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A graveyard search into the past

By ALI DRAVES
DCN Correspondent

I first walked around Park Hill Cemetery and looked for interesting headstones. I noticed Anna Eleanore Berglund’s immediately because it had a beautiful floral design, and she was surrounded by other family members’ tombstones. I found this comforting and very intriguing because of the way they were arranged and presented; father and mother in the center and smaller children’s headstones behind them. After picking a name, I went to work. I immediately went on the Web and tried to find whatever I could on Anna.

I found several websites that were very helpful in my search to discover who she was. I went to the Minnesota GenWeb Web site and looked at all of the different options. I went into the St. Louis County Death Index online and looked for the original dates of her death. I had the year, but was missing the month and day. I immediately found her full death date. That was an incredibly helpful Web site. After finding her death date, I discovered that her maiden name wasn’t available. That was severely disappointing. I then went to the St. Louis County Birth Index online and tried to search for Anna Berglund, but found nothing. I had no idea what her maiden name was and it seemed a little hopeless. However, I soon found it wasn’t.

Next, I went to the Minnesota Historical Society to try and find her birth certificate. I had the death certificate number from the death index, which was somewhat helpful in the process. With some good luck and fortune, I found her birth certificate. I was really surprised that it was so easy to find her birth date, place of birth, middle name and maiden name. From there, I wanted to find more.

I finally had all of the dates I needed in order to find her obituary, so I traveled to the UMD library to look at microfilm. I looked at the Duluth News Tribune microfilm for Wednesday, May 12, 1926. Anna died on May 11, but I assumed it wouldn’t be printed with that immediacy. After a long search (and a little motion sickness) I found Anna’s obit. It was so rewarding!

I looked at the 1900 Polk Census books in the Northeast Minnesota Historical Society and found nothing more about her than I already knew from her obit. She was married and was listed next to her husband’s name in parenthesis, so I will never know if she had an occupation or not (Which is really sad). Here is what I know:

Anna Eleanore Johnson was born on Dec. 11, 1845 in Duluth, Minn. (certificate # DC72210). Johnson’s family was originally from Sweden. Anna had a brother named John (Duluth native) and a sister Maria (now Broman) who resides in Sweden. She married Wilhelm Berglund (date unknown) and had two sons, Bernard and Herman. They lived in Duluth their entire life. Anna died peacefully at her home (certificate # 1496) with her family after suffering from a prolonged illness on May 12, 1926. Anna died only a year after her husband, who died in December of 1925. (I found that pretty sweet).

I chose a more challenging route in my search, and I think I learned a lot from it. Honestly, my lady had little written about her. However, I learned a lot about how to find sources and different avenues to go down.

I would like to know what illness she suffered from, but it was unavailable to me. I called Park Hill and was unable to find out anything new. I enjoyed looking up Anna’s life and hope to use these skills to my advantage in the future.


This biographical sketch was written for the Research for Reporters class at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Each student in the class went to a cemetery in Duluth, got a name from a grave marker, and then used a variety of primary and secondary sources to find out as much as possible about the person.