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Grave of Sioux City's First Bride.
Grave of Sioux City's First Bride.

Grave of Sioux City's First Bride

Field review by the editors.

Sioux City, Iowa

Roselie Menard was 14 or 15 years old when she became "Sioux City's First Bride" according to her lonely hilltop monument. In 1853 she was married in what is now Sioux City to Joseph Leonais, a French-Canadian pioneer twice her age. A traveling Catholic priest performed the ceremony.

Roselie died in 1865, age 26 or 27, shortly after giving birth to the couple's fourth child.

The 100th anniversary of Roselie's 1838 birth spurred the the Woodbury County Pioneer Club to erect a monument atop her lonely hilltop grave in 1939. It makes the "First Bride" claim, although of course the Sioux had been marrying in the area long before Roselie. Even her status as the first white bride has been questioned: some say the claim is invalid because Roselie married a year before Sioux City existed, others say that she wasn't really white because her mother was Native American.

At some point after 1939 Roselie's grave was encircled by a steel fence (hmmm -- to protect visitors, rather than the tombstone?). Local legend states that Roselie is not happy with her postmortem attention, and that anyone climbing the fence will either be crushed by the monument or catapulted off the hilltop onto Interstate 29 below.

Grave of Sioux City's First Bride

South Ravine Park

Lincoln Way, Sioux City, IA
South Ravine Park. On the south side of the city. Park in the lot on the south side of Lincoln Way just east of its intersection with S. Lewis Blvd and look for the small sign to the grave site. It's a half-mile walk along a rough path through the woods to the top of a steep hill.
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