Hiddenwood Cemetery project recognized with state honor

BISMARCK An area project to preserve and interpret an early-day cemetery was presented a state outstanding achievement honor in the field of history on Saturday in Bismarck.

Accepting the Excellence in Local History Award for the Hiddenwood Cemetery Research Project were Ruth Wurtz, Ryder; Victoria Mineke, and Denise and Harvey Johnson, all of Minot; and Doug Wurtz of Bismarck.

The award was presented in conjuction with the 25th annual Governor’s History Conference held at the Bismarck State College National Energy Center in Bismarck.The award recognizes individuals, groups or organizations who have dedicated their time, talents and efforts to local and regional history that can serve as a role model of excellence, according to Danielle Stuckle, educational programs and outreach coordinator for the State Historical Society of North Dakota in Bismarck.

The cemetery project was a three-year search for the identities of burials in the Hiddenwood Cemetery, located 10 miles southwest of Ryder. A few years ago Ruth Wurtz and the late Elizabeth Larson, lifelong residents of the Hiddenwood community, had resolved there would be no unmarked graves in the cemetery. The cemetery had existed since 1904 but only three of the graves were marked. The project involved extensive research during the three years.

The Hiddenwood Old Settlers organization endorsed the project and paid for a dozen crosses to mark the burials made by the Burdick Job Corps welding students in Minot. The crosses have been placed in the cemetery. The late Herb Shafer also provided original records that his father had for the cemetery. The Minot Daily News published a story about the cemetery project in November 2012.

Terrence Roberts, national keynote speaker for the Governor’s History Conference, also participated in the history award presentation. Roberts is a civil rights pioneer and Little Rock (Ark.) Nine student who stood up for equal access to education during the Civil Rights Movement in 1957. The theme of this year’s conference was “Civil Rights and Social Justice.”

The Hiddenwood project also will be recognized in the Hall of Honors in the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck.