To Honor Mom

Mother’s Day can be filled with flowers, candy, presents, hugs, sticky kisses, longing, and sadness.  Setting aside a special day to celebrate mothers has a long and somewhat painful history.  Ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals to honor the mother goddess, and early Christians celebrated a festival known as “Mothering Sunday”, however, it was death, poverty, and war that brought Mother’s Day to a national holiday.

Modern Mother’s Day began as a political and social peace movement.  In 1868 a “Mothers Friendship Day” was organized by Ann Jarvis* for mothers to gather with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. She stated the purpose of the day was to:

To revive the dormant filial love and gratitude we owe to those who gave us birth. To be a home tie for the absent. To obliterate family estrangement. To create a bond of brotherhood through the wearing of a floral badge. To make us better children by getting us closer to the hearts of our good mothers. To brighten the lives of good mothers. To have them know we appreciate them, though we do not show it as often as we ought… Mothers Day is to remind us of our duty before it is too late. This day is intended that we may make new resolutions for a more active thought to our dear mothers. By words, gifts, acts of affection, and in every way possible, give her pleasure, and make her heart glad every day, and constantly keep in memory Mothers Day.

Abolitionist, pacifist, author, and suffragette Julia Ward Howe wrote a Mothers’ Day Proclamation in 1870, calling mothers to unite in promoting world peace.  In fact, she and other antiwar activists called for a Mother’s Peace Day to promote unity after war.  She believed women bore the loss of human life more harshly than anyone else.

Founder of Mother's Day Anna M. JarvisThe official observance of Mother’s Day is due to Anna Jarvis (Ann R. Jarvis’s daughter).  Anna pushed the efforts for an official Mothers’ Day after the death of her Mom, to honor her mother and the sacrifices mothers made for their children.  Her idea was to set aside a day for children to celebrate their Moms, and remember the work of peacemaking, reconciliation, and social action against poverty.**

She also argued that most national holidays were biased toward men’s achievements, so she started a letter writing campaign.  By 1912 many towns and states adopted Mothers’ Day as an annual holiday and by 1914 President Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mothers’ Day.

Side note: originally the holiday was intended as a day to recognize women’s activism – the organized social and political action by all mothers. The apostrophe was moved so the original intent of Mothers’ Day, became Mother’s Day to emphasize women’s role in the home and family; a day to celebrate the service of your own mother.

Although she never married or had children, Anna Jarvis envisioning people wearing a carnation (colored if your mom was living, white if she was not***), as a badge and attend church services.  However, once it became a national holiday – it became heavily commercialized.  Anna spoke out against people buying items; she wanted to protect the day and filed lawsuits against groups that used the “Mother’s Day” as a slogan for sales.  “To have Mothers’ Day the burdensome, wasteful, expensive gift day that Christmas and other special days have become, is not our pleasure,” she wrote.  “If the American People are not willing to protect Mothers’ Day from the hordes of money schemers that would overwhelm it with their schemes, then we shall cease having a Mothers’ Day …” Eventually, she went broke using her money to battle the holiday’s commercialism. By her death in 1948, Anna – the Mom of Mothers’ Day – had completely divorced herself from the holiday and lobbied to have it removed from the calendar!

However you celebrate Mother’s Day or Mothers’ Day – we wish all moms peace and happiness, and thank you for your sacrifices.

Here are a few Scott County Moms.

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*Ann Jarvis helped start Mother’s Day Work Clubs to teach women how to properly care for their children.  Ann had lost eight of her own children under the age of seven and wanted to combat the poor health and sanitation conditions that contributed to a high child mortality rate.

** This was the Progressive Era.  Women started using their roles as mother, wife, and homemaker to make changes in the public arena.  Many women saw motherhood as a moral responsibility to become activists.

***Today, the white carnation is the most popular flower choice and was Annas original flower for Mother’s Day. She chose the flower because “The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, as so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying.”

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Better One? or Two?

A couple of weeks ago the Scott County Historical Society was lucky enough to have donated a unique piece of medical history. Before the days when you could go to a Pearle Vision, you had to have your eyes test the old fashion way, enter the Trial Lens Case. This massive case has been used by a few different doctors throughout the years in Belle Plaine. The case comes with dozens of removable lenses that are placed in a pair of frames to measure what strength of glasses you need.

According to what we could learn, this case was first purchased in 1927 by Dr. Herman Jurgenson, who then gave it to Dr. Roger Hallgren when he retired. The case changed hands many times, even at one point being used as a stand in the doctor’s office. This is a wonderful piece of the past to help show how far we have come in such a small time. Its objects like this that make history fascinating, imagine that less than a century ago this was how you got your glasses measured and fitted. Medicine in all fields has changed so much, it is good sometimes to look back and consider where we have come from. Now if you will excuse me, I need to see if I can find the right lenses for my poor eyes.

The Sound of History: Music and Society in Scott County

When it comes to history, it is easy to see how people’s clothing has changed, how houses look different, or even how social customs evolve.  We often take it for granted that life sounds much different than it did 100 years ago.  I remember watching an old episode of The Twilight Zone in which a scientist experimenting with time travel in 1961 brings a violent cowboy from the 1880s into his present.  The cowboy, a master of his environment in the 19th century, is nearly driven mad when he walks out onto the New York street and hears cars honking their horns, jukeboxes blaring from diners, sirens whizzing by, and the dull roar of the city crowds.  The difference in sound between his world and the modern world was overwhelming.  Today, we can walk into virtually any business and hear music piped throughout the store or restaurant.  Our cars are equipped with radios, tape decks, CD players, or even DVD players, turning them into portable sound machines.  And our homes have just as many, if not more devices that emit constant streams of sound, television being chief among these.  In the pioneer days of Minnesota history, long before these technological and cultural innovations enveloped our everyday worlds in sound, music was a much more powerful social force.

Social connectedness was one of the underlying purposes of music for a long time, and still is among those who go to concerts, play in bands, or sing in choirs.  Just as music was an important part of individual expression and entertainment, live musical performance was an important social activity that brought individuals together and connected them to their communities.  Here at the Scott County Historical Society, we have a number of items that illustrate this important musical legacy throughout the county.

The earliest pioneers to the county brought their musical instruments, skills, and traditions with them from the eastern U.S., Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Bohemia and other countries.  In those heady days of land-grabbing and town-founding, dances and parades were some of the few occasions when settlers could enjoy themselves and interact with one another.  Maine native Daniel Storer kept an extensive journal of his migration to Scott County in the early 1850s and his new life in Shakopee.  Like many pioneers, Storer was multi-skilled and held numerous positions in the new town: carpenter, justice of the peace, town clerk, as well as fiddler and singer.  His journal, published by the Shakopee Heritage Society, gives a glimpse of Storer’s success as a fiddler.  It also hints at the social interactions of others during such festive occasions:

December 14, 1854: Went to a party in the hall in the eve.  Gates and I played for them.  A good many got drunk.  I took Dr. Ripley’s lady home, and he was so mad that he set out to shoot me.  He was so drunk himself that she would not go with him.

December 19, 1855: Went to Mrs. Holmes’ birthday party the night of the 19th.  There was a large crowd of people there.  Douglas and I played for them.  John McCormick, whom I used to know in Stillwater, was after me to go to Eden Prairie the same night and play for a dance there.

Storer’s talents were much in demand, and the playing provided him with a little extra income.  More importantly, he and other pioneer musicians brought townspeople together.  Young men and women could court at such functions and strengthen their relationships with dance and conversation.  Business might be conducted, or neighborly disputes settled (or commenced, in Dr. Ripley’s case).  For many, town hall dances and concerts would simply be a much-needed reprieve from their daily toil.

Storer also witnessed several dances and songs performed by the Mdewakanton Dakota (Sioux) of Chief Sakpe’s village.  Like Samuel Pond in his recollections of the Dakota in 1834, Storer was entranced by Dakota music, yet failed to understand it as a vital part of Dakota culture.  Dakota traditions emphasized connectedness and kinship, and dances and singing were a way of reinforcing stories and memories from their history.

Browsing through our photograph catalogue, a researcher might find any number of images of marching bands parading through the streets of downtown Shakopee, Main Street in Belle Plaine, or Water Street in Jordan.  Many of the occasions for which bands played in small towns and cities were tied to community or national celebrations, such as Independence Day, or Armistice Day.  One photo from 1925 shows band leader extraordinaire Hubert Stans with his Shakopee band during the annual picnic of the American Range Corporation.

Plano

Bands were an effective way to create fanfare to advertise business or products.  Two photos from Belle Plaine in the early 1900s bear this out.  “Plano Day” on June 19, 1901, took place along Main Street.  The marchers advertised machinery made by the Plano Company and sold in town.  American flags waive and signs read “Plano Plano” and “Plano Leads the World.”  The band in the middle of the photograph is the Valley Coronet Band of Belle Plaine led by Matt Hally and Barney Kirchoff.  The band is headed straight for a muddy patch at the intersection of Main and Meridian (or else a large pile of horse manure).

In a second photograph, this one from 1904/5, we are back on the same corner in Belle Plaine with the same Valley Coronet Band, but a different product and different advertising scheme.  Rather than a march, we have a stunt, with six men on a makeshift stage pulling on a pair of overalls to demonstrate their durability.  At such parades one might hear rousing songs with names like, “Robinson’s Grand Entrée,” “The Explorer March,” or “March Independentia.”

Overalls

The coronet was a smaller version of the trumpet, and coronet bands were popular throughout the county.  Hubert Stans was an accomplished coronet player in his Shakopee band and Chaska Sodality Band.

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In Jordan, the Germania Band, the Jordan Coronet Band, and the Jordan Imperial Band, all made use of this light and loud instrument.  Most cities proudly built bandstands in public parks and other gathering places to accommodate the growing number of musical groups.  The resorts around Prior Lake and Spring Lake always promoted their band pavilions and Saturday night dances to vacationers as their main social events.

While bands played at civic occasions and for advertising purposes, other people voiced their opinions about important political and social issues through song.  The anonymous writer of a temperance song from 1880 probably intended his song to be circulated among others who supported the prohibition of alcohol.  The lyrics come from an older temperance song that may have been written by New England poet and abolitionist John Pierpont.  The song is scribbled on a scrap of lined paper, and the author must have had some formal training in music to be able to put notes to the lyrics.  One verse captures the crusading spirit of their movement: “No alcohol we’ll buy of sell/ Away, away the bowl./ The tippler’s offer we repel,/ Away, away the bowl./ United in a temperance band,/ We’re joined in hearts,/ We’re joined in hand./  Goodbye to rum and all its harms,/ Farewell the winecup’s boasted charms,/ Away, away the bowl,/ Away, away the bowl.”

Throughout the history of the county, communities have produced musicians and forms of music that helped strengthen social ties.  Music and performance had a way of bonding people together and bridging the gaps between communities.  It is a rich area of historical research that can lend perspective to the way that we experience musical performances today.  How is music a part of our lives in a way that connects us to one another?  Do we recognize and respect local musicians or musical traditions with the same pride that communities did in the past?  How has technology changed public and ceremonial forms of music?  Whether music brings us together for a local festival, a family celebration, or a social cause, it is a significant historic source of heritage, entertainment, and social well-being.

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If you would like to know more about this topic, visit the Scott County Historical Society on the web and search our catalogue at www.scottcountyhistory.org, or email us at info@scottcountyhistory.org.

By: Patrick Rodgers, past SCHS Curator

The New Guy

IMG_0858As the new Curator of Collections for the Scott County Historical Society, I wanted my first blog to be something of an introduction. I was going to tell you a story of who I am and about my background in history. However, I was given the idea to instead talk about what it is like to be the new guy. What is it like to start at a new place, with new people, and new ways of doing things? How do you start? What do you do? How do you feel? I thought about this and realized that this is a good opportunity to tell you about myself in a different way. On that note, I would start by saying that my first few days could be summed up in two words, “I’m lost!”

It has been my experience that starting a new position can be one of the most exciting and confusing times in someone’s career. I’m still not entirely sure how I got here, I remember asking for a job and suddenly having one. Since I started with SCHS I have had to learn whole new ways of doing things, while at the same time knowing exactly what I am doing. The history field is strange in that way, everyone does things differently but we all end at the same thing. You save the same types of history and information no matter where you go. I only wish best practices told me how to manage my office.

As you can see, my office is full of all kinds of things, each one with a story, and each one a total mystery to me. For example, I found a box on a shelf full of pictures. I looked and looked and couldn’t find a thing on them. A box of 300 some pictures and I had no clue what to do with them or even what they were. Here begins the lesson of a new job, ask questions, every question. After some digging, and reaching out to me predecessors, we found out that all of those photos are copies. Here at SCHS we don’t accept copies of things into our collection, we want the genuine article. Still, the photos have a ton of history locked up in them. Those photos have been meaning to go in our library for years, I just happen to be the one doing it.

I admit I was lost when I started here, I didn’t know where to start or what to do. I look at that mess of an office and froze. It didn’t take long though for me to prioritize and begin tackling all of the projects and loose ends that needed tying up. I hope this quick blog gives you a sense of who I am, and if not feel free to stop in and meet me. I am always happy to talk with people and get to better know my community.

Easter Greetings

The celebration of the arrival of spring began in ancient times.  The pagan goddess Eostre was an Anglo-Saxon goddess of dawn and spring – bringing brighter and longer days.  She was also the goddess of fertility (eggs were a symbol of fertility and newborn chicks represent new growth).  Around the 2nd century AD, Christian missionaries ventured north and used existing pagan holidays as a way to convert people to Christianity.  They allowed people to continue their seasonal celebrations, but added Christian meanings to them, and gradually over time overtook the pagan meaning.  This is why the pagan goddess’s name Eoster – is now the name of the spring holiday Easter.  It is also why some of the symbols used to celebrate the pagan holiday are still seen today – brightly colored eggs, baby chicks, rabbits, and flowering plants.

Although eggs have always been a symbol of the season, the practice of delivering eggs was first introduced in German in the early 17th century and brought to the U.S. by Dutch settlers in the 1700s.  German children would make decorated nests for their eggs – which were filled with eggs and little gifts by the Easter bunny the night before (kinda like Santa).

We can really see the blend of seasonal and religious symbols in the holiday’s greeting cards.  Ancient Egyptians would exchange notes on papyrus – and this practice was also shared by Greek and Chinese cultures.  These would be much the same as handmade paper cards that were popular in the early 13th century.  But it wasn’t until postage stamps were introduced in the 1840s that greeting cards came into their own.

Cards became an extremely popular way to send personal messages – and with the availability commercial production – they were made on a mass scale.  Cards were made for all the holidays, but since Easter was mostly seen as a religious holiday, the use of greeting cards didn’t take off until the turn of the 19th century.  The Easter card was born in Europe when a stationer in Victorian England added a drawing of a rabbit to his greeting card.  Later cards included chickens, eggs, rabbits, the cross and more. Early Easter greetings were sent on postcards that featured Easter symbols or natural scenery.  Many were colorful and often embossed, or had gold cutouts.

According to American Greetings, Easter is the fourth most popular holiday for sending cards, just behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.  Here are a few from our collection…

And just for fun… here is a stereoscope card of a woman “Trying on the Easter Bonnet”.  Easter was also known as the holiday were it women would sport their new spring hat/bonnet.

steroscope-easter

Housekeeping Then & Now

When we think of housekeeping today we usually think of dusting, vacuuming, throwing clothes in the washer/dryer, grabbing ingredients from the fridge and whipping up dinner – or nukeing a frozen dinner in the microwave.  Things were much different over a century ago.

Because tasks were so more time consuming, they were assigned specific days of the week…

  • Monday – wash clothes
  • Tuesday – iron
  • Wednesday – mending
  • Thursday – churn butter
  • Friday – clean the house
  • Saturday – bake
  • Sunday – rest

drysinkWashing clothes was a huge chore.  If you weren’t lucky enough to have a cistern in your house where you could pump water into the kitchen – then you had to fetch water from a well.  Then the water needed to be heated on the stove.  Laundry detergent wasn’t available.  You would have had to make your own soap from lard (or fat), water, and lye.  To wash clothes you soapwould shave some slivers of soap into the boiling water, fill a washtub and hand scrub the clothes on a washboard.  Another tub of clean water was needed to rinse the clothes, then they were hung outside to dry (yes, even in the winter).  All this work gave you back pain, cracked hands, and scraped knuckles.

washtubEventually washing machines were created to help with the work.  This is a hand-operated wooden washer and wringer – made doing laundry easier and saved water.

After clothes dried – you ironed them on Tuesdays.  No plugging in a steam iron; you placed a heavy “sadiron” (so called because of its weight 5-9 pounds), on the cook-top to heat.  These irons ironhad wooden handles to protect your hands.  However, they didn’t  hold heat very long, so you always had a second iron on the stove ready to switch out.  Ironing gave a person some awesome arm muscles.

While ironing you would notice whether a piece of clothing had any tears or holes.  That was set aside for mending on Wednesdays.  Clothes were NOT thrown out – they were sewingrepaired, socks were darned, and those too worn beyond repair were saved for quilts or rags.  If the item needed major repair work, the treadle sewing machine was put to use.  This made mending and creating clothes so much easier.  Although a person could purchase clothes from a store – most women made clothes for themselves and their families at home.

Thursdays were spent churning, making butter for Saturday’s baking.  Milk was put into churna wooden container and a dasher was plunged up & down for 30-40 minutes to make butter.  The leftover milk – buttermilk – was saved for baking too.  This was usually a child’s chore.

broomFriday – cleaning day!  The same bar of soap was used not only for washing clothes, but also for washing dishes, cleaning floors, wiping down walls and furniture, taking baths – everything.  Floors and ceilings were swept, rugs were hung out and beaten, beds were striped and remade, furniture was dusted – the full house was wiped down.

Saturday was set aside as baking day, partially because families usually age a big meal on bakingSunday.  Women would bake bread for the full week on Saturday – maybe 10 – 12 loaves – from scratch.  Not only did you need ingredients, you needed fuel for the stove – whether wood, corn cobs or coal.  No turning a knob, or pushing a button to set a temperature – temperature was tested by running your hand in the oven to feel the heat.  Ovens cooked much slower, which is why cooking started in the morning for the evening meal to be on time.  It’s also why a specific day was set aside for cooking the weekly bread supply.

After a week’s worth of work, Sunday was set aside as a break from chores to relax, visit with friends and family, and have fun activities, such as singing around the piano, or listening to records on the Victrola.

Housework 100 years ago took lots of time and elbow grease. Today we take for granted the machines that allow us to complete in minutes what used to take days.  So next time you sprinkle some detergent into an automatic washing machine, be a bit grateful you didn’t have to make the soap, heat the water, hand scrub the clothes, or wring them out.  Today’s housekeeping is so much easier thanks to advances in technology.

Valentine’s Day 100 Years Ago And Beyond

Since this past Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, I wanted to take a look back through our newspapers and see if Valentine’s Day was celebrated one hundred years ago. Valentine’s Day landed on a Thursday, February 14, 1918. As most everyone knows, 1918 was a time of difficulty since the world was in the middle of World War I. World War I would not end until 11 November 1918, so in February, the war was still going strong.

I searched through five different newspapers, the Shakopee ArgusShakopee Tribune, Jordan Independent, New Prague Times, and the Belle Plaine Herald, to see if there would be any advertisements about the romantic day that is now so eagerly celebrated. Unsurprisingly, much of the newspapers were chalk full of information concerning the war at a local, state, and international level. The entire newspaper was not all doom and gloom, however. There were advertisements for local theatre shows and information on local individuals and their recent visitors. I had been expecting the heavy focus on the war in the newspapers, but was surprised to find that there wasn’t a single mention of Valentine’s Day in any of the newspapers published in February 1918.

In fact, I found mention of other days that were celebrated in February in 1918 that are not observed today, or if they are, only in certain states. The most mention was that of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12. In 1918, all four newspapers had advertisements for the celebration of his birthday, but no mention of Valentine’s Day. Today, only Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and New York celebrate February 12 as Lincoln’s Birthday. The advertisement below is from the 8 February 1918 edition of the Shakopee Tribune. Also mentioned in the 1918 newspapers was the celebration of George Washington’s birthday, February 22. In modern-day Minnesota, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays are celebrated as Presidents’ Day, which occurs on the third Monday in February.

Although Valentine’s Day is not an official holiday, I still found myself searching for that word ‘holiday’ when it came to that romantic day. An article in the Shakopee Tribune, published 8 February 1918, page 2, featured mention of holidays, as well as Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s holidays. Again, no mention of Valentine’s Day, although the day most certainly was observed by Minnesotans at this time.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a New Prague Times article that was published the previous year, in 1917, that I found any evidence of Valentine’s Day. Amidst the information concerning local matters on the home-front of the war, there was this lovely advertisement that popped out at me.00001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To my delight, there was yet another advertisement in the 8 February 1917 newspaper a few pages over.

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Buoyed by this discovery, I searched the Belle Plaine Herald in both February 1917 and 1918, and was pleased to find another, small, advertisement concerning Valentine’s Day in the 8 February 1917 newspaper, but again, no mention of Valentine’s Day in the 1918 newspaper. 

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It is interesting to know that Valentine’s Day was a day worthy of printing advertisements for in Scott County in 1917, but not in 1918. Perhaps individuals in the county could feel the end of the war, and wanted to focus on what was occurring overseas in their newspapers? That is, of course, just speculation on my part. What I do know is that WWI ended in November of 1918, and Valentine’s Day was once again a day to show off in the newspapers.

I did not search Scott County newspapers in the period of World War II, but instead chose to see what we had for Valentine’s Day memorabilia in the collection. We have many Valentine’s Day cards in our collection, and I chose a few of the cutest, and loveliest, to show you. Valentine’s Day is often thought of a day simply for couples, but as many of these cards indicate, it can also be a day for loved ones, be they from a daughter to a father, or a grandchild to their grandparent. These cards below range from the 1950s to the 1990s, and all were written with love. I hope that you have had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, whether you celebrated it on Wednesday, or plan to do so over the weekend. Or any day you please. Enjoy these cards, and if you’re interested in learning more about Valentine’s Day in Scott County, feel free to stop by.

2015.13.221954Notermann 1961.1978 (2)1978 (3)1978 (4)1978198019911995

Images of Football in Scott County

With the Super Bowl in Minneapolis this weekend, what better occasion could there be to share some historical photographs of football in Scott County from our collection? Pictures that begin around 1890 show an interesting progression of equipment, from padded body suits with a simple leather cap to the more recognizable shoulder pads and hard helmets with facemasks we’re familiar with today. Many of the later images were captured by LeRoy Lebens as part of his work as the official photographer for the Waniyetu Shakopee High School Yearbook, which are a part of his larger collection we are currently inventorying here at SCHS. If you’re interested in learning more about sports in Scott County or the LeRoy Lebens photo collection, come by and see us at the Scott County Historical Society!

1 20050600009 Frank Dierberger of Shakopee 1890
1890- Frank Dierberger of Shakopee
2 19990530075 Rock Spring 1905 George Vierling, Reno Ketterer, Ed V. Mertz, Math Klinkhammer, Joseph R. Witt, Emil Strehlow
1905 Rock Spring Team- George Vierling, Reno Ketterer, Ed V. Mertz, Math Klinkhammer, Joseph R. Witt, Emil Strehlow
3 20060180211 BP Minn Valley Champions 1914 Lorenz Woods, Bill Crahan, Emmett O'Neill, James McDevitt, Martin Donovan, George Brown, Mike Pendy, Tom Sheehan, Leo Pendy, Herman Beutow, Bo
1914 Belle Plaine Minnesota Valley Champion Team- 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
4 20120140821 Leo Hartmann SHS 1922
1922- Leo Hartmann of Shakopee High School
5 20090490024 1922 SHS Team
1922 Shakopee High School Team
6 20090490015 1936 SHS Football
1936 Shakopee High School Team
7 20110200081 SHS 1939
1939 Shakopee High School Team
8 20110200082 1939 SHS
1939 Shakopee High School Team
9 20090450010 1942
1942 Shakopee High School Program
10 20130311332 SHS 1955
1955 Shakopee High School
11 20130312840 SHS 1958
1958 Shakopee High School
12 20130313601 SHS 1958
1958 Shakopee High School
13 20130315539 Small Fry 55-60
Shakopee “Small Fry” League 1955-1960
14 20130317865 Small Fry 55-60
Shakopee “Small Fry” League 1955-1960
15 20080050107 69-72 Sans is 16
Just for fun, from the Maurice Stans collection, the 1969-1972 Nixon Administration Cabinet as a football lineup. Maurice Stans can be seen in the middle of the middle row as #16

The Unboxing of Fallout Shelter Items – 56 Years Later

The very last donation of 2017 was given to SCHS by the Rahr Malting Company on December 21, 2017. It was exactly as if the we had received an early Christmas present. The donation consisted of five boxes, of both the small and large variety, and all that was written down on the paper was that they were civil defense supplies from 1962. Needless to say, it was very exciting opening and uncovering the items inside of these civil defense boxes. As it turns out, these boxes were like a Christmas gift to SCHS, just opened up fifty-six years after they were originally packaged. Although it may have felt like Christmas here at the museum, the items in these boxes were originally packed for a much darker and serious purpose: in the event that a fallout shelter was needed in the future.

The Rahr Corporation, established in 1847 in Michigan, has since expanded to several different locations, one of them happening to be on 1st Avenue West in Shakopee. The facility in Shakopee was built in 1937, and had been added onto in 1954, 1977, 1981, 1994, and 2016.1 The information that many may have forgotten, however, was that the Rahr Malting Company was designated as a fallout shelter in 1961-1962 for the citizens of Shakopee. The boxes that were donated to SCHS were chalk full of fallout shelter items, many of them having been undisturbed for more than fifty years.

Included in the items were lists for Medical Fallout Shelter Kit “A”, which was one of the smaller boxes that could treat 50-65 shelter occupants, and for Medical Fallout Shelter Kit “C”, which was one of the larger boxes that could treat 300-325 shelter occupants. Each list identifies the items and the quantity of each item. Kit “C” contained the exact same items as in Kit “A”, just in larger quantities due to the larger number of proposed occupants. Also included was a brochure titled Fallout Shelter Medical Kit Instructions, dated July 1962, as well as a thicker brochure titled Family Guide: Emergency Health Care, which detailed instructions on caring for individuals while in a fallout shelter. These lists and brochure can be viewed below.

The items that were packed in these boxes were medical supplies, which would be extremely necessary in the event of needing a fallout shelter. Any and all items that could fit were made to sit inside their own individual brown cardboard box, the name of the item written on the front of the box. Items included several different kinds of bandages, scissors, thermometers, tweezers, safety pins, isopropyl alcohol, surgical soap, toothache remedy, eye and nose drops, diarrhea medication, many different kinds of pills (sulfadiazine, penicillin, aspirin, cascara (a laxative)), as well as tins of baking soda, petroleum jelly, and bottles of table salt. Also included were small bottles of iodine pills that would have been used to treat water in fallout shelters. All of these items were necessities when living in a closed off fallout shelter, be it with either 50-65 people, or 300-325. These items were chosen and packed with care, ready to offer aid to those who were sick. Although many of these items were labeled as being packed and stored in 1962, we, unfortunately, don’t have information on which building on the Rahr Malting campus was to be used as the fallout shelter.

Nonetheless, these items are a museum’s treasure, and very much a look into the past when nuclear war felt very much like an imminent threat. These boxes stored in the Rahr Malting Company show that a very national fear was felt by everyone everywhere throughout the United States, even in small Shakopee, Minnesota.

Many of these items have not been viewed since the 1960s, so I am pleased to allow you a secondhand look at these fallout shelter items. Enjoy.

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All of the items unpacked from their boxes, gathered together by type of item.

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(https://www.rahr.com/rahr-malting-co/shakopee-malthouse)

Harvesting Ice

Back in the days before refrigerators and freezers, harvesting ice was a major wintertime business in Scott County. In the month of January when the ice was “ripe,” men would go to work cutting blocks of it out of local lakes and the Minnesota River.

In the book As I Remember Scott County, Frances Brandl of Belle Plaine, whose brothers ran an ice harvesting business, details this process:

Cutting ice was a very hard, heavy job. First of all it was cold, very cold, during the month of January. At times it was also wet, should one slip and fall into the lake, which happened.

The ice was sawed with a long heavy saw with a wooden handle on one end. The ice blocks were sawed 18×36 inches. The depth varied with the winter. Blocks had to be sawed very straight on all sides or they would not pack tight in the ice houses. The ice was covered and packed tight with saw dust.

Farmers loaded ice onto horse-drawn sleds and hauled it back to their farms, while icemen went door-to-door in town selling blocks to families for their iceboxes. Harvested ice was also used by grocery stores, saloons, creameries, meat packers, and breweries. In fact, all of the breweries that existed in Scott County prior to Prohibition were located along the Minnesota River or another stream or creek to allow for easy access to ice, and the breweries all had ice storage facilities as well.

Ice harvested in the winter months was used throughout the spring and summer – the sawdust or straw it was packed in kept it from melting. In addition to preserving food, this ice made possible a favorite summertime treat: ice cream.

Below are photos from the SCHS’s collection of a 1905 ice harvest on the Minnesota River. These photos depict a complex operation that involved cutting blocks of ice by hand and then using a wooden pulley system and conveyor belt to move the ice. To find out more about ice harvesting and other fun local history topics, visit us in person or check out our collections online.

Ice harvesting on the Minnesota River at Shakopee
Ice harvesting on the Minnesota River at Shakopee. This photo shows a man holding a long wooden pole. Behind him is a wooden pulley system and conveyor belt used for moving blocks of ice.
Workmen cutting ice
Workmen cutting ice on the Minnesota River at Shakopee. They are standing on a wooden boardwalk placed over the frozen river.
Wooden pulley system and conveyor belt
Close-up of the wooden pulley system and conveyor belt used to move blocks of ice.
Pulley system and conveyor belt
Another view of the pulley system and conveyor belt. The ice visible in the foreground of the photo appears to have been scored.
Workmen cutting blocks of ice by hand
Men standing on the narrow wooden boardwalk cutting blocks of ice by hand.
Front side of wooden pulley system
The front side of the wooden pulley system and conveyor belt. The wooden pulley system is constructed along the shore of the river. The front side shows areas divided by vertically placed pieces of wood. Blocks of ice available for purchase are stacked within each stall. The image is looking down into one stall, which contains blocks of ice, five workers and a wooden conveyor belt.