Christiania Cemetery Gates
Christiania Cemetery "New Gates"
The Christiania Cemetery, located just over six miles West of the Norman Church, has a new entrance gate. This new gate, which incorporates the parts of the original gate, was rebuilt and re-designed by the Johnson Family including Dean Johnson, Sean, Dylan and Joey Johnson, Phyllis Johnson (who donated the steel to build the gate as well as the use of her late husband Wayne's equipment and his shop), and Wayne and Phyllis' son Kelly who bent all the gate steel to match the original gate design. Others who were instrumental in helping with this project were sexton Dorian Simensen, Vern Liebelt, Neal Roesler and Drayke Thortensen.
The roots of the Christiania church and cemetery run deep in the Norman Parish. In 1899, the Christiania Lutheran Church in rural Davenport was a part of the Norman Parish with St. John's and Norman. This arrangement lasted 67 years (1966) until St. John's realigned with Horace and the parish welcomed Davenport Lutheran instead.
The Christiana church sadly closed its doors in 1969 and the congregation explored the future of the building including using it as a retreat center, offering it to a mission congregation, a tourist attraction with a museum or a retirement center nearby. Ultimately the church building was taken down as parishioners did not wish it to fall into a state of disrepair and gradual deterioration. The bell, cast in 1896 and weighing 1,200 pounds, was sold for $750 to a congregation in Ayr, ND and was reputed to be the best sounding bell in the state.
After Christiana closed, Norman and Davenport churches welcomed people from Christiania into their congregations where those new members became actively involved, blessing the congregations and parish by their presence. The Norman Lutheran treasurer now keeps a separate Christiania Cemetery account that is used for the upkeep of the cemetery where people are still buried today. The Norman Church also accepts gifts on behalf of Christiania to this account, including a $50,000 memorial gift just this month to perpetuate the care of this beloved cemetery.
A sincere thank youto the Johnson Family and friends for your gift to the Christiania Cemetery. It looks so loved!
*Historical information taken from the 125 Norman Anniversary Booklet by Arlene Haux