Pioneer Dierdorff Cemetery Folk Lore
Folk lore concerning the Dierdorff cemetery was handed down by word of mouth. Gordon Tresh, Goshen, researched records, diaries and manuscripts and found most of those tale to be true.
This is not a family cemetery. All but 9 members of the Dierdorff family are buried here. Mrs. Mary Dierdorff Tresh is the last person to carry the Dierdorff name. Since this cemetery has been located on her family's land for six generations, it has become to be known as the Dierdorff Cemetery.
The story of this cemetery began when Anthony Dierdorff, a Minister of the Church of the Brethren, sailed with his family from the Isle of Wright in June 1719. He, his wife and three sons, landed in Philadelphia in July of 1719. With them were 29 families, including Peter Becker, founder of the First Brethren Church in North America. Rev. Becker, assisted by Anthony Dierdorff, established churches in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. There is a building at Camp Mack, Milford, Indiana named in honor of Rev. Peter Becker.
Two generations passed before Rev. Dierdorff's grandson, Peter became a Preacher Farmer. He and his forefathers had always been farmers in the Philadelphia area and they shared their meeting house with German Baptist neighbors.
One spring in early 1830's, three German Baptist families, having hear of wonderful but cheap land in "Ioway", loaded their belongings on wagons and headed their oxen westward. These people were friends and neighbors of Peter Dierdorff. It was two years before hearing any news from these families and only then because there was a bad drought in the southern part of Iowa, where they had settled. One of these families returned to their original home after the second year of drought. They had more than one reason to be discouraged as can be seen from the following;
"Our trip was long and hard. We had no trouble with the Indians, but experienced cold and rainy weather much of the trip. Our daughter, age seven years, was never well, having contacted consumption when she was very young. We got as far as one mile south of Goshen, Indiana. in the last part of June, when our daughter went into convulsions and died. Being encamped near a small knoll, we asked the settler who owned the land, a Mr. Cripe, if we could bury our little girl there. He said, "Alright". So after covering Elizabeth's grave with wild daisies, we prepared to move westward. We were advised not to try to ford the Elkhart River there, so had to go back to Benton settlement to ford the river and continue westward."
This burial was the beginning of the Dierdorff Cemetery.
After reaching "Ioway" the above family eventually returned to their friends in Pennsylvania. Their description of the prairie land between Goshen and Benton was so favorable and vivid that Peter Dierdorff decided to bring his family to Goshen. In 1853, Peter journeyed to Indiana on horseback with gold in his saddlebags, to purchase a wide strip of land, extending from the Fort Wayne Trail (U.S.. 33), west to the Elkhart River.
The following spring of 1854, Peter with his family, set out for Goshen, with oxen pulling their wagon. (Wagon wheels were made of solid wood, cut from a tree trunk.) They established their homestead on what is present day CR27, halfway between present day CR18 (Kercher Rd.) and CR36 (College Avenue). Peter enlarged the cemetery. He provided spaces for fifty graves and built a fence around the entire parcel. He then built a church, which he called "Meeting House", in front of the cemetery and preached here for approximately 30 years.
In 1893 the church building was sold for $25.00 and moved to the Lon McConoughy farm on present day U.S.. 33 south of Goshen Ave., where it was used for a grainery. Peter Dierdorff and his sons cared for the cemetery and made it available to the public for burial purposes.
According the the Dierdorffs there is a Revolutionary Soldier buried here in the cemetery, but all trace of the soldier's name and exact location burial has not been know for years. Although Goshen does not have an Arlington Cemetery, it does have a cemetery with its own Revolutionary Soldier's grave.
The following list of Goshen community names are associated with the maintenance and care of this pioneer cemetery. It includes Peter, Jonas, Jesse, Theodore, Peter II and Mary Dierdorff Tresh. They received help from others such as: Henry Lehman, Fannie Rensberger, Josiah Rensberger, ? Spencer, Jacob Obrecht, Burt Stouder, Benjamin F. Stutzman, Daniel Ganger, Jesse Hartman, Samuel Cripe, Monroe Shellenberger, George Vaniman, J.L. Kindig, George Miller, John Myers, Reuben Trimmer, William Bowser, Francis Metz, Charles McConoughy, Emanuel Cripe, David Evans, and Susan Evans.
The Dierdorffs now happily turn this cemetery over to the Goshen Park and Recreation Dept., after using all remaining monies in the maintenance fund for the stone that now identifies this pioneer cemetery, which now stands at the entrance of the cemetery.
July 18, 1979
A sign was erected in October of 1981 and was designed and erected by the Goshen Park Department.