Preservation Effort Succeeds! 

 Ramsey County (Minnesota) Poor Farm Cemetery to be Converted into a Heritage Park
Submitted by Mary Bakeman
Park Genealogical Books, publishers of MN Genealogical Journal

On Tuesday, January 16th 2001, the Board of  Ramsey County (Minnesota) Commissioners approved a plan and the funds to convert the old Poor Farm Cemetery into a Heritage Park! I have been working on this for several years, along with the Maplewood Area Historical Society (MAHS). (As some of you know, we jointly published "Ramsey County's Forgotten Cemetery," listing the interments back in 1998.)

From 1894 to 1923, almost 3000 men, women and children were buried here. They came from all over the county: the Poor Farm itself, the City/County Hospital, State Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights (then Rose Township), White Bear, Mounds View, etc. About 10% are unknown abandoned infants, suicides, vagrants found near rail lines. One common factor: they were all poor.

Over the years, encroachment has taken place on each edge of the cemetery. On the north, a gas pipeline was installed. To the east, a racetrack was built for the Ramsey County Fairgrounds. On the south, horseshoe courts were built. To the west, White Bear Avenue became a major 4-lane street.

The plan sets boundaries the cemetery, re-establishing a native plant landscape (e.g., wild flowers and prairie grass), and several interpretive markers. Ramsey County was the first in Minnesota to provide any kind of assistance to the indigent. The neighboring brick barn built for the dairy herd at the Poor Farm is now on the National Historic Register. The Heritage Park concept is ideal for this site.

Though the County authorized funds for preservation and landscaping, it did not fund the markers. The MAHS is spearheading this effort. If you would like to contribute, send a check made out to the MAHS and mark it for the Cemetery Fund. 
Their mailing address is:
Maplewood Area Historical Society
Attn.: Pete Boulay, President
1100 East Co Rd C
Maplewood, MN 55109-1051

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