So, you are probably saying to yourself: “Why would I want to spend time visiting a cemetery?” It seems like a weird thing to do but if you are a history buff or if you just want a quiet place for contemplation or a walk free from traffic, Pleasant Hill Cemetery is a great place to visit. There are benches at the Veteran’s Memorial at the west end of the cemetery or you can rest on the edge of the Civil War monument. The eastern part of the cemetery has historic gravesites and large trees that make it a quiet, shady spot.
For those of you who are trying to find the gravesite of a specific person, the easiest way is to search on the Iowa Gravestone Photo Project. We are grateful to the Greater Sioux County Genealogical Society for posting photos of most of the gravestones and their locations in 2005-2006.
Pleasant Hill Cemetery was laid out in the spring of 1880. It surrounded the Pleasant Hill church (Methodist) constructed in 1879. At that time it was 3 acres in the southeast corner of the section; however it now stretches from Eagle Avenue (south Maple Street) on the east to the south end of Ireton’s Main Street on the west.
The cemetery is anchored on the southwest by the Veterans’ Memorial dedicated on Memorial Day, 2012. Bertram Post #276 of the American Legion planned the memorial and raised more than $50,000 to cover its cost. It was designed by Ruisch Granite of Sioux Falls.
The center granite pillar bears an etching of the United States flag and the inscription: “Ireton Area Veterans Memorial” “In Memory Of Those Who Have Served And Sacrificed For God and Country” “You Are Not Forgotten”. Bertram Post 276 is inscribed at the top of the pillar. To the left of the center pillar are pillars representing World Wars I and II and to the right are pillars representing Korea and Vietnam. The pillars bear the seals of the United States Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. The east side also refers to Lebanon, Granada, Panama, the Gulf War and the War on Terrorism. The east side of the center pillar bears an etching of an eagle in flight and a quote from John 15:13: “Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, That He Lay Down His Life For His Friends.”
The Veterans Memorial honors all Ireton Area Veterans but is not engraved with the names of individuals; however, the Ireton Area Historical Society has created a “Military History” page with links to a list of more than 700 Ireton area veterans and photos of more than 570 of them. As you view the Memorial, we hope that you will reflect upon their service and sacrifices.
Straight east from the Veterans Memorial is Ireton’s Civil War monument. The monument of a civil war soldier was erected by Launtz (or Lantz) Post 215 of the GAR in May of 1919 and dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1919. It consists of a life-size bronze statue of a Civil War soldier atop a granite obelisk, a centerpiece and then a larger base. Engraved on the obelisk is the following: “To The Memory Of The Men Who Fought For Our Country And Are Buried In The Ireton Cemetery”. On the centerpiece is engraved: 1861-1865.
The east side is engraved with the names of Civil War veterans who were buried at Pleasant Hill before the monument was dedicated: Lyman B. Bailey, W. B. Burright, Wm. J. Bushby, Hugh Davison, James Everhart, Ephraim French, Alfred Fisher, Charles J. Follett, Porter Fosburg, Joseph H. Hardacre, W. I. Knowlton, Henry H. Lantz, William Morgan, Alexander Morrison, Frederick D. Parker, A. Sherman, Capt. Martin Suter, Charles P. Tarbox, John J. Taylor, James Thomas, Simon Wells, D. W. Wing and Samuel D. Woodford.
Since the monument was dedicated just a year after the end of World War I, the west side is engraved with the names of the men who died in the Great War: Jake Levering, George H. Ricklefs, Lieut. Robert S. Johnson, Fred Dannenbring, Edward Bertram, Edward R. Brown, Emery M. Cox and Casper Thomte.
The north side of the monument was engraved with the names of the committee who planned it and raised funds for it: L. M. Black, J. C. Emery and Fred Franke. In more recent years, Bertram Post added a bronze plaque with the names of servicemen and women who died in later conflicts: World War II: Robert C. Cooper, Howard W. Dirks, Arthur S. Larson, Harold W. Marienau, Leo C. Rohlfs, Reuben C. Schipper and Theodore Schneider; Korea: Glenn Van Engen (who actually died in Greenland in 1948) and Marlin N. Walraven; and Vietnam: Rosalie V. Bertram, Bruce D. Liston and Terry M. Westergard.
The base and granite obelisk were created by the Hawarden Monument Works, brought to Ireton by train and then taken to the cemetery by horse and wagon. We have not found a record of the company casting the soldier; however, the statue arrived separately from the base — just barely in time for the dedication. As the Ireton Clipper reported: “Several people have received a scare while visiting the cemetery the past few days. The cause of it all was the box or crate containing the bronze statue of the soldier which is to top the beautiful soldiers’ monument. This piece of statuary lying there was a surprise to many and more than they were ready for, coming on it in an unexpected way. It does look like the body of a dead soldier all right pillowed in the box, and after seeing it, it is not so much of a wonder to us that some got their nerves on edge, but gracing the monument it is certainly a fine setting and it is a noble piece seemingly on the watch tower guarding the city of the dead.”
In addition to the monuments, Pleasant Hill offers a variety of interesting gravestones. Most of these are in the older portion of the cemetery east and north of the Civil War monument. The IAHS has prepared a guide that you may download and print. Some of the monuments are noted for historical reasons but others are noted just because of their unique shape, color or construction.