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Dear Minnesota - Phillip Bjerke

After an appeal to Minnesota Governor Luther Youngdahl, Phillip Bjerke's relative, Ida Ball Johnson, was finally allowed to be buried next to her father in Itasca State Park Pioneer Cemetery

By Phillip Bjerke

Dear Minnesota,

My wife, Lucy Mae Hensel Bjerke, daughter and one of ten children, was born in 1955 in Park Rapids to Mark and Ruby Evelyn Breitweser Hensel. Her great-grandparents on her mother Ruby's maternal side are buried in Itasca State Park's Pioneer Cemetery. The interesting background to their internment together is the reason for this letter.

Walter Monroe Johnson (b. Dec. 24, 1860) died Jan. 11, 1912, and was buried in the cemetery in the park because they farmed in the immediate area and it was the local cemetery. Some time afterward the cemetery was closed to any new internments. So, when Ida Ball Johnson (b. June 21, 1860) died Feb. 5, 1949, her daughter Ida Mae appealed to Governor Luther W. Youngdahl to open the cemetery so her mother Ida could be buried with her father Walter. Governor Youngdahl gave his permission and so the couple is together again in our great Itasca State Park's Pioneer Cemetery.


Photograph of man with a beard wearing a suit
Portrait of Walter Johnson
Headstone that reads Walter M Johnson
Headstone of Walter Johnson
Photo of woman dressed formally
Portrait of Ida Johnson
Headstone engraved with the words Ida M Johnson 1860-1949
Headstone of Ida Johnson
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