Old St. Mary’s Cemetery (Friedhof)

The Old St. Mary’s Cemetery has twenty-two wrought iron-cross sites named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, which were nominated by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Most of the founding families of the Hague area, southern part of Emmons County, North Dakota, were Black Sea Germans who were of Roman Catholic faith.  These families immigrated in the 1870s and 1880s from the mother colonies of the Kutschurgan District, South Russia, today located near Odessa, Ukraine – Baden, Elsass, Kandel, Mannheim, Selz and Strassburg.

In the Markers XII publication of the Association of Gravestone Studies, Dr. Timothy J. Kloberdanz writes: “Old St. Mary Cemetery west of Hague, North Dakota, includes the decorative iron work of at least four German-Russian cross makers: Paul Keller (1864-1923); Michael Schmidt (1875-1921); Jacob Schneider (1852-1934), and Jacob’s son “Deport” or “Diebert” (Tibertius) Schneider (1877-1941). All four blacksmiths were born in South Russia, principally in the “Kutschurgan” Black Sea colony area northwest of the port city of Odessa.”

“Most of the crosses in the Old St. Mary Cemetery undoubtedly were fashioned by Deport Schneider.  Deport married Rose Scheer (Rosalia Scherr), and two of their sons, Louis Schneider (1901-1987) and Jake Schneider (1902-1961), became talented cross makers as well. Both Louis and Jake eventually moved from the Hague area and settled on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation (about 35 miles across the Missouri River and west of Hague), where they made numerous iron crosses for Sioux Indians as well as German-Russians.”

“Not surprisingly, all four of the Schneider cross makers shared a preference for double-bar iron crosses with a basic diamond design. Louis preferred to use the iron from buggy wheels, and Jake made his crosses from large wagon wheels.”

The Schneider family cemetery plot has an enclosed fence with double-bar iron crosses that were made by Deport Schneider.  Few of the wrought iron crosses include name plates or identification. The cast-iron commercial crosses appear to be similar to crosses manufactured in Chicago and St. Louis.


Kloberdanz, Timothy J., photographs by Bob Pierce. “Unsere Lieber Gottesacker: (Our Dear God’s acre): An Iron-Cross Cemetery on the Northern Great Plains”, MARKERS XXII, Association of Gravestone Studies, 1995, pages 160-181. Publication available at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/nd_sd/gottesacker.html

Vrooman Nicholas Churchin and Patrice Avon Marvin, editors, Jane and Wayne Gudmundson, photographers. “Iron Spirits”, North Dakota Council of the Arts, Bismarck, ND, 1982, 116 pages, Publication available at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/nd_sd/vrooman.html

Wald, Katie Glatt. “Hague Area Book II: The Past 100 Years and Its People”. Hague, ND, 1989, 424 pages. Publication available at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/nd_sd/hague.html

Wald, Katie Glass. “Hague, North Dakota Centennial: 1908 – 2008”. Emmons County Record, Linton, ND, 2009, 512 pages. Publication available at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/nd_sd_history/haguecent.html

Wald, Katie Glatt. “Hague, North Dakota: History of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Town of Hague”, Hague, ND, no date, 134 pages. Publication available at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/nd_sd/st_mary_history.html


St. Mary’s Catholic Church & Cemetery, Hague, ND, Dakota Memories Heritage Tour, September 19, 2009

St. Mary’s Catholic Church & Cemetery, Hague, ND, Dakota Memories Heritage Tour, September 17, 2011

St. Mary’s Catholic Church & Cemetery, Hague, ND, June 20, 2014

Date: February 07, 2013