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First recorded minutes are for January 13, 1872. It was called the Sterling Cemetery Association. One of the motions was for a sexton. Lewis U. Smith was appointed and motion made to pay him $2.50 for each grave he dug and for his service. Charles P. Tripp was secretary. The old books are not in good condition but it appears that this was the first official meeting. One of the motions was for a committee to "solicit aid in removing bodies from the old burying ground to the new cemetery". Supposedly these were bodies buried in low lying ground and before the town was established. (Sterling was established in 1870.) An account of school history indicates there was a cemetery across from the original school located north of the highway on what is now Washington Street in 1869. Any other "burying grounds" are not known. The committee appointed was John Bentz, William Kneeland & H.K. Griffis. Motion was approved for designating the "boundary lots north and east of drive to be the Potters Field". Some of the land for the original cemetery was donated by C. M. Kauffmann in 1872. (cemetery blocks 1 through 48).
In the early years, the Sterling Cemetery Association collected funds, paid for a sexton for grave digging, etc., had a perpetual care fund, took care of all upkeep, mowing, improvements, etc.
In 1982 the cemetery ownership was transferred to the Village of Sterling. In 1981 new land was purchased from the Kitzelman Estate and added to the cemetery. In 2006 an additional parcel of land was purchased from Kitzelman Family.
The Sterling Cemetery Board continues to meet and make decisions, establishes new rules, makes recommendations to the Village Board, etc., but has no separate funds of its own. All expenses paid by the Village come from special cemetery accounts. Sales of lots, perpetual care funds, etc. being a part of this account.
A Sterling Ladies Cemetery Association, established in 1905, has an annual Memorial Day Dinner and some of proceeds are distributed to cemeteries in the Sterling area. They also assist in special projects to improve the Cemetery. One of the projects, in 2004, helped to pay for repair and some restoration of many of the old stones.
Note: These records and the list are ONLY for the town cemetery. There are several church cemeteries in the vicinity and they are not included.
Local church cemeteries are:
Dates and locations of burials are from information on stones and markers for the earlier years. There are graves without markers. Any mortuary records or other written records cannot be found for the early years. The original research for information from the stones was done by Annetta Giesmann and Barbara Rengstorf in the 1980's. Our thanks to them for this huge project.
We are not responsible for any errors in omission of any names, dates, errors in spelling, or any other information. We have attempted to include some alternate spellings due to differences in the old record books (purchases) or on stones. Updates to this list will only be made annually in May.
The list will also show some veteran information. GAR stands for "Grand Army of the Republic" which was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army that served in the Civil War. GAR is one of first veteran organizations.