Family wants to clean up Argo cemetery

A Dakota City family is seeking permission to clean up the St. Johannes Cemetery in southwest Burt County. The cemetery served parishioners of the St. Johannes Danish Lutheran Church which has been gone for over 100 years.

If it wasn’t for the garden gates on two sides, you probably wouldn’t notice. From the road, it looks like a clearing where a house or something once stood, but now its overgrown with trees and shrubs.

But it isn’t just a clearing. It’s the site of the St. Johannes Danish Lutheran Church cemetery.

The cemetery sits along County Road B in southwest Burt County between roads 15 and 17. The church, finished in 1881, served the Danish immigrants who populated the area and later founded Dana College as a training school for pastors.

The church adopted its constitution in 1881 but economic conditions of the 1890s drove many residents away from the Argo area. By 1909 services had been discontinued. In 1916 the land was sold to a local farmer and the church building was taken down.

But the cemetery is still there.

The old cemetery, one of several just like it the county, landed on the conference table for the Burt County Board of Supervisors last week.

The board received a request from a Dakota City man, Marvin Andersen, who wants to volunteer his family’s time and resources to clean up the cemetery and bring it back “to a place of respectability.”

Andersen wrote to the board asking permission to clean up the site. The family also intends to erect directional signs to the cemetery as well as an informational sign at the cemetery itself. He said his family learned about the cemetery while doing genealogical research. In his letter to the board, Andersen said his great uncle, Lars Andersen, had deeded the land to the church.

Supervisors think, however, that granting permission to the Andersens to clean up the cemetery is not the board’s decision to make.

Every rural cemetery is supposed to be included in one of the county’s five cemetery districts. The St. Johannes cemetery should be part of the Craig Cemetery District. As such, supervisors believe it would be up to the district’s governing board to decide on the Andersen’s request.

Dist. 7 Supervisor Carl Pearson, who represents the area, said he would check into the matter.