Farm Horizons, Feb. 2016

Old Adventist cemetery a glimpse into little-known Dassel history

By Brad Salmen

On a small, wooded hill in the middle of a corn field, just south of US Highway 12 about two miles west of Dassel, sits a small cemetery that contains a bit of little-known Dassel history, along with a glimpse into a long-ago era.

The cemetery is known both as the Milton Clay Cemetery and the Seventh Day Adventist Cemetery.

The first name is an homage to the original landowner. The second is from the Seventh Day Adventist Church – an organization that lasted only a decade in the late 1800s in Dassel.

Jeanette Servin, researcher at the Dassel Area Historical Society, said that according to historical newspaper records, Seventh Day Adventist services were held from 1888 to 1898.

According to a plat map, the SDA church was located at 6th St. and Simon Avenue in Dassel.

Servin noted that in Oscar Linquist’s book, “Those Were the Days,” the SDA built a church in 1887, but upon removal of some of the leading members to California, services were discontinued and the church was turned into a residence.

A look into the local newspaper archives, provided by Servin, gives a glance into the SDA church at the time.

From the Litchfield Saturday Review, Feb. 11, 1893 (Dassel News): “Meetings will be held in the Adventist church all next week. Eld. T. B. Johnson of Huthinson [sic] will conduct the meetings.”

From the Litchfield Saturday Review, June 2, 1894: “Memorial service was held at the Adventist church last Sunday. The memorial sermon, which was highly enjoyed by all; was preached by Wm. Bricky of Kingston.”

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit comes from a piece printed in the Dassel Anchor on Jan. 23, 1896.

“The Adventist church seating capacity was taxed to its utmost Sunday evening by the large congregation that gathered to listen to Rev. Philps talk on the ‘Eastern Question.’ Prehaps [sic] a great many went expecting to hear more of the political side of the question, but Mr. Phelps took a different phase of the subject and devoted his time to following or pointing out the different prophecies made in the Bible that had been fulfilled in the recent events connected with the Armenians and the Turkish Empire. He also dwelt a short time on the reasons why England did not take more decisive action to prevent the atrocities perpetrated by the Turks on the Armenian which, as he said, and it is probably well known to those who have followed the question, was solely because of the millions of dollars that English capitalists had invested in Turkish bonds and securities, The talk was entertaining to the utmost, and deeply interested those present. He also materialy [sic] strengthened his statements by indicating the points on the map.”

[Note: The Reverend’s last name is spelled both “Philps” and “Phelps” in this article].

The “Eastern Question” here was a reference to the waning throes of the Turkish Empire, and the world-changing events that followed its eventual breakup (which, ultimately, was a contributing factor to World War I). The Seventh Day Adventist Church at the time, led by prophetess Ellen White among others, were convinced that the Eastern Question events were a fulfillment of the Biblical verses from Dan. 11:40-45, Revelation 9, and Rev. 16:12, among others.

In any event, after the church’s elders moved to California around 1898, the SDA church was no more.

During their time in Dassel, however, they buried their dead at the graveyard just west of town.

The cemetery holds an estimated 25-35 bodies, though it’s tough to tell exactly as the conditions of the tombstones and markers have deteriorated.

It is believed, said Servin, that a mixture of both SDA members and non-SDA members are buried there.

The markers have dates from as early as 1868, and as late as 1891.

The graves also give a glance into the tougher times in the late 1800s. Of the 23 archived graves, seven died under the age of five, and another seven died under the age of 25.

The cemetery passed through the Clay family until Karl Nelson, a later owner, willed the land to the Lake Jennie Covenant Church.

Lake Jennie Covenant Church, in turn, sold the land to Karl’s nephew Gordon, who owns the land today.

Names, dates, and ages of burials at the Seventh Day Adventist cemetery:

• Elizabeth S. Brickey, d. 1875 (25 yrs old)

• Mary V. Brickey d. 1872, (3 days old)

• Nelson Burk, d. 1884 (64)

• Lydia Ann Burk, d. 1882 (42)

• Harrison Cassel, d. 1873 (1)

• William D. Cassel, d. 1873 (4)

• Mary Cassel, d. 1873 (3)

• Baby Cassel, d. 1877 (13 days)

• Zilpha Clay, d. 1873 (63)

• Alvin M. Clay, d. 1868 (11 months)

• Caleb Clay, (Our Father), d. 1877 (73)

• John Counts, d. 1873 (15)

• Volney Gay, d. 1889 (72)

• Lury (Lucy?) Gay, d. 1873 (50)

• Rachel (Sellards) Gardner, d. 1887 (25)

• Olmstead (stillborn baby, Alonzo and Rebecca Olmstead), d. 1888

• Lorene Jane (Sellards) Gay, d. 1891 (54)

Abandoned cemeteries in the Dassel area

Along with the Clay/Adventist Church cemetery, the following is a list of cemeteries considered “abandoned” (no longer active) in the Dassel Area.

• Boo Cemetery, east of Dassel, near Boo Farm

• Cates Cemetery, Kingston

• Chaney or Pigeon Lake Cemetery, southwest of Dassel, a Baptist cemetery

• Dahlhman / Skog Cemetery, southeast of Dassel (many Gethsemane Lutheran members buried here)

• Pioneer Cemetery – First Swedish Independent Baptist, south of Dassel

• Little Swan Lake or Cunningham Cemetery, near Little Swan Lake four miles north of Dassel

• Quick Cemetery – named after the local Quick family, south of Dassel near the Bergquist farm

– Information provided courtesy of Jeanette Servin, researcher at the Dassel Area Historical Society

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