Notable Stories 5-8

Where the Journey Ends

Some have notable stories which may be known to many, even the nation; the notoriety of some keeps them in mind. Even more, probably most, are remembered at family gatherings. Below are several stories in no particular order from several cemeteries. They come from the CD/book available at OCEDC.

Bernice Geiger 1902 - 1981

This Sheldon resident now resting in East Lawn changed the United States banking laws forever. Bernice lived a lavish life and played the Lady Bountiful to the town of Sheldon. She could always be counted on to help a needy family or a deserving cause.

However, on January 17, 1961, no one expected her to go from being just a worker at her father’s Sheldon National Bank to being the mastermind behind an embezzlement that would change the banking world forever.

Guilty of one of the biggest embezzlement schemes in the world, Geiger stole over $2 million from the bank over 39 years. She was sentenced to 15 years in jail, and the FDIC has used her story as a teaching tool in classes since that time. The FDIC also changed the amount of money which can be insured and the way that banks are audited.

After Bernice was released from jail on probation after six years of her sentence, she returned to Sheldon to live with her parents.

Eastlawn Cemetery


Lewis Woodman April 4, 1845 - 1935

"It is interesting to note how the successful farmers of O'Brien county are gravitating to Sheldon, where they may spend their declining years in comfort and quietude. Scores of the finest residences in Sheldon have been built by farmers who have made their fortunes on the wide prairies of the county and then come to Sheldon to await their final summons." This description of Sheldon is found in an early history book.

The book continues to describe Lewis Woodman as one of the finest examples of a successful farmer. Lewis was born in Grafton County, New Hampshire. He received a good common school education there and lived with his parents until age 21. He then moved west to "seek his fortune." He first settled in Clayton County. Later he moved to Poweshiek and then to Sac counties. He finally decided to settle in Dale Township in O'Brien County and bought 160 acres of land that had "never been touched by the hand of man." He added another 160 acres in Summit Township. He owned over 320 acres in this county which is "well improved in every way and nets him handsome returns."

In 1910, he permanently retired to Sheldon where he had two lots and a beautiful residence. He lived the “life of ease” there until he died in 1935.

Eastlawn Cemetery


Steuck Cemetery - 3546 Tanager Ave

43°07.248 N; 95°32.706 W

In June,1900, Immanuel Lutheran purchased one acre in the southwest corner of the NW quarter of Section 23 from Fred G. Steuck for $35.00. Courthouse records demonstrate that in September of the same year, Fred reassumed ownership of the same parcel. The plot had been used as a family cemetery prior to the deed. It has been described as largely a family cemetery because most of its inhabitants are related.

Anna Marie Steuck Jul 31, 1811 - Nov 28, 1892

Anna (Raetz)  (upper picture) married Friedrich Steuck in 1841. Friedrich died in the Franco Prussian War. She was the first to be buried in the SE corner of the cemetery.

Friedrich W. Steuck 1880 - 1972
Minnie Steuck 1874 - 1957

Fred W. Steuck (lower picture) came to this country from Germany in 1881. He stayed in Dubuque to earn money to send for the rest of the family. He eventually purchased land in Center Township. He continued to correspond with Minnie Schultz in Germany and finally convinced her to join him in America. They were married December 14, 1900 and raised seven children on their farm.


Ruth Casten Mar 20, 1925 - Dec 11, 1930

All cemeteries have those who died before their time. Ruth Casten is a prime example here. The five year old child lost her life in an automobile accident in 1930. Her parents, numb with grief, chose a black stone to be placed at their daughter’s grave. On that stone is a photograph of the automobile in which Ruth lost her life. The photograph was somehow embedded in stone and placed on the black grave marker, a testament for all to see of the tragedy that had befallen the family.

St Pauls Cemetery