New Berlin Historical Society

for the German Evangelical Protestant Cemetery

by Laurie DeMoss
Landmarks Commission Chairperson


Spectators gather for the German Evangelical Protestant Cemetary rededication on a pleasant August afternoon

The New Berlin Landmarks Commission held a Rededication Ceremony for the German Evangelical Protestant Cemetery, a New Berlin pioneer cemetery, on Saturday, August 28th, 2010 from 1-3 pm. The cemetery, also known informally as the "Sittel" cemetery, is located at 4041 S. Racine Ave., south of Coffee Road on the west side of Racine Ave.

Laurie DeMoss, Chair of the Landmarks Commission, delivers her remarks. At right is Ron Seidl, City Council representative

The ceremony was attended by over 110 people, on a beautiful late summer afternoon. Attendees included descendants of the first church secretary, Johan K. Meidenbauer--Mr. and Mrs. Roy Meidenbauer, many descendants of George Sittel, one of the last pioneers to be buried at the cemetery, as well as a descendant of the Diessenhusen (later known as Thiessenhusen) family, Al Mueller. Other descendants of families from the German Evangelical Reformed Church built in 1865 further north on Racine Avenue were also present, including the Meidenbauers, Frieda Hart, and descendants of Pastor Heilert, who ministered there for many years, to mention a few. Many people attending the ceremony traveled quite a distance, possibly the farthest was a Sittel descendant who traveled from South Carolina.

pastor radke
Laurie DeMoss welcomes Pastor Dale Radke to the podium

In recognition of the fact that the church that originally stood at the site was a Lutheran church, Pastor Dale L. Radke, of Servant of the Savior Free Lutheran Church, Milwaukee Wisconsin, served as the officiant, providing an invocation and words of rededication, along with several readings and a benediction, as well as a dramatic visual presentation.

pastor gorman
Laurie DeMoss and James Gorman, Pastor UCC Waukesha, display a recently uncovered c. 1840-1860 book, written in German, containing records of the German Evangelical Protestant Church

Pastor James Gorman, minister of the Evangelical and Reformed United Church of Christ, Waukesha, Wisconsin, was also in attendance at the ceremony. He is the current pastor of the church where members of the New Berlin German Evangelical Reformed Church (started in 1865 after they separated from the fellowship at the German Evangelical Protestant Church) affiliated after their church was closed in the 1950's. He has graciously assisted the Landmarks Commission in translating the original records of the German Evangelical Protestant Church from the 1840's through the 1860's.

Many Sittel descendents attended the ceremony. Sittel ancestors buried here include Ana Maria (d. 1862) and George (d. 1873)

Past and present Landmarks Commissioners were recognized for their contribution to the restoration of this pioneer cemetery, including Libbie Nolan and Jackie Hermann, members of the original New Berlin Landmarks Commission and Bart Williams, former Landmarks Commission Chairman, who attended along with his family from West Bend, Wisconsin. Following remarks by Laurie DeMoss, current Chair of the Landmarks Commission and Ron Seidl, City Council Representative on the Commission, refreshments were enjoyed by those attending including cookies donated by Ron Seidl's company, beverages donated by McDonald's, and water provided by the Landmarks Commission.

A sign-in attendance ledger was at the registration table, along with a nice photo display coordinated by Sue Hemmen, current Landmarks Commissioner, with the assistance of the Sittel family. Those who chose to do so provided their email addresses for future contacts and updates. Many individuals toured the cemetery to view the restoration work that has been done to date. A very enjoyable afternoon was spent remembering the original German Lutheran pioneers of New Berlin and the essential contributions they gave to make New Berlin the community it is today.

Members of the Landmarks Commission, along with the City of New Berlin and numerous Boy Scout troops have worked for many years to reclaim this long-neglected cemetery. The access road and parking lot given by Elaine Krauti are gratefully acknowledged.

commission members
Landmark Commission members assemble at the new kiosk sign. Left to right: Sherry Kampa, Eugene Wicihowski, Ron Seidl (at rear), Sue Hemmen, Jackie Hermann, Laurie DeMoss, Kay Jashinsky, Peggy Ament, and June Pelkola, posing as Mary Todd Lincoln