Old Okabena Cemetery

              The Old Okabena Cemetery has a
              lot of history behind it.  These
              gravestones are some of the few that
              remain of the old cemetery.

     Photo taken by Patti Schneider - 01/11/04

The Old Okabena Cemetery
(Courtesy of the Tri-County News - May 27, 1998)

Connected through history and proximity with the Okabena Bridge is the "Old Okabena Cemetery" located adjacent to the southeast corner of the bridge.  Its use by early settlers predates the establishment of the village of Okabena, platted in the 1890's.

The cemetery is linked to the Norwegian Lutheran Church within which, in the late 1800's, was a movement called "Haugeismm."  The development of the movement in the church resulted in a bitter internal struggle which split congregations.

A Mr. Tollefson, who owned the farm now owned by Paul Henning, donated some land for a cemetery.  The August 17, 1911 edition of the Lakefield Standard reported a "Matt" Tollefson, who died in Jackson, was "interred in a cemetery just north of Okabena."

Eventually, a reconciliation occurred which reunited the church.  At some point many of the estimated 75 original graves were re-interred in other cemeteries - one mentioned is the Heron Lake Lakeside Cemetery.  It is unclear if the rejoining of the church factions, or the construction of the bridge caused the remains to be moved.

Lew Hudson, former writer for the Daily Globe wrote in an article about the Okabena Cemetery "there are only 4 stones and bases of 2 others remaining.  There are indications of other unmarked graves, but no one knows for sure."

It has been reported that the cemetery was located "in the middle of a cow pasture.  It is believed that cows tipped over or trampled some of the gravestones."  One source wondered if erosion along the banks of the Okabena Creek could have washed away some of the gravesites.

(Credit for the information in the above article goes to Jeremy Kolander and Krista Frederickson.  Students at the Southwest Star Concept School in Okabena, they did much of the research for their school project on local history and their findings were used in this article. )

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