Having parked my car in a lot near our community center, I bundled up against the unusually cold November weather. Initially intending to walk the trail around the pond, I veered off on a side path that leads up to the old Ramsey County Poor Farm.
At the top of a series of low rolling hills, the trail opens up at the Ramsey County Cemetery. It is an unremarkable place, easily looked over without the single marble headstone demarcating its existence.
“Established in 1893 on the grounds of the county almshouse and poor farm, the Ramsey County Cemetary was a “Potter’s Field” for indigent persons, the homeless, and patients at Ancker Hospital who died without relatives or friends able to pay funeral costs. No provision was made to provide headstones and with few exceptions graves were unmarked. When the cemetary was closed in 1923 there had been 2,991 recorded burials. Afterwards, the burial ground reverted to agricultural use as part of the poor farm. In 2001, the 2.45 acre site was designated a heritage park by the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners.”
The poor farm is the site of our county fair, extension service office, and in October, the farm is converted into a haunted Fright Farm run by the county sheriff’s department. When not in use, it’s the tranquil dwelling of long-lost memories.
The walk back to the car was quick. My frozen fingers were beginning to numb. I dropped my camera, which now has a new nick at the corner. I passed a stack of picnic tables, seemingly huddled together against the expectant inclement weather. A bench, once a welcomed respite, now stands lonely and cold. The milkweed remains dry and spent, its fluffy seeds take flight in the harsh November wind.
Peace . . .