|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
The Willmar State Hospital Cemetery, now known as Oak Knoll Cemetery, has served Willmar State Hospital for many years--since December of 1926 at which time one Alma Marsh, was buried. The services have continued until the most recent interment in June of 1973, a Mr. Victor Berdan. ... the Willmar State Hospital was established in 1907, when the property of N. Tallman was acquired for the establishment of an inebriate residential farm. First patients came to Willmar State Hospital in December of 1912. In 1917, it was adjusted to include the services for the mentally ill. In examining history, it shows that there were several smaller parcels of land purchased. The land that we are most interested in is that west of now Highway 71 and County Road 90 immediately south of its juncture at Swan Lake. It is my understanding that about 1923 a Mr. Sampson was manager of the farming functions here at Willmar State Hospital. Either by formal training or by avocation, he was a surveyor. Records show that he re-surveyed the land of all of the State Hospital properties. More specifically, he laid out on a formal basis what is currently the Oak Knoll Cemetery establishing plots in units of 10 with the appropriate dividers and cart ways. The cemetery itself overlooks Swan Lake and the area is quite grassy with a pleasant oak grove. The cemetery was divided into an area primarily for those of the Catholic faith and the balance for Protestant faith in general. Thus far, 675 lots have been used in the Protestant area and 194 in the Catholic area, constituting a total of 869 burial sites. The cemetery itself was expanded in about 1962 for the third addition. The current usage of the cemetery is held in abeyance even though space still does exist. It is a contemporary philosophy that families and counties are responsible for the disposition of the deceased. Public funds and contractual arrangements for funeral arrangements are quite common now and we have not had a burial here since June of 1973. The presumption is that in the event of a devastating economic situation, we might be called upon to continue its use. ... The cemetery is owned by the State of Minnesota."
---Written by Lester E. Johnson, Willmar State Hospital, January 1979.