Santa Claus is Coming to Town

As the Christmas season begins to get into full swing, people we start shopping for Christmas presents, family will begin making plans to travel, and of course Santa! Tis the season when we will begin to see Santa Claus on our TV, on billboards, and most importantly in person. Shopping centers, town halls, and community centers nationwide will soon start having visits from Santa.

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Have you ever wonder how St. Nick became so busy leading up to his big day? The use of Santa in stores has been attributed to James Edgar in 1890 in Massachusetts when hired an actor to play the role. Store employees acted as Elves to help him with the flood of children. Having your picture taken with Santa dates back to at least the 1910s.

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Santa’s workshop, or some name to that effect, is a staple of the Christmas season in most communities. Pictures with Santa are as much a tradition for many families as Christmas cards. While the trend of an in-store Santa may have begun in 1890, a store Santa can expect to work ten hour days and see over 30,000 kids a season. In fact, schools across the country now train people to play Mr. Kringle. Since so many are running around, I guess they do know who has been naughty or nice.

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If you want a chance to see Santa for yourself, then bring the family down to the museum this Saturday December 1st. We will have Santa in the Stans House, as well as marshmallow and weinie roasts in the Community Garden. It’s the annual Holiday Fest and we would love to have you come out and enjoy the day with all of us here at the museum.

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Black Friday: A Little History

While holiday gift-giving is a centuries-old tradition, the holiday shopping season is not – it was defined by of all things, parades!  By the mid-20th-century parades were drawing large crowds and not just in large cities. Many parades were sponsored by local retailers (usually department stores), who by attaching their names to the parade, increased store visibility with holiday shoppers. Over time, Thanksgiving parades came to be seen as the unofficial start to the shopping season. In fact, Macy’s first parade on November 27, 1924 was advertised as a Christmas Parade with the arrival of Santa marking the official start to holiday shopping. (Note, the first few Macy parades included live animals from the Central Park Zoo, who were replaced with large balloon animals in 1927.)

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Macy’s 1st Thanksgiving Parade 1924, Bettman Archive – Getty Images

But where does the term Black Friday come from?

 

Originally, the term was used to describe a financial crisis in 1869 when James Fish and Jay Gould worked together to buy up as much gold as possible ,to drive up the price and corner the market. However, their conspiracy unraveled on Friday, September 24, 1869, sending the stock market into a free-fall, ruining investors and tanking the economy. That day came to be known as “Black Friday.”

So if that’s where the term comes from, why is it associated with shopping? Well, we have to back up a bit.

President Lincoln designated the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving and, as noted above, that day came to be known as the start of the holiday shopping season. This was fine until 1939, when Thanksgiving fell on November 30, leaving only 24 shopping days (actually, a bit less as most stores weren’t open on Sundays). President Roosevelt gave in to pressure and moved Thanksgiving up a week to allow more time for shopping. (Remember, this was during the depression and a longer shopping season was seen as good for the economy.)  This move caused controversy and confusion, particularly because he made the declaration in October! Congress finally passed a law in 1941 making the fourth Thursday in November the official Thanksgiving holiday.

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Franklin Thanksgiving, Bettman Archive – Getty Image 

By the 1950s it was clear that many people were taking the Friday after Thanksgiving off work, giving themselves a four-day holiday and getting a head start on holiday shopping. Although the day after Thanksgiving isn’t a Federal holiday, many state and school employees were given the day off, increasing the number of potential shoppers. This came to a head in Philadelphia where the annual Army / Navy college football game takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Thousands of people flooded into the city to not only take in the game, but to shop. The combination of football fans and shoppers was a bad mix – city cops had to work extra-long shifts, deal with large crowds and traffic, and the headache of shoplifters who took advantage of the situation too. By the 1960s locals were calling the crazy day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday”, a name that stuck and spread.

 

Black Friday came into its own during the 1980s and 90s when large big-box stores like Walmart, Target and Best Buy advertised blowout sales. By the turn of the 21st century deal-hunters were camping out in parking lots and waiting in lines through the wee-hours of the morning to be the first to get bargains.  At times, some crowds have turned a bit violent with fist-fights breaking out.  There’s even a website called Black Friday Death Count!

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Today Black Friday has to share space with Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday, but Thanksgiving is still seen marking the start of holiday shopping.

If shopping isn’t your thing, a group in the UK (Buy Nothing Day ), invites people to escape the “Shopocalypse” by engaging in anti-commercial activities, suggesting you stay at home with a good book or organize a free concert, anything as long as you don’t buy anything.

All of us at the Scott County Historical Society wish you and yours a warm and filling Thanksgiving Holiday.

(FYI: The museum is closed for Thanksgiving and Black Friday – we’re eating goodies and shopping!  The museum – and our museum store are open on Saturday.)

thanksgiving dog and cat

Armistice

Today we remember the end of WWI and honor veterans – Thank You!

The world before August 1914 was bustling, on the other hand, there existed an unsettling trend of imperialism and nationalism, backed by militarism and complex alliances.  Although war broke out in August 1914, the United States didn’t enter the war until April 6, 1917.  Overnight, the country shifted into war mode with an undermanned and under-equipped military.

President Wilson pushed Congress to enact the Selective Service Act of 1917 in May, which required all men between the ages of 21 and 30 to register for possible enrollment in the military. Within a few months over 10 million men had registered. By the end of the war 24 million men had registered with about 2.8 million selected to serve in the military.

Most Minnesota recruits went through induction and training at either Camp Dodge near Des Moines, IA, or Camp Cody in the desert near Deming, NM.  These camps (often under construction and incomplete) introduced men from all walks of life to the fast pace and strict order of the military. Exercise and drill dominated their days until they were assigned to larger combat units and sent for further training at camps on the east coast before shipping off to Europe.

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Quote from Peter Solheid’s Journal (of New Prague)

Basic – “There was hardship all the way. We got shot in our arms 3 times and vaccinated and so we stayed 3 weeks in O.B. and got our class and got transferred to the 91 Div 364 Inf. Absolutely all strange. It was on Saturday June 23, 1918 and there they put me in Co B and gave me all tools to fight with- a rifle with No 3453 and a bayonet.”

World War I was fought mostly in trenches; a system developed in the early months of the war in order to help troops escape the effects of new types of weapons being used—primarily machine guns and high-explosive artillery. While the killing power of weapons increased, the technology to enable quick movement and communication lagged far behind, making it difficult for troops to advance.

Trench

Trenches consisted of intricate systems of multiple lines with machine gun nests, dugouts, and bunkers to protect the occupants from the flying shrapnel and bullets above.

Life in the trenches was safer than life above ground, but a trench was often a horrible place. They were regularly inundated with water and mud, leaving troops vulnerable to trench foot and making it nearly impossible to keep anything clean. The trenches also stunk due to latrine overflows and the rotting of bodies from previous battles that had yet to be buried. These conditions proved perfect for the transmission of disease and infestations of lice, flies, and rats, which could grow to the size of cats.

Quote from Peter Solheid’s Journal (of New Prague)

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Battle – “All at once a big shell landed in my squad of 8 men. I saw three fall over and at the same time I had two pieces of shrapnel hit me in the leg and one across my chest and 2 of my partners got it in the head and it was still dark.” “Let me tell you the Germans opened up on the bloody Americans. All the same the rest of the boys went forward with lead under smoke and the ground covered with wounded and dead soldiers and the eyes full of dirt and shoes full of blood.”WW1-100-years-02-flooded-trench

“Dead men all over and I was still in that hole 12 inches of water, wet like a cat, and surely I heard some bullets go by in the forenoon all alone. What should I do now? All alone in a shell hole in France on the Battle Field.”

 

WAR ENDS

On Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11:00 a.m., the war came to an end and would forever be remembered as Armistice Day, or Veteran’s Day in America.

Official word of the signing of the Armistice came over the wire around 3:00 a.m. and spread around Scott County by the sound of shouting, car horns, factory whistles, and church bells. Citizens began to fill the streets and spontaneous celebrations occurred everywhere. Shakopee resident Julius Coller remembered that day as “the noisiest day the county ever knew.” Businesses were ordered closed at 2:00 p.m. so everyone could partake in the celebrations and parades. The Scott County Argus wrote that, “…anyone with a tin-can and a stick could start a parade.” Rallies were held in parks where patriotic speeches were given and effigies of the Kaiser were burnt. Celebrations continued well into the night.

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Due to the complexities of demobilizing millions of troops, the first group of Scott County soldiers to return arrived in October 1919.  They were greeted with a raucous parade that featured fourteen bands and dozens of veterans of America’s previous wars.

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By the time the war was over, 116,516 U.S. men and women had made the ultimate sacrifice: 53,402 in combat and 63,114 of disease and other non-combat related incidents.

World War I Casualty List – Scott County

Killed in Action: Sgt. John F. Bohls, Shakopee; Pvt. Arthur H. Lemmer, Shakopee; Pvt.  Walter J. Scherer, Eagle Creek;

Died of Wounds: Pvt.  Charles Borack, New Prague; Pvt. Harry Mather, Shakopee

Died of Disease: Pvt. Erwin Fehlandt, Jordan; Pvt. Edward L. Preslicka, New Prague; Pvt. John W. Sticha, New Prague; Pvt. Frank Stradcutter, Belle Plaine; Pvt. Albert Svoboda, New Prague

Wounded: Pvt. Alvin P. Blan, New Prague, Pvt. Albert Bednar, New Prague; Pvt.        Jerry Svoboda, New Prague

Buried in France: Pvt. Charles Borak, Sgt. John F. Bohls, Pvt. Harry Mather

After the war ended the world was a different place. Roughly 16 million soldiers and civilians died, much of Europe was ruined, either physically, economically, or politically and empires and systems which had lasted hundreds of years collapsed overnight, leaving power vacuums to be filled by revolutions and civil wars.  American soldiers returned to a changed nation: an economic recession loomed, women were close to gaining the right to vote, and the sale of alcohol was about to be federally banned.

Spooky Times Are Here Again

Well its that time of year again, soon ghosts and goblins will hit the streets in search of candy. Halloween is always a fun time of year, a last hurrah for kids before winter rears its head. Halloween has had quite the transformation over the centuries. It started as All Hallows Eve, and was associated with witches and demons. It was a dark day when you stayed inside and hoped nothing came for you in the night.

Did you know that the first Halloween costumes were meant to scare away evil spirits? I can’t imagine a spirit being too afraid of Charlie Brown is a hole-filled bed sheet, but I can imagine them getting a good laugh.

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The turn of the twentieth century, and even a little earlier, saw the waning holiday go from being a day to be feared to one of jokes and pranks. In time, it became the Halloween we know today.

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It is little wonder, given the history of the festive and colorful holiday why we still tend to associate fear and other dark things with it. Even today Halloween has an air of unease for some people. The neighborhoods of American before graveyards and haunted mansions, I wonder if those are to scare away evil spirits too?

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So before the weather decides to turn its old familiar Minnesota Cold, let’s have one last night of spooks and jokes at the expense of whatever evil spirits might still linger. After all, the reward for be brave and going out is the best one of all some sweet, sweet candy!

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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.

Maurice

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

dedication-map

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.

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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!

 

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.

Superstitions:

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.

Archaeology:

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!

Today:

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.

 

Pedaling Scott County’s Past

      It finally feels like spring at the Scott County Historical Society. There’s a green tinge in the Stans Garden, and plans are underway for summer programs, festivals and fairs. I am particularly excited for a series of bike tours highlighting the environmental and social histories of Shakopee, Jordan and New Prague. In the process of preparing for these tours, I started digging into the two-wheeled history of Scott County

                Biking has always been an essential summer pastime of Scott County. On October 26, 1893 the Scott County Argus front page boasted an editorial entitled “Riding A Wheel”. It begins “As in everything, a young girl has the best time of it in learning to ride a bicycle”. The piece goes on to describe the trials a young woman might endure in mastering a bike,  but concludes with “It is better to depend on oneself than lean on the shifty arm of a man. For arms tire and become sorely aweary, but the will of a woman is the truest steel”. 

                A few years later the July 19th 1897 issue of the Argus published a scathing review of the public highway system written by the Farmers Union. It begins with “Not for many years has need for better country roads been felt so much”. It continues, “Road repairs may seem expensive under the most favorable of circumstances, but when the cost of cartage and the expense of future repairs are taken into account, the cost of road repairs now would probably be less expensive if choices are economically made”. The sentiment would not seem out of place today, except the farmers were not arguing for better roads for motorized vehicles. Instead, they wanted the country to expand highways for bikes.

                On June 19th, 1900, William Hinds extoled the virtues of a new bike path from the Twin Cites to Shakopee, explaining that “With a good cycle path from the cities to this point we will see from fifty to two hundred riders from the cities here on every pleasant Sunday or Saturday afternoon, and the business of many firms, hotels, refreshment shops, soda water fountains and cycle shops will be largely increased in consequence”. He also said that the “The short run, fifty miles for the round trip, will serve to make it very popular for those who ride for pure and simple pleasure”. Bikes were so popular that on July 7th, 1897 it was published in the Argus that the State Agricultural Society declared that September 11th would be “Bike Day” in Minnesota.

                In fact, in the Local and Personal page of a single issue of the Argus, June 17, 1987, the following messages were posted:

·         Miss Mabel Peck entertained Misses Purdy and Loftus of Minneapolis Sunday, the young ladies made the journey on their bicycles.

·         Misses Adelaide and Rosa Marks delight in the possession of a new bicycle of the Fleetwing make

·         D.W. Pettit made the trip to and from Minneapolis by bicycle Sunday

·         Bicycles for rent by the day or hour by EJ Gellenbeck

·         Misses Annie and Lizzie Ries now in possession of a Fleetwing bicycle bought of JC Marx. The Fleetwing is the companion wheel of the Envoy line

·         Mrs. D W Petit returned Monday by bicycle from a week’s visit to Minneapolis

Along the sides of that page are lines of advertisements, including two for different bicycles. It is clear that the introduction of bikes gave a new sense of freedom to residents of the area, especially women. Bikes were used to visit friends and family, travel into town, and opened up new possibilities for work and entertainment.

                Today, bicycles are still important to Scott County. Shakopee alone boasts 80 miles of bike trails. You can still take a Sunday bike ride to the twin cities along the Minnesota LRT, Cedar Lake Trail and the Minnesota Greenway. If you are interested in joining us for summer bike tours, tickets are available now for our May tour of Shakopee. You can find more information at our website or at https://bit.ly/2oMtC6

Written by Rose James, Program Manager, Scott County Historical Society

St. Patrick Hamlet

With St. Patrick’s day just ahead there is an obvious desire to want to write about it.  Instead of talking about the day itself, though, I would like to discuss the small hamlet in the Cedar Lake township named after that patron saint of Ireland.  St. Patrick, like so many aspiring towns of its time, never really grew bigger than a couple hundred people.  Today, St. Patrick is not more than three points of interest, clumped together on a stretch of road called Old Highway 13, and a few residences.  What is there has an interesting and long standing histories.

Prior to the intrusion of settlers, the area of St. Patrick was heavily forested land inhabited by members of the Sioux tribe.  The Sioux in this area lived primarily on a hill, referred to as Teepee Hill, at the time that settlers first arrived.  This hill served as both a village, with 50 bark teepees at the time settlers arrived, and as a sacred meeting place.  Nearby lakes were used for fishing.  The swamps and woods of the area also provided wild animals for fur and food.

The first white settlers of the area were of Irish decent, arriving in the early 1850s.  Ireland at the time, was suffering under the atrocities committed during the Great Famine.  Many families were fleeing  Ireland at this time to escape the combined problems of potato blight and gross mistreatment at the hands of the British government.  This resulted in large numbers of Irish immigrants arriving in North America.  The first settler to arrive to the area of St. Patrick was named Thomas O’Donnell.  Early on, a total of 65 Irish families ended up settling  in the area.  The area was then, and is still now, used primarily for farming.

These Irish families were of the Roman Catholic faith, hence the town’s name, and they held early church services in the cabin of one Thomas Quill beginning in 1856.  In 1857, these families claimed Teepee Hill for their own and started to build the first St. Patrick Church and cemetery there.  Despite this, the settlers relationship with the native Sioux remained friendly with only some moments of tension that never spilled over into violence.  This church, which was built from logs, was completed in 1859.  In time, this church became inadequate for the needs of the people of St. Patrick.  Using limestone from Jordan, construction on a new church was began in 1870 with the cornerstone being laid in 1873.  This church and cemetery still stand today.

In the late 1800s, the people of St. Patrick built a combination tavern and hall.  This original building burned down in the early 1900s but was rebuilt.  A gas station and repair shop were added in 1939.  The building is currently known as St. Patrick’s Tavern.  This tavern was, and still is, the center of information and social activity in St. Patrick.  One of the most popular activities held here were card parties involving games like poker and euchre.  There were also plays, dances, celebrations and even traveling medicine shows.  Of course, St. Patrick’s Day was the most important celebration of the year.  The people had a local reputation for their celebrations, not only on St. Patrick’s Day.

Besides its church, tavern, and renowned celebrations, St. Patrick used to be a popular destination for local farmers to buy feed and sell their milk.  This is because St. Patrick used to have a creamery and feed mill which allowed people to take care of selling milk and buying feed in one location.  These two places used to be the main source of business in St. Patrick and made it much more of a destination than it is today.  When the feed mill caught fire December 2nd, 1962 it was completely destroyed while the nearby church and parish building were both saved.  The feed mill was not rebuilt making it less convenient for farmers to sell their milk.  Farmers went to places like Jordan or Lydia seeing as both these areas had feed mills as well as creameries.  This along with being passed by for railroad construction stopped St. Patrick from growing.

Though it is not growing now, St. Patrick did see more immigrants coming to the area between World War I and II.  Czech families began moving to St. Patrick during World War I while Irish families began to slowly move out.  The Czechoslovakian families were not well received to the area but these poor relations never led to violence.  Throughout World War II more Czechoslovakian, German, and Swedish families moved to the area as more Irish families left.  By the mid-1950s only four Irish families still lived in the area.  This change was said to have revitalized this community.

The other remaining attraction, besides St. Patrick’s Tavern and St. Patrick Church, was built during the 1950s around the time of this revitalization.  On May 25th, 1952, Bonin Field was officially opened just behind St. Patrick Church.  This baseball field was named after the former Catholic Priest, Leo Bonin.  The field was renovated in 1989 and now has teams from third to eleventh grade as well as two adult teams.  One adult team, the St. Patrick Irish, are an MBA Class C team that have won 13 state championships.  The other adult team, the St. Patrick Shamrocks, play in the Federal League and have won four Class A state championships and one Class C state championship.  The field has no bleachers but fans can get a good view of the field from a hill just past the line between third base and home.  Children can make a little bit of money by helping to fetch the balls.

Despite its small population St. Patrick still attracts a decent amount of attention with its three points of interest.  St. Patrick Tavern still pulls a crowd, St. Patrick Church still has a strong congregation, and Bonin Field has a lot of baseball going on.  From the early settlers rough beginnings, St. Patrick has formed a small and enjoyable community.

 

Written by Tony Connors, Curatorial Assitant.

Sources:

Rass, Jeanne.  “St. Patrick: Irish settlers move, but town remains.”  Prior Lake American, 3 Aug. 1987.

The New Prague Times, 29 May 1952.

“Losses Total In Excess of $50,000 As Weekend Fires Destroy Feed Mill, Granary, Cedar Lake Home.”  The New Prague Times, 6 Dec. 1962, vol. 74.

Doerr, Sylvia.  “Stories and recollections of St. Patrick, Cedar Lake.”  As I Remember Scott County, edited by Marcia Spagnolo et al., Scott County Senior Citizens, 2006, pp. 113-115.