Pages 197 ~ 215
From the book
"HISTORY OF WABASHA COUNTY, MINNESOTA"
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge and Others
Published Winona, MN by H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1920
Republished Currently by Higginson Books
Bird's Eye View of the City of Wabasha, MN ~ 1917
Contributed by Chris Miller
Wabasha Township, outside the corporation limits of Wabasha city, consists only of
five sections and several fractional sections, and its history is so intimately bound up with that of
the city that it will be included under the same head.
Wabasha, the county seat of Wabasha County, is one of the oldest towns on the
Mississippi, having been occupied continuously since 1826. Situated on a beautiful terrace
overlooking the Mississippi River, and almost surrounded by towering bluffs, its location is a
most picturesque one, and possesses many commercial advantages. Like many other Mississippi
River towns, the city is stretched along the banks of the river, its tendency to length being
increased by the fact that the railroad station lies at the extreme east of the city, while the
courthouse and the public school and the ferry are near the western edge. The principal business
street lies parallel to the Mississippi River and only a block away.
Railroads having their terminals here tap the rich valleys of the Chippewa and Zumbro,
and a ferry terminating at a road which leads across the bottoms to Nelson, Wisconsin, lays
tribute on the wheat lands of southwestern Buffalo County. Good roads leading in all directions
also make it the natural center of the surrounding fertile lands in Wabasha County. Passenger,
freight and lumber traffic on the Mississippi River, once so important, is now at a minimum, but
the river still has its part in the prosperity of the town. Two boat building concerns construct
excellent craft, rough fishing and searching for clam shells are both important, and as the result
of the latter industry, a button factory is maintained.
Another View of the City ~ Contributed by Chris Miller
The building in the lower center is advertising Cremo Cigars for 5 cents each.
The writing reads: 9/29/06 S.G. Lake City and Wabasha Minn.
Hello! Am down here visiting have been to Chippewa Falls, Eauclaire, Plum City, Maiden Rock Wis.
The most important industry, and one that dates since the early days, is that of milling.
A large line elevator concern also has its headquarters here. In addition to boats, already
mentioned, sash and doors are produced in considerable quantities. Livestock, barley and
produce are also shipped.
The city possesses many advantages in the way of religion, education and philanthropy.
There are Catholic, Congregational, Episcopal and German Reformed churches, and in addition
to the large public school, the Catholic people maintain an important parochial school. The
Catholic people also have here an orphanage and hospital. There is likewise an excellent
The municipal improvements include waterworks, an electric light plant, a sewer
system and fire protection. The city hall is adequate and sightly.
There are three newspapers, the Wabasha County Herald, the Wabasha Standard, and
the Wabasha County Leader. The two banks, the First National Bank and the Farmers &
Merchants State Bank, maintain the financial integrity of the city. The Commercial Club is a live
organization, looks after the city interests and maintains club rooms. The public library has a
wide scope and is well patronized. The two elevators, the live stock shipping association and the
creamery furnish a market for farm products.
The courthouse and jail are commanding architectural features, and with the near-by
magnificent high school building, add much to the beauty and importance of the city.
Augustin Rocque settled in Wabasha in 1826. About the same time came Duncan
Campbell. Both settled in the extreme western part of the present city, across the slough. In
1838, Oliver Cratte built a house on the levee. Joseph Buisson settled nearby the same year.
Francois La Bathe established a post here sometime after the Black Hawk War. His date is
usually given as 1841. He sold out to Alexis Bailly, who spent the remainder of his life here.
Among these early traders gathered a little settlement of people, mostly mixed blood relatives.
In 1842 Father Augustin Ravoux, of St. Paul, sent a log building from Mendota to this
place to be used as a chapel. The building was placed upon a raft and floated down the river, and
set up on the point where Main street now terminates. This was the first building for religious
purposes ever erected in Wabasha. It was used for the purpose designed several years, but went
finally into disuse as a church edifice in consequence of the irregularity of services, and was
afterward used for secular purposes. The first paper printed in Wabasha was printed there, and a
school was taught in it.
The city of Wabasha was named in 1843 after the great Dakota chief. An interesting
ceremony accompanied the christening. A hole was dug in the ground on the levee, and a bottle
containing a paper giving an account of the event was placed in the hole; then a post was set up
over it with a board nailed thereon, upon which was printed or written the name "Wabashaw" in
large letters. A bottle of whisky was broken to celebrate the christening. In 1853, ten years later,
the old sign-post was still standing. It is difficult now to locate just the place where the post
stood; but it was on the levee between Alleghany and Pembroke streets. Francis Talbot saw it
when he landed here in 1853 from the steamer Nominee. At the time of this christening,
Wabasha was nothing more than a trading-post and stopping place for traders and voyageurs. It
had been a stopping place for the traders for a long time as they passed up and down the river,
trafficking with the different bands of Indians on both sides of the river and around the lakes,
their headquarters being at Prairie du Chien, so that "the Prairie" seemed like home to them,
particularly so to the pioneer Frenchman. After the territory was organized Alexis Bailly was
appointed justice of the peace by the governor, and was thereby made the first civil officer of the
county. Before that time the manner of living had been quite patriarchal in its way, and no better
illustration can be given of it that to quote Mr. Rocque's advice to his sons, which gives his
opinion of the law. It says: "Mes fils, ce faut que vous engardez bien a ce moment parceque la
loi c'est venue en ville. La loi c'est le diable, et Monsieur Bailly il est la loi." Interpreted: "My
sons, it is necessary that you be very careful now, because the law has come to town. The law is
the devil, and Mr. Bailly is the law."
In 1849 a bill was passed organizing the territory of Minnesota, whose boundary on the
west extended to the Missouri river, and at that time the whole region was little more than a vast
wilderness. Alexis Bailly was at Wabasha. Charles R. Read and Fordyce S. Richards at Read's
Landing. H. S. Allen, of Chippewa Falls, built a warehouse upon the levee at Wabasha in 1849,
and some years added to it and opened a store therein in company with a partner named Creamer.
The agent here was named Murphy. The Dakota Indians were numerous, but very peaceable with
the white people, many of whom were their relatives, but their enemies, the Chippewas, were
often made to realize their hatred, and when some unfortunate Chippewa ventured so near as to
lose his scalp, the Sioux would hold what they called a scalp dance. The last of these occurred in
1858, on the levee just below the American House, then kept by C. W. Wyman.
In 1850 Congress constructed a military road from Wabasha to Mendota, costing five
thousand dollars. The length of this road was 75 miles. Philo Stone in 1850 erected a dwelling
on Levee street. Mr. Stone was a native of Vermont who had come to this country in 1838. He
engaged in hunting on the neutral grounds between the Sioux and Chippewas, which being
seldom visited by either tribe, made excellent ground for hunting. He was very brave, of a wiry,
quick, impulsive temperament, and passed through many skirmishes in earlier times, always
coming off the best man.
Christian Shively and Amos Wheeler arrived at Wabasha about the same time as Mr.
Stone. A building on the levee was erected in 1853 by a river pilot named Harold, and it was
kept as a boarding house known as Harold's Exchange until destroyed by fire in 1858. Francis
Talbot, the last of the pioneer fur traders, came here in 1853 with letters of introduction to Mr.
Bailly, from his friend, John H. Kinzie, of Chicago, with whom Mr. Talbot was connected at an
An early settler has said: "When the writer of these annals first came to Wabasha, in the
spring of 1857, the teepee of the Indian was to be seen in every direction, and the dusky form of
the savage might be expected to walk in upon you, or be seen peering curiously at you through
the window at any time. Usually they wanted food or "coshpop" (the Indian term for ten cents),
begging being one of their strong characteristics. Just below the house in which we lived stood a
little copse of wood, where the death-song of the "poor Indian" was heard many times when he
thought himself dying; the "fire-water" of the white man proving too much for him. He would
get thus far on his way back to the teepee, lie down, as he thought, to die, and then the terrible
wail would begin and continue until the poor fellow was overcome and dead-drunken sleep
drowned all sensibilities. Their dances, too, were very frequent and dreadfully hideous, yet
apparently enjoyed with all the zest their benighted brains and energies could desire. Their
medicine and war-dances were the most frequent; they had also a snake-dance, which took in all
the serpentine antics and hisses, while the monotonous beatings of their drums was most
Sitting at our dinner table one day, we were startled by the door being opened suddenly
and five dusky faces, one above the other, peering in at us, the last one with face painted black
and red, with mischief-gleaming eyes and two feathers in his hair. Our eldest son, who, in a short
time, had caught much of the Sioux language, upon seeing the last face, jumped up and accosted
him with, "Now, Dick, what does all this mean?" "Indian hungry," was the reply. "But why are
you here with that face?" "Dick dandy," he replied, and it appeared that he had painted and
dressed himself in those habiliments for our especial benefit. The Indian was known ever after as
The town of Wabasha was platted and laid out in 1854 by A. S. Hart, the proprietors
being Oliver Cratte, Joseph Buisson and Philo Stone. In the spring of 1857 a new company was
organized and the town site greatly enlarged by the platting of one thousand acres on the west
side of the slough which divided the plateau from the original site. This company consisted of
Messrs. S. P. Gambia, B. W. Brisbois, S. L. Campbell, Tho. A. Tomlinson, H. B. Rice, Gen.
Shields, Oliver Cratte and Philo Stone; Hon. S. L. Campbell, trustee. A large warehouse was
erected on that side by the Lowry interests of New York City, and the foundation of an extensive
hotel was laid, and the prospect was flattering for the growth of the city on that side. But the
terrible convulsions in the financial world which commenced this year came with crushing effect
upon the young city, and discouraged both proprietors and people. Immigration fell off, and
business of all kinds suffered exceedingly. In consequence, that part of the city was given up and
the land divided among the proprietors in 1860.
Wabasha was incorporated in 1858, by special act of the First State Legislature. The
first officers were: Mayor, Capt. W. W. Wright; aldermen, John B. Downer, William B. Lutz and
W. W. Prindle; recorder, Carlos W. Lyon; treasurer, S. N. Wright; justice, Charles Webb;
surveyor, D. W. Wellman; attorney, John N. Murdock; official paper, the "Minnesota Patriot."
The city charter was revised during the winter of 1868-69, which revision divided the
city into two wards, with two aldermen elected in each ward, who held their office two years.
The city boundaries and limits were defined as follows: "Beginning at a point in the Mississippi
river on the dividing line between Wisconsin and Minnesota, at the mouth of a small creek,
called Smith's creek, between Wabasha and Read's Landing; thence up said creek to the west line
of township 111; range 10; thence along said township line to the southwest corner of section 6,
in township 110, range 10; thence along the south line of section 6, 5 and 4 of township 110,
range 10, to the southeast corner of said section 4; thence north along the east line of said section
4, township 110, range 10, and section 33, township 111, range 10, to the Wisconsin line; thence
along the Wisconsin line up to the place of beginning."
The ferry between Wabasha and the point opposite in Wisconsin has been practically
continuous since 1862. From the Wisconsin point across the river, the bottoms extend some
three or four miles before the main land is reached at the present village of Nelson. In 1858 an
effort was made to build a road across these bottoms in order to secure the Wisconsin trade, but
the project at that time was not carried out. For more than half a century the extremely poor road
conditions on the Wisconsin side made the operation of the ferry a most dubious business
venture, with little profit in case of success, and a much better chance for loss. In 1918, however,
the Wabasha Roller Mill Co., with James G. Lawrence at its head, leased the ferry from the city,
built a mile and a half of fine durable road, with necessary bridges, to Nelson, Wis., and began
the operation of a cable ferry which has proved a great benefit not only to the Mill company and
the Wisconsin farmers in the transport of wheat to the mill, but also to the citizens of Wabasha
and those on the Minnesota side generally. All kinds of freight are handled. A gasoline launch is
used for propelling the barge, the trip taking about three minutes. The ferry operates the year
The Wabasha Free Public Library is one of the old institutions of the city. In the fall of
1868 a club was organized with 42 members, the object being to develop literary culture and
build up a library. The club rented a hall and furnished it neatly, supplied the table with the daily
papers of the state, together with most of the popular magazines and leading literary journals, and
filled the shelves of the room with a select number of books. They also furnished facilities for all
and various drawing-room games. This club consisted of the best society of the place, both
ladies and gentlemen. Its managers, however, were gentlemen. During the winter of 1870-71 the
interest in the club seemed to be on the wane, and fears were entertained that this good beginning
might have to be abandoned. But the ladies decided that it should not be a failure, and they took
the library off the hands of the gentlemen entirely, reorganizing under the name of the "Ladies'
Library Association." The interest in the library has grown and the institution is today a strong
factor in the educational development of the community. In June, 1909, it was taken over by the
city and is now supported by a city tax. It contains about 5,000 volumes.
Postal service in Wabasha is among the oldest in the state. The early traders received
their mail from Prairie du Chien, in the summer by boat, and in the winter by the carriers bound
for Ft. Snelling. In 1849, Fordyce S. Richards, the trader at Read's Landing was appointed
postmaster here, and mail matter for Wabasha came to that point. In 1853, Alexis Bailly was
appointed postmaster, and service since that time has been continuous. In 1856 a tri-weekly mail
service was arranged with the steam boat companies for the summer, and a somewhat less
frequent service by means of overland travel in the winter. In 1857, when H. C. Burbank
inaugurated a daily stage service between La Crosse and St. Paul, mail was received daily from
each direction. The original name of the postoffice, as of the county and city was Wabashaw, but
in 1858, the government dropped the final letter, and the office has since borne its present name.
Wabasha has been famed for the attention which it has paid to education since the
earliest days, and still maintains its pre-eminence in this respect, the present commodious high
school building being as well equipped as any similar institution in the state. The first school
taught in Wabasha was a private school taught by Thomas F. Flynn. After the first school-district
in the county was organized, which was that of Wabasha, District No. 1, in 1855, a school was
taught in it by H. B. Potter, the building used for the purpose being the old log Catholic church
which stood upon what was then called "The Point." Mr. Potter taught a few months in 1856,
and then the school was discontinued. Miss E. Hogard taught a private school for a few months
in a small building on Bridge street, erected by B. S. Hurd in 1856, Miss Hogard taught during
the spring of 1857, but discontinued it on account of the public school being resumed by Miss A.
Strickland, who taught for about three months. Mrs. J. J. Stone then opened a private school in
her own house on Pembroke street, and taught more or less during the years of 1858 and 1859,
removing her school to a small frame building on Main street, below Pembroke. During the
summer and fall of 1858 a private school was taught on the west side by E. F. Dodge, in a
building erected for that purpose by Jarvis Williams, of Saco, Maine, who then resided on that
side. Meantime steps were being taken by the city for the erection of a schoolhouse adapted to
the needs of the town, and lots were purchased in block 5 of South Wabasha for that purpose. A
stone building 40 by 45 feet was erected during the summer and fall of 1859, the cornerstone
being laid with appropriate ceremonies on July 4, 1859. This house cost $2,500. A school was
opened in it on January 3, 1860, taught by W. C. Bryant, assisted by Henrietta Angier, of Toledo,
Ohio, all private schools merging into it. Mr. Bryant was from Cincinnati, Ohio, where he had
done much to establish a high grade of common schools, and his efforts here were the very first
made in Wabasha county toward the union or graded schools. Mr. Bryant continued his teaching
until the close of the spring term. No other school was taught in the building as a schoolhouse,
as the city donated the building to the county for a courthouse the same year, and the county
offices were removed thereto in the fall of 1860.
In the fall of 1860 Walter Gurley opened a private school in the courtroom of this
building, teaching it until January, 1861, when Joseph Gates took the school and completed the
term, teaching another term during the spring of 1862. The public school was taught very
successfully during the winter of 1861-62 by Mr. H. I. Whitmore, his school numbering one
hundred pupils. The next school was taught by Mr. Gates, during 1862-63, in the Baptist church
building, which was rented for that purpose. A wooden structure at this time was in process of
erection, by private enterprise, for an academy, which stood on Third street, between Walnut and
Allegheny streets. It was completed in November, 1865, and a very successful school taught in it
during the winter of 1865-66 by L. Jenness. A parish school had been instituted under the
auspices of the Episcopal church, by the Rev. H. G. Batterson, in 1863-64, which was first taught
by Kate Dougall, afterward by Wealthy Tucker, of Winona, in a building owned by Henry de
Camp, corner of Bailly and Second streets, but as the other schools advance in character and
course of study, it was given up, the teacher, Miss Tucker, accepting a position as assistant in the
school of the academy. Mr. Jenness, having a better offer in Minneapolis, left in the spring of
1865, and no school being taught, Mrs. Marian T. Bowditch opened a private one in the
courtroom for the summer. Mrs. Bowditch continued her school, assisted by her niece, Miss E.
Bowditch, in her own house the next winter, discontinuing it in the spring of 1866. Meanwhile
the school in the academy was taught by Rev. Bonnel, a Baptist clergyman, assisted by his wife.
Public school was taught in the Baptist chapel by Joseph Gates, assisted by Mrs. J. J. Stone, Miss
M. Staples teaching the summer term. After the purchase of the academy by the city, Mr. Hopper
was employed as principal, Henry F. Rose succeeding him. Mr. Rose remained two years, and
was succeeded in the fall of 1867 by E. Hogle, who taught the school two terms, assisted by Miss
D. Clark and Miss J. Lynch. Mr. E. A. Booth succeeded Hogle, and remained until the spring of
1868, when he resigned the place, his position being filled the next term by Mrs. E. L. Douglass;
Jennie Fyfe, teacher of intermediate department; Miss McCune, of primary.
The academy building was now too small to accommodate the different grades, and
rooms were rented therefor in different parts of the city. In the spring of 1868 the subject of a
more commodious and central schoolhouse was agitated, which resulted in the erection of a fine
edifice in block 4, South Wabasha, and in the gathering of the different departments of the
graded school under one roof. The board of education, after deciding upon the amount of funds
needed for that purpose, and to issue bonds upon the credit of the school-district No. 1, submitted
the same to a vote of the electors of said district on April 27, 1868, as required by law. The vote
cast was for the issue of these bonds, and they were issued to the amount of twenty thousand
dollars, redeemable between July 1, 1870, and July 1, 1880. The size of this building was 62 1/2
feet by 82 1/2 feet, is three stories high, including basement, and contains twelve rooms, besides
the halls and wardrobes; four in the basement, four on the first floor, with a wardrobe to each
room, and four on the upper floor, with wardrobes also. The high school department occupied
the double room on the northwest side of the house. A belfry in the center of the building
contained a bell of six hundred pounds, and it is warmed by three Lossing furnaces. Messrs.
Gates, Brink & Harlow were the contractors, and the whole cost of building and seating the
rooms amounted to twenty-five thousand dollars. The board of education at the time consisted of
Rev. B. Wharton, S. S. Kepler, J. Satory, J. B. Davis and George Hall.
The school was opened in this building in December, with R. H. Sturgis, principal, and
four assistant teachers. In September, 1870, S. L. Sayles, of New York, accepted the position of
principal of the school, with five assistant teachers, and taught and regraded it very successfully.
Mr. Sayles resigned the position in 1872, and was succeeded by M. B. Foster, also an able and
efficient teacher, who remained four years. E. Hogle succeeded him for one year, when J. B.
Hawley was employed, together with six assistant teachers. In the fall of 1880 Mr. Hawley
resigned and Wm. A Snook succeeded him, remaining two years. Horace Gibson took charge of
the school in September, 1882. Thus was the present school system inaugurated and established,
and its later developments have been still more extensive and thorough. In 1894 a large brick
schoolhouse was built on Mulligan street near East Second, which is now used for the grades and
the manual and normal training departments.
A few years ago a new high school was felt to be a necessity, and appropriate measures
were taken for the construction of the present handsome and commodious building, which was
built in 1917, at a cost of $60,000. It fronts on Market street, its rear being connected by a closed
passageway with the school building erected in 1894. It is of pleasing architectural design, with
the interior carefully planned, and well lighted by large windows in all the rooms. In addition to
the class rooms it contains a fine gymnasium, surrounded by a balcony for spectators, and a
spacious auditorium used for an assembly room and for lectures, plays and various public
entertainments. The heating plant is separate from the building. The high school is organized on
the junior and senior high school plan, the seventh and eighth grades being assigned certain high
school studies and constituting the junior high classes, while the senior high school classes take
more advanced work and additional studies, this plan affording the advantage of a more gradual
transition from common to high school work. The enrollment for the year ending in June, 1920,
was 200 in the grades and 110 in the high school, from the latter there being 15 graduates.
Twelve teachers are employed in the high school and six in the grades. The present
superintendent is Anton Fischer, who came to Wabasha the latter part of August, 1920, from
Benson, Minn. He succeeded L. U. Towle, who was superintendent for seven years previously.
The Wabasha high school in its equipment, management and standard of scholarship take high
rank among the similar institutions of the state.
Schmidt Memorial Park is one of the notable improvements of Wabasha. When the
schoolhouse was planned it was the regret of every lover of the beautiful in the city that it should
stand on the edge of an unsightly piece of what was practically waste land. It was Mrs. Julius
Schmidt, the widow of one of Wabasha's prominent citizens, who, after her husband's death in
April, 1915, conceived the happy idea of perpetuating his memory by the transformation of this
piece of land into a public park, and who thoroughly and beautifully carried out the plan. In the
present year, 1920, she has added to the attractions of the park by the erection of a fine
drinking-fountain, which she presented to the city at a public ceremonial on Saturday, August 21.
The river front of Wabasha has been beautified by the laying out of the Mill River
Gardens, which stretch along the river bank for 650 feet. These gardens are tastefully laid out,
are planted with wild and cultivated flowers and furnished with walks and arbors. This work was
initiated by James G. Lawrence, head of the Wabasha Roller Mill Co., and has transformed a
once uninteresting section of river front into one of the most attractive spots in Wabasha and the
Among the notable buildings, in addition to the high school, elsewhere described, are
the City Hall, a substantial two-story brick building with basement and belfry, erected in 1894;
the large and imposing Court House, with its well lighted and commodious offices, and the
County Jail, a fine brick building, of modern design constructed at a cost of $40,000 in 1918.
The old Baily House, built in 1858, is a historic landmark, still in a good state of
preservation. Baily was a noted Indian trader, elsewhere mentioned in this volume, who, after
bringing General Sibley to Mendota in 1843, came to Wabasha and settled here. He was buried
here with his two wives, the first of whom was a Faribault. The Baily House in its palmy days
sheltered many noted guests, among whose names appear those of Gen. Franz Sigel, Gen.
Buckner and Marshall Field.
The Journal was the first paper published in Wabasha County. It was established July
4, 1856, at Read's Landing, by H. J. Sanderson, and moved to Wabasha in the spring of 1857,
where it was published till some time in the fall of 1858, when it died. The city records show
that it was made the official paper of the city of Wabasha April 27, 1858. Some time during the
summer S. S. Burleson bought an interest in the paper, and later in the same season acquired
entire control. Sanderson went south, and, when Vicksburg surrendered to Grant, was one of the
rebel troops captured there, and was recognized by several of his old Wabasha acquaintances.
On Christmas Day, December 25, 1858, S. S. Burleson issued No. 1 of the Minnesota
Patriot, which was made the official paper of the city May 3, 1859. It died a natural death some
time during the summer. Burleson was a lawyer, but at a later date studied theology and became
an Episcopal minister. Both the Journal and the Patriot were Democratic in politics.
October 29, 1859, H. C. Simpson commenced the publication of the Wabasha Weekly
Journal, a six-column quarto, republican in politics, and an adherent to the cause of Abraham
Lincoln. On November 23 of that year the newspaper was made the official organ of the city. In
the spring of 1860 G. W. Marsh bought an interest with Simpson, and the paper was published by
Simpson & Marsh. This was the year of the first contest between Wabasha and Lake City for the
county seat, and it was said that the Journal received financial recompense for aiding the cause of
Lake City, the result being that the two editors barely escaped drowning in the Mississippi by a
mob of indignant citizens. December 8, 1860, the paper was discontinued at Wabasha, and
started again at Lake City, January 3, 1861. Simpson soon after enlisted in the 2d Minn. Vol.
Inf., and passed from sight of his Wabasha friends. Marsh went to Wisconsin, and at a later date
was crippled by an accidental gunshot.
TheWabasha County Herald is the oldest paper in Wabasha County and one of the
oldest in the state, having been started before the state was admitted. In the early spring of 1857
the McMaster family settled at Read's Landing. Two of the sons, T. A. and W. C., were printers,
and they either brought with them, or soon obtained, a press and material, and made
arrangements to publish a newspaper. It was at that time proposed to call the village of Read's
Waumadee, and the newspaper was named the Waumadee Herald, and the first number was
published during the first week in May. On the twelfth day of that month the Messrs. McMaster
were drowned in the Mississippi by the accidental upsetting of a skiff in which they were
crossing the river, and with them died the Waumadee Herald. Norman E. Stevens, a young
printer from Illinois, arrived at Read's some two months after the death of the McMasters, and
with the assistance of the business men of the village, especially T. B. Wilson and F. S. Richards,
made arrangements to purchase the office from the McMasters family, and on June 27, 1857, he
published the first number of the Wabasha county Herald. Mr. Stevens was an eager Republican,
and the paper was devoted to the advocacy of the principles of that party.
In the fall of 1860 the people of Wabasha, dissatisfied with the course taken by the
publishers of the Journal, determined to have a paper that would assist in the development of
their town instead of their rival Lake City, and such arrangements were made with Mr. Stevens,
that in December he moved his material to Wabasha. On December 12, 1860, the paper
appeared, with Wabasha and Read's at its head as joint places of publication, and it was so
published until the spring of 1863, when the name Read's Landing disappeared from its head.
Some time during the year 1861 the issue of a semi-weekly edition was commenced. It
was continued until the close of 1862, and was a bright, newsy sheet. During the year 1862, U.
B. Shaver was sole publisher for a few weeks, and Stevens started a paper at Plainview, but it
was not a success and he returned, and Shaver and Stevens were joint proprietors up to about
April 1, 1864, when Stevens sold his interest to his partner Shaver and moved to Paxton, Illinois.
For a few weeks in the summer of 1864 R. H. Copeland had charge. August 3, 1865, Shaver sold
out to E. W. Gurley and Frank E. Daggett. Both were eager republicans and had served in the
Union army, and Daggett had won a lieutenant's commission by gallant service. Gurley was a
pleasant writer and did most of the editorial work during the short time he remained connected
with the paper, and Daggett, who was an excellent printer, attended to the mechanical
department. Mr. Gurley was not in good health and soon retired, and at a later date went to North
Carolina. Henry W. Rose, the purchaser of Gurley's interest, was a writer of very much more
than ordinary ability. Under his editorial management the Herald was generally regarded as the
ablest country paper in Minnesota. About January 1, 1868, Daggett became ambitious of a larger
field, and, disposing of his share in the Herald to Rose, went to La Crosse and purchased an
interest with Lute Taylor in the Republican and Leader, of that city. The Herald remained under
the sole management of Mr. Rose form this time until his death, in April of the same year. For a
few weeks during Rose's illness, and after his death, J. K. Arnold had charge of the office; but
Daggett, whose La Crosse enterprise had not proved a success, soon returned and purchased the
office from Lorenz Ginthner, administrator of Rose's estate, and was sole proprietor until the
summer of 1870, when he sold to Amasa T. Sharpe and Willis D. Palmer. The leading editorials
during the two years following were furnished by John N. Murdoch, a well-known lawyer of
Wabasha, and a Republican of the straightest sect, and he did not allow the Herald to become
lukewarm in its politics. Later, in the autumn of 1872, Sharpe and Palmer left Wabasha for
Ottawa, Kansas, where they established the Ottawa Republican. W. S. Walton was the next
proprietor of the Herald and to him is due much of the credit for inaugurating the movement
which resulted in building the midland railroad from Wabasha to Zumbrota. During a part of the
time his brother, H. H. Walton, was associated with him in the paper, and June 1, 1878, W. L.
Lewark, who for several months had been foreman in the office, bought a third interest in the
establishment. April 1, 1879, Mr. Walton sold to W. H. H. Matteson his two-thirds interest in
the Herald. Matteson and Lewark ran the paper until April 1, 1881, when O. F. Collier
purchased from Matteson and assumed the business management, with Mr. Lewark controlling
the types and presses.
On September 26, 1888, almost the entire office and outfit were destroyed by fire. The
27th was publication day, but without a break the paper appeared. This was accompanied by
taking the forms to Lake City and doing the printing on the Graphic-Sentinel press, the use of
which the owners of that paper, Messrs. McKinney & Linnen, kindly accorded. A new outfit was
at once procured, and as soon as the old quarters in Lucas Kuehn's building had been sufficiently
repaired the proprietors again occupied it and proceeded to fit up the office in metropolitan style.
New type was purchased throughout, new stands, furniture and fixings, a five-horse engine and
large steam boiler were installed, radiators and steam pipes introduced, and the entire building
heated by steam. A large Cottrell press was purchased, also a large Gordon jobber, and the office
was placed on a better footing than ever before.
About 1890 or 1892 Mr. Collier withdrew from the firm, the paper being subsequently
published by J. F. McGovern & Co., the new firm being composed of J. F. McGovern, James
Keating and W. L. Newark, Mr. Newark having previously been a partner with Mr. Collier. The
new firm continued for several years until Mr. Newark dropped out about 1895 or 1896, but the
paper was still published under the firm name of J. F. McGovern & Co. up to September 1, 1905,
when S. M. Quigley bought the McGovern interest, the firm becoming Keating & Quigley. As
such it remained until October 16, 1908, when Mr. Quigley bought out Mr. Keating, and has
since remained the sole owner. W. J. Dornuf, who has been with the Herald since 1909, is the
active manager of the plant. The old steam power system was replaced some eight years ago
with electric power. The plant is thoroughly modern, containing all the necessary equipment of
an up-to-date office. The Herald is a standard seven-column, eight-page weekly. In politics it is
independent with Democratic leanings. The oldest newspaper in Wabasha County, it is also the
official paper of the city ~ a privilege it has always enjoyed, and has also been the official paper
of the county since early days except for a few years. Under its present ownership and
management it is enjoying continued prosperity.
The Federal Constitution, a Democratic journal, was published for a few weeks in the
summer of 1864, by Dr. F. H. Milligan and John W. Tyson; it was short-lived, had no office, and
was printed on the Herald press.
The Wabasha Bulletin was established in the summer of 1879 under the guidance of
Editor Slagel. In the latter part of 1880 it passed into the hands of J. R. Pennington. The next
and last owner was C. J. Hines.
The Wabasha County Leader, the latest addition to the ranks of journalism in the city of
Wabasha, was established in March, 1919, by an incorporated company consisting of a number
of farmers residing in various parts of the county, there being now about 200 stockholders. It is
politically independent, its chief object being the promotion of co-operative enterprises. W. W.
Cheatham is employed as editor. The Leader has already a circulation of about 1,200 and is still
growing. It has a good modern plant with everything needed for a successful journalistic
enterprise. The paper is an eight-page, seven-column weekly, neatly printed, and apparently has
a promising future.
The Wabasha Standard was first known as the Wabasha Democrat, under which name
it appeared early in February, 1888. The founders and proprietors were A. J. Stone and C. J.
Haines, the former a Republican and the latter a Democrat. The political complexion of the
paper was at first Democratic, but as such it was conducted but a short time. Its name was soon
changed to The standard ~ about 1899 ~ and a year or so later the partnership was dissolved, Mr.
Stone becoming the sole owner and editor. He conducted it as a Republican weekly newspaper
until his death in December, 1906, after which event it became the property of his widow, Mrs.
Emma C. Stone, who employed an editor and other necessary help, and continued its publication
until September, 1918, when she sold it to the present editor and proprietor, Hugh R. Smith. Mr.
Smith has made no change in the politics of the Standard, which is a six-column quarto of eight
pages, neatly printed. The plant includes a good cylinder press, a type-setting machine, job press
and other modern equipment, and the paper is flourishing under its present management.
St. Felix Parish of the Roman Catholic Church at
Wabasha, with its various religious, educational and philanthropic activities, dates back to 1842,
and is therefore one of the oldest church organizations in the Northwest. In 1842 the Rev.
Augustin Ravoux, of St. Paul, sent a log building from Mendota to this place to be used as a
chapel for worship. It was placed upon a raft and floated down the river, and after reaching
Wabasha it was put up on the ground of what was called "The Point," which is now the terminus
of Main street, north. This was used as a church edifice some 14 years. As there was no settled
pastor of the flock, services were very irregular, and the building was finally used for secular
purposes. The first printing press of the town was set up in it, and the first paper printed in the
county issued therefrom. A school was also taught in it for a time, but finally the old church fell
into decay, all traces of it having long since been obliterated.
In the autumn of 1858 Rev. Felix Tissot came to the place and immediately took
measures to erect a new church upon the ground of the catholic cemetery in the southeast part of
the city, on what is called "Rocque's Addition." It was completed in the spring of 1859, but it
proved to be too far from the center of the town for convenience, and in 1862 it was taken down
and moved to lot 6 in block 22. The size of this church was 30 by 50 feet, there being a tower in
front in which was a bell weighing 500 pounds. It was consecrated by R. Rev. Bishop Grace on
July 27, 1862. In the fall of 1872 a school was opened in the basement story of the church, under
the charge of the Sisters of Notre Dame, Milwaukee, of 90 pupils, with three teachers, Sister
Venantia the superior.
This church, proving too small for the increasing congregation, had to give place to a
new and large brick structure on lot 1 and half of lot 2, in block 26, the cornerstone of which was
laid with imposing ceremonies by Re. Rev. Bishop Grace. I was completed in 1874 and
dedicated with imposing ceremonies.
The first resident pastor of Wabasha was Rev. Felix Tissot, rector of St. Felix Church
from October, 1858, to October, 1866, when the parish was placed in charge of Rev. James
Trobec. A convenient rectory was built upon lot 6, block 22, at an expense of $2,2000, in the
Father Trobec continued as pastor until 1887, when he was succeeded by Rev. Max
Wurst, under whose long pastorate of 32 years the parish had a steady and remarkable growth.
Father Wurst proved a devoted priest, an indefatigable worker, and a man of great administrative
ability, whose labors bore abundant fruit. He not only personally supervised all the various
branches of parish work, but applied himself continuously, and to the full extent of his
remarkable powers, to enlarge their scope and increase their effectiveness.
The brick church erected in 1874, after an existence of nearly 20 years, was completely
destroyed by fire, and in 1893 was rebuilt by him with improvements. Just previous to this he
had built the Sisters' residence and the St. Felix School building, the latter being completed in
1902. Father Wurst also built the present rectory, enlarged and beautified St. Felix cemetery, and
after strenuous efforts succeeded in having the State Sanitarium located in Wabasha ~ an act of
public spirit appreciated by all the citizens irrespective of creed. For this work of development
and upbuilding he was especially fitted by his thorough and extensive knowledge, both of civil
and ecclesiastical law, and in a good cause he spared no efforts. His activities in building up the
parish attracted wide attention and drew many settlers to Wabasha and the surrounding country.
The church recognized his services by advancing him to the ecclesiastical dignity of Monsignor,
and they were equally appreciated by the members of his flock and by the citizens of Wabasha
generally. His earthly labors were brought to an end by his death in 1919, and he was succeeded
in the fall of that year by Rev. John N., Bartholome, another man of energy and proved ability.
Father Bartholome is a native of Wabasha County, born and reared in Chester
Township. He pursued his classical course at St. Francis Seminary, at Milwaukee, studied
philosophy for two years and theology for four years at St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., and
was there ordained in 1902. His first appointment was at Worthington, Minn., where he
remained 18 months. From 1904 to 1919 he was stationed at Fulda, Minn., where he built up
and improved the parish, erecting a fine church costing $60,000 and a school which cost $40,000.
Since taking over the Wabasha parish he has made some important improvements here, which
were begun soon after his arrival and have just been completed (September 1, 1920). The
interior of the school has been revarnished and calsomined (calcimine: a
white or tinted wash of glue, whiting or zinc white, and water that is used especially on plastered
surfaces: Merriam-Webster), the convent has been supplied with a new heating plant, and
the rectory has been practically rebuilt inside and a garage erected, the total cost amounting to
St. Felix School is a large and important institution and furnishes full instruction in the
graded and high school courses, equal in extent and thoroughness to that supplied by the public
school system. The building is a large brick structure of two stories and basement, with
convenient and well lighted class rooms, and an auditorium capable of seating 1,000 people,
which at present is also used as a gymnasium.
There are twelve Sisters of Notre Dame connected with the parish, with Sister
Euphemia as superior. Eight of the Sisters are teachers in the school, which has an enrollment of
from 325 to 350 pupils. The school includes a large music class under the charge of a special
In connection with the parish there are also some 14 or 15 active
societies, the Knights of Columbus organization alone having more than 500 members. Another
prominent organization is the German Benevolent Society, having a membership of between 190
and 200. All these societies are engaged in religious, philanthropic or social work calculated to
bring useful results and maintain and advance the general interest.
Wabasha is the home of two important charitable institutions under the control of the
Catholic Church ~ St. Elizabeth's Hospital and St. Joseph's Orphanage, each of which has had a
large and steady growth.
St. Elizabeth's Hospital
Photo Contributed by Chris Miller
St. Elizabeth's Hospital had its origin in 1898, when a small house belonging to Dr.
Milligan, and standing on the present site of the institution, was purchased, and, after being
remodeled, was fitted up to accommodate from ten to twelve patients. That the demand was
urgent may be inferred from the fact that within a very few days the hospital was filled to its
capacity. Within the next two or three years cottages were erected to meet the increased demand
for room. These, however, were found insufficient, and therefore in 1905 a three-story brick
building was erected, with accommodations for 25 to 30 patients, in addition to the nurses and
management. It is an imposing structure, beautifully located one and a half miles from the
business center of Wabasha, on the bank of the Mississippi River, and commanding a view of the
river and the Wisconsin bluffs. The reputation of the hospital spread, and within a few years
another addition had become necessary. The need was met by the construction of a modern
three-story wing, which was begun in the summer of 1818. The hospital has been made a
fire-proof building and contains a fine operating-room, with all the necessary scientific
appliances, together with a magnificent chapel. The present capacity of the hospital is from 60 to
St. Joseph's Orphanage
Photo Contributed by Chris Miller
St. Joseph's Orphanage, Wabasha, was established in December, 1900, when Bishop
Cotter sent five children of the Connolly family of Winona to Wabasha so be taken care of. The
Sisters had no place for them, but could not turn them away, so a small cottage was fitted up and
the children housed. By the fall of 1904 the need of a regular orphanage had become so pressing
that larger and better quarters had to be provided, and a substantial brick structure, with
accommodations for 85 to 90 children, was begun, and was completed in November, 1905. The
building adjoins its companion institution, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, and, like it, commands a fine
view of the Mississippi River. An eight-grade school is conducted in it. The girls who remain
for high school training are sent to St. Felix Parochial School in Wabasha, the boys being sent to
St. Mary's College at Winona. Desirable homes are found for all the children, the Sisters
exercising supervision over them until they become of age. Both Catholic and Protestant
children, from two to sixteen years old, are received by the orphanage, which is a charitable
institution liberally assisted by citizens of the Winona diocese. There are 22 Sisters connected
with the orphanage and hospital. Thirty-five acres of land have been purchased, on which
vegetables and garden produce are raised for the use and benefit of the institutions.
Grace Episcopal Church ~ The first Episcopal service
held in Wabasha was given in June, 1857, by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Kemper, missionary bishop of
the Northwest, which included Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Dakota. After
Minnesota became a diocese, the first service held in the diocese by its bishop, the R. Rev. Henry
Benjamin Whipple, was at Wabasha, in the Baptist chapel, October, 1859, as he was on his way
up the Mississippi to St. Paul. Regular services were held during the year 1860, by the Rev.
Charles W. Clinton, in a room fitted up for that purpose in a building on Bridge street known as
Apollo Hall. A Sunday school had been organized in the winter of 1857 by a lady, holding it in
her own house, under the sanction of Bishop Kemper, being assisted from time to time by
clergymen who held occasional services in the place before Rev. Clinton's ministry began. That
school has been continued until the present date without interruption, and it was the first Sunday
school organized in Wabasha. Mr. Clinton remained about eight months, preaching alternately
here and at Lake City. After he left, the Rev. C. P. Dorsett held occasional services until the
autumn of 1862, when the Rev. H. G. Batterson commenced his labors here, his first services
being given on the twenty-third Sunday after Trinity, November 23, 1862. The parish was not
organized until December 16, when, at a meeting, it was voted to call the organization by the
name of Grace Church, Wabasha, regular service and Sunday school being held in the
court-house. In the spring of 1863 three lots were given by Wm. W. Prindle for church purposes,
and arrangements were made during that year for building a stone church upon the ground,
contract let to R. P. Andrews for the laying of the walls. The basement was completed in the
spring of 1864, and corner-stone laid on June 15, with appropriate ceremonies. A copper box
was placed in the stone, containing: a copy of the Holy Scriptures in English, according to the
standard of King James' translation; a copy of the Book of Common Prayer; a copy of the church
Almanac, with parish list for 1864; also copies of the "Church Journal," "The Northwestern
Church," and the "Wabasha County Herald;" one silver dime and half-dime of the issue of 1853,
and English shilling piece of the reign of George III, 1788; a five-cent Canada coin of silver,
Victoria, 1858; ten and five cent specimens of the postal currency; ten-cent piece of scrip, Bank
of Tennessee, Nashville, December, 1861; a copper coin of Canada and United States; ein
kreuzer, 1816; photograph of the first bishop of Minnesota (Bishop Whipple) and the pastor,
Rev. H. G. Batterson; the names of the bishop and clergy of other officers of the diocese.
Unfortunately, on June 23, the builder and contractor were drafted for the war, and the work on
the structure had to be suspended and the project finally abandoned, for, as the price of labor and
material advance, the parish had not the means to carry forward the work. (Note: I have added punctuation to the list of items placed in the cornerstone
as they were divided only by commas and the result was quite confusing. Note also, speaking of
George, that there was in New England a statue of George III of England which
my distant grand-pappy, Oliver Wolcott, Governor of Connecticut, ordered chopped up, melted
down, and made into bullets to fire against the English in the American Revolution. George was
thereafter referred to as the "Melted Majesty!")
During the winter of 1864-65 the Rev. Mr.Batterson was absent from the parish on
account of ill health, during which time Ralph E. Arnold gave a lay service every Sunday
morning and took charge of the Sunday school, which at this time numbered one hundred and
nineteen scholars. Mr. Batterson returned in the spring, and on the first day of June, 1865, the
Baptist chapel was purchased and removed to the church lots on corner of Bailley and Third
streets. It was thoroughly repaired and painted, a bell tower in the rear being added, and the
opening service was held therein on Sunday, July 30. By a general subscription, aided by friends
of Mr. Batterson, a bell was purchased of Messrs. A. Fulton, Sons & Co., of Pittsbutgh,
Pennsylvania, and it was rung the first time on Sunday morning, October 29, 1865. The weight
of this bell was 850 pounds.
On April 30, 1866, the church was incorporated and the following named wardens and
vestrymen elected: Carlos W. Lyon, Charles R. Read, William W. Prindle, William T. Dugan,
Nathan F. Webb, James G. Lawrence and Ralph E. Arnold. Of these officials Mr. Lawrence,
now 84 years old, is still one of the leading members of the church. About this time the Rev. Mr.
Batterson preached his farewell sermon and was succeeded by Rev. Samuel Wardlaw, who
commenced his labors June 24, 1866. His successor was the Rev. Alex Seabrease, B.D., who
took charge of the parish May 23, 1869. During this year the parish built a rectory costing
$1,600, and steps were taken to fill up the basement of the church. The Rev. A. Seabrease closed
his connection with the church June 2, 1872. After him came the Rev. Horace Hills, who closed
his rectorship of the parish September 30, 1877. He was succeeded on October 7, the same year,
by the Rev. James Cornell. The Rev. James Cornell was succeeded by Rev. Joseph J. Hillmer,
who was pastor for twelve years and three months, his successor being Rev. Elmer Lofstrom,
who served seven years. After him came Rev. Charles H. Plummer, who was pastor two years,
and was succeeded by Rev. Caleb Benham, who also served two years. Then came Rev. John
Evans. The Rev. John Evans was pastor for two years, and was succeeded by the Rev. Archibald
Sidders, who also remained two years, leaving in August, 1919. After Rev. Archibald Sidders
said farewell to the parish no services were held, except occasionally by the Bishop, until
recently, but now Rev. Joseph J. Hillmer, of Winona, a former pastor of the church, is holding
services twice a month.
The present stone edifice, a most beautiful piece of architecture, was erected in 1900 by
Mr. Thomas Irvine, now of St. Paul, as a memorial to his wife, Mrs. Emily Hills Irvine, who was
the daughter of the Rev. Horace Hills, formerly rector of the parish. The building is one of the
most tasteful pieces of church architecture in the state. The chancel window, representing the
two Marys at the tomb Easter morning, was made by Tiffany of New York at a cost of $3,000.
The Congregational Church of Wabasha was organized
in February, 1856, the original members being Deacon Oliver Pendleton, Mrs. W. W. Prindle,
Mrs. W. Hancock, Mrs. H. Wilson, Malcolm Kennedy and W. S. Jackson, Rev. H. H. Morgan,
missionary director. This organization, next to the Catholic, is the oldest in the place. The first
settled pastor was the Rev. S. L. Hillier, who commenced his ministry May 1, 1857, services
being held in what was called Apollo Hall. Mr. Hillier was succeeded by Rev. David Andrews
October 15, 1858, and he was the first clergyman who held service in the new church. This
church was built on lot 2, of block 14, on Second street, its size being 22 by 50 with a bell tower
in the rear containing a bell weighing 1,000 pounds. The building was dedicated October 20,
1858. Rev. Mr. Andrews was succeeded by the Rev. Hiram Doane in August, 1860, he
commencing his labors on the 27th. Upon the breaking out of the rebellion Mr. Doane resigned
his charge for another in the service of his country, and was succeeded by the Rev. L. N.
Woodruff, September 16, 1862, and Mr. Woodruff by Rev. S. A. Van Dyke in 1864. The next
pastor, the Rev. Edward Hildreth, assumed charge in April, 1866. The Rev. Henry Loomis was
pastor 1867 to 1868. The Rev. C. W. Honeyman succeeded Mr. Loomis in the spring of 1872, in
which year the society erected a beautiful parsonage upon lot 1 of the church property, which cost
$3,6000. Mr. Honeyman's health failing him, the Rev. O. Hobbs officiated from January 14,
1874, to April 2, 1874, when he was succeeded by Rev. E. J. Wicks; and Mr. Wicks ended his
labors with this congregation in August, 1875, being succeeded by the Rev. S. D. Todd on
November 3 of the same year. Mr. Todd continued his ministry here until succeeded by Rev. J.
W. Ray April 4, 1877. Mr. Ray continued his pastoral relations until the autumn of 1882, when
he was succeeded by the Rev. C. P. Watson. The Sabbath school was organized in the autumn of
1858, and has been continued with unabated interest and success until the present time. Malcolm
Kennedy acted as superintendent some twenty-two years. W. S. Jackson was the very efficient
and interested librarian of this school from its commencement to the time of his death in
February, 1882. The first deacons of this church were Oliver Pendleton, Sr., and William W.
McDougall. Rev. C. P. Watson served until 1883. The succeeding pastors have been as follows:
N. T. Blakeslee, 1883 to 1889; W. H. Medlar, 1889 to 1898; R. L. Breed, 1898 to 1902; W. B.
Pinkerton, 1902 to 1907; W. H. Short, September, 1907 to November, 1908; Wilbur M. Evans,
April, 1909 to February, 1910; Henry Ketcham, October, 1910 to August, 1913; James A.
Orrock, September, 1913, to 1914; W. A. Pringle, 1915 to 1917; Elmer D. Gallagher, September,
1917 to the present time. In 1914 the Methodist Episcopal Church, which for some time had
been going down hill, federated with the Congressional (sic) Church and supplied two of the
pastors above mentioned, the Revs. J. A. Orrock and W. A. Pringle. The federation lasted for
some seven or eight years, at the end of which period the Methodist Church, having only about
35 members left, and the church property being badly out of repair, gave up their own church
organization, the majority of the members, about 25, on July 4, 1920 (Sunday), joining the
Congregational Church, and further accessions from the same source are expected. The present
membership of the church is about 130; the Sunday school enrollment about 100, The Woman's
Missionary Society and Ladies' Benefit Society are active factors in church work. The present
church edifice, a neat frame building, was erected in 1884, the old edifice being united with it so
as to form one building. It is located on W. Second street at the corner of Walnut. Miss Julia
Hilker is the present organist.
Methodist Episcopal Church of Wabasha ~ The first
Protestant services held in Wabasha were by Rev. Dwight Kidder, in the American hotel, in
1855. Mr. Kidder was a Methodist, and had been sent to take charge of the mission embracing
Read's Landing, Wabasha, Central Point and Wacouta. A class formed in Wabasha, consisting
of H. B. Potter, leader, H. Tracy, T. G. Bolton, J. W. Bolton, Nancy Bolton, Ruth E. Bolton, Mrs.
Wilds and Hannah Drew. The first quarterly meeting held in the place was in the log chapel
belonging to the Catholics, December 15-16, 1855. Rev. Benjamin Crist was appointed to this
charge in 1856, but did not remain, and services were interrupted until August, 1857, when the
Rev. S. Salsbury was placed in charge, his work to comprise Wabasha, Read's Landing and
Cook's Valley. Mr. Salsbury left in the spring of 1858, and the next pastor in charge was the
Rev. James Gurley. A Sunday school was instituted this year of forty-five scholars. The next
pastor in charge was J. L. Dyer, the next Rev. Jesse Smith, in charge to the fall of 1861, when the
Rev. Harvey Webb was placed in charge and remained until 1863. During his administration, the
church was reorganized according to the statutes of the state, by appointing John R. C. Creighton,
secretary, Rev. H. Webb, pastor, presiding. Five trustees were elected: Thomas Roberts, John R.
Creighton, James Crowley, John Lewis and James Luscombe. They decided to build a church
upon a lot which had been previously purchased on Second street. A building committee was
chosen, consisting of Rev. H. Webb, L. Dietz, John McArthur, Thomas Bolton and Thomas
Roberts. Specifications for the church building were, size 24 by 40 feet, height 14 feet, the
vestibule being added afterward. The whole expense of building amounted to $1,000, and it was
dedicated on August 6, 1862. The Rev. A. Wilford was placed in charge September, 1863, and
remained in charge during 1863-64. In November, 1864, Rev. Wilford was appointed, by the
governor, chaplain to the 3d Minn. Vol. Inf., and his place was supplied by Rev. J. R. Creighton,
who had received license to preach at conference of 1864. At the next session of conference in
1865, Rev. T. M. Gossard was appointed in charge, and he was succeeded by Rev. J. L. Farber,
who was reappointed in the fall of 1867 and remained until 1868, when the Rev. S. G. Gale
succeeded him. Rev. W. C. Rice was pastor in 1860-70, and he was succeeded by Rev. B. Y.
Coffin, who remained in charge until the fall of 1871, when the Rev. S. G. Gale was returned as
pastor. Mr. Gale remained two years, when Rev. W. C. Shaw succeeded him. Mr. Shaw died in
February, 1874, and the Rev. M. O. M'Niff was appointed to supply the remainder of the year.
September 14, 1875, Rev. W. H. Soule was appointed pastor and remained in charge until
October 21, 1878, when the Rev. James Door succeeded him. October 11, 1880, the Rev. W. C.
Miles commenced his pastorate, which continued until October 10, 1882, when the Rev. D. J.
Higgins was placed in charge. This church was removed to Fourth street, lots 7 and 8, in 1870,
the old lot being sold for three hundred dollars. The first stewards were: H. B. Potter and R. F.
Morris, in 1855. The first trustees were James Crowley, Thomas Roberts, J. R. Creighton, John
Lewis, John W. Luscombe. The first Sunday school superintendent was R. F. Morris. For a
number of years this church had a flourishing existence, and then a period of disintegration set in,
due to deaths and removals, the limited resources of the members, and perhaps other causes
which need not be specified. At last, too weak to be self-supporting, in 1914 the church
federated with the Congregational Church of Wabasha, and on Sunday, July 4, 1920, when only
some 35 members were left, a majority of them joined the Congregational Church, and the
Methodist Episcopal organization in this city came to an end. The edifice, badly needing repairs,
has been sold, and will be remodeled into a residence by the purchaser, Mr. Wall.
The German Lutheran and Reformed Congregations ~
A German Lutheran congregation was organized in 1875, with a membership of fifty, with the
Rev. August Kanne as pastor. Their service was held in the court-room until July, 1876, when
their church building was completed on Market street. The size of this church was 25 by 40 feet,
and the whole expense, including the church lots and belfry, amounted to $2,000. The first
trustees of this church were Jacob Thoney, Sr., Christian Florine and Wilhelm Ruchenbauch.
This church and society have a Sunday school, which was organized in 1876. A seven-hundred-
pound bell was purchased in 1877. The first pastor of this church was Rev. August Kanne, who
was succeeded in 1879 by the Rev. A. Krahn. The lot upon which the church was built was
found to be not pleasing to the congregation, and in the spring of 1881 another was purchased on
corner of Jefferson and Second streets, South Wabasha, and the church removed to it in the
spring of 1882. The first members of this church were: John Voelger, Henry Balow, Jacob
Thoney, Joseph Thoney, Jacob Ray, Jacob Gengnagle, Peter Tervana, Peter Yanette, Herman
Lessing, George Bance, Peter C. Cavedetesher, Jacob Miller, William Reichenbach, Jacob
Mingold, Peter Klaus, Philip Grub and Jacob Schuler. In the course of time the German
Reformed element in Wabasha became stronger than the original Lutherans, and this church
practically passed into their hands, though Lutheran ministers continued to preach at intervals.
Services were continued more or less regularly until about 1918, the last pastor being the Rev.
Tilman Hornemann. Since then no services have been held, though it is thought that they may be
resumed in the near future.
The Baptists organized a society in Wabasha in 1857, which for awhile had a
flourishing existence. A church edifice was erected in 1857, and a suitable bell was presented by
the citizens. The pastor, Rev. James Wharton, kept the congregation together for some two years
after the church was built. The congregation was then dissolved, but the church building
continued to be an important religious, educational and social center.
Wabasha has two banks, the Farmers and Merchants State Bank and the First National
Bank. The first attempt to establish a banking house in Wabasha was made in the flush time of
May, 1857, when Hiram Rogers & Son opened a banking office on the corner of Pembroke street
and the Levee. Mr. Rogers was a prominent business man of Zanesville, Ohio, who came west in
the prosperous times of 1856, and had made some investments in St. Paul before coming to this
city, in the spring of 1857. He purchased quite freely of real estate here, paying "wild-cat" prices
for lots to which he could subsequently gain no title, on account of the vexed question of half-
breed scrip. Being squeezed in the financial crisis of 1857-58, he closed his banking house,
abandoned all his property here and departed for St. Paul, having permanently invested about
$17,000 in this city, from which he realized nothing.
Kepler & Jackson, a mercantile company, were in the meantime engaged to some
extent in selling exchange on eastern banks, but this was merely by way of accommodation, and
they made no pretensions of conducting a banking business.
A new chapter in the banking history of Wabasha was started in the spring of 1864.
W. W. Prindle, the county clerk, and N. F. Webb, clerk of the district court, formed a partnership
under the firm name of Prindle & Webb, and opened a banking office in a wooden building on
the corner of Main and Alleghany streets. The bank location was subsequently changed to the
south side of Main street, where they fitted up the small building between Alleghany and Walnut
streets, and conducted business several years. The firm as it originally stood was subsequently
changed to Webb, Prindle & Chase, and finally became Webb & Co. Webb & Co. continued in
business until April 12, 1872, when an assignment was made to E. M. Birdsey, who, when the
bank was declared bankrupt, was appointed assignee in bankruptcy for the settlement of the
estate. The creditors subsequently received fifteen cents on the dollar, the liabilities aggregation
In 1872, about two months after the failure of Webb & Co., a banking house was
opened in the Campbell block (on Main, a few doors west of Pemboke), by A. D. Southworth
and W. J. Florer, under the firm name of A. D. Southworth & Co.; capital, ten thousand dollars.
This banking establishment soon gained the confidence of the mercantile community, did a
successful business, was subsequently removed to the north side of Main street, just east of
Pembroke, and continued in business until the fall of 1881. W. J. Florer, having died in August
of that year, and A. D. Southworth being unable to attend to business through ill health, the
banking house of A. D. Southworth & Co. dissolved, and the Bank of Wabasha was organized as
The Bank of Wabasha, which through the firm of A. D.
Southworth & Co. dated back to 1872, was organized September 1, 1881. The incorporators of
the Bank of Wabasha were: C. F. Rogers, C. F. Young, L. S. Van Vliet, A. D. Southworth, James
G. Lawrence, W. S. Jackson, Knud Johnson, Dr. J. J. Stone, J. H. Evans, H. P. Krick, Samuel
Hirschy, Henry Funk, Mrs. C. E. Krick, Mrs. M. A. Florer, Mrs. A. L. Hills, Mrs. M. E.
Wetherbee, Loring Ginthner, H. J. Whitmore and Lucas Kuehn. The capital stock was placed at
$50,000, of which one-half was paid in. W. S. Jackson was elected president, and held that
office until his death in February, 1882, when he was succeeded by Lucas Kuehn. Bruce Florer,
who had been for some time cashier of the bank of A. D. Southworth & Co., was elected cashier.
October 1, 1882, the bank removed to the north side of Main street, midway between Pembroke
and Alleghany streets, in the new building which the Odd Fellows had just completed at that
The First National Bank of Wabasha was chartered
June 30, 1883, as a bank of issue, deposit, loan and exchange. It was merely an enlargement of
the scope of the Bank of Wabasha with no change in ownership or management. This bank is
still in existence. It has a paid up capital of $50,000, with surplus and profits of about $55,000,
and deposits of $800,000. The officers are: President, C. C. Hirschy; cashier, L. Whitmore;
assistant cashier, H. H. Whitmore.
The Farmers and Merchants State Bank of Wabasha
was established in 1911. Its president is J. R. Kelly; vice-president, L. Schurhammer; cashier, H.
J. Mars; assistant cashier, P. N. Carrels. The bank has a paid up capital of $25,000; surplus and
profits of $6,480, and deposits of $312,000.
The first agricultural fair of the county was held in September, 1859, at Wabasha,
across the slough, in the building erected for a warehouse, which building, in 1864, was removed
to this side the slough and occupied as a grain elevator until it was consumed by fire April 3,
The Wabasha Roller Mill Co. is the most important
industry in Wabasha. Wabasha Mill Company was organized in September, 1882, with a capital
stock of $75,000. The incorporators were James G. Lawrence (president), Lucas Kuehn, W. P.
Dugan, H. P. Krick, L. F. Hubbard, P. A. Richards (secretary and treasurer), and J. E. Young
(head miller). This industry was started as a partnership concern, in 1872, by Downer & Lowth,
who erected the mill and conducted the business about five years, when they sold out to Messrs.
J. G. Lawrence, W. H. Campbell and A. G. Foster. J. G. Lawrence became the sole owner by
purchase in 1878, and managed its affairs successfully until the formation of the joint-stock
company as above stated. The first mill, erected in 1872, was originally a burr mill with six run
of stones, and had a capacity of nearly eighty barrels a day. Various improvements were
introduced from time to time until 1881, when the whole mill was remodeled and made a full
roller mill. By this change the capacity was increased to 225 barrels a day, and their average
daily product raised to 175 barrels.
Subsequent improvements have increased the capacity to 1,200 barrels daily, and the
product has become famous under the name of "Big Jo Flour." A large part of the wheat is
obtained from farmers in Wabasha County, and from a number in Buffalo County, Wisconsin,
just across the river. The latter supply has been made more available through improvements
carried out by the company in the leasing of the ferry from the city, the introduction of a cable
system, the barges being pushed by gasoline launches, and the construction of a good road across
the Wisconsin bottoms to Nelson, Wis., whereby the old impediments to transport have been
removed. The ferry is operated during the entire year and is a most useful and necessary
institution, as the nearest bridges across the river are at Red Wing and Winona, 30 miles above
and 35 miles below Wabasha, respectively. General freight is handled, as high as 100 tons being
handled in a day, the capacity for the barge being from four to five teams with loads. The
Wabasha Roller Mill, or "Big Jo" Mill, as it is commonly called, is now the largest industry in
this section. The business has been built up chiefly through the efforts of its forceful president, J.
G. Lawrence, whose son-in-law, W. B. Webb, is now vice-president of the company. The mill is
a familiar landmark on the river, and occupies a fine location, which has been further beautified
by the laying out and cultivation of a floral garden along the river front, provided with seats and
The R. E. Jones Company was organized in 1888 by R.
E. Jones and James G. Lawrence. They installed the electric light plant and engaged in the
buying of grain and produce. The concern was incorporated in 1889, Mr. Lawrence being
president to 1896, at which time he sold his interests to H. J. O'Neill. Other industries of
Wabasha may be found mentioned in the biographical part of this volume.
Wapahasa Lodge, No. 14, A. F. & A. M., antedates the
incorporation of the village. The population of the city at that time probably aggregated 600
persons, among whom were several who, remembering the old days when they were "wont to be
called from labor to refreshment," determined to establish a lodge of the craft in the new home
they had chosen for themselves in the upper Mississippi Region. Accordingly a petition for a
dispensation to open and conduct a masonic lodge was forwarded to Grand Master A. T. C.
Pierson. A dispensation was granted October 22, 1856, and on January 7, 1857, a charter was
issued, under the authority of the grand lodge, empowering S. L. Campbell, J. J. Stone, F. J.
Collier, S. A. Kemp, Lindsay Seas, Wm. Pierson and B. A. Grub to open a lodge. The lodge was
organized in due form with S. L. Campbell, W. M; J. J. Stone, S. W.; and F. J. Collier, J. W. The
original lodge room was in the upper story of a new building on the corner of Walnut street and
the Levee, which had been erected for general merchandising purposes by Campbell, Gambier &
Pendleton. From those quarters in the upper story of this structure the Masons subsequently
removed to the upper story of the brick building on Main street, between Alleghaney and
Pembroke streets, at that time occupied by Luger Bros. as a furniture warehouse and salesroom.
From Luger's, in 1870 the lodge removed to the third story of the Campbell House block, since
burned. The upper story of this building, which stood just west of the present Masonic block,
corner of Main and Alleghaney streets, had been erected by special contract with the members of the Masonic
order, who had contributed six hundred dollars toward the erection of the block, in consideration
of which, and a stipulated rental, a lease was executed for a specified term of years. In 1878 the
craft removed to the third story of John Schirtz' building, and there remained until the
completion of their own building, Masonic block, of which they took possession December 1,
1880. This property was owned for many years by the Masonic Building Association, but in the
latter part of the year 1918 it was purchased by Wapahasa Lodge, which now owns it. The lodge
meetings are held in the upper story, the lower being rented out for commercial purposes. The
present membership is about 125.
Relief Chapter, No. 35, R. A. M. ~ Wapahasa Lodge,
No. 14, had been in existence twenty-four years, and the Masonic building was just completed
when the members of the craft deemed it wise to take steps toward the establishment of a
chapter, that such as desired might receive instruction in the more advanced work of the craft, as
exemplified in the higher orders of Masonry. A dispensation to form a chapter was accordingly
petitioned for. This dispensation was granted December 12, 1880, and on October 11, 1881, a
charter was issued by the grand chapter of the state, constituting Relief Chapter, No. 35, of
Wabasha, Minnesota, naming the following as charter members: Jos. Buisson, C. J. Stauff,
Francis Talbot, H. N. Smith, A. Campbell, A. J. Bent, W. H. Campbell, David Cratte and I. J.
Pennock. The Chapter continued in active operation until some five years ago, when, on the
recommendation of the Grand Lodge, it surrendered its charter and its members dimitted (demit: to withdraw from office or membership: Merriam-Webster) to
Lake City, this action being taken in accordance with the principle of centralization, so that there
might be fewer Chapters, but those existing of greater strength.
Red Leaf Chapter, O. E. S., was instituted January 12,
1881, with the following named charter members: Mesdames Franc D. Clarke, Mary I. Stauff,
Ellen L. Dugan, Anna L. Walton, Carrie E. Krick, Emma S. Peck, Susan S. Robinson, Barbara
Porter, Selma Oswald, and Messrs. W. A. Clarke, C. J. Stauff, E. J. Dugan, H. Oswald. This
Chapter has not been active for several years.
Teutonia Lodge, No. 19, I. O. O. F., is the outgrowth of
the German Aid Society established in this city in 1860. This "aid" society was a local
organization, having for its object the promotion of social relations among its members and the
care of its members in case of sickness. It had a numerous membership and was in quite a
flourishing condition for some years after it began operations. But it was soon apparent that its
benefits could not be extended beyond the limits of its own pale, and as its members removed
from the city, they were thenceforth debarred from all benefit connected therewith. Accordingly,
in 1867, a committee of five was appointed by the society to take the situation under
consideration, examine the workings of the various aid or fraternal associations having a national
existence, and report which one, in their opinion, was the nearest allied in its objects and work to
their own local aid society. This committee consisted of F. L. Riechter, L. Gintner, John Satori,
J. T. Gintner and F. Kling, who, after due examination and consideration, reported in favor of the
I. O. O. F. as most nearly answering the ends sought. The report of the committee was approved,
and they were further instructed to proceed to Plainview, Wabasha County, where there was a
lodge of the Odd-Fellows order, receive initiation into the same, and so be prepared to take all
necessary steps to secure a lodge of the order in Wabasha. The duties assigned the committee
were duly performed; a paper was circulated among the members of the "Aid Society" to
ascertain how many of the members were willing to enter an Odd-Fellows lodge when formed,
and all things proving satisfactory, the five members forming the committee of the Aid Society,
being now members of the I. O. O. F. at Plainview, petitioned the grand lodge for permission to
open and conduct a lodge of the I. O. O. F. in Wabasha. The petition was duly granted, and on
September 25 the lodge was organized as Teutonia Lodge, No. 19, I. O. O. F., of Wabahsa, with
F. L. Riechter, J. T. Ginthner, John Satori, L. Ginthner and F. Kling as charter members. The
first meeting of the lodge was held in the hall in the third story of Schwirtz block, and continued
to meet there until 1876, when they removed to the second story of John Satori's building,
northeast corner of Main and Pembroke streets, which quarters they occupied till the completion
of their own building in the fall of 1882.
Oriental Encampment, No. 24, I. O. O. F., of Wabasha,
was instituted February 23, 1883, with eight charter members, the charter being
countersigned by Grand Patriarch Romaine Shire, and Grand Secretary J. Fletcher Williams. The
name of the charter members, as they appear on the charter displayed on the walls of the lodge-
room, are: Herman Oswald, John Schermully, C. H. Crause, Henry Burkhardt, F. H. Milligan, M.
D., Paul Casparis, E. J. Dugan and Michael Kuehn.
Other early lodges were: Wabasha Lodge, No. 577, K. of H., organized in 1877; and
Wabasha Subordinate Union, No. 215, E. A. U., both of which for some years had a considerable
membership. Later the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Degree of Honor and the Royal
Neighbors established lodges which are now flourishing. The strongest fraternal order now in
Wabasha is the Knights of Columbus, which has a membership of about 450.