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Scriver Scribbler

Winter 2007

A quarterly publication of the Northfield Historical Society 408 Division Street • Northfield, MN 55057 • 507/645-9268

Annual Meeting to Mark a Year of Change By Gail Jones Hansen As the wrap-up to an exciting year of program expansion, leadership transition and building renovation, this year’s Annual Meeting promises to be a mustattend event for all members and friends of the Northfield Historical Society. Mark your calendars now for Saturday, March 24, when Carleton College’s Great Hall will be the backdrop for an entertaining get-together of NHS friends and associates, beginning with social hour at 6:00 p.m., dinner at 6:45, and a brief business meeting to elect officers and board members for 2007. Sam Demas

Keynote speaker Sam Demas, College Librarian and Senior Lecturer at Carleton College, will give a talk entitled “Imagining the Future of Northfield’s History.” His presentation will provide a vision of Northfield history preservation that is emerging from local discussions, framed in the context of national and regional efforts to document state and local history. Demas brings to this project experience at Cornell University in developing a national preservation plan for agricultural sciences literature. “What do we know about the history of Northfield and how do we know it? What documents and artifacts do we

Inside this issue… From the Director...................................................Page 2 Editor’s Perspective: Why History Matters ...........Page 3 Looking for Posse/Committee Members ..............Page 3 Winter Stories a Success....................................Pages 4-5 Proposed Bylaw Changes .......................................Page 7 Baseball Stories April 12th .....................................Page 7

have, where do they exist and how accessible are they?” Demas asks. “What documents and other sources are being produced today that will help Northfielders 100 years from now understand their history? What individuals and institutions are documenting our history, and how Annual Meeting to page 6

Welcome New Executive Director! We are pleased to announce that after serving seven months as Interim Executive Director of the Northfield Historical Society, Hayes Scriven has accepted the permanent position of Executive Director. A native of Nerstrand, Hayes received a B.A. in history from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and brings to the NHS experience creating historical exhibits in connection with his academic work. He served as Exhibit and Education Coordinator under former Executive Director Mark Fagerwick for a little over a year prior to assuming the position of Interim Director in July 2006. Since Hayes began his employment with the Society, he has created internship opportunities with Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges, coordinated the popular Cemetery Stories event, and developed our newest exhibit, The Early Years of Northfield. Shortly after the resignation of Fagerwick, Hayes along with Board President Scott Elmer quickly stepped up to Hayes Scriven (left) at the Northfield handle a wide Society with British documentarist range of opera- Historical Kevin Phillips (center) and James-Younger tional responsi- Gang President and author Jack Koblas bilities, ensuring seamless day-to-day management for the Society. We wish Hayes the very best in his new position!



SCRIVER SCRIBBLER A quarterly publication of the Northfield Historical Society

Mission Statement To be the primary community resource that honors, preserves, and interprets Northfield’s unique place in history, building a bridge from our past to our future. Vision Statement A Northfield whose vibrant heritage frames its exciting future. Editor: Gail Jones Hansen Writers: Joy Riggs Scott Richardson Gail Jones Hansen Northfield Historical Society Board of Directors Scott Elmer, President Pat Murtha, Treasurer Debby Larsen, Secretary Ray Coudret Chip DeMann Chris Ellison Rich Falck Dan Freeman Eric Fure-Slocum Gail Jones Hansen Deanna Kuennen Michelle Millenacker Susannah Ottaway Mary Titus Earl Weinmann Rob Schanilec, Past President Hayes Scriven, Executive Director Northfield Historical Society 408 Division Street Northfield, MN 55057 507-645-9268

From the Director… Greeting to all loyal Scribbler readers! I would like to thank you again for your support for the Northfield Historical Society. Since the last Scribbler was issued, a lot has happened. We’ve been hard at work entering data into our new website and online timeline. This project is very exciting. It’s rare for any organization to develop an interactive timeline of an entire Hayes Scriven town’s history. This new timeline and website should be up very soon. If you would like to help with data entry on this project, feel free to contact me! We regret to announce the resignation of our store manager, Dick Waters, who will be taking a position with a church in Richfield. Dick did a wonderful job in the store during his short time with us. We thank him for all the work he did and wish him the best in his future endeavors. I’d like to give everyone a “heads up” on a great program scheduled for April 12th at the Grand called “Way Back, It’s Off the Wall!” (see article this issue.) This program will consist of nine Northfielders sharing stories of baseball. Come hungry, as Tiny’s will be selling ball park fare – hot dogs, Crackerjack and peanuts. On December 3rd we had a water leak which originated in an upstairs apartment of the Scriver Building. The water heater malfunctioned, and water leaked down to the lower floor, resulting in damage to the wall in the Attempted Bank Raid and Early Years of Northfield exhibits. Although the water reached our archives room, no artifacts were damaged. We bought a new water heater for the apartment and the walls are clean and repaired. Finally, I would like to announce the creation of our first-ever educational Traveling Trunk. It is filled with artifacts and information that trace the immigration of the Kildahl family from Norway to Northfield. The trunk was created by two St. Olaf College student interns, Kari Bergeson and Danaca Heidorn. They worked hard this past semester researching U.S. immigration history and the Kildahl family travels. The trunk is available for use by any school system or non-profit organization. If you are interested in reserving the trunk, please contact me. This is the first of many educational trunks we plan to produce at NHS. On a personal note, I would like to thank the board of directors, Society members and volunteers who have expressed their support for my new role as Executive Director. I look forward to working with you! Please remember that with all that is happening at the Society, we still have plenty of opportunities for people of all ages to volunteer. If you are interested, please call 507-645-9268. Remember, you make history every day!

Hayes Scriven, Director

Production and Printing By All Means Graphics 18 Bridge Square, Northfield 507-663-7937



Winter 2007

Editor’s Perspective

Why History Matters…in 400

ADULT POSSE ROUNDUP! We’re only two months away from training new Adult Posse members for the 2007 season! If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tour guide in the Northfield Historical Society, please contact Earl Weinmann at 507-645-9488.

Words or Less One of the more famous quotes from James Joyce’s Ulysses reads: “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Joyce’s novel asks how we benefit from the lessons of the past, and suggests that what is instructive – and ultimately redemptive – is the experience of the individual: how each of us interprets and uses the mythology of our culture to sustain us amid the chaos of the modern world. Gail Jones Hansen

You don’t need to be a history buff to participate ... just have an interest in telling our story to visitors from all over the world. You’ll learn a lot and meet interesting people. Training sessions begin the first week of April and continue once a week for 10 weeks; each session lasts approximately an hour and a half. We’ll have lively discussions about the James-Younger Gang and their association with Minnesota.

In our daily lives, all of us create our own stories which are as vital a part of the human drama as events played on larger stages that we tend to think of as “history.” These stories form our collective mythology as a society, which in turn reflects universal themes of human existence. This, in part, is why history matters: it enables us to make connections between day-to-day life and what we distill as truth from our shared experience. We gain perspective.

Discover how much fun it is to “round up” all those museum visitors and inform them of our rich and illustrious heritage. Join our Adult Posse today!

If the universal sustains and grounds us over the long haul, the particular intrigues us in the here and now. We may find our predecessors’ great struggles and discoveries and conquests all very interesting, but we are equally curious about what they had for breakfast. We want to know what kind of clothing they wore, how they managed without modern conveniences, whether they felt as we do about raising children, playing baseball, falling in love. The Northfield Historical Society is particularly good at preserving and sharing these kinds of everyday facts, opinions and ways of life that shaped the character of our community. Specific information about colorful Northfielders keeps the magic of history alive. When we listen under a full October moon to Cemetery Stories, read about pioneering Northfielders surviving tough winters, or examine the artifacts in the NHS’ Traveling Trunk Exhibit, we feel a deep connection with those who came before us.

We’re Looking for a Few Good Committee Members The NHS is seeking to fill many seats in our very active committee structure. Five of our committees need your support! No specialized experience is required; we’re looking for your enthusiasm, energy and fresh ideas. If you enjoy retail environments, we encourage you to join the Museum Store Committee, where you can order and manage inventory and help with merchandising displays. The NHS also offers opportunities to assist the Membership Committee with solicitation drives and community outreach. Those interested in communicating information about our mission and activities to local and regional audiences may want to consider becoming involved in the Marketing and PR Committee.

Like art, history enlivens our sense of wonder. The NHS invites you to learn more about those remarkable individuals who shaped our town. Volunteer to serve on a committee, tour the museum, peruse the literature in our Museum Store. Get to know the people who made Northfield what it is today. In their stories, you may find your own.

Our Education Committee needs your help in developing innovative ways to inform people of all ages about Northfield’s unique history. We also are looking for Archives Committee members to explore and document our fascinating collections. If you’d like to make new friends, give back to the community and help Northfield preserve its past, join a committee today!

Gail Jones Hansen is a freelance writer and editor of books, newsletters and marketing communications for corporate and not-for-profit clients. 3


Winter 2007

Fireside Stories Spark Interest in Northfield History Imagine moving to Northfield in January 1856, when the temperature has dropped to 44 degrees below zero. Imagine that the 45-mile trip from St. Anthony Falls takes three days, and that you are traveling with three children in a Conestoga wagon equipped with blankets and a rocking chair. Ann Loomis North lived that experience, and she “returned from the grave” on January 18, 2007 to tell her story as part of the Northfield Historical Society’s “Winter Stories with Early Northfielders.” “Before we moved, I had dressed 12 turkeys and 30 chickens. We didn’t have to worry about them spoiling because they stayed frozen all that time,” said Marion Hvistendahl, the veteran actor portraying North, a strong frontier woman who together with husband John founded the town. Hvistendahl was joined by Orrin DeLong, who portrayed early settler Mason Wheeler, in telling tales of hardship interlaced with humor. They spoke to a crowd of about 70 people gathered in front of the fireplace at Millstream Commons. Audience members included Millstream Commons residents and members of local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops.

Founders Ann Loomis and John North

house that first winter that the ink would freeze, making it difficult for her to write letters to her family in upstate New York. The ink apparently flowed a few months later, because she wrote a letter to her parents on February 24, 1856, explaining how she had entertained seven unexpected visitors. “We gave them oysters, which we’d brought from St. Anthony, and they spent the night,” Hvistendahl reminisced.

John North arrived in the area in 1855 and purchased land that became the city of Northfield. His wife and children followed in January 1856, and lived in what early settler Hiram Scriver described as the “most complete house in the village.” The house was made of wood, not sod, and had walls lined with cotton cloth.

North wrote many letters to her family during the six years she lived in Northfield. Some mention her younger brother George Loomis, who also lived in Northfield. Others describe the family’s health and diet, the butchering of an exceptionally large hog, and their progress in forming the Lyceum Society.

Providing the kind of detail that makes history come to life, Hvistendahl (as Mrs. North) said it was so cold inside the

Hvistendahl said they didn’t have a Christmas tree, but the family did hang up Christmas stockings. The children received little books, nuts, and an orange in the toe of their stockings. For their first local New Year’s celebration, the Norths traveled to Faribault, where they enjoyed music, ate apples and nuts and drank coffee. “This was the height of excitement for us in those days,” Hvistendahl joked. The North family left Northfield in 1861 in financial trouble and moved to Nevada, where John North had been appointed surveyor general of the Nevada Territory. They later moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, and finally to California, where John North founded the towns of Riverside and Oleander. Both John and Ann North are buried in Riverside.



Winter 2007

Homesteader Mason Wheeler Acknowledging that he’s not as famous as his son, Henry (who helped to foil the bank raid by the James-Younger Gang) Mason Wheeler described his contributions to early Northfield and explained what it was like to homestead. Orrin DeLong, as Wheeler, discussed how the Vermont native became intrigued with the idea of moving west. He left his wife Hulda and son Henry with family members in New Hampshire, and traveled to the Minnesota Territory in 1856. “Most of the people in New England figured that if you went past Chicago, you’d fall off the face of the earth. I wanted to see if it was true,” DeLong joked. DeLong said Wheeler fell in love with Northfield and brought his wife, son and infant daughter to the town in 1857 to homestead. He described homesteading as a difficult process that involved building a 12-foot by 14-foot shanty, “about the size of a bedroom now.” The homesteaders were required to stay in the shanty one night with a witness, which the family did. The next morning, Wheeler traveled to St. Paul to collect the family’s goods. He had arranged for someone to pick up his wife and children, but the man never appeared.

Wheeler established a general store where he sold boots, shoes and other goods. A school board member and treasurer of the Fire Department, he also operated a drug store in town for a number of years. His son Henry, who graduated from Carleton College, was on a break from his studies at the University of Michigan medical school on Sept. 7, 1876, when the James-Younger Gang attempted to rob the First National Bank. The younger Wheeler killed one robber and wounded another. He later became a successful doctor in North Dakota.

“Hulda was there all morning and afternoon. The wind blew the stovepipe down, so the stove was off. She was huddled up there with the two kids, the blankets around her, and Marion less than six months old. They sat there four to five hours waiting for Mr. Whittier,” DeLong recounted. “(Hulda) had some interesting things to say to me when I came back from St. Paul about what she thought of homesteading.”

Fireside Audience Responds Warmly After the presentation at Millstream Commons, contemporary Northfielders discussed the lives of their predecessors as they mingled over cookies, coffee and cider. Northfield native Mary Zoe Scott said that she enjoyed the talk, and that she remembers now-gone businesses that the speakers mentioned, including Scofield Drug. Patrick Edwards, leader of a Cub Scout pack from St. Dominic’s Church, said the talk was educational for the 8and 9-year-old Scouts, who had been learning about ways of life in different periods of history. “This fit in perfectly,” Edwards said of the presentation. NHS Executive Director Hayes Scriven said the turnout was much higher than he’d expected. The event was a spin-off of the popular Cemetery Stories held in October. “I didn’t know the response I’d get, but seeing you all here is a great thing,” Scriven said as he welcomed the audience.

Marion Hvistendahl as Ann Loomis North, Orrin DeLong as Mason Wheeler and Northfield Historical Society Executive Director Hayes Scriven engaged 70 eager listeners during January’s Winter Stories at Millstream Commons.

Joy Riggs is a freelance writer based in Northfield. You can read more of her work at 5


Winter 2007

Annual Meeting continued from front page are they working together? These are the questions being posed by a group of Northfield archivists, librarians, historians, and museum professionals in an effort to develop an ongoing partnership among local groups involved in preserving Northfield’s history. The Northfield Historical Society is at the heart of this effort.” Another highlight of the evening will be the formal recognition of our Volunteers of the Year, Laura Wett and Bob Phelps. A former President of the Society, Bob Phelps has continued to be active in our Adult Posse, giving tours in the summer and volunteering in the Museum Store. Laura Wett is a college-bound senior at Northfield High School. She has been very involved with our Junior Curator Program, and has served as a Summer Assistant for the past two years.

Northfield Historical Society 2006 Volunteers of the Year Bob Phelps and Laura Wett.

her capacity as secretary.

The business meeting will be conducted by board president Scott Elmer. Newly nominated board members will include Lori Steil, Jeff Johnson, Jodi Lawson, Adriana Estill, and Chuck Sandstrom. Current board member Dan Freeman will replace Scott Elmer as board president for 2007, while Scott will continue to serve the Society as a board member. He joins current board members Chip DeMann, Eric FureSlocum, Deanna Kuennen, Chris Ellison, Earl Weinmann, Gail Jones Hansen, and Michelle Millenacker. Executive committee/board member Debby Larsen will continue in

WELCOME Members! Welcome to our new members, and a big thank you to our old friends for renewing their NHS memberships! Should you wish to make an additional donation, please consider upgrading your membership. If you have any questions about your membership status, or to notify us of changes in your address or contact information, please call the NHS at 507-645-9268. Renewing Members Catherine Larson and Steve Albers Maxine Amundson Solveig Bailey Paul and Maribeth Beck Bill Bethke John and Margaret Bierman Linda Blaisdell Bill and Mary Bleckwehl David Bly Dorothy Bolton Dixon Bond Dean Britton William and Marguerite Brodersen Judy Broske Arlene Carroll Judith Christensen Keith Covey

Randolph Cox Raymond and Ellen Cox Carol Korde and Bruce Dalgaard Bart and Susan DeMalignon Jim and Nancy Dimick Roger and Patricia DuFour Megan and Tom Durkin Mary Dyer-Bennet Mary Ann and Ray Eng Robert and Sarah Entenmann Richard Estenson Richard Falck Jennings and Elaine Feroe James and Beverly Finholt Karl and Alene Fink Michael and Judy Fitzgerald Margaret Fjelstad Robert and Carroll Flaten Eugene and Clair Fox

Complimentary wine and beer will be served during the social hour (donations encouraged). The dinner menu will feature a lemon-thyme chicken breast with garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, dinner rolls and a Bailey’s chocolate torte; a vegetarian meal also will be available. Cost is $22.00 per person. Please see the enclosed invitation for information on tickets. Don’t forget to obtain one or two extra for nonmember guests who might like to be introduced to our organization!

Dan Freeman Harold Gargrave Sandra Gerdes Terry and Norma Gilbertson Richard and Lois Goehtz Frederick and Ruth Gonnerman Robert and Nancy Granrud Ron and Beret Griffith Anne Groton Marvin and Judy Grundhoefer Delbert and Arlene Gustafson Evangline Hall Lorraine Hanson George and Gretchen Hardgrove Marguerite Hauberg Joanne Hebert Mark Heiman Karen Helland James Herreid Glen and Barb HerringtonHall Barry and Kristi Holden Rollie and Shar Jacobsen Lowell and Barbara Johnson Margit and Eric Johnson Joann and Paul Jorgensen Richard and JoAnn Kleber James and Ardis Koehler Duane and Elaine Kringen Margaret Lee Patricia Lewis


John Lindley Else Lovoll Charlene Lucken Barbara Lundergan Orwin Marks Robert and Nola Matheson Jane McWilliams Peter Menyhart Janet Mitchell Virginia Mondale Richard and Raymonde Noer Robert and Teresa Oden Joan and Duane Olson John and Patricia Ophaug Raymond Ozmun Daniel Palm Donald and Bonnie Pavek Roberta Peterson Dan Peterson Yale Pfoutz Robert and Thora Phelps Gordon and Charlotte Rasmussen Brett and Michelle Reese Hilbert and Bernadine Reese Robert and Joan Reitz Joy Riggs Kevin Rodgers Ronald and Bettye Ronning Bernice Schendel Eugene and Joyce Schrader L.E. and Dorene Scriven Mark and Sue Scriven

June Severson Charles Sewich Joseph and Mary Shaw Arlene Sivanich Bardwell and Charlotte Smith Emery and Nancy Solberg Edlo Solum Judith Sosted George and Carolyn Soule Margaret Spear Solveig Steendal Lora Steil Linda Storlie Judith Stoutland Stephen and Dana Strand Noel and Lois Stratmoen Ross and Virginia Stickley Curtis and Karen Swenson Garry and Annette Switzer Elaine Thurston Norman and Joan Torbenson Julian and Betty Trangsrud Solvig Velde Clark and Eve Webster DeWayne Wee Earl Weinmann Phil and Thelma Winter Henry and Louise Witman Frank and Ann Wright James and Lynne Young Kathleen Yung Continued on next page


Winter 2007

Proposed Changes to Bylaws The Board of Directors of the Northfield Historical Society has proposed the following changes to the NHS bylaws in the areas of membership categories and rights. These will be voted on at the Annual Meeting on March 24. • Senior: $30/year An individual 65 years or older (and his or her family, if requested) on a limited income. • Student: $30/year An individual under 25 years of age enrolled full time in college courses or high school. • Individual: $40/year An individual of any age. • Family: $50/year A couple with or without children. • Historian: $100/year An individual or family. • Patron: $250/year An individual or family. • Settler: $500/year An individual or family. • Life: $1,000 An individual or family who pre-pays membership for life.

Renewing Businesses Premier Bank College City Beverage Malt-O-Meal Northfield Lines St. Olaf College

A Sure Hit . . .

Baseball Stories April 12th at the Grand! By Scott Richardson The Northfield Historical Society will celebrate the pastime that has bridged generations for the past 150 years with a special baseball storytelling evening at the Grand Event Center on Thursday, April 12. “Way Back, It’s Off the Wall!” will bring together Northfield baseball aficionados for ninety minutes of stories, covering the high hops and short stops as experienced or observed by some of Northfield’s best students of the game. Will Healy, a great storyteller in his own right, will emcee the evening and persuade the likes of Jim Dimick, Bardwell Smith, Jack Thurnblad and Tom Graupmann to share their best baseball tales and reminiscences. We will hear about exciting plays, brushes with fame, and can-you-believe-that anecdotes, including a first-person account by a man in our midst who recorded an unassisted triple play while playing minor league baseball. The doors will open at 6:00 p.m. for indoor tailgating. Baseball fare will be available from Tiny’s. At 7:30 p.m., Rick Esse will announce the start of play. For anyone with a love of the game, this event promises to be a highly entertaining kick-off to the season. Bring the family and get ready to have fun!

New Members Katie Arnold Robert Hickcox Orville and Edythe Peterson Walter and Betty Stromseth

New and renewing members as of February 7, 2007


Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage



S 408 Division Street Northfield, MN 55057

PAID Standard A Permit No. 166 Northfield, MN 55057

The Scriver Scribbler Winter 2007 No. 2  
The Scriver Scribbler Winter 2007 No. 2  

The Scriver Scribbler Winter 2007 No. 2