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 (, 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…


Wings of Hope ceremony scheduled for October 3rd

The next “Evening of Remembrance” for children lost in miscarriage or childbirth will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, October 3rd at the Wings of Hope Memorial within Calvary Cemetery.

The service will be led by Pastor Dave Laughlin from New Creation Church. Music will be provided by Kevin Torbenson. The public is invited to attend.

The service format will be similar to past events. However, there will be a lighting of candles at the end of this service because October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.

Wings of Hope is a Mankato-based organization dedicated to helping families cope with the loss of children during pregnancy or during childbirth. The WOH Memorial at Calvary serves as a place for quarterly services as well as the final resting place for those lost children.


Summer ends a season of brisk activity

“I always thought a yard was three feet. Then I started mowing the lawn.”
                                              — Charles E. Cowman
As we close the book on Summer 2017, it will be remembered at Calvary as a busy one. The last few months not only had a high number of burials, but weather conditions put additional stress on the hardworking summer crew.
“I can’t remember a summer that’s been this busy…a funeral every other day,” commented Caretaker Terry Miller.
According to Terry, the summer has been averaging 13 to 15 burials a month. To put that in perspective, a busy year for Calvary would be 90 to 100 burials.
On top of that, unusually steady rainfalls have kept the grass growing at an aggressive rate. Mowing 40 acres of grass does take time. Terry and the hardworking summer crew have kept up Calvary’s well-groomed appearance, but it has been a tougher go this summer.
Although things have been brisk, it’s also been a satisfying summer. Many families have been served, and Calvary has fulfilled its mission to deliver a vital service to the greater Mankato community.

The chapel gets some tuckpointing

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller took some time this summer to repair mortar on the venerable Calvary Chapel.

Located at the center of the cemetery, the chapel was built in 1895 and constructed from Mankato limestone. It seats 90, and is available for rent, currently at a rate of $400 a day. On average, two to four funerals a year are held within the chapel. It has heat, but no running water.

More details on the history of the chapel, and its bell are available in the history section of the blog. The Calvary Board of Directors has made it a point to preserve that history and the original character of the chapel.

“The chapel’s never really been altered,” says Terry. “Overall the building is pretty solid for how old it is.”

Of course routine maintenance is required to keep the building fit, including periodic re-shingling and tuckpointing.

It’s like a park, but not a playground

With 40 acres of serene lawns and trees, Calvary Cemetery is a beautiful place to relax, pray and reflect on days gone by with family and friends…people now missing from our lives but at rest.

Anyone the least bit sensitive can feel that Calvary is not for noise and raucous activity. As Caretaker Terry Miller says, “I think of it as a park, but not a playground.”

That kind of serenity often attracts the local wildlife. They can feel safe at Calvary. There are few people to bother them.

And so it was yesterday when a doe and her triplets wandered onto the Cemetery to enjoy the perfect day in safety. They were playing, but when it comes to deer that’s probably okay with Terry who took these pictures.

Rules of the road at Calvary

While Calvary Cemetery is graced with a network of asphalt streets, first-time and occasional visitors often get confused about how to drive around the 40-acre area.

Here’s a few “rules of the road” tips to help you navigate during your visit:

  • Many cemeteries have one-way roads to avoid head on encounters on the narrow streets. Calvary’s streets are not one way. So it’s a good practice to look ahead and anticipate any encounters with other vehicles. Often you can avoid an encounter by taking an alternate route or minimize damage to the lawn by choosing a good place to pass someone. Having a central “hub” at the center of the cemetery helps give navigation options. (It could be the hub around the chapel was the very first roundabout in Mankato!)
  • While it is a rule at Calvary to drive only on the blacktop, it’s also acknowledged that this is not always possible. If you have to drive on the grass, do so as little as possible. After all, you wouldn’t like it if someone drove on your lawn.
  • Be extremely cautious in wet weather. The ground can be soft enough for a car tire to leave ruts or even bottom out.
  • The cemetery is a popular place to walk or jog. It’s one mile around the perimeter. But if that’s your purpose, please park on Goodyear Avenue in front of the cemetery. That will help keep the streets open for visitors, particularly those who can’t walk very far.
  • Remember that the cemetery is open from dawn to dusk.

Above all, remember that the cemetery is a sacred place. While driving in Calvary, a slow rate of speed and a quiet manner is most appropriate. The friendly staff is there to help you with any questions you may have. A detailed rendering of the map above can be accessed via the “Calvary Map” link at the top of the blog page.