Handwritten Recipes

December is a special time for many people – it is a month full of wonder, for the holiday spirit is just around the corner. For many of us in Minnesota, it is a time of beautiful snow flakes outside and of cuddling together with a blanket before a fire or a television. December is a time of sweet smells of crisp air, pine trees, and of course, delicious aromas of food.

Nothing brings individuals together like that of a warm meal or tasty dessert at the table. Before long, families and friends will be together to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. In honor of this time of feast, I thought it appropriate to look through SCHS’s collections and see what we have concerning food and their recipes.

The first thing that came to mind was cookbooks. We have many different types of cookbooks – indeed, the museum holds nearly fifty-five cookbooks, many from the various churches or clubs in the county, and standard cookbooks manufactured from around the United States. The oldest cookbook we have is one from 1890 called the “Compendium of Cookery and Reliable Recipes”. Upon seeing that SCHS has so many cookbooks, my interest was piqued on what we had for handwritten recipes.

A recipe can tell you a lot about the people that used it. A recipe can give one hints of their heritage, pride, and interests. Specific ingredients in a handwritten recipe can also give us insight on the easy or difficult times individuals faced, depending on whether or not ingredients could be gathered. Unfortunately, due to their profound usage in a kitchen, many recipe cards may not live very long lives. Many get wet, torn, or perhaps just thrown away. Many do not get the chance to be preserved in a museum. Below are a handful of handwritten recipes that are being preserved here – for yourself, and for future generations to view. These recipes were all handwritten on some medium of paper, be it notebook paper, recipe cards, or other types of paper.  The most interesting handwritten recipes that I found, however, were written on wallpaper samples!

Please enjoy looking at the handwritten recipes below. The first recipe was most likely written between 1910-1940. The wallpaper sample recipes were most likely written between 1925 and 1935. The last recipe was written in 1985.

Take a look through your own collections and see what interesting recipes you can find! Try some out – particularly for a delicious Christmas dessert. Most of all, please do your best to preserve such lovely recipes. The future’s generations stomachs will thank you!





Holiday Shopping 100 Years Ago

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving, but also Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. The holiday shopping season is here, and in this day and age, the options seem endless. But what about 100 years ago? Where did people do their holiday shopping back then, and what kinds of gifts did they buy?

There was of course no online shopping in 1917, nor were there big-box stores. People shopped at local establishments; places like Moses Cash Bargain Store in Jordan, Bailey Bros. Department Store in Belle Plaine, M.J. Berens & Sons in Shakopee, and Piesinger’s Drug and Jewelry Store in New Prague. Store ads in the local newspapers featured lots of gift ideas. Holiday shoppers could buy baking dishes, ice skates, and tools at the hardware store; fountain pens, fancy stationery, perfume, cigars, candy, and nuts at the drug store; and slippers, combs, handkerchiefs, ribbons, toys, and clothes at the department store. Additionally, jewelry stores offered an array of fine jewelry and watches (along with items you probably wouldn’t see today like ivory sets and vest chains), and confectionery shops sold all manner of candy and treats.

Holiday shopping ads were plastered throughout Scott County newspapers in 1917, yet the holiday season that year was a somber one. The United States was in the midst of World War I, so any celebrations were tempered by the thought of loved ones far away fighting in the war. The war affected holiday shopping and gift-giving in a few important ways. First, in keeping with the wartime spirit of saving and rationing, there was a strong emphasis on practical gifts. Shoppers were encouraged to buy items that were useful – something the recipient may have planned to purchase anyway. Ads were peppered with phrases like “sensible giving” and stores promised merchandise that was useful and necessary (while still sentimental). WWI also meant that holiday shopping ads featured gift ideas for soldiers, items like trench mirrors, cigarette cases, wrist watches, rosaries, wool socks, writing sets, and toiletry bags. The war’s influence even filtered down to children’s toys. For instance, an ad for Penner’s Confectionery in New Prague listed the following toys for sale in 1917: guns, toy soldiers, destroyers, machine guns, cannons, and torpedo boats.

Below are some examples of holiday shopping ads published in Scott County newspapers 100 years ago, in December 1917. To check out more of these ads, visit the SCHS Research Library, and be sure to check out our WWI exhibit, “The Great War in Scott County”, currently on display. Happy Holidays and happy shopping!

NP Times Dec 13 p 10Xmas Ad 4 JordanXmas Ad BP Herald p 3Xmas Ad p 4 BP HeraldXmas Ad Scott County Argus p 4



Pause & Think

Friends – please bear with me on this long blog. This time of year you will be receiving year-end appeal letters, asking for support for nonprofit organizations. There will also be chart after chart and image after image flooding the internet telling you to choose nonprofit organizations who are deemed ‘good’ because they have something called “low overhead”. You’ll be inundated with images that say things like “Only $.62/$1.00 you donate goes to direct services”. Or, “Give only to organizations who don’t waste money on paid staff.” Or, “This CEO makes too much for a nonprofit”.

While I would never tell you how/where to put your charitable giving; I would caution you to pause and think carefully, on behalf of many nonprofits, about these messages.

“Overhead” means things like lights, water bills, the copier. It also means things like having telephones that work, internet and computers, and producing and mailing the tax receipts you need. As an museum-based nonprofit, it means paying the cleaning crew, replacing the damaged or worn materials, and advertising.

My wage as an Executive Director allows me to live, raise my children, and buy groceries. Like most nonprofit CEOs/EDs, I work very long hours performing a myriad of duties and am available 24/7 to my board of directors and staff. I don’t live lavishly, drive a used car, and shop at thrift stores. I have also worked a second job to cover some tight times.

When Apple provides daycare for their staff, top chefs for their cafeteria and ergonomic, collaborative everything, they are ‘revolutionizing the workplace‘. When I replace computers still running Windows 95 and try to make sure my employees have enough supplies, I scramble for overhead $$.

Friends, overhead is NECESSARY to provide direct services, whatever those services are. It’s self defeating to believe only the ‘privileged’ (those who can work for almost nothing) should be in this field. It’s unfair to ask workers to do outstanding, often taxing work, with little or no resources. And I guarantee that some of the most painful overhead most of us in the nonprofit world have, is having to replace good people and train new staff because the ones we have burn out from giving too much and working too hard to provide services with too few resources. It’s patently wrong to penalize nonprofits for trying, even in the slightest bit, to be a compelling place to work. We cannot live on loving our jobs.

You want my services and programs in the community and you want them provided efficiently, professionally and with quality. That’s the definition of overhead.

christmas-money-2947947_1920So this year, as you sift through those solicitations, I’d urge you to consider your heart. What tugs at you? Is it preserving our history? Is it educating our children in new ways? Is it protecting animals? Is it helping hurricane and wildfire victims? Go that direction.

Google the company, look them up on Guidestar, go to their website or even give them a call. And think – would I want to work here? Would I want my children to take a job here? Could they afford to? Would they be happy?

If you love their work, love their mission and the answer is ‘yes’ – give a gift. If you love their work, love their mission and the answer is ‘no’ – give a bigger gift.

This year I’m urging you to look well beyond overhead – look to impact, look to results and look to keep the nonprofits you love giving and serving.


Kathy Klehr, SCHS Executive Director

This was paraphrased from another executive director’s post on a closed Facebook group with their permission.

If you’ve read this far, consider dropping a couple bucks on us for overhead; click here, and THANKS!

Learning To Do More With Less: Thanksgiving During the Great War

Thanksgiving, perhaps the most quintessentially American holiday, has been celebrated in one way or another since the days of the Pilgrims 400 years ago. It offers us a time to gather with family and friends to reflect on things that we are thankful for and to feast on the year’s bounty. Typically, celebrated with tables full of as much food as they can hold: turkey, ham, gravy, potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, pies and cakes. However, in 1917 America was forced to face Thanksgiving in an entirely new way, as they found themselves part of the largest war yet fought, World War I. How would America celebrate with demand for food in Europe at an all-time high and millions of men away from home? The celebration would still occur, just with less.

Outside of physically joining the fight, there were few things more important one could do on the home front during the war than produce and conserve more food for export to Europe. It would’ve been nearly impossible to escape the propaganda that “food will win the war”, particularly in rural areas like Scott County. During his 1917 Thanksgiving Proclamation, President Wilson made clear that the United States was in a special position to help:

“We have been brought to one mind and purpose. A new vigor of common counsel and common action has been revealed in us. We should especially thank God that in such circumstances, in the midst of the greatest enterprise the spirits of men have ever entered upon, we have, if we but observe a reasonable and practicable economy, abundance with which to supply the needs of those associated with us as well as our own.”

         Every citizen was told they needed to do their part on the home front in three critical areas: increasing production, limiting consumption, and shifting eating habits. Increasing production meant farmers planting more wheat, over other staple crops, and every citizen growing their own small gardens and canning the produce to ease the burden on the commercial food markets which could then sell more directly to the government. Limiting consumption and shifting eating habits often went hand-in-hand as they required citizens to eat less than many had been used to and involved what were often known as “-less” days, where depending on the day of the week a family would have meatless or wheatless meals and instead substitute them for foods like corn, rice, oats, potatoes, fish, or chicken. The reason for using these other staples was that wheat was desperately needed in Europe and foods like corn and potatoes didn’t transport overseas well and most European mills weren’t equipped to process other grains like oats, on top of the fact that European tastes weren’t accustomed to the different grains. To aid in the effort the government, businesses, and newspapers offered an abundance of recipes and cooking-aids which enabled families to make wheatless or meatless foods or better use of left-overs and ingredients which many had never used.


                These conservation efforts had an impact on how the average American family celebrated Thanksgiving. Rather than a table filled to the brim with food, a sparser offering was the norm. For example, cranberries and cranberry sauce may have been noticeably absent from many tables as they required far too much sugar to prepare or pies and breads made with no flour or fat. The President and his family tried to set an example with their White House dinner: cream of oyster soup with slices of hot buttered toast, turkey with trimmings, garden vegetables (sans cranberries), and pumpkin pie.

Despite the conservation going on at home, a special effort was made so that the fighting men and women, most of whom were experiencing their first holiday away from family, received a full Thanksgiving meal. Whether training at camps throughout the nation, on a ship in the mid-Atlantic, or in the fields of France, they were to receive a full hot meal that could have been expected before the war. Efforts were taken to ensure they got the items that people at home were doing without, like cranberry sauce and ice cream. The meal had by the soldiers at Camp Dodge, Iowa serves as a good example of what the troops enjoyed:

Appetizer: Grapefruit Cocktail and Cream of Celery Soup with Croutons and                                      Olives

Main Course: Roast Turkey, Chestnuts Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, Giblet Sauce,                                Baked Ham, Sweet Potatoes, Baked Potatoes, Green Peas and Fruit Salad

Dessert: Mince Pie, Ice Cream, and Cake

After Dinner: Cheese, Nuts, Candy, Coffee and Cider

According to the Jordan Independent, letters home indicated great satisfaction with the meals from the soldiers in service.

The Thanksgiving of 1917 was the only Thanksgiving which America had during World War I, as by the time it rolled around again in 1918, an armistice had been declared. November 11, 1918 saw the cessation of hostilities and the bringing of peace to a war-torn Europe. “Victory,” as General Pershing said, “was the Thanksgiving gift to the American Nation,” and that was something everyone could be thankful for.






Food Will Win The War

After nearly three years of war, by 1917 Europe was facing starvation.  Farms were transformed into battlefields or left un-planted as workers were forced into service.  Transportation routes were disrupted, making access to food challenging to say the least.

On August 10, 1917, congress passed a controversial piece of legislation:  “An Act to Provide Further for the National Security and Defense by Encouraging the Production, Conserving the Supply, and Controlling the Distribution of Food Products and Fuel.”  It also banned the production of “distilled spirits” from any produce that was used for food. This Act created the Food Administration and the Fuel Administration; President Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover to head the Food Administration.  This gave Mr. Hoover authority to fix food prices, license distributors, coordinate purchases, oversee exports, act against hoarding and profiteering, and encourage farmers to grow more crops.

World War I came to the United States in the midst of the Progressive Era – when efficiency and expertise were highly valued.  This mindset provided a platform for the government to establish agencies to address issues of economy, society, and production for the war effort, and avenues to motivate people.

In January 1918, President Wilson issued a proclamation calling upon Americans to demonstrate their patriotism by following Hoover’s guidelines.  Hoover did not want to impose rationing, so he pushed compassion and patriotism to encourage volunteerism for food programs.

Hoover introduced “Meatless Tuesdays”, “Wheatless Mondays”, and “Sweetless and Porkless Saturdays”.  Local food boards offered guidance to comply with these programs by demonstrating how to prepare meals, alter recipes, and preserve food, such as canning.  They also encouraged development of  “Liberty Gardens” where people could grow their own food.  Homeowners were urged to sign and publicly display pledge cards that testified to their efforts to conserve food.  As a result of these efforts, food shipments doubled within a year, while consumption in the US was reduced by 15% between 1918 and 1919.  This continued after the end of the war as an effort to feed millions of displaced people in Europe.  Hoover earned the nickname “Great Humanitarian” for his efforts. (He insisted on no salary – arguing it would give him the moral authority he needed to ask Americans to sacrifice to support the war effort.)

To provide adequate nourishment to troops and allies, a series of posters were created to encourage reducing consumption on the home-front to secure food needed for troops – such as meat, wheat, fats and sugar.  Slogans like “Food Will Win The War” and “Sow The Seeds of Victory” encouraged people to eat locally, reduce waste, and alter eating habits to allow for increased food shipments to soldiers.


4-P-129_2006_001_AC.jpg    4-P-59_2006_001_AC-2.jpg

All of these posters testify to the intent of the government to mobilize the food effort during World War I. As much as possible, it did so under a banner of volunteerism, rather than coercion. In doing so, the Wilson administration created a program that affected the everyday lives of Americans during World War I.  These programs also paved the way for future home-economics!

Local Scott County Newspapers:
January 1917: “Would you help a starving child?.. Thousands of babies in war-torn Europe are starving this winter.  The Children’s of America’s Fund is rushing aid as fast as possible.  Ten cents will give a starving child a day’s life, three dollars a month’s life.”

“Government Fixes Wheat, Flour Prices.  For the first time in U.S. history, the government has taken a hand in price-fixing of farm products and food products.  The first items being regulated are wheat and flour.  Since August, prices in local markets have been governed buy the National Food Control Board.”

“With cream $.46 pound, live hogs $14.80 per hundred weight, wheat $2.37 and beef on the hoof $.11/pound in local markets, it is apparent that the farmer is getting war-time prices for his products.  One way to fight the high cost of living is to either plant a garden and take care of it or increase the garden you already have.”

April 1917: “There will be little or no waste land in Jordan this season.  The high cost of every kind of food causes people to think.  Every available bit of vegetable garden land will be put to use.”

“Meatless days are being observed by millions of Americans on Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are being observed as wheatless days, thereby helping conserve the food supply.”

May 1918: “Don’t forget to provide against possible sugar shortage by planting some sorghum.  It can be planted until May 10. An experience farmer suggests breaking up a corner of pasture land and fencing it off, then planting the tract to sorghum.”

November 1918:  “The world is hungry.  America now plans on relieving the distress in Austria, Russia…in addition to what it had been doing before the Armistice.  We must all co-operate to eliminate waste, to save our of our abundance in order that the needy of other lands may have food.  Food won the war.  Food will save humanity.”

You are invited to learn about Thanksgiving in WWI at SCHS on Thursday, November 16 with a talk at tasting of WWI recipes. (click on the image below to register)

WWI -Tksgivng-FB-1


Paintings from Scott County Residents

Halloween has come and gone, and so November follows quickly behind. The first snowfall has already occurred, but luckily for us, it hasn’t been able to stick around. Before we know it, though, snow will be piled up around us.

Instead of focusing on the cold and dreary colors that will come soon, I feel it important to take a look at some colorful paintings that have been done by wonderful Scott County artists. Their bright and beautiful colors will surely amaze, whether they were done with oil, watercolor, or acrylic paint. We have many paintings, several from the same artists,  but I have chosen to pick a variety of paintings to show the diversity of the painters and their skills throughout the county.

I like to think that pictures – or paintings, in this case, are worth a thousand words, so without much more to say about these paintings, I leave you to take a look at them below and enjoy.

I hope that these paintings brighten your day. Thank you to the artists who have taken their time to paint such wonderful images that are close to their hearts, as well as donating them to SCHS so we may preserve them for future generations. Feel free to visit SCHS to see these paintings in person, or donate paintings of your own.

Oil painting of the Moses Starr Titus residence in Shakopee, 1868. Artist unknown.
Painting of a street scene in Prior Lake 1965. Artist: John McGuire.




Oil painting of Josephine Sand Grommesch, Scott County pioneer woman. Artist: Patricia Kness, great-granddaughter,
Painting of St. Paul House, 1971. Artist: LeRoy Lebens.
Painting of Dallas Cowboy Tony Dorsett, date unknown. Artist: Dave Tommy (a Shakopee HS student)
Watercolor painting of Dr. Nevin’s House in Shakopee, 1993. Artist: Susan Melchior.
Pastel and acrylic painting of Joan of Arc, undated. Artist: Lorraine Coller.
Watercolor painting of Murphy’s Landing, 1993. Artist: Susan Melchior.
Watercolor painting of the Old Monnens Farm in Shakopee, 1992. Artist: Lila Greenwood

Halloween in Scott County

Halloween in Scott County has been a fun time of year for people of all ages for generations, all the way up to today. From parades, dances, trick-or-treating, and mischief, Scott County has seen it all on Halloween. Looking through our collections and newspapers here at Scott County Historical Society, one can find quite a few stories and pictures about Halloween happenings through the years, so we’ve decided to short list of them here. In a book of recollections of life in Scott County titled As I Remember Scott County, Leo Michael, of Jordan, recalls causing a bit of mischief in his boyhood days. Following a late football practice, he and some of his friends “dismantled a wagon into small sections and dropped them into a well” and then went on to find an outhouse, but soon after trying to tip it, a voice emerged from it saying, “Take it easy there boys!” Rather than inconveniencing a lot of people, Leo and his friends opted to attend their school dance instead, saving more mischief for a later day.  In the same book, Lucille Grafenstalte Hirscher, of Shakopee, remembered attending a Halloween party with her mother as a young girl to see all the costumes. She recalled a meeting with someone she’d never forget, the Devil, or at least what she imagined he looked like. “He really was my idea of the devil. All dressed in red, complete with his horns, a tail, and a pitch fork.” She remembered being frightened for quite a while after, that is until she realized that the devil was, in fact, her grocer.

Scott County Newspapers also chronicled Halloween through the years, reporting where all the festivities could be found and on the fun that was had during those activities. From Jordan, Belle Plaine, and Shakopee, each town has had their own festivities through the years. The Shakopee Valley News, for example, covered Miss Day’s third grade class presentation of “Three Little Witches” from Prior Lake Elementary in 1968, which was reportedly “delightful”. It’s also been a tradition for schools from elementary through high school to host dances and parties, along with groups like the American Legion, Jordan Commercial Club, and the Lions. The papers would often report on the numbers of participants at the events; 1967 Jordan saw over 1,000 children and teens attend events thrown by the Legion Auxiliary and the Commercial Club, while 1966 Shakopee saw a record high of 2,052 attend their parties. The fun wasn’t just for the kids though! Members of the Shakopee “Golden Age Club” often helped residents of the Valley View Nursing Home in Jordan celebrate Halloween with a party of their own.

All of us here at the Scott County Historical Society would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween. If you have any Scott County Halloween stories of your own that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them in the comments!



Thoughts and Scribblings…


treaty of mendota
Treaty of Mendota

A while ago I asked one of our volunteers to take a stab at writing a blog post.  He wasn’t sure what that meant, but did since he’s a newcomer to our area, he dug up some history of our county.  Here are his Thoughts and Scribblings!

August 5, 1851: The Treaty of Mendota, in which the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute bands of the Dakota “sold” most of their land in the southern part of the state, was signed by Governor Ramsey and Luke Lea, representing the United States, and Little Crow, Medicine Bottle, Good Thunder, Six, and Wabasha signing for the Dakota.  Other bands had previously “sold” their land in the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux.

August 4, 1854: Congress approved legislation guaranteeing pre-emption for Minnesota settlers squatting on lands that had not be surveyed.  Technically, the land could be sold only after being surveyed, but settlers had poured into lands “purchased” from the Native Americans, sometimes making substantial investments before the surveyor completed their work.  This act, sponsored by delegate Henry H. Sibley, allowed the settlers to purchase their land after the fact of settlement.

All this lead to an interesting question: What is Scott County?

Well, in no particular order…

  • Scott County was established and organized by the MN Legislature on March 5, 1853, and named in honor of General Winfield Scott (who never set foot in Scott County).
  • The county has a total area of 368 sq. miles of which 356 (96.8%) is land and 12 sq. miles is water.
  • It is the third-smallest county in MN by land area and the second-smallest by total area.
  • Now mostly farmland, it was initially an oak savanna and a mixture of grass and clusters of trees that grew parallel to the river valley.  The savanna bordered the “Big Woods”, a closed-forest savanna that covered most of MN before it was logged in the mid-19th century and converted to farmland.
Oak Savanna
  • Scott County is home to several historic, scenic, and entertainment destinations, including Canterbury Park, The Landing, Elko Speedway, Mystic Lake Casino, the Renaissance Festival, Valleyfair Amusement Park, Blakeley Bluffs, and more.
  • This area was first inhabited by two bands of the Santee Sioux (Dakota), the Mdewakanton and Wahpeton.  Their semi-nomadic life followed a seasonal cycle.  In the summer the villages were occupied, but in the winter the groups separated for hunting.  They had many permanent villages along the MN River and trails leading to these settlements and to the Red River Valley in the north and Prairie du Chien to the Southeast.  These trails were later used by fur traders and settlers; known as the “ox cart trails.”  Later these trails became highways such as Hwy’s 13 and 169.
  • The MN River and Ox cart trails were the primary transportation routes.  The first settlers were Yankees, followed by Germans, Irish, Czechs, and Scandinavians, each bringing their own traditions and religions.  Most settlers became farmers.
  • The county has seven cities – Belle Plaine, Elko New Market, Jordan, New Prague, Prior Lake, Savage, and Shakopee (the county seat); 11 townships – Belle Plaine, Blakeley, Cedar Lake, Credit River, Helena, Jackson, Louisville, New Market, Sand Creek, Spring Lake, and St. Lawrence; and 10 unincorporated communities – Blakeley, Cedar Lake, Helena, Lydia, Marystown, Mudbaden, Spring Lake, St. Benedict, St. Patrick, and Union Hill.

Another blog post will explore how each of the major communities within Scott County came to be (and why), and how they developed.

This blog post was written by SCHS Volunteer Paul Keever – Thanks Paul!

Shakopee Stove Companies

In the late 19th century into mid 20th century Shakopee was the home of a booming industry.  In the times before electricity really got a hold in America, the tools for cooking and heating relied on wood or coal with gas becoming popular later.  Stoves and ranges that these fuels were loaded into were heavy metal constructions that looked quite a bit different than the typical box stove/oven combos that we see in our modern kitchens.  Here, in the northern portion of the Midwest, such heating implements were in high demand but there wasn’t really a big Midwestern stove and range producer until 1891.  The year 1891 marked the beginning of the Minnesota Stove Company, and once it started, it took off.

In May of 1891 Henry Hinds, Theodore Weiland, and Julius A. Coller returned to Shakopee after being appointed to inspect a stove and general foundry in Ohio.  They were sent to determine whether or not a proposition to open a similar business in Shakopee seemed a wise thing to do.  Their reports returned satisfactory and the plans to build the Minnesota Stove Company were put into action shortly thereafter.  On September 19th of the same year the foundry was built with the first smelting taking place on November 23rd.  Some of these early stove styles were the “Steel Coral” stoves.  These stoves, unlike later stoves, were highly decorated.

MSC Coral StoveMatchless Steel Coral Range

The cold northern weather and the lack of stove companies pushed the Minnesota Stove Company to early success.  A 1906 copy of the Scott County Argus stated that 100 stoves were sold from one advertisement within two hours of leaving the press.  Due to these successes, the “Imperial Coral” stove was added to the production line and in 1908 the foundry was expanded.  A 12,000 square foot brick building was added to make the total size for the company 60,000 square feet.  They also increased the number of employees.  What had started as a 35 person operation was increased to 85.  By 1908 the company had “more than 150 styles and sizes of stoves” to claim.  Some of these were the Sanico, Steel Coral, and Son Brands stoves.  In 1911, the company was overhauled.  They had a new cupola made and new machinery installed.

The Sanico line.


Things continued to go well until 1914, where the Minnesota Stove Company ran into one of its first hiccups.  The company closed in December of 1914 due to an issue with union workers and they stayed closed for about two months.  They closed again in March of 1915 due to similar issues.  They opened again on April 15th of 1915 with a crew of non-union workers.  By October 1915 they were employing 125 workers and business was booming once more.  An October issue of the Scott County Argus stated, “The company is today one of the chief manufacturing industries of our city and one of the leading institutions of its kind in the Northwest.”

Looking at the successes of the Minnesota Stove Company, a second group of men looked to open a stove and range company of their own.  In 1915 J. Warren Hawthorne, George G. Reis, W. T. Curry, and Rudolph T. Selbig incorporated the Shakopee Stove Company, what was originally going to be called “Equity Stove Company,”  and produced their Gopher line of stoves and ranges.

Work in the foundry of the Shakopee Stove Company began on October 28th of 1915.  Finished products did not begin rolling out until mid November due to the late arrival of cleaners, nickeling equipment, and polishing equipment.  These stoves were designed by the four men that had incorporated the business.  They were with little decoration so that parts could be easily repaired and replaced.  Much like Minnesota Stove Company, business at the Shakopee Stove Company took off.  Fortunately, demand for their products was so high, both companies were capable of existing in Shakopee without interfering with each other.  In fact, before the Shakopee Stove Company was even completed, they had orders for each of the items in their product line.  People were so impressed by the Shakopee Stove Company’s work that the Waterbury Furnace and Heating Company of Minneapolis moved orders for foundry work from an Iowa company to the Shakopee Stove Company.

In 1921, William Spoerner stated that the Shakopee Stove Company could not meet demand despite having recently added two expansions.  A newspaper reporter referred to a statement by William Spoerner saying “…he is not able to supply the demand with the limited capacity of the plant.  He says if he had the room he has orders enough to keep  a force of twenty-five full-fledged molders busy every day.”  Part of the problem the Shakopee Stove Company had was that they had no where else to expand to.  They had other companies working near them and while they were looking to expand to a plot of land past the railroad, they did not end up working out a deal with the owners.

While the Shakopee Stove Company was having its troubles keeping up with demand, the Minnesota Stove Company had problems of its own.  On March 1st of 1923 there was an explosion in the casting room at the Minnesota Stove Company that was likely caused by a spray used for castings coming in contact with an electric stove.  The explosion started a fire that spread to the assembling department and warehouse.  Firemen were able to prevent the enameling department from getting caught up in the blaze.  The total losses amounted to $150,000 that was only partially covered by insurance.  Despite the fire, business wasn’t too harshly affected.  Employees were back to work by March 12th and damaged stoves were sold off at a reduced price.After Fire Sale

On March 16th of 1923 they set plans into motion to expand their enameling department.   Within one year, business was high once more despite certain areas within the factory still being shut down.  In March of 1924 they  organized a 150 person fire company and fully equipped the building with fire chemicals and a new hose to prevent future fire problems.  Unfortunately, later that year, the Minnesota Stove Company ran into a second problem.  It was the same problem that the Shakopee Stove Company was having.  Demand was high.  Too high.  The Minnesota Stove Company was not able to keep up and was declared bankrupt October 27, 1924.  This was not the end of things though.  The people of Shakopee had seen their stove company do a lot of good for their town and they did not want to see it go.  The company was sold to the American Range and Foundry December 4th with the sale being confirmed December 22nd.  The main offices of the American Range and Foundry moved their offices to Shakopee and the business was taken over as the American Range Corporation on January 1st of 1925.

Sadly, fire struck again in early 1925.  This time, at the Shakopee Stove Company.  On February 3rd at around 2:40am the Shakopee Stove Company caught flame destroying the building, machinery, equipment, heaters, and ranges.  Only one new steel warehouse was saved and this was only due to a rapid response keeping the fires contained to the other buildings.  That warehouse along with the 150 stoves and heaters inside of it were the only things to survive.  The losses amounted to $40,000 dollars and was, again, only parially covered by insurance.  Unlike the Minnesota Stove Company, the Shakopee Stove Company did not recover and its story ended there.  This is particularly unfortunate seeing as plans were in place to merge Shakopee Stove Company with the American Range Corporation.  An article from a February 13th edition of the Shakopee Argus stated, “A consolidation of the Shakopee Stove Company with American Range Corporation was to have been effected last Saturday but was held up temporarily and would have gone into effect this week.”  After only 10 years, the Shakopee Stove Company was gone leaving the American Range Corporation to meet demand.

By 1927, the American Range Corporation was facing the same troubles that the Minnesota Stove Company had faced.  A headline from the May 26th edition of the Argus Tribune declared, “Local Industry Captialized at $500,000, Employs 175 Men Has $25,000 Monthly Payroll, Capacity 75 Stoves Daily, Production Fails to Keep Step with Demand.”  Despite its struggles, the American Range Corporation continued to run until May 1931, when it shut down temporarily.  Between 1931 and 1933 the factory made efforts to restart but it was unclear if it ever was able to.  Reports suggest that there were plans to restart in late 1931 but it would seem that did not happen.  On August 10th of 1933, business did start again with owners expressing hope that the restart would not just be temporary.  By 1936 business was certainly rolling smoothly as work was done to keep pace with the demand caused by a cold streak.  Eventually, the problems of the past caught up with them and supply was not able to meet demand.  Instead of continuing the business, it was authorized for sale on April 20th of 1940.  The factory was bought for $45,000 by a group in Chicago.  Beginning in 1941, the factory space was put to a new purpose of building cots for the military engaged in World War II.  The factory never returned to its original purpose.

The Scott County Historical had an exhibit entitled “Stoke the Fire: The Life and Times of the Shakopee Stove” in 1998.  Below are some photos of the stoves produced by the Minnesota Stove Company, Shakopee Stove Company, and American Range Corporation as displayed in the exhibit.  The white stove in the upper right hand corner is currently on display in the museum.

Ghost Towns of Scott County

Merriam-Webster’s definition of a ghost town is: “a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usually as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource.”1

It is sad to say, but Scott County has its fair share of ghost towns. Below is a list of those ghost towns, with years that the towns were founded and/or ended. As you can see, many of these towns only lasted a handful of years, at most.

  • Louisville, 1854
  • Mount Pleasant, 1856
  • Bellefontaine, 1856
  • St. Lawrence, 1856
  • St. Joseph, 1858
  • Dooleyville: 1855-1870
  • Yorkville
  • Merriam Junction, 1866-1871
  • Helena, 1887
  • Village of Joel: Blakeley Township 1897-1917
  • Brentwood, 1860
  • Luxembourger – early 1900s
  • Lydia

Why did these towns disappear? Many of these towns contained grist or sawmills, a post office, church, school house, hotel, general store, creamery, newspaper, tavern, blacksmith, and of course residential houses. So why, with all the apparent success of a growing town, did these towns die out?

For many of these towns, the main reason was location, as well as mode of transportation to the town. Several of these towns were built near rivers, as that was one of the main sources of transportation at the time. For St. Lawrence, the building of the railroad spelled the end for the town. The river was no longer used, and no main roads were built to the town. For Merriam Junction, a town built right on the railroad, the invention of the automobile was its downfall. All that is left of the town is an old dilapidated railroad depot.

For towns like Yorkville and Brentwood, animosity between their neighbor towns caused them to struggle with their business. Yorkville residents were seen as a threat by those in Chaska Township, and many Yorkville residents were lured over to the other side. Brentwood was on the other side of the railroad tracks to Jordan, and held possession of the depot. Jordan residents disliked this fact, and eventually Brentwood was incorporated into Jordan, disappearing entirely.

No matter the reason for its disappearance, the fact remains that these towns that once flourished are no longer standing. Even though many of these towns have little to indicate where they once stood, their memories are still held in the minds of once residents, as well as their family members. These towns still stand in photographs, newspapers, and postcards. Take a look at a few of the photographs the SCHS has in its collection of some of the ghost towns in the county. Place your mouse over the photo to see the town.


If you wish to learn more about the ghost towns of Scott County, please contact the SCHS for more information. If anyone happens to have photographs or information on any of the ghost towns in the county, please let us at SCHS know. We would greatly appreciate the information! Of course, if you’re feeling adventurous, go right ahead and do your own exploring of Scott County’s ghost towns!


1 (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ghost%20town)