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(Left to right) Dorothy Shinn, Rachel Barduson and Tom Anderson watch as Tom Hargreaves of the American Legion puts up a flag at the burial site of former Minnesota Governor Knute Nelson. (Echo Press photo by Lowell Anderson)

Here Lies Knute Nelson

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This Memorial Day, people passing through the Kinkead Cemetery in Alexandria will notice a new tribute to a man well-known in the area and beyond.

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It all began in 2009 when Rachel Barduson, director of the Douglas County Historical Society (DCHS) in Alexandria, received a letter from Bud Kolstad, local retired businessman, encouraging the DCHS to enhance the grave of Minnesota's 12th governor, Knute Nelson.

Kolstad and Barduson had several conversations about the possibilities of how to bring awareness to the fact that this important man in local history is buried in Alexandria at the Kinkead Cemetery.

"I was happy that Bud brought it to my attention, that we needed to do something to acknowledge the man who called Alexandria home and who made important contributions to citizens both locally and beyond," Barduson said.

Barduson then contacted the Kinkead Cemetery Association to begin a plan in partnership.

A working committee was formed, chaired by Dorothy Shinn and Dan Neller of the Kinkead Cemetery Association and operating under the following proclamation:

"The Board of Directors of Kinkead Cemetery recognizes the unique contributions of Knute Nelson to the Alexandria community; therefore because of his position as governor of the state of Minnesota, we hereby authorize the installation of an American flag and a bronze plaque to mark his gravesite."

The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 87 installed a flagpole and raised the flag in honor of Nelson.

A plaque was also installed, which reads: "Knute Nelson was born in Voss, Norway, in 1843, and emigrated to America with his mother, Ingeborg, in 1849. As a young man, Knute served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Moving to Alexandria in 1871, Knute served as Douglas County Attorney, and as a Minnesota State Senator, before being elected Governor in 1892. He began a decades-long service as United States Senator in 1895, until his death in 1923.

Although the project took a few years, Barduson was quick to note that several people had a hand in bringing this project to completion, including Shinn, Neller, Tom Hargreaves of the American Legion, Tom Anderson of Anderson Funeral Home, Ron Schneiderhan of the Kinkead Cemetery and Mark Lindsey of Lindsey Monuments.

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