This Is No Cemetery: Finding Schoenwiese, ER

Some cemeteries are very difficult to see, even when you’re right there, looking right at them.

I once heard that the amount of burial sites discovered is merely a fraction of the real number. This was in reference to just Mennonite settlers, who frequently buried their dead at the back of their gardens. This must then be compounded ad infinitum when considering those who were here first (the Anishinaabe, I think). It’s likely that with every step we take, we trod upon those who have come before.

I directed Andrew to the spot which the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve says was once the village of Schoenweise.

“There’s nothing here,” he informed me. “We need to leave. This was a mistake.”

“No! Stop the car! It’s right here!” I declared, and launched myself out of the vehicle.

What did I see? A barely discernible bump on the side of a very long driveway.

I dropped to my knees and started pawing at an irregularity in the lawn.


Two gravestones!

Here lies Maria Funk, 1879-1910.

And a few yards away, Catharina Funk.

The benefit of the stones being set into the ground was that as I tried to brush away the accumulated grass, the dirt settled into the letters and I was able to easily read the inscriptions.

I think this was Maria’s mother, listed as Katharina Doerksen (her married name was Funk) in Grandma Online, living 1844-1915. However, on GOL it says she was born on February 20th, but there is a note at the bottom that says, “her n.s. birth date was 5 Mar 1844.” I don’t know what “n.s.” stands for… but at least it’s only a day off from what the gravestone says.

Anyway, so Maria was only 29 years old when she died in 1910. I wonder what her story was. She had not married, at least not according to Grandma Online. Her mother Catharina passed away 5 years later.

In reading the history of Schoenweise village ER, it seems the village was settled by Funks and Goertzens from the Bergthal Colony in 1874, but was largely abandoned by 1881 with the majority of the families moving to the West Reserve.

As I investigate the family on Grandma Online, I learn that Catharina and Johann Funk’s 18-month-old daughter Helena died at sea as they were in the process of immigrating to Canada in 1874. Ten years later, in 1884 they had another daughter named Helena, who lived to age 50.

Not much else seems to be known about this village. I wonder about the other bodies likely buried in this Funk family cemetery. Sometimes I maybe wonder too much, though.

One last look at the burial location of the two Funk women of Schoenweise, ER.