Tour set for Oct. 21, no registration necessary

The Otter Tail County Historical Society is sponsoring a tour of the Fergus Falls State Hospital cemetery and Poor Farm cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 21, 11 a.m. Cost of the tour is $10, no registration is needed. Park in the back lot of the Fergus Falls Veterans Home and look for Chris with his OTCHS banner. No motorized vehicles are allowed, handicapped accessibility is limited.

Much like the State Hospital itself, the cemetery elicits mixed emotions. It is serene, sad, picturesque and tragic at the same time. From the first burial in August 1890 to the last in 1968, some 3,200 people were laid to rest there. Most of the graves are unmarked yet everyone had names, lives and stories. The tour will attempt to uncover bits and pieces of this history, to give names to those at rest.

West of the hospital cemetery is the Otter Tail County Poor Farm cemetery. Before there was any government safety net, who was responsible for the poorest of the poor. The State of Minnesota placed that responsibility on individual counties. For Otter Tail that meant establishing a county poor farm in 1881 two miles north of Fergus Falls. For those that died while at the Farm and had no one to claim them, a cemetery was established west of the farm. From the early 1880s until the mid 1930s over 150 people were buried at the poor farm cemetery. Volunteers from the organization A Paupers Grave will be on hand to tell people about their efforts to locate and mark Poor Farm cemetery grave sites.

Wear comfortable shoes and dress according to the weather. For for information contact the Otter Tail County Historical Society at (218) 736-6038.