Press Releases

Surrounded by memories
Gardens are tribute to children who died in fire, husband, son

republished from July 28, 2004 issue of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch
By Jennifer Stockinger, Staff Writer 

PEQUOT LAKES -- Mabel and Clarence Morgan of rural Pequot Lakes woke up early to milk cows while their four young children slept soundly in their beds when the unbearable happened.

The Morgans noticed a bright light out of the barn window and realized their home was on fire. Their four children died.

This happened 61 years ago, on June 11, 1943.

Today, a memorial garden sits where the house was located. There are four bushes planted to represent each child.

Delores Quine had this memorial garden created in her back yard for the four young children who died in a fire on the property 61 years ago. Four bushes were planted to represent each child. The garden sits in the same spot where the house that burned down was located.   Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger

Delores Quine, who lives at the property today, decided to create the memorial garden after learning more about the property's history. Quine and her family are part of that history. In the late 1940s, her parents bought the land off Cass County Road 1, and the home the Morgans built to replace the one that was destroyed.

Quine said after her parents died she and her sister inherited the home and the property, which included 120 acres. Her sister wanted nothing to do with the property and Quine and her husband planned to move from their home in Maple Grove to the property when they retired.

The home sat empty until Quine moved there in 2003, by herself. Her husband died of a heart attack in 1997 at age 56.

Quine decided to demolish the rural Pequot Lakes home and rebuild. She said the home was dilapidated and would have been too expensive to remodel to meet state building codes.

Once her home was built, Quine decided she needed to landscape her entire yard. There was a lot of junk and antiques lying around the yard that had to be cleaned up.

When she began looking at what to do with her yard, she thought about creating a memorial garden for her husband and her son, who died in 1996 at age 27. She also wanted to know more about what happened before her parents bought the property years ago. She knew the story of how the children died, but she didn't have specific information, such as when the fire happened.

After learning more of the history, she decided to create a memorial garden for her husband and son, as well as a memorial garden for the four children who died.

Quine hired Daniel Dix of WoodSpirit Gardens of Backus to help create the gardens. Dix used many of the materials in Quine's yard, such as the old, broken foundation pieces from the house. Brian McNamara of Landsculptors of Pequot Lakes helped with the memorial garden.

Quine placed the memorial garden for the four young children on the site where the house burned down. She said the site had not been touched since the incident.

This is the home Delores Quine of rural Pequot Lakes built after tearing down the home that used to sit there. The landscaping around the home is in memory of her husband and son. Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger

The two figurines on the rock were made by Delores Quine's son. The figurines sit in front of the window that used to be in the house Quine demolished and are part of the memorial garden created for Quine's husband and son. Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger

"It was just a big hole in the ground and it was full of glass jars and bottles," said Quine.

The memorial garden, which is surrounded by stones that were handpicked, consists of four bushes, one for each child who died. The bushes are an Amur maple, a purple lilac, a service berry and a cotoneaster. The garden also contains cone flowers, prairie roses, silver mounds, ferns and two types of grass.

The memorial garden and landscaping for Quine's husband and son surround the home. Items made by her husband and son sit in the garden, such as a birdbath made out of an iron and a farm disc and a cow made out of an old railroad plate and spikes, a half of a horseshoe and mower blades.

Two figurines her son made sit on a rock in front of a small window that used to be in the house Quine demolished.

There also is a walkway from the side door that is made out of cobblestone. Quine and her husband bought the cobblestone, which was taken out of Washington Avenue in Minneapolis, from that city.

"When I look at it I remember all the occasions," Quine said about the memorial garden. "I enjoy looking at it."

To add to the landscaping around the home, old materials found on the property were added, including a few square concrete blocks from the chimney of the home that burned down. Other materials include an old gopher trap, pitchforks and horse plow pieces.

This concrete block was part of the chimney in the home that burned down. A raspberry bush grows inside the concrete piece. Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger

The sidewalk in the back of the house is made out of old, broken foundation pieces taken from the home built in the 1940s. Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger

Quine is pleased with the memorial gardens and said her husband and son would have liked them. She also is glad that she found out more about her property's past.

When Quine learned the exact date of the fire, she was surprised. She was married on June 11, 1966, exactly 23 years after the tragic fire. On her wedding day, she said a tornado went through the property.

"You won't be seeing me here on June 11," said Quine.


162 State Highway 371 NW   |   Backus, Minnesota 56435   |   218-947-3663   -   888-947-2414