CITY OF ST. PETER
Source: History of Nicollet and LeSueur Counties Minnesota, Hon. William G. Gresham, Editor-in-Chief, Volume II, 1916, B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc. Indianapolis, Indiana;
- City of St. Peter history and hospital establishment transcribed by Cheryl Q.
- Hospital Fire, Post Office and Library establishment transcribed by Sue P. Carpenter.
transcribed by Cheryl Q.:
St. Peter, the county seat of Nicollet County is located on the left bank of the Minnesota River, one hundred and thirty-four miles from St. Paul by the course of the river and only seventy-two miles by rail. It is one hundred and forty miles west of Winona, by the route of the Chicago& Northwestern railway.
To any one acquainted with the charming environments of St. Peter, it is needless to say that it is a picturesque city. A beautiful sloping terrace rises at the river, and to the east is a high range of hills beautifully wooded, which flows the Minnesota River, just to the east of the business portion of the city. One mile to the east is beautiful Lake Emily which is about two hundred feet above the river, a perfect gem among the hills. This lake abounds in fish of many species common to the lakes of Minnesota, is very easy of access to the city and has long been a charming resort for pleasure seekers.
The United States land office was removed from Fairbault in December, 1858, and remained at St. Peter until 1870, when it was transferred to New Ulm. This county was surveyed into sections in 1854.
The wagon bridge over the Minnesota at this point was constructed during the winter of 1870-71, at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars.
The first hotel in the place was on the corner of Walnut and Third streets, and is still standing, seemingly as solid as perfect in its stone masonry as the day it was built. It was sixty-one years ago, 1855, in the month of February that the St. Peter Company contracted with J.M. Winslow, of St. Paul, for the building of this hotel, which specified that it should contain forty rooms, and be ready for occupancy n or before July 1, following. It is three stories and a basement in height and cost ten thousand dollars. It was formally opened in October, 1855, by S.L. Wheeler.
The Nicollet hotel in St. Peter, still in operation-the leading hotel-was built in 1872-3 and was the venture of a stock company of which Albert Knight was the president. Its cost was thirty thousand dollars.
The first white child born in St. Peter was Volney Wheeler, son of S.L. and Margaret S. Wheeler, in the fall of 1854.
The first marriage was on July 4, 1855, between M.K. Knight and Mary E. Hunter.
St. Peter postoffice was established in 1856, with George Hezlep as postmaster.
EARLY SETTLEMENT AT ST. PETER
The first settlement was effected in St. Peter in 1854, by William B. Dodd, who was killed in the New Ulm massacre in the summer of 1862. Mr. Dodd, in company with Oliver Ames and William L. Ames, made a claim of some five hundred acres on both sides of the Minnesota River, but mostly on the west bank. They built a claim shanty, the first habitation of white men on the present site of the thriving city. Here they laid out a town and named it "Rock Bend." A short time thereafter it was re-named St. Peter.
On the 1st of February, 1854, William A. Gorman, then governor; J. Traverse Rosser, secretary of the territory; D.H. Dustin, George Hezlep, W.M. McCarty, George W. Farrington and Charles A. Parker, associated in the purchase of seven-tenths of the claim of Messrs. Dodd & Ames, and in connection with them formed a joint-stock company, to be known as the St. Peter Company, with a view to project and lay out a town or city to be called St. Peter. The officers of this company were: Willis A. Gorman, president; George Hezlep, secretary, and Charles A. Parker, treasurer. The company was organized under the laws of the territory of Minnesota. On March 1, 1856, a new organization was perfected, and a special charter obtained, the owners being Alfred F. Howes, president; George Hezlep, secretary; George W. Farrington, treasurer; Henry A. Swift, Thomas B. Winston, Henry L Moss, William L Ames, William B. Dodd and James Daly. The capital stock was one hundred thousand dollars.
Among the men who became prominently identified in the St. Peter Company at various dates, were Hon. Andrew J. Harlan, Hon. Reverdy Johnson, Albert Knight, Hon. Henry M. Rice and Judge Charles E. Flandrau. In June, 1854, the company caused to be surveyed a platted into town lots, three hundred and nineteen acres and in November, 1855, it was entered by Judge Chatfield at the land office at Winona.
Among the earliest actual settlers here may be recalled Henry Jones, J.C. York, Hon. M.B. Stone, John Johnston, Daniel Birdsall and S.L. Wheeler. In 1874, Henry Jones was the oldest settler living in St. Peter.
The first improvement in way of a permanent mill was when the contract was made by the town site company with Daniel Birdsall, for the erection of a steam saw-mill, which was built in 1854, and stood until 1857, when it was sold to Col. B.F. Pratt, by whom it was taken down and an exclusive flouring-mill plant. In 1865 it was burned and rebuilt at a cost of thirty-five thousand dollars. In 1871 a steam mill was erected by C. Baberic, the same having three run of stones, making flour after the old-fashioned method, as this was before the process of "Patent" or roller mill flour had been discovered.
FIRST HOUSE, STONE AND BANK
The first settled dwelling house used by any member of the white race within the present limits of the city of St. Peter was the original claim shanty erected by Capt. William B. Dodd, in the autumn of 1853. He made a claim of one hundred and sixty acres of land, which, when the government survey came to be made, was found to be located in section 16, which was a school section, but by some wise legislation enactments were passed, and pre-emptors who had made claims to land before the government lines had been established, if found to be on school sections, were allowed to retain their claims and school lands were assigned from some other unoccupied sections in the county. Pioneer Dodd, therefore, held his claim, and became one of the sturdy founders of the city of St. Peter.
The first store in the place was that of J.R. Gerdner, erected in May, 1855, and in 1857 the first bank was established by Edgerton, Smith & Donhower.
In 1854 J.C. York erected the second frame residence. It was standing in good form in 1874, with numerous additions, and was the residence of Rev. Edward Livermore.
THE BEGINNINGS OF ST. PETER
Henry Jones, who later became a prominent business factor in this city, conducting a drug store, related that when he landed at Traverse des Sioux, in 1854, he made inquiry there as to how far it was to St. Peter, no one seemed to know there was such a place. Finally, however, someone remembered that "he believed there was such a place about a couple of miles away."
Henry Jones made a claim in 1855 by pre-emption right. Shortly before this M.B. Stone claimed a quarter of land situated in what is now the southern portion of the city. Other settlers were G.S. Patch and Robert Bunker, who had claims on the bluffs to the west of the place, that of the former being where the Gustavus Adolphus College now stands. In 1853, on what later became the school section, A.K. Skaro and M.G. Everson settled.
The government survey was effected in 1854 by A.D. Anderson. St. Peter was surveyed and marked out by Daniel L. Turpin in June, 1854, and the plat acknowledged before James Starkey, notary public, in Ramsey County, July 25, 1854. This plat consisted of two hundred and forty-six blocks, the average size of which were twenty-eight by three hundred and thirty feet. Acknowledgement was made in the office of the register of deeds of Nicollet County, November 28, 1854. This plat, however, by order from the district court, had to be amended and changed to conform to the government sub-division. D. L.Turpin made the new survey during the month of August, 1859.
In the spring of 1855 the town site was entered by Judge Chatfield at the Winona land office, under the provisions of the act of 1844, for the members of the St. Peter Company and those to whom they had sold lots. The recorded aim and object of the formation of the St. Peter Company was: "For carrying on generally a manufacturing, lumbering, agricultural and mechanical business." The capital stock at first was five hundred shares of a par value of ten dollars each.
This corporation was still in existence in the eighties, when its officers were: F.A. Donahower, president; E.R. Moore, secretary. These two, in connection with A.J. Lamberton and W.I. Couplin, constituted the board of directors in 1883-in their hands the affairs of the company rested.
Possessed of both money and influence, as soon as this company had been organized it pushed forth vigorously to work out their plans. In addition to the lands already described as having been secured by the St. Peter Company, it reached out for more adjoining lands, having in mind a city second to none within the territory of Minnesota. Hence it was that they determined that "George Hezlep and G.W. Farrington be a committee to visit St. Paul for the purchase of three additional claims, or such parts thereof as they could obtain on the most favorable terms." They accordingly made the journey and secured the claims of Messr. Patch, Flandrau, Skaro, Everson and Bunker.
Among the first improvements to be made in St. Peter was the purchasing of a ferry-boat and put Dodd's bridge over the lake opposite the ferry in good shape. Governor Gorman made the following contract, which was afterward freely ratified by the company, May 29, 1854. It was to be effect that Daniel Birdsall should immediately begin and complete a stream saw-mill and grist-mill in operation three months from the 1st of June, 1854; in consideration of which the company agreed to make a quit claim deed to said Birdsall, "for two-twentieths of all the interest in and to said town of St. Peter, and all the lands belonging thereto, and to which the company had any right or claim." It was stipulated, also, that Birdsall was not to sell lumber away from St. Peter until the full home demand had been supplied.
A contract was also made with J.C. York, of Gosport, Indiana, by which he was to receive one-twentieth of the town of St. Peter for the sum of sixteen hundred dollars, with which a hotel was to be erected, he to own same when completed. He was also to pay his share of the purchase price of the land when it was in the market. This was St. Peter's first hotel.
It was desired that there be a wagon road from St. Peter to Dubuque, Iowa, and the cost was estimated at four hundred dollars to lay the same out, and Governor Gorman was authorized by the company to sell some lots to defray the expenses of this project. Thus it will be observed that already about one-fifth of the stock of the company had been traded away for small internal improvements-the mills and a hotel, etc.
During the first few years in the history of the town, any responsible party might secure a town lot free of charge, providing they bonded themselves to erect a fair house thereon. Each corner and adjoining lot, however, were always reserved by the company.
Hoes & Wainwright built a solid stone warehouse on the bank of the river, which served as warehouse and freight rooms, and there all steamboats on the Minnesota River stopped, up or down stream.
Jeremiah Kyle, William Geohegan and James Smith each received lots sixty-six by one hundred and fifty-five feet in size, for a consideration on one hundred dollars and the erection of three good stone building. This contract, however, was only partly complied with.
On November 4, 1854, Allen P, Hemphill, of New York State, took one-twentieth of the stock interest in the St. Peter Company, for the consideration of paying fifty dollars in cash and giving his notes $ 2,450.
In November, 1855, the company contracted for the three-story and basement hotel building, known as the Ewing House. It was one of the terms of the contract that it should be built of stone which the company was to furnish, to have thirty rooms, to receive from the company $2,000 in cash, in four equal payments, on the completion of one story. It was finished at a cost of $19,000, and opened in October, 1855, by S.L. Wheeler. Later it was run by Daniel Birdsall and still later by Doctor Ewing, who called it the Ewing House. At the time of the Indian massacre, in 1862, it was vacant was pressed into use as an emergency hospital. Still later it was used for one division of the state hospital for the insane, while the regular buildings for that institution were being completed.
AN ORDER TO BUILD HOUSES
In the month of March, 1855, it was ordered that each member of the St. Peter Company be requested to build a house in St. Peter the ensuing spring, it being understood that each member who built was to have the lot on which to build donated to him. In accordance therewith, W.A. Gorman, William L. Ames, C.H. Parker, Thomas W. Coleman, G.W. Farrington, G.K. Swift, A.F. Hoes and H.L. Moss agreed to proceed forthwith to erect houses.
In February,, 1856, several lots were sold, and in February, 1857, at a meeting of the company, two lots were sold-9 and 10 block 197-to Dr. P.P. Humphrey, for the consideration of one dollar, provided he built a residence and move to reside in the town of St. Peter on or before November 1, 1857.
ST. PETER AS THE STATE CAPITAL
The founders of St .Peter hoped that it would be made the capital of Minnesota territory and of the state when it should finally be admitted into the Union. This was really the chief ambition of the town site promoters, and at a meeting held by the company in February, 1857, it was resolved that "Should the present Legislature of the territory of Minnesota, in their wisdom and sound judgment, deem it expedient to move the capital of Minnesota, now located at St. Paul, to the town of St. Peter, the said company hereby agrees to guarantee the territory, or future state, of Minnesota, the same amount originally appropriated by the Congress of the United States for the capitol buildings, as designated in the thirteenth section of the organic act of Minnesota, for twenty thousand dollars in money, and, also, the additional appropriation of a lot of ground in St. Peter, double the area of the capitol square in St. Paul, at some eligible point to be selected by a board of commissioners appointed by the Legislature of said territory, and also to provide suitable buildings, free of rent of charge, for the first meeting of the Legislature, after the present, or any other deliberative body to convene during the year; and that the said St. Peter Company will immediately and within twenty days after the passage of the act, enter into bonds, in the penal sum of $100,000, for the full, faithful and complete performance of this proposition."
Later developments in the case made it clear that a bill was introduced at the legislative session of 1857 for the purpose of effecting the removal, and which would have received the governor's signature had it not been for the action of Joe Roelette, a member from Pembina, who spirited the bill away, and was by the St. Paull boosters secrets in an obscure room in St. Paul for a number of days. A copy of the bill was procured and duly signed by the governor, but never became a law on account of its irregularity.
At a meeting of the St. Peter Company, June 3, 1857, it was resolved "that Hon. A. G. Chatfield, as the attorney of the company, commence an action at law, to enforce the act of the Legislature removing the capital from St. Paul to St. Peter." W.A. Gorman and H.L. Moss, however dissented from such a course being pursued, and voted against it.
During all these months property was held at a very high figure on account of the supposed surety of St. Peter becoming the coveted capital. There were certain lots for which offers were received of fifteen hundred dollars in gold, which were refused. Sometime later this same property could have been purchased for fifteen dollars.
The company at St. Peter submitted gracefully, but so sure had they been that they were to get the seat of government here that they had erected a good frame building at an expense of five hundred dollars in which it was intended that the constitutional convention should be held. Subsequently, this property was donated to the county of Nicollet, as a bonus for the removal of the county seat from Traverse to St. Peter-a county seat was the next best thing, if the seat of government for Minnesota was not to be removed from St. Paul.
The untiring company, not dismayed, struck out to secure the location for the Indian headquarters, offering grounds and buildings, but all to no avail. They asked that the land office be removed from Fairbault to St. Peter, in which they were successful, in December, 1858, when Samuel Plummer was register and B.F. Tillottson was receiver. It remained here until 1870, when it was removed to New Ulm.
THE COMPANY AIDING THE RAILROAD
When the project of building the old Southern Minnesota railroad (now the Chicago & Northwestern line) was being considered the town site company subscribed one hundred thousand dollars. The property of the company advanced in its value so that in 1858 the capital stock was two hundred thousand dollars; surplus, twenty-nine thousand one hundred and fifty-one dollars.
Sometime before the railroad was constructed, the ferry boat operated by the town site company was loaned to the borough of St. Peter, on condition that it maintain a free ferry to the public. Later, it was sold to the borough for three hundred and fifty dollars, together with the right of way and depot grounds for old Sioux City railroad (now the "Omaha" line), a part of the great Northwestern system.
DURING THE INDIAN UPRISING
When, in August, 1862, the Indians enacted that awful massacre, known as the "New Ulm Massacre," St. Peter was free from attack, but was made a place of refuge from outlying districts. Two companies of brave men were organized at St. Peter, and took immediate action for the defense and relief of the settler about New Ulm. These two companies were commanded by Hon. Charles E. Flandrau and E. St. Julian Cox. Major S.A. Buell was also one of the officers. It was in this massacre that Captain Dodd, founder of St. Peter, lost his life.
BUSINESS FACTORS A THIRD OF A CENTURY AGO
In 1882 St. Peter had nearly all branches of business (retail stores and professions) represented. The principal business street presented substantial brick buildings. Many of the actors of that day have long since removed, or passed on to another sphere of existence. It will be of interest and some service in tracing up old families in the future to have a list of these business men and firms to refer to. It runs thus:
C. Amundson & Company, dry goods, groceries and clothing; A.J. Lamberton, in a two-room store filled with dry goods and clothing; Henry Jones, druggist, established in 1862; MG. Evenson, stoves, tinware and hardware; H.E. Mann, proprietor of a branch of the St. Paul One-Price Dry Goods Store; Henry Berkenhauer, jeweler; B.F. Paul, druggist; Chauncy McAllister, grocer; S.O. Strand, millinery; F. Lange jeweler; Casper Baberic, dry goods, groceries and crockery; William Thomas, boots and shoes; John Rausch, meat market; T. Spiess, boots and shoes; Peter Cashion, livery barn; Randall & Nobel, grocers and dealers in crockery ware; John W.A. Winters, restaurant; C.D. Colby, gunsmith; P. Williamson, boots and shoes; Aaron Frasier, gunsmith; Blumberg & Son, merchant tailors; John Walin , furniture; John Mason, hardware, also farm implements; W.H.H. Rounsville, lumber and farm implements; Stark Brothers & Company, dry goods and groceries; Nutter & Heritage, hardware, stoves; Laird, Norton & Damren. Lumber; H.J. Jacoby, "99 Cent Store;" Peter Bolstad, carpenter and contractor; Michael Kneip, harness and saddlery; John Foot, dry goods, N.A. Wettergren, meat market; William Schimmel, wheat, butter and egg dealer; Charles Rost, harness shop; Clarence Ennis, human hair dealer; John Krohn, boots and shoes; Carter & Mongomery, insurance and real estate; J.B. Sackett, insurance; Philip Dick 7 Company, general clothing; J.H. Snyder, books and stationary; Frederick Schmidt, boots and shoes; Carl Deitschman, grocer; Oliver Anderson, dry goods and groceries; A. Hermann, boots and shoes; A. Lorenz, harness goods; G.W. Steinke, agricultural implements; Mrs. H.J. Ludcke, millinery; W.O. Powell paints and painter; Julius Schleuder, jeweler; A. Carlson agricultural implements; J.A. Stemple grocer; I.A. Norwood, marble worker; N.M. Baker, feed store and auctioneer; J.M. Peterson, blacksmith and machine shop; C.R. Woods, stoves and tin ware; L. Patow, stoves and tin ware; S. Schumaker, dry goods and groceries.
The professional men of St. Peter were at that date (1882), A.W. Daniels, D.B. Collins, G.F. Merritt, T.J. Catlin, physicians; G.S. Ives, Ladd & Stone, M.G. Hanscome and C.R. Davis, attorneys; J.E. Miller and J.A. Angle, dentists.
In 1881 there was shipped from St. Peter wheat as follows: St. Paul & Sioux City Elevator Company, 169,784 bushesls; William Schimmel, 76,000 bushels; Sackett & Fay, 100,400 bushels; Winona & St. Peter Elevator Company, 45,000 bushels: Harkee's Mills, 21,000 bushels. Total 412,184 bushels
Of the earlier manufacturing plants at St. Peter it may be stated briefly that in 1857 William Klein established himself here in the making of family furniture. He employed horse power at first, but in 1866 steam took its place. In 1882 this factory was employing seventeen hands and doing a thriving business in making chairs, tables, coffins and other articles that had to be used the by the settlers hereabouts. Early in 1882 another furniture factory was started by the firm of Volk & Company.
The first mills have been noted in the first part of this chapter-the Daniel Birdsall mill is the one referred to. In the sixties B.F. Pratt operated his mill on the site of the old Birdsall mill. Pratt bought it in 1857 and in 1871 the firm of Sackett & Fay was its owners. They had four run of mill mill-stones running, producing flour after the old way.
In 1858 W. E. Essler established himself in general iron foundry and machine shop, in which he usually employed about six men. Here were cast hundreds and hundreds of stoves-especially heating stoves, known as "box-stoves." The molding sand was procured right in St. Peter, and no better grade can be had in all the western country than that found here. Light and heavy castings and machine work, both new and repairing, was executed here for a large scope of country. Mr Essler tried time and again to induce home capital to invest and enlarge his plant. But all to no purpose, the home people spurned his offers and later other Minnesota towns profited by it and went into a like business. Mr. Essler is still an honored resident of the city. Possibly some future generation will utilize the fine molding sand and establish an iron plant in St. Peter.
In the summer of 1861 William C. Essler & Company were making at their foundry in St. Peter, cast kettles of all sizes, thimble skeins, wagon boxes and repairing all sorts of machinery.
May 8, 1861, the Tribune noted the following: John Johnston has nearly completed his arrangements for establishing a tannery in this place and in about three weeks will commence to tan leather. He will use a patent process by which extracts of bark instead of the bark it-self will be used-a much quicker and cheaper method and equally as good as the old process. It will be a decided advantage for this town to have a tannery." This tannery shipped five thousand pounds of leather from St. Peter to Boston in April 1868.
In 1869 the three-story building known as the Leavenworth House, on Minnesota Avenue, was changed from a dilapidated residence into a shoe factory. Its owners were Lanz & Austin. They started in with fifty pair of shoes per day. Later, additional machinery was put in and a good business was maintained for some time, until that branch of business was centralized in larger trade centers.
Of the brewing industry the local paper in April, 1866, said: "The new brewery of Mr. Keole has been nearly completed on Front Street. The absence of the large kettle or boiler being the only thing to prevent the immediate commencement of operations. The establishment will cost about four thousand dollars when completed, and will be one of the cleanest breweries in the valley. Mr. Keoke is determined to avoid the too common filth in the vicinity of such establishments by giving all the refuse material an unobstructed passageway to the river."
The local press speaks of carding machine being installed in St. Peter in March, 1865, as follows: "C.H. Drew, from Sibley county, is about to purchase and put in operation machinery for carding wool, which enterprise is in the right direction. This will be of vast advantage to people here, as well as in adjoining counties."
Rev. Edward Eggleston, later made famous by being the author of the "Hoosier School Master," at an early day-early in Civil War times-operated a candle factory and was agent for Parson Brownlow's book on the Rebellion at St. Peter. He was a many-sided man and won his way into the hearts of not only the people of this country but also in many foreign lands by his writings and lectures, as well as sermons-he was a Methodist minister of Indiana and one of great fame and power, as well.
The following appears in the St. Peter Tribune in January, 1861: "Candle Factory. James R Smith proprietor. He would say to the people of this vicinity that he is now manufacturing Tallow Candles of the best quality and is prepared to sell them at wholesale and retail as low as they can be bought in St. Paul. Shop at the City Meat Market back of C.L. Baker's clothing store.
This appeared in the local Tribune columns, Nov 4, 1863: "The old and popular mill runs day and night. Several thousand barrels of flour are being turned out for the government. As we have said for the past eight years, the Colonel is one of the main pillars of St. Peter; his enterprise knows no bounds, and he is a St. Peter man first, last and all the time. His store will be open in a few days. He desires to remark that he wants 'all the wheat in Southern and Western Minnesota and will pay more than any other man can."
In March, 1864, the same paper had this concerning the above flouring mills: "Colonel Platt's flouring-mills on Front Street run day and night or a hundred and forty-four hours a week, grinding at least eight hundred bushels per day the year round. Assuming the mill runs three hundred days a year, we find the figures to foot up to the enormous sum of two hundred and forty thousand bushels passing through it in a year. We doubt if another mill west of Chicago shows a greater output, and we don't think another in Minnesota turns out as much flour. While this mill grinds for the government, the people in a radius of fifty miles of St. Peter feel its benefits."
FARM IMPLEMENTS SOLD
The following showing was made in the sale of farm implements at St. Peter in the summer of 1865: The single firm of A.G. Miller & Company sold twenty-one combined reapers and movers, valued at $4,556; five grass mowers, $850; four threshing machines, $ 3,000; fifteen sugar-cane mills and evaporators, $ 2,859. Another firm sold seventy-two revolving horse rakes, one hundred spinning wheels, eighteen corn cultivators, twenty-five fanning mills. Another firm sold nine thousand dollars' worth of sugar-cane mills and appliance thereto.
In the line of pork packing, St. Peter boasted at the above date of packing by firms as follows: C.L. Ketchum, 130,000 pounds; William Schimmel, 70,000 pounds; Gardner & Horner 50,000 pounds.
B.F. Paul purchased a flax-mill in the spring of 1866 and commenced to operate it that season when flax was ripe. This machine was designed to break the flax into proper shape either to be spun into thread for the loom or for other uses to flax fiber may be put.
"An agent for the United States Telegraph Company was in town last week, looking to establishment of a telegraphic communication between St. Peter and Mankato. He is purchasing the right-of-way. The poles for a line between this city and Rochester, Minnesota, will largely be supplied from this city." Tribune in August, 1860: "The Young Gents' Band are prepared to furnish music for parties the present winter. New and fashionable pieces just received from Boston, secured expressly for this season. Terms moderate. For the services of the Young Gents' Band apply to Col F.A. Donahower, or to C.H. Swift, both of this place. Musical instruments of every description repaired and tuned and music rendered applicable to the voice. (Signed) C.H. Swift."
In 1872 L. A. Boardman engaged in the manufacture of fanning-mills and milk safes, when such articles were in greater demand than since the improvements in threshing machinery and creamery appliances have been made practical for daily use.
An old paper speaks of the industries in the early eighties, and includes the feed mill of L. Patow; also the cigar factory of H.C. Miller. The latter plant employed twenty hands. At the same date (1882) A.J. Harris had a very extensive cooper shop; also there were numerous wagon shops in operation.
INDUSTRIES IN 1915
While this city is in no sense a real manufacturing place, yet it does have a few excellent industries, and many more will in time fin here a home
Perhaps the greatest industry at present is that of brewing lager beer. It has always been a good brewery town. In 1883 there were four plants operating, two, however, were doing most of the business. In 1857 the firm was Engesser & Seeger first commenced the brewing of lager beer here, in a building situated on the bank of the river, in the upper part of town. The high water in the Minnesota River later undermind the foundation of the brewery, causing a portion of the building to fall down, but it was repaired and run many years.
The present brewery of St. Peter was built in 1856 by Seeger & Engesser. It uses about thirty thousand bushels of grain annually for its malting purposes. The present capacity of the plant is fifteen thousand barrels of beer. Twenty-six men are engaged in this enterprise. The product of the plant is sold in North and South Dakota, Iowa, besides a great quantity consumed in St. Peter, Mankato, LeSueur, LeSueur Center and Nicollet Villages and cities.
The Home Dress Manufacturing Company is a corporation established in 1909 by F.M. Donahower, E.S. Sackett, Dr. J.L. Holmberg and William M Amundson. Here, house dresses, aprons, middie blouses, etc., are made for the markets and find ready sale in Minnesota, the two Dakotas, Montanna, Washington, Idaho, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Five traveling salesmen are employed and from forty-five to fifty women find employment. The factory is on Park Row, near the Nicollet hotel. The officers are now: H.S. Sackett, president; John H Clark, vice-president; F.M. Donahower, treasurer.
The present flouring-mill plant is owned by Henry A. Burke, who has been sole proprietor since he purchased the interest of his partner, Mr. Webster, in 1915. This is the descendant of the old Platt & Sackett flouring-mill, but has been modernized and now has the most modern machinery. Its capacity is three hundred and fifty barrels per day. Feed is also ground in large quantities. The products of this mill-known as the "St. Peter Roller Mill"-find ready sale in many sections of this country, owing to its superior grade. Steam power is employed to propel the machinery of the whole plant, which includes also a forty-thousand-bushel grain elevator, on the same lot with the mill, proper. It is situated on the east side of Front Street. Messr. Burke & Webster were owners of this property from March, 1911 to 1915, when Henry A. Burke became the sole owner.
The Sanitary Spray Company was organized, with a twenty-five-thousand-dollar capital, in 1915, for the purpose of manufacturing a patented hand spraying machine, as well as the solution that is used in the spraying and whitewashing of fruit trees and bushes. This company succeeded and took over the old Simlex manufacturing plant at the corner of Broadway and Front Streets. That company had been in a similar business about four years and sold their patents and machinery to the new concern, whose officers are Henry G. Wolf, president; Thomas G. Hurley, secretary, and William D. Hurley treasurer. They now have agents in thirty states, and sell both to jobbers and through agents. Eight men are employed in these works; electric power is employed. This plant is among the most successful and largest of its class in the country.
The overall, shirt and pants factory of the Johnson Manufacturing Company, on the site of the old city hall (built for the state capitol), on North Minnesota Avenue, was established in 1896. At first this concern occupied four floors in the C.A. Johnson Business block, father to the south on the same street. The present building was erected in 1902 and two years later was enlarged. It is now a three-story and basement building, thirty-four by one hundred and fifty-two feet in size. In this factory are made in large quantities men's shirts, overalls and pants, which find ready sale throughout the states of North and South Dakota, Minnesota and northern Iowa. Five traveling salesmen are employed and they also sell to the trade, as jobbers, underwear, suspenders and hosiery. The factory employs sixty persons, largely women, at the plant in St. Peter, while fifty more were engaged at a branch establishment at New Ulm in 1910. The factories are run by means of electric power, furnished by the city. Recently the St. Peter factory has added an automatic sprinkling system which greatly reduces the insurance rates. This is one of the busy places in the city and is carried on by home men and capital. Its sales are gradually increasing, as is the standard and quality of the good turned out.
St. Peter was incorporated as a borough, March 2, 1865, with officers as follows: E. St. Julian Cox, mayor; Henry Jones, treasurer; J.R. Gardner, clerk; J.B. Sackett and Azro A. Stone, justices of the peace; A.L. Lamberton, B.H. Randall and L.M. Boardman, councilors. The charter was amended March 2, 1866, and again March 7, 1867. February 28, 1873, by act of the Minnesota Legislature, the place was incorporated and chartered as a city and divided into two wards; ward one being that portion north and ward two that portion south of Grace Street.
The following have served the city as mayor: Albert Knight, 1873-75; A. L. Sacket, 1876—78, Azro Stone, 1879; Philip Dick, 1880-1882; G.W. Stenike. 1883-84; G.S. Ives, 1885; Joseph Mason, 1886-88; Philip Dick; 1889-93; Henry Moll, 1894-95; L.M. Erickson, 1896; M.G. Hanscome, 1897-98; Joseph Mason, 1899-1900; W.H. Mueller, 1901-05; W.H. rounsville, 1906; Philip Dick, 1907-09; Edward Bornemann, 1910-12; Philip Dick, Jr. 1913-14; Edward Bornemann, 1910-12; Philip Dick, Jr. 1913-14; Edward Bornemann, 1915.
The city official list in 1915-16 is as follows: Mayor Edward Bornemann; clerk and city attorney, M.E. Stone; treasurer, E.H. Lindberg; chief of police, M. Dempsey; councilmen, Al. J. Potts, president; Joseph Marum, vice-president; C.N. Anderson, J. Ben Nelson, W.W. Hodgkins, Thomas Brogan. The board of health is composed of Dr.G.F. Merritt, chairman; D.L. Holland, M.L. Klein.
The present city indebtedness is about thirty-eight thousand dollars. A tax sufficient to raise one thousand dollars is levied annually for the support of the public library.
WATER AND LIGHT PLANTS
A system of waterworks was installed in St. Peter about 1892, when the present stand-pipe on College Hill was constructed and water mains placed in the chief streets of the city. Since then there have been made at least three small extensions to outlying districts. The stand-pipe more than a hundred feet above Minnesota Avenue affords ample pressure for all necessary emergencies. The original works cost the city about fifteen thousand dollars. Artesian wells are used.
A little later-two or three years-the city was lighted by electricity by a plant of the Thomson-Houston type, costing many thousand dollars, but after many years' service was finally, in the winter of 1915-16, abandoned on account of it not being a paying proposition. In February, 1916, a ten-year contract was made between the city and the Consumer's Power and Light Company of Mankato, by which the city is lighted at rates as follow: for the first one thousand kilowatts the rate is two cents per kilowatt; for the next thousand the rate is one cent, and for all thereafter a rate of seven tenths of a cent per kilowatt is charged the city consumers. For what is known as "demand charges" the rate is twenty-four dollars per year for the first one hundred kilowatts and above that amount the rate is fixed at eighteen dollars.
In the winter of 1915-16 the city placed in the main street (Minnesota Avenue) and some cross streets what is styled the "White Way" --a line of electric light posts and electric lights to the number of twenty-eight. This cost about twenty-nine hundred dollars, and gives the main part of the city a beautiful illumination, the street being the widest city street in the state of Minnesota (which possibly the single exception of one at Winona), the effect is charming at night time.
Not until 1906-07 did the city have street sewers, but now the system is quite universal, and runs through about forty blocks of the city, with outlets into the Minnesota River, through a larger under-the-lime-rock sewer, into which the others are emptied.
This department is the ordinary volunteer company of about twenty-two members, who draw a small salary, in all amounting to only about three hundred dollars a year. Modern appliances and good water supply make fire-fighting comparatively easy.
St. Peter cannot boast of a fine city hall, but has fairly comfortable quarters. The old building erected in 1857 by the town site company, which was to be used (as supposed by the builders) for state capitol purposes, finally served as the first court house of Nicollet County, until the building of the present court house in 1880-81. In July, of the year last named, it was sold to the city of St. Peter for an office building. It was remodeled and finally burned. It stood where now stands the Johnson manufacturing plant-north from the Nicollet Hotel. After that was destroyed the city built a small building, which is still in use.
The city has over thirty miles of cement walk and more soon to be constructed.
CARING FOR INDIAN MASSACRE REFUGEES
The Tribune of February 8, 1870, speaks of the care given to sufferers at the time of the Indian outbreak in 1862, as follows: "Although there were large settlements many miles further up the river in 1862, yet aside from New Ulm, there were no towns. St. Peter was then a frontier town-an outpost between white civilization and Indian reservations. When the blow fell upon the settlements above, the flying fugitives were pursued almost into the streets of the town. New Ulm all but fell into the hands of the savages. It is estimated that at one time there were ten thousand people- men, women and children, with their live- stock and personal effects-precipitated upon the people of "St. Peter. The place then only had a regular population of two thousand souls. This great multitude had to be fed and cared for. Nobly did the citizens do their duty. The whole community was given up to the amelioration of the wants of the homeless. For many days the town was made both depot of supplies and garrison fort, and if it had fallen, the valley below would have been devastated as the valley above had been. Through this ordeal St. Peter bore the brunt of the entire shock and her growth was retarded until the close of the Civil War, when she again picked up in property and population, which is now (1870) about three thousand."
STATE HOSPITAL FOR INSANE
At St. Peter is located the first hospital for the unfortunate insane in Minnesota. In order to secure this the citizens presented the state with a fine farm of two hundred and ten acres, at an expense of seven thousand dollars. The act establishing this hospital was passed in 1866, and an appropriation of fifteen thousand dollars was made for the temporary provision and support of the insane. At the legislative session in 1867 forty thousand dollars were appropriated for a permanent building on the above-named tract of Nicollet County land. The building was commenced, and in the meantime the old Ewing House, built for a hotel, with thirty rooms, but then out of commission for such use, was obtained, and, with some changes and, with some changes and enlargements, was used for temporary Quarters and opened for the reception of insane patients in October, 1866. Prior to that Minnesota hired her insane ward kept at one of the Iowa insane hospitals, at great expense. Dr. Samuel E. Shautz of Utica, New York, was elected superintendent and physician of the new institution. He remained faithful to his duty until his death in August, 1868, when he was succeeded by Dr. C.K. Bartlett, of Northampton, Massachusetts. He was followed in 1893 by Dr. H.A. Tomlinson, who came to work from a previous experience in the The Friend's Asylum near Philadelphia. He continued in charge at St. Peter until October 1, 1912, at which time he went to manage the farm for inebriates.
From appropriations made year after year by the Legislature, in 1876 the building was finally completed. The total expense was not far from half a million dollars. Architecturally, the institution was the pride of Minnesota. It was made of limestone, the walls lined with brick, and the roof constructed of slate shingles. Originally, this structure consisted of a center building, four stories high, sixty by one hundred and twenty feet, with offices and the chapel; two wings three stories high, containing nine separate halls for distinct classification of patients, with comfortable accommodations, in all, for five hundred patients and their necessary attendants. Additional buildings were a laundry, boiler house, gas house, carpenter shop, ice house, straw shed and root cellar, granary and carriage house; also slaughter house and pump house.
transcribed by Sue P. Carpenter:
NORTH WING BURNED IN 1880
The saddest event in connection with the pioneer hospital of Minnesota was the burning of the north wing, on the night of November 15, 1880, when the flames were discovered about seven o'clock in the evening-after dark-in the basement of the male department. So rapidly did the fire spread that it was impossible to remove all the patients. The female patients were removed to the barn and sheds and some were taken to St. Peter homes and cared for. Strange to relate there was little excitement among the bewildered inmates, and no panic among either patients or attendants, all working as best they could to save the patients and buildings from destruction.
After the conflagration was over, there were forty-four of the inmates missing; some were returned the next day; the remains of eighteen bodies were found in the ruins, seven died from effects of injuries, and six were never accounted for. In 1881-2-3 the buildings were rebuilt, and every precaution taken to secure absolute safety from such a sad occurrence again. The origin of this fire has ever remained a mystery, as it commenced in a portion of the building where no fire was ever used for any purpose in carrying on the institution.
PRESENT CONDITION OF THE HOSPITAL
Quite a number of new buildings were erected under Doctor Tomlinson's administration. The superintendent's residence, a building for the care of the tubercular patients, a detention hospital authorized by a special act of the Legislature for incoming patients, and an asylum for the dangerous insane, also authorized by special act of Legislature for the care of those insane either from state prison or reformatory, or as sent from criminal court of jurisdiction on the ground of their insanity. The asylum takes not only criminals but an occasional case of insanity which manifests grossly dangerous or homicidal tendencies. It is for men only.
The asylum for dangerous insane is, to a certain extent, regarded as a separate institution, although under the same management. To a certain extent, also, the detention hospital is considered a separate hospital, although its care and financial support come under the same general heading, namely, the St. Peter State Hospital. (14)
Since October 1, 1912, the superintendent has been Dr. R. M. Phelps, who came here from the state hospital at Rochester, Minnesota.
A postoffice was first established at St. Peter on May 28, 1856. The following have served as postmasters: George Hezlep, to 1859; J. J. Green, 1859-61; J. K. Moore, 1861-66; Martin Williams, 1866-69; J. K. Moore, 1869-85; James Delaney, 1885-89; William G. Gresham, 1889-96; John McCabe, 1896-1901; Daniel Fitchorn, 1901-03; H. C. Miller, the present incumbent, was appointed on September 9, 1903.
A money order department was established in St. Peter in August, 1866, soon after such departments were in use in the country.
In August, 1866, there were only seventeen postoffices in Minnesota having a money order department - St. Peter was one of these. The first order was issued to Louis Steinberg, Ottawa, Minnesota, for thirty dollars, fee, twenty-five cents; issued on August 16, 1866. The balance of the orders for that month were issued to Mary Doherty, Milton P. Gardner, Dr. Asa W. Daniels, Charles S. Bryant, Thomas Pettijohn, T. G. Carter, Willie O. Brown, B. F. Paul, Swan Helmberg and B. F. Paul.
Thirty-five years later, November, 1901, Postmaster McCabe issued forty orders in one day.
St. Peter became a presidential office in July, 1903. Since then it has become a free delivery office ad there are now two daily deliveries in the residential sections and in business parts of the city there are four. The first rural free delivery routes were established from St. Peter in 1903, with three carriers, but now there are five.
The postal savings department was established here on July 1, 1912, but owing to the large amount of banks in the city and the four per cent interest allowed on money, the deposits in the postoffice are quite small.
The earliest attempt at maintaining a public library was in 1869, when a library association was formed and had a working membership of fifty persons. A fee of two dollars per year was required of each ember. In 1884 it had a library collection of one thousand volumes. Considering the time it existed it was a good library, but as the city advanced in size and educational interest it was found necessary to secure a larger library and the present system was organized. The first library board consisted of the following persons, and was organized in July, 1901: Mrs. H. L. Stark, chairman; J. W. Daniels, clerk; board members were, three-year term, Joseph Peetz, Dr. E. P. Strathern and C. B. Jackson; two-year term, Mrs. P. W. Satery, Mrs. C. R. Davis and Philip Dick; one-year term, James Bennett, Mrs. J. M. Rogers, Mrs. William Rinkel.
The story in brief, of the present public library is as follows: On February 23, 1901, Andrew Carnegie was asked to donate toward founding a permanent library at St. Peter. Negotiations were carried on between Mr. Carnegie and G. M. Everson, secretary of the board of trade of the city. On January 29, 1903, it was learned for the first time that Mr. Carnegie had agreed to donate the sum of ten thousand dollars for the enterprise, providing the city would bind itself to maintain such a library perpetually, by the payment each year of not less than one thousand dollars. This offer was at once accepted by the city council of St. Peter. August 25, 1903, the building site committee reported that it had purchased the lot at the corner of Minnesota avenue and Mulberry street for the sum of fifteen hundred dollars. August 26, 1903, a contract was awarded to Ole Frederickson to erect the proposed library building of brick material, substantially as it is see today. The contract price of $9,836. The building was completed as per terms of contract and first used for library purposes in the month of February, 1904
The present number of books on the shelves is 5,208; of periodicals, 40; of newspapers, 8. There are about one-third of the books in this library known as children's books. During 1915 there were taken out to read from this library books to the number of 10,118.
The following have been the librarians in charge: First, Mrs. M. E. Stone, who served until 1908 and was succeeded by Marian Tyler, the present Librarian, who had been assistant librarian for four years prior to her being appointed librarian. Rhoda Peterson became assistant librarian in 1908 and is still serving.
Prominent among those who aided in founding the present and original library of St. Peter may be recalled Dr. A. W. Daniels, Philip Dick, Mrs. C. R. Davis and Mrs. Stark.