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James Rave Cemetery (Meseal Cemetery)
Winnebago, Thurston County, Nebraska

Lat: 42° 15' 01"N, Lon: 96° 30' 03"W
Winnebago Twp, Sec 2

Contributed by Kecia Mapp, Mar 22, 2005 [kecia@qmapp.com]. Total records = 73.

Heading north on Interstate 77 toward Sioux City, IA. In the town of Winnebago turn left on D Avenue (Beck St) (next to Winnebago Wellness Center) travel about 0.6mi over the railroad tracks and Omaha Creek. Turn right on 29th Road and follow it to the fork. (Catholic Cemetery is located at the fork) Head left on C Avenue, then right on 28th Road. The Rave Cemetery is at the top of the hill on the right. Cemetery is visible from C Avenue and 28th Road.

This cemetery sits atop a hill on five acres of land set aside in 1917 by the James Rave family for descendants use. The Rave family, notably John Rave, was the founder of the Native American Church. In the early 1900's, John and members of his family introduced the Bible, Christianity and the Peyote culture to the Winnebago people. This is one of several cemeteries on the Winnebago Indian Reservation. On government maps it is also called the Meseal Cemetery.

Prior to 2001, the cemetery was known as the Peyote Cemetery or the Native American Church Cemetery. In 2002, the cemetery was officially renamed the "James Rave Cemetery". The cemetery is currently in fair condition and is under the jurisdiction of the Winnebago Wake & Burial (WW&B) established in 1975 by the tribe. In 1929, a tornado uprooted and toppled many headstones scattering them down into the timbers surrounding the cemetery.

There is said to be several old headstones amongst the poison sumac/ivy north of the cemetery, but I am not willing to verify this info. During the depression the cemetery was vandalized as lead was used to seat the larger stones. Over the last 75 years, several stones have been lost due to neglect/vandalism. The cemetery was transcribed in the 1970's, hopefully by 2006 those names will be available, cross-referenced and added to this document.

Family Recollections: Originally, the site was amongst a grove of trees, which was eventually removed to facilitate ease of maintenance. During the late 1800's-early 1900's when epidemics raged through the reservation many of the deceased were laid to rest above ground in small rectangular wooden houses. Family members would honor their dead by leaving offerings outside these structures. During the epidemic period every hilltop surrounding the current cemetery was beset with several of these burial structures. As a little girl, my mom thought these structures were rabbit houses as that's all she remembered resided in them. It is also noted that the oldest tombstones in the cemetery were most likely placed by non-Indians (possibly missionaries) as most Indians at that time could not read/write or afford such luxuries. Several of the newer headstones were uniquely created by descendants who inlaid the temporary WW&B metal markers in cement.

In most cases, the sun dictates the position of the grave/headstone. The head of the deceased is buried facing east to the morning sun; and the feet, west to the setting sun. Headstones are placed at the foot of the deceased, when reading the stone those at rest are not "disturbed or dishonored". I was told the old burial ways included leaving a mound of dirt over the grave, reminiscent of the "eastern mound building societies"; ancestors of the Winnebago people. The Winnebago people celebrate and rejoice when one of their members passes into the spirit world. In my family, death is referred to as a return to the happy hunting grounds. A yearly memorial dinner to the deceased is also custom, but not required.

This is an ongoing survey of this cemetery, begun Jul 28, 2003, revised Jul 22, 2004 and again on Mar 10, 2005, This is a work in progress. If anyone would like to add to my limited historical knowledge of this cemetery and Winnebago customs please contact me via e-mail. Documenters/Photographers who assisted me are Alonzo Thomas, Velma Thomas Alaniz, VelRey Lozano and Hunter Adams.

- Kecia Mapp

Ayers, Rose K (Katherine), b. 1911, d. 1981, nee Renfer
Bahr, Walter C, b. Sep 17 1907, d. Jun 26 1974, Tec5 US Army, Christian cross emblem, he owned Bahr Hardware store in Winnebago, married to Ida Rave
Big Elk, Thomas, b. Sep. 11, 1909, d. Dec. 18, 1909, ---e mark at bottom of stone
Blackhawk, Albert, d. Jul 10 1912, Aged 21 years, carved "hand shake" design
Brown, Arthur, b. Mar 9, 1977, d. Mar 20, 1977, "Our Son", two bolts of lightening carved in border
Carley, Rebecca, b. Apr 17 1910, d. Apr 19 1910, floral design at top of marker
Clay, Josephine, b. April 3 1909, d. May 1 1909, sitting lamb with missing head, floral, crown and cross emblems
Clay, Mary Mrs., d. Feb 24 1915, Aged over 90 years, "Christ is with her", curtain with clasped hands emblem
Clay, William H., b. Jul 26, 1910, d. Sep. 7, 1910, "Asleep in Jesus", crown with Christian cross emblem on top of monument
Condecon, Dena M, b. Aug. 19, 1954, d. Jan. 12, 1999, Christian cross emblem, floral design at bottom of marker, Burial Mound present
DeCora, Dwayne A, Sr, b. 1930, d. 2001, Christian cross emblem, elaborate arbor & flowerbed built around Burial Mound
DeForest, Quentin Rossier, b. Jul 12, 1969, d. Sep 10, 1986, Phantom Five, "In Loving Memory", "He has risen", Christ with angel emblem
Euing, Frank, b. 1867, d. 1914, dove emblem
Fountain, Jean Anissa, b. Oct. 16, 1968, d. Feb. 23, 1999, "In Loving Memory Of", floral design at upper corners
Fox, Howard, b. May 29, 1923, d. Nov 29, 1982, open book carved around wording
Free, Dorothy Thomas, b. Mar 4 1936, d. Nov 3 1985, A3C US Air Force, Christian cross emblem, Dorothy Ann Thomas, daughter of Theodore & Mary Thomas
French, Sophia, b. Aug. 8, 1890, d. Aug. 9, 1913, "Blessed are thy that do his commandments"
Gilbert, Charlie, b. Apr 26, 1866, d. Dec. 26, 1911, sitting lamb figure on marker (head missing)
Ingvaldson, Eva Rave, b. 1914, d. 1995, "In loving memory"
Johnson, James Michael, "Son of Lynn & Marguerite" b. & d. Mar 28, 1974, grandson of Ted & Mary Thomas
Johnson, Maud, b. 1890, d. 1910, Wife of Henry Big Elk, "Big Elk", Christian cross emblem
LaMere, Mary, No dates listed, wreath emblem at top, family created headstone
Littlethunder, Mark Garland, b. Apr 25. 1922, d. Dec. 15. 1990, one feather engraved in border around name
Littlethunder, Mary, b. 1946, d. 1979
Littlewolf, George, b. Jan. 28, 1909, d. Nov. 21, 1909., carved sitting lamb figure
Loera, Curtis L, b. 1996, d. 1998, Burial Mound present
Logan, Dorothy V., b. Jun 11, 1925, d. Jul 10, 1991, "Wife", big shrub covering entire stone
Logan, William, b. May 10, 1896, d. April 13, 1972
Lowry, Ben, b. Oct. 15, 1900, d. Sep 1, 1915, sitting lamb figure on marker (head missing) floral swag design
Lowry, Lyman L (Lawrence), b. Jul 4 1888, d. April 7 1973, Kansas Pvt US Army World War I, encircled Christian cross emblem, married to Mae Renfer
Lowry, May R. (Renfer), b. 1901, d. 1969, Mae Renfer, daughter of Fred & Marguerite Renfer
McKee, Robert, b. 1982, d. 2003, Christian cross emblem
McKee, Ronald D, b. 1952, d. 2003, Christian cross emblem, Burial Mound present
McKee, Vivian R, b. Nov 21, 1928, d. Aug 13, 1978, "Mother", praying hands with Christian cross emblem
Miller, Delores L., b. 1949, d. 2003, Christian cross emblem
Monroe, Velma Rave, b. 1917, d. 1990, name/date surrounded by border, centered floral design at bottom
Morgan, Early, d. Sep 15, 1911, "He is not dead but sleepeth", EM footstone present
Powers, Anna Mae, b. Jan. 29, 1936, d. Sep 16, 1994 "Mother", crossed feathers emblem
Rave, Alan Zee, b. Nov 12 1940, d. Aug 20 1979, PFC US Marine Corps Korea, Christian cross emblem
Rave, Clifford O, b. Jan 12 1932, d. Aug 22 1975, Pvt US Marine Corps Korea, Encircled Christian cross emblem
Rave, Curtis P, b. Sep 27, 1915, d. February 26, 1975, floral border design
Rave, Dallas, b. Apr 10, 1938, d. Jan. 8, 1987, "Beloved Son And Brother", Teepee emblem-NAC member
Rave, Dennis D, b. 1943, d. 1997, Burial Mound present
Rave, Dwight M, b. May 23 1934, d. May 20 1998, PVT US Army Korea, teepee emblem-NAC member
Rave, Elmer Morris, b. Feb 26 1930, d. Nov 12 1981, Pvt US Marine Corps Korea, Christian cross emblem
Rave, Henry P., b. 1911, d. 1984, "DAD"
Rave, Henry T, b. Jan 20 1915, d. Jan 25 1993, Tec 5 US Army World War II, Christian cross emblem
Rave, Herman, b. 1995, d. 1998, Burial Mound present
Rave, Horace W., b. Mar 19, 1904, d. May 23, 1982, large Christian cross emblem, s/w Sophia F. Rave
Rave, John, b. 1856, d. 1917, "Sleep in Jesus", Oldest Grave In Cemetery, son of James Rave
Rave, Lucy L, b. 1906, d. 2000, Christian cross emblem, Burial Mound present
Rave, Peter Jr, b. Jul 10, 1904, d. Jan. 30, 1998, teepee emblem-NAC member, Burial Mound present
Rave, Sally B., b. 1863, d. 1911, Christian cross emblem at top, clasped hands emblem at middle
Rave, Sophia F., b. Dec 21, 1914, d. May 27, 1983, s/w Horace W. Rave
Rave, Vivian French, b. Jun 18, 1955, d. Dec 4, 1982, grape leaves surrounding Christian cross emblem
Rave, Willard C, b. 1926, d. 1982, S1 US Navy World War II, encircled Christian cross emblem
Rave, Wilmot A (Arnold), b. Mar 3 1915, d. Apr 4 1999, US Army World War II, teepee emblem-NAC member, slight Burial Mound present
Renfer, Fred, b. 1870, d. 1947, wreath emblem at top, family created headstone, Non-Indian, married to Marguerite Ellen Rave
Renfer, Louis F (Fred), b. 1915, d. 1930, wreath emblem at top, family created headstone, son of Fred & Marguerite Renfer
Renfer, Margurite (Marguerite), b. 1878, d. 1925, wreath emblem at top, family created headstone, Wife of Fred Renfer Renfer, Mary M (Margaret), b. 1908, d. 1979, s/w Theodore Thomas Sr., surname surrounded by banner and floral swags *
Renfer, Oliver, b. 1906, d. 1966, wreath emblem at top, family created headstone, Oliver Joseph Renfer son of Fred & Marguerite Renfer
Sampson, Rodney D, b. 1955, d. 2003, Christian cross emblem
Thomas, Alonzo J (James), b. Mar 3 1933, d. Aug 1 2002, PFC US Army, Alonzo James "Jim" Thomas, son of Ted & Mary Thomas
Thomas, Edna, b. 1906, d. 1967, "Beloved Mother", Christian cross emblem, floral design at bottom corners
Thomas, Everett L (Lee), b. Jan. 19, 1945, d. Sep 11, 1966, "Beloved Husband & Father", floral design bordering name & date, son of Theodore & Mary Thomas
Thomas, Laura, b. Jun 6 1942, d. Dec 17 2004, New Entry, Need To Verify Info, Laura Ione Johnson, married to Alonzo Thomas
Thomas, Myrtis D (DeCora), b. 1921, d. 1966, family created headstone
Thomas, Theodore Sr, b. 1905, d. 1969, "Our infant son Ira Lawrence", s/w Mary M Renfer
Thunder, Wesley, b. May 12, 1911, d. Mar 19?, 1913 "Thunder", embellished with leaves & floral swag
Walker, Josephine, b. Dec. 12, 1909, d. Oct. 15, 1910, sitting lamb figure on top of monument is missing head, leaf design at bottom
White, Viola, b. Dec 25, 1913, d. Feb 25, 1914, "White", sitting lamb figure on marker (head missing)
Williams, Norval J, Jr, b. Nov 7 1943, d. Oct 5 2001, SP4 US Army Vietnam, teepee emblem, NAC

??, ??, Unknown Marker was run over by lawnmower, assorted letters P,I,C,I,N,U & numbers 1,8,6,7,6 are on ground
??, ??, Unknown, base of stone remains
* Ira Lawrence, son of Mary and Theodore, is not buried in this cemetery. He was buried in the Winnebago Cemetery next to his grandmother, Annie Earth. Theodore "Ted" Thomas, son of Henry & Annie Earth Thomas, Mary Margaret Renfer, daughter of Fred & Marguerite Renfer
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