MANKATO — A 130-year-old gravestone that survived in a cemetery that was ignored for decades is now missing.
Janet Thomas of Burnsville contacted the Mankato Department of Public Safety earlier this week to report a headstone was missing from Pioneer Park Cemetery in the 1300 block of North Sixth Street. She said the stone could have been taken any time between May 30, 2011, and July 10.
The front of the stone says “Joseph Fronert Son of Joanna Fronert.” It lists Fronert’s date of birth as Feb. 2, 1853, and his date of death as Sept. 25, 1882.
Thomas also described the 32-inch tall white marble stone as having two cherub faces on the front and two cherub faces on the back. Thomas said Thursday that she has noticed other stones have been disappearing from the cemetery during the past several years.
“They’re very heavy, so they can’t take more than one at a time,” she said in a phone interview.
Fronert was the great grandfather of Thomas’ husband, Irven Thomas. The couple has several relatives in the Mankato area and visit often but weren’t able to check on the cemetery last year, Janet Thomas said.
This isn’t the first time in history the cemetery has been vandalized and neglected. The stones there were actually moved to the location from two cemeteries that were in the area. Those cemeteries, one a Masonic cemetery and the other a Catholic cemetery, were started in the 1850s, but burials stopped before the turn of the century.
A couple looking for a Civil War veteran’s grave in 1917 found the cemeteries in disrepair. The remaining stones were eventually moved to a “central location” that is now Pioneer Park Cemetery in 1978.