It’s disappointing how few people make an effort to be part of heritage groups, though I do see more interest than in the past. Maybe age has something to do with it, but many people have developed an interest in things from those "good old days."
As I have said before, history was not my favorite subject in school, but it has become more interesting to me later in my life.
When stories about days of old are included in the paper, they are of interest to me, and I hope that they are for others too. Some stories of the "good old days" make me glad I’m living now instead of then. Many who think things are hard now, I wish would have really lived in tougher times. Maybe then they would really appreciate all they have.
It is surprising to think how things have changed recently, let alone since the early 1900s.
My mother used to cry when someone older died because she said, "There went a bit of history." I remember she had a particular fondness for Mrs. Lemack Johnson because of the stories she told about her childhood, which coincided with that of my Grandma Schember, one of her best friends. She often talked about stories relating to Highway 30.
My mother also remembers Grandma talking about Mrs. Gilma Olson. At St. Olaf Lake where my parents lived for many years, we learned many stories about the "Four Corners at St. Olaf Lake" and its surrounding territory. My mother always wished she had asked more questions, but she still learned much about the history of St. Olaf Lake from those three great ladies.
Seems impossible, but true, that Indians came through on the bluffs east of the lake every spring and fall - just about where my nephew Cameron’s house now stands. Back then those three girls camped out in tents by the lake during the summer and slid in snow down the big hill in the winter. My Grandma often talked about when Highway 30 was changed from its original location. That "neck of the woods" was pretty much an Irish Catholic settlement and most of the people who lived there were related.
I also found it interesting that Mrs. Johnson’s dad walked from Iowa to Waseca to file for homestead on the farm where they were later to live their entire life. He walked because he felt it would be too hard on the family oxen to travel so far.
The Verplank school also served as a landmark for the New Richland area and the Verplank diary is a gold mine of history from that time period.
Recently, while talking with Marvel Beiser about the plans the Clarks Grove Heritage Society are making to build a museum, it has been interesting to look through two history books about the area. Records about the Village of Clarks Grove and the Baptist Church contained a great deal about the early history. I am sure this was typical of all the churches that sprung up during those early years.
I wish we had the commitment and loyalty for church today like the early settlers did. So many things now compete for our time. Church was once a time of rest, reverence and respect for the Lord’s Day. That is no longer true. Many use the day to catch up before the next week arrives.
Strange fact – there were fewer bugs in the olden days except for potato bugs. The early settlers experienced some blizzard conditions back then that would rival what we have experienced this year. We are more fortunate than the early settlers because we are because we are better equipped for the cold and snow. People then had to prepare for winter and cut wood that would be used to heat their homes. They also did not have the large machinery that we have now to move all the snow.
It seems incredible that my Grandma and Grandpa Hanson, and even my mother and dad, had such different experiences then we do today. Can kids today with a cell phone in their pockets even realize that not that long ago there was only one telephone in the entire village of Clarks Grove? Now most homes have at least one phone, maybe even two, and many members of the family carry cell phones.
On to another subject, we always gave my grandmother static because she was so often inclined to go barefoot. Many during those early years went barefoot to save on "wear and tear" of their shoes. Imagine people walking barefoot to church or school and then putting on their shoes before entering.
We never could quite comprehend what Grandma said when she told about how she and her brother, Hans, would share one pair of "good shoes." She said she felt guilty, but happy, when Hans stayed home from school to help with farm work, because that allowed her to wear the "good shoes" to school. School was like a gift of gold for her.
This was true of clothing in general - often kids borrowed each other’s clothes when it was time to go to church. The children would change off who got to wear the "good clothes" to church or school.
Back in those "good old days," ice was cut from Geneva Lake to be used at the creamery. The ice blocks were stored in a 20 x 30 shed and packed in sawdust to keep the milk cool during the hot summer days.
I've often shivered thinking about the "Polar Bear Dives" today. Would you believe that baptism at the Clarks Grove Baptist Church, back in those early days, was often held by chipping a hole in the ice on Geneva Lake. Surprising, one never heard of people getting sick or dying as a result.
And yet another interesting fact I learned about. The first licensed engineer in Minnesota, who was a lady, lived in Clarks Grove. She never went to school, but learned the language and how to read. She also learned to operate many of the different types of stationery engines too.
Back in 1890 the people of Clarks Grove witnessed the start of the "Cooperative Movement." First they organized a co-op creamery, then a store, then the hardware and implement. Later the mercantile, the lumber yard and stock yard. Later still, the telephone company would be owned by the users.
At one time, during the years of 1898-1904, Clarks Grove had a grinding mill which was operated by windmill power and in 1901 one teacher taught 60 students, which were many different ages, all in one room.
What goes around comes around? History repeats itself? In some ways, yes, and like all things in life there is always two sides to a coin - good and bad. Sometimes we can yearn for the simplicity of those olden years.
And that is one of the reasons we choose to live here.
Birthdays and anniversaries :
• Thursday, March 20: Jayda Moon, Tricia Renae Hanson, Nicole Christensen, Neva Lembke, Gary Reichl, Jim Butler, Tammy Harpel Nielsen, Winfred Bergdale, Shelly Hoeve, Billy Jo Johnson Schwierjohann, Dennis Olson
• Friday, March 21: Amy Foster, John Krell, Doris Krause, Trent Steven Pence, Kelly Marie Dobberstein, Phillip Ingvaldson, Pam Farr, Kent Paulson, Diane Marlin, Kelly Nelson, Doris Krause, Brody Grunwald, Darrell & Cindy Farr
• Saturday, March 22: National Goof Off Day! Gordy Carroll, Brenna Lynn Hagen, Shannon Johnson, Karin Lieberg, Bob Sommers, Leah Elaine Bergerson, Jerry Peterson, Nancy & Jerry Walterman, Dennis & Glenda Blouin
• Sunday, March 23: Chris Newgard, Penny Obermoller, Alan Edwardson, Troy Johnson, Troy Wagner, Jason Dwight, Alexi Jo Kitzer, Alex Dobberstein, Delaney Sue Vander Syde, Alexander James Thompson, Peter Bergerson, Chris Rutheford, Phyllis Anderson, Rick & Liz Wangsness
• Monday, March 24: Gail Ottesen, Seth Chad Staloch, Dave Meixner, Kurt Hanson, Laurie Phagan, Wes & Ruth Neidermeier, Angie & Cory Klemmensen, Tony & Sandra Tonsing, Lonna & Dean Broitzman
• Tuesday, March 25: Brad Hagen, Michelle Ritz, Pam Anderson, Faith Jensen, Tom Marlin, Trevor Loverink, Bernice Farr Mattson
• Wednesday, March 26: Amber Luella Theobald, Nikita Zelpha Peterson, Mary Lou Faldat, Jackie Draayer, David Hanson, Ray Coxworth, Lonnie Misgen, Ginger Cornelius, Dillon Hanson, Daryl Jensen, Duane Morreim, Amy Dobberstein, Marge Wobschall, Mary Lou Spurr, Gerrit & Jean Molenaar, Jeff & Robin Christensen, Jennifer & Matthew Dinneen
It is your special day. Get carried away.