History Mystery


September 29, 2023

A memorial at Hillcrest Cemetery in Cloquet for Julius Berg Baumann is unique. It is the only such memorial the Sons of Norway have erected honoring a poet.

Forgive yourself if you haven't heard of Julius Berg Baumann. The Norwegian-American poet, who lived in Carlton County, died of cancer in 1923, at age 53. And unless you find translations of his work, you'll need to know Norwegian to properly appreciate it.

But he is a celebrated artist, with a large monument honoring him at Hillcrest Cemetery in Cloquet. That's where people will meet Saturday after a celebration of Baumann at the Carlton County Historical Society beginning at 11 a.m.

Baumann worked in the timber industry in Wisconsin, was a farmer in North Dakota and, in his last years, came to Carlton County, where he ran a lumber store and was elected register of deeds from 1910 until his death 13 years later. He wrote more than 250 poems in Norwegian, celebrating such topics as family, friends, Christmas, love, hope for peace, the beauty of the seasons, and the memories and experiences of Norwegian-Americans.

Baumann's books of poems were well-received in the U.S. and Norway, winning praise from friends and strangers alike, including Ole E. Rølvaag, author of "Giants in the Earth."

After Baumann died, the national Sons of Norway organization erected a large monument over his grave bearing his portrait in bronze - a unique tribute at the time.

Part of a front cover of a collection of Baumann's poems.

On Saturday, Cloquet's Sons of Norway Heimsyn Lodge and the historical society are hosting the free celebration 100 years after Baumann's death with Dr. Lawrence Moe, professor emeritus of English at Metropolitan State University. Moe is a scholar of poetry and has studied the early folk poetry of the Red River Valley, collecting and analyzing thousands of poems from that region. He has shared his research in poetry through over 300 scholarly and community presentations, on television, and in publications.

Baumann, who was born on Christmas Day in 1869, died on Oct. 5, 1923. The monument is the only one erected by the Sons of Norway dedicated to a poet.

- Mike Creger,

Pine Knot News


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