I have been assisting Marcy Johnson take photos of Kittson County Churches and Cemeteries to be included in a booklets on the same topic. As a result I have come to appreciate that in addition to the recognized Church Cemeteries the county also has private family cemeteries, abandoned cemeteries, township cemeteries and single burials.
There are so many interesting stories connected with these sites I am compelled to share them with you.
One concerns a Civil War Veteran who was traveling on one of the first trains that ran north in Minnesota. Some time in the late 1870’s this veteran took very sick on a train. He was taken off at Donaldson and shortly after he died. He was buried on a hill next to a coulee about a mile north and half a mile east of Donaldson. He was the first person buried on this hill which later became HillCrest Cemetery. His name was unknown and at some point a headstone was placed on his grave with the words. “Unknown Soldier”.
Some where someone no doubt knew he was traveling north by train to some northern destination, known or unknown, but he never arrived. Most of us known stories of a relative or two who went “North” or “Out-west‘, and was never heard from again.
This storey explains just one example of someone who was never heard from again and never could be traced.
This second storey is also interesting but this time we have some names.
The record left by three witnesses states that some time in 1885 Mike Murphy arrived in Kittson County from the south and built himself a log cabin on the northwest corner of section 30 in Tegner Township. He homesteaded the quarter the following spring.
Returning from Hallock one afternoon in the fall of about 1889, under the influence of liquor, his team of horses ran away from him. Circling the farm house of his neighbor Issac Pearson, the hoses ran over and instantly killed two year old Marie Pearson, who had been playing in the front of the house. In an attempt to save the little girl, Murphy dived headlong out of his wagon. This resulted in injuries from which he died two days later.
He was buried in a plot by his cabin. There is no official record of Murphy’s death.
As he never proved up his claim, the land reverted to the government after his death.
Murphy’s grave had no marker or it was lost over the years. The land where his cabin sat is now under cultivation and the burial site is lost.
Marie Pearson, the two year old child was buried on the now abandoned Tree Claim Cemetery in Davis township.
Marie Pearson’s gravesite was expanded when others were buried there as well. It became another temporary cemetery and years later most of the remains were moved to another cemetery. Not all of the remain were found. This site was next to a coulee which is still there. There is no official record of Marie Pearson’s grave.
Recently three new culverts were placed under the road at this site and the creek across the field was cleaned out. The dirt was piled on each side of the coulee. The missing graves site has now been obliterated and nothing remains to be seen. This spring the grass in this area was burned so the entire location is black. In the beginning it must have been a pleasant location with trees and running water.
At best, all we can say is lost but not forgotten.