"HISTORY OF WABASHA COUNTY"
Compiled by Dr. L. H. Bunnell
Published Chicago by H. H. Hill, Publishers, 1884
Republished Currently by Higginson Books
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Pages 796 - 823
The citizens of that section of Wabasha county lying along the shores of Lake Pepin and contiguous to the county of Goodhue on the north, did not aspire to corporate responsibilities, honors and burdens at a very early date. That portion of the county, for years known as the town of Lake City, had been organized as a township for nearly thirteen years before any attempt to incorporate a village or town within its territory was attempted, and it was more than seventeen years from the date of the permanent settlement of the town before any effective attempt at incorporation was made. During those years there had grown up here an intelligent and thriving community of twenty-five hundred souls. Under no government other than that of the township organization, effected on the admission of the state into the union in 1858, a prosperous mercantile and shipping trade had been developed and successfully fostered; churches had been organized and built; schools established and well provided with all necessary appliances of buildings and apparatus; streets had been opened, graded and furnished with sidewalks; police and sanitary regulations adopted, and in short the whole paraphernalia of village organization introduced and successfully manipulated under that old township organization of May 11, 1858, supplemented by some special legislative acts to which specific attention will be necessary in order to arrive at a true understanding of the statues of this city, which was only a town; and of this portion of the town of Lake City, which was so much more than a township, as was only too apparent when the city of Lake City was carved out of the old township of Lake City, which one year thereafter received by legislative enactment the curtailed name of "Lake," as it now is. The state census returns for 1865 give as the population of the town of Lake City for that year, fourteen hundred and eleven souls. Deduction the population of the township outside of the corner occupied by the afterward city, and making allowances for the increase of population during the year ending March 31, 1865, and it will not be far from the actual figured if we place the population of that section of Lake City township, now included with the incorporated limits of Lake City, at about eleven hundred, in the spring of 1864. By special legislative enactment, of date March 3, 1864, the supervisors of the town of Lake City were given special powers, which exercised by the board of trustees of an incorporated village, or the common council of an incorporated city, but these special powers were only made applicable to a particularly specified section of the town of Lake City, to wit: The S.W. 1/4 of S.W. 1/4 and lots Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Sec. 4; and the E. 1/2 and N.W. 1/4 of S.E. 1/4 of Sec. 5; the E. 1/2 of N.W. 1/4 and the S. 1/2 of N.E. 1/4 and lots Nos. 1 and 2 of the E. 1/2 of N.W. 1/4 and the S. 1/2 of N.E. 1/4 and lots Nos. 1 and 2 of Sec. 5; and the E. 1/2 of N.W. 1/4 and the N.W. 1/4 of N.W. 1/4 and lots Nos. 1 and 2 of Sec. 9, all in T. 111 N., of R. 12 W., according to United States survey. This tract, as above described, included very nearly so much of the present city limits as is laid off in plats and blocks. Or, to describe it otherwise, it included that portion lying between the railroad track and the lake, with the addition of some small territory on the south side of the railway tracks about the depot, and also in the lower part of the village. It was a strip of land lying along Lake Pepin, a distance of a little over one and a half miles in length and extending backward from the lake a distance varying from one-half to three-fourths of a mile. It was this portion of Lake City township, that while still continuing an integral part of that township, was practically cut off from it, by the special act of March 3, 1864, above referred to. The powers conferred by this act upon the supervisors of the town of Lake City, were to the effect that within the above specified territory, they could enact and enforce ordinances for a variety of purposes, which briefly stated were:
It was made the duty of the township supervisors to enforce the regulations that should be made in the interest and for the furtherance of the above objects, and the manner of procedure in such cases was duly set forth; all by-laws, regulations or ordinances passed by them for this purpose were declared to have the force of law provided they contravened no existing laws, and severe penalties could be enforced for their violation. The justices of the town of Lake City were given original and exclusive jurisdiction in all cases arising under the act, and no appeal could be taken in any case where the fine imposed did not exceed twenty dollars. The supervisors of the town of Lake were also empowered to appoint a marshal, and it was made their duty to so appoint within thirty days of the annual town election. Said marshal was required to furnish bond, and given all the authority of constable under the statute of the state, to receive fees for his services, and such other compensation as the supervisors should determine, subject to limitation. The supervisors were also authorized and required to vote a tax upon the taxable property of the district thus governed sufficient to pay the expenses incurred in carrying out the provisions of the act; that tax was to be by majority vote of the town supervisors, and the town clerk was required to file a copy of record of such vote upon which the tax was to be levied and collected, as all other township taxes were. The assessor of the town of Lake City was also required to make a separate list of the persons and personal property of all residents of the specified district in the same manner as was required to be done in the case of residents of incorporated towns. The act took effect from and after its passage, and thenceforth the town supervisors of Lake City had a corporation to look after, which was not incorporated, and the district above described had all the honors and privileges of an incorporated village or city without its liabilities and many of its burdens. The legislature of 1866 made some additional provisions. Supplemental to the act of 1864, by which the special regulation concerning the building of the sidewalk on Washington street became a more general one, and included all the streets of the special district. In addition to this the town supervisors were authorized to direct so much of the poll and road tax, derived from the tax of the special district, as they deemed to be best, to the maintenance of bridges and highways in adjacent townships. This was only in effect to empower the town supervisors to do officially what the public spirit of the citizens, of the village which was not a village, had been doing privately and unofficially for a number of years. Of this more specific mention will be made in another place.
By act of legislature, approved March 9, 1867, some very material additions were made to the powers of the supervisors of the town of Lake City, by which they were authorized to license and regulate exhibitions and shows of all kinds, caravans, circuses, concerts, theaters; also, all auctions, billiard tables, tenpin alleys, bowling saloons, etc.; also, all taverns, saloons, and persons dealing in spirituous, vinous or fermented liquors. They were also given authority to prohibit gaming, card-playing, and restrain persons from engaging in the same, or from vending any article for which license to sell was required, until the license so required had been duly granted. Another important addition to their powers was that of establishing fire-limits, and prescribing what character of material should be allowed in building within such fire limits; also, to prevent the reconstruction within such limits of all wooden buildings, where such buildings had been damaged fifty per cent of their value. It was also enacted that they should provide a place for the confinement of all arrested persons, no matter from what cause, until discharged by due process of law or committed to the county jail. They were finally empowered to lay out a street through the center of a certain block (No. 1), levy a tax to compensate owners for damages, and to lease so much of the levee as to them shall seem just, provided it does not seriously affect or injure said levee, and provided also that said leases should not extend for a longer term than ninety-nine years. The supervisors and town clerk were allowed two dollars per diem compensation each for all time actually employed in discharging the duties set forth in the above act and its amendments; and with this the special legislation ended for this special district which was virtually the incorporation of the city of Lake, and yet did not exist as such incorporation until eight years thereafter.
There are few cases that can parallel this, and none that have come under our own notice. This existence of eight years in which the inhabitants of a favored corner of Lake City township were privileged with all that actual incorporation could confer, relieved of its financial burdens, might well mark an era in their history and be designated by a white stone. Not one substantial benefit that could be secured through a city charter that they did not reap; not one responsibility, which as a city they must have assumed, that they did not in this manner largely avoid, and that without working aught but good to them. They could open streets and tax property therefor; lay sidewalks, grade, condemn property, lease the levees, prescribe fire limits, regulate sale of specified articles, require licenses, construct their own courts of municipal justice, issue their writs, execute them and enforce penalties without recourse (within certain limits); take the taxes for road purposes and appropriate them where they could do most good ~ and in every conceivable way exercise all the privileges of an individual or body corporate; but they were not a body corporate in law, had no existence in fact, could not sue or be sued, could not contract any obligation, could not be forced to meet any; and all the expense of carrying on this machinery was the sum of two dollars per capita for the township supervisors and town clerk for every day actually expended in the direction of affairs. True the township officers could be sued, but there was no provision for their contracting any obligations for this specified district as such, and the arrangement all through was one on which Lake City, unincorporate, might well congratulate herself. The verdict of one of her citizens ~ that she fortunately stumbled upon the peculiar legislation which this conferred privilege without responsibility, was after all, perhaps, not very wide of the mark. Early in 1867 the question of formally organizing as a city was discussed, and meetings held to consider the question. The matter was finally disposed of in a meeting of the citizens held at Williamson’s hall, on the evening of Saturday, January 19, 1867. The objection to the existing order of affairs was urged, on the ground that as now administered, the town authorities lacked the power properly to administer the affairs of a community like this, and corporate powers had become a necessity. To this it was answered that the powers in the hands of the supervisors was ample, and only needed to be exercised. Also that if more legislation was needed it could be obtained, but that it was unadvisable to saddle the town with the burdens of maintaining a corporate existence. The test question, as submitted, was that a city charter be drawn up, and the proposition was negatived by a very decided majority. The meeting instructed the supervisors to rigidly enforce such by-laws and ordinances as were already in existence, and a committee chosen to draw up amendments to the present regulations, increasing the power of the town supervisors so as to include the various subjects afterward specified in the legislative act of March 9, next ensuing. Matters remained in this state so far as the exercise of governmental powers was concerned, until the formal incorporation of the city ~ although one more attempt to incorporate was made, which led to no definite result. By act of legislature of 1870, it was provided that any community, within any specified district, numbering not less than two thousand souls, and not more than fifteen thousand, might, upon filing with the judge of probate for the county within which such district was located, a petition for incorporation signed by not less than two-thirds of the legal voters of said district, become thereby incorporated, and it was made the duty of the judges of probate, before whom such petition should come, to order an election for the purpose of filling the various offices set forth in the charter as petitioned for. Such petition so signed by three hundred and twenty-two legal voters residing within a certain described district ( substantially the corporate limits of the present city of Lake City), came before A. Z. Putnam, judge of probate for the county of Wabasha, on May 15, 1871. The judge gave notice of election to be held July 1, 1871, for the purpose of filling the various offices, and designated the place of holding such elections. Caucuses were held, and a full ticket nominated, but owing to opposition on the part of some, and a general distrust of the legality of such an incorporation, the polls were never opened, and the election passed. The friends of the measure were not satisfied with this disposition of the case, and C. N. Sterry, Esq., secured the opinion of Hon. Thos. Wilson, of the city of Winona, and also of Messrs. Bigelow, Flandrau & Clark, of St. Paul, as to the constitutionality or otherwise of the city charter. The opinions in both cases sustained the action of the citizens as legal, and the incorporation as a valid act. The opinion of the St. Paul attorneys was also to the effect that failure to hold the election in no case vacated or dissolved the corporation. The recourse as contained in the opinion, was to re-petition for a designated day of election, or apply tot he legislature to appoint a day. The former was not done, and instead of the latter, an act of incorporation was duly passed at the next session of the legislature in accordance with which Lake City was incorporated as a city, and the long-vexed question finally settled.
The condition of the city, its growth and development as a corporate body, virtually dates from the year in which, under special legislative enactment, the inhabitants of this particular portion of Lake City township began to assume the methods of city governments; and in this view of the case we will speak of Lake City as existing from 1864. Little change requiring note appears to have transpired in 1864, and the early part of 1865. The attention of all classes was directed to the great struggle between national authority and organized rebellion, to the exclusion of almost all else; and it was not until the nation emerged from the conflict, and her brave defenders came trooping homeward, regiment by regiment, what was left of their decimated ranks, that the great heart of the country breathed free, and the life of all industries resumed their natural flow. At this time, midsummer of 1865, the township of Lake City had a population of fourteen hundred and eleven; of these from eleven hundred to twelve hundred were included within the city limits. The citizens of the little mart on the shores of Lake Pepin were aspiring to the direction of so much of the trade of the surrounding country as a liberal policy would enable them to control. They had reached out a liberal hand over the adjacent townships, and attempted the creation of a market for grain at this point by providing the best roads possible, along which the loaded wagons might reach their warehouses and wharves. They had steadily resisted all seductions to combine against the producer and depress prices, and by this policy had gained the confidence of the wheat-growers in adjacent counties, many of whom, as far as practicable, brought their surplus grain to Lake City market, the advance in price secured here more than compensating for the remoteness of the market. By this means the little city-to-be soon became noted as a profitable market in which to sell cereals, and successfully disputed the palm with older and more populous centers of trade. The season for grain shipments during 1865 lasted two hundred and forty-eight days; and in that time there were shipped from this point, of wheat alone, 660,394 bushels; and there was in store 66,000 bushels, as seen by the warehouse receipts ~ an aggregate of 726,394 bushels of wheat brought to this market in wagons. Prices ruled for the year about one dollar and five cents on the average, and had it not been for the rapacity of the transportation companies, it was claimed that the average price for the season would have ruled ten cents per bushel higher ~ a difference of seventy-two thousand six hundred and thirty-nine dollars and forty cents in the pockets of the wheat-growers. This ten cents represented the increase above what was claimed to be a fair price for transportation. This exaction led to attempted combinations on the part of the shippers, out of which new lines of freight-carrying vessels originated; and competition, as far as practicable, restored the balances to something like equity. The tonnage of the vessels passing this point, and receiving and discharging freight at Lake City docks, was computed at twelve thousand six hundred and thirty-one tons, and the whole number of vessels fifty-three. To these were to be added one hundred and twenty-nine barges and lighters, with a farther capacity of nineteen thousand three hundred and fifty tons. The increase in population of the town of Lake City for the semi-decade from 1860 to 1865 was five hundred and forty-five, an increase of sixty-three per cent. No separate census returns were kept of population within the village, and how much of the increase was in town or how much in country cannot now be ascertained. The substantial improvements in building alone during the year aggregated nearly eighty-five thousand dollars, about one-third of which was on Washington street. The improvements on the various streets, as shown in round numbers, and these very largely new structures, were:
During the year 1866 there was no very marked improvement in the volume of business transacted, neither was any decrease noted. The aggregate of city improvements was nearly the same, the total being eighty-seven thousand six hundred dollars. A board of trade was organized in February, officered as follows: N. F. Williamson, president; A. B. Doughty, vice-president; S. B. Munson, Jr., secretary. Directors: A. Tibbitts, J. L. Armstrong and C. F. Rogers. Most of the leading men of the city were identified with this organization, which had, among other objects, that of securing more equitable freight rates for grain and merchandise. An antimonopoly convention had been called, representing the merchants and shippers of the state, to meet at St. Paul on February 9, and to this convention the Lake City board of trade sent its representatives. The result of the deliberations at St. Paul was the determination to build a line of boats and put them on the river ~ to be known as the People’s line ~ the people holding and owning the stock. Committees were appointed to secure subscriptions to such stock, and President Williamson, of the Lake City board of trade, was appointed solicitor for this section. The organization of the Minnesota Transportation Company was the result of this convention; but as the old monopolies were breaking up, and it was thought that the resulting competition would equalize freight charges, the building of boats was abandoned. The beginning of this year 1866 was marked by a decided interest in temperance matters on the part of the public at large. A Good Templars’ lodge was organized here January 20, with a membership of sixty, and only one week later the number was increased to one hundred. A genuine wave of temperance feeling tided over the county; lectures were common, lodges multiplied, the recruits were numerous, and the interest was well sustained throughout the year. There was also a proposition made to the citizens by the state conference of Congregational churches looking toward the establishment of a college here under the auspices of that body. The matter was taken in hand by the citizens, meetings held of the legal voters of the town of Lake City, and the supervisors were ordered to issue the bonds of the town to the amount of twenty thousand dollars in aid of such an institution. Further conference with the church authorities having the matter in hand elicited the unexpected fact that if the college was established Lake City would have to build the structures, and provide largely for the expenses, the Congregational church throughout the state endorsing the school and recommending contributions and endowments from the friends of education within that denomination. The matter dropped there. From the ledgers of the merchants doing business in town, it was ascertained that the volume of trade for the year ended August 1, 1866, aggregated a little over one and a half millions of dollars. The returns, however, are quite incomplete; oats, corn, barley, manufactures in general, saloons and some other branches of business are not mentioned. The list, as tabulated, is:
The price of wheat ruled high during the shipping season, and fifteen thousand dollars a day was quite frequently paid by the buyers here. The shipments for the season were 652,054 bushels, a decline of 57,544 as compared with the shipments of the previous year. The amount in store at close of navigation was 6,800 bushels. The decreased shipments all over the state were doubtless owing to the partial failure of the crop. The shipments at Red Wing fell off 300,000 bushels from corresponding period of previous year; Hastings showed a decline of 78,000 bushels. In November the price paid here on the streets rose to $1.75, the Milwaukee quotations being from $1.80 to $2.12. The year 1867 was ushered in with a fire, which broke out in the livery stables of Russell & M’Neil, on Franklin street. The flames sped so quickly that only a portion of the stock could be saved, and seven horses were burned to death. The total loss, building and contents, was twenty-five hundred dollars, on which there was three hundred dollars insurance.
The questions of supreme importance that engaged the attention of the citizens of Lake City during the year 1867 were those of railroad aid and county-seat removal. The Chicago & St. Paul Railway Company had come to a standstill in their efforts to secure the construction of the road. A prejudice was felt against the road and eastern capitalists would not invest in its bonds; it was therefore attempted to secure the placing of some of these bonds at home, or at least a sufficient number of them to convince eastern capitalists that the road enjoyed the confidence of the residents of that portion of the state through which it was to pass. A conference between the representatives of the railroad company and leading citizens of Lake City was accordingly held June 26, and after some preliminary investigation into the character of the investment a motion was made by Judg Stout, recommending the supervisors of the town of Lake to subscribe for first mortgage bonds of the Chicago & St. Paul Railway company, to the amount of twenty thousand dollars, on the conditions embodied in the report of the committee that had been previously appointed and whose report was then under consideration. No result was reached, and the old company was reorganized in November, with Hon. W. B. Ogden, of Chicago, as its head. On March 6, 1868, by special act of the state legislature the town of Lake City was authorized to issue its bonds in aid of the construction of the Chicago & St. Paul railway. This act was amended February 2, 1869, and on the 6th of that month the supervisors of the town passed an ordinance, submitting the question to the legal voters thereof. Due notice was given, and the election was held Tuesday, February 26, 1869, at which a total vote of four hundred and thirty-seven was polled. The amount of the proposed issue was seventy-five thousand dollars, and the poll stood: for issue, 306; against issue, 131. The issue of the bonds thus voted and their transfer led to litigation, in which the corporation of Lake City was made defendant and won the suit as against the railway company. Judgment was subsequently recovered against the town of Lake, so much of as was not included in the corporate limits of Lake City, and the matter compromised by the payment of the sum of twenty-five hundred dollars. The history of this litigation will appear in another place. Th county-seat question was one equally tedious of settlement, and much more provocative of animosity and sectional bitterness. On March 7 of this year, 1867, an act legislative was passed, submitting to the voters of the county the question of the removal of the county-seat from its then location, Wabasha, to Lake City. The act was passed upon a petition of the citizens, and competition for the capital honors became lively. Lake City bid for the removal by pledging her bonds to the extent of twenty thousand dollars for the erection of suitable county buildings in case the county seat was located here. It was urged that this would be a saving of at least ten thousand dollars to the county, as that amount was imperatively needed to provide a jail at Wabasha, and the matter of issuing county bonds for that amount had already been under consideration by the county commissioners. The legality of the issue of twenty thousand dollars in bonds as proposed by Lake City was submitted to the attorney-general Hon. W. Colville, who affirmed the legality of the issue. The bonds were duly issued and deposited with the county treasurer as the property of the county in case the removal should be effected. These bonds were to bear interest at the rate of ten per cent annually, and were made payable in five yearly installments of four thousand dollars each. The press of the rival cities waxed heated in the contest which ensued, and no means were left untried to secure a possible victory. The resources of the language were somewhat severely taxed, as well as the upper cases of the printing-offices, in supplying epithets and capitals, and so the day of election came on. The voting was something extraordinary, and the immense number of 9,480 votes were polled in a county not exceeding 13,500 population all told. The contest was carried into the courts and a hearing had before Judge Barber, of the third judicial district. Case was adjourned for months to take testimony, Judge Mitchell, of Winona, acting as referee, together with Counselor Benedict, of Rochester. The conclusion finally was that 2,531 legal votes had been cast, of which number 1,457 had been cast in favor of Lake City, and 1,074 in favor of Wabasha. The case was carried to the supreme court and a decision rendered in January, 1871, reversing the judgment of the district court, on the ground that it requires a majority of the legal voters of the county and not a majority of the votes cast to effect the removal of the county seat, and in this manner the matter was disposed of three years and a half after the vote was taken.
The city suffered quite a loss on August 30 of this year by the destruction of the planing-mill of J. W. Harding, which, with the warehouse of Amsbry & Fletcher, was totally destroyed by fire. The planing-mill was quite an extensive establishment, and the loss was probably not less than ten thousand dollars, upon which there was no insurance. The warehouse was 30 x 90, valued at five thousand dollars, insured for half that amount.
This year marked an era in the history of the United States post-office here, which was made a money-order office September 9.
The price of wheat rose to $1.83 for No. 1 early in October, and for the first four days of the month the sum of $75,000 was paid by the buyers of the city to farmers for wheat. Two weeks later one firm in this city took in one hundred and ten loads, and barges were loaded at the rate of 2,000 bushels per hour. There was a decided falling off in the wheat shipments this year; only 342,622 bushels were forwarded from this place, and at close of navigation 25,855 bushels remained in store.
The improvements in the way of buildings footed $74,600.
With the year 1868 the town reached its first decade as an organized part of the governmental system of the state. A comparison of the votes cast at the opening and also at the close of this period of ten years, shows that the increased was from one hundred and thirty-four votes in 1858, to five hundred and twelve in 1868. The area of the township, exclusive of town lots, in acres, 17,408 5/12 acres, which was valued at $100,602, or about $5.77 per acre. The aggregate value of town lots in 1868, including buildings thereon, was $180,639, making a total real-estate valuation for the town of Lake City of $290,241. The total value of the personal property of the town was rated at $149,374, a little more than one-seventh of all the personal property of the county, which was returned at $1,005,856, about $75,500 less than the real property as scheduled by assessor. While the vote of Lake City in 1868 had increased to almost four times that cast in 1858, the vote of the county at large had increased to a little less than three times the vote cast at the general election of ten years ago. Chester, Elgin, Gillford, Richland, Highland, Plainview and Zumbro, all showing a larger rate of increase than Lake City, the balance of the township a much smaller ratio. There was a decided increase in the amount of grain shipments from Lake City during this year as compared with 1867, but prices did not rule so high. Total wheat shipments were 502,288 bushels, and about 4,000 bushels of barley. A census taken in this year by Abner Tibbetts, the assessor, gave 3,031 as the population of the town of Lake City, an estimate a little higher than the United States census returns of two years later seemed to warrant. The amount expended in building improvements for the year was about $28,000 in excess of that of 1867, the total amount for 1868 being $102,750.
The inhabitants of the city were forcibly reminded in the beginning of this year that they were not quite out of the woods, by the advent of an immense wild-cat, which crossed the lake on the evening of January 11, and raided the chicken-house of David Lalaw, near the lake, and piled his poultry in a heap, after sucking their blood. On being discovered, he went out through the sash, and, taking refuge in Willis’ warehouse, was shot. He was described as of immense size, almost as large as a wolf. These “varmints” were quite common in the Wisconsin woods across the lake, but their advent in the streets of Lake City was something unusual.
During the year 1869 the question of voting aid to the reorganized St. Paul and Chicago Railway Company was the all-absorbing theme. Of this mention has already been made.
On July 9 a tornado, the first ever seen in Wabasha county within historic periods, struck the county, inflicting considerable damage in Mount Pleasant township, where three dwellings were destroyed, some stock killed, but no persons injured, with the exception of L. C. Carson’s little girl, who was carried about one hundred and fifty feet and considerably bruised. The storm seemed to be identical in character with those that have recently devastated portions of this and Olmsted counties, and its descent into Lake Pepin and passage across, about one mile below town, are described as peculiarly grand and terrible. It appears to have formed on the highland between Read’s Landing and the West Albany roads, and swept over the bluff back of Morrison Lake, near the O’Hara House, and descended to Lake Pepin. Its path was nearly three hundred yards wide, and where it descended the steep bluff, brush and sapling were scooped out by the roots and scarifications made in the soil. Trees, fences, telegraph-poles, and whatever came in its path as it swept toward the lake, was carried into the air and hurled in all directions, its progress being accompanied by a tremendous roar that drowned the noise of the hoarse thunder then reverberating through the air. As it approached the lake, so says an eye-witness, it appeared a funnel-shaped cloud whirling about one hundred yards above the surface of the water, diagonally inclining toward the water. It gradually assumed an upright position, descending in its course until it commenced drawing up the waters of the lake, which rose to meet it. It was about fifteen minutes in passing over the lake, and the waters for nearly three hundred yards diameter were in a state of agitation impossible to describe. The water was mixed with the dust and debris carried from the shore, and there was a strange play of light within the cloud, which gave it the appearance of a lake on fire. When it reached the Wisconsin shore it had greatly diminished in breadth, but swept the waters out on the beach in a column thirty to forty yards wide and twenty feet above the ordinary lake level. As it rose, the bluff side, to pass over into the valley beyond, the trees that it lifted were plainly seen from the watchers on the shore at this point sailing away in the whirling death-dance of the tornado. Its force was so great that whole oak-trees, thirty inches in diameter, were twisted completely off, their stumps remaining to tell how powerful must have been the force excited. The storm crossed the lake about six o’clock in the evening, and when about midway the lake, the sun broke through the dun-colored clouds in the west, and a beautiful rainbow crowned the head of the tornado and rode upon it as upon the wings of the wind over to the Wisconsin shore, ~ Nature’s presentation of “beauty and the beast” on a gorgeous scale, within the beautiful amphitheater of bluff-crowned Pepin.
The city continued to show a gratifying increase in trade and improvements. The amount expended in buildings was $109,000. The shipments of grain were much in excess of previous years; barley began to assume importance as an item of freight, and flour shipments largely increased also. The shipments of wheat this season were 618,531 bushels, which, with the 23,800 barrels of flour, equivalent to 119,000 additional bushels at that time, and the 86,165 remaining in store, would give a total of 823,696 bushels of wheat as the season’s business. To this may be added 20,645 bushels of barley, and some other shipments of oats and corn not tabulated, which would bring the grain business of the season to about 850,000 bushels.
The year 1870 was that in which the United States census was taken, and the returns as filed by the enumerator gave the town of Lake City a total population of two thousand six hundred and eight, of whom two thousand one hundred and seventeen were within what may be denominated the limits of the city. This was somewhat less than was expected, as from the assessor’s returns of 1868 it was confidently believed that the population would not fall below three thousand.
The winter of 1869-70 a rivalry arose among the various drivers along the stage-route from La Crosse northward as to the quickest possible time between the terminus of the railroad, La Crosse, and Lake City. On Wednesday, February 9, one of the up-stages left La Crosse at 7:15 A.M., and making stoppages aggregating fifty-eight minutes at Winona, Minneiska and Wabasha, reached Lake City at 4:38 P.M., making the distance of eighty-eight miles in nine hours and twenty-three minutes, or, deducting stoppages, in eight hours and twenty-five minutes. It was not always, however, that the drivers were so fortunate. The south-bound stage on December 28 went through the ice about three miles above Read’s Landing, drowning the wheel horses and losing express, mails and freight. Two passengers on board escaped, one dry-shod, one with an ice-bath in Pepin. The mails, express and freight, with the coach, were hooked up by a party of volunteers from Read’s Landing, and the horses only were a total loss.
This year witnessed the organization of the First National bank, and the completion of the Methodist Episcopal church so far as to enable the society to occupy the basement, which they did, on December 18. These matters will be more fully treated of under “churches” and “Banks.” The expenditures for buildings during the year footed up $88,125. The volume of grain business was: Shipped, wheat, 861,000 bushels; barley, 62,100 bushels; oats, 27,000 bushels; corn, 3,000 bushels. The shipments of flour were not tabulated. There is a record of one shipment of eight hundred barrels, and as there was considerable local Wisconsin demand, it is within bounds to say that of wheat (and the equivalent in flour), barley, oats and corn, the actual shipments from the wharves here were in excess of one million one hundred thousand bushels.
The year 1871 marked an era in the history of the town of Lake City, and was the beginning of the end of that anomalous existence in which the city that was not a city enjoyed all the privileges of a full-fledged corporate existence. As before cited, it was during this year that the attempt to incorporate through petition to the judge of probate was made. The retiring board of town supervisors made a tabulated report of the town business at the close of their term of office, March 14, 1871, for which, at the town meeting held on that date, they were handsomely complimented in a resolution of thanks, as also for their efficiency and economy in the management of the town business. The meeting also expressed the hope that their successors would imitate their good example, and furnish each year a full statement to the press for publication. The year’s expenditures for bridges, roads, streets, drains, tools for road-work, etc., were $853.48. The ordinary town expenses were $536.26. Legal services in the county-seat contest were $591.53, and for building a lock-up they had expended $378. With uncollected taxes, taxes levied, delinquent highway tax and cash, the total assets of the town from these sources were $9,128.89; town bonds, town orders, and bond orders outstanding, with interest to date, $4,595.58. The treasurer’s report showed total receipts for the year, $7,140.73; all accounts audited and a balance in the treasury of $334.47.
The Patrons of Husbandry organized a grange of the order in Lake City, June 3, and steps were taken to consolidate the work of the grange throughout the county, so as to secure some practical results.
This year was rendered memorable by the completion of the railway to this place, and the arrival of the long-expected locomotive. The track-layers crossed the county-line from the north on Tuesday, July 11, and by nightfall the rails were laid half-way through town. On the 25th regular trains were put on between Lake City and St. Paul, and the road at the south was rapidly extending itself up the river. Work on the depot here was being rapidly pushed and matters wore a very businesslike air about the railroad terminus, the only objection to which was its location so far from the business portion of the city. The first through train for Winona came down on Wednesday, September 6, and the following day regular trips commenced over the road. One train a day each way, meeting in this city at 1:15 P.M., was the arrangement, and it was no longer possible to say the upper river towns were out of the world six months of the year. On Friday, October 13, the United States mails were brought in on the trains, and so closed the old era of stages and steamboats as mail transports for Lake City. The new order of things was brought about by the personal attention of congressman Averill, who gave a day of his time in Washington to matters and secured the benefits of railway mails without the usual delay.
This year was also marked by the organization of the public library and the opening of its shelves to the reading public. The matter was consummated August 22 by the organization of the Lake City Library Association, with the following board of officers and trustees, who also constituted the directory: J. Fletcher, president; Mrs. C. A. Jewell, vice-president; W. J. McMaster, secretary; C. W. Hackett, treasurer; L. H. Garrard, C. A. Wood, Mrs. Hulett, Mrs. Williamson, Mrs. Guernsey, trustees. About the middle of November the reading-room in Richardson’s block, on Center street, was opened. It was a free reading-room, neatly and comfortably furnished, and provided with all the leading northwestern dailies, as also those of New York and Washington. Foreign reviews and home periodicals were provided, and the doors thrown open every evening at half-past six o’clock, made it a very desirable place for young people to visit, and was a decided rival to the saloons. The library began to arrive about the middle of December, the first installment consisting of two hundred and seventy volumes, to which, two weeks later, many more were added. These, with occasional donations, gave at the close of the year a very respectable selection from which to make choice, and the opportunity was not neglected. To add to the attractions of the association, a lecture course was organized, and during the winter seven lectures delivered under its auspices. The report of the school directors of the Lake City district also showed a very satisfactory condition of educational affairs, as will appear under the head of “Lake City schools.”
Elevators were erected during the fall and winter along the railroad track, and a decided impetus was given to business, already flourishing, by the advent of railway communication. Other things seemed also to have come in with the railway, which were not so acceptable. Lake City wheat buyers had long before established the policy of paying as high prices for grain as the market would possibly justify, and this because it was just to the producer, conserved the interests of the trade of the city, gave the market at this point the preference over others, and so centered trade at this point. In order to compete with the buyers in this market, shippers at other points were therefore necessitated to pay the very top price the market would justify, and the speculators concluded to manipulate the market at this point. All the large wheat-buying houses were interested in the scheme: Calver & Graves, of Duluth; Kellogg & Mann and Angus Smith & Co., of Milwaukee; the Davidson and the Diamond Jo line of steamers were all interested. An arrangement was effected with the Lake City warehousemen by which a uniform price of twenty-five cents below the Milwaukee quotations should be paid for wheat in this market, and all profits were to be pooled. The monopoly extended wherever the river and railway lines extended, and as the freight was only twelve cents, commissions one cent, elevator charges one cent, and cost of buying three cents ~ at which there was a good profit ~ the cost of wheat here was justly within seventeen cents of the Milwaukee quotations, a clear gain beyond legitimate trade profits of eight cents per bushel, or a dead loss of that amount to the wheat raisers of the state. The merchants and press of the city opened upon the combination, and an agitation was begun by which, within thirty days, the ring was completely “busted” ~ as it was graphically expressed ~ and a return to honorable competition became once more the order of the day. Controlling as they did the whole wheat purchases of the market, the transportation lines forbid all warehousemen from paying more than the dictated price, from buying any wheat or shipping on his own account, or from receiving into the warehouse grain which had been purchased above the stipulated price. The large wheat merchants of the centralized markets and the transportation companies enforced, or attempted to enforce, their measures, by making non-compliance a ground of expulsion from the market, and set their own spies, with power to enter a warehouseman’s office and examine his books, as a special police to enforce these regulations. The reputable wheat merchants of the city had entered very reluctantly into the arrangement at the outset, and only acquiesced under protest, to see how matters would turn out, not clearly seeing the depth of the business to which they were asked to commit themselves. The “ring” lasted about three weeks, and then collapsed, dishonesty getting so distrustful of its partners, that the Duluth members, finding their own interests suffering through the keener operations of their eastern partners, suddenly withdrew from the combination, and wheat went up by a rebound to within ten cents of the Milwaukee market. During the continuance of the monopoly, wheat here was lower than in the adjacent cities off the river and St. Paul railway, and the receipts were largely diminished. As a result, the members of the ring, no longer in combination, were pitted against each other, and the following week (after Duluth withdrew) the price ruled twenty to twenty-five cents higher than at Rochester, and by Saturday night the grand total of $130,520.20 had been paid for grain received in this city.
The improvements for the year 1871 were largely in excess of all previous years, and some of them of a very costly and substantial character. The list aggregated $150,000. The more important structures were: W. H. Lyon’s brick block, on Lyon avenue, $35,000; C. F. Young’s block, $12,000; the Chicago & St. Paul railway depot and improvements, $9,4000; John McBride’s brick store, $8,000; George Patton & Son, store, $8,000, dwelling, $8,000; H. Gillett, foundry, $5,000, and Amsbry & Fletcher, elevator, &5,000. The most important ~ or certainly not the least important ~ of the changes and improvements made this year, was the widening of Pearl street, now Lyon avenue, from a width of seventy to that of ninety feet. This work was the liberal donation of Mr. W. H. Lyon, of New York, who had extensive property interest in the city, and has always been liberal in devising for the little city by the lake. What property he did not own he purchased from High street to the lake, and, setting the buildings back the required distance, opened a street ninety feet in width. Purchasing some blocks about the depot, also, he meditated the widening of the entire street from the lake to the city limits, but was temporarily prevented by the owners of some property along the streets. The city, however, in 1873, took the matter in hand, condemned the lots that jutted out into the street (of which there were only three), and gave the city a beautiful avenue of the uniform width of ninety feet throughout its entire length. Other improvements meditated at the time, and which would have been of immense advantage to the city, were prevented by shortsighted opposition to Mr. Lyon’s plans, which so nettled him that he abandoned them and made his investments elsewhere.
From the assessor’s books of this year we gather the following statistics of the property, real and personal, and the agricultural products, stock, etc.
The report of the board of supervisors for the year ending March 12, 1872, the last in which the town and city were to be included together, showed that the total expenses for highways, bridges, sidewalks, crossings, sewers, city marshal’s salary, etc., was $2,025.25. The assessed valuation of town property was $638,767.00.
Notwithstanding the failure to incorporate the city under the provisions of the general law of 1870, known as the judge of probate act, and under which, as before notices, an attempt at incorporation was made in 1871, the incorporation at an early day was accepted as certain. The failure in 1871 arose from the uncertainty of the nature of the act, more than from any other cause. According, on the assembly of the legislature in the winter of 1871-2, an act of incorporation for the city claimed attention. A charter had been duly prepared embodying the views of those who had interested themselves in this matter, and a bill granting the charter prayed for was introduced by Mr. Thompson, representative from this district, early in the session. This bill passed the house under suspension of the rules on February 19, was as favorably received by the senate when it came before them the following day, was approved on the 26th of the month, and became of effect from and after its passage. The city limits as defined under the charter were materially enlarged from what had constituted the special district exercising municipal powers under the administration of the supervisors of the town of Lake City. The new corporation retained the old name “Lake City,” and its boundaries as described in the act were: “Beginning at the northwest corner of the N.E. 1/4 of Sec. 6, in T. 111 N., of R. 12 W., running thence south one and one-half miles to the center of section 7 in said township, thence east along the quarter-section line and the continuance thereof to the center of Lake Pepin, thence up the middle of said lake to a point due east of the termination of the line between townships Nos. 111 and 112, thence to and along said line west to the place of beginning. Otherwise described, the city limits, so much of them at least as were not covered by the waters of Lake Pepin, extended west from the lake shore, along the line separating Wabasha and Goodhue counties, a distance of one and a half miles, thence south one and one-half miles, thence east two and one-half miles to the lake shore, thence northwesterly along the irregular shore line to the boundary of the county on the north. The landed area of the city as thus defined embraced about three and one-quarter sections of land; and there was not far from the same area covered by the waters of the lake. The city as thus limited was divided into wards, as follows: All that part of said territory lying and being westward of a line beginning in the southern boundary of said territorial limits at a point twenty-seven and one-half (rods) west of the center of section 8, in T. 111 N., of R. 12 W., thence along the middle of the public road north to a point where a line running through the center of Pearl street in the plotted town of Lake City continued southwestward will intersect the same; thence north-westwardly by said line running through middle of Pearl street and the continuation thereof to Greenwood avenue, thence through the alley between blocks E and F in said town of Lake City, thence northerly to the northern boundary of said territorial limits, shall constitute the first ward. All that part of said territorial limits lying and being eastward of said described of said territorial limits lying and being eastward of said described lines constitute the second ward. The error in this description is in making Pearl street run northwesterly, ~ should be northeasterly. The division of the city into wards may at present be practically stated to be by a line running through the center of Lyon avenue and extending from the southern limits of the city to the lake. This does not differ materially from the division as expressed in the act, the city limits and ward boundaries remaining practically as they existed at the time the charter was granted. The elective offices, as established by the charter, were: For the city ~ mayor, treasurer, recorder; for the wards ~ one alderman (except at first election, when one should be elected for one year), one justice of the peace and one constable, for each ward, whose terms of office should be for two years. The terms of office of city treasurer and recorder were fixed at two years, mayor to be elected annually. All candidates to office, to be eligible, must be residents within the city limits and qualified voters. The first Tuesday in April in each year was designated as the day for holding the charter election, of which ten days’ previous notice was to be given by the common council, in which notice time and place of holding election, and the offices to be filled, would be set forth. Provision was also made for removals from office by a fourth-fifths vote of the aldermen of the city, all such removals to be for cause after due trial or notice of trial to accused, the specific process in which was fully laid down. The city wards as established by law were to constitute the electoral districts for all state and county elections as well as municipal; a refusal on the part of any officer-elect to qualify within ten days of his election, or his removal from the city, vacated the office; the ward alderman and one legalized voter from each ward, to be designated by the council, should constitute the board of judges of elections, and all elections were to be conducted in the same manner as provided for in holding state and county elections; officers-elect were to be duly notified by the recorder of their election; terms of office were to be from the second Tuesday of April in the year in which the election was made, and continue one year, unless otherwise specified; failure to elect on the day designated was made cause sufficient for holding a new election, of which, as in the case of the regular elections, the council were to give ten days’ notice. The appointive officers of the city were attorney, marshal, assessor, street commissioner, and such others as the council might see fit to elect, and the terms of office of city attorney and assessor were fixed at two years each; that of street commissioner, for one year. The mayor and aldermen were debarred from receiving any compensation for their services as such officers, and the compensation of the city recorder was limited to the sum of one hundred dollars per annum. The treasurer’s fees were made to conform to the law fixing the fees of town treasurer, and the recorder was prohibited from being directly or indirectly interested in any contract, job or loan, in which the city is a party or negotiator. Provision was also made for city printing, by designating one paper printed in the city, in which all proceedings, ordinances, acts or by-laws requiring to be published shall be printed, and it was made the duty of said city printer to file with the recorder a copy of all such publication, with affidavit of time that same has been published, and such affidavit shall be conclusive evidence of its publication. All city contracts in which any alderman might be interested were thereby rejected, and money paid on such contracts was made recoverable by law, as against all such contractors. The general powers of the council were amply set forth in the charter, and covered all matters of the well-being, peace, healthfulness, good conduct and safety of the city, as well as all matters affecting her credit and finances: as, to regulate and prescribe fees for all exhibitions, shows, auctions, sports, sale of liquors, spirituous, vinous or fermented; to abate gambling, drunkenness, disorderly persons, houses of prostitution, and all nuisances, physical and moral alike; to prevent fast and reckless driving in the streets, or the incumbrance of streets, sidewalks, public grounds, etc., by any unnecessary articles; to prevent all cattle, swine, poultry, etc., from running at large; to make and establish public cisterns, hydrants, and other receptacles for water, and control all waterworks established; to regulate and control all carrying of passengers and freight within the city, by hacks, omnibuses, trucks or other like vehicles, and to provide for lighting the public streets and grounds; to make all necessary market regulations, provide for board of health, establish hospitals, to regulate runners or porters, and other soliciting agents, for boats, cars, hotels, etc.; to regulate the sale of combustibles, and prevent the use of firearms in such way as to endanger life, comfort or property; to provide standard weights and measures, and for the inspection of liquors and provisions, measurement of materials for building, and the appointment of the necessary officers for such inspection; to prescribe fire-limits, and make all needed regulations fo prevent their occurrence and spreading; to provide workhouse for persons convicted of offense, and put such offenders at work therein, or upon the streets of the city; to establish a fire department and purchase the necessary engines, hose, and other apparatus, and to exempt members of such fire department, after certain terms of service, from poll-tax, jury service or militia duty.
All ordinances were to receive the affirmative vote of a majority of the council, be approved and signed by the mayor, and published in the official paper of the city for ten days before becoming law; and provision was made for auditing all accounts of officers and agents of the city, and making full record of the settlements made. Their powers in levying taxes, collecting and disbursing same, were duly declared, as also their control of the streets and sidewalks, alleys and public grounds, and methods of procedure in all cases specifically set forth. All property of the fire departments, or of the several companies that might compose it, all market-houses and their furniture, city-hall and council-room furniture, pounds and the lots on which they stand, and school property, was exempted from levy and sale under execution, save in the case of action of sellers of property to recover for property thus sold to the city. All private property was exempted from levy and sale for city corporation debts; all contracts for city work were to be to lowest bidder, of whom a bond was to be required for all contracts in excess of twenty-five dollars, unless work was done under supervision of some city officer. All city property was made free from taxation, and the power of the city to purchase, hold or lease both real and personal property for the city was specifically declared. By the same act of incorporation it was enacted that “all that part of the town of Lake City, not included in the limits of the said city of Lake City, under this act, shall constitute and be a town by the name of ‘Lake,’ with all the authorities, rights and powers of towns under the laws of this state.”
Section 112 of chapter 8 of the charter authorized and empowered Asa B. Doughty, Merrell Dwelle and Carlos Clement to appoint three discreet and judicious persons in each ward to act as judges of the election to be held on the first Tuesday of April, 1872; and also to locate and provide a place in each ward for holding the election. March 30, 1872, under call previously published, a union caucus for the nomination of city officers, irrespective of political parties, was held at the opera house, and a ticket put in nomination. The ward caucuses were held after the general caucus, one at the opera house and one at the Washington street school building. The caucus was numerously attended, and the proceedings were of a character to show a deep interest on the part of the best citizens that a city government of approved ability should be chosen. The nominations were made, and on the following Tuesday, April 2, 1872, the polls were opened for the first charter election for the city of Lake City. The official returns are as follows:
The total vote cast was five hundred and twenty-nine. The vote in the town of Lake (the election in March having gone by default, that the city and town elections might be held on the same day and all conflictions avoided) was seventy-six, making a total vote in city and town of six hundred and five, an increase of ninety-seven over the vote polled at the presidential election in 1868, and an increase of sixty-six over the state election of the previous fall. The ratio of five inhabitants to one vote would thus give Lake City at the time of incorporation a population of twenty-six hundred and forty-five. It was generally conceded that the city officers-elect were as good timber for the new city government as could have been selected, and the result was hailed by the citizens as an omen of a good administration of city affairs. The first informal meeting of the officers-elect was held on April 6, and an adjournment made to the evening of the 9th, at which time the members of the council were all present and took their respective oaths of office. Treasurer’s bond was fixed at twenty thousand dollars; constables at one thousand dollars each; a copy of the city charter (official) was received. The city printing was awarded to Messrs. McMasters & Spaulding, and a committee of two appointed to complete contract for printing. F. M. Wilson, Esq., was elected city attorney, and J. W. Matthews street commissioner. The city attorney-elect, with aldermen Dwelle, Bartlett and Manning, were appointed a committee to draft ordinances and report as early as practicable. Messrs. Manning and Bartlett were appointed a committee to secure valuation of taxable property in city and town, for the purpose of an understanding settlement between the city and the town of Lake. At the meeting of council held on the 28th inst., Elijah Stout was chosen assessor by a unanimous vote, street commissioner’s bond was fixed at one thousand dollars for the current year, and the committee on settlement between the city and the town of Lake reported, and they were instructed to draw up an agreement to be signed by the proper officers, to perfect settlement. This was accordingly done, and the settlement made. By the terms of this agreement all moneys on hand, whether in hands of town or city treasurer, were to be divided between the city and town, according to the assessed valuation of property in each, and all unpaid accounts were to be paid by each in the same proportion. The assessed valuation of city property was found to be $536,787; of town property, $102,000; the money standing to the credit of the former town of Lake City, after all outstanding orders were paid, amounted to $1,932.60. Of this sum the town received $337.13 and the city $1,595.47. The committee on city ordinances performed their work as expeditiously as possible, and presented the results of their work to the council before the close of the month. The ordinances as reported, and adopted by the council during this month, were by title as follows: Restraining the running at large of horses, cattle, swine and other animals; licensing shows, caravans, circuses, theatrical performances, billiard tables, bowling-saloons, auctioneers, ordinaries, hawkers, pawnbrokers, money-changers and other persons; licensing and regulating the sale of spirituous liquors and the keeping of billiard tables, pigeon-hole tables, shooting-galleries and ten-pin or bowling alleys in saloons; creating a board of health and defining its duties; relating to misdemeanors; relating to disorderly houses and houses of ill-fame; establishing a city prison; regulating the planting of shade and ornamental trees within the city and for protecting the same; also to prevent the obstructing of streets, sidewalks and crossings of streets; establishing the duties and powers of city marshal; concerning streets, sidewalks and alleys; relating to nuisances; establishing a night police within the city; to provide for the safe keeping of powder; licensing dogs. An ordinance creating fire limits, and establishing regulations for the erection of buildings within such limits, was passed on May 4; and on December 21 following, an ordinance providing a market for the sake of hay, straw and wood within the city, and for weighing and measuring the same, was adopted. The fire limits included all of blocks one, two and three, blocks nine to sixteen inclusive, and twenty-three to twenty-six inclusive. All buildings within the limits were to be of fire-proof material, but some portions of this territory were exempted from a rigid construction of this ordinance, at the discretion of the council. This limit included practically that portion of the city enclosed between Chestnut, Park, High and Dwelle streets. The portion in which this ordinance was to be strictly enforced without exception included the territory bounded by Franklin, Main, Pearl and Marion streets, the lots in the surrounding blocks facing these streets.
Pages 823 to 830
The situation of Lake City, on the shore of the lake, at some distance from its outlet or its inlet, has always had the effect of curtailing its trade, cutting off as it practically does almost all, or at least a great part, of the trade to the north and east and southeast. Repeated attempts have been made to overcome this disadvantage of location by establishing ferries or subsidizing them to a certain extent, with the view of drawing trade from the lake villages and the territory contiguous thereto on the Wisconsin shore. This attempt has not been very successful, and it is to be doubted if the maintenance of a ferry at this point will ever pay the expenses of its maintenance. The attempt to make successful bids for trade over ferry routes on the Mississippi, under much more favorable auspices, at other points has not as yet been very successful. The ferry at Winona, for instance, costing the city yearly considerable more than the cost of its maintenance, and that over a route less than one-fourth the distance across Lake Pepin at this point. Not only so, but the little coasting steamers plying upon the lake will always, and necessarily, become formidable rivals to any ferry company attempting to maintain regular communication across the river and return without making trips to the adjacent villages on either shore. The patronage of the one being confined to the direct travel across the lake, the other including all travel across and upon the lake for miles in every direction. The width of the lake and the character of the navigation, the water being at times very rough, require good substantial boats. The cost of navigating and maintaining these is too great for the patronage that can be secured, and loss is the inevitable result, or at least has been, of every attempt to maintain a ferry here. The first regular, or perhaps, more properly speaking, irregular, communication across the lake, for passengers only, was established in the closing years of the war by Capt. J. Hull, of Maiden Rock Village, Wisconsin, who ran a small sloop-rigged sailboat, the Daisy, from Maiden Rock to Lake City, a distance of about eight miles. In 1866 Capt. John Doughty, of this place, put a sloop-rigged sailboat, called the Union, upon the lake. This boat was capable of carrying seventy-five persons comfortably, and for three years it was sailed here by the captain, making trips across the lake and coasting its shores as pleasure-parties or the demands of business required. After doing duty for three years as a sailboat, the sails were taken out, a small engine put in, and the young propeller, christened the Winfred, navigated the lake one year, was a financial loss to the owner and discontinued. Two boats were upon this part of the lake that season, the May Queen being the name of the other, which was afterward taken to Bear lake, and burned there some years later. In the year 1870 Capt. Nelson put a regular ferry on the lake between this city and the village of Stockholm, directly opposite on the Wisconsin shore. This was a sailboat and was exclusively for passenger traffic. Matters were in this condition until 1879, when Wm. B. Lutz and W. W. Scott received a charter, conferring on them, for a period of ten years, the exclusive right of keeping and maintaining a ferry across the Mississippi river at the town of Lake City, in the county of Wabasha, and State of Minnesota, at any point within one and one-half miles northwesterly or southeasterly up and down said river, from a point where the center line of Center street in said town continued northeasterly will strike said river. The charter required the parties therein named to give bonds in the sum of one thousand dollars to perform the duties set forth in the act, which was specific as to the time of running, charges or tolls to be levied for ferriage, fines to be imposed for failure of the said Lutz & Scott to give prompt attendance upon all parties desiring to cross the ferry between the hours of 7 A.M. and 7 P.M. between the dates of May 15 and November 15 in each year, unless prevented by ice, high winds or other cause which would render the attempt to cross dangerous or imprudent.
By act of legislature of 1873 the time of franchise was extended to fifteen years, and the time of opening the ferry from twenty to thirty months, and of filing bond from eighteen to thirty months, from the passage of the act of March 4, 1872. A similar franchise was owned by parties on the Wisconsin shore, and this was purchased, together with a barge owned by said parties, by Messrs. Lutz & Scott, and preparations made for establishing a steam ferry; but Mr. Lutz was stricken with partial paralysis, incapacitated from attending to any business for two years, and nothing was done with the franchise, which expired in due time by limitation. Pending the expiration of this charter in the fall of 1873, a proposition was made to the city to purchase the franchises on both sides of the river (or Lake), together with the two lots on the Wisconsin shore (at their actual cost to the owners of the charter), and give a bonus or loan to some responsible parties, who should undertake, under bonds, to establish and maintain a ferry for a given term of years. Anticipating some necessity of this kind as likely to arise, the city council, in February, 1873, had secured the passage by the state legislature of the ferry-bond act, authorizing them to issue the bonds of the city to the amount of $2,5000 in aid of a ferry, provided the legal voters of the city so desired. The matter was submitted to the electors at the charter election held April 1, 1873, and the proposition was snowed under by a vote of 295 against issue to 83 in favor of issue. This attempt having failed, the sum of $800, in shares of $25 each, was subscribed for the purchase of the charter held by Messrs. Lutz & Scott. This sum was raised in April, 1873, but no purchase of the charter was effected, and in the following September negotiations were entered into with Capt. Murphy, looking to the permanent establishment of a steam-ferry. Mr. Murphy’s proposition was, that in consideration of the sum of $2,5000, and the franchise for a term of fifteen years, he would put himself under approved bonds to maintain the ferry for that length of time. The sum of $2,500 was raised, but the matter had dragged, and before the result was announced to Mr. Murphy, he had made other arrangements, and the whole matter fell through. In the meantime Capt. Murray, of the little steamer Pepin, had been making regular trips around the lake, touching at Maiden Rock, Stockholm and Pepin, on the Wisconsin side, and at Frontenac and Lake City on the Minnesota shore, with occasional trips to Read’s Landing. His little steamer was sometimes accompanied by a barge, on which merchandise and passengers were transported, but it was not suited to the purpose. Accordingly in the season of 1874, early in May, a subscription was started to procure money to build a barge or boat to be used in carrying teams and passengers between this city and the Wisconsin shore. Meetings were held, committees appointed, funds raised, a boat built at an expense of about $500, and Messrs. Doe, J. G. Richardson, Farron, Baldwin and Murray were appointed a committee to make a written contract with Capt. O. N. Murray, of the steamer Pepin, to operate the ferry. On Thursday, July 16th, the first regular trip was made in the city’s own boat; the mayor and common council in attendance, and the landing made upon the other shore in seventeen minutes, according to the time given by a local reporter. The city barge had a capacity of six teems and as many passengers as could crowd on. Trips were made at 9 A.M. and at 4 P.M., for which the free use of the barge was granted Capt. Murray. The rest of his time was devoted to his regular coasting trips around the lakes.
That fall, 1874, the charter of the Messrs. Lutz & Scott expired, and in the following spring, by special act of legislature, the franchise for a ferry was granted to the city, with power to operate or lease at their discretion. This charter gave the city the exclusive right to maintain a ferry within the corporate limits of the city, and the territory extending one-half mile beyond said limits on the north and west. In case the city council should lease the ferry to be carried on by other parties, the duration of said lease was not to exceed ten years, and the city was also required to reserve such rights as would empower them to terminate the lease at any time by equitable payment to the lessee for outlay in construction of docks, levees, breakwater, etc. The city council were also empowered to regulate the charges for ferriage and control the place for the landing of boats, and provide such regulations as would insure the comfort and safety of passengers. And all grants or lease on the part of the city under the provisions of this charter were so by ordinance of the council duly passed and signed as in the case of all other ordinances, and the lessee under such ordinance was to file such bond, for the proper maintenance of the ferry according to the regulations prescribed, as the council should deem sufficient and equitable. During the years 1875 and 1876, the exclusive right to the ferry charter was granted to Capt. Murray, and during those years the communication between Lake City and the Wisconsin shore was maintained as it had been in 1874. Early in the spring of 1877 a joint stock company, with a capital of ten thousand dollars, was organized for the purpose of maintaining and operating a ferry at this point, such as would establish regular communications at all hours of the day with the Wisconsin shores, and not merely for a morning and evening trip. The company was named the Lake City Ferry and Transportation Company. This company purchased the franchises held by Milison, Sandburg & Co., of the ferry privileges on the Wisconsin shore, and secured a lease of the Minnesota franchise from the common council of this city, together with the barge or boat belonging to the city, for the term of ten years from and after April 3, 1877. The company, by the terms of the ordinance, was required to provide a good, safe steamboat for the transportation of teams and passengers; that not less than six trips per day were to be made during the season of navigation, and the Wisconsin landings were designated “to or near the village of Stockholm, and to or near the mouth of Bogus creek in the county of Pepin.” The city, by the terms of the ordinance, absolved itself from all responsibility in the matter of expenses incurred, which were to be met by the transportation company without claim upon the city, but the city was to furnish them the use of the barge and confer the rights of the franchise without charge. A rate of tolls or charges was established by the ordinance, as follows: Each team of two animals with vehicle, loaded or unloaded, together with driver, fifty cents; single animal with carriage attached, fifty cents; horse, cow, ox or mule, without carriage, twenty-five cents each; each sheep or swine, ten cents; wagon or carriage without team attached, twenty-five cents, and merchandise for the sum of twenty-five cents per hundred pounds. The ferry company were to keep the barge of the city in good repair and return it to the city at the expiration of their lease or use of it, in good condition as when received, except the usual and unavoidable wear and tear. The company was also to own and continue to own the franchise on the Wisconsin shore as a condition precedent to the continuation by the city of the grant of its charter. The ferry company was composed of responsible business men in Lake City, who were desirous of maintaining more frequent communication with the Wisconsin shore, believing the same would be beneficial to the trade of the city. The books of the company were burned in the disastrous fire of 1882, which almost wiped out the business houses of the city, and it is impossible to give a list of the stockholders. The first board of directors were: John J. Doughty, H. Gillett, J. C. Stout, Wm. Campbell, W. J. Hahn and H. D. Stocker. They immediately purchased the steamer Clipper, which had been sold under the hammer by the United States marshal, Capt. Raney, paying therefor the sum of fifteen hundred dollars.
The Clipper was a boat of about twenty-eight feet beam; length over all about seventy feet. Her hull was new, having been built only the season before, and she was really a staunch built craft. Her engines, however, were old and comparatively worthless, and not at all adequate for the work required of her. The company expended about two thousand dollars on repairing the boat, building cabin, etc., and she was run during the season of 1877 with the old engines. During the winter of 1878 she was supplied with new engines, and some other improvements, upon which the company expended a further sum of three thousand dollars. This latter amount was refunded the company by special vote of the citizens, and this was the only subsidy ever received. The cost of maintaining the ferry was too great for the receipts derived from the freight and passenger and other transportation charges, and there was year by year a growing diminution of capital.
When four seasons had been passed in this way, the regular trade over the ferry line, continually cut into by the coasting steamers plying along both shores of the lake, and the low rate of transportation keeping receipts at a minimum, the company called a halt. It was found that the original stock had been absorbed, as also the three thousand dollars bonus received from the city and the amount received for transportation during the four years the company had been operating the line. This latter sum aggregated about as much as the others, making a total sum of twenty-six thousand dollars expenses for four years’ ferry maintenance. Under this condition of affairs the directors concluded to wind up the affairs of the company and dispose of the assets. This was done. The steamer was put up at auction and bid in by Messrs. Stout & Post, two of the stockholders, for an amount equal to the company’s liabilities, ~ about eighteen hundred dollars. The franchise on the Wisconsin shore had been placed in the hands of the city council, and also a mortgage upon the boats of the company, as security to the city that the company would maintain the ferry a given number of years. This was done in 1878, when the bonus of three thousand dollars was given by the city. These franchises, thus the property of the city, were the property of Messrs. Post & Stout, so long as they fulfilled the obligations of the old ferry company. The city, retaining the franchises, released the mortgage upon the boat, at the request of the directors, upon showing how they had lost thousands of dollars in the attempt to maintain the ferry for the benefit of the city. Messrs. Post & Stout kept the ferry running during the season of 1881, and that fall closed out, having only added to their former losses by the attempt to continue the line in operation. They start their boat for Stillwater when the ferry season closed, intending to dispose of her to the trade there, but on the way up the river the pilot ran her on the government pier near Prescott, and there she remained during the winter. The following spring she was left to break up, her machinery taken out, and when high water came she floated off and the hull sunk some distance down stream. This was the last of the ferry steamer Clipper, and of the attempt to maintain a regular ferry at this point for the crossing of teams and passengers between Lake City and Stockholm.
In the spring of 1882, Murray & Lenhart resumed trips between the Wisconsin and Minnesota shores; and Murray dying, the firm became Lenhart & Collins, who are now (1883) running the steamer Pepin and barge from Lake City to Maiden Rock, Pepin and Stockholm, on the Wisconsin shores, making semiweekly trips to Read’s Landing, in this county. The attempt to maintain a regular ferry here has only proved disastrous to those engaged in it. Thousands of dollars were spent in the public-spirited attempt, from which the stockholders of the ferry company received no benefit, only such increase of trade, so many of them as were in business, that came to them from the Wisconsin shore. As related at the outset, the cost of maintaining the ferry over so wide a stream was too great to be met by the charges for transportation, and the majority of the citizens were unwilling to subsidize the ferry to the extent of guaranteeing the running expenses, not considering the returns in trade sufficient to justify the outlay.
Pages 831 - 839.
(You can find the transcript of the newspaper article concerning the fires on Tom Gerber's genealogy site. Browser "back" to return.)
Down to the date of the incorporation of the city in 1872, Lake City had suffered comparatively little from fires. December 9, 1870, the old grain warehouse on the Point, technically known as the Armstrong warehouse, and at the time of its destruction owned by Bartlette & Smith, was burned. The fire occurred at about eleven o'clock. The warehouses of Atkinson & Kellogg and Angus Smith & Co. were in close proximity on either side, and the problem was the salvation of these buildings. The pails standing at the doors of the grocery houses were unceremoniously seized by the hurrying hundred who started on the run for the Point, there being at that time no fire company or engine of any kind in the city. The people present worked with a will. The water of the lake afforded an ample supply, and as fast as the adjacent warehouses caught fire, they were extinguished by the crowds who swarmed upon the roofs and every available spot where an advantage could be taken of the situation and the contents of a water-pail be made effective. Burned hands, scorched faces and singed hair and clothing were the rule; but the situation was fully understood, and had the fire gained headway, there would have been more to follow. Pluck and water gained the day. The adjacent warehouses were saved, and no further destruction of property than that of the old Armstrong warehouse and its contents ensued. There were about seven thousand bushels of wheat in the warehouse at the time, six thousand bushels of which were a total loss, one thousand bushels being saved in a damaged condition. There was an insurance on the building of about thirteen hundred dollars. The grain in the warehouse was covered by about three thousand dollars insurance. There were some other warehouses, one stored full of tobacco, and an elevator at the depot burned prior to the incorporation of the city, but no very serious loss resulted in either case; the tobacco was fully covered by insurance.
On Sunday morning, April 20, 1872, at about three o'clock, an alarm of fire was sounded, and the lurid reflection upon the buildings and sky, as those who were aroused rushed into the streets, proved only too conclusively that a destructive fire was in progress, and had already made no little headway. The fire was found to be in Bessey & Burdett's wheat warehouse, on the lake shore near the city flouring-mills. The wind was fresh from the north, and carried the burning shingles and other light material for a long distance over the city, requiring constant vigilance and the application of water and wet blankets to prevent a general conflagration. The origin of the fire was never clearly ascertained; the building had taken fire on the afternoon before, probably from the spilling of a can of kerosene upon the floor near the stove, but the flames had been throughly extinguished, and a watch kept upon the premises until ten o'clock at night, when Mr. Burdette, who was on watch, went home. There were between eight thousand and nine thousand bushels of wheat in the warehouse at the time, fully covered by insurance. The building was one of the largest warehouses in town, and was a total loss, upon which there was no insurance. These fires had all been in the suburbs, or, more properly speaking, along the lake front of the city, and not in the heart of the business or residence portion.
The next call was nearer home, and up to the date of its occurrence was the most disastrous fire that had yet visited the city, involving a loss of about thirty-five hundred dollars, one-third of which was covered by insurance. This fire occurred in the evening of January 28, 1873, at which time flames were seen issuing from the cellar of Glines & Gould, druggists, on Main street. All efforts to reach the fire were unavailing, and it was only a few moments so inflammable were the contents of the cellar before the flames broke out, and it was with difficulty that the books and contents of the safe and money- drawer were saved. The buildings destroyed were, besides the drugstore, an unoccupied building adjoining, owned by Mrs. J. A. Waskey, Oliver Young's residence, which was torn down to prevent the spread of the fire, and for which he afterward claimed remuneration from the city. From the rear of the burning buildings on Main street, the fire communicated to the rear of Wise's block on Center street, cleaning out the saloons there in a hurry, and wrapping Hudderon's brick block adjoining in a sheet of fire. This block was partially occupied by the stock of J. E., Farron, general merchant, who succeeded in saving the greater portion of his goods in a damaged condition. Herrey's brick block (usually known as the Harley block) followed, and this was the last of the buildings consumed. The upper stories of this block were unoccupied, the corner storeroom was in possession of S. s. Ball, grocer and bookseller. Young's brick block and Herrey's wooden buildings, on the opposite side of Center street, were covered with wet blankets to keep the fire from licking them up, and in this they were successful. Glines, Gould & Co., lost, on building and stock, ten thousand dollars, on which there was about seventy-five hundred dollars of insurance. The occupants of private rooms in this building were losers to the extent of about five hundred dollars additional. Mrs. Waskey lost one thousand dollars, insurance eight hundred dollars; Mr. Young's loss was five hundred dollars, of which about two-thirds was, after much delay, paid by the city council. Were's block was valued at five thousand dollars, insured for sixteen hundred dollars. The saloon losses were about one thousand dollars, no insurance; Mr. Huddlesons's loss was over seven thousand dollars, uninsured. J. E. Farron's damage was covered by insurance. Gen. Herrey was insured for four thousand dollars, about one half of his loss. Other losses were all of a minor character, and did not aggregate much in excess of one thousand dollars.
The north side of town was the next visited, and again it was a grain house, this time upon the tracks of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway. The Boston elevator was the fated structure this time which was discovered to be on fire about three o'clock on the morning of March 12, 1875. The origin of this fire is also involved in mystery. It was first discovered by the watchman, breaking out overhead in the office, and doubtless originated in the end of the elevator adjoining the engine-room. The watchman, who was sleeping in the building at the time, found the fire had gained too much headway to leave any hope of saving the building. This elevator was built in the season of 1873 by a company of Boston capitalists, who had become interested in the future of the city. It was the most conspicuous building on the town site, was thoroughly constructed, well supplied with the best machinery for cleaning and elevating grain, and cost when finished about twenty thousand dollars. The insurance on building and machinery was twelve thousand five hundred dollars. There was a large amount of wheat in store at the time the fire occurred, probably about sixty- five thousand bushels; nearly one-third of this was saved in a damaged condition. Insurance upon grain was sixty thousand five hundred dollars. The company promptly adjusted all claims of farmers for wheat stored and resumed business in a rented storeroom, pending the erection of a new elevator. The smoke of this fire had hardly cleared from the sky, when the cry of fire again resounded upon the night air; this time a little nearer the business of the heart of the city, and among its manufacturing industries. This fire occurred not quite two weeks after the destruction of the Boston elevator. The fire broke out March 25, 1875, at the corner of Franklin and Center streets, in the large wooden building occupied by J. H. Emery as a blacksmith-shop. The wind was blowing a moderate breeze from the east, right in the direction of the other shops in the block, and the hotels on the other side of Lake avenue, kept by Messrs. Neal and Sexton, which were so seriously threatened that their destruction was regarded certain. The fire next spread to John Dobner's wagon and blacksmith shop, and then took in A. N. Curtis' carriage-making establishment, which, with Neal's barns with their contents in the rear of the shops, were totally destroyed. The fire had now reached Lake avenue, just across which were the hotels. Here a determined opposition to the further progress of the fire was made by the volunteer pail brigade, and after a heroic fight, in which men were completely exhausted and many burned, the fire was prevented crossing the street. The aggregate losses were in the vicinity of ten thousand dollars, upon which there was little insurance. Mr. Emery's loss was five hundred dollars, in tools; no insurance. The building he occupied was owned by David Timmerman, of Utica, New York, and was insured for twelve hundred dollars, about one-half its value. Mr. Dobner's loss, mostly in seasoned material and manufactured stock, aggregated six thousand dollars; insured for eighteen hundred dollars. A. N. Curtis' loss was fifteen hundred dollars; no insurance. Neal's barn, insured for four hundred dollars; loss above insurance, five hundred dollars. As before said, these fires, following so soon one upon the heels of the other, awakened public attention to the need of an efficient fire department, and its speedy organization was the result.
The fire department had been organized a little over three and a half years when it was called to battle with the most destructive fire that had heretofore visited the city, and whose ravages were not stayed (owing to an unfortunate circumstance over which the department had no control) until the First National Bank building, a brick structure, corner of Center and Washington streets, and seven wooden buildings were laid in ashes, involving a total loss of nearly seventy-five thousand dollars, about one-third of which was covered by insurance. The origin of the fire was never definitely ascertained. The flames were seen in the back part of J. F. Favrows' store, and spread rapidly in every direction. The alarm was given about one o-clock on the morning of November 16, 1879. The fire department was promptly at hand, and a telegraph despatch for aid was sent to Red Wing, which, owing to delays on train, did not reach here until about four o'clock, by which time the work of destruction was as complete as it was likely to be. The new arrivals did good service in cooling off safes and quenching the smouldering flames, for which the exhausted firemen of the city were deeply grateful. The fire gained headway through a whole hour, in which the fire engine was rendered absolutely useless by the supply pipe becoming choked with sand. About three years before the fire, after the other fire cisterns had been completed, it was deemed expedient to provide a water supply near the corner of Center street and Lake avenue, which would save about one hundred and fifty yards of hose connection with the lake in case of fire in the eastern or southeastern part of the city. The well was dug in the low ground east of Neal & Johns, to a point considerably below that to which the water would rise through the sand in case of extreme low water in the lake. This well was not cemented on the bottom, and the suction of the steamer's supply pipe drew the sand into this pipe and into the engine pumps, completely choking the engine, in fact packing it solid with sand and rendering it absolutely useless. During the hour spent in getting ready for even such work as in its damaged condition it could perform, the fire made fearful headway, sweeping round the corner of Washington street, and making clean work of everything between the bank corner and the heavy stone and brick-work of Patton & Son's store. The fire on Center street was not so destructive, and its progress was checked by the pail brigade and Babcock extinguishers so effectively that only one wooden building on the street adjoining the bank was burned down. Others were damaged, and stocks of goods so materially injured as to involve almost total loss; but the progress of the fire was stayed without spreading through the block to Main street. With the exception of the bank building, the structures consumed were wooden, and old city landmarks, representing the early palatial stores of pioneer days; and in their destruction some old relics were forever swept out of existence, the original Masonic and Odd-Fellows' halls among others. The First National Bank block was the pride of the city. It was erected in 1873 on the south corner of Center and Washington streets (the streets all running diagonally to points of compass). The bank was on the corner, with stores on Center and Washington streets. These stores were the property of the then cashier and president, respectively, L. S. Van Vliet and L. H. Gerrard. It was built of Milwaukee white pressed brick, iron columns, galvanized iron cornice, white draped stone caps, sills and trimmings, plate-glass windows, etc. The banking office was elegantly finished with solid black-walnut counters, desks, doors and casings, and was a model bank office. J. F. Favrow, who suffered so seriously in the fire of 1872, in the adjoining block on the south, was this time completely wiped out. The "Sentinel" office was so completely consumed that not a shooting-stick even was saved. The law office of Stocker & Matchan, over the bank, with its library, was consumed, including account books, old journals, etc. The losses of building were: First National Bank, seventy-five hundred dollars; Van Vliet's & Gerrard's store, seven thousand dollars; and the store of Peter Beck, H. C. Bronco, S. Lindgreen, Mrs. A. W. Ditmars, D. C. Corwin, H. L. Halsey and George Patten, each valued at from twelve hundred to two thousand dollars. The value of the buildings destroyed was about twenty-five thousand dollars, upon which there was an insurance of nine thousand five hundred dollars. The damage to buildings not burned was probably not more than fifteen hundred dollars, and upon these there was ample insurance to cover all loss. The heaviest losses in merchandise and other stock, fixtures, etc., were: J. F. Favrow & Co., sixteen thousand dollars, insured for four thousand dollars; H. D. Brown, printing-office, ten thousand dollars, insured for fifty-five hundred dollars; Stocker & Matchan, law library and furniture, sixty-five hundred dollars, insured for seventeen hundred dollars; Henry Miller, druggist, five thousand dollars, insured for fifteen hundred dollars; F. M. Everson, twenty-five hundred dollars, fully insured, S. Lendgreen, two thousand dollars, no insurance. The total loss on buildings was about twenty- seven thousand dollars, on stocks forty-eight thousand dollars; upon the former of which there was an insurance of eight thousand seven hundred and fifteen dollars, and on the latter of seventeen thousand seven hundred and forty-five dollars. The morning light of Monday had scarcely broken before the debris was being cleared away and preparations made for rebuilding and resuming trade.
These fires, disastrous as they were, and severely felt as they must have been in a town of twenty-six hundred population, were so completely overshadowed by the calamity of 1882, that the plucky business men of the city are wont to say, "We never had but one fire here that amounted to anything, and that was in 1882, when we were all wiped out clean as with a sponge." This fire, technically known as the "great fire," originated in an unused room of the old Sexton House on the Point, which was discovered to be in flames at about two o'clock on the morning of Saturday, April 22, 1882.
The wind was blowing a fierce gale from the lake, and carrying the flames into the old wooden rookeries in that part of town, sheds, barns, etc., fanned them into a roaring conflagration, and swept the cinders, shingles and burning material of all kinds right over the western and northern parts of the town, threatening the whole with speedy destruction. The workmen in Neal & John's establishment saved that manufactory by almost superhuman exertions, and thus prevented the spread to the flames across the block to the west, and no doubt saving the blocks between Washington and Franklin streets, on the west of Center. The wagonshops of Curtis & Richardson Bros. & Co. were speedily wrapped in flames, which almost instantly leaped across the street to John Dobner's blacksmith-shop, and to the buildings on the east side of Washington, between Center and Marion; all of which, though good substantial brick structures, were consumed. Nothing was left standing thus far from the starting point of the fire east of Washington, between Center and the lake, except the big warehouse just across Marion street. Crossing Washington street, Sam Lindgreen's saloon, and the other brick buildings on that side of the block from the First National Bank to Patton's block, were soon in flames, which swept across Center street, through the wooden structures on the northeast corner of Center and Washington, moving down both sides of Center to Main, and leaving nothing standing in its track. Leaping across Main street, it swallowed up the fine brick stores of C. P. Young & Bro.; and on the north side of Center street, carrying destruction with it as far as the building of the Lake City Furniture Company, which was destroyed. The buildings on the lower side of Center street, between Washington and Main streets, were all destroyed except the lower corner room of the Lake City Bank building, a fine three-story structure, in which was the postoffice. The fire had quickly spread over the entire block bounded by Main, Center, Washington and Lyon streets; the fierce gale blowing the flames in a due westerly course diagonally through the block and across the corner of Lyon and Main streets to the Commercial hotel, which, having been destroyed, the destruction was stayed in that quarter for lack of material. The efforts of the firemen were principally directed to saving the block bounded by Center, Washington, Lyon and Franklin streets, in which was the Merchants' hotel, an immense three-story wooden structure. The burning of this block would in all probability have involved the destruction of the entire northwestern portion of the city, as far down as Center point, as the wind was blowing a perfect gale, and buildings were taking fire several blocks from the center of the conflagration, fired by the burning shingles which were whirled blazing through the air, only to fall on some dry roof and kindle it into a blaze. The firemen made a stand at Richardson's corner, where their brick building interposed some obstruction to the progress of the flames through the block; and though several times on fire, as were also the other buildings of the block, the catastrophe that would have followed their burning was averted by the heroic exertions of the citizens, who had turned out en masse to save the town; many of them so intent on fighting fire at its very center that their own properties were consumed before they were aware of the fact. Another stand was made against the progress of the flames at the wooden saloon on the Main street side of the National Bank Building block, as, had that building gone, nothing could have saved the block across the street, and its destruction would have involved the center of the residence portion of the city, including all the church buildings. The efforts in both cases were finally successful, and the fire was finally stayed after sweeping through six blocks, the best business blocks of the city, in which scarcely a structure of any kind remained to tell the awful story of destruction. So complete was the work of annihilation, and so serious the losses sustained, that many seriously doubted the practicability of rebuilding the city. All that remained standing was the row of brick stores on the northwest of Lyon avenue, and the block on the northeast of Washington street and northwest of Center street. It would be utterly useless to attempt to specify the losses on either buildings or goods. There were about fifty buildings burned, involving a loss of property in structures and contents, as nearly as can be ascertained, of at least three hundred and seventy thousand dollars, upon which there was an insurance of about one hundred and seventy-eight thousand dollars. Of this amount, however, considerable proportion was insurance on damaged goods, and partially destroyed or damaged buildings; so that the loss may be fairly and to have been about one-third covered by insurance. Thus, within a period of less than ten years, destructive fires had three times ravaged the business center of the city, involving a loss of over half a million dollars in a small town of about twenty-six hundred population. The grit of the little city was fully apparent in this calamity. The common council met immediately, and, refusing all applications for permits to erect temporary wooden structures, extended the fire limits to the lake shore, upon which the fire had originated. Monday evening, following the destruction of Saturday, an enthusiastic meeting of the board of trade was held, and it was apparent that the enterprise and courage of the city was by no means in ashes, if the buildings of the city were. Capt. Seeley, the city postmaster, on the alarm of fire, left his own household goods to destruction, and used all his exertions to save the mails and records of his office, in which he was successful; all letters, papers and office records being safely removed. The First National Bank were at work immediately, and resumed business in a building they put up on a corner across Center street from their own property. Work upon the bank corner was immediately begun, and the structure was soon ready for occupancy. The Lake City Bank moved into the reading-room in the Merchants' Hotel, and resumed. Their first business after the fire was to receive a deposit for three hundred dollars from A. P. Merrell, of Maiden Rock. The Masonic fraternity lost all their furniture, including their records, the latter a serious loss. The destruction of the valuable museum of Dr. Estes was much to be deplored. Its collection had been the work of a lifetime; and, besides containing curiosities of very rare and valuable character, many of them impossible to duplicate, the Doctor's manuscripts and notes, the work of years, and which it was his intention to have given to the public in permanent form, were all destroyed, leaving him, in his own pathetic words, "Not a scrap of my life work; not a scrap, sir." This was a loss not to be computed in dollars and cents. The burned district has to a great extent been rebuilt, and the business of the city goes on its prosperous way, in the earnest hope that, having been tried so as by fire, it may henceforth escape the destructive ordeal.
Pages 840 to 843
Lake City had no regularly organized fire department until three years after her actual incorporation as a city. Several narrow escapes from disastrous conflagrations had warned the citizens of the possible danger to the business center of the city, unprotected as they were against any serious fire that might break out in the more densely-built portions of the city; but the danger passing, the matter was lost sight of. On the night of March 25, 1870, a fire which broke out on the corner of Center and Franklin streets, and for a time very seriously threatened all the lower portion of the town, reawakened the interest of the citizens in fire protection. This fire, which destroyed ten thousand dollars' worth of property, following close upon that of the twelfth of the same month, when the Boston elevator was burned, and which involved the destruction of sixty thousand dollars' worth, very forcibly aroused the public attention to the imperative necessity of organizing and maintaining an efficient fire department. The matter was at once taken hold of energetically, and petitions numerously signed were presented to the council, asking for the immediate creation of a fire department, as authorized by chapter 4, section 38, of the city charter. This petition came before the new council at its first regular meeting after the spring election in 1875, and Messrs. Fowler and Farrow were appointed the council's committee on fire department. The petition was referred to this committee, who were also instructed to negotiate for the purchase of a steam fire-engine, hose and necessary equipments. At a special meeting, held April 16, a proposition was received from Samuel McDowell, of Seneca Falls, New York, to furnish the city with one of Silsby's patent rotary steam fire-engines, third size, two hose-cars, fifteen hundred feet of hose, and all the equipments necessary to operate it successfully, for seven thousand two hundred and fifty dollars; terms, twelve hundred and fifty dollars cash, the balance to be paid in three equal yearly installments of two thousand dollars each, bonds to bear interest at ten per cent. This proposition was accepted by the council, and the engines and apparatus ordered, with the understanding that they were to be shipped within three weeks. The council also passed an ordinance providing for the organization of a fire department, to consist of one engine company of forty men, two hose companies and a hook and ladder company, to consist of thirty men each. W. A. Doe, L. S. Van Vliet and I. S. Richardson were appointed a committee to enlist suitable members for the companies, and to call a meeting for organization so soon as twenty members were received for each company. Saturday, May 1, 1875, the companies met and perfected their organizations. Meeting was held in the Academy of Music hall, with L. S. Van Vliet in the chair, and H. E. Humphrey, secretary. G. D. Post was elected chief engineer of the department and the various companies organized, as follows:
Engine company: E. B. Ellsworth, foreman; L. L. Fletcher, assistant foreman; H. E. Humphrey, secretary, and L. S. Van Vliet, treasurer. The members of the engine company were: L. S. Van Vliet, E. B. Ellsworth, J. M. Martin, John Phillips, Geo. C. Stout, henry Hoth, D. M Smith, Chas. Forrest, J. E. Doughty, H. R. Warner, H. Gillett, Calvin Neal, J. C. Hassinger, Robt. Romick, H. E. Humprey, I. E. Norton, M. L. Hulet, L. L. Fletcher, John Fletcher, E. H. Center, T. Stout, J. J. Doughty, Geo. Gibbs, H. C. Whitcher, H. M. Powers, C. J. Collins, Charles Knapp, R. B. Gates, Henry Scott, M. T. Stevens, Wallace DeLong, C. J. Cogswell, W. R. Muir, C. Sinclair, Frank Bouton, Oliver Young, A. N. Curtis, Frank Phelps, Ferd. Baker, L. E. Thorp.
The hose company organized, and elected for officers: F. W. Seeley, foreman and president; W. A. Doe, assistant foreman and vice-president; M. P. Stroup, secretary; I. S. Richardson, treasurer. The following were the enrollment as members: I. S. Richardson, W. A. Doe, M. C. Humphry, Jr., C. E. Cate, R. Hanish, G. W. Mossman, M. P. Stroup, F. L. Kopplen, N. E. Stringham, W. H. Dilley, G. D. Post, Henry Selover, Henry Dwelle, G. N. Tupper, W. J. Hahn, J. B. Hawley, O. N. Smith, F. W. Seeley, Joseph Harley, H. L. Smith, Francis Jenks, L. Lutz, M. Sprague, E. M. Baldwin and James Gillett.
Within three weeks the hose company had received an additional enlistment of twenty-six members. The new engine arrived on the 14th of May, and the trial test was made on the afternoon of Saturday, the 22d of that month. The day was made almost a general holiday. The mayor of Red Wing headed a delegation from that city. The chief engineer of the Winona fire department and his assistant, and others from neighboring towns put in a n appearance. The "department" was out in force. The engine was stationed near the pond in the vicinity of Doughty & Neal's wagonshop, and four hundred and fifty feet of hose were quickly laid up Center to Washington, and around the corner in front of Richardson Bros' store. In three and a half minutes from lighting the fire, with cold water in the boilers, the steam-gauge indicated five pounds of steam, which was rapidly increased, until at the end of seven and a half minutes the pressure was thirty-five pounds, and water was running from the nozzle of the hose. With ninety pounds of steam, a stream was thrown up the street two hundred and twenty-seven feet through a one and one-eighth inch nozzle, and also to the height of one hundred and twenty-five feet. More hose was attached and extended up Center street to the corner of Main, and a stream thrown completely over a three-story building on the upper side of the street. A second line of hose, each was seven hundred and fifty feet, was attached, and both streams were thrown over the building, and with a branch section the three streams were thrown one hundred and sixty feet in a horizontal direction. Then a single line of hose, fifteen hundred feet long, was run up to the Episcopal church, and a stream forced over the spire and up to the heigh t of one hundred and twelve feet from the ground. The test was pronounced satisfactory by the council in special session on the following Thursday, and the papers were duly made out. Lake City had at last secured what so many of her citizens had long desired ~ a good, serviceable fire engine, and many breathed freer, feeling their property was, at least to some extent, reasonably secure.
At the first regular meeting of the council, in May of this year, the sum of four hundred and fifty dollars was appropriated for the purchase of a lot on the southeast side of Center street, between Oak and High streets, upon which to erect an engine-building, and the fire committee were instructed to purchase the same. Steps were also taken for the building of cisterns in necessary locations for water supply, and the council's committee on fire department given charge of the matter. A committee visited La Crosse, Wisconsin, for the purpose of securing information concerning the character of the cisterns needed, and reported their conclusion to be in favor of brick cisterns, as the only reliable ones in this soil. The council's fire committee reported bids for building three cisterns, of dimensions according to specifications drawn by J. B. Hawley. The contract was awarded to Dix & Bonney, as the lowest bidders, for seventeen hundred and eighty dollars. Not long afterward, B. W. Thayer was awarded contract for erecting an engine-house for fire-steamer and hose-carts, building to be 20X50. The front thirty feet to be used as and engine-room, the rear twenty for council-room; contract price, six hundred and thirty dollars. The cisterns were located as follows: The main cistern, with a capacity of one thousand barrels, at the intersection of Center and High streets; two others, each having a capacity of five hundred barrels, one at the intersection of Garden and Dwelle streets, the other at the intersection of Oak and Doughty streets. A very sad accident occurred during the excavation for the cistern at the corner of Garden and Dwelle streets, by the caving in of the walls, owing to the lack of care in stoning up the walls. The men were repeatedly warned of the danger, but did not deem the alarm necessary and continued at work, until by the sudden caving in of the walls they were buried alive. Their names were A. H. Sandford and Benjamin Kramer. They were both taken out dead, Mr. Kramer after two hours' work, Mr Sandford about seven hours after the accident. There is another water reservoir, which is more a well than a cistern, at the rear of Messrs. Neal & John's manufactory, on Center street, and from these the city has quite an ample water supply, well distributed. Improvements, in the shape of hose-tower, hook and ladder company's apparatus, etc., have been added from time to time, until today the city has quite a comfortable city building and engine-room. The old engine-house has had a story added within the past year, the hose-tower has been increased in height, and now the departments are well supplied with places for meeting as well as apparatus for extinguishing fires. The city building as now standing is a conveniently-arranged two-story structure, 20X50, with a hose-tower, 23X12 feet at the base, rising fifty-six feet above the ground. The lower story of the city building is devoted to the storage of the engine, hose-carts, hook and ladder truck, coal-truck, and appliances. The engine is in excellent condition, under the care of chief engineer H. Gillette, and can get ready for business, under a full head of steam, within ten minutes of lighting the torches. The engine-room has a supply pipe for furnishing hot water to the boilers in cold weather, greatly expediting the work of getting up steam. There is also an excellent force-pump for the protection of the city building, with hose attached, through which water can be instantly turned on any part of the building. The hose-tower has a tank conveniently arranged for cleaning hose, and both tower and engine-room are supplied with abundant heating apparatus for winter use, in thawing out and drying hose and apparatus. The hose-reels are supplied with about twenty-five hundred feet of good hose, on the two cars known as Nos. 1 and 2. The hook and ladder trucks are furnished with one forty-=foot ladder, one thirty-five feet, one thirty feet, and some shorter ones; and also with twenty-four good fire-buckets. There are four Babcock extinguishers in the building, and all kept in perfect order, ready for any emergency that may arise. The upper story, which is reached by a broad, covered stairway on the outside of the building, is the city hall. Here the council holds its sessions, public meetings of the citizens are convened here, the engine and hose companies use it for firemen's hall, and it is just what it purports to be ~ the city's hall. It is comfortably warmed, lighted and seated, and from it emanate the decrees of the city fathers for the government of the little municipality.
The present officers of the fire department are: H. Gillett, chief engineer; W. M. Sprague, assistant engineer.
Engine company: James H. Gillett, engineer; E. J. Collins, treasurer. Hose company: Ed. Tupper, foreman; Frank Peirce, assistant foreman and secretary; L. P. Follett, treasurer. Hook and Ladder company: H. McMillan, foreman; Sumner David, assistanf foreman; Frank Adams, secretary; F. Schindler, treasurer.
Pages 844 to 854
Presbyterian ~ The first Presbyterian church of Lake City was organized December 31, 1856, with Rev. Silas Hazlett as acting pastor, and B. C. Baldwin, A. V. Sigler and Mrs. Hazlett as members. B. C. Baldwin and A. V. Sigler were elected elders.
For nearly a year and a half the church held union services with the Congregationalists, in the old Congregational church erected by the contributions of both societies, the pastors of the two churches alternating in the services. In 1858 the Presbyterian church rented what was then known as Skinner's Hall. This was in the third story of a store-building situated on lot 2, block 14, fronting on Washington street. In 1859 the church erected their church edifice on lots 4 and 5, block 58, which had been presented to the society by Mr. Samuel Doughty. These lost are now occupied by the residence of Mr. Charles E. Crane. The church-building, which originally cost nine hundred dollars, was removed in 1863 to its present location on High street, just north of Lyon avenue, and in 1876 was repaired and enlarged at an additional cost of eight hundred and fifty dollars.
In 1862 the trustees purchased lot 1, block 56, and erected their present parsonage at a cost of eight hundred dollars, and in 1878 it was enlarged and repaired at a further cost of six hundred and fifty dollars.
The total number of members received into the church since its organization has been one hundred and ninety-seven, and of these one hundred and three were received upon the profession of their faith in Jesus Christ. The total baptisms during these years have been one hundred and four. The present membership is sixty.
The officers of the church are: Pastor, J. W. Ray; elders, A. V. Sigler and A. T. Guernsey; trustees, A. T. Guernsey, J. B. McLean and J. W. Kennedy.
The names of the pastors who have successively served the church, in the order of their service, are: Revs. Silas Hazlett, Porter H. Snow, William Speer, D.D., John Valeen, John A. Annin, Hugh W. Todd, John L. Howell, James M. Pryse, W. J. Weber, Samuel Wyckoff, and J. W. Ray, the present incumbent.
The Sunday school was organized on January 1, 1860, with A. T. Guernsey as superintendent, who held the office eighteen years, since which time the following persons have held the position: Oliver Jones, who was superintendent two years, and Messrs. J. B. McLean, S. M. Emery and Wm. Wilson, who have each held the office one year, the last-named gentleman now serving his second term, having been re-elected recently.
Swedish Lutheran ~ The Swedish Lutheran church, in this city, was organized October 10, 1869, at a convocation called for that purpose, the Rev. P. Sjoblom, of Red Wing, presiding. The original number of communicants was forty-five, prominent among whom were Messrs. L. A. Hockanson, G. F. Edholm, A. E. Edholm, P. Sundberg, G. Erickson and others. Services were conducted for a time by two lay preachers, L. A. Hockanson and A. G. Westlong, and the congregation was ministered to at intervals by Rev. P. Sjoblom, of Red Wing, Rev. J. Fremling, of Stockholm, Wisconsin, and Rev. J. Wagner, of Svea, Wisconsin. In 1879 the congregation secured the services of the Rev. S. A. Lindholm, who also ministered to churches at Millville and Minneiska. Until the year 1875 the congregation worshiped sometimes in a small hall, at other times in the Presbyterian or Baptist churches of this city, which were kindly opened for their accommodation. In 1875 a small church, 26X40 feet, was built and neatly furnished. This building stands on the upper side of Sixth street, three blocks northwest of Lyon avenue; and facing it on the opposite of Sixth, a commodious parsonage was built in 1881, at a cost of twelve hundred dollars. The Sunday school, in connection with the church, organized in 1873, has always been maintained in a flourishing condition. Its superintendent for many years was Mr. P. Sundburg: the present superintendent is O. Chinberg. The present membership of the congregation is about eighty-five, recent removals having led to a very material decrease. A very efficient Ladies' Society has been working within the church organization for several years, collecting money for church and missionary purposes. They meet the third Friday in each month, and during the year 1883 contributed one hundred and eighteen dollars toward the six hundred and seventy-five dollars raised by the congregation.
The present officers are Rev. L. A. Lindholm, pastor; Mr. Ed. Edholm, secretary; Mr. Nils Peterson, treasurer; deacons, P. Sundberg, A. Anderson, G. Erickson, O. Chinberg; trustees, A. E. Edholm, Nils Hallin, Chas. Chinberg.
St. Mary's Catholic Church ~ The first religious services held in Lake City in connection with the Catholic church were in 1857, in which year Father Auster conducted services in the house of John Moran, in the vicinity of the brick schoolhouse in the first ward. This was the first Catholic service ever held in the place, and though no church building was erected until seven years afterward, regular ministrations at the hands of Father Auster were enjoyed until his departure from the parish in 1860. During these years and subsequently, until the old church was built, the congregation worshiped from house to house and in public halls, particularly Williamson's, in which services were held longer than in any other one place. To Father Auster succeeded Farther Tisot, in 1860, remaining four years. In 1866 the old church was erected, on Center street, one block nearer the lake than the railway tracks of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad. This was a substantial frame building, about 36X60 feet, and in this the church continued to hold services, until 1873, when the church lots were sold and property bought farther down town. The new property consists of an entire block, bounded by Lyon avenue, Center, Prairie and Garden streets. Upon this site the old frame church was moved, refitted for service and occupied until 1877, when it was converted into a school-building for the use of the parish school. Father Tisot was followed by Father Trobec, the present parish priest at Wabasha, in 1865, and he in turn by Father Hermon, in 1868, who continued in charge until 1875. It was during his ministry that the old church was removed to the present eligible and central location. Father Quinn became parish priest in 1875, upon the removal of Father Hermon, and remained in charge until his failing health compelled him to seek rest in a more congenial climate. He accordingly crossed the seas and took up his residence in France, but the vital energies were too severely taxed to respond to the call, and he died shortly after reaching France. He was an earnest and indefatigable worker, and it was largely owing to his energetic efforts that the beautiful church structure on the corner of Lyon avenue and Garden street was constructed. The present church edifice, erected in 1877 at a total cost of sixteen thousand dollars, is much the finest church structure in the city. It faces fifty feet on Lyon avenue, and has an extreme length of one hundred and sixteen feet along Garden street, including the sacristy, which is 16X53. The building is a substantial brick structure, stone foundations, water-table, caps, sills and trimmings. The side walls are twenty-two feet in height, and the top of the cross is one hundred and sixty-one feet above the sidewalk. It is finished inside to the roof, and seated to accommodate about six hundred. There is room, however, for quite a number of additional pews, and the seating capacity may be easily extended to eight hundred if desired. The church is an ornament to the city, and its spire can be seen from almost all parts of Lake Pepin, rising above every surrounding object in its vicinity. Father Quinn was succeeded by Father Riley, a young man who remained in charge six months, and who was followed in the summer of 1882, by Father Riordan, who resigned his charge and went south for his health, January 1, 1884. The parish school, which was established in 1868, has not been in session for some time past, and probably will not be until the church has a permanent priest. The services are at present conducted by supplying priests from St. Paul. The number of contributing families in the parish is about thirty-five, but the number of families actually connected with the parish is much larger.
Congregational ~ The first Congregational church in Lake City was organized on August 8, 1856, with ten members ~ four men and six women. This was the first church organization in this place, and at the time of its institution there were probably not far from three hundred people within what are now the corporate limits of Lake City. Rev. DeWitt C. Sterry (who died last summer in Kansas) was the first acting pastor of the church, which flourished vigorously during the ten years that he remained in charge as its minister, the increase during the first year being more than fourfold. The little society worshiped in halls and rooms, as they could best secure accommodations, for one year, when they moved into their own house of worship which they had built upon the lot presented them for that purpose by Abner Dwelle, Esq., one of the original proprietors of the town site. Their site was lot No. 10, block 27, and upon it the church-building, a frame structure 30X50 feet, was erected. In 1866 this old house of worship was reconstructed, turned partially around, enlarged and refitted for service, the cost of the improvements being considerably in excess of one thousand dollars, which was all paid early in January, 1869. In 1866 a parsonage was erected on the south half of lots 6 and 7, in block 49, at a total cost of about fifteen hundred dollars. Since then the building has received several additions and needed repairs, and is now a commodious and comfortable residence.
In 1873 the old church was repainted, and six years later was burned to the ground. The congregation then decided to abandon their old location and build a new church in a more desirable part of the city. The site selected was on the north corner of Lyon avenue and Oak street. The lot fronts one hundred and thirty feet on Oak street, and one hundred feet on the avenue. Here in 1880 the present beautiful church structure was erected. This is a substantial stone and frame, modern style of architecture, extreme dimensions 40X60 feet. The basement is of stone with a ten-foot ceiling, and is conveniently arranged for Sunday-school and social services, as well as the regular church reunions. Above the basement rises the auditorium, finished to the Gothic roof, comfortably seated and furnished, having sittings for about two hundred and twenty-five persons. The contract price for the building was forty-nine hundred and sixty dollars, but its actual cost was considerably above that figure, the entire outlay for lots, building , furniture, upholstering, bell, etc., being in round numbers about nine thousand dollars.
As before stated, De Witt Sterry was the first acting pastor of the church, and he sustained that relation for nearly ten years, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Edward Anderson, whose ministry continued a little less than two years, when he resigned, and W. B. Dada accepted a call to the pulpit. His ministry, begun in December, 1867, terminated in February, 1872, when he was succeeded by Rev. J. W. Ray, whose pastorate lasted five years. In October, 1877, Rev. P. B. Fisk was called to the oversight of the church, and remained its pastor until the spring of 1882. In May of that year, Rev. J. W. Horner became minister of the church, an office which he now sustains with great acceptability tot eh church and congregation.
The whole number of members connected with the church from the date of its organization to the present has been two hundred and seventy. The present membership is one hundred and twenty-five. The present officers are: Trustees, A. E. Smith, presidents; C. A. Hubbard, treasurer; N. C. Pike, secretary; deacons, Carlos Clement, M. C. Humphrey; Rev. J. W. Horner, church clerk.
There is a very efficient Sunday school maintained by the church, the average attendance at which is about one hundred. W. H. Moore, the principal of the city schools, is its superintendent. This Sunday school was organized immediately after the church organization was effected, and has been in continuous existence until the present.
Episcopal Church ~ St. Mark's Protestant Episcopal church is one of the strong church organizations of Lake City. The first services were held here in the fall of 1857, at which time Bishop Kemper visited the place, preached and baptized. Subsequent visits were made by the bishop, by the Rev. E. R. Wells, of Red Wing, and in 1860 by Bishop H. B. Whipple. In 1862 the parish was formally received into union with the council, but no vestry was formed until December, 1864. On the 14th of this month a meeting was held at the residence of Rev. John W. Shatzel, parish missionary, at which time the vestry was constituted by the election of the following: Wardens, Wm. E. Perkins, John T. Graves, P. R. Hardt, Thomas Gibbs, B. L. Goodrich, Wm. Marsh, Asa Doughty and Mathias Dilley. L. H. Buck was elected secretary of the vestry, and R. S. Goodrich, treasurer. Services were first held in a small schoolroom owned by Mrs. O. E. Walters, and afterward in a hall under the Masonic lodge, from which they removed in the spring of 1864 to what was known as Harley's hall. Here they remained until the completion of the church-building in the summer of 1866. Preparations for building were begun in 1863, the sum of sixteen hundred dollars was raised or pledged, and a church lot 75X100 feet purchase, for which the sum of three hundred and fifty dollars was paid. It was found that lumber could not be procured, and building was deferred until the fall of 1865. The church was completed early in the summer of 1866 and the opening services were held July 1, but the parish being in debt for the building to the amount of eight hundred dollars, the consecration was deferred until Wednesday, January 16, 1867, when the church was formally consecrated according to the usages of the Protestant Episcopal church. The site of this church edifice is a commanding location on Oak street, just south of Lyon avenue, fronting the lake and overlooking the main business portion of the city. The structure is of wood, 50X30 feet, with a front tower 12X12 feet, and a chancel extension 10X18 feet. The side walls are fourteen feet and the ridge of the ceiling thirty-one feet. The tower is forty-five feet in height, and above it rises the spire a farther distance of thirty-four feet, surmounted by a cross four feet high, the total height from sill to cross-top being eighty-three feet. The building is comfortably furnished and has sittings for a little over two hundred persons. The entire cost was about thirty-five hundred dollars, and of this sum two thousand dollars were raised by the society at home, the rest being contributions from abroad.
There have been connected with this church from the date of its organization to the present a total membership of two hundred and fifty-four. Baptisms, for the same period, four hundred and fifty-two; confirmations, two hundred and one; marriages, seventy-six; burials, one hundred and fifty.
The succession of rectors of St. Mark's is as follows: C. P. Dorset, 1861-2; J. W. Shatzelk, 1863-6; C. W. Kelley, 1867; J. C. Adams, 1868-72; C. H. Plummer, 1873, to May, 1883; Rev. W. Gardam, the present incumbent, having been in charge only since last May.
The present church officers are: Rev. W. Gardam, rector; L. H. Buck and W. E. Perkins, wardens; vestrymen, G. F. Benson, S. K. Gates, J. C. Adams, C. W. Crary, Thos. Gibbs, A. Wells, O. P. Francisco, C. H. Benedict. Mr. L. H. Buck is secretary and Mr. W. E. Perkins treasurer. The present number of communicants is one hundred and twenty-two.
St. Marks' church maintains a flourishing Sunday school with eighteen teachers and one hundred and forty scholars, of which Mr. J. M. Underwood is superintendent; Mrs. G. F. Benson, librarian and L. H. Buck, treasurer.
Baptist ~ Baptist meetings were held by Rev. Edgar Cady from July, 1857, to December of the same year, when the first Baptist church of Lake City was organized, December 13, 1857. The number of constituent members was twenty-one. Up to 1871 two hundred and twenty-five members had been added to the church, including twelve members of a branch church at Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, in 1863. Of the above number seventy-seven were by baptism, the balance by letter and experience. Subsequent statistics of membership are not available. The present number of members is sixty-four.
The Baptists worshiped first in Gaylord’s hall, which stood, I believe, about where Perkins’ livery stable now is. The present edifice was erected under Rev. A. P. Graves; supervision, in 1859, at a cost of two thousand dollars. It has been enlarged and improved during the past year by the expenditure of about seven hundred dollars. The church owned a parsonage until a few years since, when it was sold to Mr. Terrell in order to liquidate the church indebtedness.
Of pastors the following is a complete list, with dates of settlement and terms of office: Rev. Edgar Cady, July, 1837, one year and four months; Rev. A. P. Graves, August, 1859, two years and five months; Rev. G. W. Freeman, September, 1862, two years and two months; Rev. G. W. Fuller, April, 1865, six years and two months; Rev. H. H. Beach, June, 1872, four years; Rev. E. C. Anderson, November, 1876, four years; Rev. A. Whitman, December, 1880, one year and five months; Rev. W. K. Dennis, October, 1882, present pastor.
The Swede Baptist church, of Lake City, was at first a branch church, and eventually organized during Rev. M. Beach’s pastorate, and the English Baptist church, of Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, was an offshoot from this church.
The Baptist Sunday school was organized in Gaylord hall in 1857. Number of pupils, eighty-five.
List of church officers: Pastor, Rev. W. K. Dennis; clerk, J. M. Chalmers; treasurer, Mr. Alex. Selover. Trustees: A. R. Spauldings, A. Selover, N. K. Eells, A. D. Prescott, F. Bouton. Superintendent of Sunday school, J. M. Chalmers.
Methodist ~ Prior to 1857 no society of the Methodist Episcopal church was known in Lake City, although a few of the old settlers were members of that church. During the month of September, 1857, Rev. S. Salisbury was sent, by the bishop presiding over the Minnesota annual conference, to Wabasha and Lake City circuit. He came to Lake City and preached one sermon in the Congregational church, but we saw his face no more. This was the first sermon ever preached in Lake City by an ordained minister of the Methodist Episcopal church. The few members (five in number), as a flock without a shepherd, were soon in charge of Rev. C. Hobart, a supernumerary member of the minister of the Minnesota conference, who at that time resided in Red Wing. We rented a room known as Skinner’s Hall, a small room with but limited seating capacity, lighted with tallow candles. Here we waited for the salvation which God had promised. It seemed as if each member of the small company received a special commission from the King Eternal to go forth and win souls.
A class was soon formed by Dr. Hobart, which consisted of D. C. Estes, M. E. Estes, Seth Tisdale, Augusta Dollar, Jane Terrill, Eliza Baily and Bidwell Redley. D. C. Estes was appointed leader. Seth Tisdale was a local preacher. This completed the organization of the society. Of these seven members five are still living. Bidwell Pedley was killed during the late war, while engaged in the service of his country. Seth Tisdale died in September, 1883. Eliza Baily lives in St. Paul. Augusta Dollar is now living in California. D. C. Estes, M. E. Estes and Jane Terrill are still members of the society in Lake City.
Rev. Seth Tisdale was the first preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church to engage in special revival services. His work began first at Florence. He was a man of strong faith and untiring energy.
Soon after Dr. Hobart took charge of the work the first quarterly meeting was held. Rev. Dr. Quigly preached from Isa. lxiii, 1, a sermon of marvelous power. It was as of old a demonstration of the spirit.
The little company of believers enjoyed the privilege at that quarterly meeting, for the first time in the new country, of receiving the sacrament of the Lord’S Supper as a society of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Dr. Hobart was assisted during the winter by Bro. Tisdale. In the spring of 1858 we moved to a vacant storeroom on Main street, in the building which is now occupied by Mr. D. Crego as a dwelling. About this time Rev. J. Gurley, of Pepin, Wisconsin, was appointed to supply Lake City, but on account of the difficulty of crossing the lake he was not able to render much service. In 1858 Lake City was left to be supplied. In 1859 Rev. E. R. Lathrop was appointed as pastor, being a man of kind, genial spirit, and a good preacher. The society prospered under his administration. In 1860 Rev. A. V. Hiscock was appointed pastor; a year of encouragement during which many were added to the church. In 1861 Rev. C. T. Bowdish was pastor. In 1862 the society was left to be supplied. In 1863 Rev. G. W. T. Wright was appointed pastor. He served the charge until September, 1866, when Rev. T. M. Gossard was appointed. During Bro. Gossard’s term of two years the church was favored with a gracious revival. During Bro. Gossard’s pastorate the place of meeting was changed. The society rented a vacant store-building on Upper Washington street. This building is now occupied as a dwelling by Mr. Brown. In 1868 Rev. D. Tice was appointed as pastor. During his first year the corner-stone of the church was laid, the site for the building being a lot which had been previously secured on the corner of Chestnut and Oak streets. The church was enclosed and the basement occupied by the society in 1869. In 1870-1 Rev. H. Goodsell was pastor. In 1872-4, Rev. C. M. Heard was pastor. In 1875 Rev. J. Door was appointed. The audience-room was finished and dedicated in 1876. The dedicatory services were held July 9, 1876. Rev. Mr. McChesney preached the dedicatory sermon. In 1876-80 Rev. G. W. T. Wright was pastor for the second term. In 1881 T. B. Killiam was appointed pastor. During 1882 and 1883 the entire debt, which had for years been a burden to the society, was paid. We now have a good property, a membership of ninety persons; a good Sabbath school, the average attendance being seventy.
Church officers: Pastor, T. B. Killiam; class-leader, Rev. C. L. Dempster; Sabbath-school superintendent, J. M. Martin. Stewards: James M. Martin, D. C. Estes, L. W. Lemley, E. Wrigley, E. F. Carpenter. Trustees: T. Megroth, D. C. Estes, A. Koch, J. Harding, E. F. Carpenter, E. Wrigley, L. W. Lemley. The Methodist Episcopal Sunday school of Lake City, Minnesota, was organized by Dr. D. C. Estes on the first Sabbath in September, 1857, ~ being the first Methodist Sunday school held in Lake City, and the second one organized in the county of Wabasha. The first services of the school were held in the unoccupied store building situate on lot 9, block 17, fronting on Main street, then but recently vacated by the firm of Johnson & Kittredge, since remodeled into a dwelling-house, and owned by Daniel H. Crego. The records of the school from its organization down to September 3, 1865, were all destroyed in the fire of April 17, 1882, that burned Dr. D. C. Estes; office; but we learn from the report of the superintendent, Dr. Estes, made to the school on the occasion of their tenth anniversary, September 1, 1867, that there were but few children in the first organization. “Our beginning was but a feeble, a small one,” but increased gradually. From that day down to the present the Sunday school has continued without interruption, following the fortunes of the church in its various movings from store to store, from store to halls, from halls to church; at times with lessening and again increasing attendance. As far as the records extant disclose, the largest average attendance appears to have been in the winters of 1868-9, when the average attendance was one hundred, and again in the winter of 1876-7, when the enrollment was one hundred and forty-eight, and average attendance of one hundred and three; and again in 1880-1, when the number enrolled and in attendance was about the same as in 1876-7. In the spring of 1881, from removals, the numbers decreased largely, the present enrollment (February, 1884) being one hundred and five, with an average attendance of seventy-two.
Since the organization, the following have been superintendents in the order and for the times named: Dr. D. C. Estes, September 1, 1857, to September 13, 1868; Dr. W. H. Spafford, September 13, 1868, to September 3, 1871; Rev. H. Goodsell, September 3, 1871, to June 2, 1872; Chas. M. Gould, June 2, 1872, to April 27, 1873, J. M. Martin, April 27, 1873, to October 21, 1877; P. S. Hinman, October 21, 1877, to September 7, 1879; Geo. L. Matchan, September 7, 1879, to January 1, 1882; J. M. Martin, January 1, 1882, to present time ~ re-elected for ensuing year September 9, 1883. The present officers of the school are: J. M. Martin, superintendent; E. L. Carpenter, assistant superintendent; Maggie Koch, secretary; Lutie Chapman, treasurer; Henry Koch, librarian. Teachers: Rev. T. B. Killiam, Mrs. J. Dobner, M. Dobner, Miss Marion Lee, Chas. A. Koch, J. M. Martin.
Pages 854 to 859
It is impossible to present any connected history of the Lake City schools, such as we would esteem it a pleasure to prepare, had we the data. The records and material for such history are unfortunately lost, having been destroyed in the great fire of 1882, in which so much that was valuable and indispensable to a complete history of the city was irretrievably lost. All efforts to restore these records, or recreate them from the memories of those now living, have proved abortive, as there is too wide a divergence in the statements of those who were living here a quarter of a century since to predicate anything very positive upon such sources of information. The human memory, unassisted by records or uncorrected by memoranda, is not to be relied upon for much outside of merely personal matters, and not always for even these. This, at least, is the conclusion very reluctantly reached after weeks of careful inquiry, and we are therefore necessitated to content ourselves with a general statement, into which is interwoven so much of detail as is warranted correct by the agreement of the narratives of those who have been interviewed, and their recollections noted. In addition to this, the files of the old newspapers still existing have been thoroughly scanned for points, but these also are silent where most naturally they would be expected to speak ~ as, for instance, in noting the erection, completion and opening of school-buildings. Thus we are cut off from the two most reliable sources of information, viz, the school records themselves, and the reports found in the newspapers of the specific dates at which particular occurrences took place.
The probabilities are that the public schools in this city never formed an integral part of the school system of the county, having been organized prior to the establishment of the school system of the state. Not only so; they appear to have attained sufficient growth to have been included in an independent school district, before the public school system of the county took form. The schools here were originally of the character known as subscription schools, being supported by the voluntary subscriptions of the residents of the place.
The pioneer school in the little settlement, now Lake City, was opened by the Rev. S. Hazlett, in the fall of 1856 (November), and was taught in a frame building, the lower portion of which was used as a carpenter-shop, on the lot, now vacant, at the east corner of the Academy of Music block. The number of pupils in attendance was about thirty, and the estimated population of the settlement at that time was three hundred. From this date, schools in Lake City were regularly taught somewhere. Gaylord’s hall, near the present site of W. E. Perkin’s livery stables, was subsequently opened for school purposes, and schools were taught at various places ~ now here, now there ~ for the next five years, the city having no school-building of its own prior to 1861. In this year it was determined to build a suitable schoolhouse, and in the early summer plans for such building were prepared by Geo. Rogers, and contract for the lumber was made. Work was immediately begun, the basement excavated, the stonework laid up, and the building partially enclosed, when the school trustees released the contractor from his contract to furnish the clear lumber, because the price of lumber had advanced, and the building came to a standstill. Late in the fall the basement was finished, and school opened, ~ Geo. T. Gibbs, now of St. Paul, being the first teacher to guide the young idea in the new schoolhouse. This building was a credit to the city. It was a commodious two-story frame, 40 x 60, with stone foundation and basement. The basement only was completed in 1861, and in this school was held until the upper stories were finished and furnished in 1863, when the whole building was occupied for school purposes. This schoolhouse is the one now standing upon its original foundations, on Garden street, and doing duty as the high-school building of Lake City.
In the meantime the citizens of the ambitious little city by the lake had made provision for a somewhat higher grade of scholarship than was contemplated in the common schools of twenty-five years since, and the Lake City Academy came into existence. This Academy building, also on Garden street, now known as the old Crane residence, was largely erected by the private contributions of the citizens, with the evident intention of its becoming the property of the city, to be used as an academy for higher instruction. It was mentioned, for Mrs. C. W. Hackett, who opened a school or academy there and taught it for some years. The property subsequently passed into Mrs. Hackett’s possession in some undefined way, and was sold.
With the growth of the city, the accommodations of the wooden building erected in 1861 became totally inadequate to meet the wants of the city, and the erection of a new school-building was determined upon.
By the legislative act of 1864, giving the settlement, now Lake City, all the rights and immunities of a corporate city without its responsibilities, a change was made in its government, and this was followed in 1865 by a change in the administration of school affairs. In the spring of this latter year a board of education was elected, of which Dr. Estes was clerk, and to this board and its successors have been entrusted the management of all school matters for the past nineteen years. Finding that the work of education was suffering for lack of proper school accommodations and appliances, the board determined upon the erection of a school-building in the first ward, that would accommodate all the children of that ward below the grammar and high school grades, and thus draw into one building the scholars scattered in various places throughout the city, as rooms could be obtained. Plans for the new building were prepared, bids advertised for, and in the summer of 1872 the contract was let to Red Wing parties for a little less than nine thousand dollars. This is the building between Oak and Garden streets, known as the first ward schoolhouse. It occupies a full half-block, fronts northeast and northwest; is a substantial two-story brick with a high stone basement; has two schoolrooms on each floor with commodious hallways and closets, and is provided with the requisite flues for furnaces, should they ever be deemed necessary. Its entire cost, including sidewalks, fencing and furniture, was about eleven thousand dollars. School was first opened in this building early in the winter of 1872-3, with James M. Martin and Misses Anna Montgomery and E. M. Burrett as teachers. But three rooms were occupied. These were graded “A,” “B,” “C,” and the enrollment of pupils was about eighty, forty-five and sixty, respectively.
Ten years passed away before any additions were made to the school-buildings of the city, and again the demand for school-room had outgrown the accommodations. In 18813 the second ward schoolhouse was erected, on the original school lot on Garden street, just a little southeast of the old building in which school had been opened in 1861. This new building is also of brick, two stories, with substantial stone basement, and is intended to form one of the wings of a complete structure, which shall include high school, grammar school, and ward school in one. The dimensions of the wing already built and occupied, are as follows: width, 31 feet; length, 66 feet; height over all, 57 feet; vestibule on the southeast front, 10 x 27 ½ feet. This vestibule is the full height of the building, and from it access is gained to the schoolrooms, two in number on each floor. The building is furnished in the latest style, well provided with all needed appliances. The ceilings are fourteen feet each, and the whole structure complete cost a little in excess of the contract price, eight thousand dollars. The contractors were Messrs. Lutz & Alexander, of this city, and by them the building was turned over to the school board on September 20, 1883.
The present officers and members of the school board are: J. C. Adams, president; C. D. Vilas, clerk; J. M. Martin, treasurer; C. W. Crary and W. H. Hobbs, committee on supplies; H. D. Stocker, committee on textbooks; W. H. Moore, city superintendent of schools.
The schools are graded into high, grammar, intermediate and primary, taght as follows: The high school and “A” grammar is taught by Superintendent Moore, assisted by Misses Sarah E. Palmer and Anna C. Marston. Mr. Moore is a graduate of Darmouth (sic) College, class of ‘81, and his assistants are both graduates of the State University, classes of ‘81 and ‘83 respectively. The “B” grammar is under the charge of Mrs. Alice Fox, of the State Normal School at Winona, and the “C” grammar under that of Miss F. M. Thornton. Miss Jennie M. Baker has the “A” and “B” intermediate in the second ward, and Miss Helen Dobner the same grades in the first ward. The “C” intermediate and “A” primary are taught by Miss Kate J. Lilley in the first ward, and in the second ward by Miss Margaret Clearman. Miss Belle Hulett has the “B” and “C” primaries in the first ward, and Miss Mollie Greer in the second ward. The “D” primaries are taught by Misses Nellie J. Estes and Sue Slocum, of the first and second wards respectively.
The total enrollment for the year is about six hundred; the average enrollment, four hundred and fifty. The aggregate cost of maintaining the schools, not including interest on or cost of constructions, is about eight thousand dollars per annum. Salaries vary from thirty-five dollars per month to one hundred and twenty dollars.
It is with extreme satisfaction that we record the exceptionally high rank taken by the Lake City schools, particularly the high school, which since 1881 has been the banner high school of the state, the percentage of its pupils passing the examinations prescribed by the high-school board of the state, being greater than that of any other of the fifty high schools competing for the state appropriation.
Pages 859 to 868
The history of the secret societies of this city is one most difficult to prepare satisfactorily, owing, as in the case of the city schools, to the destruction of the records by fire and loss of important data. In this case, however, the work of reconstruction has not proved impossible, as the matters treated of are more individual and specific, and private memoranda have been found that materially assist in fixing dates. Personal recollections also are more available here, and the reports of the higher representative bodies, with whose transactions the subordinate bodies were to some extent involved, have been drawn upon for such information as they contain. Not only so ! The destruction of records in this case was not as complete as in that of the schools, and we are therefore prepared to assert quite confidently that the subjoined statements will be found, if not absolutely accurate in all particulars, at least sufficiently so to answer all the purposes of a substantially correct record of the institution, growth and present condition of the benevolent fraternities of Lake City.
Carnelian, No. 40, A.F.A.M. ~ Lake City had grown into a town of considerable proportions; her schools and churches had been in existence for a period of five or six years, and her citizens included no inconsiderable number of the “ancient craftsmen,” before any attempt was made to set up the ancient landmarks, and organize a masonic lodge upon the banks of the beautiful lake, where so many of the A.F.A.M. had reared their home altars and industries with the intention of ending their days there.
The first year of the war of the rebellion had closed, and many of Minnesota’s bravest and best had given themselves to the service of their country, when the members of the masonic order in Lake City, remembering the former times, took counsel together and determined to organize a lodge of Ancient Craft Masonry. Accordingly, early in the summer of 1862 (probably in May ~ date not accurately known), a petition was presented to M.W.A.T.C. Pierson, grand master of the state, for a dispensation to open a masonic lodge in Lake City. The petition was approved and dispensation granted to C. G. Bowdish, W.M., John McBride, S.W., and Benjamin Smith, J.W., to open and conduct a masonic lodge here. This dispensation was in force only until the meeting of the grand lodge next ensuing, October, 1862. Owing, however, to the absence of so many Masons from the state, in the ranks of the Union armies, no grand lodge meeting was held in 1862, and in December of that year Grand Master Pierson notified the members of the order here that if they would designate such persons as they desired to open and conduct their lodge, he would grant them another dispensation. In accordance with this intimation the members of the craft here held an election on January 13, 1863, at which time the following officers were elected: Benjamin Smith, W.M.; S. R. Merrell, S.W.; C. F. Rogers, J.W.; N. Gould, Sec.; S. P. Hicks, Treas.; C. W. Smyth, S.D.; Anson Peirce, J.D. The dispensation was duly granted until the meeting of the grand lodge in the ensuing fall, and under this renewed authority the lodge worked until the assembling of the grand lodge, at Masonic Hall, in the city of St. Paul, October 27, 1863.
From this grand lodge a charter issued to Carnelian Lodge, No. 40, A.F.A.M., of Lake City, bearing date October 28, 1863, in which the following were named as the charter members: C. G. Bowdish, John McBride, Benj. Smith, C. M. Loring, D. F. Rogers, C. W. Smyth, N. Gould, Elijah Stout, F. R. Sterrett, E. F. Dodge, S. R. Merrell and probably Dr. D. W. Green. Of this latter name there is some doubt, recollections differing. As the charter was burned in the great fire of 1882, and also the original records, the question cannot be definitely settled. Of the other names there appears to be no doubt.
The first masonic meeting were held in what was then known as Gaylord’s hall, which stood on Washington street, on the present site of W. E. Perkin’s omnibus barn. Here the lodge remained for several years, and worked and grew and prospered. Probably about the year 1878 the lodge removed to the Armstrong building on Washington street, just below Center. They did not continue in this location very long, for in February, 1869, the lodge removed to Harley’s hall, the present site of the Academy of Music, where they remained until November, 1872, when they took possession of the hall in Young’s block, corner of Center and Main streets, which they had leased for a period of ten years. This hall was specially fitted up and arranged for the work of the masonic bodies of the city, and its destruction by fire was a severe loss to the craft, as many of their records, regalia, furniture, working-tools, etc., were destroyed. Since that destruction the blue lodge and chapter have been holding stated meetings and convocations in the hall of the I.O.O.F., in Lyon block. The commandery has held no regular asylum since the fire, having no suitable arrangements for work.
Carnelian Lodge has numbered among its members very many of the best business and professional men of this city, and upon its rolls may be read the names of a majority of those citizens whose records are inseparably interwoven with the business enterprises of the city. During the almost twenty-two years of its existence, Carnelian Lodge has entered the names of two hundred and two members upon its registers, and of these just one-half remain affiliate, the other one hundred and one having either died, removed or demitted.
The list of those who have sat in the east, west and south since the organization of the lodge is herewith given, and should be carefully preserved as a matter of reference, as the data from which the roster is made is most difficult of access.
The other officers for the current year are: C. Neal, Treas., who has held that office ten years; Adelbert Wells, Sec., who has held his office four years; C. C. Lowe, S.D.; C. H. Hanson, J.D.; James Lister, S.S.; F. G. Slocum, J.S.; James K. Baker, Tyler.
Hope Chapter, No. 12, R.A.M. ~ The war had closed, the citizen soldiers had returned to their homes, trade had resumed its wonted channels, and peace settled permanently upon all our broad domain; when, with the return of prosperity and the abiding conviction that war’s rude alarms would not soon disturb their quiet, the members of the Lake City A.F.A.M., who in other places had enjoyed the privileges of the higher masonic bodies, determined, if possible, to secure the institution of a chapter of the royal arch at this place. A petition was accordingly forwarded to B. F. Smith, of Mankato, G.H.P. of the G.R.A.C., for dispensation to open a chapter of R.A.M. in Lake City. The petition was favorably received and the request granted. The dispensation, bearing date February 2, 1867, came duly to hand and on the evening of the seventh day of that same month was read before the following named Royal Arch Masons, who constituted the original members of Hope Chapter, No. 12: Eduard Anderson, E. F. Dodge, Benj. Dodge, A. H. Beach, John McBride, C. G. Ayres, Geo. K. Saylor, L. J. Fletcher, Menjamin Smith, T. M. Gossard, W. E. Lowell. The dispensation named A. H. Beach, H.P.; Geo. Saylor, K.; John McBride, Scribe; Benj. Smith, C. of H.; C. G. Ayres, P.S., and L. L. Fletcher, R.A.C., to act until the convocation of the G.R.A.C. in the ensuing fall. The chapter thus working under dispensation continued its labors until the convocation of the G.R.A.C., October 12, 1867, when the act of dispensation was approved and a charter issued. The G.H.P. not being able to attend in person, appointed, as his proxy, companion S. B. Toote, of Red Wing, who, under instructions from the G.H.P., visited Lake City on December 3, 1867, to install the officers-elect and consecrate and dedicate the chapter. In addition to the names already given as petitioners, the list of charter members included the following: B. S. Goodrich, C. W. Smyth, S. S. Whitney, S. B. Munson, Jr., H. K. Terrell, J. W. VanVliet. The meetings of the chapter were regularly held in Masonic hall and the numbers increased steadily. The whole number of companions who have been borne upon the rolls of Hope Chapter, No. 12, R.A.M., since its institution nearly seventeen years since, has been one hundred and forty-six, and of these ninety-six are now members. Of the original petitioners three have entered within the veil of the unseen temple, the house not made with hands, viz: Geo. K. Saylor, Benjamin Smith and W. E. Lowell.
The officers who have filled the three highest positions in the chapter from the date of its dedication, are as follows:
The officers for the current year, other than those above given, are: M. O. Kemp, C.H.; C. A. Hubbard, P.S.; C. C. Lowe, R.A.C.; C. W. Smyth, Treas.; Adelbert Wells, Sec.; J. Cole Doughty,m M. 3d V.; J. W. Kennedy, M. 2d V.; C. H. Salisbury, M. 1st V.; Jas. F. Baker, Sentinel.
Lake City Commandery, No. 6. ~ The organization of the commandery in Lake City followed the institution of the chapter about three years. In the spring of 1870 a petition was presented to E. C. B. Porter, R.E.G.C., for dispensation to erect an asylum in Lake City, and the dispensation, in accordance with such petition, was granted on March 21 of that year (1870). One month later, April 21, 1870, the first meeting of the commandery was held. The Sir Knights to whom the dispensation of R.E.G.C. Porter came, were: E. F. Dodge, S.R. Merrell, F. A. Wells, Henry W. Holmes, Grove B. Cooley, S. Y. Hyde, Chas. H. Lindsley, Richard A. Jones and E. H. Kennedy. Of these, E. F. Dodge was named E.C., S. R. Merrell, G., and F. A. Wells, C.G. In the following June the grand conclave met, approved the work of the Sir Knights and issued them a charter in regular form. On October 31 following, Sir Knight S. R. Merrell, of this city, received orders from the R.E.G.C. to organize the commandery, and on November 12, 1870, the orders were obeyed, and Lake City Commandery of Knights Templar, No. 6, was formally organized. The commandery has had a prosperous existence, and until the trial by fire, nearly two years since, was steadily increasing in numbers, influence and efficiency. Notwithstanding the organization of Red Wing commandery so near their asylum, within less than half the prescribed limits, Lake City Sir Knights have added to their numbers from year to year until one hundred and seventeen have taken the orders of knighthood in the asylum here, or been received from others. Of this whole number of one hundred and seventeen, only twenty-nine have severed their connection, leaving an actual membership of eighty-eight. Of the twenty-nine who are no longer carried upon the list of Sir Knights connected with this commandery, five have gone out at the orders of the Supreme Commander, to enter the earthly asylum no more forever. Their names are: C. A. Bayard, who died in 1872; Wilbur Carrol, in 1875; W. E. Collins in 1880; H. M. Powers, in 1881, and H. P. Krick, who received his summons only last September. The three principal posts in the commandery have been held by the following Sir Knights from the organization of the body, in 1870, until the present. In this table the years in which the elections were held are the ones given:
The completed roster of the Sir Knights holding office in the commandery here at present are: Rev. James Cornell, P.; James C. Hassinger, S.W.; J. C. Parkhurst, J.W.; O. P. Francisco, Treas.; M. O. Kemp, Rec.; H. H. Dickmann, St.B.; C. H. Salisbury, Sw.B.; Calvin Neal, Warden; J. O. Junkin, 1st G.; A. B. Kegar, 2d G.; H. Lorentzen, 3d G.; R. H. Neal, Sentinel.
Lake City, No. 22, I.O.O.F. ~ The I.O.O.F. of this city have had a continous and prosperous existence of nearly sixteen years. The lodge was instituted here by C. C. Comee, G.M., and C. D. Strong, G.Rep., July 23, 1868. The charter members were: R. H. Matthews, S. S. Whitney, Albert Glines, T. H. Perkins, R. R. Gray and Richard Weeks. The original elective officers were: S. S. Whitney, N.G.; Albert Glines, V.G.; R. H. Matthews, Sec.; Richard Weeks, Treas. The appointed officers were: T. H. Perkins, Warden; R. R. Grey, Guardian.
The first meetings of the Lake City Lodge, No. 22, I.O.O.F., were held in what was then known as Gaylord’s Hall, on Washington street, upon the present site of W. E. Perkins’ omnibus barn. In December, 1871, they went into permanent quarters in their present location, in the third story of Lyon block. They have a very comfortable hall 30 x 55 feet, with commodious anterooms, committee rooms, preparation and regalia rooms, and all the necessary accompaniments for the regular prosecution of their work.
The whole number of members received into the order here since its organization, both by card and initiation, has been two hundred thirty-two. The present membership is ninety-four. The officers now serving are: W. M. Sprague, N.G.; J. C. Schmedt (sic), V.G.; W. A. Stevens, R.S.; C. H. Hanson, F.S.; A. Koch, Treas.; R. Clifford, Warden; D. G. Heggie, Conductor; L. D. Avery, O.G.; P. J. Anderson, I.G.; N. C. Pike, R.S.N.G.; H. D. Wickham, L.S.N.G.; S. W. Webster, R.S.V.G.; S. P. Stettler, L.S.V.G.; B. W. Dodge, R.S.S.; W. H. Whipple, L.S.S.; Rev. T. B. Killiam, Chaplain. The trustees are Robert Romick, T. J. Morrow, E. C. Eaton.
The chair of P.G. has been filled since the institution of the lodge by the following members, whose names appear in the order of their succession: S. S. Whitney, A. Glines, R. H. Mathews, A. K. Gaylord, M. C. Humphrey, Jr., G. W. Fuller, A. H. Taisey, D. C. Estes, R. Weeks, David Walker, E. A. Kelley, H. H. Arnold, J. E. Maas, A Beardsley, D. G. Heggie, Rob. Romick, J. M. Collins, H. C. Jackson, Edwin Wrigley, N. C. Pike, L. P. Hudson, Granville Clark, N. J. Snow, H. A. Young, Robert Clifford, C. E. Hinkley, C. H. Hanson, John Phillips, Henry Schmidt, C. M. Colby.
Mount Zion Encampment, No. 7, I.O.O.F. ~ The Lake City Lodge were no sooner fixed in their comfortable quarters in Lyon block than the organization of an encampment, which had been frequently considered, was actively entered into. An informal meeting of such patriarchs as were interested in the organization was held on December 23, 1871. Measures were taken to secure the proper authorization from the grand encampment, and on February 20, 1872, the organization was formally effected, with the following as the charter members: R. B. Gates, Albert Glines, E. A. Kelly, H. A. Young, N. C. Pike, N. T. Estes, A. H. Taisey, A. Beardsley, S. W. Webster and R. W. Clifford. The encampment was instituted by Grand Patriarch C. D. Strong, assisted by other officers of the grand encampment. The officers elect were then installed, viz: Albert Glines, C.P.; R. B. Gates, H.P.; A. K. Gaylord, S.W.; R. Weeks, J.W.; E. A. Kelly, Scribe; H. A. Young, Treas. The appointed officers were: N. C. Pike, Guide; N. T. Estes, Sentinel; A. H. Taisey, 1st W.; R. W. Clifford, 2d W.; S. W. Webster, 3d W.; H. H. Arnold, 4th W.; A Beardsly, 1st G. of T.; R. Clifford, 2d G. of T. Since the organization of the encampment, Mount Zion, No. 7, has met regularly on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, and have just completed the twelfth year of a very prosperous existence. The whole number of members connected with Mount Zion since its organization has been eighty-two. The present membership numbers forty-two. The elective officers for the present term are: Henry Schmidt, C.P.; D. C. Estes, H.P.; J. C. Schmidt, S. W.; C. M. Colby, J.W.; N. C. Pike, R.S.; R. Romick, F.S.; J. M. Collins, Treas. The trustees are H. C. Jackson, J. C. Schmidt, C. M. Colby.
Insurance, No. 38, A.O.U.W. ~ This lodge, having for its object, among others, the payment of the certain stipulated sum of two thousand dollars to the widows and orphans of deceased members, was organized in this city January 19, 1878, with sixteen charter members, namely, George W. Lemley, A. T. Guernsey, G. W. Thayer, C. C. Stone, Wm. Jewell, John Adolph, C. W. Crary, Chas. Funk, L. A. Lemley, Charles Hartman, Wesley Carpenter, Fred. Abraham, John Trobke, Henry Selover, A. N. Curtis, H. W. Banks. The lodge was duly instituted and the officers-elect installed by A. H. Taisey, D.G.M.W., and the lodge was ready for business. A. T. Guernsey was the first M.W. of the new lodge, and William Jewell its recorder; and these gentlemen, with Dr. C. W. Crary, were the first board of trustees. Dr. Crary was appointed medical examiner to the lodge, a position which he still continues to hold. The organization of the lodge was effected in Rogers’ Hall, in this year of the Academy of Music, but the members shortly afterward took possession of a hall in the third story of Lyon block, and here they continued to hold their regular meetings until September, 1882, when they sold their furniture to the K. of H., who had been burned out in the great fire of the spring previous. Since that date, September, 1882, the A.O.U.W. have held their regular meetings on the second and fourth of each month in the hall of the K. of H., over the post-office. The present number of members is forty-four. Whole number belonging since the organization has been, as nearly as can now be ascertained, about eighty.
The present officers are: A. T. Guernsey, P.M.W.; M. F. Hills, M.W.; scar Anderson, F.; Fred Abraham, O.; G. W. Thayer, Rec.; D. M. Smith, Fin.; G. W. Lemley, Receiver; Andrew Steel, Guide; Peter Lindblad, L.W.; F. Lange, O.W.
Lake City, No. 576, K. of H. ~ This organization, differing little in its general features from the A.O.U.W., has had an existence in this city of very nearly seven years. It came into being at Odd Fellows’ Hall April 4, 1877, under the hand of J. S. Marvin, D.S.D. The charter members numbered fourteen, and all of these were necessary to fill the several lodge offices save Messrs. R. Hanisch, H. A. Young and F. J. Kopplin; and of these Messrs. Hanisch and Young became trustees. The names of the original members were: A. K. Gaylord, P.D.; R. B. Gates, D.; R. Romick, V.D.; J. Dobner, A.D.; H. L. Smith, Rep.; C. F. Kircher, F.Rep.; Chas. Wise, Treas.; J. E. Maas, Guide; Frank Doughty, Guard.; W. L. Doe, Sent.; C. W. Crary, Chap.
The lodge subsequently removed to a building near the corner of Main and Center streets, and were burned out in the spring of 1882, when they rented of the A.O.U.W. for some months, finally purchasing the furniture of that body and fitting up a very pleasant hall for themselves in their present location over the post-office. Since the organization of the lodge sixty-seven members have been carried upon their rolls, and of these forty-seven still retain membership with the lodge here. The others have removed, died, demitted, or dropped out. The K. of H. are all included in one general beneficiary dispensation; the A.O.U.W. have separate beneficiary jurisdictions largely corresponding to state lines.
Lake City, No. 576, K. of H., is officered as follows: J. H. Gillett, P.D.; E. H. Warner, D.; G. Rossler, V.D.; L. Schindler, A.D.; J. B. Johnson, Ge.; F. Cotter, Chap.; Robert Romick, Rep.; A. Krall, F.Rep.; R. Hanisch, Treas.; J. C. Schmidt, Guide; H. Gillett, Sentinel.
S.S.H.F. ~ The Scandinavian Relief Association was formed in 1874 by a number of the Scandinavians of Lake City, with the object of helping poor emigrants, and also its members. The members meet once a month to pay their dues, and has at present twenty-eight members. At the last annual meeting the following officers were elected to serve for one year: O. Chinberg, president; C. E. Carlson, vice-president; A. Anderson, treasurer; Edward Edholm, secretary.
Pages 868 - 870
Lake City, like all new towns in the west, had no lack for men of enterprise and push. Following close in the wake of the pioneer, and before he had scarce made a beginning on the frontier, the merchant and business man, with his stock of goods or eastern bank account, also put in an appearance. Among the first to do anything having the semblance of a banking business, was C. P. Cogswell, a young man from the east, who opened a bank in 1858 on the corner of Main and Marion streets, in a very pretentious and expensive building (for that early day), erected for banking and office purposes in the summer of 1857 by Dwelle & Tibbetts. In the spring of 1859 Mr. Cogswell turned over his agency of the Phoenix Insurance Co. to Mr. A. T. Guernsey, and left here for some place of more metropolitan pretensions. He was succeeded by E. Chamberlain & Co., from ~ no person seems to know where, who conducted a (pretended) flourishing banking business; however, only for a few weeks, and would, perhaps, by this time have been forgotten here if he had paid a small bill due the village printer. About this time Mr. H. F. Williamson(now merchant in Duluth) established a large general merchandise store here, carrying a full line of such goods as were best suited to a pioneer trade, and taking in exchange therefor every staple article produced on the farm. He also, as a matter of convenience to himself and friends, connected with his business a commercial exchange. This was principally done by purchasing checks, drafts and other commercial paper having a par value, from traveling men and newly-arrived emigrants.
In 1863 the grain and commission firm of Bessey & Doughty, who were then doing an immense business, added a banking or commercial exchange department to their house, not so much as a matter of profit to themselves, but as a matter of convenience in their growing trade. They were also agents for, and did a large traffic with, the old northern line of steamboats on the Mississippi, and in this way found the convenience of a banking system almost indispensable. This commercial enterprise prospered without event till one morning in the summer of 1866, when the town was startled by the announcement on the streets that the bank had been robbed. The rumor was authentic; the bank had been burglarized, and as no mystery surrounded this (to Mr. Doughty) unfortunate affair, he concluded to forego the profits and advantages of conducting a banking business under the circumstances in Lake City. The already great commercial interests and still growing enterprises at this important point created an urgent demand for a commercial exchange. The opening soon found a capitalist, and Lake City dates her first permanent banking house, as established here in 1868, by C. W. Hackett (now of St. Paul). This was a private enterprise, but one that enjoyed the entire confidence of the people, and did an exclusive banking business. In 1870 Mr. Hackett sold out to Joel Fletcher, Esq., of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, who continued it as a private enterprise till 1873. It was then incorporated according to state laws, with a capital of fifty thousand dollars. Mr. Joel Fletcher was its first president, Hon. Sloan M. Emery, vice-president, and C. A. Hubbard, Esq., cashier. Mr. Fletcher died in 1875, and Samuel Doughty, Esq., was then elected to the presidency, and still fills the position. Mr. Emery resigned the vice-presidency, when he became connected with the Jewell Nursery in 1879, and no vice-president has since been elected. Mr. C. A. Hubbard still fills the position of cashier. Its present board of directors is composed of G. F. Benson, Samuel Doughty, C. A. Hubbard, J. M. Underwood, Robert White, W. E. Perkins, J. W. Ray and S. M. Emery. In April, 1882, the bank building (corner of Lyon avenue and Washington street), a fine three-story brick structure, in size 60 x 82 ½ feet, was destroyed by fire. The office and vault on the corner, with the two upper stories burnt off, remained standing and uninjured. A temporary roof was put on, and business continued unobstructed, and the same season the block was rebuilt and finished as a two-story structure.
First National Bank ~ This bank was organized in 1870, according to the United States laws, with a capital of fifty thousand dollars and the following board of directors: L. H. Garrard, L. S. Van Vliet, John W. Willis, Wm. S. Timerman, G. F. Benson, H. Center, and J. B. McLean. L. H. Garrard was elected president, G. F. Benson, vice-president, and L S. Van Vliet, cashier. The bank building, a substantial two-story brick, is situated on the corner of Washington and Center streets, and is the third building, its two predecessors having been destroyed by fire, without the loss of a paper.
The present board of officers and directors consists of C. F. Young, president; L. S. Van Vliet, cashier; A. Basey, C. F. Rogers, G. H. Grannis, J. C. Hassinger, D. M. Smith, directors. These two banking-houses are a credit to not only Lake City, but the county, and are institutions in which the people feel a just pride. They are as permanent as the foundations of the city, inasmuch as they are under the directorship of its most honorable and wealthy men. Personal sketches of them appear further on in this work.
Pages 870 - 871
One of the interests of which Lake City has just reason to be proud, is known as the Jewell Nursery. It is situated on the upper bench of the Lake Pepin bottoms, west of the city, and now contains about one hundred acres of growing trees and shrubs. The varieties grown have been selected with great care, having a view to adaptability to the climate in which they are sold ~ the west and northwest. The proprietors, Messrs. Underwood & Emery, are men of sound judgment and business habits, and are determined to make it one of the permanent institutions of the state. The firm has three hundred acres of land adapted to this purpose, and is steadily enlarging the plant. More fruit-trees will be set from this nursery in the spring of 1884 than all others in the state combined, and more than are grown in any nursery west of Ohio. This industry was founded in 1868, by Dr. P. A. Jewell, now deceased, and thus derives its name. Ten acres of oak grub-land were set at first to fruit-trees, and additions were made from time to time, reaching eighty acres in extent at the time of the doctor’s death. The business was managed by J. M. Underwood, who became sole owner in 1878, and next year associated with himself Mr. S. M. Emery, constituting the firm above named. The location commands a view of the city and valley, and is one of the most pleasant that could be imagined. Messrs. Underwood & Emery also give a great deal of attention to stock-raising, and have one of the finest herds of pure-bred Holstein cattle in the northwest. By lease they have control of five hundred acres additional, and carry on extensive farming operations. The influences of these enterprises are destined to be powerfully felt throughout this and adjoining states in the near future. It is well that such men live, for they have a tendency not only to build up and enrich themselves, but also to enhance the value and elevate out of the old-time “ruts” of other days a vast expanse of country surrounding them.
On February 26, 1884, this already immense enterprise was organized into a joint stock company and incorporated under general laws of the State of Minnesota, with a capital of one hundred thousand dollars, for the purpose of propagating and selling nursery stock, as well as importing, breeding and dealing in pure-bred Holstein cattle, and the transacting of a general real-estate business. The management of the incorporation is vested in the following board of officers: President, J. M. Underwood; secretary, S. M. Emery; treasurer, J. Cole Doughty, with principal office at Lake City and a branch in Richland county, Dakota.
In speaking of this enterprise, the Lake City “Graphic” says: “You will find right here the beginning of a thoroughbred Friesland dairy-ranch, that is destined to be one of the largest enterprises in Wabasha county. You will find here the entering wedge of one of the best paying industries in this state, and that wedge driven half-way home. You will find here the starting-point for a lucrative stock business, the breeding and selling of fine-bred dairy-cattle, that will gi ve Lake City a name in every county of this immense northwest. This commendable enterprise is only one more sign of the innate and inborn business vigor there is in the big nursery-firm whose operations put more spot cash in the tills of our merchants than the business of any other firm in this or any adjoining county. Out of this new venture of Messrs. Underwood & Emery it needs no prophet’s eye to see the grand results which a very few short years must bring forth. The best herd of thoroughbred, gilt-edged dairy-cattle west of the great lakes, imported with judgment and bred with the utmost care, it will follow as a necessity that buyers from all our northwestern state will make their semi-annual visitations to this point for purchases, and thereby be no inconsiderable factor in Lake City’s prosperity.”
Pages 871 - 877
Mourning, disaster and death are the common lot of man, and though he seek out and settle in the fairest and most beautiful spot in all the Creator’s fair universe, yet the “pale horse and rider” is his unseen companion.
The most appalling and heartrending fatal disaster that has fallen to the writer’s lot to place on the historic page is (if we except the terrible calamity caused by the falling of the bridge at Dixon, Illinois, on Sunday, May 4, 1873, when two hundred men, women and children, who were witnessing a baptismal ceremony, were precipitated into the Rock river without a moment’s notice, thirty-seven being drowned or killed, and five mortally wounded) the drowning of the Stout and Stowell girls in Lake Pepin. On a fair and beautiful Saturday morning, in the month of June, in 1858, a party of Lake City young people, composed of John Stout, William Corn, Misses Julia and Rebecca Stout, Miss Julia Cooper (now Mrs. G. M. Dwelle, and the only member of the party still residing in Lake City), and two sisters (young ladies from Mazeppa, by the name of Stowell) organized for a day’s picnicking and excursion to Maiden Rock. They embarked in a sailboat with happy hearts and a bright prospect for a delightful day’s recreation. The lake was calm and the morning fair and lovely: the sun shone in all its glory on the surrounding hills. Friends on shore bade them good morning with the wish that they might enjoy themselves as much as the day was beautiful. Maiden Rock was reached without incident, the linen spread and dinner served on its summit. A couple of hours were spent in gathering flowers and viewing the grandeur of Lake Pepin’s scenery in the distance. At about two o/clock in the afternoon the party started on its return, and when about a mile down the lake and a half-mile from shore, the wind suddenly arose and almost instantly became a gale. The young men saw the peril and attempted to cut the rope that held the sail, but the same instant the boat was overturned and lay bottom up. A moment’s struggle in the water and six of them had a hold on the boat, but one of the Misses Stowell was gone. In a very short time the boat turned again; this time Miss Rebecca Stout lost her hold and sank from sight. Miss cooper also lost hold of the boat, but while sinking caught hold of one of the young men’s feet and climbed to the surface and again clung to the boat. The craft was then on its side, and apparently held in that position by the sail and mast. The three remaining girls now took positions as best they could on the side of the boat and hoped to finally drift ashore. About an hour after Julia Stout and Miss Stowell, either becoming chilled, discouraged or asleep ~ at least apparently unconscious ~ slipped off into the water and sank without a struggle. Miss Cooper, describing her experience, says she fought and struggled desperately for her life, and only by the aid of the young men was she kept awake. Sleep seemed to be her danger and it required all her will-power to fight it off. About two hours from the time they first upset, the remaining three reached shore, more dead than alive. A Swede settler’s cabin was found half a mile from where they landed, and he was dispatched with the sad intelligence to their friends. The same evening the survivors reached home, and the next Saturday the bodies of the four young ladies were picked up at different points in the lake, and were all buried together near the city. This sad affair happened on Julia Stout’s fifteenth birthday, and Rebecca Stout was to have been married in a short time.
On December 13, 1878, two more young and promising lives were yielded up to feed Lake Pepin’s hungry waters. On this evening a skating party had congregated on the ice and all enjoyed them selves till the usual hour of adjournment, returning to their respective homes ~ all save Porter B. Guernsey and Florence Wyckoff. They were skating companions during the evening (which was very dark) and had become separated from the others, who supposed they had gone home. Mrs. Guernsey’s injunction to her boy was that he should always return from skating at nine o’clock. This he had invariably done heretofore. This evening the usual hour had passed, the busy clock had ticked away the tedious minutes and struck the hour of ten. A half-hour more of intense anxiety was passed, and Mr. Guernsey, who was attending a meeting during the evening at the hall, returned. The mother had hoped up to this time that the son had joined his father at the hall. Now thoroughly alarmed, Mr. Guernsey hastened to the residence of Mr. Wyckoff, thinking his son might have tarried there. The two anxious parents now aroused their neighbors and began a search which lasted all night. Next morning the bodies were found and taken out of an air-hole in the ice not far from the foot of High street. The young man was the son of Mr. A. T. Guernsey, long and well known in this city, and was in the sixteenth year of his age. He was a bright and promising young man, a general favorite with his companions. The young lady was the daughter of Rev. Samuel Wyckoff, pastor of the Presbyterian church of this city, and was in her seventeenth year. The sudden and untimely death of these young people cast a gloom over the entire city.
The most singular among Lake Pepin’s disasters, within the recollection of the pioneers of this city, was the crushing in the ice of the steamer Aeolian in the spring of 1859. Early that spring several steamboats had arrived at Read’s Landing from St. Louis, and were waiting for a passage through the lake, being delayed or ice-bound several days. At last a channel appeared, supposed to be wide enough to enable them to reach the open water at Lake City and land below the point. The old War Eagle (a substantial and powerful boat) forced a passage through, followed by another vessel (name unknown) of nearly equal size and strength. The moment these large crafts emerged from the narrow channel into the open space, the great bodies of ice on either side closed together on the ill-fated Aeolian, which was only a short distance behind, and cut her in two at the water’s edge. The lower part, with the machinery and three persons (two men and an old lady who ran below to save some articles of clothing), sank immediately, leaving the cabin and pilot-house on the ice. The bodies were recovered after the ice was removed, and were buried near this city. Two of them were on their way to this place to locate and start to make themselves a home.
On June 12, 1882, Frank Collins was drowned by the criminal carelessness of the officers of the steamboat Centennial. Young Collins was out in a skiff, in company with two other men and a boy, and was engaged in fishing, lying at anchor about sixty feet from shore at the end of the point. The Centennial, on her way up the lake, had made her usual halt at Washington street, and resumed her coarse. When rounding the point she ran over the skiff, cutting it in two. The other parties who were with Collins sprang into the water and were saved, while Collins, who attempted to pull in the anchor, was drowned. He was a son of Mr. Timothy Collins, an early settler of this city, and was about twenty-three years old. The captain, Thomas L. Davidson, was sued by the young man’s father for his personal damages in the United States court at St. Paul, and obtained a judgment for fifteen hundred dollars and costs, in December, 1883.
The pilot, John King, was indicted by the grand jury, tried in the district court at Wabasha, and convicted of manslaughter in the fourth degree. Judge Card, of Lake City, prosecuted the case in the United States court, and assisted the county attorney in the prosecution of King.
On Sunday, April 22, 1883, John Matter and his newly-married wife were drowned in the lake about a mile from this city. They were residents of Pepin, and on the day named had come to Lake City for a few needed articles and a pig. They had started back about 3 P.M., and when about a mile out were struck with a gale of wind which instantly overturned the boat. Otto Marks, who accompanied them, was rescued by some boy, in a drowning condition; the pig, more fortunate, succeeded in reaching shore alive. The bodies were recovered in a few days and buried at West Albany.
Scores of precious lives have been lost in Lake Pepin’s beautiful though treacherous waters, and no less than nine bodies were covered with the ice of the winter of 1884.
Other incidents worthy of mention are the shooting of Thomas Martin and Patrick Murphy by City Marshal S. B. Dilley. This unfortunate affair happened on Saturday, September 12, 1868. The victims were comparative strangers in town, having been in the employ of farmers during harvest, and had come to town for a little hilarity. Drinking, singing and playing games had been the order of the day, and night had found them and their companions considerably intoxicated, and consequently noisy. About eight o’clock in the evening the marshal’s attention was attracted to a drinking den on Washington street, between Center and Marion streets, by the boisterous and vociferous demonstrations within. Upon going to the door (the evidence at the trial disclosed) he was met by some of the parties in a fearful state of excitement, who, he supposed, were about to attempt to lay hands on him. In the momentary excitement one chamber of his revolver was (some say accidentally) discharged, the bullet taking effect in Martin’s breast. Murphy then took hold of the marshal’s throat, and was instantly shot in the chest. The two men soon after died of their wounds, and excitement among the Irish element ran high. The better class of them, however, succeeded in restoring order, called a meeting and passed resolutions declaring that any person who attempted personal violence or revenge on Marshal Dilley was no friend of theirs. They also, at the same time, took steps to raise means for the purpose of a vigorous prosecution of the slayer of their friends. On Monday following the marshal gave himself up, waived a formal examination, and asked the court for permission to be released on bail. This was granted, and bonds in the sum of ten thousand dollars were signed and turned over to the guardians of the law for his appearance before the district court. After being continued through several terms of court his case was finally brought to trial, and by the most strenuous efforts on the part of his attorneys ~ Judge Wilder, of Red Wing, and H. D. Stocker, of Lake City ~ he was saved from the penitentiary. The prosecution was conducted by the county attorney, W. W. Scott. Other able counsel had been employed to assist the county attorney at first, but as the years passed interest seems to have been lost, and the money and counsel, so lavishly promised at first by the dead men’s friends, never materialized.
Another shooting affair, attended with fatal results, occurred in the fall of 1882, about a mile below the city limits, at a house of questionable reputation. The victim, David Davis, while in an exciting altercation with a young man named John White, was shot by the latter, and died within forty-eight hours. Davis was a man of whom little is said, and was perhaps better known by men who possessed similar traits of character. White was tried by a jury of his fellow-citizens, and sentenced to the penitentiary for five years. He is a young man of German birth, and promises to outlive this unfortunate disgrace, and yet become an honored and law-abiding citizen.
“The cistern has caved in ~ two men are buried!” were the words that spread from lip to lip, and from house to house, a short time before noon, on August 11, 1873.
People fled from their stores, shops, and, in fact, from all parts of the city, to the scene of the disaster, at the corner of Garden and Dwelle streets, where the fire department was having a cistern constructed. The report was confirmed, and the appalling sight which met the eyes of the gathering crowd can better be imagined than described. The cistern, which was about twenty feet square, had been excavated to a depth of nearly eighteen feet, whenthe earth suddenly gave way on all sides ~ burying two poor unfortunate laborers under tons of dirt. Men went to work regardless of time, talent or station in life, and the same evening restored to their hapless widows and helpless orphans the lifeless bodies of Benjamin Kramer and Adna Sanford. Those men had dwelt here for several years, and had become known ad respected as honorable and industrious citizens.
Mrs. Sanford still resides here, and has raised her family of eight orphan children honorabley, and without the aid or interference of either the city or county.
Near the corner of Center and Prairie streets, while re-curbing a well, Mr. J. F. Hall was buried a distance of thirty-five feet below the surface, by the sudden caving in of the well, while he was at work near its bottom. His body was recovered after forty-eight hours’ arduous labor.
On January 18, 1871, Mrs. John McBride was instantly killed while out riding with her son, C. W. Smyth, of this city. The horse being frightened, became unmanageable, and began running and kicking. Mrs. McBride, realizing her imminent danger, sprang from the cutter, the concussion of which produced a fracture of the spinal column near the base of the brain, and died without speaking. She was one of Lake City’s most respected ladies, and her loss was much felt by its citizens.