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MINNESOTA CITY HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION MEMBER NEWSLETTER – Volume 12, Issue 3: March, 2017

Mark your
Calendars!

March 11: 9:30 a.m. Monthly MCHA meeting. City Hall. 149 Mill Street.

March 14: 8:00 p.m. Township Annual Meeting: Rollingstone Township Hall; Highway 248.

March 19: 2:00 p.m. Bob Bambenek, County Recorder Presents on Winona County Land Values

March 23: 6:30 p.m. Community Readers. Minnesota City City Hall, 149 Mill Street. All interested persons welcome. Selection: In the Heart of the Sea, by Nathaniel Philbrick.

May 20: Saturday; Minnesota City Day; 165th anniversary of founding of village in 1852.

“Go Green!”

If you receive this letter in paper “hardcopy” and would prefer to receive it electronically, please call
689-2440.


Land’s Changing Worth: Bob Bambenek Presents on March 19

(right) County Recorder Bambenek at a previous MCHA presentation. (MCHA photo)
March 19 at 2:00 p.m., at St. Paul’s Church Hall
on Anderson Street, County Recorder Bob
Bambenek will discuss the status of real estate
matters in Winona County. Persons who have
heard Bambenek at previous MCHA sponsored
presentations have always been impressed with
his fingertip knowledge (helped by data!) of
values and transactions of all kinds of land in the
county. They have also witnessed his ability to
continue to interest with new information and
topics. For land owners or persons interested in
the many changes in ownership that are ongoing
in all our neighborhoods, the presentation will
fill in some of our knowledge blanks, e.g. what
aspects of value are involved in the recent
changes at the site of Lyle’s Flooring, the change in value of the sale of the well-marked and now unmarked Wenzel home on Highway 61, other properties near you, changes in value related to the installation of the solar panels on 248 and Rollingstone/Minnesota City ridge land. MCHA has been the recipient of Bambenek and staff assistance for a variety of research projects including the Fifield Artesian Mineral Water plant, the Ellsworth Mill and others. Readers will find interesting the description of land value included in the article on Robert Pike, Minnesota City early settler. (See p.3 and p.4)

(left) Pre-sale Wenzel Signs on Maurl Dr.
(MCHA photo)

Susan Althoff briefs MCHA on Minnesota City Stand Still Parade Details

The focus of the February 11 MCHA meeting was a presentation by Susan Althoff of information about the Stand Still Parade that she is organizing for Minnesota City Day on May 20. Althoff is the planner and designer of the parade. She projects 25 parade units that will be placed on Mill Street. The parade will be from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.. Parking, signage, publicity, businesses involvement, and the role of First Baptist Church, the MCHA archives and Oakland Cemetery were all discussed. A number of local businesses with possible parade spot interest were invited to the presentation.

Minnesota Citians Do Love a Parade!

(right) Standing Still Parade Watchers at the opening of the new bridge following 2007 flood. MCHA photo
The August 1950 dedication of the Swinging Bridge, a suspension bridge, was one of the biggest events ever staged in Minnesota City, according to the Winona Republican Herald. A parade was the center of activity. Parade chairman, Leo Richter, said that several marching units would be present including Edstrom’s Accordion Band and St.Stanislaus School Band. The Winona Steamboat Day’s Queen, Joan Vollmer, rode in the parade and Robert Schuh directed the Rollingstone Band. A highlight of this event was the meeting on the new bridge of Oswald Vill, one of the oldest city residents, walking from the Oaks side, and Mayor Leo Cisewski coming from the Village side. “Hundreds of persons ‘initiated’ the bridge” and “crowds surged onto the swinging span” after the ribbon cutting. (WRH August 14, 1950).
Mill Street Resident Authors Short Story Collection

Jim Schoen, Mill Street resident, entertained listeners with his reading from his first book, Night Work, at the Blue Heron Coffee Shop on February 1. Schoen has worked, according to the Winona Post, as a bus driver and ORC employee. Schoen’s ability to reproduce evocative details impresses listeners and readers and is a significant strength of his writing. The Schoen family lives on Mill Street in the former Catholic Church, former opera house, former dance hall. The history of that building is an interesting story.

Minnesota City Little Library Chartered

Lori Donehower has communicated to Minnesota City Community Readers her reception of the accepted registration and chartering of the Little Free Library located at 120 Mill Street. Built by Hollis Donehower, and researched and organized by Lori Donehower, the Little Library holds a trove of varied reading materials. Persons with interest in this project worldwide can find information on the website https://littlefreelibrary.org/ .
All books can be borrowed, returned, kept, shared -- with no due dates, sign ins or outs. Many additional contributed books await placement in the Little Library. Invite friends to utilize the library; children will also enjoy the range of books available. Some persons have developed habits that include a stop at the library before church, after church, before or after the post office stop. LITTLE LIBRARY. READ AND WATCH YOUR WORLD GROW


MCHA Expresses Sympathy

• to the friends and family of John Mueller who died in Peoria, Ill. on Feb. 2, 2017. Mueller was born in 1930 in Winona County.

• to the friends and family of Stanley G. Mann, 81, of Minnesota City, MN who died on February 14, 2017, in LaCrosse WI.

• to the friends and family of James King , 81, who died in Minnesota City on February 20. Jim King was a person well known to many Minnesota City residents. In addition to his participation at St. Paul’s Parish, he was active in city matters, including acting as a council person, fire department chief and mayor. Additionally, his Watkowski obituary lists his contribution of grave digging at Oakland and St. Paul’s cemeteries. His contributions are remembered.


MCHA Thanks

• St. Paul’s Parish for the use of their hall for the Bambenek speech on March 19.


Conceding the Quest for the Robert Pike Diary

For several years, through site visits, phone calls, and online communications, MCHA has pursued acquisition of or a facsimile of the diary of Robert Pike, early Minnesota City Settler. The volume is owned by the Minnesota State Historical Society. At the MCHA February meeting, following yet additional communications with the state society, attendees agreed to forego further efforts to secure the impressive document. According to the Minnesota State Historical Society Library catalog description, “the volume contains a diary (1851-1858) with information on teaching school, locating and entering lands, lecturing, and political activity in Winona County (Minn.); copies of the articles of agreement of the Rollingstone Industrial Association (1854) and of the Commonwealth Homestead Association of Dakota Territory (1860); a register (1861) of pupils in District No 1l Rollingstone (Winona County); and a plan for improving water power at Minnesota City. Loose papers comprise miscellaneous letters, deeds, memorabilia, and biographical data. Included are a letter showing the Rollingstone colony to be a Utopia for labor, and a song written by Pike for the 1852 Fourth of July celebration at Minnesota City.”

Celebrations of Minnesota City Day since 2002 have called attention to this remarkable account of the founding of the village, written by one of the most interesting, talented individuals of the settlement. When MCHA personnel visited the State Society, they examined the diary and other papers in the collection and obtained copies of the entries close to the arrival days of Pike and others to the village. Pike writes on May 15, 1852: “ Day appointed for choosing farms and garden plots. Nearly 100 persons on the ground. Day pleasant.” “1852: Mr. Haddock and family staid with us to breakfast. Hoed in the garden a little.” 1852: (Bot? Got?) Crawford’s claim for David and Gordon—Crawford left—homesick enough. Went up to the slue + helped get a load of slabs--Went to Committee Meeting—the everlasting Aims Committee—Got excited—had the fever/chills-took 6 baths—O how sick. 1852. Tuesday. Chill lasted nearly or quite 2 hours and then that terrible I can call it nothing else that terrible fever (Crazy) so they said I was perfectly conscious. Mrs. Haddock died this morning.” By 1854, the entries take a decided turn to village structure and an apparent reading audience.

On August 27, Pike writes: “The first thing to be done is to locate the water power and plan for its improvement. The greatest amount
of water practical should be secured and so arranged as to be applicable for any purpose required machinery ought to perform all the labor and require superintenture. An Industrial Palace capable of accommodating 5000 persons would probably cover 50 acres. (A copy of Pike’s design, shown on right, is in the MCHA archives donated by Roger Church).This would upon our plant be built in the form of an amphitheatre in the centre, a level portion of say 5 acres and the balance made up of hill and valley as taste might dictate consisting of workshops arched over with brick or stone work and rising as it extends towards the sides from one to two to three or four stories. Over these workshops would be created a garden with the whole edifice being covered with glass. From each workshop there would be a communication with each adjacent shop and with
the centre of the edifice by means of a railway track.”

(continued on page 4 as PIKE)


PIKE
(continued from page 3)

Related to the Bob Bambenek presentation on land values, this Robert Pike letter from January 14, 1856 is very timely. The archives has a facsimile of the hand written letter (below right).
(below left) Robt. Pike, Old Settlers photo.

Thomas K. Allen Esqr.-
Dear Sir—For the sake of settling our differences I make the following propositions. 1st I will give you a warrantee Deed of 120 acres of land 80 Prairie and 40 timber lying adjoining in a valley with a spring brook running through the whole length distant four miles from my place of easy access for your forty and $50 or 2nd I will enter for you 240 acres of land you may select for your forty—Provided they will allow one to enter the forty at the Land office—you thus saving your Pre-emption—Robert Pike

Thanks to Kate O’Grady who “translated” the diary entries from the Pike embellished script to contemporary fonts.

Anyone who wishes to donate to or be a member of the Association is invited to send $15.00 to:
MCHA, P.O. Box 21,
Minnesota City, MN 55959

All monies will be used to support Association goals.

MCHA Website Welcomes Data

MCHA invites readers to submit (mgogrady@embarqmail.com) dates for the newsletter of family reunions, milestone birthdays, and other events about which readers wish to share information.