Inquiries can be made to the Holy Family Church Parish Office: (812) 934-3013
A History of Holy Family Cemetery
In the early 1800’s two brothers, William and Andrew George purchased a little over 225 acres in Section 4, Ray Township, Franklin County, Indiana from the government land office in Cincinnati, Ohio. Eighty acres purchased by William on 20 Mar 1828 became the western half of his farm and two years later on 2 Sept 1830, he bought another 80 acres to the east. These two tracts of land would later become the village of Oldenburg.
Inhabitants in Ray Township were scarce over the next few years. This changed dramatically beginning in 1836 when German Catholic immigrants began flooding the area. They were attracted not only to the land but also to the prospect of having their own church and school nearby. Two speculators from Cincinnati, Heinrich Plasphole and Johann Heinrich Ronnebaum, were among the purchasers of land patents in the area having bought over 600 acres in the township.
The following year, William George pulled up stakes and sold his property to these men. In 1837, Plasphole and Ronnebaum then platted George’s former acres of farmland into the village of "Neu Oldenburg" which they named after their birthplace of Oldenburg, Germany. It consisted of sixteen lots and seven streets which they in turn divided up and sold to many of their German Catholic friends and countrymen. One area of the village was set aside for a log church known as St. Mary's, which served as both church and schoolhouse. In the platting of Neu Oldenburg an area for a large public square was reserved in the center of town, space for a public marketplace was made and there was a provision for a cemetery.
At the north edge of the village limits was 5 acres of consecrated ground dedicated as the Holy Family Cemetery. Although the inhabitants of “Neu Oldenburg” may have used this this area for burials since the 1830's, there are no known records prior to 1845. This changed after the arrival of Father Franz Joseph Rudolph in October 1844 who was appointed by the diocese to fulfill the role of resident pastor for the village. It was through his ambitious visions for the growth and continuous improvements for “Neu Oldenburg” (now known as Oldenburg) that many changes were implemented. Plans for the construction of a new church and school to be named Holy Family, were quickly put into place. He also ensured that proper requirements for the recording and retention of Church records were adhered to. Thus the first recorded burial at the cemetery occurred 2 Jul 1845 when 18 month old Bernard Asmann, son of Bernard and Catherine, was laid to rest.
Headstones at Holy Family vary from the large and elaborate to the small and humble. Many are inscribed in German, a reflection of the village's heritage. The parish cemetery is noted for its unusual iron grave markers most of which have survived the test of time. In addition, there are many beautiful intricately carved monuments throughout the site. Many improvements have taken place over the years. Dirt pathways and streets were eventually paved and a wrought iron gate with stone pillars was added at the entrance. The park-like grounds of the cemetery are covered in green grass which slopes gently downwards, its edges lined with trees. A monument to the Blessed Family welcomes friends and families to these holy grounds. From its inception, parish members have always taken personal responsibility to ensure that the cemetery remained a peaceful well-maintained resting place for their loved ones buried there. Visitors to Holy Family Cemetery today will find that their legacy continues.
Indiana Cemetery Locations, Volume 4, published by the Indiana Genealogical Society (April 2009), gives the primary cemetery name as Holy Family Cemetery with an alternate name of Oldenburg Cemetery.
The cemetery is listed in the Cemetery and Burial Grounds Registry of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and in the State Historical Architectural and Archaeological Research Database (SHAARD) with Cemetery Record Number CR-24-103 (Holy Family / Oldenburg Catholic).
The Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory (IHSSI) survey number for Holy Family Parish Cemetery is 047-034-61133 with the dataset compiled in 2011.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) feature ID for the cemetery is 436351 (Holy Family Cemetery).
GPS Coordinates: 39.3439, -85.2047
- Added: 2 Jan 2000
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #85415
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