Spring clean up slowed by stubborn winter

The on-again, off-again spring and recurrent heavy snowfalls have slowed the annual spring clean up at Calvary Cemetery, reports Terry Miller, Caretaker.

“We had 70% of the roads open right after that last snowfall,” said Terry. “And we lost some tree branches. Over a foot of snow has fallen and obviously more on the way.”

“Just when I think I am getting some traction — by that I mean snow gone and spring clean up going on — along comes another storm. A year ago we were mowing. With Memorial Day just six weeks away, I believe it’s going to be ‘go time’ when this white stuff is gone.”

Of course, Memorial Day is the biggest day of the year at Calvary in terms of visitors and activity.

Terry also reports the frost is still deep in shady areas and the north side of buildings where the spring sunshine hasn’t warmed the ground or melted the snow cover.

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The Kron Angel…a massive marker for Mankato’s merchant prince

No one who visits Calvary Cemetery can fail to notice “The Kron Angel.” Estimated at 24,000 pounds of imported Belgium stone and situated close to the central chapel, this massive monument commands attention.

So who is buried under this landmark?

This monument marks the final resting place of Frederick Kron, a prosperous and well-known Mankato merchant who was buried at Calvary on February 5, 1917 after dying at St. Joseph’s Hospital on February 1st. He was 64 when he died of “acute kidney trouble” following a week of fever and chills.

Frederick Kron was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 9, 1852, and arrived in Mankato with his parents, Johanna and Clement Kron on July 24, 1853, just one year after the town was officially “settled.” According to Mankato: The First 50 Years, a historical account published in 1903 by The Free Press Printing Company, Clement Kron first opened a tavern, then established Mankato’s first hotel, Kron’s hotel or “The Minnesota House,” which was described as originally a simple log house. Clement died in 1873 and Fred assumed management for two years. Shortly after that, on May 19, 1874, Fred married Clara, the daughter of Mathias Ulman, described in Fred’s Mankato Review obituary as “one of the pioneer hotel keepers of Mankato. The Minnesota House was later leased and eventually sold to Joseph Stahl, Fred’s brother-in-law. The Minnesota House was eventually torn down and a brick hotel, The Stahl House, was built. Fred opened a general merchandise store at 309 North Front Street and ran it for 10 years, according to his obituary.

The Kron Dry Goods & Grocery apparently prospered.  According to the Review, in 1985 Fred erected a three-story “business block” at the corner of Front and Main streets. It was there that he opened a true department store known as “The Leader.”

Fred Kron’s funeral, held at Ss Peter and Paul Catholic Church, was an huge event that closed many downtown businesses. The Review reports: “Business in the city was practically suspended during the holding of the funeral, all of the banks and most of the business houses being closed in tribute to Mr. Kron.”

Pallbearers included Mankato Mayor Robert Lamm, James E. Hickey, F.K. Meagher, John H. Hohmann, Joseph Thro, H.F. Leonard and Otto Lamm. Honorary pallbearers were the director of the Mankato State Bank. Fred was president of the bank at the time of his death.

A Mankato Review article dated February 7, 1917 focused on the probate of Fred’s estate. Details included his financial holdings: Town and city property valued at $36,000; farm property valued at $4,000; personal property, $60,000; and $40,000 in “rents and profits.” According to one online currency calculator that $140,000 would equate to $2.6 million in today’s dollars.

The Encyclopedia of Biography of Minnesota (online version, published in 1900 by The Century Publishing and Engraving Company of Chicago), has a section on Frederick Kron. According to the biography, Fred and Clara had no children. Since Clara (shown left) died before Fred on June 29, 1910 at the age of 55, the proceeds of his estate were directed to his mother who survived him.

There was some controversy regarding Fred Kron’s will…or lack of one. A newspaper account at the time noted that “some say” that they overhead Fred and Clara talking about making or having wills while there was other hearsay that Fred had said the wills had been destroyed. That Fred’s mother, Johanna, claimed that her son, the merchant prince, died intestate, produced some local controversy. At the time of this post, no subsequent article has been found that a will was ever produced, and no reference found about who exactly ordered the lavish Kron Angel monument. It’s easily possible that Fred ordered it after his wife’s death, and the monument was already installed at the time of his death.

Any additions or clarifications to this account are welcome!

— The Calvary Ghostwriter

 

 

 

Hoping for snow cover at Calvary today

The unseasonably warm weather of the last few days has Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller hoping for some continued relief from the subzero blitz that has made January 2018 a tough month.

The combination of no snow cover and numbing subzero has dropped the frost down 16 inches deep. That basically turns the ground to stone-like hardness, making it necessary to heat a site for 24 hours prior to excavation.

Today’s forecast for snow has him hopeful.

“I still wish we would get a good foot of snow. Not only would it keep the frost from going down further, it would maybe take some out,” he said.

The threat of a blizzard has closed Mankato area schools today. That forecast could well bring the snow Terry is hoping for.

Bitter cold makes for tough working conditions at a cemetery. Machinery has to be kept running longer to keep it starting reliably, and the frozen ground means three hours of prep and 24 hours of heating added to the normal excavation work load.

“But I will say the auger we purchased a few years ago is great. The carbide blades will go through approximately one inch of frost per minute,” he explained.

 

Christmas marks the time

Since Dickens and A Christmas Carol all Christendom has recognized that, while fashion, attitude and politics change, Christmas marks the time.

We all remember from one Christmas to the next. That first Christmas with the new baby. That last Christmas with a grandparent. We remember our little traditions, sometimes handed down from parents and grandparents, or even those from the lands our great-great-great grandparents came from.

Christmas Present gets its savor from Christmas Past. It is our most celebrated and revered season. And those seasons we remember and remember each December, ever measuring this year’s vintage against the treasured tastes of bygone yules.

In that savoring, it is hard not to remember those no longer with us while we sit around our festive holiday tables. That favorite great aunt, treasured grandparent or especially close cousin…we see glimpses of them laughing by the fireplace or see a special ornament of theirs on this year’s tree.

But the sharpest stabs of nostalgia, the ones so painfully poignant, come from the absence of parents, children, brothers, sisters or spouses…those we once shared each day with in bouts of triumph, sickness, chores and just the ebb and flow of daily life.

Christmas has the power for great joy but also for great sorrow.

As we celebrate the Birth of Our Savior this day, remember that His sacrifice at the original Calvary conquered eternal death. We hope your memories of Christmas Past bring you joy this season.

Calvary Caretaker shares insights and experiences at workshop

“Eternal care has value.”

That’s one of the messages that Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller shared with Catholic cemetery caretakers and board members from across the diocese during workshops held this month.

Although there are over 100 Catholic cemeteries in the 20 southern Minnesota counties that encompass the Winona Diocese, Terry is one of the few full-time, professional caretakers. On average the other cemeteries in the diocese average 3.2 burials per year while Calvary averages close to 100 per year. While there are some larger cemeteries in the diocese, Calvary is the largest in terms of acreage under maintenance.

Because of his experience, Terry was invited to be one of the speakers at the workshops, and appeared in Adrian and Owatonna to share his views. He was also accompanied by one of the Calvary board members, Father Tim Reker, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker parish.

Attendees consisted mainly of cemetery caretakers, volunteers and clergy.

Terry shared the tactics that he and his board have advanced at Calvary in order to ensure “perpetual care” of the cemetery for future generations. Topics included pricing, board involvement and advocacy, community and parish support, the use of social media, client service, and fundraising.

Terry reported that his sharing was well received.

“No doubt, cemeteries are about the past,” he said after the events. “But a big part of taking care of yesterday is about looking out for tomorrow. You know what I mean?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

December snow gives good backdrop for holiday wreaths

This week’s recent snowfall, if it sticks around, will help give Calvary a White Christmas. It certainly gave the cemetery a holiday backdrop for the recently-installed wreaths.

“What a difference a day makes,” commented Terry Miller, Caretaker.

Each year, the cemetery gives families the opportunity to buy wreaths to decorate their loved one’s burial site.  This year, about 250 wreaths were installed around the cemetery. The recent snow completed the holiday theme.

Terry would like to thank all those who placed holiday orders this year!

The man inside the Follman Mausoleum

Anyone who has visited Calvary Cemetery had to take note of the Follmann Mausoleum. It’s hard to miss its solid granite presence just off the main thoroughfare of the cemetery.

Over time, the mausoleum generated its share of supernatural rumors. Caretaker Terry Miller, who has been on the cemetery grounds daily for decades, routinely dismisses those rumors as the product of fanciful imaginations.

What’s more, there’s no historical evidence to support the notion that Dr. Follmann or his wife, Catherine, suffered any unusual tragic events that might produce an anguished spirit with unfinished business.

From the newspaper accounts available, Dr. Peter Follmann was a successful German / Belgian immigrant, beloved husband and a pillar of the Mankato community.

According to a Mankato newspaper clipping, Dr. Follmann (the newspaper consistently printed his name with a single “n”) was born at Echternach in Luxemburg. He studied medicine at Ecole de Medicine, Paris and graduated there on August 1, 1860. While he was at school, he married Miss Catherine Schweitzer (February 2, 1859).

According to an article on May 17, 1911:

He came to America May 20, 1861, and after traveling extensively, settled in St. Louis, Mo., in 1863, where he practiced his profession until 1867, when he again returned to Europe and entered the University of Paris for further studies.

Revolutionary times were brewing, and the doctor again embarked for the new world. After looking for a suitable location in the east and middle west, he finally settled at Mankato in August, 1869. He has resided in this city continuously, with the exception of a short time spent in Mapleton, and up to about ten years ago he has practiced his profession. 

The doctor also owned a drug store and was retired for some years when he died on May 17, 1911. He was about 75 years old when he died. His wife survived him.

Dr. Follmann’s funeral took place on May 20, 1911 at Saints Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church where a high mass was celebrated. The pallbearers were: J.A. Lulsdorff, J.H. Hohmann, J.J. Lamm, F.G. Hoerr, Edward Cousandier, T.R. Coughlan and J.C. Thro.

Dr. Follmann’s remains were buried at Calvary Cemetery that same day, but several years later were exhumed and placed in the mausoleum.

From all accounts now available, Peter Follmann was a very successful business man and doctor, well-liked, and who lived a long and productive life. At this point, with few available sources of information, we can only assume that he was much loved by his wife, who most likely ordered the construction of the very expensive mausoleum after his death.

All that said, future visitors to the mausoleum who may hear a noise should probably think of “squirrel” before “spirit.”

 

 

All Souls Day Mass set for Thursday, Nov 2

Calvary Cemetery Chapel will be the site for a special All Souls Day Mass to be held

Father Paul

Father Paul

on Thursday, November 2nd at 9 a.m.

Father Paul van de Crommert of North Mankato’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church will be the celebrant. Father Paul is also actively serving on the cemetery’s board of directors.

Confused about All Souls Day, All Saints Day and Halloween?

The Catholic Church celebrates All Saints Day, or All Hallows, on the first day of November each year. Therefore the last day of October is All Hallows Eve, or Halloween (a contraction of “All Hallows Evening). November 2nd is All Souls Day. According to Catholic Online (www.catholiconline.org), here is the difference in the celebrations:

In Western Christian theology, the day [All Saints Day] commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. In the Roman Catholic Church, the next day, All Souls’ Day, specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual communion between those in the state of grace who have died and are either being purified in purgatory or are in heaven (the ‘church penitent’ and the ‘church triumphant’, respectively), and the ‘church militant’ who are the living. Other Christian traditions define, remember and respond to the saints in different ways.

Halloween is not a religious celebration in the Catholic Church. It is a popular celebration revolving around the theme of using humor to confront the power of death.

Time to order your Christmas wreath

It’s hard to think about the holidays without remembering Christmas past and

Christmas Wreath

Christmas Wreath

departed loved ones.

If you’d like to decorate a loved one’s grave with some holiday color, Calvary Cemetery is now taking orders for Christmas wreaths. Ordered wreaths will be placed on graves the week of Thanksgiving and will be removed after New Year’s Day (weather permitting).

These 25-inch wreaths are Balsam Fir and feature a red bow with white-tipped pinecones.

To order your wreath for $25, call Terry Miller at 507.995.1010.

Follman Mausoleum: ‘Pretty Home for the Dead’

About 103 years ago, men and horses labored to wheel tons of granite and marble up to Calvary Cemetery — building materials for Mankato’s first private mausoleum.

A mausoleum is a free-standing building, usually large and stately, for housing a tomb or tombs. In the United States, the term may be used for a burial vault beneath another building, typically a church.

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India is the world’s most famous and most photographed mausoleum. Originally, mausolea were built for deceased leaders or persons of importance. But smaller versions eventually came to be popular with gentry and nobility in many countries.

Recently Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller was given a copy of a Mankato Free Press article from August 13, 1914. The article reports that finishing touches were being applied to a mausoleum under construction for the late Dr. Peter Follman, a prominent physician. (Editor’s note — the mausoleum photo shows “Follmann” with a double “n” but all newpaper references to the man show his name as “Follman.”)

This contribution lends a nice historical perspective to one of Calvary’s most notable, expensive and prominent monuments. From the article itself:

Finishing touches are begin put on the first private mausoleum ever built in Mankato, that of late Dr. Peter Follman, in Calvary Cemetery. This is a beautiful piece of architecture, of dark gray Barre granite from Vermont. The structure is thirteen and a half by twelve feet in extent and fourteen feet high. It required three carloads of granite to finish it. Most of the blocks reach almost the entire length of one side. The blocks weigh six thousand to thirteen thousand pounds each. They were hauled up that great hill by means of wagons, six horses being required on each wagon.

The interior of the mausoleum is veneered with high-grade imported marble from Italy. At the back is a beautiful art window of stained glass. On the interior there are two marble crypts. The floor is mosaic. At the front of the mausoleum is a double door of standard bronze, one inch thick. On the front of the structure, at each side of this double door, stands an ornamental pillar. On the outside, about the doors, one a tablet, is engraved the name, Dr. Follman.

Mayor A.G. Meyer has the contract for the construction of the mausoleum and the entire work has been done under his personal direction. 

The casket, containing the body of the doctor, was disinterred yesterday, and will be placed in the mausoleum. 

Other Mankato Free Press articles from the same contributor give us a great amount of detail on Dr. Follman and his wife, Mrs. Catherine Follman. Dr. Follman died on May 17, 1911 at the approximate age of 75. Cause of death was the last of a series of strokes. He was an immigrant from Luxembourg and settled in Mankato in 1869.

“Dr. Follman was one of the best known men in the vicinity. He always enjoyed a very large practice and was most successful,” states the article, going on to describe him as “a large man physically and mentally” with a kind-hearted nature and active in the development of the town.

More on Dr. Follman in our next installment…