Some New History Was Made Today (Fri.) On The Site Of The Abbie Gardner Sharp Cabin

Fri 10-9-2020

(Arnolds Park)-- The hard work and diligence of some Graettinger-Terril students and their teacher culminated today (Fri.) in a special ceremony on the grounds of the Abbie Gardner Sharp cabin in Arnolds Park. Through a considerable amount of research, the students were able to identify 17 people interred on the site in what previously had been an unmarked mass grave. The students also raised money to purchase a marker to identify the site, as well as those buried there. Shayla Hunefeld, their teacher, says the students started the project after going on a field trip there in May, 2019. She says there was never a doubt in her mind they would be able to accomplish what they did...Marker dedication01 

"It was good lesson for them on learning about research as well. And the patience it took. You know these kids as soon as they found this out they wanted to go out and raise money the next day. But we had to explain to them there was process. It took awhile to get through all that stuff and so they waited. The day I could finally tell them on January 21st, 2020 that we could begin fundraising they were ready. They were ready to go and within over a month we raised the funds. That's when Ruthven Rocks came in and gave us a great price and we were able to get the stone. We went through the design process with the state and then they got the rock done and then we were all set to go in May, and then, unfortunately, COVID got in our way, but here we are today. These kids have shown perseverance and that's the one thing I remember from that day is I constantly talked about how Abby continued to persevere."

Ed Purdy, a docent at the site, says the work of the students has gone a long way toward correcting some of the history on the site...Marker dedication02 

"There had been a marker placed there in 1928 that indicated that that location was the location of Harvey Luce's cabin who was Abbie Gardner's brother-in-law. And I just took it for granted that that was what the case was but then did a little research and noticed that no, that's where the mass grave was of the other pioneers, not the Abbie Gardner family but the other pioneers from the other cabins. And so that was kind of a double problem because not only wasn't it indicated as a mass grave, it was indicated wrongly that was the location of that other cabin. So now these students have corrected that."

The students detailed their findings and expressed their gratitude to those who contributed toward the marker during today's (Fri.) ceremony.