Woodside Cemetery receives donated sign

The Dunn family celebrated the unveiling of the Woodside Cemetery’s very first sign on Nov. 26 after their matriarch Elaine Dunn donated funds to the cemetery to have the piece commissioned. (Submitted photo)

Shorewood’s Woodside Cemetery received its very first sign on Nov. 27 after Chanhassen resident Elaine Dunn donated and commissioned the piece.

Elaine Dunn chose to donate funds for a sign to the Woodside Cemetery Association nearly five years after her husband Harry Dunn passed away and was buried there. “My grandchildren didn’t know where the cemetery was, and so we said it needed a sign because there has never been a sign there,” Elaine said.

Woodside Cemetery is one of two Shorewood cemeteries, the other being Resurrection Cemetery, and is located on Smithtown Road, directly west of Minnewashta Elementary School. The cemetery is located on three acres with over 1300 burial sites in place. The Woodside Cemetery Association Board manages the property and oversee the operations of the sexton that is currently Tonka Bay resident Dan Randall, whose father also took care of the property since the 1950s.

Elaine’s son Kelly Dunn said, “Local people know the name, but our family and other visitors didn’t know what the name was or where it was.”

Elaine Dunn visited with the cemetery manager Dan Randall this past spring about her idea of donating a sign. Not long after commissioning for the sign, the family learned that the signed ordinance needed to be changed because the arch sign was too large, so trucks could drive into the cemetery.

“Signs for this development weren’t allowed so that slowed everything down,” Kelly Dunn said. “But everyone has been so supportive of this change and the sign was needed.”

The Dunn’s went to the Shorewood Planning Commission on Oct. 6, and they unanimously approved to change the zoning text amendment that gave all cemeteries in the area the right to have a sign erected over the entrance. On Oct. 26, the ordinance text change was presented to the Shorewood City Council, which also unanimously agreed to the change, many of whom also didn’t know the name of the cemetery.

“I like it,” said Councilmember Jennifer Labadie. “I think it is a good identifier for our community, and I think it would improve the site.”

At the City Council meeting, Randall said, “The sign wasn’t brought up until I met the sweetest lady ever and that is Ms. Dunn, who inspired this whole operation to bring that sign up there. Her husband, rest in peace, is up there right now, and I think it is a good thing that she brought this up. She was a big part of this.”

The large metal sign that currently arches over the entrance of the cemetery was put up on Nov. 26. The Dunn family was there for it’s unveiling.

“We now know where Woodside is and my grandchildren can find the cemetery,” Elaine Dunn said.

The 150-year-old cemetery’s history was another reason Elaine donated the sign, so that it could be formally identified as a historical site in the community.

Both Elaine and her son Kelly are members of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society and have a strong interest in genealogy and local history.

“This is one of the most historical sites in Shorewood,” said Kelly Dunn. “There are a lot of connections with Woodside from a lot of people in the Shorewood area.”

The oldest recorded private burial at Woodside Cemetery is from George W. Gideon – his 18-year-old son Armstead M. Gideon passed away on Sept. 3, 1862 after serving in the U.S. Army’s Ninth Minnesota Regiment and was killed in battle of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862.
Woodside Cemetery has buried on the property 87 veterans who served in conflicts since the Civil War. Every year on Memorial Day, local military color guard pay their respect to the veterans buried at the cemetery.

Eleven early settlers were laid to rest in the cemetery from the 1860s to the 1900s, including the Aldritt, Brown, Carlson, Crigler, Gideon, Gifford, Goodwin, Hodson, Howard, Latterner, Mann, Maxwell, Millard, Miller, Schmid, Scoot and Starritt families. More burials of local area residents continued into the 20th century, according to Kelly.

In the late 1880s, Excelsior Township included the area south and west of Lake Minnetonka, and the neighborhood south of Howard’s Point on Lake Minnetonka became known as Woodside, which is where the cemetery got its namesake. To its east was Eureka, and to the south was Minnewashta. Later in 1956 this portion of Excelsior Township became part of the new village of Shorewood, Kelly said.

In 1921 several representatives of local families worked together to formalize this parcel of land into the Woodside Cemetery Association, Inc. Charles Mann, Grant Gifford, A. J. Axtell, John Christian and J. E. Aldritt are listed on the Association documents that were signed on October 26, 1921.

Shortly thereafter, two parcels of land were transferred to the association that had been owned by Goodwin Mann, Coby Miller and Howard Hudlow, and now its formal address is 27217 Smithtown Road.

Contact Paige Kieffer at [email protected]