Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fun Facts - Cloverton

1. Settlement in the Cloverton area began about 1905. Early settlers had to travel to Sandstone for supplies, a thirty-mile journey that took two days on foot each way. Later, a store was established at Pansy on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River, twelve miles southeast of Cloverton. Settlers could shorten their travel time by going this direction, but they did have to take the Pansy Ferry back and forth across the river.

2. The Soo Line Railroad was built through eastern Pine County in 1912. Cloverton was a small, unincorporated community at the time, but it had its own depot on the Soo Line. A Mr. Olmstead served as the first depot agent.

3. The village of Cloverton was officially organized in 1917. By this time the Red Clover Land Company was promoting settlement in the area. The Company had purchased 28,000 acres in eastern Pine County in 1910 and advertised for homesteaders through laudatory pamphlets. Settlers flocked to the area, but they soon realized that promises of fertile farmland were deceptive. The land was rocky and the soil not very conducive to productivity. Some settlers abandoned farming and turned to logging for pulpwood. Many moved on after only a few difficult years.

4. By 1918, Cloverton boasted 250 residents, a bank, a school, the only newspaper in eastern Pine County, two general stores, a hotel, a restaurant, a harness and shoe shop, an auto livery, the Consolidated Lumber Company, a bulk Standard Oil station, two land offices, several warehouses, and a farmers' cooperative telephone company. Timber production was one of the town's largest industries with over $100,000 in timber products shipped in 1917-1918.

5. Cloverton's newspaper, The Union Enterprise, was published by the Rev. F.E. Iams for about ten years.

6. The first one-room schoolhouse in Cloverton was built in 1914. The student population was expanding so rapidly that the school board added a second room in 1917 and a three-room addition in 1918. On November 11, 1919, a fire caused by a defective furnace burned the school to the ground.

7. By the following fall, Cloverton was home to a brand-new brick school, which served all twelve grades. At its high point in the mid-1920s, it boasted an attendance of 165 students. Cloverton school offered hot lunches, an advanced curriculum that included French, and a sports program featuring track, baseball, basketball, and kittenball. The first senior class graduated from Cloverton school in 1922. The high school program ended in 1946.

8. Oliver Halstead brought the first automobile, a Model T, to Cloverton. He had to drive it along the railroad track for the last two and half miles. Mr. Halstead used the vehicle to deliver mail and to transport children to school.

9. In April of 1925, Cloverton experienced a devastating fire that destroyed thirteen buildings. Many of them were never rebuilt.

10. Charles Halstead, proprietor of the Cloverton store and post office, served as a State Representative. He ran for governor on the DFL ticket in 1948 but lost to Luther W. Youngdahl.

Sources: Askov American newspaper, July 1, 1976; Pine County...and its Memories by Jim Cordes

The Red Clover Land Company Headquarters near Cloverton

The Cloverton school

The Cloverton school on November 11, 1919

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fun Facts - Vilstad

1. Vilstad was a small community between Askov and Bruno. Actually, the “village” was little more than a Swedish Lutheran church, which was established by nearby homesteaders on April 3, 1899, and named for Vilstad, Sweden. Vilstad means “place of rest” in Swedish.

2. Nels Lindstrom donated the land for the church, and community members provided all the labor. Building materials had to be hauled by wagon from Rutledge.

3. Everything in the 24 by 16 foot church was handmade by community members. Dan Nelson painted the church and decorated the pulpit.

4. The first Vilstad church board members were Nels Linstrom, Dan Nelson, and Frederick Degerstrom.

5. About two years after the church was established, members added an entry way and bell tower to the building.

6. From 1899 to 1909, the Vilstad church was served by traveling ministers who stayed a few days, conducting services in the church and prayer meetings in local homes.

7. The Vilstad Ladies Aid was organized on March 19, 1908. Prof. Landstrom served as the first president with Mrs. Charles Lindstrom as vice president, Mrs. Charles Jackson as secretary, and Mrs. Fred Degerstrom as treasurer. The organization's income for its first year was $89.31.

8. On February 2, 1909, the congregation decided to affiliate with the Lutheran Augustana Synod and changed the church's name to the Evangelical Lutheran Vilstad congregation. C.G. Gronberg from Sandstone became the first resident pastor. Board members at that time were Nels Lindstrom, Dan Nelson, Fred Degerstrom, Charles Lindstrom, Charles Jackson, and Albin Hedin.

9. The Vilstad community decided to replace its old church with a brand new one in 1921. Community members torn down the old church in October of that year and became work on the new one immediately. Again, much of the labor was provided by volunteers. A new altar was added to the new church in 1924, an entry in 1929, and a kitchen in 1938-39.

10. The Vilstad church organized a Luther League in 1926. Mrs. Jess DeMaris served as the first president with Melinda Lundgren as vice president, Evelyn Jackson as secretary, and William Degerstrom as treasurer.

Source: Askov American newspaper, July 1, 1976

Dan and Christine Nelson

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fun Facts - Askov, Part 2

1.The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church of Askov was founded on December 6, 1906, with twenty charter members: Martin Sorensen, Ingeborg M. Sorensen, Charlie Laursen, Jens Lund, Theodor Thogersen, Jeppe Lund, Marius Hansen, Kristiane Hansen, Karen Lund, Ibsine Duus, K.H. Duus, Anders C. Ravnholdt, Mrs. Ravnholdt, Wilhem Holm, Marie Holm, Niels Brus, Jens Krag, H.J. F. Poulsen, Gunnar Mosbaek, and L.C. Pedersen. The congregation worshiped in the schoolhouse, town hall, or assembly hall until its brick church building was dedicated in 1915. The church cost $7,250.80 to build, and the Young People's Society contributed the bell for the church's tower. The sexton rang the bell at sunrise and sunset every day in keeping with Danish customs.

2. Askov's four-room “Hans Christian Andersen School” was built in 1910. The school's name reflected the community's Danish heritage, and in fact, all Askov students received lessons in Danish reading, writing, story-telling, and singing as part of their regular curriculum.

3. The Askov American newspaper was founded in 1914 by owner and editor Hjalmar Petersen. Its first issue appeared on September 17 and featured an optimistic message from the editor entitled “Birth of an American”; local and personal notices; a letter to the editor in Danish; and an advertisement for the First State Bank of Askov. Like most small town newspapers, The Askov American covered local happenings like births, deaths, and marriages, organizational meetings, and neighborly visits. It also provided advertising space to local businesses and updated readers on state, national, and world news. An annual subscription in 1914 cost $1.00

4. Hjalmar Peterson also founded Askov's brass band on October 22, 1914. Founding members were Jeppe Sorensen, Carl Sorensen, Albert Sorensen, Evald Sorensen, Sigvard Sorensen, Hans Sorensen, William Jensen, Herluf Rasmussen, John Sorensen, Carl Krantz, Thorkild Ravnholdt, Hans Mosbaek, Martin Sorensen, Henry Andersen, Albert Johnsen, Arnold Sorensen, J.R. Petersen, Einer Dixen, Folmer Sorensen, Martin Andersen, and Alfred Jacobsen. Most of the band members were talented musicians, but it took a while for others to find their niche. Hans Mosbaek, for instance, started out as a drummer. His fellow band members soon discovered that he “marched to a different tune.” He took up the trombone instead with much more success.

5. The village of Askov was incorporated in the spring of 1918. By this time it could boast over 200 residents. Incorporation helped provide for improvements to streets and sidewalks, street lights, fire protection, and other necessities. The first mayor was L.C. Petersen, and the council members were Carl Miller, N.S. Petersen, and Christian Sorensen. Hjalmar Petersen served as village clerk, and his brother, Svend Petersen, was treasurer. T.N. Thomsen and Rasmus Pedersen shared the office of justice of the peace. Christian Hansen and N.C. Bendiks were the village constables. The first health officer in Askov was Dr. P.N. Fenger.

6. Askov High School's first graduating class, Nanna Rodholm and Ruth Kilstofte, received their diplomas in June of 1921.

7. Also in 1921, Askov residents formed four “meat rings.” Each ring consisted of thirty families, and for thirty weeks out of the year (April through October), each family took a turn contributing a steer. The steer was butchered and divided into thirty parts, one part for each family. Using this system, everyone in the meat ring enjoyed fresh meat on a weekly basis.

8. Telephone service arrived in Askov in the late fall of 1923. A.M. DeYoung, Secretary and Treasurer of the Askov Telephone Company, obtained the necessary permits and helped get the exchange up and running. Rates were $1.50 per month for a rural multi-party line, $2.00 per month for an individual personal line; and $2.75 per month for an individual business line.

9. Askov businessmen organized the Askov Commercial Club in 1934. Jens C. Jensen served as president, Rasmus Petersen as vice president, A.W. Conoway as secretary, J.R. Petersen as financial secretary, and Svend Petersen as treasurer. The Club sponsored the first Rutabaga Festival in August of 1937. The community enjoyed exhibits, music, dancing, a parade, and other entertainment. Josephine Petersen was crowned the first “Rutabaga Queen.”

10. Newspaper editor Hjalmar Petersen was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1934. When Governor Floyd B. Olson died of cancer in 1936, Petersen was sworn in as the 23rd governor of Minnesota for the remaining two years of Olson's term.

Sources: A Northern Light: The Story of Askov, Minnesota by Victor Buck; Askov American newspaper, July 1, 1976; Celebrating a Century: Askov 1906-2006; From Partridge to Askov published by the Danish Ladies' Aid, Second Edition, 1991.

 The Askov American headquarters

Askov's brass band

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fun Facts - Askov, Part 1

1. Askov, which was first named Partridge, was settled in the late 1880s. In 1888, James J. Hill's Eastern Minnesota Railway built a depot in the little village.

2. Early Partridge boasted several houses, a hotel, the depot, a section house, a telegraph station, and a water tank. Everything except the water tank burned in the great forest fire of September 1, 1894.

3. The Partridge hotel was rebuilt soon after the 1894 fire. Later owned by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Rodenberger, the hotel featured sixteen rooms, each with a wash basin and water pitcher. Guests used the “outdoor facilities” and shivered during the winter because the hotel's wood stove only heated the main room.

4. On November 30, 1901, the Partridge Township Board unanimously voted to spend $300 to build a new town hall. Board chairman O.F. Degerstrom purchased the lumber for the 24 by 40 foot hall and supervised its construction. The board also approved $62 to buy a flag, an office chair, and sixty folding chairs. The new hall, located near the depot and hotel, was finished by February of 1902.

5. In 1905, the Dansk Folkesamfund (Danish Folk Society) purchased 20,000 acres in and around Partridge and sold lots to Danish settlers in hopes that Danish culture would flourish. It did. Partridge was renamed Askov in 1909 after one of Denmark's folk high schools. By 1920, 520 Danish immigrants lived in Pine County, mostly in Askov and the surrounding areas.

6. Ludvig Mosbaek, a Danish settler, came to Partridge in 1906. He purchased 240 acres for $2,480 and contracted for the hotel. He informed his wife, Kirstine, that they would be farmers and that she would be managing the hotel. The hotel, renamed “Hotel Dannevirke,” was the community's social center and site of meetings, dances, parties, games, and discussions. The warm and hospitable Mrs. Mosbaek soon became known as the “Mother of Askov.”

7. Shortly after Ludvig Mosbaek arrived in Askov, he noticed the abundant ferns and wildflowers growing in the area. He dug some up and brought them to Chicago where he found a ready market for them. In 1907, Mr. Mosbaek founded the Ferndale Nursery. The business, which became famous for its evergreens, operated until 1993.

8. Mr. Mosbaek is also known for introducing rutabaga farming to Askov when he planted seeds he had brought from Denmark. Askov soon became the “Rutabaga Capital of the World.” By the 1950s, Askov was shipping three hundred train car loads, twenty to forty tons each, every year. This was about one-fourth of the nation's rutabaga output!

9. The Dane Lumber Company began operations in the spring of 1907. Led by engineer Charlie Laursen, scaler Niels Bonde, trimmer Peter Hojrup, head sawyer Martin Sorensen, setter N. Degerman, and filer and millwright Hans Paulsen, the sawmill cut and planed thousands of board feet of lumber that were used to build local homes, businesses, and farms. The mill burned in 1916.

10. The Askov creamery was built in 1911. Opening day, June 26, was festive. People sang, listened to speeches, enjoyed coffee and lunch, and dedicated the new building with a traditional Danish wreath. The creamery's machinery was ready for business, but the first cream brought in by local farmers smelled horrible! Apparently, local farmers allowed their cows to forage in the woods. They quickly discovered that cows that eat wildflowers and weeds do not produce good cream.

Sources: A Northern Light: The Story of Askov, Minnesota by Victor Buck; Askov American newspaper, July 1, 1976; Celebrating a Century: Askov 1906-2006; Pine County...and its Memories by Jim Cordes

The Partridge depot, circa 1890

The Askov creamery

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An Excursion on the Snake

From the Kanabec County Times, August 31, 1885: 

The following is a letter from a lady friend of the Times descriptive of a pleasant trip she enjoyed on a steamboat on the waters of the Snake River. 

The steamer “Kate R.” Capt. Seavey commanding steamed out of Pine City, on Friday August 21st, with about seventy-five merry excursionists on board to enjoy a glide on the winding waters of the Snake. As we passed along the Captain gave a brief description of the numerous islands, points, and farms which dotted our course, and which was duly appreciated by his hearers. 

Having sailed up the river about seven miles we landed at Greely Farm and after a few minutes walk we came to a beautiful grove where we partook of a picnic dinner. After eating, we listened to a few remarks by R.C. Gray. He related some very interesting incidents which happened twenty years ago, on or about the spot where he stood and his heart went back to the day he sailed down the Snake in his little birch canoe and encountered 

“Two blushing maidens, 
On an island in the river, 
And the lovely laughing water 
Seemed more lovely as they stood there; 
Then all at once they started, 
And in a moment darted 
For the boat out in the river. 
But alas! The 'higher water' 
Was too much for 'Mocomoqua.' 
But up rose the blushing maiden 
Wiped the tear drop from her eye lid; 
But not once her lips she opened, 
Not a single word she uttered, 
While the 'Royal of the Royalists' 
Called to her from down the river, 
'Fare thee well, O Mocomoqua.'” 

Having regaled ourselves amid these histories' shades for a while we were called on board by the thrilling “toot of the Kate R.” 

The Captain headed her toward Pine City and after sailing down the river five miles laughing, singing and watching ducks, we enjoyed a ride around Lake Pokagama. Thus the merry excursionists went homeward, borne by the “Red, White and Blue.” 
The Kate R. with an excursion party

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Burning of the Hinckley Depot

From the Kanabec County Times, July 20, 1885:

Wednesday afternoon last between four and six o'clock, the large depot and railroad eating house at Hinckley was burned to the ground. Fire was first discovered bursting through the roof of the dining room, where the building was two story, the upper rooms being used for sleeping chambers, and although the citizens did heroic work, it was impossible to save the building. The depot and freight house was the largest on the line of the road and was used by jointly by both the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad Co. and the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Co., while the eating house has for years been run by Col. B.C. Bartlett. Since passenger trains have ceased to stop for dinner the business has been light at the eating house and Col. Bartlett had made up his mind to remove to Duluth, and had already rented and partly furnished a hotel there. His loss by the fire will reach fully one thousand dollars, with no insurance. His goods in the lower part of the building were mostly saved, and nearly all freight and railroad furniture in the building was removed. A fire was never better handled. Great credit is due to S.C. Norton for the coolness he displayed in conducting the removal of the depot furniture.

Bartlett lost a great many things that money can not replace – relics, pictures, keepsakes, books, etc., and among other things, was a collection of revolutionary relics. The telegraph and express office have been removed to the school house.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sandstone's First Wedding

From the Pine County Pioneer, January 25, 1889:

The handsome and newly refitted Sandstone Hotel, Col. R.A. Smith, proprietor, was the scene, last Wednesday evening, of the first wedding in Sandstone, and was brilliant in every way – the toilets of the ladies were beautiful, as were the ones of toilets adorned – and Sandstone proved that she could show as handsome ladies and gallant gentlemen as any town in this part of the country, on such occasions – a fitting re-opening of the hotel. In the presence of one hundred and fifty friends and acquaintances of the contracting parties, Miss Mary O'Day, of Carver, Minn., was united in marriage to Mr. Carl Staples, the presiding genius of Staples & Smith's Headquarters Saloon. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Father Lynch of Hinckley; Mr. Thos. McCoy acted as groomsman, and Miss Alice Prenevost acted as bridesmaid. The bride was charmingly attired, and when she and the lucky one chosen by her as a life companion, stood before the priest – and all about them light and gaiety and beauty – the scene was one to be never forgotten.

After the simple but beautiful ceremony of the Catholic Church, making the happy couple man and wife, they received the congratulations of their many friends. An elaborate repast was served in the dining room at about midnight which was partaken of by the company. Through the kindness of Mrs. R.A. Smith, your scribe was shown part of the presents, and during the short time which our hostess could spare to us from her numerous guests, we caught a glimpse of the following:

Beautiful stand lamp, Mrs. McCoy; Trombone, of which the groom is a practicer, Robert Smith; Glass fruit dish, Mrs. George Wilkes; Toilet set, C.W. Finn; Silver pickle fork and butter knife, Mr. and Mrs. J.S. Lynds; Handsome glass lamp and shade, Miss Polly Bregg; Set silver knives and forks, Mrs. R.A. Smith; Set table glass ware, Mrs. James Finn; Glass water set, Mr. and Mrs. Concannon; Hand worked tidy, Miss Brandes; Set silver knifes and forks, Mr. and Mrs. R. M. Simpson; Set silver napkin rings, Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Kronenberg; Silver carving knife and fork; W.H. Gavin and wife; Elegant butter dish, John O'Neil; Two linen table cloths, Pat Coughlin; Set silver table spoons, A. Glasow.

The groom, in a few well chosen words, returned thanks for the presents, after which the music struck up and the gayest throng that has ever assembled in Sandstone, responded and enjoyed themselves by tripping the light fantastic until the wee small hours had come, when the people left for their several homes. Large numbers were present from Hinkley, Pine City, Mora, North Branch, Harris, Duluth, and St. Paul.