Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pine County Promotional Booklet – Part 1

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting selections from the 1926 promotional booklet entitled Pine County: Where Folks are Home Owners. Compiled and distributed by the Pine County Farm Bureau, this little booklet offers profiles of Pine County towns, ads for area businesses, and pictures of Pine County life, all in an effort to attract new settlers and encourage the county's growth and development.


In preparing this bulletin, giving the facts of Pine county so that people visiting our exhibit at the State Fair will easily know where this wonderful and progressive county is located, statements made in regard to the various communities have been carefully censored so that no misstatements concerning the conditions have been made. We are frank to say that the conditions in our county have not been over-rated, that we have many pieces of land that are very suitable for farming, still in its virgin state. 

We extend a hand of welcome and will be glad to give you further information in regard to the conditions of any community or the county as a whole if you will take the time to write to us. 

Yours very truly, W.F. Hammargren, County Agent 


Pine county is located midway between St. Paul and Duluth. Only two and one-half hours drive to either Duluth or St. Paul on one of the best state highways in Minnesota, namely, Highway No. 1. This highway in Pine county is paved from north to south boundary except for a few open gaps which will be completed in the fall of 1926. This, together with Trunk Highway No. 23, which comes in from the west, and with a system of state aid highways gives every farmer in Pine county a good road leading into markets and to the two trunk highways. 

We have in Pine county 3,326 farms out of which 6 are operated by managers. 331 are operated by tenants and 2,989 are operated by the owners themselves. This alone should prove to the home seeker that Pine county is an ideal place to locate for anyone seeking a farm of his own. The value of our farms is more than $20,000,000. The amount of land in these farms is over 335,000 acres of which most is under cultivation. 

Our principal crops are corn, oats, barley, potatoes and rutabagas, of which potatoes lead as far as a cash crop is concerned. Our soil here is ideal for potatoes and yields of over 300 bushels of marketable potatoes per acre in 1925 were reported. Alfalfa grows abundantly in this county. Illustration No. 1 shows the second crop of alfalfa on the Otto Wiedemann farm, east of Pine City. Illustration No. 2 shows the cutting of alfalfa on the August Wickstrom farm on the 17th day of June, 1925. The growing of this important crop gives the farmers in this county an abundance of roughage of good quality. We have alfalfa growing in every township and a dairy farmer looking for a good dairy farm can come to Pine county assured that he can raise this important legume. Yields of three tons in two cuttings to an acre is nothing uncommon. 

 Second Crop of Alfalfa on Otto Wiedemann Farm Near Pine City

 Cutting of Alfalfa on August Wickstrom Farm Near Pine City

We have a most important industry, namely, the dairying. The farmers of this county received more than $2,000,000 for the dairy products alone for the year 1925. To help the farmers get the most out of the dairy products we have fourteen farmers' co-operative creameries which pay the highest market price for butterfat. Our co-operative creameries are located at the following points: Denham, Finlayson, Sandstone, Hinckley, Beroun, Brook Park, Pine City, Rock Creek, Greely, Cloverdale, Markville, Askov, Bruno, and Duquette. By writing to any one of these creameries you will receive first hand information in regard to the conditions tributary to their creamery. 

We have in Pine county four cow testing associations working in cooperation with the co-operative creameries to raise the standard of the dairy cow. 

Good Summer Playgrounds 

Not only have we fine farms and good soil conditions but we also have some of the finest summer resorts and lake properties that are as yet not taken up. For tourists Pine county offers fine opportunities to spend a vacation at our lakes and fine beaches. 

Pine county has a mixture of people – progressive, religious and hard working pioneers that will extend to any home seeker a hand of welcome. This holds true not only with the farmers but with the business people in all the towns. You will receive a courteous, friendly welcome whether you expect to locate here or are driving through this county. We extend to you a welcome stop in to visit in the towns as you pass through this county, producing the finest crops and the best people in the state of Minnesota.

 Good Fishing and Boating

Pine County Prize Winning Exhibit at State Fair in 1922
Prepared by M.E. Poferl, Pine City

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Friesland Photos

These photos are not of the highest quality, but they do give viewers an idea of what Friesland was like in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Friesland's main street in 1898

Friesland's railroad depot

A horse-drawn school bus driven by Fred Revier, circa 1924

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fun Facts - Friesland

Fun Facts – Friesland

1. In December of 1895, the Theodore F. Koch Land Company printed advertisements to encourage Hollanders to settle in a new village just being developed four miles north of Hinckley. The village was named Friesland.

2. Koch promised fertile soil and good farmland. He even built a demonstration farm a half mile from the Friesland depot to show off the merits of the area. By May of 1896, Koch's 320-acre farm had a hog barn, a cow barn, 40 acres of fenced pasture, and two tenement houses with a boarding house under construction and a horse barn in planning stages. Koch hoped to clear 60 acres for crops and already had a workforce of 125 men.

3. Also by May of 1896, Friesland was home to 400 people, mostly Dutch immigrants. It had a depot; a boarding house run by D. Hoitenga, J.A. Johnson's hotel; the Davidson Bros. general store; Koch's land office; and a post office.

4. Friesland had its own newspaper for a few weeks in the autumn of 1896. The Friesland Journal was written primarily in Dutch. It endorsed William McKinley for president.

5. The Friesland Reformed Church was founded in 1897, and worshipers built their church on land donated by Theodore Koch.

6. The Friesland settlement was originally part of the Sandstone school district, but that didn't suit Friesland residents at all. So three wagons full of concerned Frieslanders traveled to Sandstone and cast their votes for their own school district. The first Friesland school, district #35, was built in 1898.

7. Already by 1901, Friesland was struggling. Koch had been trying to improve the area by working on roads and drainage systems. He tried to demonstrate how to grow potatoes and other crops. But the Dutch settlers lacked the funds to imitate Koch's techniques, and they were frustrated by the rocky soil, which turned out not to be so great for farming after all, despite Koch's assurances.

8. Over the next ten years, many settlers moved away from Friesland. Some went to work at the quarries in Sandstone. Others moved to better farming land. By 1910, Friesland's main street featured only the depot and one general store.

9. In spite of the village's troubles, Friesland residents worked together to build a new school in 1915. School trustees H. Weiner, Erick Troolin, Elmer Johnson, Louis Mottaz, Carl Johnson, and Nels Oakland oversaw the construction process. C.J. Hogland won the building contract. The new two-story school with a partial basement was dedicated in October of 1915.

10. Friesland residents continued to leave the area, however. The church disbanded in the early 1920s. The school lasted a while longer; it consolidated with Sandstone in 1968. Today, Friesland is another of Pine County's ghost towns.

Sources: “Friesland, Minnesota: A Little Town that Couldn't” by Robert Schoon-Jongen (in Origins, 1997); Memories of the Friesland School; newspaper articles

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sandstone Siftings

From a Pine County newspaper, April 29, 1887:

Monday last we noticed the arrival of two Illinois Central cars loaded with iron for the Kettle River Railroad extension.

The residence and laundry building of L.H. Bissonett has, we noticed in our travel, received an addition. “Biz” must be good with Louis.

The Riverside Hotel under the management of Col. Karmain opened up a week ago last Monday, and from all that we can learn is giving good satisfaction.

Martin Ring is here overseeing the completion of their mill. The mill will be ready to steam up on Thursday of this week, the smokestack being placed in position on Wednesday.

At this writing, Wednesday, the Kettle River Railroad extension is within a few feet of the mill of Ring and Tobin, and we expect the golden spike will be drove this eve or tomorrow with great elite.

The Kettle River Railroad is in fine shape now, and number one, two and three are making good time. No. 3 ran away one day last week on the extension, Gus Kulike, engineer, losing control of her, nobody hurt, but Gus for a few moments quit his song of “Let her roll.”

Engineer Charles McMann is now happy, the new, long looked for and expected tank truck for the engine has arrived. Fatty Day, the conductor, will no more have to spread himself all over the tank to keep it from jumping the track. Charlie says he will now be able to bring the visitors in from the Junction to Sandstone in ten minutes.

Messrs Grant and Knowles have sold their old blacksmith shop near the mill of Ring & Tobin to them, and have bought the old boarding house of Murray & Rose and are converting it into a store, carpenter and blacksmith rooms. Of course Calix Germain, the blacksmith, is happy, for he is now close to home, and when he wants a drink (water of course), he has only a few steps to travel to his residence. Major Simpson has also moved his carpenter outfit into the same building, and we expect soon to see Capt. Geo. Southerland, carpenter general of the Sandstone Quarry Co., follow suit.

[Note: The Kettle River Railroad connected the Sandstone quarry to the St. Paul & Duluth Railroad to the west.]

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fun Facts – Groningen

1. In 1870, the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad crossed Pine County, and railroad men established a flag stop and section house at Miller Station. Three years later, the first operator, hunter and trapper William Jacob, began his work. He was the only resident in the area.

2. In the 1880s, a few setters, including section foreman John Haglin and his brother Severt, moved to Miller Station. The Brennan Lumber Co. began logging nearby in 1887.

3. A railroad depot was moved from Sandstone Junction to Miller Station in 1890, and operator Mr. Thompson relocated his family to the tiny village. Andrew Hansen also settled just southeast of Miller Station.

4. During the 1894 fire, all the residents of Miller Station survived. They even managed to save the section house by hauling muddy water up from a slough, but the depot burned.

5. Beginning in 1895, St. Paul and Duluth Railroad officials hired Theodore F. Koch to sell railroad land in Pine County. Koch, who received a 20% commission from land sales, worked hard to bring settlers into the area. A group of Hollanders soon settled at Miller Station, purchasing land for $4 to $5 per acre and renaming the village “Groningen” after their hometown in Holland.

6. Groningen's first school was held at Severt Haglin's home in 1896. There were seven students: George and Arthur Haglin, Waldie and Ollie Erickson, John Sundeen, Peter Bjorklund, and Edwin Erickson. Miss Lenore Erickson of Sandstone was the teacher. The schoolhouse was built the following year, received an addition in 1908, and was replaced by a two-room school in 1915.

7. Theodore Koch's land company built a large, two-story hotel in Groningen in 1897. The lumber came from dead trees pulled from Miller Lake. Koch also founded a saw mill and turpentine processing plant.

8. Groningen residents celebrated a new century when they gathered at the schoolhouse at 8 p.m. on December 31, 1899. They built a bonfire out of barrels of straw soaked in kerosene and made a sign with 1899 on one side and 1900 on the other. Everyone cheered at midnight and greeted the midnight passenger train with loud cries of “Happy New Year!”

9. By 1918, Groningen was home to two general stores, one of which was A. Erickson's Groningen Mercantile; A.C. Haglin's garage; three cream buyers; a potato warehouse; some blacksmith shops; the hotel; a barber shop; and the bank, where W.H. Erickson served as cashier.

10. Like many small towns, Groningen struggled to maintain its population and business community. In 1954, the post office closed. The general store and bank followed in 1955 and 1956, respectively. Today, Groningen is another Pine County ghost town.

Sources: Pine County...and Its Memories by Jim Cordes; information from Helen Haglin and William Erickson; timeline from Sandstone History and Art Center

The Groningen depot

One of Groningen's stores