The Otter Tail County Historical Society is sponsoring a tour of the Fergus Falls State Hospital and Poor Farm Cemeteries on Saturday, October 23 at 11 a.m. 

Cost of the tour is $10. Park in the back lot of the Fergus Falls Veterans Home and look for Chris with his blue OTCHS banner. We will proceed to make a big loop as we visit both cemeteries. Dress appropriately and wear comfortable footwear as the walk is fairly long. The tour is not handicapped accessible and no motor vehicles are allowed.

Much like the State Hospital itself, the cemetery elicits mixed emotions. It is serene, picturesque and sad all at the same time. 

From the first burial in August 1890 to the last in 1968, some 3,200 people were laid to rest there. Most of the graves are unmarked, yet everyone buried there had names, lives and stories. The tour will attempt to uncover bits and pieces of this history, to give some of the people buried there names.

Before there was any sort of government safety net who was responsible for the poorest of the poor? The State of Minnesota put that burden on individual counties.For Otter Tail County that meant establishing a county poor farm in 1881 on land two miles north of Fergus Falls on what is now County Highway 27. The farm also had a cemetery adjacent to the State Hospital cemetery. Poor Farm cemetery volunteers Bob Riepe and Vern Barker will be on hand to tell us about their efforts to locate and mark grave sites.

For more information contact the Otter Tail County Historical Society at 218-736-6038.