St. Deroin Cemetery

We like visiting old cemeteries and reading the headstones. It’s a glimpse into the past, and we wonder about the people there and what their lives were like.

By 1800’s standards, Dr. Rice (above) lived a long life.

Sometimes we see stones like this one above – homemade, probably because they couldn’t afford to buy one.

More often than not though, we find ourselves noticing all the young children’s headstones.

Little Merritt was only 5 months old.

Infant and child mortality was high, so when Jonathan’s parents saw him into his 16th year, they may have thought him in the clear. Losing a 16 year old boy on the farm must have been quite a blow.

I wonder what 12 year old Gertie died of?  An infection? An accident? Or was it a disease like typhus, diphtheria, or typhoid?

Dulcena may have died of disease too, but since her stone indicates she was the wife of John Bratton, and only 15 years old, it would be a safe guess to say her death had something to do with childbirth.

“Our Sweet Little Dora” was almost 2 years old. They were probably planning her upcoming birthday, and then she was gone. Don’t stones like this one break your heart?

John was only 8 1/2.

Albert was only a year old.

Can you imagine burying 2 of your children? E.P and Samantha laid Chester to rest when he  was only a month old. And then a few years later, they buried his brother Frank, only 2 1/2 years old.

Tommie was only 4 1/2 years old and Willie not quite 5 months.

I just can’t imagine the pain the parents of all these children went through.

Aren’t we privileged to live in a time where we have vaccines and antibiotics?

– All these pictures were taken at the little cemetery of the ghost-town of St. Deroin, Nebraska. The cemetery and town are located in Indian Cave State Park. For more information and directions, click HERE.  



Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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11 Responses

  1. Donna says:

    Yes, we are very privileged to live in an era with antibiotics and vaccinations as well as much improved obstetrical care. Maybe more people should visit these cemeteries so they can appreciate it as well.

  2. Debbie says:

    It IS very humbling to recognize how lucky we are!
    So often young children died, or were stillborn, the mothers died in childbirth, and people died of long ago forgotten illnesses. They lived hard lives, and adults often died too, leaving orphans. Need to remember this when feeling that this world is such a mess!

  3. Glyndalyn says:

    I love old, historic cemetaries and grave yards. We have many here in Middle TN. Also many children in those early graves.

    Glad to see you post. I was a little worried.

  4. Becky L says:

    Interesting to read grave stones. I do that as well. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks for your post. I have visited several ghost towns in my younger years, and I love to visit all the old cemeteries wherever I go. If you pay attention, you can lern a lot there. – Karen

  6. Marti Will says:

    We are doing a road trip down to Indian Cave State Park in Nebraska this weekend, and I am learning so much about all the other things to see down there, I love old ghost towns and cemeteries and any hauntings that may be around in this area. It will be a wonderful weekend for us!!!

  7. steve says:

    I have just returned from a week at Indian Cave State Park and must say, one of my favorite sites was the cemetery. I was shocked at the number of children that are buried there, It appeared to be children out numbered the adults by about 3 to 1. I would so love to know the true history and why the children died, was it the lack of medicine ( most likely) even though there were physicians in town, during that time in history, being a doctor required little more than hanging a shingle and calling your self a doctor. I will continue my search to see what I can learn. My next visit I am determined to locate the half breed cemetery which is located fairly close to the town according to the map although I never did find a sign pointing to it. I am always looking for the historic cemeteries and love to walk through them and try to take a small glimpse into our past.It must have been a terribly hard life when you had (expected) to bury your children at such a young age and at the same time keep moving forward.

    • Lynda says:

      Hi Steve, by now you have probably returned to Indian Cave State Park. If you haven’t the Nemaha Half-Breed Cemetery is located on trail 2. I took the drive past old St. Deroin and continued around the loop at the bottom of the drive away from the Schoolhouse area. I saw the first marker for trail 2 there. I continued driving though and saw a second site for Trail 2 with a parking area. I took that trail head and just a short distance in saw a sign that pointed to the cemetery or on towards Trail 3 from Trail 2.

  8. Greg Baumann says:

    that cemetery is located up hill to the southeast of the school site–if you follow that trail just around the curve where the road starts uphill you will come to it…it is no longer marked because people wouldn’t leave it alone–it is a sacred site for many and there are other burial sites throughout that area–the St.DeRoin cemetery gets vandalized and markers broken and stolen–there is generations of history through that area–and it needs to remain as it is–historic and protected…the next time you go there–ask one of the maintenance men or someone in the offices–they can direct you to the right area…

  9. Greg Baumann says:

    that cemetery is located to the southeast of the school–follow the first trail you come to after you make the bend and climb up to the high ground–it isn’t marked now for reasons that people don’t leave it alone…it is sacred ground for some and should be treated as such–the cemeteries there get vandalized and items taken–and it is very very historic and needs to be left as is and protected…I hope you locate it the next time you are there–ask one of the maintenance people or someone in the office –they can give you directions..or ask someone living in the area–good luck..and thank you for your interest and enthusiasm and respect..

  10. Dianne Ludwig says:

    The first pic of the graves with the iron fence is my great & great great grandfathers. They lost their home in the 1911 flood. They were in the process of moving it, but the Missouri River won.

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