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updated: 8/16/2012 3:54 PM

New gravestones to be dedicated at old cemetery Sept. 1

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Friends of Pioneer Cemeteries

More than two dozen new gravestones will be dedicated on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 1 at the nearly 160-year-old Saint Stephen Cemetery on the Carol Stream-Wheaton border.
The ceremony will be at 1 p.m., at the cemetery that traces its origin to the former German farm community of Gretna, north of St. Charles Road and west of Schmale Road. The program is open to the public and will include dessert refreshments.
Nearly 25 individuals, families and one other cemetery have contributed to the project to mark each of the 125 gravesites in the one-acre pioneer cemetery that is maintained by the Milton Township Cemeteries Authority and its companion organization, Friends of Pioneer Cemeteries. St. Stephen Cemetery is one of several owned by the Joliet Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.
Saint Michael Cemetery on South Warrenville Road, Wheaton, has given a large grant to the Cemeteries Authority to help with the cost and installation of the new gravestones.
Each of the new gravestones is antique gray in color, measures 12 inches tall by 24 inches long and 4 inches deep. Each is engraved with the person's name, date of birth, city and country where born if known, relationship to another buried there, and date of death. Each gravestone has been placed on a concrete base.
The last burial in Saint Stephen was in about 1910. The Saint Stephen Mission was an active place of worship for Gretna-area residents for more than 37 years, or until about 1889.
This is the third year that a Family Remembrance Day program has been held at Saint Stephen in early September. The first, in 2010, drew more than 250 family members and relatives of those buried in Saint Stephen. Many of those early families are inter-related by marriage and include, among others, the names Dieter, Hahn, Klein, Krapf, Kriebe, Mittman, Moore, Ott, Stark, Voll and Warner.
Work to restore, refurbish and maintain three nearly-abandoned, 160-year-old, pioneer cemeteries in Milton Township was started more that a dozen years ago. Six years ago, a Friends organization was formed to research, preserve and publish information about the cemeteries and the families buried in each.
The other two cemeteries are Jewell Grove Cemetery [1842], on Champion Forest Drive south of Jewell Road in Wheaton, and Pleasant Hill Cemetery [1848], on Geneva Road at Coventry Drive, west of Gary Avenue, in Wheaton.
Membership in Friends of Pioneer Cemeteries is open to anyone. Annual membership is $10; lifetime membership is $100. Interested persons may contact Jim Scheffler, P.O. Box 540, Wheaton, IL 60189-0540 or calling (630) 668-8738.