St. Boniface Cemetery History

The St. Boniface cemetery portal identifies those who chose St. Boniface Cemetery as their final resting place.

In October of 2010, the grave positioning in the 1904/07 cemetery was changed from "Plot to "Grace". For example, from Area 3, Row 1, Plot 02-C1 to Area 3, Row 1 Grave 25. All four cemeteries are now consistant in grave location referencing.

In 1998 as part of documenting a history of St. Boniface parish, an initiative was started to identify all who are buried in the parish cemetery. This began in earnest in 2000 when a database was establish and a cemetery list was used to do so. The information had been compiled in August of 1988 by recording names and dates from tombstones in the parish cemetery. The author augmented this information with parish sacramental burial service registrations, parish cemetery records, civil death records recorded at the county court house (up to 1923), Social Security Death Index Information, and interviews with families. In the month of September 2000 to July of 2001, letters were sent to individuals in Washington and adjoining counties whose surname showed that there were five or more under that surname interred in the cemetery. Some recipients were church members. The letters requested relationship information. Responses were received but not overwhelmingly so. These surnames represented over half of those interred in the cemetery. In 2001, the author was able to make contact through the Internet with individuals doing genealogy research in some of these core families, in 2002 a final tombstone check was made, and in 2006 the list was checked against parish burial service registers.

The very first St. Boniface cemetery was located east of the original log church. At the time the location was the southwest corner of the Johannes and Katherine (Hoffman) Knetzger farm. In the year 2003, this land area is contiguous to and north of Freistadt Road ½ mile west of Maple Road and ½ mile east of Goldendale Road. It is kitty-corner across the road from the northeast corner of Homestead Hollow Park. The cemetery would have been in use beginning in the latter half of 1844 for no more than four years 1844-1848. In the book Early Catholic Church Property in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Wisconsin, published in 1941, it is stated "according to local tradition there are seven graves in the cemetery". This cemetery will be referred to as the 1845 Cemetery. Individuals interred there have not been identified.

In April of 2001, the author using a technique called biolocation located what looked to be 10 graves. Using grave size as an indicator, there were 2 babies, 2 children, and 6 adults buried in this area. For details, see the end of this chapter.

Based on cemetery markers, by 1850 a cemetery was established in the parish's new property on the southeast corner of the intersection Goldendale and Friestadt Roads; 6' east southeast of the gas plug. From this intersection the cemetery ran 155 feet south on Goldendale Road and 114 feet east on Friestadt Road. At that time, Friestadt Road was called Town Road. This area of the cemetery is referred to as Area-1 or the 1850 cemetery. Along the east row centered south/north is the shrine. All graves within this cemetery are position west-east. In this cemetery graves are position next to one another both north-south and east-west. Marker stones are position on top the grave and there are few. That is why they look positioned so helter skelter.

Contiguous to this cemetery, on its west boundary are located two rows of graves (19 in total) positioned north-south. These gaves are positioned from the north boundary to just north of the Adam Gebhard (1808-1887) grave marker. Ten graves are in the east row and 9 graves in the west row. In their time these graves were considered outside the blessed cemetery.

After 43 years, in 1893, a contiguous land area 115' east of the 1850 cemetery was established as a cemetery area. The first 15' north-south was a walkway. The next 100' east became another cemetery and is referred to as Area-2 or the 1893 cemetery. In the walkway between the 1850 and 1893 cemeteries there are located three rows of graves (23 in total) positioned north-south. They are located contiguous to the 1893 cemetery from 4 foot south of the shrine to the south boundary. In their time, these graves were considered located outside the blessed cemetery. Centered north-south in the 1893 cemetery is positioned a 12' walkway. The southeast corner of the 1893 cemetery area is positioned the baby area.

There are two unmarked baby rows 4' each located contiguous to and east of the 1893 cemetery. In their time they (rows 10 and 11) were considered outside the 1893 cemetery. These would be stillbirths and babies not baptized. The baby cemetery was extended south 18' up to the school; this included the unmarked baby rows 10 and 11.

Ten years later, in 1903, the first interment occurred in a land area established to the east of the 1893 Cemetery. The land was not purchased until 1904 and was opened for interments in 1907. It is located 96 feet along Freistadt Road and 268 feet south. This area of the cemetery is referred to as Area-3 or the 1904/7 cemetery. A service road separates Area-2 and Area-3 running on the east side of Area-2 and the west side of Area-3.

In 1964 another cemetery area, non contiguous, was established east of the church on the southeast corner of the parish property. This cemetery is referred to as the 1964 cemetery, the new cemetery, or Area-4.


  • With the exception of some sacramental burial registration records, few civil records exist for the early burials. As the years progressed more burial information becomes available. Some explanation might be in order regarding the registers. Regarding St. Boniface registers, they were burial service registers. That is, they document the burial service not the burial. They were not cemetery registers nor where they burial registers. These registers recorded the burial service and generally identify where the body was located. "Burial only" did not begin to be recorded until the latter part of the 20th century. If the burial service transpired elsewhere, and the body was buried at St. Boniface, there will be no entry for this person in the parish burial service register. An extreme example, a person died in Saugaville, South Dakota, the burial service was conducted at St. Hubert in Hubertus and the body buried at St. Boniface. The person's civil death record will be found in South Dakota, the burial service registration in the register of St. Hubert and body will be found in the cemetery at St. Boniface.
  • The very early burial markers containing burial dates of 185x- may not have been located there until some years after the burial and probably replaced original temporary markers.
  • A grave marker was not required, therefore there are graves without markers.
  • Grave markers can be found with dates 1844 to the present. Some early markers in Area-1 had existed but no longer exist. For other markers, carved lettering on the soft stone is no longer legible. Some markers of metal crosses have been lost and some have lost their name plaque identification. Several have been found beneath the ground as they had sunken down over 16 inches. Markers in Area-2, Area-3, and Area-4 are mostly legible and in place. The exception to this is the "little ones" area in Area-2 where few of the markers can be found.
  • Because lots exists does not necessarily mean that someone is buried there. This may be especially true in Area 1. For example, the Meunier family patriarch purchased a family plot but only he and his wife are buried there. The children dispersed to other parishes and started their own family plots. Family plots though did not become vogue until Area-3 became available.
  • Grave markers with a birth date and no death date does not mean that the person was buried there nor does it mean that the person was not buried there. All it means is that when the grave marker was first located, the person was planned to be buried there and at the time of death and subsequent burial, the death date would be added. When this person died, if they were the last of the family, there is a good possibility that the death date might not have been added. On the other hand, not being the last to die was no guarantee that your survivors would add the date. The latter seems to have happened more than once. To verify this situation, some individuals with early burials without a sacramental death record and a tombstone without a death date were looked up at the Court House in West Bend to verify when and where they were interred. When found, it showed burials to be at St. Boniface Cemetery, Regenfuss Cemetery, South Germantown, or the Catholic Cemetery in Germantown, Goldenthal, Goldendale, or Germantown.
  • Of the 1,029 individuals interred in the cemetery, 709 can be identified to a grave location. Please note these are approximate number based on research efforts up to 2005. Of the 320 (31%) who are not identified by a marker: 99 are babies (28%), 32 in Area 1 and 67 in Areas 2/3; while 124 of the adults died before the year 1893.


  • A person is buried face up
  • Head positioned to the west with feet to the east (priest buried reversed)
  • Husband on the right, wife on his left (looking west to east)
  • Family stone as foot stone (located at the feet) but not always
  • Head stone located at the head but not always
  • Graves are 4' width and 10' length; earlier graves narrower and shorter
  • "Little ones" graves are smaller in size


  • Before 1891 the recording of deaths in narrative form was not in English.
  • A form was used beginning in 1891 and recording was in English.
  • When transcribing a name which was difficult to decipher, a best attempt was made and a question mark character (?) was placed after the name to signify possibly error.
  • A number of individuals were identified by the parish burial registration records for whom a grave marker cannot be found. This was more prevalent in the early cemetery Areas 1 & 2.
  • Regarding dates, it was not unusual to find conflicting dates when more than one source for this information was identified such as tombstone, parish registration, and civil death records. No attempt was made to determine the correct date. What was observed is that at times baptismal date was used rather than the birth date or the burial date rather than death date. These situations though were not common. It would seem that the tombstone date is the least reliable.
  • Where possible, family relationship was identified, that is, mother, father, son, and daughter. The relationship was determined from birth and death entries which identified parents, from living descendants, from civil records, from other church records, and from obituaries.
  • Initially letters were sent to 45 families to obtain family relationship information. The surnames of these families represented over 50% of the individuals interred in the cemetery. The ancestors of many of these families were founders of the parish.
  • First Cemetery (1845): interred seven, possibly ten individuals. Most likely these individuals will never be known although one may be John Knetzger born and died in 1846. A second may be a baby Hubert Odenbrett born in 1847. A third may be Anna Katherina (Mueller) Odenbrett, wife of Johann and mother of Hubert, who is believed to have died in 1847 as her husband remarried in 1848. A fourth may be the baby Wilhelm Geirsemer who died in 1848 and who is recorded on the family stone in the 1850 cemetery. There are no records for this time period. In 1941, parish members believed the graves were there and remained in their original position; that is, they were not moved to the 1850 cemetery. After 1941 parish members are not aware of any activity to exhume, move, and bury the remains again.
  • Area-1 (1850): interred individuals are mostly known and some grave locations identified using grave markers. Many of the individuals known to be buried in this cemetery, that is, they died before 1893, were not located.
  • Area-2 (1893): interred individuals are mostly known and most identified to a family plot or a specific location using grave markers and burial records. A small number were not located. Many, actually most "little ones" graves were not located.
  • Area-3 (1904/7): interred individuals are known and most are identified to a specific location using grave markers, burial records, and from interviews with parish families by the parish pastor Father Bernie. A very small number were not located. In this area, grave dimensions are 4 foot by 12 foot.
  • Area-4 (1964): all interred and grave locations were identified. Why it was decided to bury individuals in a south-north direction is not known although the topography of the land, descending south-north, might have been a factor.

Please note in October of 2010, the 1904/7 cemetery had it grave location reference change to grave number to be consistant with the other cemeteries. For examle, Area 3, Row 3, Plot 11-A1 was changed to Area 3, Row 3, Grave 04. The old reference number is still maintained and the full grave reference now is Area 3, Row 1, Grave 06 [01-A3]. You will see both the new grave number and the old plot reference.

Cemetery Blessing

In May of 2008, Father Todd blessed the cemeteries including the out of area burials: the northwest corner of the 1850 cemetery, the walkway between the 1850 and 1893 cemeteries, the two rows of babies on the east side of the 1893 cemetery, the south extension of the baby area up to the school, and north extension of the 1904/7 cemetery.


Coffin is a funerary box used in the display and containment of deceased remains – either for burial or cremation.

Burial Vault is a sturdy box designed to protect the coffin inside of it. The body is placed within the coffin, which is then placed inside the vault. Body, coffin, and vault are buried. A burial vault serves as an outer enclosure for buried remains, the coffin serves as an inner enclosure.

Urn Vault is a sturdy box designed to protect the urn inside of it. The body ashes are placed within the urn, which is then placed inside the urn vault. Ashes, urn, and urn vault are buried. A urn vault serves as an outer enclosure for buried remains, the urn serves as an inner enclosure.

Cremation is the process of reducing dead bodies to basic chemical compounds in the form of gases and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high temperatures and vaporization. Cremation may serve as a funeral or postfuneral rite that is an alternative to the interment of an intact body in a casket. Cremated remains, which are not a health risk, may be buried or immured in memorial sites or cemetery.

Inurnment is the process of placing cremated remains in an urn. The urn is placed either above the ground in a niche, or below ground in a grave.

Grave Detection

While doing research in cemetery management, the author visited a friend Jim Hicks in Paris, Texas. Jim maintains cemetery information on all the people interred in his county. He also maintains a small private family cemetery near his family's homestead. From Jim, who learned it from the old timers in his area, the author discovered that one can find graves in a fashion similar to finding water, using biolocation, that is, dowsing. Take two iron metal rods that have been bent into an "L" one side two feet long and the other 6 inches. Grasp the short side loosely, one in each hand holding your arm comfortably in front of you. The long side needs to be horizontal to the ground. In an area you suspect there may be a grave, walk slowly north to south - south to north lightly holding on to the rods.

When you come upon a grave the rods will come together, that is, the left hand rod will point to your right and the right hand rod will point to your left. Mark this spot. Continue on for 10 or so feet. Do an about face (turn 180 degrees) and with the rods in each hand and pointing in front of you, find the other edge of the grave. When you find it mark it.

Now do the same in an east to west direction. When you have the four sides marked you should be able to tell the head-foot direction for the distance between your marks, one will be longer than the other. If the marks are about the same distance apart, and it shows a small grave, then this probably is a small child or baby.

Does this really work? The author believe so for he has done this at St. Boniface cemetery and others locations where graves are known to be. Now, if you do this in an open field somewhere in the back 40, then who knows what you are finding. Supposedly Biolocation does not specifically identify graves. Being in a graveyard, you assume that at the bottom of the hole was a casket containing a body. But a grave excavated without a body being placed there will not show the same. When an individual, originally positioned in one location is later moved to another, the original location no longer identifies a grave.

Following you will find a report of burials in St. Boniface Parish Cemetery. If you should find errors or omissions, please contact the author so the information can be corrected.

An explanation is in order on what you will be finding. The list is in alphabetical surname, given name sequence. Each entry identifies one individual interred in St. Boniface Parish Cemetery. The line's format is as follows:

name, birth-date, birth-location, birth-date comments, death-date, death-location, age-at-death, death-comments, relationship, miscellaneous comments

  • name: identifies the individual by name. If you see "?", this means a best guess was made for the name was difficult to read. Please be aware that names were commonized. That is, the spelling as most widely identified was used. For example, the surname Wiedmeyer was found as Wittmeier, Wittemeyer, and Widemeyer and Wiedmeyer was used.
  • birth-date: date of birth. If blank, a date was not found.
  • birth-location: location where the individual was reported as arriving to this world
  • birth-date comments
  • death-date: date of death. If the date is blank, then interment could not be substantiated.
  • death-location: location where the person died
  • age-at-death: individuals age at death in years
  • death-comments: identifies cemetery area, row, and position
  • relationship: may identify the individual's spouse, parents, and marriage date

miscellaneous comments

Cemetery Area where the individual is interred

      1 - 1850 Cemetery Area-1 (A)
      2 - 1893 Cemetery Area-2 (A)
      3 - 1904/7 Cemetery Area-3 (B)
      4 - 1964 Cemetery Area-4 (C)
      ? - Area could not be determined

Be aware that the parish refers to the areas as section "A" which includes the 1850 and 1893 areas, "B" which includes the 1904/7 area and "C" which included the 1964 area.

Cemetery Row where interred can be found. (In Area 3, PLOT is used representing the graves actual location)


      AK   - Austin Knetzger
      DT   - Dottie Theisen
      FJA  - Father Jim Antoine
      KS   - Kenneth Schottler
      LGS  - Linda (Gebhard) Scheimann
      SB   - St. Boniface
      SBB - Parish burial service registration
      TS   - Tombstone
      WCDC - Washington County Death Certificate

Cemetery Layout: Located on the northwest corner of the church property. All graves within the cemeteries are positioned west-east with the exception of Area 4 where they are north-south.

Each individual is identified to an area and a row with the exception of Area 1 where only Area is identified. Following identifies row markers on both ends and at the row middle. The marker identified is not necessarily the end marker but the most readable.

Area 1      (1850 Cemetery)

The only discerning rows are along the east and west boundaries. It is almost impossible to visually see rows in the center of this area. (east row is the shrine row)

Area 2 - 1893 Cemetery

RowMarker SouthMarker CenterMarker North
01Gottfried BruggerJacob RegenfussJohn Kreuser
02MerkelKuniqunda SchusterEdward Regenfuss
03BernertRosalia BruggerMichael Fogarty
04Margaret ZoellnerWilliam RegenfussJoseph Schmitt
05Philip KauthJacob Zoch>Schmidt Marker
06Edward SchmidtMathias SchmidtMargaret Zander
07Baby Area/1 rowJoseph TheisenJosephine Gebhard
08Baby Area/2 rowsJohn JohnsonFrances Greulich
09Baby Area/2 rowsMarilyn BernhardtIda Scharbach
10Unmarked Baby Row =================================>
11Unmarked Baby Row =================================>

Area 3 - 1904/7 Cemetery

Row Marker SouthMarker CenterMarker North
01Ignatius SchneiderSister BlanchAnnie Kohl
02Agnes WolfLuLu GierlichEveline Kohl
03Conrad SchotttlerKatherine Baertline      John Roskopf
04Chester HansenEugene BaertleinJohn Roskopf
05Leonard Baumgartner   Mary Ann KohlAnna Siegl
06Peter KohlWilliam BezoldAnn Schulteis
07Lawrence StephanGeorge SchmittCecilia Brehm

Area 4 - 1964 Cemetery

RowMarker EastMarker CenterMarker West
APaul DragichJeanne PragachPaul Laska
01      Marie LaabsMargaret HayesDonald Burg
02Lorraine Fassbender   Kathryn SchulteisLeo Goetz
03Elise GenglerTommy BaderIsadore Schoolaert
04Mary LiesenfelderMargaret Stuettgen       Leonard Staab
05Helen MerkelEdwin StrackTodd Barbieri
06Beatrice ParishRobert GoetzEarl Gengler
07Phillip GoodrichDavid JarveyRose Vanderheiden

Row A = cremations

First St. Boniface Cemetery On The Knetzger Property

Hearsay has seven individuals buried there. Using a technique called biolocation, the author determined that there may be ten individuals. Most likely these individuals will never be known although one may be John Knetzger born and died in 1846. A second may be a baby Hubert Odenbrett born and died in 1847. A third may be Anna Katherina (Mueller) Odenbrett, wife of Johann and mother of Hubert, who it is believed to have died in 1847 along with her baby as her husband remarried in 1848. A fourth may be the baby Wilhelm Geirsemer who died in 1848. Two others might be Philipp and Maria (Jentgens) Odenbrett

Using coordinate points of center of Freistadt Road, before it was widened, and eye positioning of the west property fence line:

  Grave       Size      Direction   From West Border  From Center of Road 
016 x 3.5'e-w228'74'
028 x 3.5'e-w212'74'
037 x 4'e-w197'74'
047 x 4'e-w177'74'
057 x 4'e-w166'74'
065 x 3'e-w156'74'
076 x 3'n-s149'74'
087.5 x 3'n-s141'74'
098 x 3'n-s148'51'
105 x 2'n-s21'46'

Intersecting point is on the northwest corner of the grave.

One may wonder if the log church building might have been positioned on top a grave. The answer is no, as the building was locate to the west of the grave line.

    church  30 x 20'  e-w   50' -  80'  from south section line)

The property was 528' west-east and 165' north-south.


It is thought that a composite list of cemetery burials will identify most parish members since its founding in 1845. That is, those individuals who chose the parish as their family parish. It is noted there are individuals and families who attended the parish for some period, moved, and then chose a different parish as their family parish. Others are identified who were born at the parish, moved on to other geographic areas but considered the parish their family parish and chose to be buried here. Still others moved into the parish, found it to their liking and stayed. This list then identifies those individuals who chose St. Boniface as their parish, their family, and their final resting place.

For those who may be into genealogy and are using this as a source of information, please be aware almost all the information you will see was obtained from secondary sources. No attempt was made to verify its correctness. The report simply identifies raw facts. If you plan to use this information for genealogy purposes, it behooves you to look for supporting primary evidence.