Hidden history among the gravestones

New tours highlight Civil War veterans and notable women buried at Lakewood Cemetery.

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Jim Moffet will be giving tours of Civil War-era graves at Lakewood Cemetery on Memorial Day

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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Lakewood Cemetery is home to more deceased Twin Cities luminaries than any other, but finding all of their graves across 260 acres is a tall order. For Memorial Day, it has added two highlights to its daylong slate of activities -- guided tours to the graves of Civil War veterans and notable women.

More Minnesotans per capita served in the Union Army than any other state, said Jim Moffet, one of the Civil War re-enactors who will be dressed in uniform to lead tours at the cemetery, located between Lakes Calhoun and Harriet in south Minneapolis.

Lt. William Lochren, Adjutant for the First Regiment Minnesota Volunteers, is honored with a family monument, a stone pillar. Lochren was one of few in his regiment to escape Gettysburg unscathed, and went on to become a U.S. senator.

The grave of vet Cpl. Orange S. King has no tombstone, just an eroding limestone marker, next to one for his wife, Gertrude. He was wounded in the eye by a bayonet at First Bull Run in 1861.

"I would guess it was a friendly-fire situation," Moffet said. "Most of these men had never been in combat before."

At least one of the Minnesota vets has a familiar surname: Capt. Chris Heffelfinger, an ancestor of former U.S. attorney Tom Heffelfinger, was one of only 47 of 262 soldiers in the First Regiment to survive Gettysburg. Slightly wounded there, he went on to raise seven children and run a shoe business in Minneapolis.

Susan Mundale, author of a book on the cemetery's history, will lead tours to the gravestones of notable women, including writers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, politicians and activists. Their graves range from grand marble mausoleums to modest markers like that of writer Darragh Aldrich, who penned the column "Quentin's Corner" for the Minneapolis Tribune from 1906-15. She was admitted into the National Humorists society "until they found out she was a woman, after which she was forced to resign," Mundale said.

Harriet Walker, wife of lumber baron Thomas Walker, co-founded the Bethany Home for unwed mothers, many of them country girls who had come to the city in search of work in the late 19th century. Georgianna Sharrot, the first female police officer in Minneapolis, was struck by a taxi at the corner of Lyndale and Franklin, and died five months later in 1937.

Freed slave Millie Bronson, who worked as a nanny for the Brackett family, was so beloved by her employers that she was given a marker in the family plot.

It gives her life span as an eyebrow-raising 115 years (1770-1885).

Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046

  • LAKEWOOD CEMETERY

    Memorial Day tours: Both the Civil War and women tours run from noon-3 p.m., every half-hour.

    Info: Call 612-822-2171 or see www.lakewoodcemetery.com for more of its Memorial Day activity listings.

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