Lincoln’s Wyuka Cemetery Swans 

Growing up in Lincoln, I drove by Wyuka Cemetery fairly often.  Until I was reading some of Stephanie Grace Whitson’s books that were set in the Lincoln area, I never knew that the grounds were set aside as a cemetery as soon as they started plotting Lincoln.  Back in the early days, they were located a few miles outside of town.  Gradually over time, the city grew around Wyuka, leaving a peaceful oasis in the center of town.  When we first participated in the “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” Lincoln many years ago, I discovered that I had been driving by so much history without even recognizing that fact.

The more I have read about the history of the Wyuka Lincoln cemetery., the more fascinated I am.  Determining how to share this knowledge with us is a bit challenging. Much of this is based on articles written by other people.  For now I am going to put the links to the articles with a few highlights and the hope that if you are equally as interested, you will take the time to read the longer articles at some point.  All of them can be found at this link: (Key word search: Wyuka)  Each of the three articles are in PDF form, but you can find them on this link.

Take the Lincoln Wyuka Cemetery Walking and Driving Tour

The “Wyuka: A Walking and Driving Tour”by Lincoln Historian Ed Zimmer is so very fascinating.  Even if you are not from Lincoln, you would enjoy reading the tales of those whose lives mattered.  Each of the stops on the tour around the cemetery are mentioned along with a snapshot of the particular location.  Although you can read this in PDF form, you can also purchase the book for $5 at the cemetery or even check it out at the Lincoln library.

“Wyuka Cemetery” – this article is the link to the registration for National Historic Places. I must confess I almost skipped this article. Then I realized exactly how many details of the cemetery were provided.  All of the background to how the grounds were plotted and when additional buildings were added.  Evidently the lake was drained in 1967, so now I need to research when they filled it back up.  Always a story to investigate!  What else was interesting to me was discovering that many of the early state inmates were buried here since it was the state cemetery, along with the “friendless” – the somehow nicer name for orphans?  Anyway, due to time, I only skimmed the article, but I am looking forward to reading this more in-depth soon.

“Wyuka: A Rural Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska” (article by Penelope Chatfield in Nebraska History Issue 63 from 1982)

  • Evidently a rural cemetery refers to a type of cemetery.  This location involves winding paths and purposeful vegetation, as opposed to a location.
  • When the cemetery was established in 1869, the Wyuka Lincoln Cemetery was named the official state cemetery.  This is possibly the only “state cemetery” in the nation.
  • “Wyuka” comes from the English word version of the Lakota word, Wanaka, meaning resting place.
To find more information on the Wyuka Lincoln cemetery …

Other articles can be found on the Nebraska History site, but many of them have more to do with the specific stories of those who were buried on the grounds.  I look forward to studying this historic state landmark more in the future.






Author: neodyssey

My name is Gretchen Garrison. I started this blog about Nebraska in 2013. So far, I have written three books about Nebraska and Lincoln.