History of Hardwick
Transcribed from "The History of Rock
and Pipestone counties"
By A. P. Rose
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According to the last census
figures (1910), Hardwick ranks third in size among Rock county villages. It is a
compactly built, neat appearing, prosperous little municipality located nine
miles north of the county seat, at the junction of tow lines of the Rock Island
railroad. Otherwise described, it is in the southeast corner of Denver township,
the platted portion of the village being on sections 26 and 35. Like Hills, it
is a comparatively new town but has outstripped some of the older places in the
As a town, Hardwick's history dates back only to the year 1892, but the
actual history of the place began several years before that time. Prior to the
fall of 1884 the site of the present village was unoccupied by human habitation,
and the honor of erecting the first building on the site belongs to a young
Norwegian emigrant, Knute Taamasgaard by name. At that time Mr. Taamasgaard, who
was employed on the farm of Otter Otterson, make "squatters"
settlement on the land in question and constructed a diminutive dug out and sod
shanty, in which he and his wife resided about two years.
On the eleventh day of September, 1884 the tracklayers of the Burlington
railroad, building from the south, reached the site of the present town. Rumors
at once became rife regarding the establishment of stations on the new road
between Luverne and Pipestone. During the month of September it was announced
that one station would be located near Poplar creek in Pipestone county, to be
named Trosky and another on Otter Otterson's farm, the northwest quarter of
section 26, Denver township, to be called Denver. During the next month the town
lot company connected with the Burlington road started the town of Trosky, but
no steps were taken towards the building of the village in Denver township, the
name of which, it was announced in October was to be changed to Jasper. Although
land for the depot grounds was deeded
to the company, by Mr. Otterson, the officials took no action in regard to
founding the new station during 1884.
The people of northern Rock county, being long distances from the market,
were anxious for the opening of a station at some point along the line. The
railway officials taking no action during the summer of 1885, the residents of
Denver, Rose Dell, and Mound townships circulated a petition in August, asking
that the Burlington officials establish a station on Otter Otterson's farm, the
location previously selected. The petition was signed by sixty nine settlers.
Within a few days after it was presented, on August 19, 1885, E.S. Ellsworth,
the Burlington townsite agent, came to the site and under his direction a
section house was built on Mr. Otterson's farm. Mr. Otterson was employed by the
railway company to look after the shipment of grain from that point, and that
was the extent of the preparations for founding a town at that time. The matter
of platting a townsite was under consideration by the authorities for a few
weeks, but no action was taken.
Rumors of the establishment of the station were revived in the spring of
1886, but no action was taken until the fall of that year. In October the
station was definitely located on the line between sections 35 and 26 and a side
track was constructed. In November a depot platform, 16 X 20 feet was built, but
the station was not named or put on the time card of the company until late. The
grain buying firm of Cudahay & Butler bought grain at the new station that
season. In the spring of 1887 the station was named Hardwick, in honor of J.L.
Hardwick, the master builder of the Burlington road, and the next fall it was placed
on the railroad time table. Otter Otterson bought grain and stock for E.A.
Brown, who had succeeded to the
business at the new station during the season of 1887, and did a thriving
There was practically no change at the station during the next few years.
Otter Otterson continued buying grain for E.A. Brown and later John Otterson
bought for the Iowa, Minnesota and Dakota Grain company, which succeeded Cudahay
& Butler. In 1889 Engebret Olson opened a small blacksmith shop on what is
now the northeast corner of block four of the original plat, and he continued in
business until after the founding of the town.
Several items of importance occurred during 1891. That year John Otterson
erected the first building of permanent character in Hardwick. It is the
building on the lower end of Main street now occupied as a restaurant, and was
occupied by Mr. Otterson as a residence; when the post office was established it
was opened in this building. During the summer the depot was put up and it was
opened September 1 with William Littel in charge. Early in the year the farmers
in the vincinity petittioned for the establishment of a post office at Hardwick,
and in December the office was put in operation with John Otterson as
By this time Hardwick had developed into an exceptionally good grain
market, and toward the close of the year came the announcement that the
following year would see the founding of the town, with stores, shops, and other
enterprises that make a town.
Almost with the beginning of the year 1892 came the first business men to
start the new enterprises. In February Herman Lenz, a farmer residing in the
neighborhood, completed a small store building and put in a stock of general
merchandise. The next mont A.A. Walvatne erected a building adjoining Mr. Lenz,
in which Thomas Trenhaile opened the second general store. Before the spring was
over Engebret Olson moved his blacksmith shop closer to the new village and
William Olson came from Larchwood Iowa and opened a shop in opposition; T.
Staven came from Trosky and built a wagon shop: John Scharnberg erected a hotel
and a little later opened a saloon in connection. During the summer Henry
Melarchy opened a meat market: John H. Dressen erected a building and started
the town's third general store: John Niemer started the first livery barn.
During the fall J.C. Johnston & Co. erected sheds and office building and
started a lumber yard, under the management of Dunk Wills: a new grain buying
firm appeared; John Otterson added flour and feed to his stock of fuel; a school
house was erected; and several of the new comers built residences. The first
child born in the village was a son born to Mr. and Mrs. John Otterson on June
At the close of the year 1892 we find that there were in the new town
three general stores, one hotel, one lumber yard, one fuel yard, two grain
houses, two blacksmith shops, one saloon, and one livery stable. Within the year
Hardwick had developed into a hustling little village. The list of building
improvements for 1892 as reported by the local press was as follows;
J.H. Dressen, store building
Herman Lenz, store
H.T. Holverson, livery
J.C. Johnston & Co.
A.A. Walvatne, store
William Olson, blacksmith
E. Olson, blacksmith
Henry Melarchy, butcher
The survey of the townsite
was made September 1 and 2, 1892, by W.N. Davidson. The dedication was made
September 12 by A.A. Walvatne and A.W. Sleeper, and the instrument was filed for
record September 24. The original
plat consisted of only four blocks. The streets east and west were named First,
Main, and Third; north and south the site was divided by Summit street.
The founding of new enterprises, continued during the early part of 1893.
A building was erected and a bank founded, under the management of D.J. Hawley,
who in May was succeeded by George O. Ross; D.J. Stoakes opened a hardware
store; the first grain elevator was erected by Otter Otterson; Hauger &
Sackett put up a building and opened a feed mill. Thereafter for several years
there was a little advancement in Hardwick. The town maintained an excellent
grain market, and hundreds of carloads were shipped each year; the few business
houses were well supported and the village continued to hold its own with the
neigboring hamlets during the lean years of the middle nineties. A directory
published in the fall of 1898 showed the following business enterprises; J.B.
Iverson, Hulett Brothers & Co. and Heckt brothers, general merchandise; Q.
Stark, hardware; Stephen Brothers, meat market; J.C. Johnston & Co., lumber
yard, L.M. Larson, manager; T.O. Tollefson, livery, grain, and livestock; August
Stroebeen, Hardwick Hotel, Hardwick Elevator company, grain; Holverson &
Jargo, grain; E.A. Brown, grain and live stock; Davenport Milling company,
grain, J. Case, manager; A.T. Martinak, restaurant; T.F. Lange, barber shop;
Engebret Olson, blacksmith shop; John Overland, blacksmith shop; August
Stroebeen, saloon; P.
E. Matthieson, saloon.
Hardwick became a municipal
corporation in 1898. So early in its history as 1893, however, the first attempt
to bring about this desired condition was made. On July 20, 1893, a petition was
presented to the board of county commissioners, asking it to take the necessary
steps to bring about the incorporation of ten sqaure miles of territory as the
village of Hardwick, it being necessary to take in that much territory to secure
the number of inhabitants required by law. The commissioners refferred the
matter to the county attorney, who held that the facts set forth in the petition
did not satisfy the requirements of the law, and the county board refused to
grant the petition. the residents of Hardwick employed A.J. Daley as their
attorney and secured an alternate writ of mandamus from the district court,
demanding that the commissioners either grant the petition or show cause in
court why it should not be granted. At the hearing, which was set for August 4,
Judge Brown quashed the writ, upholding the action of the county board, and
Hardwick continued under the local government of Denver township.
The matter of incorporating was again taken up in the fall of 1898 and on
October 7 the county commissioners called a special election to be held October
10, to decide the matter. Out of a total of thirty seven votes, twenty six were
in favor of and eleven against incorporating the four southeast corner sections
of Denver township into the village of Hardwick. The first village officers were
chosen at another election on October 25 and soon thereafter Hardwick began its
municipal career. Following is a list of those elected to office during its
Iverson; Trustees, H.T. Holverson, James P. Kennedy, John Overland; recorder,
George O. Ross; treasurer, L.M. Larson; Justices, William Ross, F.W. Case;
constables, C. J. Moe, Thomas Kennedy.
Iverson; trustees, H.T. Holverson, James P. Kennedy, John Overland; recorder,
L.M. Larson; treasurer, George O. Ross; justices, J.F. LaDou, William Ross;
constables, Thomas Kennedy, D.J. Stoakes.
Iverson; trustees, H.T. Holverson, James P. Kennedy, F.W. Case; recorder, J.D.
Thompson; treasurer, L.M. Larson; justice, Thomas Trenhaile; constable, Thomas
Iverson; trustees, H.T. Holverson, James P. Kennedy, Q. Stark; recorder, J.D.
Thompson; treasurer, L.M. Larson; justices, Thomas Trenhaile, F.W. Case;
constables, Thomas Kennedy, H. Schroder.
1902-President, W.T. Berry;
trustees, R.A. Heckt, F.W. Case, John Overland; recorder, J.D. Thompson;
treasurer, L. M. Larson; justice, William Ross; constable, E.I. Harding.
1903-President, Q. Stark;
trustees, R.A. Heckt, D.J. Stoakes, James P. Kennedy; recorder, H.T. Holverson;
treasurer, L. M. Larson; justice, A.H. Higley; constables, Thomas Kennedy, C.J.
1904-President, Q. Stark;
trustees, James P. Kennedy, D. J. Stoakes, L. M. Larson; recorder, H.T.
Holverson; treasurer, R.A. Heckt; justice, William Ross; constable, Thomas
1905-President, E.C. Heckt;
trustees, John Overland, Otto Barenquest, F.W. Case; recorder, A.J. Hemmings;
treasurer, R.A. Heckt; justice, O.E. Fellows; constable, William Ryan.
Holverson; trustees, John Overland, Adolph Carl, F.W. Case; recorder, T.S.
Hartley; treasurer, R.A. Heckt; justices, M.L. Wahlert, ET. Thorson; constables,
W.T. Murray, O. Bakka.
1907-President, H. T.
Holverson; trustees, John Overland, R.A. Heckt, James P. Kennedy; recorder, D.
J. Ross; treasurer, E.C. Heckt; justices, T. O. Tollefson, T.S. Hartley;
constables, Emil Paustian, Will Mannigel.
1908-President, James P.
Kennedy; trustees, Thomas Trenhaile, D.J. Stoakes, R.A. Heckt; recorder, H.T.
Holverson; treasurer, E.C. Heckt; justice, E.T. Thorson; constable, Albert
1909-President, James P.
Kennedy; trustees, Thomas Trenhaile, D.J. Stoakes, R.A. Heckt; recorder, H.T.
Holverson; treasurer, E.C. Heckt; justices, P.T. Petersen, W.F. Ihde;
constables, W.T. Murray, Emil Paustian.
1910-President, James P.
Kennedy; trustees, D.J. Stoakes, F.G. Hartley, O.H. Gravatt; recorder, H.T.
Holverson; treasurer, E.C. Heckt; justice, P.T. Petersen; constable, W.T.
1911-President, James P.
Kennedy; trustees, T.S. Hartley, O.H. Gravatt, J.H. Johnson; recorder, J.
B. Iverson; treasurer, E.C.
Heckt; assessor, M.L. Wahlert; justices, P.T. Peterson, H.T. Holverson;
constables, W.T. Murray, Henry Hoffman.
With the prosperous times in
the country a decade ago Hardwick kept pace and made rapid strides forward. The
town's second railroad, the branch from Worthington, was completed in 1900. The
federal census of that year gave the village a population of 259. A system of
water works was installed by the village in that year at a cost of $1590. The
year 1901 was an exceptionally active one in building operations. The village
authorities purchased shade trees, with which they lined the streets and
otherwise made arrangements for making a "city beautiful". Each year
witnesed an increase in the business blocks and residences erected. Several
brick blocks were put up in 1905, and later most of the board walks of the town
were replaced with cement. A city hall was erected in 1908.
The Hardwick of today (1911) differs vastly from the site a quarter of a
century ago, when the few people residing in northern Rock county were vainly
endeavoring to have the railroad company do something in regard to locating a
town on section 26. The growth of this town vividly illustrates the changes that
have occurred in northern Rock county during the last twenty five years. The
population of Hardwick in 1910 was 292, a substantial gain over former