Walking Tour of the Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery

You’ve probably driven past Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery dozens, if not hundreds of times, and made a mental note to stop in and look around some time. But you’re busy running errands, shopping and spending time with family and friends so the note gets lost in your mental filing cabinet and “some time” never comes. You’re in good company. Tens of thousands of people pass by Minneapolis’ oldest existing cemetery everyday and don’t realize what it is that they’re seeing.

Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery, in addition to being very old, is the first cemetery in Minnesota to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery was awarded that honor for two reasons: because its distinctive architectural features and because of the role that the people who are buried there played in the history of our city. They were, for the most part, ordinary people, but they are the people who, quite literally, built the City of Minneapolis. The majority of adult men worked for the railroads and in construction. Many more worked in the flour and lumber mills at a time when Minneapolis dominated the production of both throughout the world. There are Scandinavian military veterans, mothers, working women and far too many children.

Since the cemetery is located in the heart of what is now South Minneapolis (although at one time its location was considered the outskirts of town), not surprisingly, a large number of Scandinavians and their first-generation American children are buried there. Three last names – Johnson (1035), Anderson (823) and Olson (585) account for over 10% of the 22,000 people buried in the cemetery. But each person has his or her own story. Come join us on September 28, 2013, at 10:00 am to hear a sampling of them. We will meet at Ingebretsen’s where I will give you a history of the area and of the cemetery, then we will continue the program in the cemetery itself. If you have family buried there, please feel free to share your story.

Please call (612) 729-9333 to register. Class fee is $5.

–Susan Hunter-Weir