The German Liberal Cemetery


The German Liberal Cemetery can be found just off of Hamel Road at 2695 Hamel Road. After going up a slight hill, visitors will be greeted by a stunningly peaceful and rural one-acre setting, overlooking School Lake that is open daily from sunset to sunset.

The cemetery, now owned by the City of Medina, is one of two remaining “Free Thinkers” cemeteries found in Minnesota. The Free Thinkers Society was a movement that began in Germany in the 1840’s as a protest against the unquestioning acceptance of the authority of the church regarding religious truths. The main focus of the Free Thinkers was to promote spiritual freedom.

The cemetery was used as early as 1862, and officially recognized and recorded in 1892. The plot of land for the cemetery was donated by Bernard Gaspar. Born in 1826 in Germany, he was two years old when he arrived in New York by the ship Carolina Agusta from Le Havre, France. Bernard and his wife Karlina, who was born in Austria, were married in 1852 in Chicago. They had five children: Anthony, Theodoro Otto, Abraham Lincoln, Anna Marie and John Benjamin. Son Abraham Lincoln was born in 1860, the year President Lincoln was elected.

During the Civil War, Gaspar enlisted at the age of 38 and served for about 10 months as a private in Company F of the Eleventh Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Assigned to guard a thirty-mile stretch of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, the regiment primarily guarded against attacks by Confederate guerillas. Although they were not involved in any major battles, the regiment performed a crucial service that helped to achieve ultimate Union victory.

Bernard and Karlina, and several of their children are buried in the northwest corner of the cemetery.