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Our Town: Humboldt


Diane Giffen

Humboldt is a small village tucked away in a northwesterncorner of Minnesota. Not many people take notice of this village when passingby, because there isn't much to see. But like all other people,the people of Humboldt are proud of their little village.

Humboldt, mostly a farming area, was formed when JamesJ. Hill, the railroad magnate, owned the townsite. He put a railroad throughthis area. Which in turn brought people to this part of the country.In 1890, two-thirds of the land was unimproved so the farmers mostlyhad livestock and dairy farms. Not until the late 1890's did the land becomeimproved to raise wheat, which became the principle and almost the onlyimportant cash crop. Some flax was sown on newly broken land, but drainagewas poor and most of the land not under cultivation was considered unfitfor farming. This is what Mr. N. J. Florance had to say about small farms:

"I do not criticize a system which makes the middleman essential; I simply explain that because of the large scale of ouroperation we find it expedient to dispense with the middle man. In fact,the common system of small farm buying and selling would be cumbersome andprohibitively costly for us." (1)

Today both flax, wheat and other grain is grown in Humboldt.Most farmers are raising cattle, therefore they need hay for feed in summerand winter. Their method of haying compared to ours today is very different. Your parents also grandparents had to cut the hay with a team of horsespulling a device that cut the hay. If they were fortunate, when the firsttractor came into being, they used that for farming.

Since there were a few bonanza farms around they neededa store to get their supplies. The first store was built not long afterthe railroad in l878. The owners of the store were Kate Booker and JohnMcFadin. In 1900, the Florances and Nelsons opened the general store andfarm machinery firm. This added to the business in town.

Today the store is still in Humboldt, owned by Mayme Jury.Still the store isn't big and doesn't have much, but it supplies the peoplearound Humboldt with most necessary items.

Most of the people that moved in the northwest corner wereScotch-Canadian, Prince Edward Islanders and Scotch. Later Swedes, Germansand other nationalities came up to the isolated area to make their homes. Then Humboldt began to grow and needed a hotel. After the different nationalitiesmoved in to this area, people began coming by on the train. They neededa place to stay, so the people of Humboldt built a hotel for its visitors. Today the hotel is no longer in Humboldt.

When the town became bigger they needed a school so thechildren could learn. The first school was built a mile or so out of town.Mr. George Matthew was the person who built the school on July 24, 1882,with a total cost of $l40.00. In 1906 another school was built, this isthe one at Humboldt now.

A church was needed to serve the people. The church wasbuilt one and a half miles north of Humboldt. Before the church was built,the people had offered to have Sunday service in their homes. However mosthomes weren't big enough to hold all the people. They were very pleasedto have a church to attend on Sundays. A Methodist church is built in Humboldtto serve the people today.

In years gone by, Humboldt has had its hard times likeany other town. Crops haven't had enough rain or too much rain, just aplain town. People can be thankful they have faster methods of getting theircrops planted and cut. Today we have machines they never had thirty orforty years ago. Tractors are improved for farmers, housewives have aneasy life with faster, smoother and electric appliances. Humboldt has grownsince it first started. A gas plant was built about five years ago, whichbrought people to live in the town. In the summer of 1968 another gas plantwas built, this too will bring more people. Humboldt does have modern equipmentand homes just as other towns do and maybe a lot more than people think.

Although it is tucked away in a small corner it may becomevery important place for those who want to be away from the city. Not justin the suburb of a city, but out in a flat land of friendly people.


(1) Mr. M. J. Florance, Kittson County Enterprise 50thAnniversary pg. 36

. J. Florance, Kittson County Enterprise 50thAnniversary pg. 36