History of Rutherford Cemetery

According to historical records, in 1850 William Rutherford donated one half acre of land from his farm located in Stillwater Township for a neighborhood cemetery.   Some of the original lot owners were; William Rutherford, James Rutherford, Albion Masterman, Thomas P. Ramsden, Liberty Newman, Charles B. Taft and Samuel Webster.

According to our records, the first burial in the Rutherford Cemetery was in 1850 for infant William John Ramsden.

In 1870, the “Home Cemetery Association” was formed in order to improve management of the cemetery. Three trustees were elected, Albion Masterman, Thomas Ramsden and Liberty Newman.  An annual meeting was to be held on the first Saturday of June each year.

Although it worked in the beginning, over time there was some neglect of the cemetery. In 1939 the Priscilla Club, a neighborhood group of women, called for a meeting at the Clarence Newman home. They sent out notices to all concerned for a meeting at the Stillman Masterman home with Rilla Powell Benson as temporary chairman. At this meeting it was decided to find resources for long-term care of the cemetery.

In May of 1940, “The Rutherford Cemetery Association” was incorporated with a board of directors and by-laws to manage the cemetery.  Since then, many changes have been made. Donations and volunteers have made it possible to add land, a road, trees, flowers and a new fence.

All owners of lots or niches and/or their families are members and are encouraged to participate in the association and activities. Regular activities include annual meetings, cleanup days and a Memorial Day service. You can view additional pictures and read historic materials from the Rutherford Cemetery & Columbarium at the Washington County Historical Society.  These historic items have been donated in order to preserve and share them with interested people.  You will also find the quilt that was donated by the Pricilla Club.

Rutherford Cemetery
 By Gail Seifert ~ July 1974


Approximately a mile and a half north of Minnesota State Highway 36, on what now is called Manning Avenue, is the plot of ground that travelers look to with reverence and pride.

This has not always been the case, for there was a time when God-fearing folk would rather look in any other direction than at such a lonely, dejected and, to all appearances, forgotten acre.

In 1939 a neighborhood conscience made its demands, and a new organization, the Rutherford Cemetery Association Incorporated, was formed to replace the old original, apparently in active Home Cemetery Association. There were no funds, but there was an abundance of determination, and members of the association set high goals. Perpetual care became the primary purpose. A bank account was opened, and soon were added contributions of approximately $50 each from families of original lot owners. This nucleus of the Perpetual Care Fund was truly a “widow's mite”, as it followed closely the Great Depression.

It all began back in 1845, when William Rutherford, an adventurous young man of 22,from Bath, NY came to this locality and preempted a homestead in 1849 in Greenfield township, three miles west of Stillwater, in Washington County. He picked a desirable, interesting knoll in what is now Stillwater township for his building site.

After building a house and getting things in readiness, he journeyed back east to Spring Harbor, Michigan to marry Christiana Holcomb. Alas, the best laid plans o’ mice and men, for when the newlyweds arrived in Stillwater, after the rigors of pioneer travel, they found the cosy little nest for planned happiness and security in ashes. Cause of the fire was never discovered, but it could have been the result of nature, (lightning), perhaps an accident, or natives could have become too rambunctious at a powwow. Apparently discouragement was unknown to William, and not wanting to build another phoenix, he chose a second homesite across the road, giving the original spot for a neighborhood cemetery.

Diverging for a moment to enlighten our readers; this second home was replaced by William with a third shortly after the Civil War. Today it is a landmark on the west side of Manning Avenue in Grant Township and is the present location of Summit Nurseries.

William Rutherford's farsighted generosity promptly inspired organization of the Home Cemetery Association. The plot of land was divided into 18 lots of generous portions. Some of the original owners were William and James Rutherford, Albion Masterman, Thomas P Ramsden, Liberty Newman, Charles Taft, and Samuel Webster, with others buying in later.

A quarter century picnic in 1964 in the attractive, well cared for grounds climaxed 25 years of successive of board meetings, active community work, annual membership meetings, and annual and semi-annual cleanup repair, replace and fix it days.

There were, in the early years of the new association, some well attended ice cream socials, together with individual projects carried on to swell the total Perpetual Care Fund. A goal of adding $1000 as a silver anniversary remembrance became an over-the-top realization. Through the years, every donation of packets of grass seed, loads of dirt, new trees and bushes, uncounted hours of donated work and lastly, a quarter acre of land, were all welcome contributions to the new proud neighborhood project.

For about 10 years, from 1939 to 1949 the organization ran along smoothly. But because of inflation, there was an underlying worry, would there ever be enough money to remain solvent? The growing Perpetual Care Fund was never touched, for each year a $2 assessment from interested members took care of annual needs. When Mrs. Carl Abbetmeyer, mother of Mildred Abbetmeyer, (Mrs. Clay Newman) passed on, Mildred conceived the idea of adding to the fund by giving a memorial. That was the birth of the memorial fund, a new avenue for enrichment. Bequests have also help to swell the fund. Cora Ramsden (Mrs W W Hall) was the first to stipulate in closing her affairs that the Rutherford Cemetery Association was to receive a portion of her estate. Another dedicated member of the association was Alice Newman (Mrs. C L Kinyon, who also bequeathed a certain percentage of her possessions to the Perpetual Care Fund.

Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Kinyon had a deep and longtime interest in the neighborhood. But from Dickinson, North Dakota came Dr. Arthur C Selke, a generous supporter of the goals and aims of the association. His gifts were made in memory of his wife, Esther Abbetmeyer Selke (Mrs. Clay Newman’s sister), and their daughter Carla, both of whom he lost in the Bayonne,New Jersey Railroad disaster September 15, 1958. On his death September 15, 1971 Dr. Selke also was buried in Rutherford Cemetery.

Today is a common practice for families to give liberally to the memorial fund when loved ones pass on. Because it seemed wise to acquire more land to increase the acreage, the Masterman family started a land purchase fund as a memorial for Stillman Masterman in 1970. As with all such final resting places, Rutherford Cemetery has its special memories for those whose loved ones are interred in its historic grounds. One note of interest is that Charity Ramsden, wife of Thomas, was the first for whom a final resting place was chosen. Little Ray Hall, a Ramsden grandson killed at the age of 10 while helping his mother, Cora Hall, move a piano, also is buried there. In 1964, another grandson of Charity, World War I veteran Ralph H Ramsden, was interred there.

Other World War I veterans who also rest beneath the whispering pines, are Ernest Beecroft, Charles Schoonover, And Frank Seifert. These now towering pines were brought down in the early 1880s from northern Minnesota pineries by Steven W Powell, Homeward bound from winter lumber camps. They were planted in memory of his young wife, Rose Rutherford Powell. The tiny trees had been chopped out of the frozen ground in the north and planted with their little chunks of earth in holes chopped in the hard ground of the cemetery. Careful watching and watering encouraged the transplants to grow into today's lofty sentinels.

Mr. Powell, Mr Hall, and Joseph N Fairbanks all served their country in the Civil War. William Rutherford, oldest son of the donor of the land, has the distinction of being the only Spanish- American war veteran buried there. Every memorial day, Hazel Ramsden (Mrs. Ernest) Beecroft visits the cemetery to place a flag on each veteran’s grave.

The year 1974 marks the 35th anniversary of the Cemetery Association reorganization. We are happy to relate that all the mechanical details of acquiring and grading land for a parking lot in memory of Frank L Seifert have been completed by the Seifert family. Sometime during the summer this much needed off the highway safety plot will be dedicated, an occasion which also will mark 35 years of devoted service to the community by members of the association.

This time we wish to correct an erroneous rumor that Rutherford Cemetery is only for relatives and the immediate neighborhood. We want it known that as long as space is available, anyone of any creed may purchase a lot or a grave site. For information, Please call Mrs. Stanley Lindholm or Mrs. Reinhold Guse.

As we turn the pages of history, we realize the wealth of neighborhood state and national information encompassed in this now beautiful, well-kept enclosure - Rutherford Cemetery.

Priscilla Club History1913-1963

The people of the Rutherford settlement and the Twin Lakes area, through the years, have had many ties: friendship, relationship, and a desire for companionship ever since the days of the early settlers.

Beside individual visiting and special occasions, as birthday parties, wedding anniversaries and picnics, there was a non-denominational Sunday school during the infant years of this century which proved to be the leaven which increased the well being of these two communities.

It was not until 1913 that the thought of gathering regularly was brought into focus.

In June 1913, Mrs. Ned Benschoter, a comparatively new settler in the Rutherford district, invited the women from both these areas to her home for a potluck dinner.

With no thought of officers or elaborate rules but by mutual consent, these dear folks agreed to meet every two weeks on Wednesday at various homes.

As the men seemed to be the minus quantity, it was not long before they were included every fourth meeting.

These gatherings were soon called the Wednesday Club and later on became known as the Sewing Club. This name came into being because either individuals brought hand sewing or came prepared to sew for the hostess or someone else.

It was not until the January 1915 meeting, coincidentally at the Benschoter home, these women decided it was time to have a permanent name, some needed rules, and officers.

After much amiable discussion and suggestion of names, a vote was taken and Priscilla, proposed by Mrs. Frame, was selected.

To complete the business at hand, officers were elected and rules adopted. Mrs. Delbert Wilcox became the first president of the now two year old club.

From that day forward, the Priscilla Club became an integral part of the community life. Whenever sickness or trouble of any kind manifested its ugly head, the Priscillas were there to do their bit to give that spark of encouragement needed to dissipate the dark cloud.

Progress has a way of changing the status quo. As daughters grew up and were ready to start new homes of their own, the Priscillas gave a shower and presented the bride with remembrances for her new home.

The cries of war in 1917 roused the Priscillas to do their part and more for home and country. Like minutemen in days of yore, they sewed and knit, bought bonds and saved food.

In the spring of 1918 they sponsored a dance for the benefit of the Red Cross, held in Clarence Newman’s comparatively new barn, the largest barn in this vicinity. This enormous project enabled the Priscillas to turn over five hundred and sixty four dollars to the Red Cross.

For this occasion, Harriet Rutherford made a large two layer white fruit cake. Chances were sold and eighty-four dollars was realized from this venture.

Peace brought many changes. People moved in and out of our communities, but this club survived and kept going.

In 1921 Washington County had its first county agent and our alert members invited him or his fellow field workers from the University of Minnesota to many meetings.

From that time until the present day, the Priscillas have been partners with the extension department to better conditions of home, farm and community.

Approximately three years after these ventures, there were many more changes in the Twin Lakes area than in the Rutherford neighborhood. The newcomers to that part of our county who replaced the old timers felt the need of their own club. As a result there was a gradual recession of those members.

To commemorate our fifty years of useful, cultural, and companionable existence, we, the Priscillas, in 1963 have endeavored to depict our history by making a quilt to rest in the archives of Washington County, the Historical Museum in Stillwater.

The Quilt:In this quilt we hope you can read some of our history. Around the Priscilla are ten project blocks. Each block was made by a member who generously offered to do her part in her own way to tell the story of the past fifty years of this club’s history.

The Ten Blocks:One block depicts our original potluck meetings and also our annual picnics. The annual picnic is held usually in July for all the folks in each household of each member, also for special friends, together with former members.

Another tells we have generously supported many local projects: Needy families, youth organizations, city rest room, and community chest. Then, too, we have contributed to many state and national funds.

Of course, we had to tell about the wedding showers given at first for the daughters. Later we gave the sons this same consideration.

The Priscillas have been generous contributors to the Sister Kenny Project each year, by sewing, making cookies, and also making our contribution to the toy funds. This part of our history, we hope, is shown by a simple appliqué picture of that worthy lady.

Our many years of service under the guidance of the extension workers from the University is simply marked “Homemakers”.

The piles of pajamas sewed for the Red Cross, during the First World War, along with the dozens of knitted sweaters and socks are not shown but instead a Red Cross nurse knitting is our way of telling that phase of our history.

You do not have to guess what the block with the red barn tells, but to make sure, this dance was our most pretentious project for the benefit of the Red Cross during the First World War.

Our anniversary party for each member as she reached one of the five year milestones is told in the block with the picture of a bride and groom surrounded by some accessories which make each wedding a memorable occasion.

Each year during the Christmas season we have had a Christmas party for the young folks in our community. The beautiful Christmas candle lights this block “Christmas Parties”.

During the First World War we went along with the then prevalent procedure and adopted a French Orphan. You can see this part of our history when you find the little French girl holding up the French flag, framed with the national flower of France.

These ten main blocks are surrounded by the name blocks. Down through the years we have welcomed and cherished one hundred and sixteen members and profited from the individuality and inspiration given our club.

Most of the blocks display names denoting original members and their descendants or relatives. Others may signify the people who lived on or near a certain farm. Others are just names of friends.