Preserving Mineral Center history
Years ago, about six miles up the Mineral Center Road in Grand Portage, there was a thriving community called Mineral Center. There were numerous homes, a store, a garage, a church and a cemetery.
The town came to life in the early 1900s, according to Glen Roberts, a descendant of the Linnell family that once lived in Mineral Center. There were once 54 families living there.
According to the Cook County Historical Society, the United Congregational Church of Mineral Center was first used on June 2, 1920. The church is long gone, however. For various reasons, families moved on in the 1930s and Mineral Center ceased to be.
For many years, relatives of the people buried there cared for the cemetery, but its remoteness makes it difficult. In recent years, the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has assisted with the maintenance of the old cemetery. However, some descendents feared that the location of the cemetery would be completely lost to future generations and they decided to do something about it.
Halbert “Hally” Bockovich of Finland, MN, was particularly concerned that his family’s history in the former town of Mineral Center would be lost. The son of one-time Mineral Center residents Martin and Theresa (Linnell) Bockovich was particularly concerned that his family’s history in the former town would be lost. He carefully mapped where homes had been and saved the information for his siblings and children, for nieces and nephews. He marked the lots that were homesteaded by Clyde Roberts, William Walters, Asa Hoyt, Art Evans, Malcolm Linnell and many others, including his grandparents, Peter and Nellie Linnell and his parents.
Bockovich also hoped that one day there would be some sort of marker commemorating the cemetery, where two of his siblings that died as children are buried.
Hally Bockovich died in November 2000, but his children never forgot his desire to care for the Mineral Center Cemetery. That is why, in 2010, Bockovich’s daughter, Wanda and her husband Roger Abramowski of Brookston, MN, crafted a wrought iron sign for the entrance to the cemetery. They carefully loaded the heavy pieces onto a trailer and made the trek from Brookston to Grand Portage. Family members joined them and they worked together to dig postholes, install forms and assemble the sign—a memorial for the ancestors buried there—and a tribute to Hally Bockovich.
Members of his family—the Linnell family—are gathering for a Linnell Family Association reunion in Grand Portage on June 22 – 24 at the Grand Portage Lodge & Casino. The gathering will include a tour of the former town of Mineral Center, a memorabilia room, a dinner and program about the Linnell family in Cook County. There are dozens of Linnell descendants in Cook County and they will be joined by more than 100 relatives—all descendants of Robert Linnell, who was born in England in 1586 and came to the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts in 1638. He died in 1662.
Anyone wishing to attend must register at www.linnellfamilyassociation.com. For more information, contact Peggy Peterson at (218) 387-1478.