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                 Welcome to the Heritage Society Of Cook County Minnesota


We're so looking forward to your visit in our neck of the woods.Way up here in North East Minnesota where the winters make even a lot of us true natives yearn for spring.Here you'll find some very interesting Minnesota History.


Not only that,but we look forward to meeting you.Show you some of the history up this way,talk a little heritage,and maybe even compare notes on some of the genealogy surnames that are common in this area.


The Heritage Society of Cook is a group of women who volunteer their time sharing with others the past.We hope to be adding more future updates in the weeks ahead.So keep checking back every so often on more Minnesota History


                                                                                   Our Past





Thousands of years ago volcanoes created much of the bedrock of the land that is now Cook County. The Sawtooth Mountain Range that  is still here today laid the heart of the mountain range that once loomed here.


Lake Superior originated in a past geological age from the shell of a collapsed volcano. Glaciers scraped out it basin as they ground down the mountains and heaped rock and gravel into hills. Lake Superior and the modern landscape emerged as the last Ice Age receded.


The evidence is still visible today that gives you clues that great geological changes in our past made our County what it is today.


The area here was probably first settled by the Dakota Indians.They were also called Sioux.


The Chippewa were also early settlers here,and battles between them went on as long as history records those two tribes living near another.


The first white explorers to set foot in this region was Etienne Brule in 1623/1624.If you remember what they tought us in history class in our Junior High Years they were still looking for a water way passage to the west.Hoping they could get lucky and find a passage all the way to the Pacific Ocean.Those must have been very adventurous days in the years of the explorers.The first exploration was directed on ward finding a water passageway to the West.



In the 1700's the fur trade was starting to become a major business up here along the North Shore.The Grand Portage, where fur pelts were sold or exchanged for supplies at a trading post and stockade owned by the North West Company. In the early 1800's, this bustle of trade diminished, and in 1821 the Hudson Bay Company absorbed the North West Company, moving the majority of the trading to the northern and western parts of Canada.



The Chippewa called  the harbors of what is now known as Grand Marais Kitchi-bi-to-tig (Double Harbor). It was also called Gitch-be-to-beek (Big Pond).




Later on there were hopes to develop mineral resources, particularly silver. Iron ore from the Vermillion Range, however, was what led to eventual development here.Iron Ore was a boom up this way,even though it was west of us a ways,it still made activity pick up all over the region.As a result of a railroad being built in the late 1800's to carry iron ore from the Range to Two Harbors.Scandinavians from Norway, Sweden, (and Michigan) came to the county and began settling the area.



At the turn of the century(1900's) many people came to the North Shore to get homesteads. In order to homestead they would claim up to 160 acres, and then clear an acre or so or a garden, and build  a barn and a home. If this was done within five year period, the US government would present the settler with a patent title to the land.Those certainly were the days.


Cook County beyond a doubt is one of the most beautiful areas perhaps in the country.It would be so fascinating to travel back in time and watch for ourselves what took place.


                                                                               Our Mission


Her you'll find information of the surnames of those who have lived here,cemetery sites/graves and the diversity  over the centuries from many cultures making Cook County what it is today.


It's hard to believe 100's of years have gone by since the first European explorers set foot here.Of course the European heritage is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to our historic county.


My name is Gretchen Hardcast,and I'm just one of the volunteers here at the society.All we are is a small group of people who harvest data pertaining to our county to do our best to not only keep our heritage alive,but provide it as interesting to those who take the time to look into the history of whatever it may be.


Your heritage,the county's,or just a history buff and want to know the history from the sites you may visit here.Pretty much looking at anything here in the county,a person knows there is a story behind it.A long history perhaps?




 1. Chippewa City Cemetery

Parish of St Francis XavierChurch & Cemetery.It's located about 1/8 mile north of Highway 61 east of the church.Now considered a historic landmark owned by the Historical Society.

2. Colvill Community Cemetery..aka Lily of the Valley

This cemetery is also known as Lily of The Valley.

3. Poplar Grove Cemetery in Grand Marais

Established in 1909.This cemetery is located about 1 1/2 miles on Highway 61 before Grand Marais on your right side,as if you're driving up from Silver Bay.Just past Timberlund's resort on your right side.

4. St John's Catholic Cemetery

Continue on Highway 61 past Grand Marais.Take a right on Old Shore Road.This cemetery is just on the outskirts of town here.

5. Maple Hill Cemetery

The first burial in this cemetery was in 1899.It's located off the Gunflint Trail.So in Grand Marais get on that and follow it 4 1/2 miles and take a left on Maple Hill Drive aka County Road 54.You will see signs with directions to the cemetery.

6. Holy Rosary Cemetery (Grand Portage)

Originally contained both pagan and Christian burials as well as traditional Chippewa wooden grave houses. Take State Highway 61 to Grand Portage, then exit to Grand Portage Monument--past fort, left on Upper Road to mile marker 43 at top of hill and intersection with Bay Road. Turn left into church property--cemetery at opposite (front) end of church.

7. Mount Rose Cemetery

Sign visible on lake side of highway, walk back to the cemetery.This one is pretty easy to find.Take State Hwy 61 to Grand Portage.You'll find the turn-off between mile marker 144-145.

8. Old Settlers Cemetery..aka Hovland Cemetery

This started as a family cemetery  (John Jacobson). June 1935 taken over by Town of Hovland; 1938 deed conveying property to Cook Counties 1'st burial of Ingeborg Anna Jacobson.Take State Highway 61 to Hovland to mile marker 129, just past Flute Reed River, turn North on Arrowhead Road (Co. Rd 16).It's 1 block, on east side of the road.

9. Trinity Lutheran Cemetery

The first burial at this cemetery was Verner Sundquist.Passed away January 31, 1915.Take State Hwy 61 to Co. Road 8 (69) North about  2 3/4th miles to 4681 at corner of 70 and 69.

10. Mineral Center Cemetery

This cemetery is not visible from the road. This one made recent new when Governor Ventura signed a bill into law that allows Cook County Board to transfer land, specifically the Mineral Center Cemetery to the Grand Portage Tribal Band of Chippewa.Take State Hwy 61 to Mineral Center Road.Go North a little over 4 miles miles to the intersection of Mineral Center Road & Old Highway 61.

11. Lutsen Cemetery

The first burial was August Gilberg. Nels Oleson August 20, 1918, Margareta Olseon 1834-1901, Hanna M. Nelson August 11, 1890-November 11, 1890 ended up all moving to the cemetery in 1911 from a burial ground used before 1908.Take State Hwy 61 about a quarter mile east of Lutsen Resort.Go north on Ski Hill Road, and then make an immediate left behind the stop sign. Follow the road as it curves right, leading to the cemetery.The cemetery between Ski Hill Road and Poplar River.

12. Schroeder Cemetery

The first burial at this cemetery was Axel Olson.Take State Highway 61 to Schroeder.You'll find it about a 1.3 of a mile on Cramer Road, on right side.

13. Tofte Cemetery

This cemetery is not marked.The first burial was Andrew Tofte who died July 20, 1907.Records are available of the grave sites at State Highway 61 to Tofte.Then North on Tofte Homestead Drive up hill away from the lake curving left stay on the road and it's right around the turn.





These are just a few surnames associated with Cook County.We'll be adding as we go along,and as information comes in.We prefer to list surnames that at a minimum go back 2 generations.






                                Special Thanks To Lisa..Volunteer Of The Month


Lisa Newards is working on some of the grave sites not on record.These sites are on either public,or protected properties by Law.So our research is limited to some degree.It's not that we unearth grave sites,nor relocate them."Protected land" pretty much means they are part of the history now,and scratching around on the ground looking for a possible marker of some kind is also forbidden.


Our best luck is when these sites are located on private property.We look for a marker of some kind with the name of the deceased for starters.We do not go out there with shovels and drills.Nor do we excavate the area.A good walking stick is the only tool we use,and of course a metal detector which is used only for the graph.


If we can't find records on paper giving locations,or on the ground around possible grave site with no records viable,that's as far as our investigation goes into that particular area.To go beyond that point would be disturbing the graves.We will not do that,and encourage all land owners not to practice that activity.


                                                               Townships & Towns


The Townships at one time in Cook County had considerable populations.However the Great Depressions of the 1930's did many of them,except 3 Townships.Only 3 Townships are left today. Lutsen,Tofte and Schroeder.






We'll be adding more genealogy here in the days ahead.We really want to cover all the ground in the history that Cook County has to offer.So please check back regularly.If there is something you'd like to add,and share with other pertaining to the heritage of our county.Please feel free to do so.Our contact information is on the lower right side of this page.