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 county.

  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 business.

  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 postmaster.

  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 20.

  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;

John Scharnberg, hotel.........$3000

School building......................1000

J.H. Dressen, store building    1000

Herman Lenz, store building...1000

Thomas Trenhail, residence.....800

H.T. Holverson, livery barn.....800

W.E. Littel, residence..............650

J.C. Johnston & Co. lumber sheds

        and office.......................600

A.A. Walvatne, store building..500

William Olson, blacksmith shop500

Charles Anderson, residence....400

J.B. Reed, residence.................300

E. Olson, blacksmith shop........300

Henry Melarchy, butcher shop, 200



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 history.


1898-President, J.B. 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.

1899-President, J.B. 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.

1900-President, J.B. Iverson; trustees, H.T. Holverson, James P. Kennedy, F.W. Case; recorder, J.D. Thompson; treasurer, L.M. Larson; justice, Thomas Trenhaile; constable, Thomas Kennedy.

1901-President, J.B. 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. Moe.

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 Kennedy.

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.

1906-President, H.T. 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 Sodeman.

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. Murrary.

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 enumerations.