In Search of My Lost Uncle & The Ens Family of Neureinland

Where had I just been?
What had I found?
Was it really a family burial plot?

I found this photo on Andrew’s phone. Watching me walk away, alone.

The next day I visited my mother. I showered her the photos I had taken at Neureinland.
Her eyes widened.
“That’s it! You actually did it! You found it. And by yourself, too. What a real gem!”
I hadn’t been expecting her to be so pleased. This made my day.
She continued, remembering the day she and dad and her siblings and her mom, my grandma, had allowed grandpa to lead them out into the middle of nowhere.

Chokecherries grow over the graves. I did not eat them.

Yes to the badger holes. She remembers my uncle had tripped on one of them.
Yes to the badgers digging people up. She remembers seeing bones. At this, grandma had urged them all to leave this place.
But grandpa was not so eager to leave.
He didn’t see badger holes and skeletons.
He saw his beautiful 3-month-old baby boy, Irving.
This is where Grandpa walked out to, with such great determination, led by love and memory. That tree. Yes.

The large tree that led Grandpa here, seems to have perished. Perhaps struck by lightening…?

She went on to tell me that after having led my parents, aunts, and uncles out into the field that day back in the mid-90s, my grandfather had become busy in the garage of the Winnipeg home that he and my grandmother shared — he was creating a concrete grave marker for his infant son.

Grandpa’s garage in Winnipeg.

Recently, my mom visited her older sister in British Columbia. Knowing my odd interest in family history, she took a picture of the page in the Family Bible where Grandpa had carefully recorded the information about his lost babies, and sent me the photo.

Grandpa wrote:

Irving Edward Neufeld
Born 1937, June 15th, 2AM
Died 1937, Aug.27th
Funeral Sun 29th August
Buried in Neureinland Cemetery near Winkler

My mom told me that my father, grandfather, and aunt had returned a week later, to place the concrete marker he had fashioned, at this important grave.
My grandpa passed away in 1998, and my dad passed away in 2006. But the two of them had been in this cemetery, all those years ago. And now I followed their footsteps.
I showed the pics I’d taken to my aunt. I told her I had found five headstones. I asked her how many there had been in the 90s. She told me there had been about 25 headstones at that time.
So, what was Neureinland? Was it settled by people who felt living in Reinland was just… too much? I can’t claim to have read the Harms Rempel West Reserve Atlas cover-to-cover (yet), but when I looked up Neureinland, I found nothing. It’s on the map just inside the cover, but other than that, it seems H&R had nothing to say about this disappeared place.
But the graves I did see, say otherwise.
Even though I know there are two Neufelds buried here (Aganetha Neufeld d. 1902, and Irving Neufeld d. 1937), it’s clearly an Ens cemetery.
My grandpa was a hired farmhand, working for his cousins, the Ens’s. He and his bride, my grandma, lived on the farm site too. And when they lost their baby, they buried him in the Ens family cemetery at the back of the property.
And now, I have a query, on behalf of my mother: whatever happened to those Ens’s? She wonders.
And now I wonder, too.

Standing by the tree, looking out across the cemetery, toward the car and Andrew, waiting half a mile away.

This post was continued from:

An Island of Wildness: Neureinland

An Island of Wildness: Neureinland