Finding the Lost Cemetery of Ebenfeld

I love examining the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve. It’s such a treasure trove of local historical mysteries. Often I zero in on the areas very close to where I live, so I can take a casual jaunt with friends after supper. So last summer, when I told Audrey and Sasha that I figured we could easily find one of the Ebenfeld cemeteries, they agreed to join me for the investigation!

Ebenfeld was swallowed up by Mitchell a long time ago. But in 1874, Ebenfeld was a Mennonite street village boasting 23 families, freshly settling in from their journey from the Bergthal Colony in South Russia. By 1878 they had built a private school. And in 1924, they set up a large tent to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mennonites’ East Reserve arrival.

According to the Atlas, the north-south road today runs right across where Ebenfeld once lay, overlapping onto Stahn Field.

In studying the Atlas, I see that Ebenfeld had two lost burial plots. I compared the Atlas to Google Satellite View… and became convinced that this clump of trees held the Ebenfeld-Wiebe cemetery.

We walked carefully to access the mysterious tree-beacon. I imagined we’d find an overgrown cemetery much like the one in Rosenfeld.

But… this one was much, MUCH more overgrown. I peered through the thick foliage…

And became covered in burrs. Yes, I was wearing my best old ratty sweater with a hole in the elbow. The perfect cemetery-finding outfit. Ha.

When I dove in to have a good look, I found a (probably literal) tonne of granite boulders. Many many stones. It’s just a mysterious snarl of overgrown trees and bushes pushing their way up through a mass of boulders and stones. In fact, I strongly suspect this oasis of trees actually began life as a rock pile, when someone began farming this plot of land. BUT… what was it BEFORE the rock pile? Were there OTHER rocks that preceded this collection of field stones? Other rocks that were perhaps… grave markers?

To be honest, the oldest grave markers I’ve seen that still remain from that time are in fact simply rough field stones. As time goes by, if the people who once knew the story of the stones move on, and their knowledge is not passed on… then I imagine the fieldstone grave markers would’ve simply appeared to be a good place to start — or add onto — a rock pile. (Rock piles are ubiquitous in East Reserve farm fields.)

I’m convinced that if someone were to have permission and resources to dig on this site, they’d find a lot more than just big old rocks. Those rocks… are just the beginning.

So, I did not find what I expected… but our findings did fuel my imagination. Onward to the next cemetery-discovering adventure!

(Some photos taken by me, some photos taken by Alexandra Ross.)

You’ll see pictures of rough field stones serving as grave markers in these two posts:

A Visit to the Grunthal Cemetery

5 Questions I Have About Felsenten Cemetery