North Branch Lutheran Cemetery
This cemetery is located 0.4 mile south of the intersection of Highway 50 and 'B' roads, on the east side of the road.
"In 1880 a congregation was organized among the German settlers in North Branch precinct of Otoe County, Nebraska, and construction of a church building was begun. Since shortly after its founding, the post office has been located at Avoca in Cass County, and the parish was officially named the First Lutheran Church of Avoca. The Reverend Christian Neumann of the Iowa Synod was called to serve in 1880. He also undertook to organize a congregation in nearby Syracuse. Subsequent pastors also served other neighboring churches. By 1900 the Avoca parish fully supported a pastor of its own.
Surviving difficulties during World War I, this congregation continued to conduct at least some services in the German language until the 1950s. A new parsonage was constructed in 1920 and a new church in 1923. In 1930 the parish became a member of the American Lutheran Church, when the Iowa Synod merged with several others to form this new body." (1)
“When the members of the congregation built their church in North Branch, they wanted a suitable and respectable place to bury their dead. So they organized plans for the cemetery. Starting on the west side they left a drive, laid out two rows of lots sixteen feet square, leaving another drive and so on until they had laid out eight rows of lots running north and south with twenty three lots in a row. In about 1930, they laid out the south additional rows running east and west. These lots were fourteen feet square. Each charter member was given a lot, and each member was to pay $1.00 per lot per year for upkeep of the cemetery, which was to be paid to the caretaker. On each corner of the lot they dug in a slab of cedar post. In the course of time these posts started to rot, so when John Ruge was on the council he made a motion that they mark the lots with a cement marker, which was done.
When Rev. Bergstraesser came to this congregation, many of the older people had passed away, leaving no one to pay the $1.00 a year upkeep cost of the lot. In about 1925, Rev. Bergstraesser wrote up the Articles of Incorporation of North Branch Cemetery of First Lutheran Church, which was adopted by the congregation. The backbone of the Articles was perpetual care by which each member could invest a one-time amount of $25.00 or more into a perpetual care fund. This money was to be safely invested for the production of interest. At 4% interest, $25.00 would generate the $1.00 per year. The interest was to be used annually to pay for the upkeep of the lots on the cemetery. Although they have never been recorded in the courthouse, the congregation has never changed the original articles of incorporation. However, over the years updated rules and regulations have been adopted and carried out by the Cemetery Board.
In 1991, a wide sidewalk going north and south through the center of most of the cemetery was provided as a memorial in memory of Hank Behling In the same year marble benches were placed in the south part of the cemetery in memory of Ervin & Minnie Carlson. A cemetery directory was placed next to them in 1994 in memory of John & Lydia Buchholz. An asphalt drive was also placed are the south side of the directory and benches by Frederick & Barbara Behling in the same year. The North Branch Cemetery sign was made in 2004 by James Schutz who donated his labor for the project. The materials were paid for from the memorial funds of LaVerta Berner, Viola Hillman, & Joan Wohlers.“ (2)
Burial Listing: A complete listing of burials can be found in the 'North Branch Cemetery' documents listed on the left side of this page. Burials can be researched by an alphabetical listing, or by lot number as well. *(Updated: 27 Jan 2012 by Mary Hanke)
Point of Contact:
North Branch Cemetery Association
of First Lutheran Church
1434 N 30th Rd
Avoca, NE 68307-8233
(1) "First Lutheran Church (Avoca, Neb.)." Nebraska State Historical Society Home Page. Web. 06 Sept. 2010. <http://www.nebraskahistory.org/lib-arch/research/manuscripts/church/avoca-lutheran.htm>.
(2) Steinhoff Drake, Cindy. The 125th Anniversary History of First Lutheran Church Avoca, Nebraska 1880-2005. 2005. 131-134. Print.