The new entrance to the cemetery
Volunteers welding the new fence.
Stacy Peters assisting with taking the old fence down.
Putting the original sign back up
Photos and information provided by Linda Peters
The small town of Lehigh, alongside Highway 15/56, has the motto “It’s Small But It’s Home”. They recently showed that being small doesn’t mean they can’t do big things as they worked together to redo their local cemetery.
One of the main churches in Lehigh was the First Mennonite Church that began in 1900 with a few families in the area gathering and six years later the church was built. Its mission was to serve the needs of the community. The church drew crowds each Sunday from the surrounding rural agricultural area and it was a close-knit congregation. According to Linda Peters, one of the residents of Lehigh, records indicated that 430 people were baptized in this church with the largest class being 25.
As Lehigh grew smaller over the years and children grew up and moved away, the church eventually closed their doors but the cemetery that held many of the community remained. As time went on funds for the upkeep besides mowing the cemetery became slim. The Peters family, lead by Linda and husband Van, sent an email out to former members of the congregation all over the U.S. to see if a fund could be set up to rebuild the cemetery. The Peters did this even though they did not have any immediate descendants in the cemetery.
People wanted to help instantly. So once again former members and descendants of the First Mennonite Church came together with the goal of updating the needs of the cemetery even though many had left the community years ago. Once the fund was established through the Alexanderwohl Church for this project to purchase the supplies, Ryan Peters, along with Cory Craver and Andrew Meier, designed and constructed the pipe fence and rebuilt the front entrance while incorporating the original signage and gates.
Alan Boese, along with Marty Dalke, helped to provide assistance in leveling out the low areas of the cemetery. Through numerous donations and volunteer services, the Lehigh community came together to honor the past that brought them to the future. The sense of pride remains just like the motto states “It’s Small but it’s Home”.