The town of Ireton lies in the far northwest corner of Reading Township, Sioux County, Iowa. It is just east of Washington Township; just southeast of Eagle Township and just immediately south of Center township. At one time, there were private burial plots in several areas in these townships; however, bodies from those plots appear to have been moved when cemeteries were established.
At the present time, the following cemeteries exist: Pleasant Hill Cemetery (Ireton) and St. John’s Cemetery (rural) in Reading Township; Union Hill (Pleasant Prairie or Dunkard) Cemetery in eastern Washington Township; and Rock River Lutheran (or Highland) Cemetery in eastern Eagle Township.
For information on locating gravestones and obituaries, please consult Family History Research tips.
The Ireton Area Historical Society has prepared a guide to interesting gravestones in Pleasant Hill Cemetery that you may download and print.
For information about the location and history of a cemetery, please click on the appropriate name below.
(click cemetery name for more information)
- PLEASANT HILL CEMETERY
- ST. JOHN'S LUTHERAN CEMETERY
- UNION HILL (PLEASANT PRAIRIE OR DUNKARD) CEMTERY
- ROCK RIVER LUTHERAN (OR HIGHLAND) CEMETERY
Pleasant Hill Cemetery
Pleasant Hill Cemetery is located in the southeast corner of the town of Ireton. In 1879, the first church building in Reading Township was erected near the southeast corner of what is now Pleasant Hill Cemetery. Called the Pleasant Hill church, it was erected by the Methodist Episcopal Society. It was 27′ x 37′ with 12′ posts and was constructed at a cost of $900. The church was dedicated on June 8, 1879.
In April, 1880, there is a newspaper mention of the county surveyor going to Reading Township to lay out 3 acres for a cemetery. Although it is not clear that this is Pleasant Hill, it seems likely since the first section of Pleasant Hill was a 3-acre tract.
The first known burial was of Albert Persy, an infant-toddler age child of Solomon and Rosina Persy (Percy). The body was originally buried in a plot near “Corn Valley” – plot would now be located on the south side of Iowa Highway 10 between Dipper and Dogwood Avenues. We do not have a record of the date of burial in Pleasant Hill but it was probably in mid-1880. The grave is located just south of the church’s former location as are many of the earliest graves in Pleasant Hill.
After the town of Ireton sprang to life in 1882, the Methodist church was moved to a location in the new town; however, the cemetery remained on “Pleasant Hill”. After St. Paul’s Lutheran Church was founded in 1886, a German Lutheran cemetery was established north of the original Pleasant Hill Cemetery. For many years, the two cemeteries were administered separately. The southern portion (the “American” portion) was governed by the Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association. The northern portion (the “German Lutheran” section) was governed by St. Paul’s. There was a fence dividing the two cemeteries.
At some time prior to 1908, 3 additional acres running from north to south were added on the western edge of the 2 cemeteries. Included on the northern portion of that tract was a “Potters Field” for the burial of unknown or indigent bodies.
In 1934, the Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association deeded its portion of the cemetery to the City of Ireton. In 1960, St. Paul’s deeded the German Lutheran portion to the city.
At various times the condition of the cemetery was allowed to deteriorate. The last major refurbishment occurred in 1974 when the Ireton Senior Citizens organization spent more than $6,000 for the construction of brick gateposts at entrances as well as for the construction of the cemetery sign pictured above at the southeast corner of the cemetery. Many trees and shrubs were also planted. In 1992, the Senior Citizen’s club sponsored a cemetery restoration project in which many of the older gravestones and monuments in the cemetery were restored and re-set.
In recent years, additional land has been obtained so that the cemetery now extends from Eagle Avenue on the east to the south end of Ireton’s Main Street on the west. The cemetery is very well-maintained by the City of Ireton and its employees.
On Memorial Day 1919, the G. A. R. (Grand Army of the Republic) dedicated a Civil War Monument near the center of Pleasant Hill. In addition to “keeping watch” over the cemetery, it served as the location for the Ireton’s Memorial Day services for many years. On Memorial Day 2012, Bertram Post #276 of the American Legion dedicated a new Veteran’s Memorial near the west entrance to the cemetery.
Cemetery records are kept at the office of the city administrator; however, we recommend that you consult this site’s Family History Research tips before contacting the clerk. You should be able to locate most of the gravestones through the Iowa Gravestone Project.
St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery
In 1884, 12 German Lutheran families erected St. John’s Lutheran Church on 40 acres of land in Section 15 of Reading township. 8 acres were used for the church grounds and cemetery while the remaining 32 acres provide farming income for the congregation’s operations.
The entrance to the cemetery lies to the north of the parish hall and the cemetery is located west of the hall and church. The church continues to hold Sunday services and burials are still conducted at St. John’s.
Among the graves at St. John’s are those of Civil War veterans James Cottrill and Fred Franke. Other names with numerous family members are Baack, Beerman, Bertram, Bowen, Chenhall, Eilts, Franke, Hagge, Heidbrink, Hennrich, Jahn, Kading, Lehrman, Mandelkow, Meyer, Mueller, Onken, Ostermann, Peters, Reinking, Rickleffs, Siege, Toenjes, VanderHamm, and Vlotho.
Union Hill (Pleasant Prairie or Dunkard) Cemetery
Located 1 mile west and 4 miles south of Ireton, Union Hill Cemetery was the first cemetery in the vicinity of what would become Ireton. In 1876, a group of pioneers from eastern Washington Township and western Reading Township began to discuss the creation of a cemetery. In 1879, they incorporated as the Union Hill Cemetery Association and purchased 3 acres in the SE corner of the NE1/4 of Section 36 of Washington Township. The first board of directors was John Heasly, David Burket, L.M. Black, Jackson Atwood and M.K. DuBois. The name “Union Hill” was probably selected because many settlers were Civil War veterans.
In 1881, the Association had elaborate plans for the cemetery including a 4-5 board fence with cedar posts and planting 2500 trees. The measured “plat” shows a 330′ x 363′ burial ground of 240 plots mostly measuring 10′ x 20′. At the center of the cemetery was to be a Union Monument with access by way of a 20′ wide driveway from each of 4 directions and around the entire cemetery. Plots near the road on the east side of the cemetery were to cost $5 and further west $3 with 2 plots set aside as a Potters Field.
The Association’s plans never came to fruition – perhaps due to the location and growth of Ireton nearby where a Veteran’s monument was eventually created.
In 1901 the cemetery was sold to the German Baptist Brethren of Pleasant Prairie Church – just across the border in Plymouth County. They used the burial ground until they disbanded and the cemetery was later known as the “Pleasant Prairie Cemetery” or the “Dunkard” cemetery.
Many of the monuments have been broken or destroyed but among the monuments is the Burket family monument which also marks the grave of Sarah (Gough) Black, wife of homesteader L.M. Black. Sarah’s was the first recorded death in Washington Township. Also buried at Union Hill is Civil War veteran Ezra Jackson “Jack” Earl. Family names in the cemetery include Burket, French, Bills, Willey, Ellis, Maust, Carter, Foster, Mitchell, Tooley, Earl, Earll, Jemisson, Spain, DuBois, Van Buskirk, Whitney and Sherman.
The cemetery is maintained through public funds due to the presence of a grave of a Civil War veteran.
Rock River Lutheran (or Highland) Cemetery
The village included the Mt. Joy Church of God and its parsonage, Rock River Lutheran Church and cemetery, a general store, pump & windmill company and blacksmith shop.
Highland Cemetery is located in the northwest corner of section 13 and was the cemetery of the Rock River Lutheran church which was founded in the 1890’s by Norwegian settlers and disbanded in the 1930’s.
In 1979, the Climbing Clovers 4-H club researched the village and erected a large redwood sign showing the layout of Highland. They also “cleaned-up” the cemetery and its surroundings. The club continued to maintain the cemetery for a number of years.
The cemetery suffered extensive vandalism in 2000 with over $3,000 in damages including damage to approximately 11 gravestones. Arrests were made and four area young men were ordered to pay restitution, complete substance abuse counseling, pay a fine, serve 7 days in jail and were placed on probation for 2 years. Repairs were made through the efforts of the Eagle Township Board of Trustees.
Among the names found in Highland Cemetery are Beckman, Berhow, Gunderson, Hemmingson, Holzmueller, Johnson, Opdahl, Richardson, Thorp and Toft.