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1600 Cathedral Ave.
About this Exploration:
As you drive south of I-70 towards Victoria on K-255, you will notice something unusual looking on the east side of the road about a 1/4 mile north of town. There are 110 iron cross grave markers that stand out among the traditional stone monuments in the St. Fidelis Cemetery.
Because wood was available and less expensive then granite or marble, the first burial markers for the Volga German pioneers were simple wooden crosses. However, with the strong Kansas winds, storms and problems with the wood rotting, some of the local Volga German blacksmiths began to craft wrought iron crosses. These iron cross grave markers proved to be more durable, and by using scrap metals in their shop, the men could make these crosses rather inexpensively. Often times the blacksmiths would not even charge anything to create the iron crosses if the customers could simply supply the metal and the material. The blacksmiths would work on the crosses during the winter months when their normal business was slow and the heat from the forge was more tolerable while working in their cold shops.
John Knoll and Alex Graft were two of the more well known iron cross makers from Victoria. Although the techniques used by the blacksmiths varied from community to community in Ellis County, many of the crosses were made of twin steel pipes bent and joined to form the main structure of the cross and rounded off with U-shaped joints. Metal lattice work was created and welded between the pipes. The coils were made from a soft rod clamped into a vise and turned to fit a particular pattern. The decorative inserts were twisted rods or thin flat metal and the hearts were cut from tin and welded in place. Some of the more common motifs are rayed circles, sun bursts, and halos with a ray burst pattern. To the careful observer, the differences between the crosses or parts of the crosses that were made by cast iron and those done by the wrought iron method is also something to look for.
You can also find different styles of iron cross grave markers in the cemeteries of Walker, Catherine, Munjor, Pfeifer, Schoenchen, Ellis, Hays and Antonino. May of the iron crosses in the Victoria cemetery have been repainted wrought iron black color, while grounds keepers at many of the other Ellis County cemeteries have used a bright shiny aluminum color when they have needed to be repainted.
City Clerk - Mary Pfeifer
1005 4th St.
Victoria, KS 67671