May 13, 2018
Preparing for Memorial Day
Thanks to Heidi Langenfeld and her colleagues at the Pioneer Room Lakeside Cemetery has learned that two civil war veterans John Wallace and Abraham Davenport, both black, have not been recognized as veterans. We believe that this will be the first year that Wallace and Davenport will be honored with Memorial Day standards and flags. Since both graves are unmarked Sharon is beginning the process of applying to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs for a veteran’s grave markers. Hopefully, they will be installed by Memorial Day 2019. Applicants for the deceased are required to submit all available documentation. This is no small task given that the war ended 150 years ago. Heidi located this 1910 War Department document identifying Nancy Wallace as the widow of John Wallace. This is yet one more step in the process of reweaving lost history into our community’s common story.
November 24, 2017
An Open Letter to the Hastings Community
Dear Friend of Hastings, As an administrator for Lakeside Cemetery, I have had the privilege to conduct cemetery research with Heidi Langenfeld, a tireless and cheerful volunteer with Friends of LeDuc and Historic Hastings. Through this work, I have encountered a piece of Hastings history that I believe calls out for community recognition and reconciliation.
Lakeside Cemetery is naming its new Scattering Garden after James Curry. James and his wife, Ella, are buried at Lakeside. The census records are unclear as to whether James was the son of slaves or poor freedmen. James and his family moved to Hastings in 1885 and joined a small and growing African American community. By all accounts James was an outstanding and valued member of Hastings. In 1891, he and John Wallace, another notable early black resident of Hastings, organized an African Methodist Episcopal Church. They purchased a church property that belonged to the German Baptists located on 5th and Sibley.
This card of thanks was published in the Hastings Democrat 11-22-1896. “The A.M.E. Church of this city, wishes to extend to the generous people of Minnesota and and Wisconsin for the assistance rendered in contributing to the fund raised by Samuel Golden, solicitor, of Prescott, Wis., for the payment on the debt of our church, which we are unable to raise ourselves. The sum raised this year is $49.81 net.” Signed by trustees: James Curry, James Wallace, John Wallace, and Cornelius Peterson, Pastor.
In 1907, the church was broken into, torched, and burned to the ground. The church never recovered. This act, which would now be termed a hate crime, was a common occurrence during the Jim Crow historical period, usually in the South, but also in the North. How would Hastings be different today had this hateful act not occurred and a budding African American community been permitted to grow and flourish? How do we understand and reconcile this act of racial hatred perpetrated by our elders? How can we use this (actively?) forgotten piece of history to make Hastings a better community?
I propose a community wide service/event, ideally, during Black History Month, 2018 aimed at promoting awareness, understanding, and reconciliation. People of faith and others recognize the need to speak and hear truth as the necessary first step towards forgiveness and reconciliation. Since this crime targeted a Hastings church I especially urge interested members of the Hastings Ministerium to assist in the planning and leading of this event.
I invite you to attend a planning a meeting scheduled 1:00 PM Thursday, November 30 at the Lakeside Cemetery Office, 920 Nininger Road, Hastings. Kindly RSVP or direct your question to me.
Rich Manke, Administrator, Lakeside Cemetery
Lakeside Cemetery Announces the Curry Woods Scattering Garden
November 9, 2017
As the cremation rate in Minnesota approaches seventy percent, families seek greater choice regarding interment, memorialization, and expense. The Lakeside Cemetery Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the Curry Woods Cremation Scattering Garden to be opened in 2018. This decision places Lakeside among a select group of Minnesota cemeteries providing this service. The creation of the scattering garden adds to Lakeside’s growing list of interment and memorialization services.
What is a scattering garden?
A scattering garden is a special area designated for above ground scattering of cremated remains (cremains). A common granite monument is provided for those desiring permanent memorialization. All persons interred in the scattering garden will be included in the permanent cemetery records.
The Curry Woods Scattering Garden will be an environmentally friendly, lower cost alternative for those who are not interested in traditional cemetery interment. Like the rest of Lakeside Cemetery, the Curry Woods Scattering Garden will be a place of beauty, serenity, and remembrance.
Where will the Curry Woods Scattering Garden be located?
The Board selected a wooded area on the east side of Central Avenue in the oldest section of the cemetery. The scattering garden monument is already erected. Construction of the garden and installation of plant material is scheduled for spring, 2018. Situated under a canopy of trees, the garden will be planted with shade loving/deer resistant perennials and meandering walking paths covered with wood chips.
Why develop a scattering garden?
Not so long ago the cremation rate in Minnesota was less than ten percent. Traditional funerals and burials have a particular schedule and rhythm with the funeral and burial occurring only a few days after the loved one died.
Cremation permits families more flexibility in scheduling funeral/memorial services and planning for interment. However, with greater choice comes greater responsibility. Many who have planned for cremation have identified their interment preferences. We have developed a brief Planning Guide (link) to help you through this process. In their time of grief some families are unable to decide where to inter their loved one. Sadly, in some cases, this decision is never made. The Cremation Association of North America estimates there are over two million lost or abandoned cremains in the United States.
Lakeside Cemetery is a non-profit association that has served the Hastings community for 150 years. An early board member said that Lakeside Cemetery should be a place that “honors the dead and is a credit to the living.” Lakeside continues this tradition as we serve the community with additional services. We invite you to stop by the Cemetery Office 8:00 am -1:00 pm Thursdays, call for an appointment, or email us for more information.
Who is Jim Curry and why is Lakeside Cemetery honoring him?
September 27, 2017
In the original parts of Lakeside Cemetery you will notice some dips in the ground. Early on wood caskets were buried directly in the ground. Eventually, the wood rots and the casket collapses, creating the dip in the ground. The use of concrete vaults became common in the 1940’s and 50’s. In 1942, it cost $7.50 to dig a hole for a casket. A hole for a concrete vault cost $1 more.
The Receiving Tomb was a building used to store bodies during the winter months when the frozen ground made digging nearly impossible. The Receiving Tomb was the first cemetery structure. When the cemetery superintendent announced that the conditions were right for burial, families had two weeks to bury the body. The building fell into disrepair (as it was seldom used once winter burial techniques became available). It was torn down in the 1970’s and the land was platted for graves.
The speed limit in the cemetery was once limited to a “fast trot.”
Automobiles were allowed access to the cemetery in 1916.
A fountain has long graced the Cemetery entrance. The first mention in the records is a Hastings Gazette article in 1891 about damage to the stones around the base of the fountain, hitching horses to trees, and allowing horses to trample grass and plantings. The article said, “Lakeside Cemetery is emphatically the people’s property; it is the one particular spot… in which our citizens can take just pride.” The original fountain was made of cast iron and stolen in 2000. It was replaced with a concrete fountain which lasted only a few years. Today’s fountain, again made of cast iron, was installed in 2007.
Soon after the end of the Civil War the practice of Decoration Day emerged. Cities or cemeteries picked a day to decorate the graves and remember fallen Civil War soldiers. The first Decoration Day was Wednesday, May 5, 1875. “The day being fine, there was a large attendance and everything passed off pleasantly. Many lots and graves were decorated and to the ladies especially the association owes a debt of gratitude for efficient services.” The date for Lakeside’s Decoration Day varied from year to year. By 1890 every Northern State had established a Decoration Day. Then in 1968, Congress established Memorial Day.
Today, Lakeside remembers and honors more than 500 veterans of US conflicts by setting out a bronze marker. The Legion then places a flag on each gravesite. The project requires many hours of planning and volunteer labor each year.
Fence and Gate
The first section of wrought iron fence was erected in 1914. Additional sections were added as the cemetery grew. The distinctive ornamental gate was installed in 1969. Since then, it has been demolished by large vehicles and rebuilt twice, 2016 being the most recent.
In 1915 the board approved the “purchase of a woodshed from Mr. Nordstrom for the Cemetery dwelling house.” Cemetery business and record keeping was conducted on a table and chairs in the tool shed. A newer tool shed was converted to a cemetery office in 1975.
Connecting Second Street to the Cemetery
In 1875 the Board approved the purchase of property for the purpose of making a direct road through Second Street to the Cemetery.
Lakeside has many beautiful monuments. Some of the more unique ones were sold by Havilland Claflin, an early Hastings resident. These ornate monuments are constructed of cast zinc. Early on, these monuments were considered trendy. Later, they fell out of favor and were thought to be cheap and common. You will see a number of these cast zinc monuments scattered throughout the older sections of the cemetery.
Record Keeping at Lakeside Cemetery
September 15, 2017
By statute, a cemetery serves the public for “perpetuity.” Think about that concept for a moment. Perpetuity is never ending…a very long time indeed. When an organization is designed to serve for hundreds of years, record keeping becomes very important. When you visit the cemetery office you will have the opportunity to view some of the old records.
The founders kept burial records in plat books which describe the location and identity of each internment. Later, maps were hand drawn on the back of old school maps and window shades to provide a visual orientation. Sales of lots and graves were recorded in huge ledger books. Death certificates were not required until the 1930’s. In the 1990’s a fireproof safe was purchased to protect the paper and map records.
Lakeside also bought its first computer in the 1990’s and work began to develop databases of lot owners and burials. In 2016 the work began in earnest to convert all cemetery records into a single database and mapping system. Cemetery staff and volunteers are consulting the paper records and comparing those records with the graves and monuments. This tedious process will be completed by 2018 and then the cemetery records will be as accurate as possible. When the conversion process is completed the paper records and maps will be retired and maintained for historical purposes. Our computer files are backed up weekly and stored at different locations for safe keeping.
Some of the early cemetery records are incomplete. For example, we know there are several potters’ fields. A potters’ field is a common term used in cemeteries in the 19th century and is a section of the cemetery where the poor and indigent were buried. The term comes from the Bible. We don’t know where all of our potters’ fields are located nor do we have complete burial records.
In other parts of the cemetery, it can also be a challenge to establish precisely where a person is buried. For example, cemetery founder Emma LeDuc’s ashes were buried in the family lot of her first husband, Charles LeDuc. However, the cemetery books record her burial but not location. Curiously, her name is not recorded on the family monument.
Finally, records indicate that as many as 31 people are buried in the woods on the shores of Lake Rebecca. Only a few of those graves are marked. The location of those graves is a mystery that may never be resolved. Despite these challenges, Lakeside’s records are far more accurate and detailed than many cemeteries that date back to the 1800’s.
History of Cemeteries in North America
September 11, 2017
Native American Burial Practices
Indian burial practices varied by region and by religious belief. Plains Indians and Indians of the Northwest often placed bodies on elevated platforms to be exposed to the elements. Skeletal remains were interred at a later date.
Bands in the Mississippi river drainage system typically buried their dead in burial mounds. Thousands of burial mounds are said to be dotted across the Twin Cities metro. At least three elaborate mound systems in the area are now parks. Traditional burial practices evolved as interactions with European immigrants increased.
European American Burial Practices
In Europe, cemeteries were often connected to the church or cathedral. Puritan settlers broke with this tradition and established community cemeteries and this practice took root throughout the U.S.
The “rural” cemetery design movement was inspired by early 19th century romantic ideas of nature, art, national identity and death. Open meadows, irregular streets and paths and uneven stands of trees were designed to be serene and spacious. It was thought the combination of nature and the grand expressive monuments would uplift the spirits of all who visited.
Can you see those themes expressed in the oldest section of Lakeside or your local cemetery? Here, families usually bought “lots,” groupings of eight graves, and used them as family burial plots. The families were responsible for lot care and upkeep unless they paid an additional annual fee to Lakeside Cemetery.
The twentieth century introduced new cemetery design ideas including an emphasis on open and green space, straight lines, and de-emphasizing grand monuments. The use of machines for mowing and digging also spurred standardization of cemetery layout and monuments. Perhaps you can see those design elements in the new sections.
Lakeside Cemetery is a Place for Remembrance
Designated for perpetuity, interment at Lakeside Cemetery assures that future generations will have a place to go and remember. Lakeside is committed to serving the changing needs of the Hastings community. In 1950, 2% of all interments were cremation. Today, more than 60% of our interments are cremation. Last year, Lakeside added two additional columbaria. This year Lakeside Cemetery created a Memorial Boulder Garden–a landscaped garden dotted with granite boulders that contain cremated remains. In 2018, Lakeside will open a Scattering Garden for above ground distribution cremains.
Tidbits of Lakeside History
August 31, 2017
In preparation for Lakeside’s 150th celebration this past May I developed a script used by our volunteer tour guides to use as they guided guests. For the next few weeks we will be reading parts of this script. Enjoy!
150 years ago today a remarkable group of Hastings women organized Lakeside Cemetery and purchased the property on which we are standing. In many ways the histories of Lakeside and Hastings are tightly woven. Our hope today is that you will learn more about the Cemetery’s Founders and a few of Hastings’ early leaders, enjoy the beauty of these grounds and explore our records in the office.
Hastings became a city in 1857, one year before Minnesota became a state. It was also growing rapidly; the population in 1860 numbered 1642 and grew to 3458 by 1870. In November 1866 a group of women met in the Presbyterian Church to improve the condition of Oakwood Cemetery which, despite its relatively young age, had fallen into disrepair. Many of Hastings first settlers are buried there. The women organized a fund raiser and raised several hundred dollars. Unfortunately, Oakwood was private property and the title contained defects, so efforts to improve Oakwood were abandoned and work began to organize a new cemetery.
On May 4, 1867, the women organized a cemetery under Minnesota statute and on May 6, 1867 purchased property. Lakeside is a non-profit and non-sectarian, run by a volunteer board of trustees. Lot owners are considered members of the Lakeside Cemetery Association. Lakeside receives no taxpayer funding. It operates solely with funds raised from sales, donations, and countless hours of volunteer labor. The cemetery has grown from 13 to 34 acres, and serves as the final resting place for 5,500 people including over 500 veterans.
The history of Lakeside is one of dedicated leadership and service by the board members whose dedication to “work which honors the dead and reflects credit on the living.” (Charles Drummond writing on the passing of A.W. Gardner.) This theme is expressed consistently by the board throughout 150 years of documents.
Mystery or Mistake?
August 16, 2017
The headstone of Bertha Absher Lemen 1871-1(8)901 is out of place. It rests at the foot of an oak tree in the asphalted parking area just a few steps from the cemetery office. Dropped where it was delivered, the granite headstone is badly scratched. The stone was discovered during construction of the new Hastings bridge. Workers dug it up while excavating the footings for the bridge piers. Since Lakeside Cemetery is nearby and upstream the workers delivered it here.
While Lemen is a common name at Lakeside, I can find no record for Bertha here or at neighboring cemeteries. Who was Bertha Absher Lemen? How did her stone end up in the Mississippi River? Was she buried on some long ago eroded riverbank? Was she buried on river bottom lands that were flooded when the lock and dam system was built? Perhaps, but why purchase a granite headstone for an informal burial location on the flood plain? Also, 1901 seems a little late for burials outside of established cemeteries.
I have a second theory. Is the stone a discarded mistake? At first, I the dates on the stone read as 1871-1901 because that is what my mind told me the dates should be. Upon closer examination the number nine looks more like a number eight with an attempt to correct it to be a nine. Could it be that the stone engraver made an error and the stone was rejected by the buyer? (I recall my attempts at producing error free copy on the manual typewriters in Ms. Peterson’s typing class. I can only imagine the pressure on an stone engravers who don’t have the benefit of correction fluid.) Can you think of anything more useless than a mis-engraved granite headstone? Wouldn’t the river bottom be a good place to dispose of it? Perhaps, but errors on old headstones are not unusual. Why would this stone be discarded while more expensive and elaborate stones in our cemetery contain errors?
I am stuck in my efforts to explain Bertha’s story. I ask for your help or ideas in connecting me with anyone who might help unravel the mystery of Bertha Absher Lemen and her headstone.
Cemetery Interment Reports
August 2, 2017
Every year, the cemetery produces an interment report, a summary of all the interments (burials) for the preceding 12 months. Back in the day, Interment Reports were called Actuary Reports and were published in the Hastings Gazette. The first Interment Report, published in the Hastings Gazette, reported 24 burials and 10 re-interments from other cemeteries, primarily Oakwood, one of Hastings earliest cemeteries that fell into disuse. A companion news article proclaimed Lakeside Cemetery to be “a spot of rare beauty, rivaling, if not surpassing the burial places of the Eastern states.” …The cemetery is “now assuming that subdued elegance with marks a people proud of their civilization, yet tender in the solicitude for their departed friends…”
We have the original, handwritten 1870 Actuary Report. That year, nineteen people were interred, four being transferred from other cemeteries. Of the remaining fifteen, eight were children and 7 were adults. Seven of the eight children died before one year of age. Causes of death in included: consumption, inflammation of the lungs, intermittent fever, congestion of the lungs, inflammation of the bowels, apoplexy (stroke), meningitis, cholera, diarrhea, typhoid fever, diphtheria, and paralysis.*
Thankfully, childhood deaths are rare today. The report reminded me of a story told me by my Grandma Swalheim. She said that when she was young it was common practice for new parents to avoid using the baby’s name and calling it “baby” for the first year. Since early death was likely, this depersonalization helped to lessen the loss. Three cheers for vaccines, antibiotics and water treatment systems. The elimination of childhood deaths contributes to the longer lifespans that we now consider normal and our birthright.
*Later interment reports list “teething” as a cause of death. How can this be?
Yes, I work at a Cemetery
July 24, 2017
Yes, I work at a cemetery. There aren’t a lot of people that yearn to work at a cemetery. But I have discovered the work to be rewarding and interesting. I would like to share a few of my thoughts and impressions as the Lakeside Cemetery Administrator.
The Jokes… When a person hears that I work at a cemetery, they have to tell me their cemetery joke. It’s usually the same joke. I’ve heard them all.
The Records… The old cemetery records are voluminous, detailed and precise. Penmanship mattered more than it does today. I have gained new insights into life and death in the 19th and early 20th century. Their lives were hard but also full and rich.
The Calls… Bureau of Criminal Apprehension called for information about a person buried at Lakeside. Evidently a few suspicious people are scattered amongst Lakeside’s upstanding residents.
A gentleman told me he was moved to tears when I was able to provide him information about a long, lost relative’s cause of death and the location of the grave.
The Visits… I also helped a couple from Alaska locate the grave of their relative.
Another visitor asked to see certain headstones in preparation for a show on ghosts and spirits.
A gentleman visits the grave of his loved one several times each week. I watch him water the flowers and then settle into his car to read the paper. The tender routines of daily life persist after death.