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Larsen Cemetery
Pleasant Twp, Lincoln County, South Dakota

T96N R50W Sec 31

Contributed by Brian Hass, Nov 16, 2001 [brian_m_hass@hotmail.com].
Total records = 13.

The Larsen family cemetery is located a number yards north of the commercial area at the northwest corner of Beresford, South Dakota. The seventy-five foot by seventy-two foot cemetery site is bordered by four fence posts, contains three trees, and is surrounded on all four sides by an open plowed field. The cemetery has no fences or access road, but can be seen from a distance from the north side of the Cenex Convenience store drive-through, located at 1508 West Cedar, Beresford, SD.

In the 1870's, an immigrant from Denmark named Lars Larsen, Jr., started the cemetery on his homestead, which was located at the southeast quarter of section 31 of Pleasant Township, Lincoln County, Dakota Territory. He was also the last person to be buried in the cemetery in 1923.

Lars Larsen was eventually joined by his father and stepmother, Mr. and Mrs. Lars Larsen, Sr., who came to America from Denmark in the spring of 1891. The obituary of the elder Lars Larsen (1810-1900) mentioned that he was buried beside his wife, who passed away in January 1896. The wife was not listed by name; but, Karen Larsen (buried in the unmarked grave) was the only woman in the Larsen Cemetery's thirteen recorded burials who could have been the elder Lars Larsen's second wife, assuming that the records accounted for all of the cemetery's burials. The first wife of Lars Larsen, Sr., passed away in 1852.

Different sources disagreed with regard to the number of burials at the site. The 1989 article by the 20th Century Club reported that approximately twenty-two individuals were believed to have been buried at the cemetery. In 2001, Lars' grandson, H. Larsen, reported that approximately nineteen people were believed to have been buried there. However, recent articles published by the "Argus Leader" and the "Beresford Republic" reported that historical records listed the names of only thirteen individuals who were buried in the cemetery. Markers for only ten of these graves, as well as a fragment of an eleventh marker, were found during the 2001 survey.

Larsen Cemetery has not been maintained regularly for many years. In 1989, members of Beresford's 20th Century Club reported that the site was overgrown and covered with dead tree limbs, with only a few tombstones found. In the 1990's, there was a rumor that the grave markers had been vandalized and stacked in a pile; but, the president of the Canton Area Historical Society visited the site and found the rumor to be untrue. In about 1996, two Boy Scout troups from Sioux Falls visited the site to remove brush and debris. On two weekends in May of 2001, volunteers from the local branch of the Lutheran Brotherhood visited the site to tidy it up and to install the wooden fence posts to outline the site. On the first of those two weekends, a monument was installed at the site, inscribed with the words, "LARSEN CEMETERY ESTABLISHED 1875."

In November 1997, Cenex officials announced plans to build a Super 8 motel. It was soon discovered that the cemetery road used to exist at the proposed location for the motel's parking lot. As a result, Cenex officials changed their plans and relocated the motel's building site farther west.

The Larsen Cemetery was surveyed by Brian M. Hass on August 3, October 19, and November 13 of 2001. During this survey, all available grave marker inscriptions were transcribed, with the only exceptions being some of the poems inscribed in relatively fine print at the bases of some of the markers. Inscriptions containing genealogical information were considered to be of highest priority. A map based on approximate measurements of the site was made on November 13 of 2001.

According to the article by the 20th Century Club, the bottom half of Axel Jensen's marker was reported as missing back in July of 1989. And, it was not visible during the visit to the site on August 3, 2001. However, the cover due to plant growth was reduced by October 19 of 2001; and, the bottom half of Axel's marker as well as the entire marker of Johanna Jensen were both visible by that time.

On November 13 of 2001, a small loose fragment of George Larsen's marker was found on the ground near two smaller loose fragments at the base of one of the trees. The largest of these fragments was probably no more than four inches wide; and, all of the fragments appeared as if they might have come from the same marker. Only the largest fragment had any inscription.

The condition of individual grave markers was noted during the survey. The markers for Johanne Hermansen, Axel Jensen, and Karen Larsen were found to have been broken into two large pieces; and, the marker for Harlan Larsen was found to have been broken into three large pieces. The bottom half of the marker for Axel Jensen was detached from its base and was found resting on top of Johanna Jensen's marker. In all cases, most of the inscriptions on these damaged stones could still be easily read and transcribed. H. Larsen reported that most of the damage to the stones was caused by farm equipment. During the 2001 survey, none of the loose pieces were relocated from where they were originally found within the cemetery. The bases to all of the visible stones were still fixed to the ground.

The markers for Johanna Jensen, Lars and Anna Larsen, Lars Larsen, Lauretz Larsen, and LeRoy Larsen were intact. Lars and Anna Larsen's marker was slightly chipped and had been repaired at some point; and, the markers for Johanna Jensen and the elder Lars Larsen had fallen over after detaching from their respective bases. Otherwise, these last three markers were in generally good condition and were completely readable.

No markers (or recognizeable parts of markers) for the other individuals were found during the survey. Cover from dead plant growth was noted at the cemetery's southeast corner. A closer examination on November 13 revealed a small mound of soil beneath this growth. If any marker fragments were buried within this mound, none were visible during the survey.

The above information was obtained from the following sources.

1) "Larsen Family Cemetery survey" by Brian Hass; conducted at the site on 3 Aug 2001, 19 Oct 2001, and 13 Nov 2001.
2) "Residents fight to preserve small cemetery;" by Randy Hascall, published by the "Argus Leader;" Sioux Falls, SD; late 1990's.
3) "Taking care of family, Volunteers restore old family cemetery" by Craig Steensland; published by the "Beresford Republic;" Beresford, SD; 24 May 2001 4) obituaries of Lars Larsen and Lars P. Larsen, published in the "Beresford Republic."
5) "Larson Family Cemetery," submitted by Marlys Clay, Debbie Conklin, and Judy Travis of the 20th Century Club of Beresford, SD, Jul 1989
6) "Lars Larsen," pages 202-3 of Memorial_and_Biographical_Record, published 1897. This article was taken from a book which contained the biographies of early residents of southeastern South Dakota. The book focused on the counties of Clay, Lincoln, Turner, and Union. The referenced copy of the book had a worn binding, and was missing the cover and a few pages. As a result, the publisher was unknown. But, the book's publication date was listed in the obituary of Archie Duncan, published 18 April 1901 in the "Beresford Republic," Beresford, South Dakota.
7) The Bureau of Land Management's GLO records
8) Notes from phone interview with H. Larsen, 9 Oct 2001
9) "Project to include Cenex, Burger King, Super 8" by M. Jill Sundstrom; published by the "Beresford Republic;" Beresford, SD; 27 Nov 1997

The following listing includes all data from inscriptions on all visible grave markers. Information was obtained from the first four sources listed above, with the first source providing almost all of the data for individuals buried in marked graves and the second three sources providing all of the data for individuals buried in unmarked graves. Source number five contained some data which aided in the verification of data for three of the individuals listed in source number one.
- Brian Hass

Hermansen, Johanne Marie, b. 27 Apr 1874, d. 22 Jul 1876, "Datter of Christian and Ellen K. Hermansen," depiction of dove.
Jensen, Arthur, no marker found
Jensen, Axel Waldemar, b. 30 Dec 1878, age 1m 17d, "Son of Chr and H. Jensen," depiction of lamb.
Jensen, Johanna, d. 24 Dec 1890, age 44y 5m 27d, "Wife of M. Chr. Jensen," depiction of gates to Heaven.
Larsen, ?arlan O., b. 18 Nov 1906, d. 10 Jan 1911, "Son of G. W. and Agnes Larsen," records list first name as Harlan
Larsen, Anna Marie (Peterson), b. 18 Jan 1846, d. 5 Nov 1909, "Wife of Lars Larsen," s/w Lars Larsen, maiden name obtained from "Beresford News" obituary.
Larsen, George, small fragment of marker found with inscription "GEO..." and part of inscription of "Son," no fragments with dates were found.
Larsen, Karen Johanne, b. 24 Jul 1886, d. ?? Aug 1886, "Dau. of Lars and Marie Larsen," depiction of angel.
Larsen, Karen, no marker found, one of two Karen Larsens reported to have been buried at Larsen Cemetery
Larsen, Lars, b. 15 Feb 1847, d. 14 Apr 1923, s/w Anna Marie Larsen
Larsen, Lars, b. 9 Nov 1810, d. 22 Jun 1900, obit reported he was buried beside his second wife
Larsen, Lauretz P. Harvey, b. 8 Jan 1877, d. 21 Apr 1889, "Son of Lars and Marie Larsen," depiction of lamb.
Larson, LeRoy, b. 23 Apr 1911, d. 22 May 1911, "Son of G. W. and Agnes Larson," marker listed surname as Larson instead of Larsen

 

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