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Summer 2008

Scriver Scribbler

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

SCOPE Program’s James-Younger Gang Book Released If you happened to visit the Northfield Middle School any morning over the last four years, you may have puzzled at the sight of a collection of students who were not in their classrooms. You might have even seen them debating activities surrounding the JamesYounger Gang, typing on laptops, or even boarding a van with a map, hand-held GPS units, and a collection of books and notes. If you did, you were witnessing students in the SCOPE Program (Student Community Outreach Program Experience). Since the fall of 2004, a select group of eighth-grade students has been researching and writing a history and travel guide that chronicles the drama of the James-Younger Gang in its attempt to flee Minnesota after the failed robbery at the First National Bank in 1876. For two weeks, under dark and rainy skies, the wounded outlaws journeyed over 100 miles with the largest posse in U.S. history in pursuit. On the way, the Gang encountered rain-swollen rivers and unsuspecting citizens. This dramatic story, so often ignored or brushed over in most James-Younger Gang histories, is told in compelling detail and also serves as a field guide for those who wish to travel the escape trail. The book, titled Caught in the Storm: A Field Guide to the James-Younger Gang Escape Trail, provides readers with information on the key places where the Gang endured the most harrowing adventure of their lives. Earl Weinmann, SCOPE program coordinator and tour guide, explained the uniqueness of this book: “First of all, it’s a thoroughly researched book written entirely by talented eighth-grade writers under the guidance of Carleton College interns. Each chapter takes the reader and traveler to twelve locations between Northfield and Hanska Slough where the final shootout took place. The first page of each chapter contains a map, driving directions, mileage, GPS coordinates and a present-day photo for the place discussed in that

chapter. The chapter itself gives the exciting details of who the Gang encountered there and the fateful decisions made along the way.” He went on to emphasize that the book is not just a field guide but also serves as a stand-alone history for those who cannot personally travel along the route. Established in 1992, the SCOPE Program is a partnership between the Northfield Historical Society (NHS) and the Northfield School District. The program’s purpose is to move students beyond the classroom walls to conduct original historical research to benefit the larger Northfield community. Weinmann commented, “The SCOPE Program has given eighth-grade students the opportunity to understand that history is not a story accessible only between the pages of a textbook, but is alive and surrounding us everywhere. With this book, the students have done an outstanding job of demonstrating that to others. Whether you are 9 or 90 years old, a historian or casual reader, Caught in the Storm has something for everyone to enjoy.” Caught in the Storm goes on sale at the NHS museum store and other local outlets in late August.

Inside this issue… From the Director ...................................................Page 2 Message from the President....................................Page 3 New and Renewing Members.................................Page 3 Junior Curators Connect with the Past..................Page 4 Junior Posse Member Gains Lifetime of Memories..Page 4 Who’s in Your Cemetery: The Remittance Man....Page 5 Profiles in Diverity: A Dundas Tragedy .................Page 6 Grant to put Northfield History on the Web ........Page 7 Historical Society Event Calendar..........................Page 8





SCRIVER SCRIBBLER A quarterly publication of the Northfield Historical Society Mission Statement To serve as the primary stewards of the unique history of the Northfield area, fostering an awareness of its meaning and relevance through the discovery, documentation, preservation and interpretation of our collective stories. Vision Statement To achieve a fiscally sound organization driven by a large, diverse and engaged membership, innovative educational exhibits and programming and a successful presences downtown and throughout the Northfield area. Editors: Jeff Sauve Evelyn Hoover Writers: Casey Dallavalle Audrey DeMann Sam Demas Sonja Wermager Northfield Historical Society Board of Directors Gail Jones Hansen, President Deanna Kuennen, Vice President Jodi Lawson, Vice President Chuck Sandstrom, Treasurer Debby Larsen, Secretary Chip DeMann Carol Donelan Adriana Estill Dan Freeman Jeff Johnson Dan Jorgensen Michelle Millenacker Heather Scott Lora Steil Earl Weinmann Hayes Scriven, Executive Director Northfield Historical Society 408 Division Street Northfield, MN 55057 507-645-9268 Production and Printing By All Means Graphics 17 Bridge Square, Northfield 507-663-7937

From the Director… Our summer youth programs are in full swing and the museum is buzzing with Junior Curators, Summer Assistants, and Junior Posse Members. The twenty Junior Curators are working in the Museum Store learning how to interact with customers and how a store operates. In addition, they are also working in the archives where they help research the Cemetery Stories and upcoming exhibits. Watching over the Curators are Hayes Scriven three Summer Assistants. They always do a wonderful job teaching the Curators the ins and outs of the Northfield Historical Society (NHS). I can’t talk about NHS’s Youth programs without mentioning the Junior Posse. These fifteen young men and women do a wonderful job giving tours of the museum to visitors from all over the world including Japan, Poland, and Bolivia! As the summer rolls on, the Defeat of Jesse James Days (DJJD) gets closer. This might sound insane, but I love DJJD. I love the amount of work that goes into the celebration and I love what it stands for. Some say DJJD is about glorifying an outlaw, but that is the far from the truth. DJJD is all about celebrating Northfield’s rich history. If you have not been to DJJD in awhile, come down for one hour and see how it has changed. After DJJD, it is time to prepare for the Cemetery Stories. This year’s event will be held at Oak Lawn Cemetery (next to the golf course) on Oct. 10. Stay tuned for more information on this event. After Cemetery Stories, NHS will host the Annual Auction on Nov. 8. This year’s auction will be held at the Northfield Golf Course and our Auction Committee is hard at work putting together another great evening! The theme is a maskED ball! Make sure to remember a mask! Also, if you have any donations for the auction, please contact NHS. On top of all of this, NHS is still working on the Northfield History Collaborative. This is a joint project between NHS, Carleton College Library and Archives, Northfield Public Library, St. Olaf College Library, and Rice County Historical Society. This project, in its early stages, aims to make the majority of Northfield history accessible online. If you have any questions or comments on any of these topics feel free to call or email me. NHS is always looking for volunteers and new ideas! Cheers!

Hayes Scriven Executive Director

“Some say DJJD is about glorifying an outlaw, but that is far from the truth. DJJD is all about celebrating Northfield’s rich history.” 2


Summer 2008

Message from the President… I have been a collector of old things since I was an introspective, bookwormish girl of 12, roaming estate auctions and garage sales with my parents in the suburbs of Chicago. Throughout all the changes of my life it’s the one fascination that has never palled, Gail Jones Hansen NHS Board President and today I have prized collections of antique postcards and valentines, buttons and dolls, etchings and oil paintings. With my father I shared for 40 years the gentle madness of book collecting, and my library has become a sacred sanctuary, steeped in familial memory. I suspect that museum archivists have an even more powerful appreciation for the magical character that history and provenance lend to old things. The historical objects themselves may be extraordinary,

incorporating vintage design, ornamentation and craftsmanship that reflect a rich heritage. But it’s knowing the stories behind the artifacts that really shifts our imaginations into high gear. Historic sites, too, can give off extraordinarily powerful vibes: ask anyone who’s been to Ellis Island, or to an Indian burial ground. A marvelous energy resides in these places that reminds us we are all linked to the past. If it’s been awhile since you toured the Northfield Historical Museum, come on down before the September crowds hit town. Relive the moving story of the “Faithful Unto Death” video; gaze at the remarkable glass plate negatives of the James-Younger Gang; offer your own private moment of silence in tribute to Joseph Heywood. These are the experiences that make history matter, that serve as touchstones to transcend time, that bring to life our collective stories as Northfielders.

Thank You to our New and Renewing Members! Join them today! 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. Ken & Rhonda Bank

Bill & Nanette Goldman

Donavon & Lois Kuehnast

Hilbert & Bernadine Reese

Betty Barr

Stephen & Leota Goodney

Nathan Kuhlman

Scott & Patricia Richardson

Elaine Benson

Robert & Nancy Granrud

Andrew Langehough

Kerry & Judy Running

Nancy & Steve Braker

Lorraine Gunderson

Andy & Suzanne Langehough

Joseph & Mary Shaw

Jackson Bryce

Connie Gunderson

Debby Larsen

Mitzi Shimp

Mary Carson

Richard Hagen

Val Lavender

Emery & Nancy Solberg

Judith Christensen

Charlene Lucken

Myron & Carol Solid

Clifford & Grace Clark

George & Gretchen Hardgrove

Sandy Malecha

Edlo Solum

Fred & Marlene Dahl

Joe Hargis

Jane McWilliams

Sid & Betty Sorbo

Andrea Een

Marguerite Hauberg

Kathy & Brad Ness

Stephen & Dana Strand

Mary Ann & Ray Eng

Marilyn Haugen

Joan & Duane Olson

Steve & Judy Swanson

Adriana Estill

Sanford & Kathryn Haugen

Susannah Ottaway Al & Theresa Perry

Richard & Marlene Vanasek

Dan Peterson

Richard Vork

Yale Pfoutz

Kenneth & Lois Wilkens

Tom & Connie Posch

Phil & Thelma Winter

Albert & Gretchen Quie

Rebecca & Philip Zrimsek

Kathy Feldbrugge Judy Kutulas & Michael Fitzgerald

Greg Heymans T. Willard Hunter

Margaret Fjelstad

Joseph & Jeanette Iverson

Robert & Carroll Flaten

Paul & Marie Jensen



Summer 2008

Junior Curators Connect with the Past help, either in the store, or the archives, or maybe even in the hospitality tent on the Fourth of July. This is very impressive to me, especially knowing that while many volunteers are very busy people, they still choose to help preserve and promote the rich history found in Northfield. With their contributions of time and effort, much is accomplished, and this seems to be such an asset to the community. A favorite part of what I do at the Historical Society is to see the incredible history so close and personally. Not too long ago, while cataloguing some collections, I found myself paging through an old school book and seeing some awesome examples of life in Northfield, cultural change and continuing trends from the past that I found very interesting. These opportunities to see history so closely provide a personal connection to the past in a way which textbooks can only show an outline for. I find every day that I come to the historical society that history comes in so many different formats: oral histories, newspapers, photographs and other media. From all of these, the history of our town can be connected and studied, and I feel very privileged to be a part of this process as a summer assistant.

By Sonja Wermager As I began my position as a summer assistant here at the Northfield Historical Society, I found myself unsure of what to expect in my work. Although I knew that I would be working with the Junior Curators and helping out in the store and archives, the actual work and the benefits of the time were still nebulous to me. However, since working here from the beginning of June, I have found that by spending time at the Historical Society, I am privileged to work with many dedicated people and copious amounts of incredible Northfield history. At the Historical Society, I help out with some organizational duties, like re-ordering files, or entering data into a laptop. Another part of what I do is to guide the Junior Curators through their work, which might be anything from researching prominent Northfield individuals for the October cemetery tours to studying old newspapers in the archives room. The Junior Curators, who are going into eighth grade, always show an enthusiastic willingness to work, which makes my part in the experience much easier. Although we are usually hard at work, there is often time to laugh at a peculiar advertisement in an old newspaper or a last name so unusual that no one can imagine how it is pronounced. It’s great to see the curators learning from the experience, not only about how a historical museum works, but also about skills that they might be able to use later in school. I also really appreciate other people with whom I am able to work. When I see all of the time donated by people in the community, I understand how important the history of this town is to so many people. Volunteers of all ages come in to

Sonja Wermager is a junior attending Northfield High School. She enjoys studying for classes, running year-round, reading classic books, and practicing the violin. She has recently been a part of the SCOPE program, in which she was a writer for the recently published Caught in the Storm book. She has also been a part of the Junior Posse Program for two years.

Junior Posse Member Gains Lifetime of Memories about two months I participated in Mr. Weinmann’s weekly classroom discussions. His lectures about the Gang were interesting and informative. Though the work was hard, the class was interesting and after I finished training, I felt I could easily prepare for a tour, and thankfully I did. On June 20, 2008, I finished my second year in the program of the Junior Posse. I no longer feel anxious about relaying the story of the James-Younger Gang to visitors, and thanks to this program, I have many unforgettable experiences. In fact just the other day a woman from Bolivia strolled into the museum. She said she had come to Northfield before as a foreign exchange student, and the father of her host family was a photographer who had taken pictures for the museum’s posters! As you can see, Junior Posse continued on next page

By Casey Dallavalle Over my tank top and shorts, I pulled a long, oldfashioned, green pioneer dress. My hands were shaking as I tried to button the blouse. Taking long, deep breaths trying to calm my nerves I went up the stairs, reminding myself, “Don’t worry, you’ve practiced this over and over, you’ll nail it!” But the shaking continued. As I reached the store, visitors were already waiting for me and I led them to the room where I would start the tour. Walking up the small ramp, I introduced myself and began to relay the historical account of the greatest legend Northfield has ever witnessed – the story of the James-Younger Gang. It took plenty of training to get me to this point. After I was very fortunate to be selected, I was given a very long book to read and a folder to hold all of my work. For 4


Summer 2008

Who’s in Your Cemetery: The Remittance Man By Jeff Sauve On Oct. 10, the Northfield Historical Society will host its 4th annual Cemetery Stories at Oak Lawn Cemetery. Last year more than 400 people thoroughly enjoyed the event. When recently researching for this year’s Stories, I ran across a 1948 Northfield News clipping authored by Carleton College’s Dean of Men, Merrill E. Jarchow. He wrote of a young English barrister, Sheridan Knowles MacKay, who was buried in the old Northfield Cemetery in 1867 at the tender age of 34. Since discovering the clipping, I have located additional information that sheds light on MacKay’s brief time in Northfield. Unfortunately the August 1867 newspaper containing his obituary is missing. But The Farmer’s Union (St. Paul, Sept. 6, 1867) contained some information:

in which condition he wandered off, and was found dead in the woods between that place and Dundas.

MacKay’s white granite marker, unique in design for its time, has on both the front and back elaborate inscriptions – weathered to the point of being indecipherable. The 1948 Northfield News clipping did transcribe these inscriptions: Front: Sacred to the memory of Sheridan Knowles MacKay, barrister of law, Inner Temple1, London. Born in Liverpool 1833, died in Northfield 1867. Back: Here he lies peacefully among strangers until the resurrection, when all earthy divisions will be unknown. As there is but one shepherd, so there is but one sheep fold. Since 1948 when the article was written, the tombstone was cemented around the base. The cement covers the most telling line of the inscription, noted in the clipping: “Life’s fitful fever’s o’er.” MacKay’s story wove its way into the recollections of Fannie Ames Loyhead, who in 1935, wrote:

The Northfield Recorder publishes an account of the death of a well educated English gentleman named Sheridan MacKay, who had been staying in that village some weeks with the hope of reforming his habits of intemperance. A saloon keeper induced him to break his pledge, and continued to furnish him liquor until he became delirious,

He was a remittance man2 from far off England which meant nothing to us. The children hung about the door of his favorite saloon, and when he came out they surrounded him and dancing and singing would follow him as he lead them to a quiet place on the hillside, and he told them magic stories of castles and towers of princes, of knights and tournaments. One day he wandered alone to the hills and when they found his body the children wept and knew that nevermore would they be entranced by the wonderful music of his stories. He was buried in the old cemetery and the children carried flowers to put on his grave all that summer and told each other the same stories, but they were never the same sweet notes which had led them into the joyous land of “make-believe.”

Junior Posse continued from previous page tour guides meet many different people who are willing to share their life stories with you if you’re just friendly and sociable. I developed many skills with this program as well as many encounters with new people. I learned how to plan a tour, how to become a more experienced public speaker, and how to work with people from all walks of life. And, as a bonus, I have gained a lifetime of memories while working in the Junior Posse. Not only have I met different people and advanced my skills, I have learned about one of Northfield’s greatest moments in history. At any time I can describe what happened to the James-Younger Gang when they came to rob the First National Bank. Oh? What’s this? You wish to know about the Northfield raid? Well, it all started when eight men...

To hear more stories like MacKay’s, plan to attend the NHS Cemetery Stories on Oct. 10. 1 Mackay

was admitted to the Bar in 1864, three years before his lonely death in Northfield. 2 “Remittance man”– as defined by Merrill E. Jarchow, Carleton College, 1948: “A good many young Englishmen given to wild and intemperate habits were sent to the United States in the middle of the 19th century in the hope of reforming them. Such may have been the case with MacKay.”

Casey Dallavalle is currently a sophomore in Northfield High School. Casey has been in the Junior Curator and Junior Posse program at the Northfield Historical Society. She is also a goalie for one of the soccer teams and will take part in the school’s Mock Trial program. 5


Summer 2008 knows. The gun went off and Adolph was shot through the chest. If I were to live to be a hundred I could never forget the horror of that moment.


A Dundas Tragedy

Mr. Hummel proceeds to explain how he and his brother ran for their father who came with a horse and wagon and took the little body to the parents. The coroner declared it to be a clear-cut accident and the case was closed. But the story has long been remembered.

The Raleigh Ashley Family By Audrey DeMann Ed. Note: The Diversity in Northfield article in the last newsletter focused on the Boone family. This issue Audrey DeMann writes about the Raleigh Ashley family of Dundas, a black family with a tragic history. Readers are encouraged to submit articles and recollections of diversity in Northfield throughout the years.

Death of Raleigh Ashley The July 21, 1922, issue of the Northfield News carried the story of the death of Raleigh Ashley. He had been hauling hay for the afternoon, and while on the last run for the day the wagon hit a stone while going downhill, causing him to be thrown from the wagon in front of the load. Two wheels of the wagon ran over his body and he died within twenty minutes. The body was taken to the Bierman undertaking parlor and relatives were notified. Funeral services were held on July 26 in the Dundas Methodist church with interment in the Groveland Cemetery, Dundas. I did not find a marker for Raleigh, but there is a large monument for Adolph. For the year prior to his death he had been living alone on his 55-acre farm as his wife, Pauline, had been on the west coast with their daughters. The week before the accident their son, Russell, had left for northern Minnesota to work near Cloquet. The widow returned to bury her husband. The Northfield News stated, “Raleigh Ashley of Dundas, for years a wellknown and unique character in this community.”

Raleigh Ashley came to Minnesota from Alabama at the age of 12 in 1864. He lived in the Dundas area for over 55 years until his death in 1922. To him and his wife, Pauline Lick Ashley of Wisconsin, six children were born; the first in 1873. Raleigh’s occupation was farmer or laborer, except in 1875 when noted as “speculator.” Accidental shooting of Adolph Ashley Most long-time Dundas residents have probably heard the story of young Adolph Ashley who was accidently shot to death after school one day in January 1905. Newspaper accounts carried information that Adolph’s father was a black man and his mother was white and that they lived at the north edge of Dundas. The sad story of the accidental shooting of 10-year old Adolph was witnessed first hand by Philip Hummel of Dundas, who later wrote, Adolph was one of the younger boys of the Negro family which lived just north of us and we kids were together a lot. Adolph was an especially loveable little chap and he liked to be with some of us kids who were a little older. That cold but sunny January afternoon a group of the boys went to a spot just off the road, but down a little slope where we were out of the sight of passerby. This was our pasture, just a few feet from the north edge of the Groveland Cemetery for – wanted us to see him try out a Civil War musket which had been given to him. At first we were all careful. He aimed at a tree and nothing happened. He tried again with no result and then the group got careless. We crowded around whereas we had been standing behind him. Adolph stepped in front of the musket and I don’t suppose – even knew he was there; he was so busy fussing with the lock of the gun. Whether he pulled the trigger again or whether it was delayed discharge due to a fouled nipple nobody

Willie Ashely as he looked when he entered the service during WWI. Photo courtesy of Northfield News.

Ashley continued on next page 6


Summer 2008 Ashley continued from previous page Willie Ashley Another son, Willie Ashley, gave his life for this country in France with the Marines in World War I. This is mentioned in the story of his father’s death. There is an article in the Aug. 16, 1918, Northfield News reporting that Corporal William Ashley was mortally wounded on July 19, 1918. He died from his wounds two years later on Oct. 14, 1921. Much was made of his capabilities as a pugilist and and there are many pictures him in his “fighting togs.” Audrey DeMann was born and raised in Dundas, Minnesota. She is a long-time member of the Northfield Historical Society and Rice County Historical Society and President of the Rice County Genealogical Society.

Mr. Rene Koester of Nerstrand shared a photo of students attending country school in the township #86 – District #87 about 1898. Two of the children were Millie and Willie Ashley.

Grant to put Northfield History on the Web! By Sam Demas, Carleton College Librarian Where does one go to find out about the history of Northfield? Lots of places, it turns out. In addition to the Northfield Historical Society (NHS), we once counted 29 other local history repositories in Northfield and know there are many more. Archivists dream of the day when a researcher will be able to perform one search to find out what is available in all of these collections, and then call up a digital reproduction of the document, artifact, oral history, photograph, or film. With funding from the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS), Northfield is taking a bold step in this direction! With the leadership from the NHS, the Northfield History Collaborative – comprising six cultural heritage organizations in Northfield – was awarded a $2,500 grant by the MHS to “jump start” a collaboration aimed at preserving and making accessible records of Northfield history. The six agencies include: NHS, Rice County Historical Society, Carleton College Library and Archives, St. Olaf College Library, Northfield Public Library, and the Northfield News. Five of the organizations will each contribute 50 items – catalog records and digitized documents or artifacts. These 250 items on education in Northfield and the James-Younger Gang raid will serve as a pilot database as a key step in eventually developing a larger digital library of Northfield history. The pilot project will select a common database platform and presentation software for digital documents, develop common cataloging and digitizing standards, and conduct training in metadata

and digitizing to ensure compatible efforts across our institutions. We will also develop a strategic plan for further technical development to expand the database. Surprisingly, little precedent exists for cooperation among such a disparate group of cultural heritage institutions. The MHS is looking to Northfield to demonstrate that it can be done! In addition to developing the technical infrastructure for cooperation, our primary focus is on the “social side” of collaborating to expose local history records and collections over the Internet. This project will lay the groundwork for a digital library on Northfield history that will bring together in a single view documents and artifacts from many local collections. This digital collection will be accessible locally, regionally and nationally via the MHS’s Great Rivers Heritage Network on the web. Upon the project’s completion, genealogists, local history buffs, historians, and students will have one place to go to find out about Northfield history. Sam Demas has lived in Northfield for 10 years and works at Carleton as College Librarian and Senior Lecturer. Prior to that he worked at Cornell University for 20 years and lived in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Sam enjoys gardening, hiking, swimming, and community service that involves building bridges and stimulating collaboration. 7

Calendar of Events Sept. 4th-7th – Defeat of Jesse James Days, Downtown Northfield Sept. 18th-20th – 28th Annual Statewide Historic Preservation Conference, Northfield, MN Sept. 18th – (7 pm-9 pm) Welcome Reception, Northfield Historical Society Oct. 10th – Cemetery Stories Join us at Oak Lawn Cemetery as local actors portray Northfielders from the past in a family friendly atmosphere. Nov. 8th – Annual Auction Join us at the Northfield Golf Course for our Annual Fundraising Auction. This year it will be a MaskED Ball. Dec. 4th – Winter Walk Visit the Northfield Historical Society during Winter Walk. Come down for great deals and some of Gloria’s famous cookies and cider.

For the most up-to-date information on the NHS visit

Have you renewed your membership? Call 645-9268 today to renew your membership or join the Northfield Historical Society!

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The Scriver Scribbler Summer 2008  

The Scriver Scribbler Summer 2008

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