The Onida Cemetery Association has announced plans for an expansion of the Onida Cemetery onto land owned by the Association east of the current cemetery grounds. The Oahe Addition is about half the size of the current cemetery.
The move is to accommodate requests for family burial lots, according to cemetery sexton Pam Eidsness. “There aren’t enough contiguous plots in the current cemetery,” said Eidsness.
Requests for bids for developing the Oahe Addition to the cemetery are being sought by the Association. “We want to complete the entire plat all at once,” said Association President Patty McGee, explaining it will save the Association money to do the project all at once. Additionally, it will be easier to get bids for a larger project.
The Association has launched a fundraising drive to cover costs associated with the expansion. “We’re very grateful for all the support we get from our annual fund drive,” said Patty. “Those dollars cover the cost of annual maintenance of the cemetery, so we have to have a special campaign to pay for the expansion.”
Included in the scope of work are surveying/platting lots and establishing roads and access to the grave sites.
As a result of extending the center lane of the cemetery into the Oahe Addition, the Darwin Stewart memorial will be relocated to the south end of the current east lane.
The Onida Cemetery has served the community since the burial of murder victim Forrest Small on December 4, 1884. The Cemetery Association was formed on April 29, 1886.
Improvements to the cemetery were made in 1902 with the placement of several nice monuments to founding pioneers including Charles H. Agar.
In the 1920s, trees were planted around the cemetery and water was piped to the grounds. In 1957, the Association requested the use of county road building equipment and with donated citizen labor the roads were shaped and graveled.
In 2008, the Association digitized and indexed the burials at the cemetery and constructed a building for visitors to access cemetery records and to house cemetery equipment.
In 2015, a large granite marker was erected at the entrance to the cemetery.
Appreciative people say the Onida Cemetery is ‘The best kept cemetery in central South Dakota.’
Anyone interested in supporting the Cemetery Association’s fundraising effort should send donations designated for the Oahe Addition to Pam Eidsness, 504 S Main Street, Onida, SD 57564.