Washington County Historical Society

Gateway to Minnesota History

Month: July 2014

Remembering the Days of the Log Jam

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Hay Lake Day Book Sale
  • WCHS News: The Warden at the Warden’s House
  • Photo of the Week: Bicycles at the Fair
  • Old News: Last Eleven Men’s Club
  • Featured Article: Remembering the Days of the Log Jam

Editor’s Note

Oh hello! I didn’t see you come in! No, no, no imposition at all! I’m just settling in with the latest Historical Messenger. You might have heard of it…E-Newsletter Quarterly* recently listed it in the Best 100 E-Newsletters East of the Mississippi and West of the St. Croix. It’s kind of a big deal… Well, as long as you’re already here, keep scrolling down so you can learn about all the latest happenings here at WCHS.

Quickly approaching are Hay Lake Day and Warden Michelle Smith’s upcoming visit to the Warden’s House Museum. Check out our first two news stories for more details.

If enjoying my wit and sense of humor only once every two weeks just isn’t enough for you, the Washington County Fair is a perfect opportunity to fill that void in your life! …or the perfect opportunity to beg me to stop trying to be funny…no matter your motivations, head down to our Photo of the Week to see some interestingly dressed cyclists and learn about WCHS’ Washington County Fair schedule.

In today’s Old News, we’ll uncover a bit of history concerning one of my favorite artifacts in the historical society’s collection.

And finally, now that the inaugural Stillwater Log Jam Days is behind us, we’ll take a look at the festival’s namesake – actual log jams!

Want to learn more about the history of Washington County? Become a fan of WCHS on Facebook or follow us on Twitter! See a new photo every week, read special articles, and stay up-to-date with the latest WCHS happenings.

Sean Pallas

Historical Messenger editor and Warden’s House Site Manager


*Definitely not a real thing.



Hay Lake Day Book Sale

Interested in helping a good cause and making some space on your bookshelf?

If you would like to make a donation for the book sale we are accepting books now through August 9th. Donations can be dropped off at the Hay Lake School Museum in Scandia on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) during the museum hours of 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, as well as at the Warden’s House in Stillwater, MN from Thursdays through Sundays noon to 5pm.

Arrangements for making donations can also be coordinated by contacting Dustyn, the Hay Lake Site Manager, at (651)-433-4014.

The Book Sale will be a part of the annual Hay Lake Day Celebration which will be on August 9th. There will be crafts, music and other unique events going on that day from Noon to 4pm.

The Hay Lake School and the Johannes Erickson Log Home are on the National Register of Historic Places and both will be open for tours and your viewing pleasure. The School Museum and the Erickson Log Home sites are located on the corner of County Road 3 and Old Marine Trail N, about a mile south of Scandia, MN.


The Warden at the Warden’s House

Join the current head of the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Stillwater, Warden Michelle Smith on Wednesday, August 13th at 7 PM at the Warden’s House Museum.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Stillwater prison moving from downtown Stillwater to it’s current location just south of the city. In commemoration, Warden Michelle Smith will visit the historic Warden’s House Museum to give a free and open to the public presentation.

Warden Smith will dive into the day-to-day operations and challenges she encounters while leading a 100-year old facility with roughly 1,600 male inmates. She also will detail her personal career path; from corrections officer to warden of the Stillwater Prison and discuss some of the improvements and goals of her tenure as warden.

The Warden’s House Museum is located at 602 Main Street N., Stillwater, MN.

Please contact Sean Pallas at spallas.wchs@gmail.com or 651-439-5956 with any questions regarding this event or to schedule a tour of the museum.

Photo of the Week

Bicycles at the Fair

Photographed above are Ed Conrad and Hal Richardson showing off their high-wheeled bicycles.

The Washington County Historical Society will be at the upcoming Washington County Fair in Building C from Wednesday, July 30 through Sunday, August 3rd.

This year the Historical Society will be bringing three vintage bicycles out of their collection to show those attending the fair. One is a high-wheeled bike from the 1880s, another is a Dayton brand with wooden rims from the 1890s and the last one will be a Schwinn Bicycle from the 1960s. These bicycles have been donated to the Washington County Historical Society by residents of the county over the past 80 years.

Also at the Fair, the Washington County Historical Society is excited to announce that local history writers Robert & Nancy Goodman will be at the Historical Society’s booth in Building C on Thursday, July 31st from 10am to 1pm signing copies of their books which include; Paddlewheels on the Upper Mississippi; Joseph R. Brown: Adventurer: In Their Own Words: Washington County Residents in the Civil War; and The Last Rafter.

On the last day of the Fair, Sunday, August 3rd, the St. Croix Base Ball Club will play a match against the Afton Red Socks at 1pm next to the demolition derby pit. The match will be played by the rules of 1860 and is free to those attending the fair that day.

For more information about the Washington County Historical Society and their upcoming fair experience, please call 651-439-5956 or email at: information@wchsmn.org.

Old News

Last Eleven Men’s Club

The Last Man’s Club was organized in 1882 by the surviving members of Company B of the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment. Company B was raised from Stillwater citizens in the earliest days of the American Civil War. They participated in some of the most well known battles of the conflict including First Bull-Run, Gettysburg and Antietam.

Those who were fortunate enough to survive the hostilities formed the Last Man’s Club to honor those who had died during the war and those who had been gradualling passing away as the years rolled on.

They entered an agreement to meet every year and to hold a bottle of wine in reserve for the Last Man to drink and toast his fallen comrades. This bottle of wine is now one of the most prized artifacts in WCHS’ collection and can be seen in person at the Warden’s House Museum.

The last meeting would occur in 1930 when Charles Lockwood became the sole survivor. As you can see below, it is worth noting that for whatever reason, Mr. Lockwood did not attend the 1911 meeting of the club.

“Last Man’s Banquet” – Stillwater Messenger – July 29, 1911

The 29th Annual Last Man’s Banquet was held at the Sawyer House last Saturday afternoon, with the usual exercises. There was a good feast for the old boys furnished by Mr. Ostrom. There were no formal addresses.

There were present Myron Shepard, president; Wm. M. May, vice president; Adam Marty, secretary; Samuel Bloomer, treasurer; A. C. Hospes, John S. Goff, William Kelly, F. L. McKusick of the Soldiers’ home, E. A. Stevens, Minneapolis, Samuel Johnson and Andrew Peterson, Saldier’s (sic) home; Oscar Van Kuster, Hudson, Wis.


Remembering the Days of the Log Jam

Sometimes the best history is found in the “Letter to the Editor” section. Back in 1940 an old lumberman wrote into the Pine Poker-Pioneer from Pine City. This letter was then sent to and printed in the Stillwater Post-Messenger. The gentleman describes his days working in the lumber camp of Stillwater Lumberman J.E. McGrath.

“To the Editor of The Pine Poker:

Last Fourth of July, I was a visitor at Pine City. Pine City being my old home town, these visits always revive old and pleasant memories. While there this last trip I read The Pine Poker-Pioneer, the issue carrying the tragic story of James E. McGrath of Stillwater.

After having read the article in your paper, telling the story of Mr. McGrath becoming lost in the woods and the subsequent search, and finding him dead, I began a some 40 odd years ago, back to reminiscence of a period of time, a period when stalwart pioneers were blazing trails through the forest to their 40 or 80 acres of wild timber land, there to hew their existence and livelihood out of the timber, and then to till the soil. Back to a time when telephones were not heard of in the rural districts and messages were carried by means of walking miles through whatever kind of weather we happened to have. Back to the time when the old kerosene lamp and lantern were the only means of illumination.

That was back during the time when Snake river was filled with pine logs on their way to the great sawmills, there to be made into lumber to build a future Minnesota.

Every spring, as soon as the ice was gone, the logs used to begin coming down the river, greatly hampering the fishing for the boys, when they had an opportunity to go to the river and we a line. We often spoke our minds about the logs interfering with our fishing, hoping that the logs would go into a jam, somewhere up river, thereby leaving the river clear of obstacles so that we might go on fishing uninterrupted.

And then one morning in late July, 1901, we discovered a great jam. A log such as had never been seen in the Snake River. The river was filled from bank to bank, 14 feet high and reaching from what we used to call the Big Bend, back about three-quarters of a mile. The log drivers worked all that day trying to unlock the key logs that had to be removed before the jam would break, but with little or no success. This log jam was the talk of the settlers, and everyone wondered how the jam could be broken.

Late in the evening of that day, we were just finishing up our chores and going into the house, when a tall dark man walked into our yard and spoke to my father. The man had come up from the river about a quarter of a mile away. He told my father that his name was James E. McGrath, and that he was the owner of the logs in the river, including the great log jam.

He asked my father to take him up to Chengwatana dam. He said that he had been working all day long with his men at the log jam, but had come to the conclusion that the only way to break the jam was by using dynamite, together with an avalanche of water, rushing from the dam. He was on his way to the dam to have the dam closed, and wait unit the dynamite could be planted, and then have the water turned on again to assist the logs on down the river when the dynamite had exploded and thus broken the jam.

Mr. McGrath told my father that he would give him $1 if he would take him up to the dam, about six miles up the river. A dollar in those days looked as large as a $10 bill does today, so we hitched up our team of horses to a lumber wagon, this being the only style of vehicle my dad owned in those days, and proceeded to give Mr. McGrath a ride to the dam. I went along with my dad and enjoyed the trip immensely. Mr. McGrath carried on a conversation relative to his logging holdings up at the source of the Snake River, telling about the many logging camps he was operating during the winter months. He told us also that he had his home in Stillwater, where he also owned and operated sawmills.

During the ride to the dam, I asked Mr. McGrath if there would be a chance for me to get a job in one of his logging camps the following winter. He assured both father and myself that at any time I wanted a job in the camps or in any of his mills, I was to write him at Stillwater, and he would personally see to it that I would be given some job. This with the result that I went to the “woods” the following November, and worked as a Cook-ee in what was then the George Glendenning camp. This winter was followed by four more that I worked for old “Jim McGraw,” as he was called, making it five winters in all.

Well, the great log jam was broken, and became history. Great improvements have taken place since that day so long ago. Today you would hardly believe that such a change could be possible. Now the farmers think nothing of running into Pine City and back home again before breakfast, where in the old days it was an all-day journey to go to town.

Sincerely yours,

John P. Ekberg

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Deutsch-Bier im Stillwater

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Professional Wrestling in Minnesota
  • WCHS News: Warden at the Warden’s House
  • Photo of the Week: New Display at Hay Lake Preview
  • Old News: You Can’t Outrun the Telegraph
  • Featured Article: Deutsch-Bier in Stillwater

Editor’s Note

Even though we’re already half-way through July, you shouldn’t fret because there’s still plenty of opportunities for summer fun! For example, the Washington County Fair runs from July 30th to August 3rd this year. Say hello to your favorite WCHS personalities at our booth and be sure to cheer for the heroic St. Croix Vintage Base Ball team as they duke it out against the dreaded Afton Red Socks! The match will be held at the fairgrounds, Sunday, August 3rd at 1:00 PM.

And if you’re heading to Stillwater this weekend for Log Jam Days, don’t miss WCHS’ Annual Vintage Base Ball Exhibition on Saturday, July 19th. Click here for the full schedule. Afterwards, why not swing by the Warden’s House for a tour? Tours run Thursdays – Sundays and begin at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00.

Of course that’s not that’s not all coming up on the WCHS calendar! Head down to the WCHS News to hear about two more events at our museums.

Up at the Hay Lake School House Museum, site manager Dustyn Dubuque and intern Emily Batroot have been busy re-designing a few displays in the school. Grab a sneak peek of their project in today’s Photo of the Week.

In this issue’s Old News, you’ll read the story of a common criminal who was no match for modern technology.

In honor of Germany’s victory in the 2014 World Cup, today’s Featured Article highlights one of Washington County’s many German immigrants: beer brewer and Stillwater businessman, Gerhard Knips.

Want to learn more about the history of Washington County? Become a fan of WCHS on Facebook or follow us on Twitter! See a new photo every week, read special articles, and stay up-to-date with the latest WCHS happenings.

Sean Pallas

Historical Messenger editor and Warden’s House Site Manager




Professional Wrestling in Minnesota

Join Professional Wrestler John Devine, also known as Horace the Psychopath, at the Hay Lake School Museum in Scandia on Sunday, July 20th at 2pm to discuss the history of Professional Wrestling in Minnesota. The event is open to the public and is free!

Minnesota has been a feature hub for professional wrestling since the 1950s and really gained fame in 1960 with the founding of the AWA (American Wrestling Association). Verne Gagne is a name synonymous in not only Minnesota, but in the history of wrestling. For its thirty one year run, the AWA was touted for being the top wrestling company in the United States. The AWA launched some of the biggest names in professional wrestling to superstardom. Some of the talents include Mad Dog Vachon, Baron Von Raschke, The Crusher, Jesse Ventura, and even Hulk Hogan. Until its demise in 1991 when all rights were sold to the WWF (now the WWE) the AWA had a rich tradition in bringing terrific wrestling entertainment to Minnesota.

For this presentation, professional Wrestler John Devine (known as Horace the Psychopath) will speak openly about his career, his idols, his memories, and some of the great things professional wrestling has brought to his life. John was trained by Eddie Sharkey & the renowned wrestling tandem of the MOONDOGS. He made his professional debut in April of 1991. In 1999 he achieved one of his career goals by wrestling in Japan for a year (professional wrestling is very popular in Japan). John has also wrestled for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and received try out matches with both the WWE and ECW. Now, in 2014, Horace the Psychopath is still an active wrestler in Minnesota. The venues are smaller but the crowds are more dedicated than ever.

It is a rare appearance where Horace the Psychopath’s face paint will come off and people will be able to meet a professional wrestler, John Devine.

For more information contact Dustyn Dubuque at the Hay Lake School Museum in Scandia, MN at 651-433-4014 or email at: dustyn.dubuque@hotmail.com.


Warden at the Warden’s House

Join the current head of the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Stillwater, Warden Michelle Smith on Wednesday, August 13th at 7 PM at the Warden’s House Museum.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Stillwater prison moving from downtown Stillwater to it’s current location just south of the city. In commemoration, Warden Michelle Smith will visit the historic Warden’s House Museum to give a free and open to the public presentation.

Warden Smith will dive into the day-to-day operations and challenges she encounters while leading a 100-year old facility with roughly 1,600 male inmates. She also will detail her personal career path; from corrections officer to warden of the Stillwater Prison and discuss some of the improvements and goals of her tenure as warden.

The Warden’s House Museum is located at 602 Main Street N., Stillwater, MN.

Please contact Sean Pallas at spallas.wchs@gmail.com or 651-439-5956 with any questions regarding this event or to schedule a tour of the museum.

Photo of the Week

Antique Doll Jig-Saw Puzzles – Hay Lake School House Museum – 1960s

It’s only natural to include an exhibit of children’s toys at WCHS’ school house musuem. The above artifact is one of the many items being showcased this summer in the display. This particular puzzle dates from the 1960s and is marketed as an “Antique Doll Jig-Saw Puzzle”.

This is a combination of two extremely popular turn-of-the-20th century childrens toys – dolls and puzzles. Of course Dustyn and Emily have selected excellent examples of both! Check out everything from a wide variety of paper dolls to an 1886 puzzle map of the United States.

Come visit Dustyn Dubuque at the Hay Lake School House and see this new exhibit Fridays – Sundays 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

More: Full Image

Old News

You Can’t Outrun the Telegraph

I find that repetition and continuity are great tools to help get a particular point across. And if there’s one recurring theme that keeps popping up in these ‘Old News’ sections, it is this: Life a hundred years ago is a lot more modern than we typically imagine.

Keeping this idea in mind, read the following article which details the demise of a burglar at the hands of a shrinking world and improved technology.

“A Clever Catch” – Stillwater Messenger – July 15, 1905

Chief of Police Roland F. Barnes made a clever haul of a young sneak thief last Wednesday. Tuesday evening he received a telegram from Pine City stating that a house had been burglarized there during the afternoon, while the Morris & Rowe circus was there, and that a watch and chain, some rings and a small amount of money had been taken. The owner had reason to believe that the culprit had followed the circus to Stillwater and when the train arrived here Wednesday morning a young man alighted and immediately started for a jewelry store where he offered to sell a watch. A description of the fellow was given to Mr. Barnes and in a few minutes the fellow was arrested. The watch and chain were found on his person and the man admitted that he was the burglar. He gave his name as John Anderson. And says he lives at Osawotamie, Kan. He is about 20 years of age. The fellow was locked up and will be taken to Pine City for a hearing.



Deutsch-Bier in Stillwater

by Brent Peterson

In the Schulenberg Addition to the north end of Stillwater, commonly known as “Dutchtown,” there was a man named Gerhard Knips who began a brewery in late 1858 or early 1859. This part of Stillwater had the largest German settlement in the city and it would only make sense that they would bring their brand of beverage to the area.

Knips, who was born in Germany around 1830, with his wife Matilda and young son Robert, constructed a three-story building at a cost of $1,000. They came from St. Louis, and it was here that he began the “St. Croix Brewing Company.”

In the Stillwater Messenger of January 2, 1866, there was described a fire at Knips’ Brewery. The fire started in the early evening. The two upper stories were “constructed of wood and occupied as a residence.” This portion of the building was completely engulfed in flames, “but through the exertions of our citizens the most valuable portion of the building, cellars, and most of the stock were saved. Loss $1,500.” For the citizens of Dutchtown, their beer was saved!

In an article in the Stillwater Gazette on December 13, 1870, the paper commented on Knips’ recent improvements to the brewery. “He has made large excavations under the bluff in the rear of his brewery, about 40 feet in length,” said the report. The reporter also commented on the expense of these improvements, saying “he has expended this season about $1,000 in the way of repairs and improvements.”

However, in the end these rennovations proved to be temporary solutions. Seven years later, the Gazette reported that Knips was getting out of the brewing business. “We understand” the reporter said, “that the Knips brewery has been leased to Messrs. Fred Maisch, D. Millbrook and Jos. Honar – the latter a practical brewer of good repute. The new firm will take possession of the works to-morrow, Feb. 1. We wish the success.”

The new enterprise did not work out, and just a few years later, the brewery buildings were sold to Seymour, Sabin & Company. At the peek of production, the Knips brewery produced 450 barrels of beer annually, compared to Joseph Wolf’s peek of 25,000 barrels per year.

The Knips family moved away from Stillwater in the late 1870s to Nobles County, Minnesota. On March 18, 1879, the organizational meeting for Leota Township in Nobles County was held at the Gerhard Knips home. Their daughter, Clara, was one of the first graduates from Stillwater High School in 1876. She later became a schoolteacher at the Lincoln School in Stillwater. Also staying in Stillwater was their son Emil, who worked for the Stillwater Mills.

Peter Newhouse later purchased the brewery building. Newhouse made some general repairs and added a 60 X 40 woodshed in the spring of 1913. He later made the building into a boarding house in which as many as 16 families lived there during the First World War when the Twin City Forge and Foundry Company brought in a lot of people to work in the munitions plant. When the state decided to widen Highway 95 in 1935, the building was torn down that November. The back wall was used as a retaining wall for the bluffs, and it was on that wall that a plaque dedicated to the Tamarack House was placed.

Today the roadside rest is all that is left of the once busy brewery that helped a thirsty German emigrant get through a tough day at the sawmill. The plaque that adorns the wall of the brewery honors the Tamarack House, but there should be a similar plaque to honor the emigrants that came and helped make Stillwater the lumber capitol of the world.

Mud Turns to Gold

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Beer Tasting Recap
  • WCHS News: Assassination of President Lincoln Presentation
  • Photo of the Week: Stillwater High School Band
  • Old News: New Rules to Live By
  • Featured Article: Mud Turns to Gold

Editor’s Note

Hello, True Believers! …oh, wait, that’s a different editor’s greeting…anywho, welcome to the latest issue of the Historical Messenger – the official e-newsletter of the Washington County Historical Society!

I’d like to start my little note here by mentioning that WCHS recently received an award from The Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums for producing the documentary, “Girl From Birch Creek”. The film chronicles the life of Rosalie Wahl who was the first female Minnesota Supreme Court Judge. Thank you MALHM!

The weather held out last weekend and we had a beautiful afternoon for the 7th Annual Beer Tasting. If you missed the fun, check out our first news story and try not to get too jealous.

Of course we still have plenty more events on the horizon. The next item on the calendar is a presentation covering a few conspiracy theories regarding Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Scroll down to our second news story for more information.

WCHS intern Anna Peterson is spending the summer delving into the history of the Stillwater Area High School band. Join Anna as she mans the wheel at the e-newsletter helm for this issue’s Photo of the Week.

Our Old News details a few new laws for Minnesotans of 1911. You may find yourself wondering why one of these activities was still legal in 1910…

From the museum’s front steps, I’ve spent this past week watching the Stillwater Marina’s parking lot gradually disappear beneath the swollen St. Croix River. Thankfully, here on the west side of Main Street, the Warden’s House is safe from the flood waters. Minnesota has had a record setting amount of rain this year – but this isn’t the first time we’ve had an exceptionally wet spring. We’ll close out this issue of the Historical Messenger by discussing a *watershed moment in Stillwater history – the Mudslide of 1852.

Want to learn more about the history of Washington County? Become a fan of WCHS on Facebook or follow us on Twitter! See a new photo every week, read special articles, and stay up-to-date with the latest WCHS happenings.

Sean Pallas

Historical Messenger editor and Warden’s House Site Manager


*…I’m so sorry, but I just can’t seem to help myself with these lame puns.


Beer Tasting Recap

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s Annual Beer Tasting a huge success. This appreciation is extended to all of the great breweries who were in attendence, the many donors who provided items for our silent auction and raffles, and last but certainly not least, all of you wonderful folks who made the trip out to Scandia!

And a special thank you goes out to Autumn and Derrick Lehrke from Opinion Brewery for being our guest speakers at the tasting.

We had a bit more than 150 attendees this year and we also raised a bit more money than the 2013 Tasting. So all and all, a pretty solid event!

If you missed all the fun, feel free to click through these links to see a few pictures from the Beer Tasting.

Anna Peterson Greets Our Beer Connoisseurs (…and checks their IDs!)

Lots of folks preferred to sample in the shade.

Chris Peterson and Board Member Becky Pung keeping glasses full and tasters happy!

This year, attendees could buy Raffle Tickets by the ‘arm full’ from intern Emily Batroot.

2013 Intern Nick Jensen stopped by to say hello – so we put him to work!

We’ll see you next year, Saturday, June 20th 2015 for the 8th Annual Beer Tasting!


Assassination of President Lincoln Presentation

Join author Dean Urdahl on Sunday, July 13th, 2014 at 2:00 PM at the Warden’s House Museum as he discuses the conspiracy and theories surrounding one of the most famous murders of American history – the assassination of President Lincoln.

Before becoming a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Urdahl was an American history teacher for 20 years. He has also authored several books on American and Minnesotan history including the historical fiction, “Conspiracy! Who Really Killed Lincoln?”

John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln in Ford’s Theater on April 15th, 1865, but that isn’t even close to the whole story. At this free and open to the public presentation, Urdahl will detail the network of co-conspirators involved in the plot and delve into their cloak-and-dagger activities.

The Warden’s House Museum is located at 602 Main Street N., Stillwater, MN.

Please contact Sean Pallas at spallas.wchs@gmail.com or 651-439-5956 with any questions regarding this event or to schedule a tour of the museum.

Photo of the Week

Stillwater High School Band – Historic Courthouse, Stillwater – 1946

This photograph is of the Stillwater High School band. It was taken on May 27th, 1946 standing in front of the old Stillwater High School, which burned in 1957. This was the first photograph taken of the band in their new uniforms at the end of the school year.

The band director at the time was William H. Bastien and there were a total of 35 musicians in the band. Mr. Bastien taught at the high school from 1933 until 1949 and was succeeded by Mr. George Regis.

Currently there is a project going on collecting information on the Stillwater High School band. If you have any photographs, information or memories you would like to share, contact WCHS!

Old News

New Rules to Live By

A good place for an outsider to begin to understand a culture is by examining their society’s laws. Our laws reveal what we citizens, as a a whole, find important. For example, many of our current laws are designed to protect children from harm. From specifying what type of car seat must be used to determining the amount of time set aside for their education – our laws reflect the importance our culture places on our young’s well-being.

So what does looking at the laws of the past tell us? Below, you can read five laws that went into effect June 1st, 1911. You can see the growing temperance movement that would lead to wide-spread Prohibition within the decade. Several of these also impart limits and regulations on manufacturers, which shows that the Minnesota government was becoming more and more concerned with the rights of the consumer.

But we also must keep in mind that 1911 is still in a period of transition from the Old World to the Modern. Only a few years later at the outbreak of World War I, the French will send mounted calvary in Napoleonic uniforms against machine guns. So one of these laws will look a bit strange nestled in-between production regulations. As you read these five new laws, you can almost imagine the dueling banjos as you hit law number four…

“Five News Laws in Effect Today” – Stillwater Messenger – July 1, 1911

Five new laws of general importance passed by the last legislature will go into effect today. They are:

-Prohibiting the sale of ‘malt’ outside of licensed drinking places or drug stores.

-Creating a state department of weights and measures.

-Prohibiting the sale of oleomargarine colored to imitate butter.

-Prohibiting the marriage of first cousins

-Requiring rubber tires and casings to bear the name of the maker and date of manufacture.

The ‘malt’ bill was the most important temperance measure passed by the last legislature. It prohibits the sale of any kind of malt drinks except in licensed saloons or in drug stores for medicinal purposes. The object of the measures is to do away with a number of refreshment stands in dry territory that sell semi intoxicating drinks and to make it impossible for blind piggers to plead they were only selling malt when they were selling beer.


Mud Turns Into Gold

by Brent Peterson

In 1852, the burgeoning village of Stillwater was getting a foothold in the lumber industry and was starting the assent to become the nations leading lumber center. At this time, the St. Croix River was the lifeline to the outside world, but the shoreline was shallow and marshy. That all changed when the earth let go after heavy rains and created much of the downtown area of present day Stillwater.

During the month of April 1852, the rains came to this area and stayed. Lake McKusick was full and the sandy soil soaked and all the conditioned were right when the thunderstorm of May 13th hit.

With the onslaught of more water, the dam at Lake McKusick broke. Water raced down the ravines carrying with it tons of soil. The powerful rush of water caused trees to uproot buildings to be ripped in half or totally covered in mud and all heading down to the St. Croix. One slide led to another and the early morning hours of May 14th must have been as frightful as any ever seen in the village of Stillwater.

One eyewitness to this event was Webb McKusick. He was a boy of fourteen at the time and was asleep in his room in Union Place on Main Street when he heard the excited shouts of John Columbus, an “erratic old fellow.” Columbus was swearing as only he could that the world was coming to an end. McKusick quickly ran out into the street and the events that he saw he would tell people the rest of his life.

“The roaring of the mighty flood of water down the steep hillside” said Webb, “mingled with the deep grinding and crashing of rocks and boulders borne down with the current was an appalling sound. But the sight of black oak trees, two feet in diameter torn from their deep foundations now standing upright, floating majestically along with the stream, was a weird sight!” The extent of the ground covered was about six acres to and average depth of ten feet. The lower story of John McKusick’s mill was completely filled with dirt and the machinery buried. It was believed at the time that the machinery was ruined, but after the subsidence of the flood the water from the flood was turned into the mill and all the mud removed, even the large wheel partially submerged, was found in good condition and ready for business.

After the landslide and the cleanup began, John McKusick thought that this “calamity” would certainly set him back financially. However, as the mud settled, it was learned that what was once marshland was now suitable for building. The Minnesota Pioneer of St. Paul stated that “Altogether it was a very extraordinary movement in real estate.” The land that John McKusick owned went from a value of only $1.25 an acre to $500 an acre in only one night.

Today, the land downtown from east of Second Street to the river and south of Myrtle to Commercial Street was formed because of a landslide that created some “weird” sights to one young man who woke up to the screams of the ending of the world.