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St. Vincent


Craig Olson

The early history of St. Vincent which is almosta ghost town now in Kittson County, gathers around fur trade carried onextensively in the Northwest by various fur trade companies. As early as1879. Captain Alexander Henry established a trading post at Pembina forthe Northwest Fur Company. It was one year later that the township of St.Vincent was organized. To be exact, it was March 19, l880. The first meetingof the township board was held on May 15 l880. R. W. Loewry, G.A. Hurd, R. M. McLaughlin, L. A. Nobels and F. M. Head were the townshipofficers.

St. Vincent. Minnesota is the oldest town in the county. It was organized as a village on April 16, 1881. The first president wasJames L. Fisk; the recorder, J. W. Morrison; and the assessor, John A. Vanstromwho later served as register of deeds and sheriff. The big reason for theorganization of St. Vincent was the terminal between the Great Northernand the Canadian Pacific Railways at the port of entry between Canadaand the United States for the collection of customs duties.

In 1900, the village had a population of 400. The villagewas supplied with churches and religious societies, including Episcopal,Methodist, and Presbyterian churches. It had a school, which was attendedby the high class people, and the more energetic ones.

The earliest newspaper of the county was published in St.Vincent. It was started by the county commission on March 17,1880. Itwas called the St. Vincent Herald. It was the official newspaper of thecounty. It was owned by H. G. Head, who was the first newsman in the county.

The first doctor in Kittson County practiced in St. Vincent.His name was Thomas Duhig.

Another of the early buildings in St. Vincent was the bank.It was owned by a trio of John H. Rich, Edward L. Baker, and Frank B. Howe.The banks capital was ten thousand dollars.

During the early history of Kittson County there was abig dispute over who should have the county seat, Hallock or St. Vincent.It was finally built in Hallock. There were hard feelings left because ofthis. This made up the early St. Vincent except for a store, saloon andan early trading post.

As the town progressed many new buildings were built, andmany new people migrated to St. Vincent. From the information which I obtainedfrom Dick Lapp who presently lives in St. Vincent this is what it had from1905 on.

I feel it would be useless to tell you where things wereby telling what building is standing there now so I will just tell whatI know about the places.

There were 4 stores in St. Vincent. Three general storesand one candy store. The candy store was owned by John Renalds.

The first new church to be built since the first threeI mentioned was the Catholic church.

St. Vincent had 3 hotels during this time. They were theOntario Hotel, Thedore Hotel, and the Northern Hotel. The Northern Hotelwas owned by the Great Northern Railway. The hotels were not modern andvery cold in the winter.

There were 2 blacksmiths. One was owned by Bill McCannwho farmed just outside of St. Vincent

Two beer distributing companies existed in St. Vincent.They were the Hamms and the Hylans Low Start Lager. Beer was shipped inby the companies and sold to the saloons, and at one time there were sixsaloons in St. Vincent.

The customs office and depot were in St. Vincent until1905. In 1905 they moved north about a mile and a half and east about ahalf mile from St. Vincent to the Canadian Border. A new town was started.It was named after the first customs officer.

The other buildings in St. Vincent were the butcher shop,owned by Art Hutchinson; the post office, run by Mr. Lapps father; and thetown hall which was torn down just after the fifty flood. The rest of thebuildings were mostly houses of the residents.

While talking with Mr. Lapp he mentioned the frequent tripsto Pembina on the ferry boat. He said in later years a pontoon bridge wasbuilt and finally the steel bridge which presently provides the means ofcrossing the Red River.

St. Vincent was a booming town then with a populationof about five hundred. It almost died recently because of a man named Deacon.

At one time the Great Northern Railway wrote a letter tothe Mayor of St. Vincent, Deacon, telling him that they would move all thebuildings in the town 2 miles east and make the border port there insteadof having it in Noyes. Deacon wrote back and said that he couldn't findanyone who was interested in moving without asking a soul. Because it nolonger had the railroad it all but died out.

Today St. Vincent is just a small village with a mere populationof 150 and has only one store, one gas station, and a post office. It seemsa shame that a town that could have grown quite extensively like St. Vincentwas destroyed to almost a ghost town because of the decision of one man.