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


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 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, tweet @WCHSMN, or post your guess on our Facebook page.

Good luck!

Full Image

Old News 

Stillwater at the Plate 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.