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Location, Location tells many “Tales”

Amos Pierce is the only person of those in the 35 graves in Block 3 Row 1 to have a headstone. His marker serves as a touchstone for finding everyone else in Row 1. The three-link chain on his marker tells us that he was a member of IOOF the International Order of Odd Fellows lodge—the links stand for their motto friendship, love and truth. But there is something wrong with his marker. It gives his death year as 1900 but he died on May 19, 1901. The reason why his stone was never corrected will likely never be known.

Amos Pierce is the only person of those in the 35 graves in Block 3 Row 1 to have a headstone. His marker serves as a touchstone for finding everyone else in Row 1. The three-link chain on his marker tells us that he was a member of IOOF the International Order of Odd Fellows lodge—the links stand for their motto friendship, love and truth. But there is something wrong with his marker. It gives his death year as 1900 but he died on May 19, 1901. The reason why his stone was never corrected will likely never be known.

By Sue Hunter Weir

There are 35 graves in Block 3 Row 1. Eleven of them are empty. There are two people buried in each of two graves for a total of 25 burials in all. All but one of the burials took place between late 1899 and 1901. The graves, which are located in the northwest corner of the cemetery, near the intersection of Cedar Avenue and 29th Street, cost $10 a piece, sometimes a little less if the grave was for a child. These are 25 people connected by the fact that they are buried on the same small strip of land in South Minneapolis. Even though most of them are not related to each other, they have quite a lot in common—not enough to draw any major conclusions from but enough to create a picture of what was happening at a certain place at a particular time.

Twelve of the people have names that ended in “son,” a sure sign that they have some connection to one of the Scandinavian countries. Six more, although they were not “sons,” were born in Norway or Sweden. One man, August Sohlman, was born in Finland and Minnie Smith (probably Schmidt when she arrived) was born in Germany. Only four of the adults were born in the United States. Two children, Gilda Fregaard and John Jackson, were born in Minneapolis, and one baby, the son of Martin and Hannah Ulvestad, was stillborn here.

Amos Pierce was born in New York, relocated to Minneapolis, and died at the age of 74 after suffering a stroke. He is the only person in the row to have a headstone and his marker serves as a touchstone for finding everyone else in row 1. The three-link chain on his marker tells us that he was a member of lodge—the links stand for friendship, love and truth. But there is something wrong with his marker. It gives his death year as 1900 but he died on May 19, 1901. The reason why his stone was never corrected will likely never be known.

Most of the men in row 1 worked as unskilled laborers although August Sohlman found work as a tailor for one of the city’s larger department stores, and Adalaska Hough sold phonographs at the Phonograph Parlor, a store owned by his brother. Most of the immigrants did not have a great deal of formal education but several indicated in census records that they had learned to read, write and speak English. A handful of others indicated that they could speak it but could not read or write it, and at least one, Charles Lenning, only spoke Swedish.

Nine of the people in Row 1 (36%) died from tuberculosis. Two died from strokes, two from intestinal problems and the others from a variety of diseases including gallstones, liver cancer and bronchitis. Two children died from diphtheria and one man was killed in an accident.

Eight of the adults died in hospitals at a time when most families cared for their sick family members at home. Those who died in hospitals were people who had never married or who were widows or widowers. Four of the eight were single, one was a widower, and two were widows. The marital status of the eighth is unknown but since his parents’ names, rather than a wife’s name, are listed on his death record it is likely that he was single.

Several of the people in row 1 have family members, usually children or spouses, buried in the cemetery. The fact that they are not buried next to each other suggests that the families could only afford to purchase one grave at a time. For many families $10 was a lot of money and the fact that there is only one marker for 25 people speaks volumes about how little money most of them had.

There is much more to be said about the people in Section 3 Row 1—too much to fit in a single Tale from Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery. Look for more of their stories in an upcoming issue of The Alley Newspaper.

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One Response to “Location, Location tells many “Tales””

  1. Luci Baker says:

    In paragraph #2 you state “the son of Martin and Hannah Ulvestad, was stillborn here”. I’d be interested in more information about this record. You see, Martin Ulvestad and Hanna Oss were married on October 5, 1901 in Fairbault, MN. He was a widower with a 4 year old son. To the best of my knowledge their first child was born November 24, 1903 in Minneapolis (Solveig Gertrude).

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