Falls City’s Steele Cemetery is a Beautiful Resting Place

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

CemeteryFalls City residents have a beautiful place they can go to remember loved ones – Steele Cemetery. This is not an ordinary cemetery, but a place as beautiful as any public park. There are nearly 200 trees planted in Steele Cemetery – each one providing beautiful shade for those who have passed to rest under, and for those who visit them to have relief from the hot sun. Those trees are what gives Steele Cemetery a park-like setting and makes it such a lovely place to visit, wonder, to share stories and memories and remember those who came before. 

Over 200 trees make Steele Cemetery feel like a beautiful park

To preserve the beauty and tranquility of Steele Cemetery, Falls City resident John Martin (one of founder-Joseph Steele’s decedents), took on the project of planting new trees to augment and replace the old growth trees that had begun to die out. Of the need to plant new trees, he said, “In 20 years, we would lose 70 to 80 percent of the white pine trees on the south side. In addition, there were NO trees planted on the north side of the cemetery” (McKim, 2016).

Before he could get started, John needed the support of the city. The Falls City Journal reported, “He approached Falls City’s cemetery board with a strategic plan that would keep Steele Cemetery beautiful for generations to come.Mayor Jerry Oliver had recently appointed new members to the cemetery board, and fortunately, all of them shared John’s vision. The board approved the purchase of 126 conifers (evergreen trees), which were planted right after Memorial Day. The new trees should reach approximately 20 feet tall while the old ones die and are removed. Volunteers Rick Martin, Dwayne Dixon, and John have kept the trees alive by watering nearly every day. Preparation and watering takes about five minutes per tree. In addition to the tree-planting project, the board voted to update the landscaping around the entrance, and to create a “living fence” of 52 bushes on the northeast boundary line…The total cost was $16,000, all of which came from the cemetery trust fund. ‘Without the board’s courage and foresight, none of this would have happened,’ John said” (McKim, 2016).

Local residents and businesses participated in this project as well. For example, Grimm’s Gardens planted 128 conifers and deciduous trees on the north side of the cemetery, in addition to planning more diverse trees to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the space. In addition, Bruce and Mary Walker donated 24 white pines to the cemetery in 2010. These beautiful trees border the north side of the cemetery’s property line and the center circle. 

To ensure that Steele Cemetery will remain beautiful, the Richardson Foundation created an endowment fund that can help to pay to upkeep the trees and headstones. Community members have also given to the foundation to ensure that the cemetery will continue to remain as peaceful and inviting as it is today. 

Veterans are honored at Steele Cemetery

Generations of Falls City residents are buried at Steele Cemetery, making it a destination for anyone looking to pay respects or find out information about their ancestors – recent or otherwise. It is also the resting place of many U.S. veterans. There are at least 374 veterans buried at Falls City – those who have died while fighting for our country and those who are being honored for their service, even in death. Steele Cemetery has participated in Wreaths Across America with wreaths being laid to honor our country’s fallen heroes. During this solemnly powerful event, wreaths are laid, and the name of each veteran is said aloud. 

Those who would like to pay respects to Falls City veterans are invited to do so at any time by visiting the public cemetery. 

Visit Steele Cemetery in Falls City 

The cemetery is located at:

Steele Cemetery 

65060 706 Trail

Falls City, NE 68355


McKim, N. (2016, July 18). Keeping Steele Cemetery beautiful for generations to come. Retrieved from Falls City Journal: https://fcjournal.net/2016/07/18/keeping-steele-cemetery-beautiful-for-generations-to-come/


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