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Dakota County, Minnesota

. . . about Lakeville, Minnesota

NOTE: The following history is from an 1882 publication:

(Lakeville Township)



In 1855, Mr. Brackett began to lay the foundations of a town by causing two hundred and fifty acres of land in sections 29 and 30, to be surveyed and platted by Mr. Turpin. He called the place Lakeville on account of its proximity to a pretty little sheet of water. Soon after, he sold a half interest to Charles F. Crehon. When the town was laid out, it embraced within its limits. Mr. Brackett's house. This, then, became the first house in the village of Lakeville. The news soon spread, and men with an eye to business began to be attracted to the new town. Mr. Connelly first appeared on the scene and opened a general store with a full line of goods, such as were needed by the inhabitants in those days. His place of business was in G. F. Ackley's old log cabin where he remained for a time, and was then succeeded by Jabez Smith. He also soon after sold out to a young man named Perry, who in turn, sold out to Torrey and Bradbury. We know not the reason why each merchant made his stay in the new village so short, whether, because the business did not prove so successful as he expected, or because the spirit of adventure and gain lured him to fresh fields of endeavor.

In July, 1856, D. C. Johnson and Marshall Sherman opened a store at the same time, keeping a hotel, which was the first one in the village. Joseph Weischelbaum, better known as Joe Wax, and his brother John, now appeared on the scene of action, the former opening a blacksmith's shop, and the latter a carpenter shop. David France also started a blacksmith's shop, and J. France a gun-smith's shop.

In 1857, Martin Dalton opened a saloon, and J. J. Hartig started a shoemaker's shop. In the same year several settlers built houses, and the town in 1858, was in a flourishing condition. At this time there arose a difficulty in obtaining good titles to the lots on account of the decision of Commissioner Hendricks in regard to the claims of the mail contractors. Although, as previously stated, this was finally decided in Mr. Brackett's favor, and the titles were all made good, yet by this time, the business current had changed its direction, and was setting strongly in favor of Farmington, and it was too late for the village of Lakeville to recover its lost strength.

In 1856, M. Lander had erected a boardinghouse, and in 1858, the village boasted two hotels, one built by G. F. Ackley during this year. It stood at the junction of two cross roads, and was afterwards burned. The village held its own pretty bravely until 1869, when the Hastings and Dakota railroad was completed to Lakeville, and the railroad company began to found a village. Purchasing twenty acres of land with twenty acres given to the company by interested persons, a village was formed in the south-west quarter of section 29, and named Fairfield, which was afterwards changed by act of legislature to Lakeville. People following the march of improvement, began to flock in. The first man to take advantage of the new situation, was B. Ackerman, who erected a frame building 22x30 feet, on block 9, and started a general store and hotel. The next building was erected by Henry Le Duc, nearly opposite Ackerman as a general store, while the upper part was used as a dwelling-house. He also erected the first wheat elevator in this part of the county. The village now began to flourish, and most of the business men of the old village seeing in what direction the tide was setting, began to move with it. This with the other causes mentioned occasioned the decay of the old village. At the present time nothing remains to indicate the former presence of any business settlement in the vicinity of Brackett's farm. G. F. Ackley moved next year to the new village and erected a frame building, which he used as a general store. The same year David France moved his blacksmith's shop thither, and was followed by Mr. Weischelbaum, who opened a saloon, and the old village became truly a "deserted village."

A platform four by sixty feet, erected by the railroad company, had served as depot until 1870, when they removed the depot from Dahlgren to Lakeville. The Northwestern Telegraph Company have also an office there. The station is still known as Fairfield, although the railroad company have frequently been asked to abolish the name, as there are already two of the same name in the state. Lakeville has but one business street, extending north and south, called Main street. Entering from the south, the first building on the east side of the street is a blacksmith's shop, established in 1877, by J. Ernster. A carriage and wagon manufactory established in 1875 by William Gardt adjoins this. The next building is owned and occupied by B. Ackerman as a general store and hotel. He keeps a full line of dry goods, groceries, glassware, etc. The hotel has twelve furnished rooms. George Keher established, in 1880, a full line of pictures, jewelry, etc., in the next frame building. All kinds of boots and shoes are made by James Hartig in the adjoining frame building, where he established business in 1870. The next building is occupied by McClintock and Moran as a general store where they display the finest assortment in town, of dry goods, boots, shoes, groceries, hats, caps etc. The post-office is also located in this building. The next building is a large frame two-story house, eighteen by thirty feet front, with an addition twenty-two by fifty. This is known as the North-western hotel, owned by T. O'Leary, and situated on block 13. It has easy access to the railroad, and can accommodate forty-two guests. This hotel was erected in 1871, has eleven sleeping-rooms on the second floor and six rooms on the first floor. In 1873, P. Hofforth established a saloon, and in 1877, James Coughlin opened the same business. Donovan and Lenihan are an enterprising firm with a good line of general merchandise. Kinnery and Niskern established in May, 1880, a general line of hardware in a frame building. B. J. Penschal keeps a meat market. Crossing the street we find at the north end of the town, on the west side, Henry Shen, butcher, established in 1876. G. F. Ackley bought out D. C. Johnson in 1881, and keeps a very fine assortment of all kinds of hardware. Mr. Ackley has long been identified with the business interests of the place, having been formerly engaged in business in the old village of Lakeville. Perkins, Balch and Company own the next frame building, which is used by them as a wheat exchange, their elevator standing a short distance further back and close by the Lakeville flour-mill. Next stands the railroad depot, and next to this a frame building owned by G. F. Ackley, formerly occupied by him as a store for general merchandise. F. Souber opened in 1878 an establishment for making and repairing boots and shoes. The next frame building is occupied by J. W. Wheeler as a harness-shop.


Prominent among the business interests of Lakeville, stand Perkins, Balch and Company's elevator and the Lakeville flour mills. The elevator was built in 1871, near the railroad, before the name of the village was changed from Fairfield to Lakeville. It is a frame building 20x50 feet, with fourteen-foot posts. In 1875, an addition of twenty feet was annexed, and in 1877, another of thirty feet was added to the west end. The elevator now extends east and west 20x100 feet, and north and south 20x24. The latter portion is raised two stories in order that the machinery may distribute the wheat to different parts of the building. On the first floor are two Fairbank scales, and a storage capacity of 27,000 bushels. In the main building, upon the second floor, are fourteen shipping bins, with a capacity of four hundred bushels each, and one large storage bin, capacity, twelve hundred bushels.

In the addition are two storage bins with a capacity of fifteen hundred bushels each; two hopper bins of eight hundred bushels each. The grain runs from these to the separator, over which they are placed, and thence to a large bin in the basement, when it is raised by the elevator to the shipping bins, ready for shipment. This elevator extends from the bottom to the top of the building, whence the grain is distributed to the different bins by means of flues. This firm have handled in a year as many as two hundred thousand bushels of wheat, purchased from the surrounding farmers and shipped to all parts of the country. The engine which runs the elevator is six horse-power, with an eight horse-power boiler of Andrew Warsop's make, and is in a small addition 12x20 feet. There is also in connection with the elevator a storage house of five thousand bushels capacity.

In 1872, J. H. Smiley erected a dwelling house and carpenter shop 18x30 feet, which in 1875, he converted into a feed-mill, with a carpenter shop in connection with it. In 1880, he took a partner, and the firm is now known as Smiley and Sisson. They at once commenced an addition to the old building 22x28 feet, and an engine-house 16x28 feet. The old building is one and a half stories high, with twelve-foot posts, the new building is two stories with twenty-four-foot posts. The basement of the old building is used for a storeroom, with a capacity of from six to eight thousand bushels. The basement of the new building has one smutter with a capacity of fifteen bushels per hour, the rest of the room being occupied by machinery and shafting. The first floor of the old building has one run of stone, twenty-inch feed; the new building has two run of stone four feet each, and one separator with a capacity of fifteen bushels per hour. The second floor has one bolting-machine, which can bolt sixteen bushels per hour, one purifier, twenty feet long, capacity sixteen bushels per hour, and one cockle separator, which can separate twenty bushels per hour. The engine is a very fine one of fifty-two horse-power, of E. P. Allis' make, Reynold’s patent. The boiler is fifty-four inches in diameter, fifteen feet long, and has fifty-four flues. This firm depend mostly on farmers, and do only custom work.


A petition was sent to the legislature for the incorporation of the village of Lakeville. The bill was passed March 28th, 1878, and includes all of the south-east quarter of section 29. The following officers were then elected: Irenuis Perkins, president; G. F. Ackley, S. M. Wright, and T. O'Leary, trustees; E. Morgan, clerk; B. Ackerman, treasurer; D. C. Johnson, justice; George Kehrer, constable. The present officers of the village are: S. M. Wright, president; William Gardt, T. O'Leary and N. Sisson, trustees; P. Day, clerk; B. Ackerman, treasurer; D. C. Johnson, justice; G. Kehrer constable. The town has planted all the streets on both sides with young maples, which in a few years will reward their efforts by their shade and beauty. This enterprise, as well as nearly every step towards the improvement and benefit of the town, was inaugurated by Mr. Perkins.

STORM OF 1881.

On the 7th of May, 1881, about four o'clock in the afternoon, a violent storm of hail and rain, accompanied with clouds of dust, swept suddenly through the village of Lakeville. It came from the south-west and confined itself to a track of less than a quarter of a mile in width. It struck first the large two-story frame building formerly used as a general store, and known as the old hardware building. This was used by J. C. Curry and the St. Paul Harvester works, as a storehouse for machinery and carriages, but was old and consequently became an easy prey to the fury of the storm. Sweeping on to the north the hurricane smashed in the front of the store occupied by G. F. Ackley, moving it a little from its foundation, then crossed the street and struck the window of the store of P. Donovan and Company, doing also other damage to roofs and outhouses. The destruction of St. Joseph's church has been previously mentioned. An eye-witness relates that it seemed the work of a moment and before one could realize the violence of the tornado, its work of destruction was accomplished.
[History of Dakota County and the City of Hastings, by Edward D. Neill, North Star Publishing Co. Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1882, transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman]

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