Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Big Lake Ice House

A couple of interesting news articles appeared in the Big Lake Wave newspaper  in 1913 and 1914:

November 28, 1913: "The Big Lake ice house now has a capacity of twenty thousand tons of ice, a large addition having been built."

It was rumored that the ice on Big Lake was so pure, restaurants as far as the East Coast advertised this special ice for cubes in drinks.

March 6, 1914: "The NP Road is shipping Big Lake ice to Pasto, Wash.  This speaks well for the water but how long will the lake stand the present drain?"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Boosterism Generates Some Interesting Reading

When newspapers get involved in the city booster business their words and activities generate some very interesting headlines.  Such was the case when a correspondent for the Saint Cloud Journal Press began observing the negative condition in Clear Lake.  

In January of 1902, the correspondent wrote:
“… the street lamps have not been lighted for several months and in their present condition are of no use whatever.  The roads in the village are in a pitiful state of repair and the streets are filled with old machinery and other unsightly junk.”

Quick to reply, the editors of the Sherburne County Times defended the town:
“…the street lamps are also all right and apparently satisfactory to every one except this correspondent.  As to the obstructions in the streets, this is purely fiction.”

A week later, the Times editors continued their defense in writing:
“We don’t know who this correspondent is, but one would infer, from the fault he finds with the street lamps, sidewalks, machinery, etc., that he must have wandered around, some dark night, in a fit of temporary aberration, got onto a vacant lot and got tangled up in one of the aforesaid harvesters.”

Boosterism is truly an interesting form of newspaper reporting that provides great entertainment even 100 years after the fact.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Census Enumerators

While surfing through microfilm pages of the Sherburne County Times newspapers, I encountered two interesting articles, published in two consecutive weeks.

The first reported:

“Miss Emily J. Mosford has been appointed census enumerator for this district which comprises the towns of Clear Lake and Haven, also the village of Clear Lake.
            The work of taking the census of the country will begin on the 15th of April.  It is a government census and the aim of the department is to make it as thorough and complete as possible.  Don’t hesitate to answer the questions the enumerator ask you; they are for statistical use only, and, more over the federal government require that you answer them, severe penalties being imposed upon all who refuse to do so.  So, make it pleasant as you can for the enumerator and thereby give your locality a good showing.”

This article appeared on 31 March 1910.  In the next issue, 7 April 1910, the full list of enumerators for the county appeared:

            “Following are the enumerators for this county:
                        Baldwin and Blue Hill, H B Pratt
                        Becker town and village, Edwin Winterborne
                        Big Lake town and village, John Nordin
                        Clear Lake town and village and Haven exclusive
of E. St. Cloud, Emily J Mosford
                        Elk River town, Elk River village, Burns F. Plummer
                        Livonia and Orrock, Melvin C. Enger
                        Palmer and Santiago, S T Packard”

This is all interesting, I don’t know that I have ever seen a local newspaper publish the names of the enumerators as part of the campaign to promote participation in the census.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Rather Harsh Assessment

Reading through historic newspapers the other day, I came across the following notice in the Sauk Rapids Frontiersman, 20 August 1857:

“One week ago last Sabbath, James Foyles, of Elk River, some thirty miles below this, was accidentally shot dead by his own hands.” 

The article goes on to explain that Mr. Foyles was deer hunting on that Sunday and shot himself in the chest. 

The article concludes: 
“One requirement of the Bible is to observe the Sabbath Day in a religious manner.  If we believed the book, is it not wise to regards its precepts somewhat?  We say it in all kindness not wishing to hurt the feelings of any.”

It is a good thing the editors are “not wishing to hurt the feelings of any,” imagine the pain they could inflict with their sharp pens if they set out to do so.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Literary Snapshot of Santiago

I found the following letter in scanned images of the St. Paul Press.  The comments are interesting that they reveal the independence of the settlers of the area and still reflect the New England influence.  The author of the letter, "Mouse," is a mystery.  Yet, an interesting writer all the same.

Santiago, July 9, 1872

Editors St. Paul Press:
Not seeing any letters from this part of the state in your columns, I take the liberty of saying a few words in its behalf. …The settlement here is called by outsiders, “St. Francis,” being on the river of that name, and consists of the two towns of Santiago and Glenderado, the latter in Benton County; and it is indeed a very flourishing settlement, composed mainly of New England people.  We have a saw mill and store and school house, and consider the settlement as good as can be found. …we are emphatically a Grant and Wilson town, to say nothing of the county.  We know of but two persons who will vote for Greeley in the coming election. …

The crops in this vicinity are looking well and promise a rich harvest.  A considerable number of fruit trees have been set out here this spring and in nearly all cases are looking finely.  We think apples can be raised here, and we mean to try it anyway. …

Haying is not commenced here yet on account of high water.

The Fourth of July was not celebrated here this year on account of the sickness and death of one of our number, who in times past, has taken a prominent part in the entertainment.  His name was Hiram Gilman, one of the oldest men in here, and universally loved and respected.

More, anon, from a constant reader of your valuable paper.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Funeral Practice

I found an interesting news report in The Becker Herald published on 30 August 1934.  The article adds some new light to the study of funeral practices and customs.

The Herald reports that “for the first time in Becker the loud speaker was used” in a funeral service.  The report goes on to say that the “microphone was placed in front of the pulpit and the amplifier in the corner” of the room.  “The voice was carried smoothly to all parts of the church,” it read.

It is interesting to contemplate the original use of a microphone in a church, or for a funeral.  Imagine the difficulty of trying to deliver a eulogy while having to shout every syllable to insure that everyone in a large crowd was able to hear.  What a challenge it must have been to make an attempt at solemnity while shouting at the top your lungs!

I think I have found a new respect for 19th century ministers.