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The Minneapolis Pioneers & Soldiers Memorial Cemetery - Minneapolis, MN

Dear Diary,
Traveling north into the city brings you alongside an old cemetery.

At first glance through the old stone columns, wrought iron fence line and perfect patina on the old sign, the cemetery looked to have fallen into disrepair.

The grounds were overgrown, and in desperate need of mowing. Large tree branches and sticks littered the grounds, and I wasn't sure if it was due to weather or vandalism. Trees outside the cemetery walls hadn't cast their branches upon the busy city streets, so I wasn't sure what to make of it. I parked my car a little over a block from the entrance and walked inside, because I could tell there was no way my SUV could navigate the narrow road.

The gates were open, and the public was welcome to enter per the signage I read. City employees were beginning to clean up the mess. I was half relieved, half shy to photograph beside them but thankfully they didn't comment on my presence there.

With the first burial occurring in 1853, this is the oldest cemetery in Minneapolis. The prominent territorial pioneers Charles Christmas (the first Hennepin County Surveyor), Edwin Hedderly and Philander Prescott are buried here. Two hundred military veterans who served in the War of 1812 and up to World War I rest within these walls, as are the city's early African-American citizens and people tied to the abolitionist movement in Minnesota. Also, thousands of immigrants are buried here, many of whom came from Scandinavia, and its said that half of the 20,000 graves belong to children.

I found it interesting that this headstone listed the address on this headstone of a child.

The headstones are sinking.

I encountered many graves of veterans of the Spanish-American War.

According to my research, it was because of the caretaker's cottage and monuments to the Pioneer Mothers plus the notable buried that qualified this site for a place on the National Register of Historic Places. As you can see from the signs in the pictures above, this cemetery is also known as Layman's Cemetery.

I cannot imagine the sadness felt by Erne and Erma's parents.

This gravestone lists the cause of death from tuberculosis.

A few hours north of here in Duluth is the now abandoned Nopeming Sanitorium, which tried to treat TB patients. Nopeming is said to be extremely haunted due to the high volume of deaths, but also heavily monitored against trespassers. I have no verified connection that Anna Mathilda was treated at Nopeming especially since her place of death appears to be in Minneapolis, but I can tell you that my mind immediately went there.

There were broken and toppled stones everywhere I walked.

And I immediately identified with this person, a photographer.

Another veteran of the Spanish-American War.

It is my understanding that a lamb is symbolic of a child's grave. Unfortunately, it sunk too deep into the earth for me to see for sure.

One of many Scandinavian immigrant graves I saw.

These two pictures of Elise's headstone immediately reminded me of the graves of babies at Highland Cemetery who died before they could be baptized. Like those babies, she was buried far from the others, perhaps also deemed "unworthy" due to how young she was and the fact that she likely wasn't baptized.

I cannot explain it, but after about an hour, I was overcome with a feeling that it was time for me to get out. There was an entire back section I had yet to see, and a part of me wonders if it was because those interred felt the city workers were "dressing" them.

I respected what I felt and left. But I have unfinished business.

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