Gateway to Minnesota History

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Stillwater’s 1868 Champions

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This issue: Contents
Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Boutwell House Update
  • WCHS News: “Paranormal Investigations: Techniques & Theories” Program
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: Grandeur At A Cost
  • Featured Article: Stillwater’s 1868 Champions
Editor’s Note

Every year our touring season seems to go by quicker and quicker! You only have a few more weeks to check out the Hay Lake School and Warden’s House Museums before we close up for the season on October 31st. Make sure you get out there and do at least one more fun thing outdoors before it starts snowing and we all have to hide inside for the next 6 months!

In today’s Historical Messenger, I’ll give you a bit of an update on our ongoing Boutwell House Restoration Project.

You’ll get one last reminder about our upcoming “Paranormal Investigations” program (which is definitely the best way to get into the Halloween spirit. Get it? …”spirit”…like a ghost!? Whew, I’m hilarious.)

As always, I’ll invite you to take a wild guess at a mystery artifact.

There are many beautiful homes in Washington County and Stillwater, but sometimes their construction requires more than dollars and timber.

And what better way to close out today’s e-newsletter and the summer, than a nostalgic look back to when Stillwater was crowned “base ball” champions of 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 

Boutwell House Update

Last weekend, we held a rummage/barn sale at the historic Boutwell House that was extremely well attended! It was great to meet all the neighbors and give them a good “before” look at the house before the major restoration begins in earnest.

The first step to that began earlier this week when the Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps cleaned out much of the debris in the house. If you’ll remember, back in January, heavy machinery had begun to demolish the home before being halted and the destroyed portions of the roof have been sitting in the kitchen ever since.

The Northern Bedrock crew was also able to perform some maintenance work on the Hay Lake School and the Boutwell family cemetery.

The house and grounds look absolutely amazing thanks to the amazing work by the Northern Bedrock crew! Now we are able to begin the actual reconstruction of the destroyed portions of the home to prepare to repair and remodel the interior.

If you’d like to learn more about their preservation efforts, check out the Pioneer Press’ article.

We’ve still got a long way to go – but if you’d like to contribute to the historical preservation of the Boutwell House, feel free to visit our GoFundMe page.

WCHS News 

“Paranormal Investigations: Techniques & Theories” Program

This Saturday, October 24th, the Johnsdale Paranormal Group will host their third annual Paranormal Investigations: Techniques & Theories program at the Warden’s House Museum.

The event will be held at the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater. They will host encore presentations at 11:00AM, 3:00PM, and 7:00PM. We are expecting large turn outs for each showing, so if you want to be sure you have a good seat, we recommend arriving early!

Since last year’s event, the group has investigated reportedly haunted local locales such as the Wilson Place Mansion in Menomonie, WI, the LeDuc Mansion in Hastings, the William A. Irvin in Duluth and, of course, another investigation of the Warden’s House itself.

During this free and open to the public presentation, founder Justin Miner and his co-investigators will delve into the evidence they have gathered over the last year and will also explain exactly what goes into a “ghost hunt”. Including a showcase of their state-of-the-art equipment.

Each time slot will feature the same program and will last about 80 minutes.

Please contact Sean Pallas at spallas.wchs@gmail.com or at 651-439-5956 for more information regarding these events.

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 19)

If you wanted to make multiple rapid guesses at last week’s What Is This Thing?! well…it would actually be the perfect device to do so!

Last issue’s mystery artifact is an early steno-type machine! This particular model has a patent date of 1882. In the hands of a properly trained operator, the machine allowed super-accurate and real-time recording of more than 200 words per minute. Shorthand machines were primarily used to quickly transcribe court case proceedings.

Modern versions of this device are still commonly used in courtrooms across the world and are also used when captioning live television (and can now record closer to 300 words per minute!)

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s challenge! Maybe one of you will be able to shed some light on the identity of this week’s artifact…

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 

Grandeur At A Cost

As the lumber industry hit it’s boom in Stillwater, many new millionaire’s began constructing the gorgeous homes that still dot the modern city’s hillside.

But beyond their massive price tags, poor safety standards also resulted in human tragedies.

During the completion of the Isaac Staples mansion, a painter tumbled from his scaffolding. The fall described in following article from the Stillwater Messenger sounds absolutely brutal.

We’ve actually already discussed this incident in passing back in May, in our A Millionaire’s Missing Mansion featured article. If you re-read that e-newsletter, you’ll see that despite the article’s optimistic prognosis, the painter’s injuries proved fatal.

Perhaps even more sobering is the fact that this beautiful mansion was torn down only a few short decades after this unnamed man’s death. In the end, the monetary cost of maintaining the home was deemed too great.

Serious Accident – Stillwater Messenger – October 20, 1871

On Wednesday afternoon a young man, a Swede, in the employ of Webster Brothers, while engaged in painting the cornice of Mr. Isaac Staples new residence accidentally stepped backward off from the platform and fell some thirty feet into the cellar, striking on his head and shoulders the stone steps.

Fortunately his fall was broken by striking upon the roof of the porch and then upon the top of a door from which he fell into the cellar-way. He was taken to his boarding house on Main street formerly occupied by Muller’s furniture store, and Dr. Kinkle called. It was found that though no bones were broken he was badly bruised and probably injured internally; he is doing well and will probably recover.

Featured Article

Stillwater’s 1868 Champions

by Brent Peterson, WCHS Executive Director

Almost one hundred and fifty years ago, a handful of young and up-and-coming Stillwater businessmen gathered together on a playing field and left as undisputed champions. It took an abundance of skill, physical agility and most importantly, a sense of teamwork. These champions were known by the river that had made their city great; the St. Croix Base Ball Club.

They became the Minnesota state champions of base ball in October 1868 by defeating the Minnehaha Club of Northfield in a three game series. Contemporaries and historians have both called the final game the best played base ball game in Minnesota during the 1860s. The game featured many outstanding defensive plays as well as an amazing showing by the St. Croix’s highly esteemed pitcher [or hurler] William Miller.

Luckily for us, the Stillwater Republican newspaper has preserve a report of each inning of the big game: “The third and last game of the series of the match between the St. Croix Base Ball Club of Stillwater and the Minnehaha Club of Northfield, was played on the grounds of the Vermillion Club of Hastings on Saturday last and as the following score will show, resulted in favor of the St. Croix boys.”

“The Minnehahas won the outs and St. Croix went to bat. The first inning resulted in a score of three tallies for the St. Croix, and a whitewash for Minnehaha. On the second inning the order was reversed – the St. Croixs being whitewashed and the Minnehahas making two runs. The third inning was hotly contested, and closed with two tallies for St. Croix and one for Minnehaha.”

“The fourth was by far the prettiest of the game – the St. Croixs sustaining another whitewash and the Minnehahas being saved from a like score by the agility of Rawson who made home from third on a passed ball. The next strike put the side out.”

“On the fifth inning both sides were ‘on their muscle’ and succeeded in making one tally each. The sixth was very animated and closed with a score of two for St. Croix and three for Minnehaha – making both sides even with eight tallies each. O’Brien, of the St. Croix made a beautiful steal from third, home on this inning.”

“On the seventh inning the St. Croixs treated their opponents to another whitewash. Minnehaha returned the compliment by ‘serving up’ a similar dish to the St. Croix. The St. Croix boys went to bat on the eighth inning with ‘business’ stamped on the countenance of each and run up a score of seven tallies. O’Brien and McKusick making two pretty home steals. The Minnehahas worked hard to retrieve this loss but were obliged to take the field after scoring two runs.”

“On the ninth and last inning, the St. Croixs went to bat under favorable circumstances and were evidently determined to run up another good score but their opponents took two pretty flys and one foul, and forced them to go to the field after making two tallies. The Minnehahas now came to bat realizing that nothing but hard work would save the silver ball to them – for they had to make seven tallies to tie and eight to beat their opponents. Vangilder, Fuller and Miner succeeded in making one run each and the game closed leaving the St. Croix boys four tallies ahead on the game.”

“Mr. Miller, the pitcher of the St. Croix club had been up from a sick bed but a few days and was unable to pitch the entire game. But when he was on duty his swift balls counted every time. He is acknowledged to be the best pitcher in the State and the St. Croix boys claim him to be the champion pitcher of the Northwest.”

Miller, the pitcher, would never again pitch for the St. Croixs. The St. Croixs lost the State championship the next year to the Lake City Club. However, the Stillwater team continued to be a dominate force in baseball right through the 1870s.

These days, volunteers from the Washington County Historical Society
take up the mantle of the St. Croix Base Ball Club
and challenge other local vintage clubs to 1860s rules base ball.
In this way, we can all share a bit of our athletic predecessors’ glory from when the sport was a gentleman’s game…and when the game was two words.

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.

 

 

Burying Stillwater’s Dead

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

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, October 6th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Boutwell House Barn Sale
  • WCHS News: Scandia Living Cemetery Tour – This Weekend!
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: A Post Office Heist
  • Featured Article: Burying Stillwater’s Dead
Editor’s Note

Happy October everyone!

First off, let me send out a huge thank you to everyone who attended our Fall Membership Meeting a few weeks ago! It’s always such a great experience to get so many supporters of Washington County history all together in one room. I even had a chance to chat with a few folks who said they read this humble e-newsletter!

Onto the issue!

In today’s News Section you’ll read about all our upcoming events; including a fundraiser barn sale at the historic Boutwell House, a “living cemetery” tour, and our ever popular Paranormal Investigations program.

I dove into our artifact collection to select another item for this week’s “What Is This Thing?!”

We’ll read about a lackluster historic robbery that probably won’t ever be adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster.

And finally, you may have heard recently that Rev. Boutwell’s headstone was vandalized. This deeply disrespectful act left many here at the historical society scratching our heads and asking, “why?” Thankfully, the monument was repaired a few days later.

This incident serves as a reminder that even though these people were buried a hundred years ago and their children and children’s children are all long gone – today, we still have a responsibility to protect their final resting places.

In today’s Featured Article, we’ll take a look at where early Stillwater pioneers laid their departed to rest.

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

Boutwell Barn Sale

The Washington County Historical Society will have a fundraising sale at the historic Boutwell House at 12588 Boutwell Road North in Stillwater this Thursday, October 8th and Friday, October 9th from 9am to 3pm each day.

The Boutwell House, owned by the Rev. Wm. T. Boutwell, was recently purchased by the Historical Society to restore and preserve one of the most historic sites in Washington County. Rev. Boutwell helped to name the source of the Mississippi River, was the first Chaplain of the Minnesota Territorial Senate and helped to organize the First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, among many other historic events that spanned his lifetime.

The sale will help to benefit the preservation of the historic site.

Items can be donated to the sale by contacting the Washington County Historical Society or Megan Sherrard-Stuart at 651-470-6320 or by dropping them off at the Boutwell House tonight, Tuesday, October 6th from 5pm to 7pm.

Other times can be arranged.

More: Events

WCHS News 

Scandia Living Cemetery Tour – This Weekend!

As October and Halloween approaches, we all seem to have goblins, ghouls, and (of course) ghosts on the mind!

Well here at WCHS we’re certainly are keeping in spirit with this spooky autumn mood with two exciting events.

First, this Sunday, October 11th, we’ll be giving you a chance to chat with the ‘ghosts’ of Scandia’s history during a Living Cemetery Tour of the Elim Cemetery from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

Guests will be guided through the cemetery, stopping to meet actors portraying various figures of the area’s history – all whom are buried at this very cemetery. You’ll meet a former reverend of the church, a victim of the 1931 meningitis outbreak, a Civil War soldier, and more on this interesting and unique way to explore local history.

This free and open to the public event is made possible through a joint partnership between the Gammelgården Museum, the Elim Lutheran Church of Scandia, and the Washington County Historical Society.

And don’t forget that at the end of the month on, Saturday, October 24th, the Johnsdale Paranormal Group will host their third annual Paranormal Investigations: Techniques & Theories program at the Warden’s House Museum.

The event will be held at the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater. They will host encore presentations at 11:00AM, 3:00PM, and 7:00PM.

Since last year’s event, the group has investigated reportedly haunted local locales such as the Wilson Place Mansion in Menomonie, WI, the LeDuc Mansion in Hastings, the William A. Irvin in Duluth and, of course, another investigation of the Warden’s House itself.

During this free and open to the public presentation, founder Justin Miner and his co-investigators will delve into the evidence they have gathered over the last year and will also explain exactly what goes into a “ghost hunt”. Including a showcase of their state-of-the-art equipment.

Each time slot will feature the same program and will last about 80 minutes.

Please contact Sean Pallas at spallas.wchs@gmail.com or at 651-439-5956 for more information regarding these events.

 What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 18)

I’ll admit, last issue’s What Is This Thing?! was pretty obscure!

This large wooden device wasn’t some type of offensive maul, nor was it a hammer used in the lumber industry. It was actually used in the 1890s to make everyone’s favorite Germanic fermented cabbage: Sauerkraut!

This huge wooden masher would have been used when making exceptionally large batches of Sauerkraut.

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s challenge! For this week, we’ll get a little bit more technologically advanced…

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 

A Post Office Heist

In Hollywood, banks are robbed by quirky crews of witty lockpickers, get-away drivers, and safecrackers.

In St. Paul Park, post offices are robbed by guys wielding dynamite, bars of soap, and stolen tools. Slightly less dramatic.

This is an interesting article because as it goes along giving details, it also practically provides instructions on how future robberies may be performed. Maybe this type of reporting was a reason the post office seemed to be a popular locale to “knock off”.

Also, if you remember the Old News in last issue, we discussed a “Simpl Way Of Spellin”. Well apparently the journalist of this article agreed with the idea, at least when it came to the spelling of the word “clue“.

Postoffice Robbed Again – Stillwater Messenger – October 6, 1906

The postoffice at St. Paul Park was entered by burglars early Tuesday morning, the safe was dynamited and the contents were stolen. The cracksmen did not get much, however, as the last remittance had been made on Monday. Chief Inspector Fosness of St. Paul made an investigation, but so far no clew [sic] to the burglars has been found.

The burglars secured a sledgehammer and several chisels from the blacksmith shop of F. H. Bowers and, entering the postoffice by prying up a back window, knocked off the tumbler of the safe and packed the door with soap. The noise of the explosion woke no one. The explosion demolished the safe and one set of postoffice boxes. The tools were found later hidden under the sidewalk in front of the office.

The postoffice at St. Paul Park has been broken into three times within two years, the last burglary having been committed last June. Joseph Trickey is the postmaster.

Featured Article

Burying Stillwater’s Dead

by Brent Peterson, WCHS Executive Director

Stillwater is known as the “Birthplace of Minnesota” and even though Stillwater has given birth to many industries, business, and of course people, there have been many deaths as well. When a person dies in Stillwater there are several cemeteries that our loved ones are buried in. But what happened to those settlers in the early days when there were no cemeteries?

Of course, a burying ground is not necessary unless someone dies.

The first deaths in this area were told about in a interview with Stillwater’s first female resident, Lydia Carli, She said that the, “first death in what is now Stillwater occurred July 14. 1843. The man was named Cole, and his death occurred in what was known as the Tamarack house.. The following night a stranger, an elderly man, whom no one knew, applied for lodgings, and in the morning, which was the 16th, he was found to be exceedingly no more. Nobody knew anything about him, not even his name, and he and the former deceased were buried up in the wilds, half a mile or so farther north. There was no monument erected or other evidence to indicate their burial place.”

As others died in this new lumber town, many were buried in a field owned by John McKusick at the top of the bluff. Eventually this site would overlook the old Minnesota State Prison and is today north of Laurel between Third and Fourth Streets. Another small cemetery was at the top of Myrtle Street where six to eight “old-timers” were buried. This smaller cemetery had to be moved to the “city burial ground” which must have meant to McKusick’s land north of Laurel. The move was made necessary because of the expansion of the city. When these bodies were moved, the March 16, 1858 Stillwater Messenger said that the “coffins were in a state of good preservation, and were decently re-interred. No sorrowing friends, or stricken relative, or imposing funeral cortege attended upon these second rites.”

As for the people themselves, the article says that “we have made some inquiry of those few who were then citizens of this place with reference to the person there interred, and find that most of them were person then employed up on the river, and that but little is known of their early history.”

Five years later, the Messenger make a call to its readers about the poor condition of the cemetery on the North Hill.

The June 2, 1863 article says that “the gates are down so that cattle range at large over the grounds breaking down the shrubbery and tomb stones. A large part of the grounds is growing up to bushes, which, in a few years, if not attended to, will become an impenetrable thicket.” It appears the repairs never materialized, the Messenger made a call for the creation of a Cemetery Association to solve this issue.

This first meeting was held, appropriately, on the evening of October 31st for the purpose of organizing such an Association. A committee was appointed to “select some suitable grounds for a cemetery” and to see at what price this land would be purchased for. The Committee consisted of Isaac Staples, R. Lehmicke and A.B. Stickney. Land was selected for this cemetery on South Fourth Street in Stillwater. The name given to the Cemetery Association was “Fairview.”

By the early 1870s, those buried in the cemetery at the north end of town were being removed and re-buried in the new cemetery. Did those people dig up all the bodies? Not really. When the new Lincoln School was built on the site, several bodies were found. Twenty years ago, another homeowner was digging for a pool when body turned up. A few years later, a couple making a garden in their back yard turned up a head stone with the date of death being 1863.

Be careful where you step in the “Birthplace of Minnesota” – we’ve had a lot of deaths here too.

Upcoming Events

More information: WCHS Events >>>

Membership

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.

The Adventures of Captain John Oliver

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Fall Membership Dinner Meeting
  • WCHS News: Our “Haunted” October Events
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: Leaving Webster Spinning in His Grave
  • Featured Article: The Adventures of Captain John Oliver
Editor’s Note

Hello hello!

You may think that WCHS is winding down a bit now that the weather has drifted into more of an autumn flavor, but even this very week is simply packed to the gills!

Starting Thursday, our annual Fall Membership Meeting is almost here! Head down to our first News Story to get your last minute reservation!

Moving through the week, on Saturday, September 26th is the Apple-Away 5K hosted by the Gammelgården Museum and WCHS! Click here to learn more!

Finally, this Sunday, September 27th, you can learn how to make the most of your camera during the Hay Lake Photography Exhibition! Marilyn Rau and Troy Schmidt, members of the Western Wisconsin Photography Club, will be holding a free and open to the public exhibition of their photographs. The pictures feature historic and scenic locales such as the Warden’s House Museum and, of course, the Hay Lake Schoolhouse itself.

Bring your own camera, take advantage of our beautiful museum grounds, and learn a few of the club’s best tips and tricks!

Whew! And after this busy week, you can take a look at our second bit of News to read about a few spooky events coming up in October!

Of course, I’ve also wandered into the back corners of our artifact collection to select a random item for today’s “What Is This Thing?!” challenge.

Make sure you hide any dictionaries you may own before scrolling down to our Old News section.

Finally, we’ll wrap up today’s issue by taking a look at one of the most exciting and interesting early immigrants of Washington County.

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

Fall Membership Dinner Meeting

The Washington County Historical Society is excited to have Author Denis Gardner as the featured speaker at the Fall History Dinner meeting to be held on Thursday, September 24th at the Lowell Inn Banquet Hall in Stillwater.

Gardner, an award-winning historian who has documented properties for the National Register of Historic Places and the Historic American Engineering Record, authored the book, “Wood, Concrete, Stone & Steel: Minnesota’s Historic Bridges” in 2008.

Through arresting photographs and lively narrative, Gardner makes a compelling argument for the value of preserving our bridges and the cultural heritage they carry and brings to life their importance in Minnesota’s past, present and future. In Washington County, Gardner will touch on the significance of many of the crossings that dot the landscape and tell the vital history of Minnesota’s most historic county. From the Stone Bridge in Stillwater Township to the old Spiral Bridge in Denmark Township to Stillwater’s historic Lift Bridge to the “Dillinger Bridge” in St. Paul Park, he will tell our story through the history of Washington County Bridges.

Richard Moe, the President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said of Gardner’s book that it “reminds us that bridges have played a significant role in Minnesota’s history.” Moe continued by saying that Gardner “tells the compelling story of the visionary people, historic events, and technological advances that helped make Minnesota the special place we know and cherish.”

The event is open to the public. Cost for the dinner and program is $20 for WCHS Members and $25 for Non-Members.

The Lowell Inn Banquet Center is located at 102 North Second Street and there is parking available in the city parking ramp next to the facility.

The evening will begin at 5:30 with a social hour, dinner at 6:30 and the business meeting will be at 7:30 PM.

Mr. Gardner’s presentation will be after the short business meeting. Reservations are required. To make reservations or for more information about the event please call 651-439-5956 or visit www.wchsmn.org.

More: Events

WCHS News

Our “Haunted” October Events

As October and Halloween approaches, we all seem to have goblins, ghouls, and (of course) ghosts on the mind!

Well here at WCHS we’re certainly are keeping in spirit with this spooky autumn mood with two exciting events.

First, on Sunday, October 11th, we’ll be giving you a chance to chat with the ‘ghosts’ of Scandia’s history during a Living Cemetery Tour of the Elim Cemetery from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

Guests will be guided through the cemetery, stopping to meet actors portraying various figures of the area’s history – all whom are buried at this very cemetery. You’ll meet a former reverend of the church, a victim of the 1931 meningitis outbreak, a Civil War soldier, and more on this interesting and unique way to explore local history.

This free and open to the public event is made possible through a joint partnership between the Gammelgården Museum, the Elim Lutheran Church of Scandia, and the Washington County Historical Society.

And at the end of the month on Saturday, October 24th, the Johnsdale Paranormal Group will host their third annual Paranormal Investigations: Techniques & Theories program at the Warden’s House Museum.

The event will be held at the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater. They will host encore presentations at 11:00AM, 3:00PM, and 7:00PM.

Since last year’s event, the group has investigated reportedly haunted local locales such as the Wilson Place Mansion in Menomonie, WI, the LeDuc Mansion in Hastings, the William A. Irvin in Duluth and, of course, another investigation of the Warden’s House itself.

Paul and Linda, the winners of our Paranormal Investigation Raffle, recently assisted the Johnsdale Paranormal Group in their fourth investigation of the Warden’s House and are photographed to the right. The pair will also make special guest appearances during the program on the 24th.

During this free and open to the public presentation, founder Justin Miner and his co-investigators will delve into the evidence they have gathered over the last year and will also explain exactly what goes into a “ghost hunt”. Including a showcase of their state-of-the-art equipment.

Each time slot will feature the same program and will last about 80 minutes.

Please contact Sean Pallas at spallas.wchs@gmail.com or at 651-439-5956 for more information regarding these events.

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 17)

Well we had a lot of guesses at the identity of last week’s What Is This Thing?! and most of you were pretty dang close!

Just about everyone recognized they were goggles, but the specific type seemed to be up for debate. The answers ranged from sawmill goggles to horse eye-protection to an early wrestling mask – the closest guess was avaitor glasses.

But these are actually early automobile goggles!

They belonged to Dr. Fredrick Stevens of Lake Elmo in the 1880s. They would have been a necessary accessory to the early automobile enthusiast as cars lacked windshields until the early 1900s!

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s challenge!

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 

Leaving Webster Spinning in His Grave

If you think that texting and instant messaging has butchered the English language, then let the following article assure you that dodging cleaver swings is nothing new for our wonderfully perculiar manner of communicating.

Is the following article meant to be sarcastic? It’s a bit hard to tell.

If the editor was sincere, you’ll notice that even in two short paragraphs they were unable to keep their “simpl system” consistent. For example, “have” is spelled both with and without the final “e”.

Despite the arguments presented, I think I’ll stick with dictionary English despite all it’s little quirks and silent letters.

Y Not Mak It Simpl? – Stillwater Messenger – September 22, 1906

A simpl styl of spellin has ben okd by som big men, and it has its gud points. But the list givn out is not big enuf. If we ar to hav a simpl system y not get down to bed rok rite of? Y not include al the words that can be speld in an e-zy way? Y b a thousn yrs doing something that can be don in one? Just think of the trubl to spel rite when it mite be so much ezier to tak a short cut.

Then u cud spel just as wel as the nex man and wud have no caus to blush because u sometims mist the way other folks spel. If we ar to hav reform let us reform in ernest. To b sure the simpl way wud lok funy at first but after a wile it wud be al rite, and think of the savin in tim, ink and papr! Ther is nothing lik getin ust to an inovasun. Then it comes as a mater of corse. We hav the simpl life y not the simpl spellin? We paus for anser.

Featured Article

The Adventures of Captain John Oliver

by Brent Peterson, WCHS Executive Director

In the early days of our country, sailing at sea was difficult and dangerous, and it took a certain type of man to do this. One of these early sea explorers found his way to Washington County, and told many exciting stories of his days on the sea.

John Oliver was born in 1796 in the county of Kent, England. His father died while he was very young, and due to difficult times, Oliver probably never received and proper education. He helped out at the family farm until the age of nine, when his desire to go work on the sea made him leave home.

Oliver’s first voyage was to Canton, China, and it was on this voyage that he learned, first hand, how cruel the treatment of seamen was by the officers. He was often kicked by the officers, and was also ordered to the masthead of the ship during the voyage while the seas were turbulent, just to test his nerve and courage.

On another voyage, this time to Calcutta, the crew deserted the ship due to severe officer cruelty. The crew planned to make their way to Bombay where they might sign on with another ship for a trip back to England. Oliver was with the crew as they made there way inland to avoid the natives along the coast. The group of men were in constant danger from the animals, both day and night. One night, the men made a fire circle and slept inside of it. However, in the morning, the man sleeping next to Oliver had disappeared. It is thought that he was taken by a lion or tiger during the night.

The men finally reached Bombay and signed on with a ship bound for Canton, China. While in Canton, John Oliver went to work on an American ship, and ever after that, Oliver claimed to be an American.

This American ship made many trips to the Marquesas Islands in the Pacific to bring back sandalwood to Canton. The Chinese used the sandalwood in their incense burners and there was a good market for the wood. After one such voyage the ship’s officers decided to leave two men on the island to collect sandalwood prior to their next return visit. Oliver was one of the two. The two sailors stayed with a native tribe who was eager to trade with the white men. However, the sailing ship never returned, and later it was assumed that the ship was captured by the British because this was the time of the War of 1812.

Oliver remained on the island for some time, and during that time he was welcomed into the native tribe. He was honored by participating in a tattooing ceremony in which nearly all of his body was tattooed with many designs and characters.

In 1813, the Commodore Porter of the U.S. Frigate, Essex, landed on the island. Oliver and his companion were able to get passage on the ship. However, the ship was hoping to capture an English ship. The Essex was soon surrounded and the crew taken to Halifax prison, in Nova Scotia. He was transferred to Dartmoor prison in England, just a few miles from his home and family.

Oliver was released after 13 months as a prisoner. He sailed to New York, the first time he had seen his adoptive country.

In 1820 he married Miss Sarah Spear, and the couple had several children. Oliver continued to work as a seaman in and around the Boston Harbor and eventually acquiring the title of Captain.

As his eyes began to fail in his later years, he had to give up his pilot duties, but his son, also named John, followed his father as a harbor pilot until 1848, when he came west and stopped in the Lakeland area of Washington County. Young John pre-empted 160 acres of land, and left his brother Edwin to watch over it, then returned to Boston to bring his father and family to Minnesota.

The family became well-known in the area and the Young John Oliver went on to operated the ferry boat from Lakeland to the Wisconsin shore.

It is everyone’s dream to live a exciting and adventurous life, and in the case of John Oliver, it certainly came true.

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.

The Infamous Younger Brothers

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, September 8th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: “Pro Wrestling in Minnesota” Program
  • WCHS News: Fall Membership Dinner Meeting
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: Stealing the Front Page
  • Featured Article: The Infamous Younger Brothers

Editor’s Note

Happy September everybody!

The summer months are over, the classrooms are full once again, and I even saw a few trees showing their fall colors…but there’s still plenty going on here at WCHS!

Grab a metal folding chair and check out today’s first News Story to get all the info about our pro-wrestling program coming up this weekend!

Be sure to get your reservation for our Fall Membership Meeting, learn how in our second News Story.

After filling you in on the latest WCHS news, we’ll wander back into the massive WCHS artifact collection to take a look at another mystery object for today’s “What Is This Thing?!”

Yesterday marked the 139th anniversary of the Northfield Bank Raid. This attempted robbery left four men dead and marked the end of the one of the most well-known “Wild West”-style gangs of American history.

The rest of today’s Historical Messenger will focus on the Younger brothers. We’ll start by reading the initial reports of the attack on Northfield from the next day’s newspaper in today’s Old News and finish by taking a more in-depth look at the raid and its aftermath in today’s Featured Article.

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 

Pro Wrestling in Minnesota Program

Join former American Wrestling Association (AWA) commentator Mick Karch and George Schire, author of “Minnesota’s Golden Age of Wrestling” on Sunday, September 13th, 2015 at 2:00 PM at the Warden’s House Museum for a free program covering the long relationship between Minnesota and pro wrestling.

Minnesota’s professional wrestling history can be traced back to the 1950s with the founding of the AWA. Mad Dog Vachon, Verne Gagne, The Crusher, and of course, Jesse Venture are just some of the Minnesotan names to impact the pro wrestling world.

Whether you are a current pro wrestling fan or have cherished childhood memories of screaming at your television, this program will be filled with rich history and stories from the “Golden Age” of Minnesota wrestling.

This free and open to the public presentation will be held at the Warden’s House Museum which 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.

More: Events

WCHS News 

Fall Membership Dinner Meeting

The Washington County Historical Society is excited to have Author Denis Gardner as the featured speaker at the Fall History Dinner meeting to be held on Thursday, September 24th at the Lowell Inn Banquet Hall in Stillwater.

Gardner, an award-winning historian who has documented properties for the National Register of Historic Places and the Historic American Engineering Record, authored the book, “Wood, Concrete, Stone & Steel: Minnesota’s Historic Bridges” in 2008.

Through arresting photographs and lively narrative, Gardner makes a compelling argument for the value of preserving our bridges and the cultural heritage they carry and brings to life their importance in Minnesota’s past, present and future. In Washington County, Gardner will touch on the significance of many of the crossings that dot the landscape and tell the vital history of Minnesota’s most historic county. From the Stone Bridge in Stillwater Township to the old Spiral Bridge in Denmark Township to Stillwater’s historic Lift Bridge to the “Dillinger Bridge” in St. Paul Park, he will tell our story through the history of Washington County Bridges.

Richard Moe, the President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said of Gardner’s book that it “reminds us that bridges have played a significant role in Minnesota’s history.” Moe continued by saying that Gardner “tells the compelling story of the visionary people, historic events, and technological advances that helped make Minnesota the special place we know and cherish.”

The event is open to the public. Cost for the dinner and program is $20 for WCHS Members and $25 for Non-Members.

The Lowell Inn Banquet Center is located at 102 North Second Street and there is parking available in the city parking ramp next to the facility.

The evening will begin at 5:30 with a social hour, dinner at 6:30 and the business meeting will be at 7:30 PM.

Mr. Gardner’s presentation will be after the short business meeting. Reservations are required. To make reservations or for more information about the event please call 651-439-5956 or visit www.wchsmn.org.

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 16)

Last issue’s What Is This Thing?! comes straight from the horrors of pre-20th century dentistry!

These dental forceps were manufactured by the Noyes Bros & Cutler company which operated out of St. Paul and was the largest wholesale drug company in the Midwest. This particular model appeared in their 1888 company catalogue and cost between $2.00 and $2.25 a pair.

As you can probably tell, these were used in tooth extraction and 1888 is definitely before the era of Novocaine…and that finger grip on the shorter handle shows they really yanked those teeth out of their patients’ faces with some force! Yesh!

As always, thank you everyone for participating and congratulations to everyone who correctly identified this intimidating medical device!

Can you identify the WCHS artifact photographed above? 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

Stealing the Front Page

Typically the front page of the Stillwater Messenger was reserved for re-prints of national newstories from other papers. I usually have to dig to page 3 before I find any sort of local reports. However, the intensity of the Northfield Raid had thrust the encounter onto the national stage. The name “Heywood” would be read in homes across the country.

In the normally quiet rural bank at Northfield, a party of former Confederate soldiers had murdered Joseph Heywood, a man who had served opposite his killers as a corporal for the Union. As the details of Heywood’s death circulated the country, an outpouring of support and donations made their way to Heywood’s widow and young daughter. In the following months, the family received almost $13,000 (around a quarter million in 2015 dollars).

Stillwater Messenger – September 8, 1876

One of the boldest attempts at robbery ever made in this country took place at Northfield, Minnesota, about two o’clock yesterday afternoon. Eight powerful men, heavily armed, rode into the place at intervals during the forenoon from the same direction upon unusually fine horses. At the hour named a squad of them entered the First National Bank and commanded the cashier to open the safe, which he steadfastly refused, preserving its contents with his life.

Several shots had been fired at random in the streets previous to this, and a crowd assembling, one of the robbers shot the cashier, Mr. Heywood, in the head, killing him instantly, when the band decamped, two being killed on their flight and two wounded.

The robbers are supposed to have gone into the Big Woods southeast of Northfield. A large force of men started in pursuit, and it is hardly probably that they will escape.

Through the sublime heroism of Mr. Heywood the bank and depositors were preserved from loss. His death at his post of duty is a sad calamity, as he was one of the most highly esteemed citizens of Northfield. If lynching is ever justifiable it will be if these desperadoes are captured.

Featured Article

The Infamous Younger Brothers

by Sean Pallas

It doesn’t matter that Bob Dylan left Minnesota as soon as he could; you’ll still see a “Bob Dylan Way” in Duluth and a newly finished mural in downtown Minneapolis celebrating the musician. When aviator Charles Lindburg moved away from his boyhood home, he only returned to the property on a single occasion, yet, the town of Little Falls, Minnesota maintains the home in shrine-like fashion.

Here in Minnesota we’re a bit obssessed with the famous folk who were born or lived in our communities. Even if they didn’t exactly call our city ‘home’ by choice…

The core group of the James-Younger gang were comprised of two sets of brothers; Frank and Jesse James and Cole, Jim, and Bob Younger. The group had bonded years prior while serving together in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. After the war, the gang robbed a series of trains and carriages across the South and enjoyed a “Robin Hood”-esque reputation among the bitter defeated Southern states.

However, on September 7th, 1876 the gang had set their targets a bit northward.

Through half-whispers and rumors, the outlaws believed that General Adelbert Ames had recently deposited $50,000 into the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota. Until recently, General Ames had been the hated military governor of the Younger’s homestate of Missouri. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation would not be created for another 50 years meaning that any money stolen from physical banks were simply gone. The lack of any sort of robbery insurance would ensure General Ames would feel every penny of his missing $50,000.

Shortly before noon on that Thursday morning, Jesse James, Frank James, Thomas “Cole” Younger, Jim Younger, Bob Younger, Charlie Pitts, Clell Miller and Bill Chadwell were sitting around a table at a local eatery near the town’s mill. The gang shared a meal of fried eggs and according to later testimony, smelling heavily of alcohol.

Over the next few hours, the gang trickled into town to avoid raising suspicion. In a moment of historic irony, Cole even found himself passing Gen. Ames himself on the street. The would-be bank robber, recalled tossing the General a sarcastic greeting before making his way into the town center.

The James brothers along with Bob Younger burst into the bank, quickly taking command of the frightened employees. The remainder of the gang were either guarding the doors of the bank or securing the group’s escape route across the town’s bridge.

So far the plan had gone without a hitch…but suddenly, the entire operation stalled. What ideally should have taken brief seconds was turning into minutes. Inside the bank, the robbers were growing increasingly frustrated at cashier Joseph Heywood’s refusal to open the safe. And outside, the citizens of Northfield began taking notice of the commotion.

Hardware store owner J.S. Allen saw the armed men through a bank window and instead of adding him to their pool of hostages, gang member Clell Miller made the fateful decision to instead sternly suggest that Allen should continue down the street minding his own business. The cool-headed man immediately raised the alarm once he was out of the gang’s sight.

Within moments, the whole street had turned into a warzone. Sharpshooting Northfield men made their way to every window and rooftop, quickly seizing the advantage against the outnumbered raiders. Both sides drew blood from one another.

Out of spite, Heywood had been slashed by a knife and then shot in the head by one of the Jameses. In the confusion and crossfire, another bystander, Nicholas Gustavson, had been gunned down as well. Clell Miller and Bill Chadwell were dead in the dust and all of the Youngers were sporting mild to serious gunshot wounds.

After barely escaping the disaster, the surviving robbers decided to split their party into two portions. The James boys would flee in one direction and the three Youngers and Charlie Pitts in another. Mr. Pitts selected the wrong travelling companions.

On September 21st, the hundreds of Minnesotans who were now hunting the fugitives managed to track the three Youngers and Pitts a swamp outside of Medelia. After another brief but intense firefight – Pitts was dead and as Cole Younger later described, the three brothers had been “shot to pieces.”

The photograph above was taken shortly after the Younger’s capture. You can see Cole’s eye swelled shut due to a bullet lodged underneath his skin. Jim had taken a shot to through his lip into the roof of his mouth that would cause him constant pain for the remainder of his life.

A few weeks later, the Youngers would begin their 25 year stay at the Minnesota State Prison in Stillwater and unwittingly secure their position as Stillwater’s most famous residents.

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.

Making Minnesota

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: “Save the Boutwell House!” Townie Tuesday
  • WCHS News: Last Chance to Hunt Ghosts with the Pros
  • WCHS News: Pro Wrestling in Minnesota Program
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: A Skeptical View on Movies
  • Featured Article: Making Minnesota
Editor’s Note

Ahoy! Welcome aboard the S.S. Historical Messenger!

We’re expecting clear skies and smooth sailing this afternoon. Activities Director Dan will be hosting a shuffle board tournament down on Deck 3 in a few hour, but until then, why not grab a lounge chair, toss on some sunscreen, and enjoy a little bit of history and WCHS news?

…you know, every-other-week for the last three years I’ve been writing a little greeting for each these e-newsletters. Today’s might be the worst. Luckily, you can come tell me how bad it was in person tonight at Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater at the “Save the Boutwell House!” Townie Tuesday fundraiser. Check out the first News story for more information.

The cooler weather we’ve been having is a harsh reminder that summer will soon be replaced by autumn here in Minnesota…but that does mean we’re getting closer to our ever popular Paranormal Investigations event! And this year, you can get in on the all the supernatural-action in an interesting and unique way. Scroll down to our second News story to find out how.

Did you know that August is Professional Wrestling Month in Minnesota? You can continue to celebrate turnbuckles and spandex short-shorts on September 13th when we’ll be hosting a couple very special guests at the Warden’s House. Our third News story will let you know the rest of the details.

Of course, we also have another mysterious item for you to try to identify in our “What Is This Thing?!” section.

Down in our Old News section, you’ll read a note from a newspaper editor who seems pretty unimpressed by “moving pictures”.

Tomorrow is the 167th anniversary of the 1848 Stillwater Territorial Convention. Sixty-one self-appointed delegates met in Stillwater and began a process that would bring forth the Territory, and later State, of Minnesota. It is from this meeting Stillwater rightfully calls itself the “Birthplace of Minnesota”. In today’s Featured Article, you will read the delegates’ own words on how and why Minnesota came to be.

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 

“Save the Boutwell House!” at Townie Tuesday

Raise a glass to historic preservation!

Tonight, Tuesday, August 25th, The Washington County Historical Society and Lift Bridge Brewing Co. are partnering together to raise funds for the Boutwell House preservation fund!

The event will be held at the Lift Bridge Brewery Tap Room located at 1900 Tower Drive W., Stillwater, MN.

For every beer sold from 5:00 – 9:00 PM, Lift Bridge will donate $1 towards the Boutwell Project.

We will also be selling t-shirts and for a $100 donation, you can ring Rev. Boutwell’s actual church bell in the name of historic preservation!

Come together with your neighbors and let’s preserve our history together!

GoFundMe.com/Boutwell

WCHS News 

Last Chance to Hunt Ghosts with the Pros

“Are ghosts real?” Now you can find out for yourself.

The Washington County Historical Society is raffling an opportunity to join the Johnsdale Paranormal Group on a paranormal investigation of the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater.

The drawing will be held Saturday, September 5th at 2:00 PM at the Warden’s House located at 602 Main St. N, Stillwater, MN. Need not be present to win.

Tickets may be purchased until an hour before the drawing for $10 per entry.

The raffle winner, and one guest of their choice, will participate in an overnight investigation of the Warden’s House.

The Johnsdale Paranormal Group will explain their techniques and theories and the guest investigators will gain hands-on experience with their state-of-the-art evidence gathering equipment.

The Johnsdale Paranormal Group has captured what seem to be disembodied voices and unexplained flashes of light in their previous investigations of the museum.

For full contest rules and consolation prize information see www.wchsmn.org/raffle. Please contact Sean Pallas at spallas.wchs@gmail.com or 651-439-5956 with any questions regarding the raffle or the museum in general. Proceeds benefit the Washington County Historical Society.

You must be 18 years or older to enter this contest.

More Information

WCHS News 

Pro Wrestling in Minnesota Program

Join former American Wrestling Association (AWA) commentator Mick Karch and George Schire, author of “Minnesota’s Golden Age of Wrestling” on Sunday, September 13th, 2015 at 2:00 PM at the Warden’s House Museum for a free program covering the long relationship between Minnesota and pro wrestling.

Minnesota’s professional wrestling history can be traced back to the 1950s with the founding of the AWA. Mad Dog Vachon, Verne Gagne, The Crusher, and of course, Jesse Venture are just some of the Minnesotan names to impact the pro wrestling world.

Whether you are a current pro wrestling fan or have cherished childhood memories of screaming at your television, this program will be filled with rich history and stories from the “Golden Age” of Minnesota wrestling.

This free and open to the public presentation will be held at the Warden’s House Museum which 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.

More: Events

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 15)

Last issue’s What Is This Thing?! was definitely a tricky one! In fact, for the first time ever, everyone was stumped! One of the reasons why this particular item may have been difficult to identify is because its modern equivilent isn’t terribly commonplace. Unless you work in a post office, you probably don’t see a whole lot of these around in your day-to-day life.

That’s right, the last item is a document tube! It was used to transport and store important papers safely in the days before fax and emails.

As always, thank you everyone for participating and even though no one was able to name last challenge’s mystery artifact, there’s always this week’s!

Can you identify the WCHS artifact photographed above? 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

A Skeptical View on Movies

Is this a prime example of the old guard disrespecting a new wave? “Oh, movies will never catch on,” “Oh, the Internet is just a fad”.

They say that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat the past’s mistakes. Well, sometimes the past’s mistakes come from not being able to read the future.

Afton News – Stillwater Messenger – August 25, 1906

A traveling show tent has been giving moving picture entertainments in the village [of Afton] of the San Francisco horror. Ten cents was the entrance fee for children and adults twenty cents. They had full houses every evening as the people seemed to take delight in the process of being skinned at 10 and 20 cents per head.

Featured Article

Making Minnesota

from “1848 Stillwater Convention Meeting Minutes” recorded by William Holcomb and David Lambert, Secretaries

The meeting began at 10:00 AM on August 26th, 1848 in the top floor of John McKusick’s store on the corner of Main and Myrtle Streets in Stillwater. Among the sixty-one in attendance were lawyers, farmers, a ferry operator, a doctor of medicine, fur traders, and businessmen from all areas of industry. Earlier in the month, a similar meeting had been cancelled when too few representatives materialized.

After selecting a governing body for the convention, Joseph R. Brown was selected to chair “a committee of seven members [to] be appointed to draft a memorial to Congress for the early organization of the Territory of Minnesota”.

Four and a half hours later, their petition was presented before the convention:

“Whereas by the admission of Wisconsin and Iowa into the Union with the boundaries prescribed by Congress, we the inhabitants of the country formerly a portion of the said Territories, are left without a government or officers to administer the laws:

And whereas by the omission of Congress to organize a separate Territorial Government for the region of country which we inhabit we are placed in the unparalleled position of being disfranchised of the rights and privileges which we guaranteed to us under the ordinance of 1787; and without any fault of our own and with every desire to be governed by laws, are in fact without adequate legal protection for our lives or property;

And whereas having patiently awaited the action of Congress during its late session under the full hope and confidence that before the adjournment of that honorable body a bill would have been passed for the organization for a Territorial Government to embrace our section of the country, we have been disappointed in our hopes, and cannot believe that the omission of Congress to act in the premises can proceed from any other cause than the want of an adequate acquaintance with the position in which we are placed, the character of the country, its population and resources”

In the most diplomatic manner, Brown and his committee had decided that the only reason Congress had not already created Minnesota is because they simply didn’t know enough about this particular frontier land. The delegates offered the following paragraphs as enlightenment on the subject.

“That this region of Country is settled by a population of nearly 5000 persons who are engaged in various industrial pursuits; that it contains valuable pine forests, excellent arable land, mineral treasures, almost unequalled facilities for mills and manufactures, and possessing an exceedingly healthful climate, is capable of sustaining a dense and prosperous population; that its population is now constantly and rapidly increasing, and is characterized by industry, energy, and sobriety.

That having once enjoyed the rights, and privileges of Citizens of a Territory of the United States, they are now, without fault or blame of their own, virtually disfranchised. They have no securities for their lives or property but those which exist in mutual good understanding. Meanwhile all proceedings in criminal cases, and all process for the collection of debts, are suspended; credit exists only so far as a perfect confidence in mutual good faith extends, and all the operation of business are embarrassed.

Your Memorialists [the Delegates] would respectfully represent that even in a well ordered and law abiding community such as they feel pride in declaring their own to be, such a state of affairs is fraught with evils and dangers. Its continuance will tend to prevent the immigration of the more valuable class of Citizens of the United States, while it will open a door of invitation and allurement to the lawless and desperate. It will foster dishonest and disorderly principles and actions among their Citizens, and if suffered to exist for a long period will bring ruin upon a prosperous and fertile region.”

Because of these reasons, the resolution finishes with this plea:

“They now most respectfully lay their case before the highest Executive authority earnestly asking that your Excellency will call the attention of Congress to their situation at the opening of the next annual session, and recommend the early organization for the Territory of Minnesota.”

The petition was unanimously approved by the remaining delegates, who in their next unanimous decision selected Henry Sibley as the man to travel to Washington, D.C. to champion their interests.

Six months later, on March 3rd, 1849, the Delegates’ prayers were answered. Their home was officially recognized when Congress created the Territory of Minnesota. The St. Croix River was established as the eastern border and the new territory extended westward to the Missouri River.

At the time of it’s founding, only one county government had been organized. Naturally, it was Washington County – the Gateway to Minnesota History.

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.

School Subjects

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Goodbye Interns!
  • WCHS News: Washington County History Network
  • WCHS New: “Outhouse Archaeology” Program
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: Stillwater At the Plate
  • Featured Article: One Room Schools – Lesson #2: School Subjects
Editor’s Note

Howdy everybody! Hopefully I got to see at least a few of you out at the County Fair this past week!

Summer might be winding down, but we’re just getting into our busiest part of the year here at WCHS…

On August 25th, the Lift Bridge Brewing Company will be hosting a Townie Tuesday event from 5:00 – 9:00 PM at their taproom benefiting our Boutwell House Restoration Project. Join us as we raise a glass to historic preservation!

Looking a bit further ahead, our Fall Dinner Meeting date and guest speaker has been announced. Denis Gardner, author of “Wood + Concrete + Stone + Steel: Minnesota’s Historic Bridges” will be discussing bridges of Washington County on Thursday, September 24th at the Lowell Inn. Ticket information can be found here.

In today’s issue of the Historical Messenger, we’ll bid a sad au revoir to our three interns in our first News Story.

Next, we’ll check in with the other history and preservation organizations of the area.

Rounding out the news portion, we’ll let you know all the details of our next museum program on the schedule for this Sunday.

Later, you’ll get another peek into our interesting artifact collection in this week’s “What Is This Thing?!”

We’ll be flipping to the Sports Section in today’s Old News for some 19th-century athletic adventures.

Finally, Hay Lake Manager Dustyn Dubuque is back with his second lesson on the rural one-room schoolhouses. Just what did those kids learn about? Read today’s Featured Article to find out!

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

Goodbye Interns!

As a former WCHS intern myself, I may be a bit biased…but I believe that our internships are one of our finest programs. I’m always extremely supportive when new faces bring new ideas into the world of history.

The 10-week program always goes by fast and this past Sunday was the 2015 interns’ last day. One is heading back to her undergrad program, another continues work on her graduate degree, and the third is heading out looking for a permenant position in public history. I wish them all the best of luck and thank them for their hard-work with WCHS this summer!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, be sure to check out their favorite historical images and photos on Instagram!

Here’s what a couple of the interns had to say about their experiences:

Alicia Tipcke (right), “Becoming an intern at the Washington County Historical Society was a fantastic experience. Interning here taught me the inner workings of museums including giving tours, cataloguing artifacts, setting up exhibits and events, as well as running social media sites. For those interested in working in the field of history this internship offers a wide variety of experiences that are imperative to learn. I feel much more prepared after working here to search for more internships and jobs in history.”

Alicia developed an online exhibit comparing and contrasting semi-professional musical groups for the 60s/70s to those of the 2000s. Please enjoy Gigs, Guitars, and Garage Bands!

Maja Proescholdt (center), “This internship was a great opportunity for me to gain real hands-on experience both in the operation of both a museum, and in the administration of a regional historical society. My main project was developing a fundraising event, the 2nd Annual Apple-Away 5K, in coordination with the nearby Gammelgården Museum in Scandia, MN. I was partnered with the Gammelgården intern, Kirby, to work on this event as a joint endeavor between both the Hay Lake Museum and Gammelgården Museum.

This project will overall contribute to my career goals in giving me experience developing and managing a fundraising event. It has also given me an insight into the budgetary requirements of local historical societies, and the general fundraising efforts needed to ensure that local history is preserved for future generations.”

You can learn more about the Apple-Away 5K here!

Finally, Lauren Anderson (left), performed extensive research when developing and designing a new exhibit at the Warden’s House Museum highlighting our collection of medical instruments. Come check out the new exhibit by taking a tour of the museum, which is open Thursdays-Sundays!

WCHS News 

Washington County History Network

Yesterday, about a dozen individuals representing various historical minded organizations of Washington County met at the Sail Away Cafe of Afton. The Washington County History Network meets quarterly to foster cooperation, partnership, and comradery between all the involved groups.

At the meetings, we also discuss recent happenings and upcoming events of each organization…so if you haven’t heard, here’s what’s going on around Washington County:

Afton Historical Society: The Afton Historical Society is currently featuring a new “Roaring 20’s” exhibit at their museum in Afton. With everything from flapper dresses to a moonshine still on display (in photograph to the right) the new exhibit captures the feel of the gangster era. The upstairs of the museum also is highlighting military veterans of Afton in another new exhibit. Their museum is open Wednesday and Thursdays, 1:00 – 6:00 PM and Sundays, 1:00 – 4:00 PM through Labor Day.

Cottage Grove Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation: The Cottage Grove ACHP had a great time at the recent Strawberry Festival in Cottage Grove. They are also still selling cook books full of historic recipes from the area at the Cottage Grove City Hall. The $15.00 book can make a great house warming gift for newcomers or for those who’ve lived there for decades and long for a unique connection to their city’s history.

Denmark Township Historical Society: Now that the Valley School has been purchased and saved from demolition, the Denmark Township Historical Society has hired an architect and is raising money to restore the school. During the second weekend of October, the Society will be hosting a Vintage Tool Machinery Exhibition at Denmark Township Town Hall.

South Washington County Heritage Society: The South Washington County Heritage Society continues to hold outings such as their recent trip to the J.J. Hill Farm. On September 12th, the Society will host Harold Gifford, author of The Miracle Landing. In 1960, Gifford was the co-pilot of a DC-3 carrying the Minneapolis Lakers professional basketball team. However, due to a massive snowstorm, the crew was forced to land the plane in an Iowa cornfield. You won’t want to miss this exciting true story brought to you by the South Washington County Heritage Society.

Stillwater Library: The Stillwater Library is working to digitize several of their historical collections including building permits from 1886 to 1944. They are also creating indexes and files on residences used in past Stillwater house tours as well as historic post cards.

Stone House Museum: The Stone House Museum of Marine on St. Croix has recently re-opened the small jail cell connected to the old town hall. Complete with prisoner graffiti written in Swedish on the walls, this interesting feature is definitely worth checking out! The Museum is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons 1:00 – 4:00 PM.

Woodbury Heritage Society: The Heritage House operated by the Woodbury Heritage Society will be open to visitors every second and fourth Sunday through September from 1:00-4:00 PM. They are also continuing to raise funds to perserve the Miller Barn.

WCHS News 

“Outhouse Archaeology” Program

Join privy digger Mark Youngblood this Sunday, August 16th, 2015 at 2:00 PM at the Warden’s House Museum for a free program covering his unique style of unearthing history.

Mr. Youngblood has spent more than 30 years locating and excavating 19th and early 20th century privies and outhouse sites.

A century ago, folks used their outhouses as garbage dumps – but what was considered trash 100 years ago are today’s historical artifacts!

Mr. Youngblood will share some of his techniques, stories, and a few favorite items he’s discovered at this presentation anyone interested in local history won’t want to miss!

This free and open to the public presentation will be held at the Warden’s House Museum which 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.

More: Events 

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 14)

Get your toe’s tapping! Last week’s What Is This Thing?! is an Edison Cylinder Record! As you can see, I did intentionally take the photo at an unusual angle. I got a few guesses of drainage piping and artillery shells that I wouldn’t have gotten had I used this as the photo.

If you look very carefully, you can actually see the small grooves on the side of the cylinder revealing that this particular device worked in the same fashion as later record players.

This particular cylinder held about 4 minutes of music and played “Love & Devotion” recorded by a Venetian Instrumental Trio and released in 1909. One the regular participants in our weekly challenge found a website where you can actually hear how this particular cylinder sounded! Click here to hear this more than a century old tune! Thanks for sharing Randy!

As always, thank you everyone for participating and congratulations to all the folks who correctly identified last week’s artifact!

…but how about this week’s challenge?!

Can you identify the WCHS artifact photographed above? 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 

Stillwater at the Plate

..buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don’t care if I never get back… Oh! Excuse me, got swept up in the moment a bit.

We definitely are in the middle of baseball season! I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy a couple St. Paul Saints games this year and let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like sitting in a packed stadium on a warm night with a hot dog and a cold beer.

The only real trouble is that I think the actual game itself is a little boring…

Yes, it’s true, I hope you can forgive me (and if not, angry letters can be sent to our PO Box), but I’m just not the biggest sports fan in the world. But you know what? If the games of today had ridiculous scores like the ones reported below…maybe I’d be more interested!

(And be sure to check out the new St. Croix Base Ball Club – playing vintage rules base ball throughout the summer and fall!)

Base Ball – Stillwater Messenger – August 11, 1876

Interest increasing – St. Croix Park Opening To-Day – Notes Here and Elsewhere

Our citizens manifest an increased interest in base ball matters, and scan the daily papers closely to keep posted on matters pertaining to the noble game. Formal Opening The formal opening of St. Croix park to the public takes place this afternoon when a contest takes place between the Blue-Stockings of Minneapolis and our home nine, which will doubtless be most exciting and entertaining. Our club is stronger than ever, and if its opponents win the day they will have to play better than any club with which our boys have played the present season.

A game took place on Saturday at Osceola between a club in that village and the St. Croix nine, resulting in a score of 69 to 1 in favor of our boys. The contest at St. Croix Park on Saturday between the printers and painters of this city resulted: Printers 49, painters 20. Some good playing was witnessed on both sides, though the printers had a greater number of experienced players than their adversaries.

The Amateurs of Oshkosh, Wis., are making a tour of Minnesota. On Tuesday they defeated the Clippers of Winona by a score of 8 to 1, and on Wednesday were defeated by the Red Caps of St. Paul by a score of 30 to 3.

Featured Article

One Room Schools – Lesson #2 School Subjects

by Dustyn Dubuque

When a visitor is looking around the Hay Lake School Museum they will see many different items, one item being a report card for student Rodney Engquist (8th grade). This report card is from the 1918-19 season at the Hay Lake School. This report card is for the terms of fall and winter. Subject that Rodney learned were for industry, spelling, reading, penmanship, grammar, arithmetic, and U.S. History. The teacher during that season was Ruby Swenson, as seen on the picture provided gold stars were placed for a perfect score in a specific department. One can also see the “important” subjects that were needing to be taught as they were the ones with grades assigned to them.

Spelling was a very important subject in a one room school. Spelling bees were not uncommon and were a main source of competition between different students. Students used English, rhymes, and poems to perfect their spelling words. Spelling bees were also played between all the different grades, this was a common method of learning for all ages. Many children’s parents did not speak English so homework was often given to the kids to take home and teach their parents to speak English.

Arithmetic was also very important, much like today, and children would be split between groups based on their abilities. Third graders could often time be paired up with fifth graders if they were more advanced than others. A useful tool by a teacher would be to connect math problems with different problems or situations that happen on the farm.

Learning to write began at the first grade level, penmanship was a priority from day one. Each child was to learn cursive. All letters must connect in a smooth fashion so it was legible to read and it created a faster way to write. The teacher’s penmanship was used to a comparative tool to push children to learn to write the same or even better.

Science was a very hands on subject as many one room schools were in rural locations. Kids were allowed to go outside to look at different animals, go to the pond to look at aquatic species, or go into the brush to wrestle up different bugs and insects.

History was also important as many children were descendants of emigrants (Swedish in Scandia, MN) and needed to know the importance of our country.

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.

Our Sharpshooting Mayor

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: WCHS Audience Survey
  • WCHS News: “Outhouse Archaeology” Program
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: The Fair Is Here!
  • Featured Article: Our Sharpshooting Mayor
Editor’s Note

Whew! We have had a busy couple of weeks since the last issue of our little e-newsletter…so let’s quick catch you up to speed..

Robert Goodman shared stories of Washington County’s Civil War soldiers at Hay Lake while Greg Guffey explained a bit of Minnesota’s Masonic history at the Warden’s House.

Stillwater celebrated Log Jam Days and the Warden’s House was happy to show festival goers around the museum throughout the weekend! After exploring the rows of food trucks, many Log Jammers made their way to Old Athletic Field to watch a half-dozen teams from across the state cross bats.

On the Boutwell House front, WCHS received a $25,000 anonymous donation towards our preservation project! This is a obviously an amazingly great step in the right direction towards preservation of this historic home! To learn more about the project visit our GoFundMe page. We’ve still got a long way to go, but thank you for your support over the last few months!

Alrighty! Now that you’re back in the loop – let’s move on to today’s Historical Messenger!

You read my ramblings every-other-week, now it’s your turn to ramble back! Check out our first News Story to participate in this year’s ‘Audience Survey’!

After you let us know what you think about WCHS, plug your nose and head down to the second News Story to learn all about our next museum program: “Outhouse Archaeology”!

Later, we’ll head into the 13th round of our “What Is This Thing?!” artifact challenge.

And the tail end of summer may be here, but the County Fair is just beginning! Scroll down to our Old News section to read the first time the Washington County Fair was called “annual”!

And as always, we’ll leave you with a bit of Washington County history. Today we’ll cover one of Stillwater’s earliest pioneers, politicians, and Civil War veterans: Mahlon Black.

Want to learn more about the history of Washington County? “Like” WCHS on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and explore our massive photograph collection through our intern-run Instagram!

Sean Pallas

Historical Messenger editor and Warden’s House Site Manager

spallas.wchs@gmail.com

WCHS News 

WCHS Audience Survey

If you haven’t heard, WCHS will be undergoing a major expansion with the opening of the new Washington County Heritage Center projected for 2018. We’ve got a lot of work to do between then and now, but I can’t put into words how excited we all are to be part of this process. And here’s your chance to be directly involved:

As we move into the planning stages of the new museum, we have to determine what types of exhibits and services to offer at the new location. We have put together a brief 12-question survey so we can learn what the public (that’s you) hope to see the new Washington County museum!

If you have a minute, we’d greatly appreciate your input. This is going to be your museum too! Let us know what you want to see there!

Thank You!

WCHS Audience Survey

WCHS News

“Outhouse Archaeology” Program

Join privy digger Mark Youngblood on Sunday, August 16th, 2015 at 2:00 PM at the Warden’s House Museum for a free program covering his unique style of unearthing history.

Mr. Youngblood has spent more than 30 years locating and excavating 19th and early 20th century privies and outhouse sites.

A century ago, folks used their outhouses as garbage dumps – but what was considered trash 100 years ago are today’s historical artifacts!

Mr. Youngblood will share some of his techniques, stories, and a few favorite items he’s discovered at this presentation anyone interested in local history won’t want to miss!

This free and open to the public presentation will be held at the Warden’s House Museum which 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.

More: Events 

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 13)

Now, I know it’s easy to forget considering our recent hot and humid weather, but Minnesota does get pretty cold! Last week’s What Is This Thing?! would have been a buggy-driver’s best friend from October to February!

This item is a foot-warmer for a carriage! To use this device, you would place hot coals inside the tray visible in the above link. Then, the driver would squeeze it beneath their feet and the heat would escape from the grates on the backside of the device.

As always, thank you for participating and congratulations to all the folks who correctly identified last week’s artifact!

…but how about this week’s challenge?!

Can you identify the WCHS artifact photographed above? 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

The Fair Is Here!

Tomorrow is the start of the Washington County Fair! From July 29th to August 2nd, thousands of your neighbors will be chit-chatting, enjoying local music, and (perhaps most importantly) exploring interesting and deliciously unhealth food-options.

The Washington County Historical Society will be visiting with fair goers at our booth in Building C! Be sure to swing by throughout the fair to see our special exhibit, and chat with our board members, authors, interns, volunteers, and maybe even a ghost hunter or two!

To get you into the Fair going mood, we’ll take a look back at 1906 with this following announcement of the “second annual county fair” from 1906!

See you at the Fair!

Washington County Fair – Stillwater Messenger – July 28, 1906

The second annual county fair of the Washington County Agricultural Society will be held at Lily Lake Driving Park on August 28, 29, 30, 31, 1906. The farmers are taking considerable interest in this event and there is good reason to believe that it will be a grand success.

Remember the date and bring something to the fair.

Featured Article

Our Sharpshooting Mayor

by Brent Peterson

Many of the earliest settlers of Washington County were farmers and lumbermen looking for a new place to start. Most of them were looking for something, either material goods or something inside themselves. A person who didn’t know what he wanted to become in life came out here and found it. This is the story of the former Mayor of Stillwater, Mahlon Black.

Black was born in Hamilton County, Ohio on October 4, 1820. His grandfather was a naval officer during the Revolutionary War and a soldier in the War of 1812. Mahlon spent his early days on his father’s farm and received a common school education. At age 17 he began the study of medicine in Cincinnati Medical College, but not being that interested in medicine he decided not finish the course and set out to find what he wanted.

In 1842, he came west to Menominee Mills where he was employed in the lumber industry until 1846. In 1847 he became a part of a government survey crew and located in Stillwater. He married Miss Jane Stough in St. Anthony, the home of the bride’s mother, on September 21, 1850.

He was elected to the first, third and last Territorial Legislatures and was also a member of the extra session in 1857. During the term of 1852 the Territorial Legislature voted to outlaw the manufacture and sale of “spirituous or intoxicating liquors.” In April of that year, a vote of the territorial citizens voted 853 to 662 to outlaw intoxicants. The penalty was a $25 fine. However, Rep. Mahlon Black proposed a tougher penalty – death! Only two other legislators sided with Black’s proposal and that idea failed. By the end of 1852 the territorial court had thrown out the law, and the saloons were back in business.

Black also served as Stillwater’s Postmaster from 1857 to 1861 and was elected mayor of Stillwater in 1860 and 1861.

On January 4, 1862 he enlisted in the Second Company of Sharpshooters, which was at the outbreak of the Civil War and was assigned to the Army of the Potomac. He was promoted to Captain and Provost Marshall in the Second Division of the Second Army Corps, during which time he was one of Gen. Givon’s staff officers.

During his military service he was in 54 battles, in some of which over 100,000 men were engaged on each side. He was wounded four times during his 3 years of service. At the Battle of Petersburg he was nearly killed when a bayonet thrust pierced a “vital part of the body”.

He served until the close of the war being mustered out on January 3, 1865 and received a special and honorable discharge from his commander, Gen. Smyth.

In 1867, Black left Stillwater and settled in Minneapolis. He held the position of land examiner and auditor of Hennepin County from 1874 to 1878.

His health took a turn for the worse in the fall of 1901. In the afternoon of October 25, 1901, Mahlon Black died at the family home on Fourth Avenue South, Minneapolis.

The Stillwater Gazette said of him “Mr. Black was an exceedingly popular man and had very few enemies. He was of a cheerful temperament and always looked on the bright side of life, and, like the poet, whatever sky was above him, his was a heart for any fate. In any dark days of gloom or adversity, which are likely to come to any of us, there was a smile on his lips and a song in his heart.”

Upcoming Events

More information: WCHS Events >>>

Membership

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.

Hugo’s History

One Room Schools: The Teacher & School Board

Where We Wet Our Whistles

This issue: Contents
Tuesday, June 16th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: 8th Annual Hay Lake Beer Tasting
  • WCHS News: WCHS Interns
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: Let’s Blow Up Some Clouds…for Science!
  • Featured Article: Where We Wet Our Whistles
Editor’s Note

Hello hello hello!

Welcome to the latest issue of the Historical Messenger! I’d like to start off with a quick Boutwell House update here for you folks. First off, our GoFundMe campaign has now raised $675! But monitary donations aren’t the only way to help the project. Last weekend a group of passionate volunteers made the first steps to restoring this piece of our history by cleaning up the house and property! We’ll definitely have more clean-up days in the future, so keep an eye on our social media for more details. Thank you for the support!

…the rest of today’s issue is all about beer!

Partially because it’s the perfect weather to sit outside and knock-back a cold one, but mostly because the Hay Lake Beer Tasting is this Saturday! Check out our first bit of News for all the mouth-watering details.

We’ll use our second bit of News to introduce you to this summer’s WCHS interns!

I’ll also identify the alcohol-accessory from last issue’s “What Is This Thing?!” and introduce our 10th mystery item!

In today’s Old News, you’ll read a suggestion from a local man that would feel more at home in an H.G. Wells novel or in a slurred barroom conversation than in the editorial section.

These days, smaller local craft brewers are growing more and more popular. Well in today’s Featured Article you’ll read about how Stillwater was ahead of that trend…way back in the late 1800s!

Want to learn more about the history of Washington County? “Like” WCHS on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and now introducing our intern-run Instagram!

Sean Pallas

Historical Messenger editor and Warden’s House Site Manager

spallas.wchs@gmail.com

WCHS News 

8th Annual Hay Lake Beer Tasting

Join the Washington County Historical Society this Saturday, June 20th, 2015 from 4:00-7:00pm for the 8th Annual Hay Lake Beer Tasting Fundraiser & Silent Auction. Admission to the event is $15 per person and participants must me 21 years or older. The proceeds from the event help to fund the Washington County Historical Society and its programs.For the eighth year the Hay Lake School Museum Beer Tasting and Silent auction has become a keystone fundraiser for the Washington County Historical Society. This year sponsored by Lift Bridge Brewing will include fourteen different breweries from around the region. Many Minnesota favorites will be participating; Joseph Wolf Brewing, Mankato Brewing, East Lake Craft Brewery, Granite City Brewing, Summit Brewing, Opinion Brewery of Newport, and more!

The beer is just a part of it, as the tasting also will consist of food from the Scandia-Marine Lions Club and snacks will be provided by Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels. Author Doug Hoverson, “Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota” will be giving a short presentation preceding the event inside the Hay Lake School and Photographer Mark Fay, “Bottom’s Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Taverns and Breweries” will also be speaking. Their books will be for sale at the event.

Justin Miner of the Johnsdale Paranormal Group will also be at Hay Lake to discuss the upcoming Warden’s House Investigation Raffle. Have you ever wanted to hunt ghosts with the experts? This is your chance!

There will also be vintage base ball played on the field next to the museum near the Lions Pavilion. The St. Croix Base Ball Club, Menomonie Blue Caps and the Rum River Rovers will play several timed matches starting at Noon. The vintage base ball matches, played by the rules of 1860, are free to the public.

In addition, there will be a silent auction that includes items from Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Orchestra, Canterbury Park, Water Street Inn, Dancing Dragonfly Winery, and much more from all over Minnesota & Wisconsin.

The Hay Lake School Museum is located at 14020 195th St N, Marine on St Croix, MN 55047.

Contact Dustyn Dubuque at dustyn.dubuque@hotmail.com or 651-433-4019 with any questions regarding this event or to schedule a tour of the museum.

More: Events

WCHS News

WCHS Interns

One of my favorite programs here at WCHS is our summer internship. For the next 10 week Lauren Anderson, Maja Proescholdt, and Alicia Tipcke will be learning the ins-and-outs of local history museums at the Warden’s House and Hay Lake. Lauren is a graduate student at Eau Claire, Maja has just graduated from Luther College in Iowa and Alicia is studying at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. All three are pursuing careers in Public History and are receiving their first real taste of the field here at WCHS.

They’ll help with events, develop research projects …and they also want to share our massive collection of historic photographs with you!

Check out the new WCHS Instagram and explore the visual history of Washington County with our interns! (…plus they’ve been working really hard on some truly awful puns…so you can enjoy that too!)

Swing by either of our museums, one of our events, or our booth at the Washington County Fair and say ‘Hello!’ to these future historians!

Photo: From Left to Right (Alicia Tipcke, Lauren Anderson, Maja Proescholdt) …and behind them Rev. Boutwell!

More: WCHS Intern Instagram 

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 10)

Whew! Last issue’s What Is This Thing?! left more than a few heads scratching. A couple folks supposed it was for planting bulb plants like onions or tulips while others guessed it might have been used to tap into trees to harvest sap.

But a couple of you still managed to hit the nail right on the head with your guess!

Round 9’s mystery item was known as a ‘bung-hole auger’ or ‘reamer’. A ‘bung-hole’ is the small circular hole that is bored into the sides of whiskey barrels. Then they’d either place a tap into the hole or a cork when it was being stored. In the 1880s, “down river Whiskey” (along with local beer) was a popular beverage served at many of Stillwater’s forty-three saloons. Bar owners would often offer a free lunch to bring in the crowds of thirsty lumberjacks.

An improvement to the device was patented in 1882 which allowed the wood drilled out by the auger to be removed from an opening in the side of the borer.

Can you identify the WCHS artifact photographed above? 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 

Let’s Blow Up Some Clouds…for Science!

In past issue’s we’ve discussed how the beginning of the 20th century was an amazing time to be alive. Technological wonders seem to be churned out every day. By 1900, wireless telegraphy was being used for instant communication across the English Channel – in less than a year it would be transmitted across the Atlantic. At the same time this article was published, the Wright Brothers were spending their first summer in Kitty Hawk testing their prototype flying machine.

So while the following suggestion for controling Mother Nature seems squarely in the realm of science-fiction, Stillwater wasn’t the only community to suppose that explosives could coax rain from clouds. Even Popular Mechanics was still discussing the ‘success stories’ of the practice in 1912!

The supportive comments at the end of the article by the Stillwater Messenger editor further reveal this idea wasn’t seen as a hair-brained scheme or the ravings of a lunatic – science would prevail over all and Stillwater wanted to reap the rewards.

Why Not Try? – Stillwater Messenger – June 16, 1900

We spend lots of money for city improvements, celebrations, etc. Isn’t it worth while to raise $50 or $100 to buy some dynamite and balloons in order to shake down the rain from the clouds hovering over us?

We don’t know much about rainmaking but actually believe that under conditions like Wednesday evening last, when rain clouds were floating by, concussions of the air would have the desired effect; If it did not we could console ourselves with having failed in a good cause.

Respectfully referred to the city Improvement committee, or any one having the public welfare at heart.

C.C.P

The foregoing article, crowded out of last week’s issue by late news matter, is well worth consideration. The science of rain making is as yet in its infancy but is destined to be, and in the near future, too, of the utmost importance along every line of trade, as all depend upon agriculture.

Featured Article

Where We Wet Our Whistles

by Brent Peterson

In 1851, Norbert Kimmick started a small whisky still on the corner of third and Chestnut Streets in Stillwater. The still was located in his kitchen and he made about five barrels of whisky per week. The next year, Kimmick built a brewery and operated it for about two years before taking on a partner, Frank Aiple. Together they ran the operation until Kimmick’s death in 1857.

After Kimmick’s death, his widow operated the brewery until January 1, 1860, when she married Frank Aiple, at which point he assumed the management of the brewery. A disruptive fire took place at the brewery in May 1868. Mr. Aiple rebuilt on the same site, however, as the work was nearly done, Aiple fell from the roof while putting in some water pipes, and he died on November 5, 1868.

Mrs. Aiple then continued the operation of the brewery until she again married, this time to Mr. Hermann Tepass, on December 14, 1869.

The old kettle that served the Aiple brewery for nearly 30 years was sold to a brewery in Hillsboro, Wisconsin in August 1890. The following month, two buildings on the brewery grounds caught fire. Jacob Bean, of Hersey & Bean Lumber Company across the street, noticed the blaze and shut down his mill. The mill hands raced to the fire and using the mills three hose lines, extinguished the fire before any damage to the brewery could occur.

In the Schulenberg Addition to Stillwater, commonly known as “Dutchtown,” there was a man named Gerhardt 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, with his wife and young son, 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 Knip’s Brewery in Schulenberg’s Addition. 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.”

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.

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 Gerhardt Knips home. Their daughter, Clara, stayed in Stillwater and was one of the first graduates from Stillwater High School in 1876. She later became a schoolteacher in Stillwater. Also staying in Stillwater was their son Emil, who worked for the Stillwater Mills.

Peter Newhouse later purchased the brewery building. He made it into a boarding house in which 16 families lived there during the First World War. When the state decided to widen Highway 95 in 1935, the building was torn down. 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.

According to the “History of Washington County and the St. Croix Valley” published in 1881, the “Marine brewery was started about 1856 by [John] Kaufman, a German from Hudson.” Then, about three years later, Swiss born John Graf purchased Kaufman’s brewery, and in 1865 constructed larger buildings for development of a bigger brewery with his son Emil.

In 1870 the brewery was sold to John F. Wichman and Henry Gartner. These gentlemen had come to Marine in the mid-1850s and were now embarking on making this one of the premiere breweries in the state.

The brewery consisted at this time of a saloon and Wichman’s home, and the buildings were near the river bluff just south of the millstream, near where the mill site historic marker is standing today.

By 1875, the Marine Brewery operated by Wichman & Gartner was making approximately 185 barrels of beer annually. In 1880, after Gartner’s death, Wichman became the sole owner and the production of the brewery was increased. In 1880, the brewery manufactured 300 barrels of beer, using nine hundred bushels of barley and employing two men.

At 8:30 in the evening on February 25, 1886, flames were spotted coming from the dry kiln in the basement of the brewery. The alarm was sounded and the towns’ people came “speedily upon the scene” but the fire raced through the brewery building and any attempt to save it was abandoned. However, the flames were spreading fast and it was possible that the fire could reach the planning mill and lumberyard. A bucket brigade was started and the mill and yard were saved. The fire did spread to the Wichman’s home, which was later destroyed by the fire but some of the household items were brought out to safety.

The estimates of the damage of the fire ranged from $3,000 to $3,500 and since the Wichman’s had no insurance, the brewery was a total loss. The Stillwater Gazette proclaimed “the citizens of Marine are deserving of much credit for their determined fight against great odds to prevent a further spread of the fire which at one time threatened to destroy the entire place.”

On the day of the fire, the Marine Village Council held a meeting and appointed John Bevens to investigate the cost of a suitable fire engine and 500 feet of hose. Later, on April 10, 1886, the council voted to purchase such an engine, which officially established the Marine Volunteer Fire Department.

Wichman did rebuild but the brewery was never put back into operation. Wichman died in December 1915 and his building was used in many different ways, from hotels to restaurants, a couple saloons and even an ice cream shop. The building was torn down in the late 1950s and there was some talk of making the site a nursing home. Eventually, according to James T. Dunn, the site was cleared completely in the fall of 1972 by the Minnesota Historical Society and is today a part of the historic mill property.

In the spring of 1868, Martin Wolf established a brewery at the corner of Main and Nelson Streets. He constructed a one story wooden building 40 X 50 feet. He conducted the business here until March 1871, when it passed into the ownership of Wolf, Tanner, and Company, Joseph Wolf and A. Tanner, being the principle owners. The old wooden building burned on March 25, 1872, and the company rebuilt the building with stone.

In May 1876, Joseph Wolf, the brother of Martin, purchased the whole business. In 1880 a brick office block was built adjoining the brewery. The firm was dissolved then incorporated under the name of Joseph Wolf Company in 1896, with Joseph Wolf as President of the firm. This new firm included three of Wolf’s sons and two son-in-laws.

The Wolf Brewery is the best known brewery from Stillwater, at one time producing more than 25,000 barrels of beer a year, and continued to produce some of the best beer and whisky in the State of Minnesota until the 18th amendment put an end to the brewery.

It took nearly a century for beer brewing to return to Stillwater after Prohibiton. And this Saturday, you’ll be able to sample a few of those local brews at our 8th Annual Beer Tasting at Hay Lake – including the renewed Wolf Brewing Company!

Cheers!

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