Mike Boosalis was born in Greece on August 25, 1869. According to one of his descendants, Mike, who was a shepherd, got into a dispute with one of his uncles and may have shot (though not killed him). He left Greece and moved to Minneapolis where several members of his family operated a number of successful businesses. Boosalis’ nickname, El Caparoni, is the Greek word for cape, the “uniform” of Greek shepherds. Mr. Boosalis died on September 25, 1914.
In 2013, relatives of John Robischon visited the cemetery to visit grave his grave. John Robischon died on July 11, 1909, from stomach cancer, and his grave was unmarked for over 100 years. In the course of their visit, the family mentioned that Robischon had served in the Spanish-American War. As a veteran, he was entitled to a government-issue military marker. His marker was set on 5/21/2015
Given the cemetery’s location in South Minneapolis and the time that the majority of burials occurred, it is should not be surprising that there is a large Scandinavian presence here. Ingri Johnson is one of the 1035 Johnsons (out of 22,000+ burials) in Pioneers and Soldiers (formerly Layman’s Cemetery). She was a Swedish immigrant. Mrs. Johnson died from brain cancer on February 16, 1907; she was 59 years old. The next most common last name is Anderson (8xx). Those two last names account for 8.5% of the cemetery’s burials.
In 2014, Joe Schumann, a contractor, was working in the attic of a house in North Minneapolis when he found a Norwegian-language Bible. The Bible contained an unsigned handwritten note containing the location of Helmar Evenson’s grave. The Bible belonged to Helmar’s sister, Rachel Kleppe. Helmar Evenson died in 1913 from tuberculosis; his wife, Dorothy, died two years later, also from tuberculosis, which was known at the time as the “white plague.”
At the end of each of three University of Minnesota academic years (1914, 1915, 1916) the remains of approximately 80 adults were buried in mass graves. The remains belonged to people whose bodies were used to train medical students. Because there was strong religious opposition to dissection in the early part of the 20th century, people did not willingly donate their bodies to science. Minnesota State Law required that county coroners turn over the remains of any unclaimed people to the University for research. Many of those who were unclaimed were homeless, mentally ill or prison inmates. They are not, however, nameless—we know who they were. In 2012, the University of Minnesota provided this marker and held a dedication service in their memory.
Little is known about these four men. They were thought to be brothers whose last name was Kaleff but that has never been established. What is known is that they were among six people who were stabbed in a rooming house on March 28, 1906, in what remains the worst, and grisliest, mass murder in Minneapolis’ history. The motive for the murder is unclear—there was some speculation that it was a robbery since the men had just returned from working up north and would have had their pay with them. Others thought that the murder was politically motivated. The police worked hard but were never able to solve the case. The press dubbed the case, “The Macedonian Murders.”
Wonderland Amusement park was located at the intersection of Lake Street and 31st Avenue South from 1905-1911. One of its attractions was an infant incubator hospital that provided medical treatment to prematurely-born infants. Martin Couney, the man who first exhibited incubators in fairs and amusement parks, claimed an 85% survival rate for these very fragile babies at a time when infant mortality rates for preemies were very high. Not all of the babies at Wonderland survived, and eleven who did not are buried in this cemetery. Ada Pinney is one of them. Ada died on July 27, 1906; she was one and a-half days old. The park is gone now except for the hospital which is located on the southeast corner of 31st Avenue and 31st Street.