A walking tour of historic Oakwood Cemetery will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Johanna Grothe, Goodhue County History Center educator, will be the guide.
Anyone who wants to participate should park and meet near the cemetery office at the top of the hill, which is at the end of East Avenue. Registration is not required; cost is $2. If it rains, the tour will be postponed to 10 a.m. May 20.
Oakwood Cemetery was established in 1854. It was surveyed by Samuel A. Hart and David Hancock, who were commissioned by the Land Claim Association to find a place for a cemetery, Grothe said, but it wasn't until 1863 that the cemetery was platted. No lots were sold before that time. People chose their own burial plots. The cemetery was named Oakwood in 1865 and a city ordinance was adopted creating the position of sexton.
The Betcher Memorial Chapel and Blodgett Memorial Gateway were built in 1907, Grothe said. The chapel was a gift from Margaret Betcher in memory of her husband, Charles Betcher. The gateway was a present from E.H. Blodgett, a former mayor.
The tour will include the gravesites of some of the early residents of the area. One of the first burials in Oakwood Cemetery was that of Maria Hancock and her son Willie, who died in 1851, Grothe said. Maria was the first wife of the Rev. Joseph Hancock, a minister who came to teach in the missionary school.
Other gravestones on the tour will include those of businessman Theodore Sheldon, Mayor William Hawkins, World War I Capt. Oskar Youngdahl, the Keek children and Dr. William Sweeney.
In addition, she said, "We will be looking at the glazed pottery gravestone of Louise Morley, the daughter of Samuel Morleym, a follower of the potter's trade. Another stone unique to Red Wing will be a pottery sewer pipe planter in the shape of a tree stump.
While leading the group through the cemetery, Grothe also will talk about gravestone symbolism. Common symbols seen on gravestones include urns, flowers, handshakes, hands, crosses and crowns. Also, she said, participants can "learn about the mourning practices of the 1870s to the 1890s, such as how long one wore black clothing and when (mourners) could re-enter the social society."
For more information about the tour, contact the History Center at (651) 388-6024.