.
1st South Dakota
Spanish American
War of 1898
He sleeps in peace
life's battle over

A few yards north of these stones I found another family of my relatives, the graves of Abraham V. SKILLMAN, his wife Lucinda (MORTON), and their three infant children Cora, Charlie, and Gracie (at first glance the last name looks like "Cracie," but if you look closely you can see that the first letter is a "G."). Abraham was a half-brother of my great-grandfather, Simon Peter Hageman. Later, I would look at these photos and many others I took of gravestones and wish I had not used the flash.
Abraham V. and Lucinda (MORTON) SKILLMAN Graves
Abraham V. and Lucinda (MORTON) SKILLMAN Graves Close-up
3 Skillman Infants: Cora, Charlie, and Gracie

A little south of this I came upon the graves of another half-brother of my great-grandfather Simon Peter Hageman, Abraham Wilson HAGEMAN, and his wife Henrietta F. (KIRKHUFF). He was also a hero of the Civil War, and his obituary was published in the Seward Co. Independent on October 4, 1900, reading, in part: "A. W. Hageman was born at Fairview, Fulton county, Ill., Feb. 5th, 1841. He lived there with his parents until Aug. 13th, 1862, when he enlisted as a private in Co. D, 103 Ills. Vol. Infantry, in obedience to the call of his country. He served as a faithful soldier until the storming of Missionary ridge on Nov. 25th, 1863, when he was severely wounded in the right arm. He was discharged on account of said wound in the early part of 1864."
Abraham W. HAGEMAN and Henrietta KIRKHUFF Graves
Abraham W. HAGEMAN and Henrietta KIRKHUFF Graves Close-up

As the sun headed down and the mosquitoes came out, Brian retreated to the car to "rest his eyes" while I doggedly hunted for the stones of our great-aunt Grace's children, our great-great-grandmother Mary H. (JOHNSON) WALLICK, and her mother, our great-great- great-grandmother Zerilda "Jane" (WILCOXEN) JOHNSON SNODGRASS. I knew the last two were here somewhere, thanks to my email-friend and Wallick cousin Gussie Sue Paxton, a great-great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Victoria Wallick, my great-grandmother Martha Viola Wallick's oldest sister. Our Johnson cousin Marilyn Burgin had even given me the exact location, "plat 8, lot #55," for Mary, so I expected to find her grave easily. But I couldn't for the life of me find any signs for the numbering layout of the cemetery.

I also really wanted to find the grave of Zerilda, so I kept my eyes peeled for SNODGRASS, the surname of her second husband, James. As I searched, I thought of the biography W.W. Cox had included for her in his book, "History of Seward County, Nebraska," 1888, p.244 (notes in [ ] added by me):


"The mother of Rev. E. W. Johnson, was born Aug. 4, 1812, in North Carolina. She was the daughter of Elijah Wilcoxsen. When she was eighteen her parents moved to Kentucky [no, she was 3 then], from thence to Fulton county, Ill. [when she was 18], and located near the present town of Lewistown. Here she married Moses C. Johnson, in 1831. In 1851 her husband was killed by a runaway team. She was the mother of nine children; two sons and seven daughters. Among these children were Rev. E. W. Johnson; Mrs. Abram Wallich [sic, WALLICK], now deceased, and Mrs. Thomas Skillman. In 1853 she was again married to Mr. James Snodgrass, and by him had one daughter. The old lady died at Seward, Oct. 16, 1874. Her death was caused by injuries received from a fall from the car steps at Seward depot one dark night. She suffered much pain for several months from the injuries. When death came to her relief it found her ready, and she quietly fell asleep in the arms of her Savior."
The little office building for the Seward Cemetery was locked up tight, and there was no sign of a map. I spent the next hour running all over the extensive grounds, peering at old grave markers, to no avail. Growing increasingly frustrated, I could see the stones would not be revealing all of their secrets to me tonight.

[Coming next: Return to Seward Diary, August 2001: "Because They First Loved Us"]

      Alice Imig Stipak, a grateful granddaughter of Seward


Seward Cemetery Entrance
Seward Cemetery Entrance Sign
Seward Cemetery Entrance Sign Close-up
North and West Views
Seward Cemetery West 1
Seward Cemetery West 2
Seward Cemetery North 1
Seward Cemetery North 2


Rose (Allgaier) Payne

Grace I. Maude (Anderson), and Ira G. Fosler

LaVerne (Fosler) Garber Bjorback

Inez Romane (Peterson) and William Austin Brokaw

Henry and Jennie Campbell

Coffey Family Stone

Martha E. (Schroeder) Cooper and Erwin J. Imig

Fosler Family Stone
Fosler-Imig-Morefield Stones
Emma M. and John H. Fosler
Grace I. Maude (Anderson), and Ira G. Fosler
LaVerne (Fosler) Garber Bjorback
Lawilda Fosler (Living)
Orin S. and Grace Pearl (Hageman) Fosler 1
Orin S. and Grace Pearl (Hageman) Fosler 2
Roy R. Florence L. Fosler
Wayne O. Fosler
Wilma Mae Fosler

LaVerne (Fosler) Garber Bjorback

Anna E. (Graff) Imig

Anna Hackworth
Babe H. Eugene Hackworth
Everett Hackworth
Leota Hackworth

Abraham Wilson and Henrietta F. (Kirkhuff) Hageman
Close-up Abraham Wilson and Henrietta F. (Kirkhuff) Hageman
Orin S. and Grace Pearl (Hageman) Fosler 1
Orin S. and Grace Pearl (Hageman) Fosler 2

Vera Augusta (Imig) and Ted R. Hughes

Close-up of Imig Family Stone
Imig Family Stone
Fosler-Imig-Morefield Stones
Imig Bench 1
Imig Bench 2
Imig Bench 3
Imig Bench 4
Imig Bench Area

IMIG, Family of Anna (GRAFF) and Jacob IMIG
Anna E. (Graff) Imig
Edwin P. and Verne W. Kilpatrick Imig
Gretchen Viginia (Kirk) and Jacob Henry Imig
Jacob Imig
Martha E. (Schroeder) Cooper and Erwin J. Imig
Richard Warren Imig
Vera Augusta (Imig) and Ted R. Hughes

Edwin P. and Verne W. Kilpatrick Imig

KingFamily Stone

KIRK (no death date for Gretchen (Kirk) Imig, she is presumed still living)
Gretchen Viginia (Kirk) and Jacob Henry Imig

Abraham Wilson and Henrietta F. (Kirkhuff) Hageman
Close-up Abraham Wilson and Henrietta F. (Kirkhuff) Hageman

Nellie M. and Charles W. Mayland

Morefield Family Stone
Fosler-Imig-Morefield Stones

Morgan Family Stone
Evesta C. Morgan
Lena M. Morgan

Abraham V. and Lucinda (Morton) Skillman
Abraham V. and Lucinda (Morton) Skillman Close-up
3 Skillman Infants: Cora, Charlie, and Gracie

Nichols Family Stone

Rose (Allgaier) Payne
Rose (Allgaier) and John E. Payne

George F. and Margaret M. Peterson
Inez Romane (Peterson) and William Austin Brokaw

Harold Arthur Pleines
Leona K. (Schmale) and Oscar L. Pleines

Lorrence Leo Pleines

Leona K. (Schmale) and Oscar L. Pleines

Martha E. (Schroeder) Cooper and Erwin J. Imig

Abraham V. and Lucinda (Morton) Skillman
Abraham V. and Lucinda (Morton) Skillman Close-up
3 Skillman Infants: Cora, Charlie, and Gracie

Abraham Wallick 1
Abraham Wallick 2
Close-up of Abraham Wallick
Abraham and son William Melville Wallick
William Melville Wallick


Seward School, north side 1
Seward School, east side
Seward School, north side 2
Seward School, north side 3
Seward School, north side 4
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Seward Diary Entries: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5* 6 * 7

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