Washington County Historical Society

Gateway to Minnesota History

Month: November 2015

Lost History

Receive the Historical Messenger in your inbox once every two weeks by signing up for our mailing list!

 

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Thank You!
  • WCHS News: Annual Holiday Book Sale and Open House
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: Vandalism Spree Brought to Light
  • Featured Article: Lost History
Editor’s Note

That’s right! I’m back in your inbox a short time after last week’s Veteran’s Day special edition!

Well, we’re more than halfway through November – let’s keep our fingers crossed to keep that snow away.

We’ll start today by giving a post-Give to the Max Day report.

Next, we’ll check out the details of our upcoming Annual Holiday Book Sale.

As always, I have another artifact from the historical society’s collection whose identity is eagerly awaiting your guesses.

In this week’s Old News you’ll read about a 1906 crime wave that was casting a dark shadow over Stillwater…literally!

And finally, we’ll wrap up today’s article with an article covering a few pieces of our county history that have been lost in the name of “progress”.

Want to learn more about the history of Washington County? “Like” WCHS on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Sean Pallas

Historical Messenger editor and Warden’s House Site Manager

spallas.wchs@gmail.com

WCHS News

Thank You!

Let me send a huge Thank You to everyone who donated during Give to the Max Day last Thursday.

Through your generous contributions, the Washington County Historical Society raised $995.00 to put towards our goals of collecting, preserving, and disseminating the history of Washington County.

That being said, if you missed Give to the Max Day, never fear! You can easily donate to WCHS throughout the year at our Donation Page!

WCHS News 

Annual Holiday Book Sale and Open House

On Saturday, December 12th, the Washington County Historical Society invites the public to our Annual Holiday Event at the Warden’s House Museum, which runs from Noon – 4:00 PM.

Avoid the overly-pushy department store crowds and instead have a truly unique holiday shopping experience while meeting local authors, sipping coffee generously donated by Starbucks, and enjoying live holiday songs provided by Mary Taylor Allen’s local student musicians at our annual book sale. Not to mention that some of our most popular titles will be up to 50% off their normal price!

This year, we’re happy to announce that we’ll be highlighting a new book on the unique history of Stillwater’s Stonebridge Elementary by retired educator, Bernie Anderson. Stonebridge Elementary was a bit of an educational-experiment. What happens when you remove classes and let the students direct the content of the lessons? Find out with The Magic That Was Stonebridge: Reflections From an Era of Teacher Empowerment”.

This year’s other featured authors Robert and Nancy Goodman (In Their Own Words, The Last Rafter, and more), Gloria VanDemmeltraadt (Memories of Lake Elmo, Darkness in Paradise), Bill Schrankler (Shadows of Time: Minnesota’s Surviving Railroad Depots), Frederick L. Johnson (Suburban Dawn, Sea Wing Disaster), Ken Martens (The Perilous St. Croix River Valley Frontier), Pam, Robin, & Nancy (Holiday Cookie Creation), and Brent Peterson (Stillwater: The Next Generation) will also be on hand to chat about their newest works and sign copies of their books. This is the perfect personalized gift for the lover of history in your life!

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

Please contact Sean Pallas at 651-439-5956 or spallas.wchs@gmail.com for more information on this event or to arrange a tour of the museum.

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 21)

Thank you to everyone who made a guess at last week’s What Is This Thing?!

Most of you answered that last issue’s item was a “buggy horse whip” which is definitely correct. But only one person managed to be absolutely 100% on the money…

This particular horse whip was used by Stillwater native Arthur Jamieson to drive the horses working in the lumber industry. Winter was actually the logging season here in the St. Croix Valley. After felling the logs, the wood would be piled onto horse drawn sleighs and pulled across iced roads to lessen the animals’ burden. Even still, when you see the photos of these massive loads – you’ll see the horses probably needed a bit of encouragement.

Be sure to keep up with the Historical Messenger, the historical society recently received a very interesting donation of some other items belonging to Arthur Jamieson that will be revealed in a future issue…

On to today’s challenge! I’ve gone easy on you for the last two “What Is This Thing?!”s…but today’s challenge features an item that’s a bit more unique.

Can you identify the WCHS artifact photographed above? Can you guess its use? If you’d care to venture an answer, you can send an email to me at spallas.wchs@gmail.com, tweet @WCHSMN, or post your guess on our Facebook page.

Good luck!

Full Image

Old News 

Vandalism Spree Brought to Light

Oh the joys of youth.

One of your buddies comes up with a bright idea of how to pass the time…and the next thing you know, you’ve got a court date.

Boys Arrested for Breaking Lights – Stillwater Messenger – November 17, 1906

Chief Barnes has rounded up a half a dozen young boys who have been caught in the act of breaking incandescent lights and causing considerable damage to the electric light company. The boys had a hearing before Judge Doe Friday morning, who gave them a talking to and let them go with the promise that their parents will settle with the company for the loss sustained.

Featured Article

Lost History

by Brent Peterson, WCHS Executive Director

Stillwater is a town at has a lot of pride in its historic buildings. The commercial district of town is on the National Register of Historic Places and the citizens are proud of that. It was a great thing that the “Urban Renewal” of the 1960s didn’t take all the majestic buildings from the skyline of Stillwater, but it did take a few.

Today, the most talked about building that is no more in Stillwater is the Union Depot. Built in 1887, and opened with a grand celebration in early 1888, the depot was the most impressive building downtown Stillwater for decades. Designed by Chicago architects Edward Burling and Francis M. Whitehouse, the depot was construct by local contractor L.W. Eldred.

Passenger service from the Union Depot ended in 1927, but the Northern Pacific Railway operated a ticket office in the building until 1954. A restaurant was operated in the depot for many years. Morey Crotto took over the restaurant in June 1932 calling it the Depot Café, which continued until 1955.

The old depot was purchased by Russell Gilbert in February 1955 and used for his new company called United Fabricators and Electronics, UFE, which made radio and television parts. Gilbert sold the depot in 1959 to the Hooley’s who, in turn, torn the old building down in March 1960 to build the Hooley Supermarket.

The Hersey & Staples block that was located on the corner of Myrtle and Main Street, where Stillwater Antiques is now and formerly the Cosmopolitan Bank, was constructed in 1871. In the Stillwater Messenger of June 2, 1871, there was a sizable article about the construction of this building. The building was to be “50 feet on Main Street, and 125 on Myrtle Street, it will be three stories in height, with a basement, The building will be built of Stillwater stone, with the corners, window and door caps and trimmings of Lake Superior stone, which is of the same quality as that of the Milwaukee Court House. The front at the top of the building will have an exceedingly neat attractive appearance.”

On the first floor of this new building would be two large rooms fronting Main Street, one of which was already to be used by the Lumberman’s National Bank. There were also two offices for rent on the Myrtle Street side. A center staircase led to the second floor where there were two large offices fronting Main and four offices fronting Myrtle Street.

The third floor was originally a large open room, 50 X 120 feet with 15-foot high ceilings, perfect for a lodge or a fraternal organization.

Over the years there was a dry goods store, groceries, a bakery, and of course, the bank occupying on of Stillwater’s most beautiful buildings. The Lumberman’s National Bank later became the Cosmopolitan Bank. In 1967, the bank officials decided it wanted a more modern “log-cabin type of building” in which to do business. So the decision was made to raze the nearly 100-year old building and construct something else.

In September 1967, Bolander & Sons of Minneapolis started the demolition of the old Hersey & Staples block. It took until early the next year to complete and clean up the site. The local company of George W. Olsen Company constructed the present building. The architects were Kilstofe & Vosejpka, Inc. of Wayzata and the new Cosmopolitan Bank was opened in the spring of 1968.

Another outstanding building in downtown Stillwater that is no more was the Auditorium Theatre on South Second Street.

The plans for the Auditorium were drawn by the firm of Kinney & Detweiler of Minneapolis and the local construction firm of O.H. Olsen was the company to build it. The grand opening of the Auditorium took place on January 27, 1906 when the comedy play of “Piff, Paff, Pouf” took the stage.

In 1919 the first motion picture was shown at the Auditorium. It was a 10-reel version of “Shepherd of the Hills,” and from then on movies could be seen at the theatre. During July 1939, the theatre was closed for two days while a new sound system was installed.

As time went on, the building began to show its age. By the early 1970s, structural problems along with declining attendance made it hard to keep the building open. Though many people tried very hard to keep the Auditorium going (there was even a plan to make it into an evangelism center) the condition of the building made its closing inevitable.

The headline of the November 10, 1976 issue of the Stillwater Gazette said it all: “Auditorium Theatre to be Razed.” The Battle Wrecking Company of Minneapolis was to begin demolition of the building on November 13 and be completed by the week of November 28th.

There were other buildings that fell to the wrecking ball such as the Mower and Torinus block and the little white building on North Main Street that was Morey’s Café. Stillwater did well on preserving much of its heritage, but like everywhere else, some of Stillwater was lost.

Events

More information: WCHS Events >>>

Preserve the Past, Share in the Future!

Become a member of the Washington County Historical Society!

Membership is one way that you can help support the Washington County Historical Society. Your membership helps us collect, preserve, and disseminate the history of Washington County for county residents and visitors in the belief that a historical perspective enhances our understanding of community and sense of place.

Benefits of membership:

  • FREE admission to the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater and Hay Lake Museum Complex in Scandia
  • Discounts on purchases in the museum gift shop (10% Individual & Family members, 15% Patron & Sustaining members)
  • FREE use of WCHS library and research center
  • Subscription to Historical Whisperings, the society’s quarterly newsletter
  • Discounts on tickets to membership meetings
  • Knowing that your membership dollars support the preservation of our treasured past for generations to come

The Washington County Historical Society has depended on membership ever since it was formed in 1934. Please show your support for the organization by becoming a member today.

More: WCHS Membership >>>

Mission Statement

Washington County Historical Society collects, preserves, and disseminates the history of the county and state of Minnesota.

Lost History

 

Receive the Historical Messenger in your inbox once every two weeks by signing up for our mailing list!

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Thank You!
  • WCHS News: Annual Holiday Book Sale and Open House
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: Vandalism Spree Brought to Light
  • Featured Article: Lost History
Editor’s Note

That’s right! I’m back in your inbox a short time after last week’s Veteran’s Day special edition!

Well, we’re more than halfway through November – let’s just keep our fingers crossed to keep that snow away.

We’ll start today by giving a post-Give to the Max Day report.

Next, we’ll check out the details of our upcoming Annual Holiday Book Sale.

As always, I have another artifact from the historical society’s collection whose identity is eagerly awaiting your guesses.

In this week’s Old News you’ll read about a 1906 crime wave that was casting a dark shadow over Stillwater…literally!

And finally, we’ll wrap up today’s article with an article covering a few pieces of our county history that have been lost in the name of “progress”.

Want to learn more about the history of Washington County? “Like” WCHS on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Sean Pallas

Historical Messenger editor and Warden’s House Site Manager

spallas.wchs@gmail.com

WCHS News

Thank You!

Let me send a huge Thank You to everyone who donated during Give to the Max Day last Thursday.

Through your generous contributions, the Washington County Historical Society raised $995.00 to put towards our goals of collecting, preserving, and disseminating the history of Washington County.

That being said, if you missed Give to the Max Day, never fear! You can easily donate to WCHS throughout the year at our Donation Page!

WCHS News

Annual Holiday Book Sale and Open House

On Saturday, December 12th, the Washington County Historical Society invites the public to our Annual Holiday Event at the Warden’s House Museum, which runs from Noon – 4:00 PM.

Avoid the overly-pushy department store crowds and instead have a truly unique holiday shopping experience while meeting local authors, sipping coffee generously donated by Starbucks, and enjoying live holiday songs provided by Mary Taylor Allen’s local student musicians at our annual book sale. Not to mention that some of our most popular titles will be up to 50% off their normal price!

This year, we’re happy to announce that we’ll be highlighting a new book on the unique history of Stillwater’s Stonebridge Elementary by retired educator, Bernie Anderson. Stonebridge Elementary was a bit of an educational-experiment. What happens when you remove classes and let the students direct the content of the lessons? Find out with The Magic That Was Stonebridge: Reflections From an Era of Teacher Empowerment”.

This year’s other featured authors Robert and Nancy Goodman (In Their Own Words, The Last Rafter, and more), Gloria VanDemmeltraadt (Memories of Lake Elmo, Darkness in Paradise), Bill Schrankler (Shadows of Time: Minnesota’s Surviving Railroad Depots), Frederick L. Johnson (Suburban Dawn, Sea Wing Disaster), Ken Martens (The Perilous St. Croix River Valley Frontier), Pam, Robin, & Nancy (Holiday Cookie Creation), and Brent Peterson (Stillwater: The Next Generation) will also be on hand to chat about their newest works and sign copies of their books. This is the perfect personalized gift for the lover of history in your life!

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

Please contact Sean Pallas at 651-439-5956 or spallas.wchs@gmail.com for more information on this event or to arrange a tour of the museum.

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 21)

Thank you to everyone who made a guess at last week’s What Is This Thing?!

Most of you answered that last issue’s item was a “buggy horse whip” which is definitely correct. But only one person managed to be absolutely 100% on the money…

This particular horse whip was used by Stillwater native Arthur Jamieson to drive the horses working in the lumber industry. Winter was actually the logging season here in the St. Croix Valley. After felling the logs, the wood would be piled onto horse drawn sleighs and pulled across iced roads to lessen the animals’ burden. Even still, when you see the photos of these massive loads – you’ll see the horses probably needed a bit of encouragement.

Be sure to keep up with the Historical Messenger, the historical society recently received a very interesting donation of some other items belonging to Arthur Jamieson that will be revealed in a future issue…

On to today’s challenge! I’ve gone easy on you for the last two “What Is This Thing?!”s…but today’s challenge features an item that’s a bit more unique.

Can you identify the WCHS artifact photographed above? Can you guess its use? If you’d care to venture an answer, you can send an email to me at spallas.wchs@gmail.com, tweet @WCHSMN, or post your guess on our Facebook page.

Good luck!

Full Image

Old News 

Vandalism Spree Brought to Light

Oh the joys of youth.

One of your buddies comes up with a bright idea of how to pass the time…and the next thing you know, you’ve got a court date.

Boys Arrested for Breaking Lights – Stillwater Messenger – November 17, 1906

Chief Barnes has rounded up a half a dozen young boys who have been caught in the act of breaking incandescent lights and causing considerable damage to the electric light company. The boys had a hearing before Judge Doe Friday morning, who gave them a talking to and let them go with the promise that their parents will settle with the company for the loss sustained.

Featured Article

Lost History

by Brent Peterson, WCHS Executive Director

Stillwater is a town at has a lot of pride in its historic buildings. The commercial district of town is on the National Register of Historic Places and the citizens are proud of that. It was a great thing that the “Urban Renewal” of the 1960s didn’t take all the majestic buildings from the skyline of Stillwater, but it did take a few.

Today, the most talked about building that is no more in Stillwater is the Union Depot. Built in 1887, and opened with a grand celebration in early 1888, the depot was the most impressive building downtown Stillwater for decades. Designed by Chicago architects Edward Burling and Francis M. Whitehouse, the depot was construct by local contractor L.W. Eldred.

Passenger service from the Union Depot ended in 1927, but the Northern Pacific Railway operated a ticket office in the building until 1954. A restaurant was operated in the depot for many years. Morey Crotto took over the restaurant in June 1932 calling it the Depot Café, which continued until 1955.

The old depot was purchased by Russell Gilbert in February 1955 and used for his new company called United Fabricators and Electronics, UFE, which made radio and television parts. Gilbert sold the depot in 1959 to the Hooley’s who, in turn, torn the old building down in March 1960 to build the Hooley Supermarket.

The Hersey & Staples block that was located on the corner of Myrtle and Main Street, where Stillwater Antiques is now and formerly the Cosmopolitan Bank, was constructed in 1871. In the Stillwater Messenger of June 2, 1871, there was a sizable article about the construction of this building. The building was to be “50 feet on Main Street, and 125 on Myrtle Street, it will be three stories in height, with a basement, The building will be built of Stillwater stone, with the corners, window and door caps and trimmings of Lake Superior stone, which is of the same quality as that of the Milwaukee Court House. The front at the top of the building will have an exceedingly neat attractive appearance.”

On the first floor of this new building would be two large rooms fronting Main Street, one of which was already to be used by the Lumberman’s National Bank. There were also two offices for rent on the Myrtle Street side. A center staircase led to the second floor where there were two large offices fronting Main and four offices fronting Myrtle Street.

The third floor was originally a large open room, 50 X 120 feet with 15-foot high ceilings, perfect for a lodge or a fraternal organization.

Over the years there was a dry goods store, groceries, a bakery, and of course, the bank occupying on of Stillwater’s most beautiful buildings. The Lumberman’s National Bank later became the Cosmopolitan Bank. In 1967, the bank officials decided it wanted a more modern “log-cabin type of building” in which to do business. So the decision was made to raze the nearly 100-year old building and construct something else.

In September 1967, Bolander & Sons of Minneapolis started the demolition of the old Hersey & Staples block. It took until early the next year to complete and clean up the site. The local company of George W. Olsen Company constructed the present building. The architects were Kilstofe & Vosejpka, Inc. of Wayzata and the new Cosmopolitan Bank was opened in the spring of 1968.

Another outstanding building in downtown Stillwater that is no more was the Auditorium Theatre on South Second Street.

The plans for the Auditorium were drawn by the firm of Kinney & Detweiler of Minneapolis and the local construction firm of O.H. Olsen was the company to build it. The grand opening of the Auditorium took place on January 27, 1906 when the comedy play of “Piff, Paff, Pouf” took the stage.

In 1919 the first motion picture was shown at the Auditorium. It was a 10-reel version of “Shepherd of the Hills,” and from then on movies could be seen at the theatre. During July 1939, the theatre was closed for two days while a new sound system was installed.

As time went on, the building began to show its age. By the early 1970s, structural problems along with declining attendance made it hard to keep the building open. Though many people tried very hard to keep the Auditorium going (there was even a plan to make it into an evangelism center) the condition of the building made its closing inevitable.

The headline of the November 10, 1976 issue of the Stillwater Gazette said it all: “Auditorium Theatre to be Razed.” The Battle Wrecking Company of Minneapolis was to begin demolition of the building on November 13 and be completed by the week of November 28th.

There were other buildings that fell to the wrecking ball such as the Mower and Torinus block and the little white building on North Main Street that was Morey’s Café. Stillwater did well on preserving much of its heritage, but like everywhere else, some of Stillwater was lost.

Upcoming Events

More information: WCHS Events >>>

Preserve the Past, Share in the Future!

Become a member of the Washington County Historical Society!

Membership is one way that you can help support the Washington County Historical Society. Your membership helps us collect, preserve, and disseminate the history of Washington County for county residents and visitors in the belief that a historical perspective enhances our understanding of community and sense of place.

Benefits of membership:

  • FREE admission to the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater and Hay Lake Museum Complex in Scandia
  • Discounts on purchases in the museum gift shop (10% Individual & Family members, 15% Patron & Sustaining members)
  • FREE use of WCHS library and research center
  • Subscription to Historical Whisperings, the society’s quarterly newsletter
  • Discounts on tickets to membership meetings
  • Knowing that your membership dollars support the preservation of our treasured past for generations to come

The Washington County Historical Society has depended on membership ever since it was formed in 1934. Please show your support for the organization by becoming a member today.

More: WCHS Membership >>>

Mission Statement

Washington County Historical Society collects, preserves, and disseminates the history of the county and state of Minnesota.

Veterans’ Day in Washington County

 

Receive the Historical Messenger in your inbox once every two weeks by signing up for our mailing list!

This issue: Contents
Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Give to the Max Day! – November 12th
  • Artifacts of our Veterans
  • Featured Article: The Last Man of Company B
Editor’s Note

Hello e-newsletter readers!

Now you’ll immediately notice that today’s issue doesn’t quite fit into our normal schedule. But, since today is Veteran’s Day and tomorrow is Give to the Max Day, I thought it would be fitting to put this brief newsletter together…

All across the nation, November 11th is set aside to remember and extend our sincere gratitude towards all who have served in the military. From coast to coast and even here in Stillwater, living servicemen and women are rightly honored in speeches, parades, and even by simple gestures like offering a free malt and burger.

But what happens to the memories and stories of veterans who have passed away?

Of course for a while, they will be retold and remembered by their loved ones. But what then? This form of oral history has an expiration date. Their widows and children and even their children’s children will all be gone some day. The men and women who risked their lives in the name of our country deserve something more permenant.

The Washington County Historical Society has been preserving the memories, stories, and histories of our local veterans for more than 80 years. In almost every room of the Warden’s House Museum, you’ll find at least one artifact tied to the life of a Washington County veteran. These physical objects allow us to peer through the fog of history and realize that these soldiers weren’t just statistics or grainy black-and-white photographs. They were brothers, farmers, mothers, teachers, grocers, and most importantly: people.

They are our friends and neighbors – just a few decades removed.

And many of these made enormous sacrifices that must be recorded and remembered.

Please consider donating to the Washington County Historical Society tomorrow during Give to the Max Day. Your donations allows us to continue re-telling and saving the stories of our veterans for generations to come.

Thank you.

And of course, a special thank you to all of our veterans.

Sean Pallas

Historical Messenger editor and Warden’s House Site Manager

spallas.wchs@gmail.com

WCHS News 

Give to the Max Day!

On Thursday, November 12th, your gift goes farther on Give to the Max Day! Organizations that raise the most money in their size brackets are granted additional cash bonuses and an extra $1,000 is added to one random donation per hour! Even a simple $10 puts our name in the hat!

Here’s what you can do to help!

- Schedule Your Donation Early! You can log on right now and you can actually schedule your donation to be processed on Give to the Max Day.

- Spread the Word! Share our Donation Page on your social media pages and email it to your friends!

- Donate! The easiest way to make a difference for WCHS is simply by making a gift! GiveMN keeps it easy by accepting all major cards through their secure online payment system. You don’t even have to register any kind of account! Their website is designed with both PC/Mac and mobile platforms in mind.

Thank you all for your continued support of the Washington County Historical Society!

Artifacts of our Veterans

From left to right, the above photograph shows a cap from the Civil War, an American helmet from World War I, and an officer’s helmet from the Second World War. All three belonged to Washingotn County veterans.

The soft cap belonged to Samuel Bloomer of Stillwater and is one of the few surviving caps of the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment. The First Minnesota became famous during the Battle of Gettysburg when the unit suffered 80% casualties in less than 30 minutes on the second day of the engagement. Close Up of the Clover Emblem

The doughboy-style flat brimmed steel helmet in the middle is an excellent example of ‘trench art’ which was popular during the First World War. The juxtaposition of artistic expression painted on a combat tool perfectly symbolizes the volunteer soldier of the United States. The helmet is painted with a detailed (if slightly inaccurately drawn) map of western Europe.

Another World War I artifact on display at the museum is this typewriter. It was manufactured in 1898, but was carried across the battlefields of France throughout 1918. The soldier who used this machine chronicled where he was stationed by writing the dates and locations in pencil on the typewriter lid.

The final helmet is a steel M1 style World War II helmet that belonged to Edwin T Swenson of Washington County. Although you can see a Major’s rank insignia on the helmet, Swenson was eventually promoted to the rank of Colonel. Over 22 million of this type of helmet were produced for American servicemen during the Second World War. It became standard issue for American GI’s through the Vietnam War.

Featured Article

The Last Man of Company B

by Erica Whalen, former WCHS intern

The originators of the last man’s clubs tradition in the Stillwater area were the Civil War veterans of the famous Company B of the First Minnesota Regiment. The Stillwater men who served in the First Minnesota came primarily from the Stillwater Guard, a local militia originally organized in 1856 to protect early settlers in the Stillwater area from local Native Americans. The First Minnesota is known as the first volunteer regiment to reply to President Lincoln’s call for volunteers in 1861.

Company B of the First Minnesota was involved in many of the most well-known battles of the Civil War. It saw action at Bull Run, Yorktown, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg and was present at Appomattox Court House for General Lee’s surrender on April 9th, 1865. According to Anita Buck in her article on the H & H Last Man’s Club, the rallying cry of the 135th infantry of Company B became “to the last man,” a phrase used at Gettysburg originally to help spur on the troops (Army, May 2004). The phrase also helped to establish the Last Man’s Club after the war.

The Last Man’s Club first met on July 21, 1886, the 25th anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run, in which the First Minnesota played a prominent role. The members agreed to hold meetings annually on the anniversary of the battle. A stringent set of ceremonies was put in place and adhered to at each meeting. Each was made up of a formal parliamentary meeting, a speech by an invited guest speaker, a dinner, and a memorial to those members who had passed away. The format of the first banquet was to be duplicated each year by the Last Man’s Club and by later last man’s clubs in the Stillwater area.

The first years of the Last Man’s Club saw the founding of enduring traditions, many of which survive over a century after their founding. The inaugural meeting saw the implementation of the basic meeting procedure, with John McKusick, the first mayor of Stillwater, as guest speaker. Meetings were held at one of Stillwater’s hotels, the Sawyer House, which today is the site of the Lowell Inn. The club had 34 members by its second meeting in 1887. Also in that year, a bottle of wine was donated with the intention that the “last man” would drink a toast to his fallen comrades at the club’s last meeting.

A poem written by Henry Hayden, called “The Last Survivor,” was read at each meeting since its introduction in 1887, with the final verse of the poem attaining special significance to the Last Man’s Club as well as to later clubs of its kind in Stillwater. The poem was dedicated to the last man but also neatly sums up the ideals of the club. It looks back to “the days of ’61” with nostalgia and refers to club’s deceased as “my patriot dead.” The poem also refers to the end of the club’s last meeting, with no answering call from the dead. The Hayden poem makes frequent reference to the Civil War but its last verse proved an appropriate ending for the meetings of the later clubs while maintaining ties with the originator:

The camp fire smolders-ashes fall;

The clouds are black athwart the sky;

No tap of drum, no bugle call;

My comrades, all, good-by.

By the 1924 meeting of the Last Man’s Club, the three remaining members able to attend voted to change the constitution of the club. Rather than waiting for the last member alone to open the bottle, the present members Peter Hall, John Goff and Charles Lockwood all voted to change the club constitution and have the last two members open the bottle. They tasted the wine, which by this date was sour, and then resealed the bottle for the last man to carry out the planned toast.

Charles Lockwood was the last surviving member of the Last Man’s Club at age 88. On July 21st, 1930, he attended the last meeting at the Lowell Inn, which was attended by widows of two members, Mrs. W. N. McClure and Mrs. Nellie Bloomer as well as several other dignitaries . The long table was still set for 34, with 33 of the chairs draped in black crepe. In keeping with the original plan of the club, he poured a glass of wine from the bottle and toasted to his fallen comrades.

Although the Last Man’s Club passed into history with the 1930 meeting, the conventions of the club were well remembered by Stillwater residents. The veterans of the next large conflict would pick up the traditions established by the 34 men of the Last Man’s Club and carry them on. The continuation of the founding traditions of the Last Man’s Club shows that later veterans saw their actions in the tradition of the famed heroism of the men of the First Minnesota.

Upcoming Events

More information: WCHS Events >>>

Preserve the Past, Share in the Future!

Membership is one way that you can help support the Washington County Historical Society. Your membership helps us collect, preserve, and disseminate the history of Washington County for county residents and visitors in the belief that a historical perspective enhances our understanding of community and sense of place.

Benefits of membership:

  • FREE admission to the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater and Hay Lake Museum Complex in Scandia
  • Discounts on purchases in the museum gift shop (10% Individual & Family members, 15% Patron & Sustaining members)
  • FREE use of WCHS library and research center
  • Subscription to Historical Whisperings, the society’s quarterly newsletter
  • Discounts on tickets to membership meetings
  • Knowing that your membership dollars support the preservation of our treasured past for generations to come

The Washington County Historical Society has depended on membership ever since it was formed in 1934. Please show your support for the organization by becoming a member today.

More: WCHS Membership >>>

Mission Statement

Washington County Historical Society collects, preserves, and disseminates the history of the county and state of Minnesota.

161 Years of Elections in the Valley

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Washington County History Network
  • WCHS News: Give to the Max Day! – November 12th
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: Accusations at the Ballot!
  • Featured Article: 161 Years of Elections in the Valley
Editor’s Note

November is here and the WCHS museums are closed for the season…but don’t be too sad! We had a great 2015 at both the Warden’s House and the Hay Lake School. Here in Stillwater after tallying up everyone who attended a program or took a tour of the museum, our attendance numbers are up 10% over last year. And even more impressively, when calculating similar figures for the Hay Lake Museum, we saw about a 50% jump!

Thank you to everyone who came out to visit us this year!

And never fear, although our museums may be closed until May 2016, this humble e-newsletter will still hit your inboxes every-other-week!

In today’s news sections, we’ll first take a quick look into the happenings of other historical organizations from around Washington County before getting you the details on this year’s Give to the Max! day.

Naturally, we’ll have another artifact awaiting your attempts at identification in our “What Is This Thing?!” section!

And since today is Election Day, the remainder of today’s issue will highlight the history of voting in Washington County!

We’ll start by reading a bit about the contentious 1857 election in Old News.

And we’ll round out this week’s issue with a look at some of the earliest elections to ever occur in Minnesota!

Want to learn more about the history of Washington County? “Like” WCHS on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Sean Pallas

Historical Messenger editor and Warden’s House Site Manager

spallas.wchs@gmail.com

WCHS News 

Washington County History Network

Yesterday, I had the pleasure with meeting representatives from five other historical and preservation organizations from around Washington County. Here’s a quick report of what we’ve been up to! (Also, Harriet, I hope you’re enjoying your trip to the Philippines!)

Afton Historical Society: The Afton Historical Society had a very successful Fall Festival with 180 folks turning up for the fun. Throughout December they will be hosting a Holiday Bake Sale fundraiser and will once again set up their ever popular model railroad display. They are also collecting food, winter hat, and warm mittens donations for the local food shelf.

Gammelgården: Everyone at the Gammelgården Museum of Scandia are hard at work preparing for the annual Meatball and Lutfisk Dinner on Thursday, November 19th. Get your reservations now so you can challenge your tastebuds with this traditional dish! And take advantage of a 15% discount at the Scandia Boutik on the same day!

Cottage Grove Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation: The Gottage Grove ACHP has recently overseen the grand opening of the recently remodelled John P. Furber Farm. The Furber Farm is now enjoying its new lease on life as a wedding venue!

South Washington County Heritage Society: The South Washington County Heritage Society will be hosting Adam Potter at the St. Paul Park City Hall for a discussion and program on American military uniforms from World War 1 to the Global War on Terror.

Woodbury Heritage Society: The Woodbury Heritage Society recently hosted a group of 20 second graders at the Woodbury Heritage House. The group also went before the City Council to urge the City take steps to preserve the historic Miller Barn. According to Woodbury Heritage Society, the outlook unfortunately appears to be rather grim.

 

WCHS News 

Give to the Max Day!

Thursday, November 12th, your gift goes farther on Give to the Max Day! Organizations that raise the most money in their size brackets are granted additional cash bonuses and an extra $1,000 is added to one random donation per hour! Even a simple $10 puts our name in the hat!

Here’s what you can do to help!

- Schedule Your Donation Early! From now until November 11th, you can actually schedule your donation to be processed on Give to the Max Day.

- Spread the Word! Share our Donation Page on your social media pages and email it to your friends!

- Donate! The easiest way to make a difference for WCHS is simply by making a gift! GiveMN keeps it easy by accepting all major cards through their secure online payment system. You don’t even have to register any kind of account! Their website is designed with both PC/Mac and mobile platforms in mind.

Thank you all for your continued support of the Washington County Historical Society!

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 20)

Whew, a lot of you knew exactly what last week’s What Is This Thing?! was!

But just in case you didn’t, last week’s device was known as a lamplighter! This particular model would be used to light indoor gas lightining. At the Warden’s House, gas lighting was installed in the 1870s followed by electric lighting in 1888! Neither were particularly reliable however, so both types were used for the next decade.

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s challenge! Now to take a crack at this week’s! (And no, its not the candle or the table…)

Can you identify the WCHS artifact photographed above? Can you guess its use? If you’d care to venture an answer, you can send an email to me at spallas.wchs@gmail.com, tweet @WCHSMN, or post your guess on our Facebook page.

Good luck!

Full Image

Close Up

Old News 

Accusations at the Ballot!

If you thought today’s politics were leaning a bit towards extreme partisanism, check out the article below!

Sure, modern Democrats and Republicans might not want to work together…but back in 1857 you started an article by calling the other city’s editors a bunch of liars, then you could sprinkle in casual racism and compare your opponents to the devil…all on your newspaper’s third page.

Of course, anyone familiar with history will know exactly what this growing schism will culminate into in a few short years…

…Happy Election Day everyone!

Election Fraud – Stillwater Messenger – November 3, 1857

In speaking of election frauds, the Pioneer of Saturday, says!

“Again in Stillwater, and at various points in Washington county, the Republicans imported voters from Wisconsin. This is the way Washington county was carried for the blacks; and of course honestly carried, because Black Republicanism was benefitted thereby.”

To use plain Anglo-Saxon language that cannot be misunderstood, that is an unqualified lie.

There were Wisconsin votes polled at Lakeland, in this county – at least fifty colonized ten-day voters from that State – but every devil of them voted the straight Loeofoeo ticket – They voted for pay – their board bills and wages being paid by St. Paul and Stillwater Democrats, as Democracy is now understood.

The Pioneer cuts a beautiful figure talking about election frauds – it looks like Satan occupying a prominent position in the brimstone country rebuking sin!

Featured Article

161 Years of Elections in the Valley

by Brent Peterson, WCHS Executive Director

Not many cities in Minnesota can boast as being as old as Stillwater. It is true that four young men from out east came and laid claim to the area we know as Stillwater and created the Stillwater Lumber Company. From there a village, town and city grew to where Stillwater, more than 18,000 people strong, stand today. The progression of a settlement to a town to a city does take a while but in the case of Stillwater it only took eleven years.

On February 24, 1854 William McKusick introduced “A Bill for an Act to Incorporate the City of Stillwater, in the County of Washington” to the representatives of the 5th Territorial Legislature of the young Minnesota. Once this bill passed, Stillwater was able to create its own government with its own local ordinances and laws. The second section of the bill allows “for the good order and government of said city, it shall be lawful for the male inhabitants thereof having the qualification of electors of member of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Minnesota, and shall have been a bona fide resident within the city of Stillwater for one year, to meet at the Court House in said city, on the first Monday of April next, and at the same time annually thereafter, at such place as the said village council may direct, and then and there proceed by ballot to elect one mayor, one recorder, and three councilmen, being residents of said city, and having qualifications of voters as foresaid, who shall hold their offices one year.”

Section 10 of the bill went on to list the powers of the new city council including: “To regulate butchers and the places were animals may be slaughtered; to regulate the burial of the dead; to regulate the keeping and vending of gunpowder; to prevent horse racing; to regulate the police of said city; to suppress and restrain disorderly houses, and groceries, saloons, houses of ill-fame, gaming tables and to prevent and quell any riot.”

Naturally, the city was also authoritzed to “assess a tax” from its property holders.

Both houses of the Territorial Legislature voted in favor of the bill and on March 4, 1854, Minnesota Territorial Governor Willis Gorman signed the bill into law and Stillwater officially became a city in the Minnesota Territory – the same day as St. Paul.

It was now the people of Stillwater’s civic duty to select the members of this freshly minted city government. The elections were held according to the recently passed bill, which were held on the first Monday in April. In those elections, John McKusick was elected Stillwater’s first Mayor. Dr. Christopher Carli, J.C. York, and J.N. Masterman were elected council members and C.D. Glifillan was elected recorder. The first City Council meeting in Stillwater was held during the evening of Wednesday, April 12th.

To open the meeting, justice of the peace Harley Curtis swore in the newly elected officers. The five men sat down, took their positions and then immediately moved for adjournment. No need to rush into anything.

The council met again the following night and four of the next seven nights as well laying out rules and ordinances for the new city to follow.

That first council hammered out additions to the city limits, dealt with noise and disorderly behavior, handed out liquor licenses, and debated concerns involving the St. Croix . 161 years later, today’s city council, retain that continuity by making decisions on the exact same topics as their 19th century predecessors.

Events

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Preserve the Past, Share in the Future!

Membership is one way that you can help support the Washington County Historical Society. Your membership helps us collect, preserve, and disseminate the history of Washington County for county residents and visitors in the belief that a historical perspective enhances our understanding of community and sense of place.

Benefits of membership:

  • FREE admission to the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater and Hay Lake Museum Complex in Scandia
  • Discounts on purchases in the museum gift shop (10% Individual & Family members, 15% Patron & Sustaining members)
  • FREE use of WCHS library and research center
  • Subscription to Historical Whisperings, the society’s quarterly newsletter
  • Discounts on tickets to membership meetings
  • Knowing that your membership dollars support the preservation of our treasured past for generations to come

The Washington County Historical Society has depended on membership ever since it was formed in 1934. Please show your support for the organization by becoming a member today.

More: WCHS Membership >>>

Mission Statement

Washington County Historical Society collects, preserves, and disseminates the history of the county and state of Minnesota.