Where Did My Office Go!?

I feel it is important to give everyone at look at what it takes to put exhibits together. Seldom does the general public get to see the behind the scenes of putting together an exhibit. It is a thrilling and exhausting process. For months now we have been gathering artifacts and stories, building walls and connections, and putting together stories from across the county. The exhibits you see at the Stans Museum take months to develop and design. Physically putting them together can sometimes be the easiest part, once the research and planning is finish. Now while it is important to discuss all of this, there is one other, more humorous aspect to exhibits that I would like to share. That is of course, my vanishing office.

As you can see, it seems to have disappeared beneath baseballs, jerseys, trophies, and all manner of other sports memorabilia. In plain view is a Prior Lake Basketball Trophy that gets to enjoy my chair more than I do. Pictures and baseballs line the tables and shelves, not to mention the baseball team of my own I could field with all the jerseys. Granted the team would be confused when they all got jerseys from different teams, but that’s part of the fun. While I hope my office will reappear once the exhibit goes up, this seemed a good opportunity to get in a small laugh, and show the fun that we can get up to at the museum. Play Ball opens September 27th and we hope you enjoy it.


Back to School

Labor Day signals the start of another school year.  I took a stroll through our photograph collection to showcase schools, teachers, and school activities.  Although the timeframe for these photos covers over a century, the sentiments are similar.  Schools are the heartbeat of a community.  Kids attend school to learn, make friends, enjoy activities, and sometimes cause their teachers headaches.  Here is a photo salute to Scott County Schools.


Postcard of Jordan High School’s front brick and limestone facade. A small chain link fence is seen around the building’s front lawn. c1920


This is a photographic postcard of Union School in Shakopee. Two people are seen leaning out one of the windows on the second floor. There is a pile of wood debris, possibly firewood, near the side entrance.  c1907-1910


Black and white negative of Belle Plaine Elementary School: a two-story brick facade (originally the high school built in 1897), with a two-story brick addition at the north end.  c1959


Black and white photograph of the country school located six miles southeast of Shakopee. Seen in the image is a one room school with the students lined up in front of the building. Also seen in the background is an outhouse. c1917 to 1924


Trinity Lutheran School at Belle Plaine, Reverend Kock is seen standing at the right side of the image. c1900-1910


Letter from Juni Hardware in Jordan to School District #19, the Hafermann/Geister School in Spring Lake Township. The letter is typed and dated March 30, 1922 and addressed to William Giester, Clerk of District #19. The body of the letter gives Giester price quotes for sanitary heaters. Prices included the system, delivery and labor.




Black and white tintype of Mr. and Mrs. George Murphy, c1875-1895. George was the son of Major Murphy, the Shakopee area Indian Agent, and Mrs. Murphy was a school teacher.


Black and white photo of 23 teachers from Shakopee High School. Written in silver ink at the lower right corner of the image is “Shakopee/Sept. 7, 1951.” Dysterheft grew up on a farm in Jordan.


Teaching license issued to Mary Benes. The license reads “State of Minnesota Department of Education/Elementary School Certificate/Limited/This Certifies that Mary A. Benes is qualified to teach in ungraded elementary schools (except superior or accredited) from the date hereof until July 1, 1942./This certificate is issued on the basis of a one-year course in elementary education, with training for rural teaching in Teacher Training Department, New Prague/Dated at St. Paul, Minnesota July 1, 1937.”



Annual Report for School District #19, the Hafermann/Geister School in Spring Lake Township. William Giester was the school district’s clerk. Below the title are a handwritten list of 18 payments made by the district for various services. Payments include teacher’s salary, wood, library books, stationary, clerk’s fees, treasurer’s fees, and so on. The total amount spent by the school during that year was $858.58. c1915-1925


Small notebook produced by the Minnesota Tuberculosis and Health Association. Geared toward children, the piece contains promises to keep clean, visit a doctor yearly, visit a dentist yearly, stay home from school when one was sick, keep records of height and weight, learn first aid, learn about diseases, and remain faithful to the United States. It also has a map outlining TB cases in Minnesota. c1956-57


Certificate of Perfect Attendance presented to Julia Hartman, certifying that Hartman attended the State Teachers’ Institute for Scott County at Belle Plaine and satisfactorily performed all required duties, dated May 7, 1926.


Harold Albrecht’s Grade 7 report card from St. Peter and Paul’s Parochial School in Belle Plaine. Under each month is a numbered score for such things as attendance at mass, deportment, days absent, Christian doctrine, reading, spelling, arithmetic, grammar, language, penmanship, U. S. history, geography, times tardy, German, and so on. c1917


Report card issued to Dennis McDermott for the 1951-1952 school year. McDermott was graded on Reading, Language Art, Arithmetic, Spelling, Geography and History, Handwriting, Art, Health, Science, school attitude, and effort in work. Most of McDermott’s grades were As, Bs, Cs or S (satisfactory). His teacher was Janice Jackson. c1951



Black and white postcard of the assembly room at Shakopee High School (Union School). c1907-1908


Black and white photograph of Raymond (Jim) Dahl’s class at St. Mark’s School in Shakopee. Seen are approximately 47 students gathered together in a classroom. Seen behind the students are chalkboards, a wall clock, an American flag, a wall calendar, a piano, and framed religious images. Written on one of the chalkboards is “Read Much/Talk Less/ Think More.” c1936


Red letterman’s sweater from New Prague High School. Sewn onto the sweater above the left pocket is a large patch, an intertwined “NP” for New Prague. Stitched in gold with the patch are a megaphone (cheerleading) and three bars. Seen on the left sleeve are patches forming “48.” Mary Ellen Robel. c1948


Knit cap for Prior Lake football. c1970-1980


1914 Belle Plaine High School football team. Various statements are written on the chalkboard including “After the Game/B.P. Football Team/Champion of Minn” and “B.P.H.S., 14/Football Team/Champions Minn. Valley.” The boy standing and looking at the group is carrying a metal box. Written on the side of the box is “Doc. Pill.” At the center of the group is a football with “B.P.H.S./’14” written on it. The boys are identified as Lorenz Woods, Bill Crahan, Emmett O’Neill, James McDevitt, Martin Donovan, George Brown, Mike Pendy, Tom Sheehan, Leo Pendy, Herman Beutow, Bob White and John Weibeler.


T-shirt from Jordan High School. A round iron-on patch reads “JHS Speech/”Triple Crown Champs/ 78 & 79.”  c1979


Program from the Jordan High School Senior Class play “The Little Dog Laughed.” Typed inside is a synopsis of each scene, acknowledgements, cast of characters, and list of backstage workers. c1964


Shakopee High School Homecoming. Queen candidates: Clarice Stacker, Ida Beckrich, Patty Arnold, and Ann Whitley. The boya are dressed in costumes, including one boy, Paul Wermerskirchen, being dressed as a girl. Written on the backside “10-20-50/Candidates for homecoming queen: Clarice Stacker, Ida Beckrich, Patty Arnold, Ann Whitley/Players for skit: Paul Wermerskirchen.” c1950



School lunch tray and cup from the Lydia School. The tray is green plastic and divided into five sections for holding different foods. The cup is molded green plastic with small handle. c1970


Mug reads “Stier Transportation Services/Belle Plaine, MN./Since 1953.” A black transfer print on the opposite side of the body is a list reading “Serving/-Medicaid/-The Lutheran Home/-Medica Choice Care/-Belle Plaine School District #716/-MN River Valley Special Education Coop #99



The Scott County Historical Society is always collecting items that help us tell the stories of our communities – including all the schools in our county.  As you can tell from the above images, we are interested in all sorts of items – from photos to t-shirts, to mugs, to receipts.  Please, before you throw something away, give us a call.  Your trash may be our treasure!  info@scottcountyhistory.org or 952-445-0378

Flashback: 1968

On Saturday the Scott County Historical Society will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary!

50th picnic celebration
We are marking the event with a full day of games, music, food and crafting in the Stans Garden.  Indoors (in addition to our regular exhibits), SCHS will pay tribute to the year of our formation, 1968. You will have the chance to test your knowledge with a 1968 trivia game, and take some snapshots in a retro photo-booth.





We’ve also taken this opportunity to take a look at what was going on around the county 50 years ago in 1968. Below are some articles and cartoons that graced Scott County’s papers that year:

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New Prague

Thursday May 23rd, Presidential Nominations Are Made In National Conventions.jpg

Thursday May 30th, Memorial Day.jpg

Prior Lake 

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why i love america essays july 23.jpg


thurs feb 1 wives working outside of home-page-001.jpg


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Shakopee Valley Oct 3rd Wayward Locomotives-page-001.jpg

Shakopee Valley Feb 29th Vietnam Thoughts 2-page-001.jpg

There will be flip books available on Saturday with more articles, giving a snapshot of the highs and lows, triumphs and losses and everyday stories of the county and this nation. We are excited to celebrate 50 years, and we hope to see you this Saturday from 10-3 at the Stans Museum. Thank you for a great half century!

A Golden Time

This year marks a fantastic occasion for us at the Scoot County Historical Society; we get to celebrate our 50th year Anniversary. In appreciation of our volunteers and our communities, we will be having an anniversary picnic at the Stans Museum in Shakopee. It will be a day of food, fun, and trip through the past. Our main entry way will be time machine back to 1968 where you can see what made the headlines and what the world was doing 50 years ago. We will have a photo booth where you can take a picture are a hippie, John Lennon, or even Richard Nixon.

Our Stans House Garden will have picnic tables for food and relaxing as we celebrate the historical societies golden anniversary. We will be recognizing a longtime volunteer, looking back at what we have accomplished, and looking forward to the future we hope to build. A day full of old fashion games, sack races, food, community, and history sounds like a great day to me. August 25th at the Stans Museum, come celebrate the Scott County Historical Society’s anniversary, and help us usher in the next 50 years of preserving our history. 50th picnic celebration

50 Years of History – 1968-2018

The Scott County Historical Society has been around for 50 years, only about half of them at Stans Museum.  In 1968 a group of citizens got together to save their local history – much like every other historical society.

TransfigurationMany of our original members and board were from the Belle Plaine area, and one of our first projects was preserving and restoring the beautiful Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Belle Plaine, and the addition of restrooms.  Along with this project, the Society worked on the Minnesota Valley Restoration Project, resulting in the formation of Murphy’s Landing (now known as The Landing).

SCHS members not only worked on these projects, but they also set about collecting the items that would be the beginning of our over 50,000 piece collection.  Most of the early items were kept in members homes or at Murphy’s Landing.  Eventually, moving to our new home in 1995.


The Stans Museum came about through a very generous donation from the Stans  Foundation.  Maurice Stans grew up in Shakopee; he was a geeky little kid that loved math.  Eventually he became an accountant and helped form the Alexander Grant Company (now Grant Thornton).  Answering a call from President Eisenhower, Maurice entered public life and was the director of the budget for the Eisenhower administration.  He completed his public service in the Nixon cabinet as the Secretary of Commerce*.  Along the way, he always kept Shakopee close to his heart, donating funds to support local students, Murphy’s Landing, and eventually the SCHS.

Maurice’s foundation, The Stans Foundation, donated the grounds, his boyhood home, and the museum to the Scott County Historical Society in 1995.  The museum, built by Laurent Builders, had a gift store, Stans and Africa exhibits, offices, and a multi-purpose room. The original floor-plan is basically the same – but the content has significantly shifted to a more Scott County – local focus. Thanks to board planning and a generous donation from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, we made changes to the building to better serve our communities.

Original floor-plan


Gone is the African travels exhibit – in its place is an open gallery on local topics.  The African diorama is now much needed archival storage.  The center hallway is more defined with walls separating the original “Business/Govt. & Family/Shakopee” galleries, creating three defined exhibit gallery spaces – two of which are dedicated to Scott County topics.  The “Multi-purpose Classroom” still does double duty as our research library and public programs space.  The “Conference” room is now a work-room; the “Office” is the curator office, and “Sec.” is the director’s office.  The entry is more welcoming and we added an education/program closet.

Floor-plan todayBuilding-Map-sm

You’ll notice there is no collection storage in either floor-plan.  That’s because the building was designed specifically for exhibits, collection storage was an afterthought.  The collection is stored in the basement, which is only a fraction of this footprint.

Big thanks go out to: Dr. Lee Smith (SCHS 1st Executive Director), dedicated members, and early board members, such as Charlie Pass and Dr. R. Pistulka.  Through the efforts of these people and a huge number of amazing volunteers, we are still going strong 50 years later.

50th picnic celebration

Please join us in celebrating our 50th Anniversary on August 25, 2018 with a picnic in the Museum Garden.  Lots of activities are planned – food, theater skit, 1968 photobooth, hands-on crafts and much more.  Stop by between 10am and 3pm for great fun; help celebrate our past and look to our future.

*Click Here to learn more about Maurice Stans on our website

Out to the Fair!

It’s that time of year again, next week the Scott County Fair will be on us again. We will be out there in the speak easy collecting stories from all those who stop by. If you have a story about the fair, come on by and preserve it with us, and have a quick chat. Having said that, this seemed a great time to look back at some great photos of the fair to get everyone in the mood for the festivities to come!


On the Hunt…

This summer the Scott County Historical Society turns 50 years old. To commemorate our golden anniversary, we are having a summer full of events, festivals, and grand picnic (August 25th), and we have launched the Great Summer History Scavenger Hunt!

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Visit 10 historic locations (or as many as you can) in Scott County before our 50th anniversary picnic! Take a picture at each one and email it to us (info@scottcountyhistory.org). Complete the quest and you will win…

  • A prize at our 50th anniversary picnic
  • The chance to have your photos featured in an upcoming exhibit
  • everlasting fame and glory.

The great hunt has already spawned stories. A woman and her father have been visiting a new town’s locations each day and are trying new restaurants. A family has been making a summer scrapbook with their photos. To augment those tales, here are some of the stories behind the 10 Scott County locations you will visit as you complete your summer adventure:

Location 1: The Stans House/ Scott County Historical Society – Shakopee


The Stans House was built in 1908 by Hubert Stans. It is constructed in the Dutch Colonial Style, popular at the time. One of our long-serving volunteers recounted visiting the house while she was girl, but sad she never got past the kitchen because Mrs. Stans didn’t want young folks mussing up the rest of her house. Luckily, today you can visit the whole lower floor. It has been restored giving visitors peek at what life was like for a middle class family in Scott County near the turn of the 20th century. Inside you can wind a Victrola, learn how an icebox works, and recline on a fainting couch. If you are interested in touring the house, be sure to call us and make an appointment in advance- 952.445.0378.

Next door to the Stans House is the Scott County Historical Society. Inside the building is used for a wide variety of  purposes. We have rotating exhibit galleries: currently you can learn about Scott County in WW1, toursim in Scott County, American Indians of the area, and the history of the Stans Family. Coming soon are exhibits on sports in the county, and the use of tools to build Scott County. The building is also home to a play ball final transparent (002).png

research library featuring the lineup of newspapers throughout county history, subject folders, historic maps, county books, and a card catalog to help you track down your family’s history. The museum and library are open:
Tuesday , Wednesday and Friday- 9am to 4pm
Thursday- 9am to 8pm
Saturday- 10am to 3pm
Come pay us a visit!

Location 2: Veterans Memorial- Shakopee

Located off of highway 101, Memorial Park is Shakopee’s largest. scav2The 147 acre park features picnic shelters, friendly mill-pond ducks, multiple playgrounds and shady walking paths. Centrally located is an AH-1F Cobra helicopter. The design was prominently used during the Vietnam war, and now serves as a sculptural tribute to Shakopee’s veterans.


Location 3: Mudbaden (now called the SCALE Training Facility)- Jordan

Mudbaden was a health spa founded by Ose Rosendahl in 1906. Around 1900, a peddlers cart and horse got stuck in the mud while trying to pass through Rosendahl’s property. As they worked together to free the cart. As they labored in the mud, the murky ground began to release sulfurous fumes. Rather than be offput by the smell, the men realized that Rosendahl had a business opportunity on his hands. The smelly mud was believed to have health benefits, and mud spas were making money throught Europe at the time. Rosendahl began cooking up mud treatments in his kitchen, and soon “Rosendahl Sulpher Springs” was born. default.jpgscav4.png

By 1910 a new building was built to house up to 70 people who had come to visit the restorative mud. The sight was renamed Mudbaden, and it began to become a serious tourist attraction. By 1912, ten plus trains were stopping at the site each day.

In 1914 the modern brick building was built with a capacity of 200 visitors. Mudbaden was a true resort, with dancing, music, parties, movies and banquets complimenting mud treatments. The facility continued to grow, acquiring the rival Jordan Sulpher Springs site in 1925. It continued to host a steady clientele until the 1940s when medical advances made mud treatments seem out of vogue. Mudbaden finally closed it’s doors for good in 1952, but the beautiful structure created for the mud baths still stands. Now known as the SCALE regional training facility, Mudbaden is located at 17706 Valley View Dr and is a pleasant bike ride from Jordan.

Location 4: Ambrose Friedman Cabin – Jordan

One of the oldest European American homes still standing in Scott County. It was being used as a storage shed, but was purchased, restored and moved to its present location scav4 (1).pngby Clement Nachbar in memory of his parents, Mathias Nachbar and Wilhelmina Mertens Nachbar, who settled near Jordan in 1855. The cabin is now open as a museum on Memorial Day and for special events. The cabin is found at the intersection of Water st and Varner st, near downtown Jordanmedia.jpg

Location 5: Episcopal Church of the Transformation – Belle Plaine

The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, an Episcopal church building in Belle Plaine,  is a Carpenter Gothic style building with wooden buttresses. Sometimes referred to as a “prairie Gothic” church, it was built in 1868 for English-speaking parishioners, but most of the rural residents at the time were German and Irish immigrants who brought their own languages and religious practices with them. The result was a church building that struggled to attract worshipers for 80 years before the beautiful church was abandoned. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.scav5.png Memories, details and stories about the church can be found in the book “What Happened Here: A History of the Episcopal Church of the Transfigoraton” by Lee Howard Smith, available at the Scott County Historical Society. Here is a taste, recalled by Hinrietta Hillstrom Smith: episcopal-church-of-the-transfiguration.jpg

I have many memories of this church. I remember the early services at 7am with the early morning sun streaming through the east window above the alter with its beautiful colored glass. I remember the 5pm services during the winter months when the church had to be heated. The fires were started during the morning and kept going most of the day in order to get it warm enough to spend an hour at service. Later to save time and heat services were held in the Vestry. I had a round oak stove which wasn’t being used that I loaned to the church, some benches were moved in, a small table with white linen was used as an alter. It provided warmth and since there were so few people there was a closeness, and a closeness to God.

The Episcopal Church of the Transformation is at 201 N Walnut St in Belle Plaine

Location 6: Two Story Outhouse – Belle Plaine


The Hooper–Bowler–Hillstrom House was built in 1871 in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, United States, by Sandford A. Hooper, a local businessman and promoter of the town. By 1886 it was sold to Samuel Bowler, a founder of the State Bank of Belle Plaine and lumber-yard owner.3726_HillstromHouseTwoStoryLatrine2.jpg Bowler added a new kitchen, buttery, and , most famously, a five-hole, two-story outhouse that is connected to the house via a skyway. He also added a copper-lined bathtub. When the Bowlers moved to Denver, Colorado in 1901, the clapboard frame house was sold to Alfred Hillstrom whose family lived in the house until it was purchased in 1975 by the Belle Plaine Historical Society. The house is now furnished in a variety of periods that reflect its long life. It is open for tours from 1-4pm on Sundays between Memorial day and Labor day. Find the Hooper-Bowler-Hilstrom house along with its famous toilet at Court Square Park in Belle Plaine

Location 7: New Market Hotel and Store – Elko New Market

The Elko New Market Hotel and Store was built by Joesph Baltes in 1897. The building was originally given the cozy name of Home Hotel, and featured a first floor tavern with sleeping rooms upstairs. The hotel served visitors a business people traveling throughout the region. It also was a local social gathering place, holding suppers during dances at the Village Hall, and as a place to meet with locals and visitors.scav7.png
The hotel was typical of its time, with no electricity, and the owners living on site in the back of the first floor barroom. Laundry services were also offered for a small fee, and the owner’s wife would start washing sometimes as early as 3 O’clock.

Today the building still looks the same as it did in 1897, though with some different paint around the old windows, and big green sign on the front. . Visitors to the hotel today can walk up the double-wide staircase and peek into original rooms, each with a different theme which constantly changes. The current operators of the hotel maintain six rooms that visitors can see. The first floor is still a shop that is open periodically throughout the year.

Visit the Elko New Market Hotel and Store at 441 Main St, New Market, MN

Location 8: Church of Saint Wenceslaus – New Prague

The group of immigrants who settled New Prague had originally settled around Dubuque, Iowa, but many of them died of cholera. Four men from the community traveled up the Mississippi River to Saint Paul, in search of a healthier climate. They met with Catholics in the area who advised them that Benedictines from Saint John’s Abbey near Saint Cloud, Minnesota, were helping settlers find land. The explorers from the Czech community got lost, though, and ended up following the Minnesota River to Shakopee instead. They found that there was ample land to the south, so the four men purchased land and brought their families north from Iowa.

The parish of St. Wenceslaus was organized in 1856, and a log church was built the following year. The log church was destroyed by fire in 1864, so a more permanent building was erected in 1866, built of brick and stone. As the parish grew, though, more room was needed. Father Francis Tichy (pictured) default.jpgdirected the building of the new church, which was designed by St. Paul architect Hermann Kretz. Archbishop John Ireland dedicated the new building on July 7, 1907.scav8.png

Brick and Kasota limestone were used for constructing the spacious building. It dominates the skyline of the small city of New Prague, measuring 165 by 67 feet , with two towers that rise 110 feet. The architectural style combines neoclassical and Romanesque architectural styles, and is based on a church in Prague. Czech Republic. The church, rectory, and school were listed together on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Location 9: Train Depot – New Prague

One of the most important developments in the new village occurred in 1877 when the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway (M & St. L) reached New Prague.scav9.png The arrival of the railroad era expedited agriculture as New Prague’s most important industry. A link with the outside world enabled farmers to send their commodities to markets and created a conduit to bring inventory to the village’s businesses. Just four years after the M & St. L reached New Prague, the first grain elevator and flour mill were completed, marking the beginning of New Prague earning its nickname, the “Flour City.”

The historic New Prague Train Depot is still standing next to the flour mill on 2nd ave in New Prague

Location 10: Your Hometown History!

For site number 10, choose a place that has historic significance to you or your family. It could be a home that goes back generations, or simply a place that you enjoy today. Take a picture and share your story with us- these stories are what make history come alive. scav10.png

Please join us in the 2018 summer history hunt- and share your pictures and stores with is at info@scotthistory.org, even if you are unable to make it to every site. Happy hunting!


To commemorate the United States’ mid-summer festivities, I thought it would be fun to look back at how Scott County has celebrated the fourth of July in years past. This history of Independence Day celebrations is interesting due to how little the holiday has changed throughout time. In a July 3rd, 1776 letter from John to Abagail Adams, John expressed his hopes that the occasion should be commemorated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews [shows], Games, Sports, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” Even in the late 1700s, novelty fireworks were widely available to the public, with one vendor listing his pyrotechnic wares as  “rockets, serpents, wheels, table rockets, cherry trees, fountains, and sun flowers.”

A notice in the Belle Plaine Herald from about a hundred years after Adams, June 27th 1894, told of a gathering that would not have been out of place on a fourth of July today. bp herald june 27-page-001“A Grand Celebration” including a “large platform on which music will be furnished for dancing purposes”. Sports of the day included foot racing, sack racing, horse racing and pony racing. Finally, of course, the event finished off with a “Grand display of fireworks”. In 1988, more then 200 years after John wrote to Abigail, New Prague celebrated the fourth with fireworks and music from the band “East Side Pharaohs”, mirroring celebrations from years past.

NPtimes june 23 1988-page-001

Independence day in Scott County has not only been influenced by the United States, but by broader global events.  On the sunset of  World War 1, July 4th 1919, the Shakopee Argus Tribune published an article entitled “Freedom All Over The Earth: The Due Recognition of Human Rights now the Aim of Mankind”. As a counter to global war, the article expressed worthy sentiments such as “One hundred two score and three years ago the federation of the thirteen colonies into a federal union was a political event of prime import. Today that goal is overshadowed by by that great thing of which Tennyson dreamed: the federation of the world” The article explains that with the age of European monarchs in the past, it was time to forgo nationalism and for every country to work together towards a better global future. The piece ends with this noble ideal:

“On July 4th 1776 the liberty bell rang out in order to proclaim liberty throughout all the land and to unite the inhabitants thereof. Suppose that on another July fourth it were permitted to raise it’s cracked and wheezy voice to do a far nobler thing: proclaim liberty and an end to oppression and suffering all over the world! Where is the man who would not wish to live in this world? Let all the peoples of the world send a representative to meet. Let them create and sign a nobler document that that which our forefathers signed… That document will enable all people to stand against the oppression of autocratic spoilers. It will assert solidarity of all that stand for freedom and love their fellow men. It will set forth a growing sense of human brotherhood”    shakopee1919tribunejuly4-page-001

Unfortunately for the planet, and the writer of  this article, by the 1940s the US was once again at war.  This was reflected in the independence day celebrations of the time. The 1943 Shakopee Tribune encouraged readers to visit Minneapolis to celebrate the fourth of July. The holiday was a week-long event featuring “Fifty thousand marchers, scores of floats, bands,  and drum corps”.  The primary aim, according to the promoters, was to “build morale and sell war bonds”. By 1946, Jordan was recognizing the fourth with a “welcome home to WW2 veterans”. jordanjunne261946-page-001

During the Vietnam war, Independence day once again inspired musings on American ideals. On July 3rd, 1978, the Shakopee Valley Tribune published a letter to the editor, that was written as if it were to Richard Cox, who was killed while serving with the ninth Marine Amphibious brigade in Vietnam. The letter is from the mother of one of Richard’s close friends. She writes, ” Has death and war become as ordinary as drinking coffee? Your mother will receive a gold pin, but touching the pin and feeling the insignia are not the same as as touching the features and warmth of your son… Dick, thank you. You are at peace. When will we be?” shakopeevalley1960s-page-001

Outside of wars, political and social issues of the times are reflected in Independence day newspaper commentary. On June 20th, 1910, the Belle Plaine Herald published an incredibly charming story about Gloria West who, since the age of 5, had been “imbued with a patriotic feeling and reverence for the constitution of this country”. As Gloria grows older, she is harangued by suitors who want her hand. Her sister tells her that she is being too picky, bit Gloria refuses to be swayed. One fourth of July, she invites all of 6 “most ardent” suitors to a reading of the Declaration of Independence. There, she makes them sign her own declaration of independence, declaring that she will be her own woman. Eventually, one of her suitors creates his own document- a constitution recognizing her independence and proposing a “more perfect union” between them.  In additional to being adorable, this tale clearly displays a changing attitude towards womens’ roles that was taking place during the early 1900s. bpjune20declaringher-page-001

Today, Independence is a chance to get together with family and friends, eat, chat, and enjoy some pyrotechnics. It is also a good time to pause and think about what it means to be an American.

The “New Woman” in Scott County

Hello all, I’m Karly, one of the Scott County historical society’s summer interns. I’ve been digging through the archives here at the Stans Museum, taking in the wealth of Scott County history, and I noticed something in a microfilm of the 1898 Scott County Argus newspaper that caught my interest. The community news section of the paper read like a Facebook feed; entries appeared, ranging from where Mr. Frank Wilder was spending the weekend to who was selling the best apple cider, as well as this gem:

new woman attempt 2

Enter the “New Woman,” a politically and socially charged term from the early 19th century. The idea of what it was to be a woman in society was a subject of constant analysis by authors, newspapers, etc., often sarcastically. Satirical photos appear constantly in this era, depicting absurd or critical versions of new womanhood.


While the information presented on the brakewoman here in Scott County offers no opinion for or against the installment of a female rail worker, the very presence of the article speaks volumes about the sentiments of the time, showing that the public was interested, invested, in this new change. Even as popular topics today are circulated again and again, locally and globally, the 1898 Shakopee public was integrated into a news network that would continue to expand.

Shakopee 1880

I was surprised to learn that the city of Shakopee set itself apart by electing its first female Mayor in 1925, just 6 years after the state of Minnesota allowed women to vote in presidential elections. Shakopee women proved that they had a place in working society and leadership positions, creating a positive reputation for the new woman.

As I continue to work here in Shakopee this summer, I’m excited to think of what other insights into the past I’ll encounter as I discover what makes Scott County such a unique place. Come pay us a visit at the Stans Museum and join me in learning more about Scott County!


Summer Solstice

June 21 is the summer solstice – the longest day of the year and the start of astronomical summer.  Although, given our recent weather, I’d have to say that we somehow skipped spring and moved directly into summer in May.  However, this is the tipping point where days become shorter and nights become longer.

In ancient times people noticed the movement of stars and the sun and tracked their progress across the sky.  This was a great way to mark time and know when to plant and harvest crops, as well as track tides and predict flooding.

Different cultures have traditions and/or names for the solstice.  In northern Europe it’s called Midsummer, some Christian churches recognize it as St. John’s Day (birth of John the Baptist), and Wiccans call it Litha.  Ancient Greeks considered the summer solstice the start of the new year and the start date for the countdown to the Olympic games.

Greeks had lots of festivals and rules around the solstice: festivals for agriculture, festivals of hearth, and blessings for families.  European pagans welcomed Midsummer with bonfires – thought to boost the sun’s energy for a good growing season and harvest.  They also thought that magic was the strongest during the summer solstice – watchout  Harry Potter! Don’t forget the Vikings – for some reason they would deal with legal matters and disputes during the solstice. Some scholars believe that Wyoming’s Bighorn Medicine Wheel, built by Plains Indians hundreds of years ago, was the site of an annual sun dance as the stones align with the solstice sunrise and sunset.


Folklore indicates that people would wear garlands of herbs and flowers on the solstice to ward off evil spirts.  One of these herbs was St. John’s Wort – then called ‘chase devil’.  People would also sprinkle ashes from the Midsummer bonfire in their garden to protect themselves and bring on a good harvest.


Most people think of Stonehenge or Chichen itza when it comes to the solstice.  No one knows for sure what the use for Stonehenge was – even though it is aligned with the direction of the sunrise/set on the summer solstice.  Chichen itza aligns with both the summer and fall solstice and most likely has a connection to agriculture.  It is interesting that during the solstice the sunlight playing across the pyramids makes it look like the carved snake sculpture on the steps is moving – quite an architectural feat!


Many cultures still celebrate the summer solstice.  Bonfires are still lit, people still wear flowers in their hair, and decorate their homes with greenery.  Many still flock to ancient sites to commemorate the longest day.

Here’s what you could do:

  • Watch the sky and spend time outside enjoying the longest day
  • Make solstice sun tea: put tea leaves (or edible flowers/herbs) in a jar filled with water and leave it in the sun to steep.
  • Make a crown of flowers – dandelions and daisies work best for this.
  • Start a garden – or visit a farm – or play in the water and watch the sun reflect on its surface.
  • Enjoy some really good food.


Here’s a “summer solstice” recipe from Llewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac: Samhain 2010 to Mabon 2011.

Banana Cream Pie
Banana cream pie makes a great feast for the eyes on Summer Solstice, looking much like a Sun in splendor when completed. Since you’ll want to spend more time visiting than cooking, this recipe cheats a bit with pre-made pie crust.

Prep Time: 20 minutes  Serves: 8 slices

  • 1 premade 10-inch pie crust (chocolate, shortbread, or graham cracker)
  • 1⁄2 cup flourBanana-Cream-Pie8-637x960
  • 3⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 large bananas mashed
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Whipped cream
  • Dried banana chips or yellow sprinkles

Directions: Place flour, sugar, and salt in a nonreactive saucepan (clay, enamel, glass, or stainless steel) over a low-medium flame. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Add the mashed banana and continue to whisk. Within 8 minutes your filling will become thicker and have an even consistency. Beat the egg yolks separately, adding 3⁄4 cup of the warm filling to the yolks before blending them into the rest of the mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, continuing to whisk. Add vanilla and butter, then remove from the stove. This should rest a few minutes before pouring into your crust. Chill the pie before garnishing, piping whipped cream around the banana Sun’s edges, and decorating with banana chips and/or yellow sprinkles to finish the effect.