Lake Ben Cemetery

July 15, 2001

The Lake Ben Cemetery (or Barsness Cemetery, as folks tend to call it) is a source of mixed messages. The road (and I use the term loosely) to the cemetary is unmarked except by "No Trespassing" signs. But the cemetary itself has a guestbook for visitors to sign hidden in a mailbox. Why did Nellie Barsness need to adopt a young man whose birth mother, praised for her nurturing skills, lived until he was 19-years old? Where is Thilda's husband, Harry's father? Why weren't the three of them buried together? Why is Oscar Dalager's grave segregated from the rest of the family?

The second of two gates you must enter features fabulous black ironwork and a plaque explaining that this gate is inspired by the Simmonds ancestral home in England. The cemetary site was chosen by Barsness family pioneers who slept here their first night in Pope County and decided their first night's resting place should be their last, too.

Here's a wide shot that demonstrates how this final resting place sits on a grassy knoll above Lake Ben (Benson).

These youthful statues guard the grave of 14-year-old Oscar Dalager, isolated from the rest of the graves. Pets are buried alongside their loving humans.

The name on the cemetery says Lake Ben but the map calls this body of water Lake Benson.