Historians 2010-

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  • Author: Winston Grundmeier
    Issue Date: Winter 2010

    The author describes the foundation and building of various denominations of churches by various immigrant groups in Blue Earth County from the 1850s, including Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Calvinist congregations. Also includes a summary of the parish Heritage Center at SS Peter and Paul’s Church by Father Ted Hottinger.

  • Author: Doug Brugman
    Issue Date: Spring 2010

    Introduction to using the resources of the BECHS to research various topics, including family history, buildings, and events. Researching the history of the Old Towner Building is used as an example. 

  • Author: Steven Ulmen
    Issue Date: Summer 2010

    The author explores the story of Isabelle Matilda Anderson, or Belle Born, of South Bend, Minnesota and her connection to bootlegging and the gangsters of the 1930s, including the Barker-Karpis gang and the kidnapping of William Hamm in 1933. Reproduces several Free Press article describing her trial for aiding the criminals. 

  • Author: Grace Webb
    Issue Date: Fall 2010

    A summary of the historical background of Sibley Park, from its beginnings as a tradiging post, it suse after the U.S. Dakota War, its transition to a fairground, zoo, and park and its current state.

  • Author: Beth Zimmer
    Issue Date: Winter 2011

    A summary of the local family history of Minnesota Legislature House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher in Blue Earth County. 

  • Author: E. Winston Grundmeier
    Issue Date: Spring 2011

    The author describes the role of the 2nd Regiment, which recruited from Blue Earth Country, in the Civil War, including the battle of Chickamauga, for which they were awarded congressional medals of honor. Also describes the personal lives of a number of soldiers of Company H.

  • Author: Chris Oldenburg
    Issue Date: Summer 2011

    A personal genealogical background of Oldenburg, specifically telling the stories of his great-great grandparents Gustav and Antoinette Brackelsburg, and their experience in the U.S. Dakota and Civil Wars. 

  • Author: Jane Tarjeson
    Issue Date: Fall 2011

    The author summarizes the history of the monuments and markers of Blue Earth County, both lost and surviving. Describes Civil War monuments, the “Indian Monument” commemorating the execution of Dakota men after the U.S. Dakota War, and WWI and WWII monuments. It also includes a discussion of landmarks commemorating pioneer and milling history. 

  • Author: Shirley Grundmeier
    Issue Date: Winter 2012

    A short history of the foundation of the  Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in the years after the Civil War, with emphasis on the activity of its Minnesota and Blue Earth County posts. Also includes a summary of the personal lives of some prominent local members, including a great-grandfather of Grundmeier. 

  • Author: Beth Zimmer
    Issue Date: Spring 2012

    A history and background of the United States census and guide to using them to aid with genealogical research.

  • Author: Heather Harren
    Issue Date: Summer 2012

    Describes the historical background of Mankato’s Front Street and some of the businesses that operated along the street between the 1860s and the 1970s, including department stores.

  • Author: Jane Tarjeson
    Issue Date: Fall 2012

    An account of researching the life of Maria Rablin, the first Euro-American woman to settle in Blue Earth County, becoming a farmer and whiskey distiller. 

  • Author: Bryce O. Stenzel
    Issue Date: Winter 2013

    Summarizes Abraham Lincoln’s decision making and involvement in the US-Dakota War of 1862, including telegraph messages to Minnesota, ending with the trial and execution of 38 Dakota.

  • Author: BECHS Staff
    Issue Date: Spring 2013

    Summarizes the background of the Blue Earth County Historical Society photography chosen from the Minnesota Digital Library (MDL) to show the state’s involvement with Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Dr. G.A. Dahl, Keene Studios, and early photography as well as the background of MDL and DPLA.

  • Author: Grace Webb
    Issue Date: Summer 2013

    Describes the origins of the location names in Blue Earth County, including four categories; translations/words from Native Americans, names of people, names of locations, and the natural world. 

  • Author: Morgan O'Hara
    Issue Date: Fall 2013

    Describes the naming patterns of Blue Earth County streets, including four primary themes; people, places, nature, and Native American words. Specifically focuses on brief biographies of several historical figures who were the namesake of several streets in Lake Crystal, Mankato, Mapleton, and Vernon Center.  

  • Author: Jo Schultz
    Issue Date: Winter 2014

    The history of the Slough on the west edge of Mankato has a colorful history. It starts in 1873 and James Tinkcom purchasing the land and building several small houses to sell or rent out. In the 1890s, several Lebanese families immigrated to Mankato and moved into the houses, nicknamed Tinkcomville.

     In 1908, some land in the area was purchased and an orphanage built. It closed about a decade later and the building was abandoned. In 1924, a civic project was started on the site. The project included a park and golf course. However, the area flooded was too wet for golf. By 1943, the golf course was abandoned. Eight years later, Mankato West High School was built on the land.

    Through the 1970s, some of the wooded area was improved to include nature paths. A new road was also built through the area and named after George Stolzman, the first soldier from Blue Earth County to be killed in the Vietnam conflict. In 1988, a memorial was built on the west side of Stolzman to honor all of the twenty-nine area soldiers killed in that conflict. 

  • Author: Tim Pulis
    Issue Date: Spring 2014

    In 1862, Louis Seppman began the construction of a mill on his land. Due to the U.S.-Dakota war, the construction took two years and the mill opened in 1864. All but two pieces of the mill, ordered from St. Louis, were hand mad by Seppmann himself. Seppman ran into several problems in operating the mill including a lack of wind and he was not a miller by trade. He sold the mill to his father in law, Martin Miller, who also had problems to include lightening hitting the mill and wind blowing blades away. Miller ended up closing the mill due to the progress and completion of the Hubbard mill.

    The mill sat unused for decades until it was donated to the Blue Earth County Historical Society in 1929. BECHS partially restored the mill, but in 1931 it was deeded to the State of Minnesota. The state restored the mill and even opened a highway rest stop near it in 1955. The rest stop was taken out in 1972 when the Minneopa State Park was expanded.  The state replaces the floors, doors, windows, and the roof on several occasions. In 1989, the state closed in permanently due to a crack in the outside wall and other unsafe conditions.

  • Author: Harris Burkhalter and Danelle Erickson
    Issue Date: Summer 2014

    This article focuses on the history of fire departments, weather observers, and fallout shelters throughout Blue Earth County.  Many fire departments were started as a reaction to a large fire in the community. The Mankato Fire Department started in 1860 and in 1894, a Gamewell Fire Alarm System was installed and they added a chemical tank. In 1914 and 1916, Mankato added its first two motorized vehicles and customized them to fight fires. Since then, major advances have been made in firefighting technology and the Mankato Fire Department has kept up each step of the way.

    For over 100 years, local weather observers have been predicting the weather. John Pihale officially became a weather observer in 1920, something he had been doing as a hobby since 1902. Each day he would record the temperatures, weather patterns and moisture. Pihale would receive calls from local people each day, wanting him to predict the weather. He answered about 150 calls per day into the 1950s. In 1961, Warren Heisler became the official weather observer in Mankato and held that position until 1984. He added measuring river water levels to this position. Although he didn’t get paid, Heisler did receive some compensation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mankato Free Press for his efforts.

    Throughout the Cold War era, fallout shelters were encouraged by leaders. They were to be fully stocked with food and water for two weeks in case of a nuclear war. They were mainly located in schools and other government buildings and by 1967, Blue Earth County had 11,213 licensed fallout shelters, more than any in the area. By 1980, most of these shelters were emptied of their supplies. After 1989, when the Cold War ended, the shelters were all but abandoned. Many were demolished or remodeled and used as recreation centers.

  • Author: Mary Ward
    Issue Date: Fall 2014

    This article traces how several Federal programs had an impact on Blue Earth County. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Works Progress Administration put many area people to work from 1933-1943. Men built roads, bridges, made improvements to local parks and the school in Lake Crystal. Women were put to work sewing and organized the PTA. The PTA also program began serving hot lunches at school.

    The National Youth Association employed men and women from 18-25 years old. It also provided recreation opportunities to include kittenball, ice skating, and one act plays. Other federal programs helped start local co-ops that brought electricity to rural areas. The National Recovery Administration helped to stabilize the economy and encouraged fair competition, set a minimum wage, supported unions, and prohibited child labor. These programs had mixed success throughout the county. 

  • Author: Grace Webb
    Issue Date: Winter 2015

    This article looks at the women in Blue Earth County during World War II. The article starts with women who joined the Army through the WACS, WAVES and WAAC to the Red Cross and going to work in factories.

  • Author: Hilda Parks
    Issue Date: Spring 2015

    The Flood of 1965 was a culmination of unprepared dike building, record snow falls, and rain. The flood caused mass evacuation of Mankato, North Mankato, and LeHillier residents and businesses. Record water levels rising to roughly 29 feet caught the attention of the federal government and required the aid of the National Guard. The citizens of these communities came together during the weeks of the flood to fill sand bags, evacuate family and neighbors, feed volunteers or displaced persons, and to rebuild the town. 

  • Author: Dr. William E. Lass
    Issue Date: Summer 2015

    The story of Mankato’s name is interesting in that it is commonly cited as a misinterpretation between the indigenous Dakota population and the colonial Anglo-Saxons. Traditionally, the area was referred to as “Mahkato” but in a clerical tragedy it was recorded as “Mankato”. Scholars have now proven that this tale is false and that using various sources, including Stephen Rigg’s dictionary A Dakota-English Dictionary published in 1852, the area would have actually been spelled “Makato”. The historical inaccuracy would actually seem to lie, not in a clerical mistake, but rather in a miscommunication of phonetics. 

  • Author: Hilda A. Parks
    Issue Date: Fall 2015

    While the city of Mankato got electricity in the 1880s, and many communities throughout Blue Earth County between 1912 and 1915 due to the Rapidan Dam, most rural homes did not get electricity until Rural Electrification with the New Deal. This act, passed in 1934 on the National level, did not reach Blue Earth County until 1936. From then to the end of the decade, miles of electrical lines were laid and brought to homes. 

  • Author: Mike Lagerquist
    Issue Date: Winter 2016

    The first two school houses in Blue Earth County were constructed in 1855. Mankato’s history of higher education and boarding style education was first impacted by Father James Thomason with his Woodland Seminary in 1864. Although it did not succeed, it was followed in 1964 by the Mankato Commercial College which lasted until 1980. Also following Thomason’s Seminary was the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1912, a successful story which has celebrated 150 years of service in Mankato. More common are residence halls on the University campuses of Minnesota State University Mankato and Bethany Lutheran College. While both have decommissioned and replaced previous dormitory style housing, they exampled the boarding style education brought to the area in 1864 by Thomason. 

  • Author: BECHS Staff
    Issue Date: Spring 2016

    The Blue Earth Historical Society was created in 1901 by a group of individuals dedicated to preserving the past. Many of the original settlers were passing away and the society founders felt it was a time to reflect on the history and the future of the county and Mankato. Judge Daniel Buck served as the first president. Thomas Hughes was the society’s first secretary. Charles A. Chapman was a vice-president of the Society in 1901. Herbert C. Hotaling was the other vice-president. Phillip Mueller was the first treasurer. The efforts of the society were renewed in 1916 and were prolific, publishing their Articles of Incorporation, establishing the first Board of Trustees, and actively collecting and preserving their history. Judge Lorin Cray was pivotal in this movement. 

  • Author: Inella Burns
    Issue Date: Summer 2016

    In 1868, The Minnesota Valley Railroad reached Mankato. It was funded in part by private loan and bonds. The second-hand locomotives were necessary for the expanding economic hub in the rural Midwest, and it arrived just in time. Horse-drawn wagons could no longer keep up with the fur trade, wool trade, and agriculture in the area. The finished tracks and train with its cars were met with a feast and celebration, topped off with the mayor, ex-governors, and the “father of railroads in Minnesota”. It was quickly followed by the Northwestern Telegraph Line. The railroad led to the creation of Lake Crystal, and connected rural Midwestern towns together, creating a bustling economic and social hubbub. 

  • Author: Dr. William E. Lass
    Issue Date: Fall 2016

    The Fur Trade was conducted from 1700 to roughly 1851. Beaver pelts were the primary medium of exchange, however finer furs were traded, such as mink and otter. The French, British and American traders were most involved in trading with Native Americans. The French existed in a period ruled by mercantilism, in which trapping licenses were strictly distributed and monitored. The British period of fur trading was marked by extensive intermarriages between the indigenous tribes and colonial traders. It was also heavily influential in Buffalo hunting and the exhaustion of the beaver population in the Midwest. The American period is significant in its role in purchasing Dakota lands and displacing the native population onto reservations. It is known as the period in which the fur trade collapsed due to the rejection of traditional trading alliances.