August 29, 1935: City erects new fence around cemetery in Fond du Lac

On this day in Duluth in 1935, newspapers reported on the new fence enclosing a historic cemetery in Fond du Lac. Many of the bodies interned in the cemetery had been moved there in 1869, when the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad was built through a section of Fond du Lac that included a grave site containing the remains of local Ojibwe and Europeans involved in the local fur Trade in the first half of the 19th century. Francis Roussain, who worked at the fur post most of his life, owned property roughly a mile northwest of the fur post site, and he offered the use of this land for a new cemetery, known as both the Roussain Cemetery and the Fond du Lac Indian Cemetery. The last burial took place in 1926, when Mary Wan-Ne-Gow Roussain—Francis Roussain’s daughter-in-law—was interred there. The cemetery is located on the far western edge of the F. Rodney Paine Forest Preserve adjacent to Jay Cooke State Park; it was maintained through the 1950s by the Duluth Park Department. It has since become the property of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, which has allowed the cemetery to grow over so it is less tempting to vandals. Learn more about the history of the fur trade here and about Fond du Lac Park, home to the cemetery, here.

Duluth Park Superintendent F. Rodney Paine took this photograph of the Roussain Cemetery in 1927. Eight years later he had the park department clear overgrowth and built a new fence around the sacred site. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)

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