Mission Cemetery, Macy, NE

Mission Cemetery, Macy, NEMission Cemetery, Macy, NE
Photos by Jim Shorney

Case #:   55-MAC-MIS

Date:   8-7-09

Type of establishment:  Cemetery


Presbyterian Mission Cemetery
Thurston County, Nebraska

The Presbyterian Mission Cemetery was founded in 1853 by Rev. Wm. Hamilton, whose wife Julia Ann is buried here. This sits high along the banks of the Missouri River on the Omaha Indian Reservation. The cemetery has been abandoned and has been allowed to go back to nature. Someone placed fence posts - but no fence was put up. Six stones were found, with the names and dates for 9 people. To get to this location, one must have someone give you a general idea where it is, and be prepared to hike some distance - and it is a rough terrain. Even then there are no indications where it is, one must make widening circles through the trees.

Claims of events:   There are no events noted, yet it is reported by the Park Rangers to be a “creepy place”. The Rangers “don’t go near it a night“, as told to Laura.  

Investigators at site:   Robin, Laura, Jim, Angela

Notes:   We arrived on a Friday afternoon. We set out with our equipment to find the cemetery, after many hours of trying to find it- we were unable to find it that day. We set out again the following morning - and finally found it. Of course, we didn’t take much equipment, but we had our cameras.

Findings:   Inconclusive

Status: Ongoing


Photo by Robin Harmon

One of the better preserved headstones

Photo by Robin Harmon

Laura examines a headstone

Photo by Robin Harmon

The cemetery wasn't our only adventure. Mark says "you ain't stuck until you walk away"

Photo by Robin Harmon

We did not walk away. He got out! 

Investigator's Reports

xxCase #: 55-MAC-MIS Macy, NE
November 17, 2009, 08:20:41 PM by JimS
August 7, 2009
Mission Cemetery, Macy, Nebraska

Information regarding the Macy area, the Presbyterian Mission, and Blackbird Hill was found in the following online resources (click on the links to go there):

Nebraska: A Guide to the Cornhusker State, By Federal Writers' Project.


A Treasury of Nebraska Pioneer Folklore, By Roger Welsch.

Another version of the Blackbird Hill story, said to be truer to the original Omaha legend, can be found in Omaha Tribal Myths and Trickster Tales, By Roger L. Welsch.

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xx Re: Case #: 55-MAC-MIS Macy, NE
Reply 1: November 17, 2009, 10:23:38 PM by Robin H
I think we picked the hottest day of the year to go there, and in those thick dense trees there was no sign of a breeze. Being out there at night was "creepy" and that was reported by the Rangers. We found it the next day after Angela & Matt left. Mark took us most of the way there in the Jeep, until he got stuck in the mud. When we found it, it was really peaceful and very quiet. I had no personal experiences and captured nothing on my cameras. I look forward to going back.
(thanks Laura, for finding it  Smiley)  

xx Re: Case #: 55-MAC-MIS Macy, NE
Reply 2: November 25, 2009, 11:49:46 PM by JimS
Although this investigation didn't start out in the most pleasant manner with the heat and humidity Friday evening, it was worth it in the end. The cemetery had a "back to nature" feel, but showed some signs of recent maintenance (the circle of poles, which looked much younger than 100+ years). I got some good pictures of the visible headstones, for later retrieval of names and dates. The most striking feature was the gnarled old cedar tree in the center, which was the only cedar tree in the area. It had to have been planted by the founders of the cemetery, and gave the place a unique feel. Nothing unusual or potentially "paranormal" was noted, but I enjoyed being there and soaking up the atmosphere. I plan to return someday and do a proper investigation.

xx Re: Case #: 55-MAC-MIS Macy, NE
Reply 3: November 27, 2009, 10:07:22 PM by Laura
I was very excited to find the cemetery, finally.  It was extremely hot and humid but there was a very calming effect of the area.  I didn't get any abnormal feelings or evidence but am anxious to go back now that we know where it is.

xx Re: Case #: 55-MAC-MIS Macy, NE
Reply 4: November 28, 2009, 02:56:34 PM by amwell
Oh the bugs!  So many bugs!!  I think that they were attracted to the bug repellent!!   Shocked

Were as I didn't happen to see the cemetery this time  Cry I believe that I may have stumbled upon the location of the old mission.  We found what looked like to be a large stone marker and what looked like it could be a foundation.  This area, in theory, was pretty dang closed to where the cemetery was found.

I am looking forward to going back in the spring.  Hopefully before the swarms of flesh eating insects thaw out!

xx Re: Case #: 55-MAC-MIS Macy, NE
Reply 5: January 03, 2010, 10:31:12 PM by JimS
Here is some more lore about the cemetery, excerpted from Women Elders' Life Stories of the Omaha Tribe Macy, Nebraska, 2004-2005, by Wynne L. Summers.

The story excerpt quoted below was described as occurring in the spring of 2005.

Eleanor (Omaha tribal member Eleanor Baxter) got back in the car and I jumped in beside her. This time we headed west, toward Black Elk Park, toward the old Mission School. ?I would take you up there but it looks pretty rough. If you go right over the trees there, there are some old gravestones and there?s a foundation where the school was and the first time I . . .? Her voice trailed off. ?When I moved back, I told my husband, ?Take me up there.? When I got up there I felt the most peaceful feeling of serenity. And I?d read Francis La Flesche?s book The Middle Five [about boarding schools to ?civilize? Indians] and I wanted to go up there. I envisioned all the little kids just running around up there and I thought, boy, you could get lost in a time capsule up here. I felt peaceful. Other people have told me they felt real uncomfortable and had to get out of there.?

The Old Mission School has long since disappeared,
The woman told me,
The one with the hard black eyes
that had seen every-thing.
She showed me around in my dreams.
There is only this old stone foundation,
this line of stones.
She pointed. But there is where the fireplace stood.
Maybe that?s where it was.
I don?t remember. I was only a girl then.
They cut your hair at boarding schools and
put you in strange clothes
And said you could never speak your
native language again.
They stole that from us?the language
along with the land.
They beat it out of us.
They watched as our skin lay in shreds on the ground,
And then they kicked it into dust.
Then when it was all said and done,
We went home to the reservation and didn?t know
what it was like to be Indian.
Now we are trying to catch up, trying to
resurrect those things
That were so important to us.
You know,
When they take your soul, what?s left?

From Nebraska Press.

xx Re: Case #: 55-MAC-MIS Macy, NE
Reply 6: January 04, 2010, 11:56:07 PM by JimS

Another tidbit about the mission excerpted from No One Ever Asked Me: The World War II Memoirs of an Omaha Indian Soldier, by Hollis D. Stabler, Victoria Smith (Editor)

The Presbyterian Mission School to which Hollis referred-remembered in Francis La Flesche's bittersweet classic, The Middle Five: Indian School Boys of the Omaha Tribe-was distinguished as the first Protestant mission and school established in the Louisiana Purchase Territory. Though the school only operated from 1856-68, its influence lasted. Located near what was then the Omaha's upper village, which conservative Omahas derisively called "the village of the 'make-believe' white men," today the mission cemetery is acknowledged as an historic site in Thurston County. But in the late nineteenth century, the school loomed large in the lives of Omaha Indians.

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