Old Cemetery

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One of the oldest and prettiest cemeteries in the area is also one of the most obscure. This one is on Cemetery Road off County Road Z, near County Road A, just south of Superior.

28 Comments

jessy

about 13 years ago

Ive been visiting that cemetery for 15+ years ... so shhhhh ... don't tell too many people. I want it to stay the same.

doubledutch

about 13 years ago

Wow!  That really is beautiful. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to keep that in mind for next month. My 4-year-old would be all about this.

Can you give directions, for a Superior-clueless driver? I tried Googling it but couldn't figure it out.

Dave Sorensen

about 13 years ago

Take Highway 35 South out of South Superior.
Take Highway C East.
Take Highway A North.
Take Highway Z East.
Cemetery Road will be on the left heading north.

Skip

about 13 years ago

Here's a Google Maps link to the area I suspect doubledutch is referring to. You can change the start address or drag the route around on the map to customize it.

Skip

about 13 years ago

Sorry, I meant what Dave Sorenson was referring to, not doubledutch....

Dave Sorensen

about 13 years ago

The Roussain Cemetary is in Jay Cooke Park. Wow, there are a lot of Dirt Condos around here.

rediguana

about 13 years ago

$5* to anyone else who knows where the old Roussain Cemetary is located and the story behind it.

*paid in monopoly money

baci

about 13 years ago

With fall colors coming the nun cemetery behind St. Scholastica is a wonderful and contemplative place.

hbh1

about 13 years ago

A fun way to be helpful and also enjoy the wonderfulness that are old cemeteries is to become a photo-volunteer at FindaGrave.com. There are tons of people doing geneaology who can't get to this neck of the woods, and you can help them out by taking pictures of the stone or grave they're looking for. 

I like doing this--it's like sleuthing. Unfortunately, many old graves are simply unmarked and it's sad to disappoint someone with a blank piece of grass. :-)

Paul Lundgren

about 13 years ago

The nun cemetery Baci referred to is called Gethsemane Cemetery. 

GethsemaneCemetary2345897

I was in the woods nearby today, and it seems Baci left his trolls there.

Troll1348957

Troll20459

rediguana

about 13 years ago

The Roussain Cemetery has a fascinating story. I discovered it quite by accident, overgrown in the woods and surrounded only by a thin wire fence off an ATV trail in Fond du Lac Forest (NOT actually in Jay Cooke Park) near the obscure pulloff for the old Mission Creek Parkway on Hwy 210. The dates on some gravestones, dating to the early 1800s, decades before Duluth was a city, had me stumped and intrigued. 

I later learned through research in the Duluth Public Library that the ATV trail follows the old Duluth-Cloquet Road, which in turn follows an ancient Indian Trail and was one of the first U.S. mail routes to Duluth. In 1863, Financier Jay Cooke invested in the Northern Pacific Railroad with a branch from St. Paul to Duluth, the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railway, now abandoned. 

The railroad's planners plotted a right-of-way straight through two old cemeteries at the Ely Mission (on the site of the current Fond du Lac Community Church, on 131st Ave W), which dates to 1834 (Fond du Lac itself formed around an American Fur Company post in 1817). The adjacent cemeteries both belonged to the mission; one was for Whites and Christianized Ojibwe, the other was for traditional practitioners of the Medewiwin faith. When the railroad was being built in 1869-1870, before the construction members of the community resolved to save the Christian cemetery from desecration. Frances Roussain owned a plot of land along the Duluth-Cloquet road and offered a corner of it for a new cemetery. The remains in the graveyard were painstakingly dug up, brought up the hill by wagon and reinterred. The Indian section of the cemetery was left behind to be covered by the berm, although for many years visitors to the new graveyard would find spirit houses placed atop some graves. 

There are photographs of the cemetery from as recent as the late 1950s showing it well cared for, mowed with a neat picket fence. Since that time it seems to have been forgotten; I guess everyone who had an ancestor they remembered buried there has since moved away or passed on. Only a thin wire fence and a few decaying, barely or non-legible gravestones now mark the site. It remains a fascinating and forgotten chapter in our city's history.

dave Sorensen

about 13 years ago

Rediguana- Thanks for sharing that very interesting history.

E. Dahl

about 13 years ago

In abt 1869 Lk Sup & Miss RR was planned to pass thru burial ground in Fond du Lac.  Francis Roussain acquired land to move his family burials from proposed railroad course. 
(Cemetery protected under MN ST 307.08)

E. Dahl

about 13 years ago

RE:  Roussain Cemetery
It contains not only Roussain's relatives, but also relatives of some of Roussain's friends as he felt he could not refuse their request.
The burials are of Fr/Indians and Indians.  Francis' father, Eustache Roussain, was a fur trader at Fond du Lac, as was Francis.
Astor's American Fur Post ceased in FDL abt 1840, and Booth Fisheries got it's start there.
Lots of history there.

steve

about 13 years ago

I was at the cemetery back in april of 09. Considering how old the two stones are they are in very good condition. It is to bad the city did not keep up on the condition. Does anyone know of where I can get a copy of a photo from back in the 1950s or earlier? Have a great New Year in 2010.

Craig roussain

about 12 years ago

Hello everyone: I am possibly a decendant of Francis and Eustche Roussain. I have an old black and white photo of the Roussain headstones being moved, from my Uncle Jack. He doesn't know where he got it. I would love to know how to get a recent photo of the cemetery, and a list of who is in there, Can anyone help me? My wife has been doing the Roussain genealogy for a number of years. We want to know how we are connected to the Roussains who were born at Maminse Point, north of Sault Ste Marie, Ont.  Thanks!!

Laurie DeGrio Mattson

about 12 years ago

Hi, Craig. I would love to show you where the cemetery is ... there are a couple of headstones. The Roussain children are buried there, they died young. So sad. And Vincent Roy, a French Indian who was very close to the Roussains. There are two very interesting books in the Duluth Library all about early days in Fond du Lac, and photos of the Roussians are in them. You can email me at lsdm13 @ gmail.com. It is so interesting to me, since I am an avid Duluth history buff. Good luck.

Scott Maxham

about 12 years ago

Hi everyone- I'm putting together a proposal for funding the research, location, restoration, preservation, and presenting of old cemeteries in the Duluth area. Trying to design this as a model program that can be used throughout the country.  Please email me at: [email protected] if you'd like to learn more about this. Can use info on all the sites.  Thank you.

Laurie DeGrio Mattson

about 12 years ago

To Craig Roussain ... my gmail account was taken over  and someone sent out a scam on it...so I am sorry if you tried to reach me at the email address. Please try again ... lnature5126 @ q.com.  I want you to see the cemetery.

bfinstad

about 12 years ago

Another very interesting rural Douglas County Cemetery is out in the town of Gordon.  Gordon was settled by a half French, half Ojibwe trader named Antoine Gaudin (later Americanized to Gordon) who was born at Sandy Lake in Aitkin County but relocated to LaPointe on Madeline Island where he became a prominent figure and choir master at the mission of Father Baraga. His wife, Sarah Gordon (also half French and half Ojibwe) was born at Cadotte's trading post on the Yellow River).  

Antoine established Gordon along the old St. Croix Trail which connected Fort Snelling to Chequamegon Bay.  The old cemetery on the hill above Gordon was located along this old trail.   The setting is  within a stand of gorgeous old growth white pine.  This cemetery contains many, many unmarked Indian graves as well as those of very early settlers, first from the late fur trading era, and later from the lumber boom era.  

Surprisingly, few realize at that small, remote point far inland, there was settlement occurring in the early 1850s.  The Catholic Church in Gordon, standing and used to this day, dates back to the middle 1800s and is squared log underneath the white clapboard.  It was originally built by Antoine as a mission for the Ojibwe and was visited by the Jesuits coming from La Point on foot a few times a year. Antoine's grandson became the first American Indian to become a Catholic Priest and is also buried in the cemetery at Gordon.  

Another interesting grave is that of Joseph Blackburn - another old trader (quite wealthy) who was bludgeoned to death in what became the most sensational murder mystery in this region during the 1890s. (A very interesting articles about this can be found in the Evening Telegram archives at the Superior Library.)  

The cemetery used to have spirit houses, graves with old wooden crosses, or even graves that were outlined simply in clam shells from the Eau Claire or St. Croix Rivers.  You can still usually find bits of old clam shells sticking up from the ground today if you look hard enough. 

I know as of a few years ago, one old weathered wood cross still existed  (that old growth, resinous wood from those times - virgin forest - was amazingly rot resistant).   Also, there is an Indian chief (I believe named Sheosh) whose grave is marked simply with a very large and interesting rock.  

The cemetery at Gordon is steeped in history and quite picturesque.   While sitting underneath the old growth white pines, knowing the trail to Fort Snelling passed here, next to the graves of Indians, traders, missionaries, and lumberjacks, you truly get the sense that in this one spot you are standing on the history of Northwestern Wisconsin.

Theresa Weller

about 11 years ago

Hi Craig - I was wondering if your wife might have any information on Charles Roussain who married Elisabeth Turner from the Soo.  Are all these families connected across Lake Superior?  I also read a story about a Roussain Cemetery on Coppermine Point.  Do you know who is buried there?  Hope to hear from you!  Thanks!
Terry Weller
Lansing, Mich

theresa weller

about 11 years ago

Hi Theresa:I just read the comments and I have not looked at this site since last year! I am the wife of Craig, and I am doing the research. He doesn`t like that I have used his name. So E-mail me, Lynnda and we can share our info. Thanks

lynnda/craig roussain

about 11 years ago

Hi Theresa:Please E-mail me. I have lots of info of the Roussains of Lake Superior and the names of the people buried in the Coppermine Point Cemetery! Lynnda

Admackbar

about 11 years ago

I love how this post keeps coming back from the grave. Ahem.

Sara

about 11 years ago

From my understanding the Roussain cemetery is still/again the property of the Fond du Lac band and is intentionally non-maintained due to desecration in the past (ATVs and vandalism). It was formerly maintained by the park.The band, again from my understanding, prefers it this way and keeps it on the hush-hush to prevent any future damage to the already degraded site. Really interesting piece of local history. I wish I could find more historical information on it. If anyone knows where to find any it would be wonderful!

Sara

about 11 years ago

My former post is referring to the Roussain cemetery in/around Jay Cooke State Park near Duluth ... in case that wasn't clear.

sunnybozzo

about 10 years ago

Hi Lynnda:  I am definitely a descendent of Charles and Elizabeth Roussin.  I cannot get past Charles and Elizabeth. I would appreciate any help you can give me.  I have been to Coppermine point often but never saw the cemetery.  My grandmother Frances Josephine Roussaine d. of Jean Joseph Roussain s.of Charles Roussin lived in the light house at Coppermine Pt.. They had quite a large family so if someone was shipwrecked and had to stay with the family for winter, it meant another mouth to feed and find a place to bed him down.  I wish I had your e-mail address but I hope you will check back here.  My address is:  [email protected]

Thanks for any help you can give us.  

Carol

cageyjay

about 5 years ago

An article and photographs can be found in Fritzen, John, Fond du Lac and Jay Cook Park, July 1978, St. Louis Historical Society, pp. 38-39 in a section called Indian Cemetery. 

One of the printed photographs is shows how the Cemetary appeared in 1917, another shows "Spirit houses over Indian graves" another shows a couple forest rangers "replacing grave markers." A couple photographs dated 1962. In addition you will find  a photo of the Roussain brothers taken at the Chippewa Indian peace conference in 1854. There is photo of the Indian burial mounds being removed along the railroad right-of-way in the 1870s.

The booklet is available in the Duluth Public Library.

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