Time travel as close as your local cemetery.

Sunday’s Cemetery 36

November 22, 2015 / by davidwalton

DSC09984 copyCemeteries. Every city has one. They are mysterious, historic, haunting and, to me, fascinating.  I developed a fondness for cemeteries as a boy.

Now whenever I’m out of town, I always make it a point to visit a cemetery.  To me, they are better than any mountain range, skyline or other popular tourist attraction.  They are hidden treasures containing a wealth of information about communities and the people who lived there.

Chances are you have visited a cemetery at some time in your life to pay your respects to a family member or friend, and perhaps you too appreciate the stories represented among the tombstones and monuments.

My travels take me to all over the South and Midwest, sometimes further North, and sometimes around the world! So I have decided to start documenting my cemetery visits with a series of photos in a Sunday feature.

DSC09954 copyThis week’s cemetery is Greenhill Cemetery in St. Peter, MN, located about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities.

What many people might not know is St. Peter was to have been the state capital of Minnesota. That’s why the founding fathers set aside land (where Minnesota Square Park is now located) for the capital building and designed the extra wide streets in town to accommodate future growth.

But thanks to a conniving politician named Joe Rolette, legislation was passed making Saint Paul the capital.

How did Rolette succeed in causing this happen? He stole the bill that was to have been voted on and disappeared until after the vote.

Greenhill is one of 13 cemeteries in St. Peter and has over 2,500 internments.

One of the many headstones showing how deep Scandanavian roots run in the St. Peter community.

One of the many headstones showing how deep Scandinavian roots run in the St. Peter community.

As I walked around Greenhill, what stuck out most besides the grave with the elephant (no joke!) was the number of families of Scandinavian descent. Names like  Oelrich, Reipke, Annexstad, Roemhildt, Vandinburg, Rinkel and Lutterman.

St. Peter is such a charming little town (pop. 11,439) with lots of historic buildings, antiques shops and is home to Gustavus Adolphus College. If you ever visit, I highly recommend Konsbruck Hotel, River Rock Coffee and the St. Peter Food Co-op & Deli.

This is the first time I've ever encountered an elephant at a gravesite. George E. and Vates L. Engesser are buried here.

This is the first time I’ve ever come across an elephant in a cemetery. This gravesite belongs to George E. and Vates L. Engesser.

According to the city’s official website, it has served as home to the state’s past five governors. And every 4th of July, more than 10,000 people visit to take part in the Old Fashioned Independence Day celebration. I look forward to attending the next picnic in 2016!

Until next time….

2 thoughts on “Sunday’s Cemetery 36

  1. I love the elephant…a Republican maybe? :-) I always enjoy reading about your adventures; especially the town;s history! Well done!

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