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Tales from Pioneer and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery

Tales from Pioneer and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery

178th  in a Series By SUE HUNTER WEIR Lafayette Mason””One Mpls.”™ First Black Firefighters  Musician, Artist, and Southside High Football Captain Other than some graffiti on about a dozen fence pillars, the Cemetery was untouched during the protests on Lake Street.  The graffiti was gone within a few days but the stories about the lives of those who are buried inside the gates continue.  It”™s obvious to passersby that the Cemetery is old.  What is less obvious is that the Cemetery is listed in the National Register of Historic Sites because of the people who are buried there.  For the most part they were not famous but collectively their stories tell how the city and state were built. Some of them had ties to the early abolitionist and anti-slavery movements in Minnesota and others because it was a favored burial site for members of the early African-American community, many of whom led extraordinary lives. Photo and caption from “The Appeal,” September 24, 1910, read "The Late Lafayette Mason, Musical Genius, Minneapolis." COURTESY MN HISTORICAL SOCIETY Lafayette Mason was an incredibly gifted man.  He was an athlete, an artist, and one of the city”™s early African-American firefighters.  Members of three earlier generations of his family are buried near him in a block of graves purchased in the 1860s. Chloe Aidens, his great-grandmother, died from cancer on November 11, 1863.  Hers is the first recorded burial of an African-American in the cemetery. Her daughter, Harriett, died on December 19, 1891; the cause was listed only as “heart.” Harriett was married to Morgan Jones who died from “old age” on December 6, 1907, at the age of 101 after having lived a remarkable life [...]