Thursday, June 23, 2011

Anton Steffen Brewery

Anton Steffen Brewery

What qualifies as a Historical Home?  Does it have to have servant quarters in it, or gables and fancy wood lacework in the windows and eaves? Or does it have to have a front terrace or Gothic towers, or elaborate  Oriental wood designs or Victorian Picturesque towers? Perhaps a Historical home needs to have parquet flooring or stained glass windows to qualify.  Perhaps, one could consider a home, made of Kasota stone walls. Perhaps a Brewery can also qualify as a historical home....

Sleepy Eye has its own Brewery here in town long long ago.  More familiar to folks as the Steffen Brewery....

The brewery was established in 1873 by German-born G.W. Krammer, a year after the town of Sleepy Eye was platted.  Several years later, former Prussian sea captain Frank Burginger and his Chilean wife bought the brewery from Krammer.  Burginger sold the brewery to Anton Steffen in 1888 and committed suicide two days later.

Anton Steffen was born in Luxemburg , August 17, 1844. Anton Steffen came to America with his parents in 1847.  He operated the brewery until 1914, when it closed.  The brewery sold beer by the keg and never bottled it commercially.

Anton Guldan, became the Steffen Brewery's brew master in 1893 after working several years at Schell's and Hauenstein breweries in New Ulm.  He would bottle small amounts of the (Steffen Brewery's) beer in his own home.

Well over 2,000 barrels of beer were produced at the brewery every year.  It did have the capacity of five thousand barrels a year and shipped annually about eleven hundred barrels.. The Brewery brewed Pale, Wiener, Kulmbacher, and Lager beer.

A huge mug of beer sold for a nickel; twelve bottles sold for a $1.00;  and a four gallon “pony” or keg was $1.00.  The malt used in the brewing process was spread on the floor of the malting room until dry (or sprouted), after which it was ground and placed in large copper kettles where it was brewed, with a kiss of the hopes was added and placed in kegs.  It was then placed in vats to be lagered in chips for several weeks.  It was then hauled by teams of horses to the saloons in Sleepy Eye, Evan, and Cobden. 

In 1871 Anton married Miss Lizzie Kiefer, a native of St. Paul and a daughter of John Kiefer, who was born in Germany, and resided in Wisconsin before locating in St. Paul.  Their children are Charles, Mary, Barney, Lucy, Leona, Lena, John and Annie.  Anton and Lizzie were members of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Sleepy Eye. Lizzie passed away in 1911.  Remarried to Mrs. K. Conley, who died on Mar 5, 1915.

Known simply as Steffen Beer, it became a popular brew in the area; it also won a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair. Some of the old timers still smack their lips when they talk about it. For abour 26 years, Anton Steffen, under all kinds of difficulties, tried to build up a profitable business, but with greed competition never made any money.  Always generous and agreeable to his fellow men, Anton The Brewery was sold to Barney Schueller of Wabasso in 1914 when Anton retired. Presently the Brewery is the home of Julie and Brian Cook.

Friday, May 27, 2011

1936 Basketball Team

1936 - Sleepy Eye Public High School Basketball Team

Sleepy Eye high school is the only entrant in the state tournament at the Minneapolis auditorium this week with an undefeated record.  The team has won 19 consecutive games this season and is the first ever to give Sleepy Eye a representative in the championship meet here.  Sleepy Eye won from Appleton Friday night, 25 to 16, and from Hutchinson on Saturday, 23 to 17, to won the championship of its region.

Left to right: Fred Youngman, Frank Beil, Gilbert Theobald, Kriss Barnes, Forest Schutt, Pershing Snow, Howard Hedenstand, Delbert Kuester, and Coach A. M. Skalbeck.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sleepy Eye Fire Department

(LaFrance Fire Truck)

In one century the Sleepy Eye Fire Department has gone from a bucket brigade for a scattering of frontier buildings to a group of volunteers who can handle half a dozen pieces of big equipment and who serve not only the 3,500 residents of Sleepy Eye but the farms in surrounding townships, which cover roughly 217 square miles.
They have a standard rescue unit and they have a boat for water rescue because of Sleepy Eye Lake, and the Minnesota and Cottonwood Rivers, all within a few miles.  They send no more than three trucks and ten men to out-of-town fires so that Sleepy Eye is never left unprotected.
The department is rated one of the best.  They know First Aid and CPR.  They have 24 drills a year and send several members yearly to special seminars.  They wear non-flammable coats.  In a fire with toxic fumes firemen use masks with proper breathing apparatus for their own safety.  They can transport water to a farm which runs short while they are fighting a rural fire.  They can apply foam to a fire when water is unsafe to use.
Although Sleepy Eye was platted on September 18, 1872, it had no organized government until March 19, 1878.  Houses were heated by stoves; food was cooked on wood or coal burning stoves.  Kerosene lamps provided illumination.  A need for fire protection was recognized.
Firemen used horses from a nearby drayline to pull the fire engines and if those horses were not available there were horses from livery stables.  In the early days of fire fighting, there were no beepers, no home alarms, no telephones, and no cars racing about alerting firemen.  Half of them never knew what had happened until they came downtown the next morning.
Firemen in the early days were paid by agreement with the Council a sum of 25 cents to each fireman helping at a fire and the same amount for anyone working on the engine house or the equipment.  Almost every businessman in town belonged to the Fire Department near the turn of the century.  Among early firemen were C.C. Hansen who owned the drayline across from the fire station and whose horses usually pulled the fire engines, carpenter Matt Raymond, William Grundmeyer and his brother-in-law William Ortwein, R. G. Larson, merchant Albert Durbahn, merchant Frank Riedl whose son Dr. F. Jerome Riedl later became a fireman as well. Joseph Ott, Gust Remmele, Joseph P. Fischer, J. P Geschwind, Ed Remmele and more….
In the early days firemen were expected to conserve water.  Now they know that they must use it immediately and heavily.  They are also trained not to enter a burning area without proper breathing equipment for their own safety and they must know what is in the building before they enter.
When a fireman goes to bed he lays out his clothing in such a way that he can dress rapidly.  With each fireman having his own warning he can be at the firehouse so fast that by the time the fire whistle has stopped blowing people can hear the first sirens on the trucks.  With the present day system firemen are well-trained and well garbed for safety, and they can handle any type of emergency, whether it is a common fire or a fire of dangerous materials, whether people need to be rescued from water, burnings, a car crash, or a heart attack.
           The Sleepy Eye Fire Department looks forward to serving Sleepy Eye and its surrounding townships and neighbors for another century.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Killed By Her Husband - Full Story

Joe Ott Hung - The Trap was Sprung at 1:27 A.M -

The closing chapter in the life of Joseph Ott was enacted this morning .  It was 1:27 A.M. when the fatal trap was sprung and he dropped to certain death.  Seven minutes afterwards the doctors pronounced him dead, justice hadmeted out to the man who coolly pounded his wife to death while she was begging for mercy.
If there were those expected to see him break down at the last minute they were mistaken.  When the sheriff entered his cell at a few minutes past one o'clock and told him there ready, he got up off the bed and stood erect while the death warrant was again read to him, as the law directs.  His face was just a little pale but that was all.  He then helped put on the black mantle, putting it on as he might a coat, and later, when he stood on the trap and the noose was being adjusted, he turned his neck from side to side helping settle it properly.  He then walked with a firm step out of the jail, around the building to the scaffold and up the stairs.  He stood erect on the drop and attentively listened to the reading of the scriptures by Rev. Fjelsdstad and a prayer by the same gentleman. When asked if he had anything to say he slowly raised his head and cast his eyes over the large crowd in front of him and said in substance: "Friends, I am sorry for what I did to my wife, and I want you to pray for me.  If I had read my Bible and loved the Lord as I should have done I would not have done what I did.  I bib you all good evening."  The noose was adjusted, prayer again offered, and while it was in progress the lever was touched and he shot downward.  His neck was broken and he died without
apparently a tremor.  In seven minutes the doctors said he was dead the body was cut down.  It will be buried today in the Granite Falls cemetery.

There were some four hundred men in the enclosure and there was besides a large crowd standing outside where they could see the procession as it passed from the jail into the yard, but there was not a sound, nothing that would have told a blindfolded man he was in the presence of a large number of people.  Every hat came off when the procession started from the door to the yard.  It was a most solemn and respectful audience, it could not have been more so.  The jail yard was brightly lightened up with electric lights so that all could see the place. It was almost solemn scene, and no person present will ever forget.

Ott had selected as witnesses of his execution H.F. Dohrman and A. Dorhman of Sleepy Eye, and
August Henschke, Echo.

Ott's six children came up from Echo Wednesday morning and visited their father for the last time at the jail.  At his request sheriff Schwalier let the children into the cell with him, where he sat with them on the cot.  The scene was a very affecting one.  Ott broke down and cried like a child, and of course the children cried bitterly.  Even the son, who had heretofore refused to forgive his father or have anything do to with him, broke down and cried.  The scene was one few people would care to witness.


The crime for which Joseph Ott was hanged was that of the killing of his wife on the evening of May 18, 1898.  The murder was a most brutal and horrible one in all its details, and while it was probably not really premeditated, yet the cause that led up to it was an unhappy married life, unhappy because he made it so, and he had before gone so far as to threaten her life and that of other members of the family.  He on one occasion threatened to kill his oldest son, and did injure him quite badly.  He had also threatened the parents of his wife.  His wife had left him several times, and twice had applied for a divorce, but withdrew the case and made up each time on his earnest protestation to do better.

This kind of life finally led up to the murder.  He was simply a brute by nature while still a man of some intelligence.  He was of German-Jewish extraction. He was of such a nature that he seemed to take real pleasure in causing pain to a dumb animal, or even to a human being.  not since the night of the horrible and bloody murder has he shown any regret for what he did.  He once remarked that it would have come some time and it was just as well it was over with.  He has always said he was ready to die, not apparently having any fears about facing death.  When the death warrant was read to him some weeks ago he merely said he, wished it could take place then and have it over with.

Ott lived on a farm with his family a few miles south of Echo. On the day of the murder his wife, and his son, aged about nineteen, attended a wedding in the neighborhood. They took all the children with them, leaving the father at home alone.  Toward night Mrs. Ott and her son returned home, leaving the children at the neighbor's.  Their intention was to to return to the dance which was to take place that evening at the house where the marriage took place.  Ott was in the yard when the mother and son drove up.  Mrs. Ott got out of the wagon and went into the house followed by Ott.  He was angry because they had been to the wedding and commenced to abuse his wife as soon as she got out of the wagon.  He asked where the children were, she told him where they were and said she left them there because she and the boy intended to return to the dance, and wanted him to go along.  He said he would not go and that she should not either.  They went into the house together where they continued their quarreling for a few minutes when he struck her.

Ott tells the following story of how he killed her, and he has always told it as one might tell of how he has killed some wild animal: "She had been at the wedding and was going back and wanted me to go along.  I did not want to go and we got into some words.  Then I struck her several times with my fist, but I saw I could not give her enough that way and went and got the billy. I struck her several times with this and told her I had been divorced from her once and now I would give her a divorce that would last.  She said 'O, Joe, don't kill me.  Don't strike me any more and I won't say any more about it.'   Then I caught her by the hair and dragged her out of the bedroom, and I'll bet I struck her fifteen times with the billy."

Ott then went out, and told his son he had killed his mother. The son immediately started for Echo, and on the way he stopped at the nearest neighbors, Mr. Cooper's and told him what had happened.  Cooper went at once to the Ott residence.  He met Ott in front of the house and asked him if it was so that his wife was hurt.  He replied that she was, and asked Cooper if he wanted to see her.  Cooper followed him into the house, and Ott, pointed to the body of his wife, said "There she is."  Cooper asked him what he did it with, and he said "This," exhibiting the billy.  This billy was one of those leather covered ones loaded with shot or iron at one end. this weapon he had in the house some twenty years, having bought it in Chicago that long ago.

Deputy Sheriff Milo Beard was soon there from Echo and he at once placed Ott under arrest and brought him into Granite Falls that same night. Had he been allowed to remain in Echo that night he never would have lived to be hung.  There were strong threats of lynching, and for that reason Sheriff Schwalier took extra precautions with his prisoner for some time.

The June term of court convened a few weeks after the deed had been committed and the trial of the fiend was soon over with.  The grand jury found an indictment against him, and he was at once taken before the court to plead.  He plead guilty to the charge of murder.  The court appointed two lawyers to defend him, as he had procured none. When the case was again called he stood up and said he was guilty as indicted, and Judge Qvale sentenced him to hang after three months.  He took his sentence with the same degree of emotion any ordinary man might take a sentence of one day in jail.  And from that time to this he has never seemed to care as to his fate.  He has always said he killed his wife and was ready to die for it.

The scaffold on which he was executed was build in the jail yard right up against the south end of the jail.  This was surrounded with a high board fence so that no one on the outside could see what was going on inside.  Every detail for the execution was carefully carried out be sheriff Joe Schwalier, and nothing was left undone that would go to have things as they should be.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Abbie Gardener

Abbie Gardener a local resident of Sleepy Eye,
was captured at Spirit Lake Iowa in 1857 by Indians
 just before the breakout of the Indain Uprising in 1862.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Killed By Her Husband

Mrs. Louise (Dohrmann) Ott, a former Brown County girl, was killed by her husband, Joseph Ott, in a fit of anger at their home near Echo on the night of the 10th of May, 1898.  The particulars were telegraphed to the Sleepy Eye Dispatch as follows;

Mrs. Ott and children had been attending a wedding at the home of a neighbor during the day and at
about seven o’clock in the evening the mother and her eldest son returned home, expecting to get the other children later. When they entered the house, Ott angrily demanded where the other children were, and upon being told, he flew into a passion and sent the boy after them.

As soon as the boy had left the house Ott assaulted his wife with a billy, smashing her head and
scattering her brains upon the floor.  He then called his son back and told him he had killed his mother.  The victim lived for two hours.

Soon after Ott was arrested and Judged in the jail at Granite Falls.  He is exceptionally cool and says the crime was intentional.

The murdered woman is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dorhmann of Sleepy Eye.  Her sister, Mrs. Durbahn, resides at Lamberton, and her brother, Henry, in Leavenworth.

Ever since the birth of her first child, the husband’s conduct towards her has been that of a
brute.  At the slightest provocation he would fly into a passion and vent his anger in assaults upon his wife or some of the children.  Often has he driven her from home and threatened to kill not only her but her father and mother as well.

His fate should be the severest that the law affords.  Nothing short of hanging will satisfy justice and the outraged community in which he lived.

Since his confinement in jail Ott has made this statement of the murder: “My wife had been at a
wedding and was going back and wanted me to go along.  I did not want to go and we got into some
words.  Then I struck her several time with my fist, but I saw I could not give her enough that way and I went and got the billy.  I struck her several times with this and told her that I had been divorced from her once and now I would give her a divorce that would last.  She said ‘O, Joe don’t kill me.  Don’t strike me anymore, and I won’t say any more about it’.  But I told her it was too late and that this time I would finish her.  Then I caught her by the hair and dragged her out of the bedroom and I’ll bet I struck her fifteen times with the billy.”

Friday, March 25, 2011

Post Cards From Sleepy Eye

James Gang Believed To Have Been In Sleepy Eye

(Picture of Jesse and Frank James in 1872)

In the year 1876, on July 7th, Frank and Jesse James, Cole, Jim, and Bob Younger, Charlie Pitts, Bill Chadwell, and Hobbs Kerry robbed the Missouri Pacific Railroad at what is known as the "Rocky Cut" near Otterville, Missouri. Kerry, known as their raw recruit, was arrested soon after and he willingly identified his accomplices.

The Rocky Cut raid set off for stage of the final act in the history of the James-Younger Gang; for what is to be known as the famous Northfield, Minnesota raid. The target was to be the First National Bank of Northfield, located far outside of the gang's usual territory, which had  previously only included the South and the Border States. The bank of Northfield itself was not unusually rich. According to public reports, required of all national banks, it was a perfectly ordinary rural bank. Bob Younger had stated (once caught) declared that they had selected the bank because of its connection to two Union generals and Radical Republican politicians: Benjamin Butler and Adelbert Ames. Ames had just stepped down as governor of Mississippi, where he had been strongly identified with civil rights for freedmen, and had recently moved to Northfield, where his family owned a mill and a large amount of stock in the bank. One of the outlaws "had a spite" against Ames, Bob said. Cole Younger said much the same thing years later.

Frank and Jesse James, Cole, Jim and Bob Younger, Charlie Pitts, Clell Miller, and Bill Chadwell took the train to St. Paul and Minneapolis at the beginning of September 1876. They divided into two groups, one group going to Mankato, Minnesota and the other group going to Red Wing, on either side of Northfield. They purchased horses and scouted the terrain around Northfield once they got there. On September 7, 1876, around 2 p.m., they attempted to rob the bank. Three outlaws entered the bank, and the other five stood guard outside. The citizens of Northfield realized a robbery was in progress and took up arms. Shooting from behind cover, they discharged a deadly fire onto the outlaws, killing Miller and Chadwell, and wounding the Youngers (particularly Bob, who suffered a shattered elbow). They also shot Bob Younger's horse. One of the outlaws shot Nicholas Gustafson, a bystander, dead in the street. Inside the bank, cashier Joseph Lee Heywood refused to open the safe and was murdered in cold blood for his resistance. 

The surviving outlaws rode out of town and took to the woods. After several days of dodging the pursuing Minnesotans, who had joined posses and picket lines by the hundreds, the gang had only reached the western outskirts of Mankato. They decided to split up. (Despite persistent stories to the contrary, Cole Younger told interviewers that they all agreed to the decision.) The Youngers and Pitts remained on foot, moving west, until finally they were cornered in a swamp called Hanska Slough, just south of LaSalle, Minnesota and west of Madelia, Minnesota. In the gunfight that followed, Pitts was killed and the Youngers wounded further. The Youngers surrendered, and pleaded guilty to murder in order to avoid execution.

The James brothers, on the other hand, secured horses and fled west across southern Minnesota, turning south just inside the border of the Dakota Territory. In the teeth of hundreds of pursuers and a nationwide alarm, they successfully returned to Missouri. The James-Younger Gang, however, was no more.
Somewhere in the town of little 'ol Sleepy Eye someone may own the gun which once belonged to Jesse James or to his brother Frank James.  As I stated in the tale of the James brothers, they did survive the Northfield Bank robbery and were fleeing toward westward towards the  Dakota Territory.  The tale on Sleepy Eye however, cannot be proven, but it is a tail worth repeating;

Following the attack by the James and Younger gang on the Northfield Bank on September 7th, 1876, the outlaws fled through Mankato, most of them then going toward Hanska and Madelia where they were captured in a few days. Frank and Jesse James continued on westward from Mankato, apparently aiming for the Pipestone area.  That escape route lends credence to stories told by local residents.

The one tale worth repeating is when a man stopped in Sleepy Eye at Carl Berg’s Hotel (SE corner of Main and Sixth, now Second Avenue W.) and asked for food for himself and for his horse.  He offered to pay by offering to giving Berg his gun.  Barter was common and because news traveled slowly the village of Sleepy Eye had not yet heard about the Northfield robbery the man was safe with this bartering act.

When the news did arrive, with a description of the robbers, it was clear to Berg that he probably had been host to one of the James brothers.  He had the gun for a long time, according to his son Alvin, and eventually sold it.  Who bought it?  Where is it now?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Story of the Corn Palace

One of the most famous tourist attractions in the Midwest, if not the country, is the Mitchell Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Any trip to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills is not complete without the requisite stop in Mitchell. But few people know that Sleepy Eye was home to our own Corn Palace. 

The Mitchell Corn Palace, according to the official Mitchell Corn Palace web site, was originally called 'The Corn Belt Exposition' and was "established in 1892. Early settlers displayed the fruits of their harvest on the building exterior in order to prove the fertility of South Dakota sil. The third and present building was completed for [the] first festival at the present location in 1921. The exterior decorations are completely stripped down and new murals are created each year."

In 1922, the town fathers were looking for a way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the City of Sleepy Eye. Like thousands of other small towns throughout the Midwest, the Sleepy Eye area was a major producer of corn. Corn was such a significant part of the local economy that the townspeople came up with the idea to build a palace to celebrate the historic milestone of the city's birth. Several men had gone to Mitchell, South Dakota to visit the ornate corn palace.  Once seeing this structure they made up their minds that this would be the ideal structure to be placed in the middle of the town.  They made up blueplrints on how the Mitchell palace was built and brought home a smaller version of one for the one to be constructed at home in Sleepy Eye. 

The men came back home and recommended a modest replica to be built in the middle of town.  It was modestly enveloped by corn to exhibit the season's harvest. A sign draped the palace proclaiming: “Welcome 50 Years King Corn”.  This corn palace was placed at the intersection of Main and what is now First Avenue (Today that address is occupied by Riverside Interiors). The townspeople wanted the palace to be completed by September 18th because that was the official date the town became
a Village in 1872.

When the festival ended, all of the corn was removed and the palace structure was moved to the northwest corner of Allison Park. At the time, Allison Park was considered a State Park and was
much larger than what the present park is now. Workers next coated the now former Sleepy Eye Corn Palace with stucco siding to prepare the building for its new purpose as the city's new concert hall.

About a generation before, the City of Sleepy Eye had constructed a bandstand in Allison Park in 1894 but that building had, by 1922, fallen into disrepair.  In 1894 Allison Park was considered a State Park.  It was called Sleepy Eye Lake State Park.  From there it was named Lakeside Park, then onto the name City Park finally ending with well known name of Allison Park as we know it today.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sleepy Eye in 1890

Located on the main line of the Great Northwestern railroad, 418 miles westward from Chicago and 133 miles from Minneapolis and the state capital, we feel ourselves right in the center of the most magnificent civilization the world has yet known and fully in touch with and abreast of the spirit of the times. The desire to keep at the head of the procession is what has made Brown County, in which Sleepy Eye is the most centrally located town, one of the wealthiest and most progressive of the many counties in a state noted for its enterprise and progress and of these people we wish to say a passing word. The bulk of our population trace their descent from the sturdy German emigrant, to whose frugality and industry this land of the free is indebted for its rapid strides in the past century. The remainder of the population consists of a nearly even combination of Danes, Americans and Irish and representatives of other people across the big pond, just the proper constituency for a first class and enterprising community.

The splendid country tributary to Sleepy Eye is not excelled by any region under the sun. No more fertile fields can be found anywhere and no better class of people than those who own and till those fields have yet been born. The inexorable law of supply and demand has caused the town to grow with the country. Substantial business houses are found here because the trade demands large stocks of goods and comfortable and commodious quarters in which to store and show the stock. Those long lines of large wheat warehouses were erected to make it possible to handle the crops. Banks were built and capitalized to enable the movement of produce. Our large mill is also in answer to a demand and the product of the mill is superlative because its proprietors saw that nothing less would be satisfactory. Churches were built because the community demands places in which to gather and worship. Our magnificent schoolhouse, rich and ornate in appearance, and almost lavishly supplied with the most approved apparatus was also demanded and the same may be said of all improvements both public and private. Each of these features will be separately treated and we will close our reference to the village by giving a little statistical information, which we do not tabulate, to add to its interest.

The railroad, the Winona & St. Peter, now a link in one of the greatest railway systems known, was completed to this point in 1873 and for a number of years Sleepy Eye was the end of both the freight and passenger divisions. A branch of the Northwestern leaves the main line here and taps the rich and populous country to the northwest adding considerably to the importance of the town. We have a population today of upwards 2500 and this number is increasing quite rapidly. We have a splendid electric light system; the plant being the property of the city and has been operated for a number of years at a net profit aside from furnishing our streetlights without a penny of expense. An excellent system of water works, a paid fire department, and electric fire alarm have proven wise precautions to guard against loss of fire. Well kept streets, broad sidewalks, cut stone crosswalks and careful oversight are all advantages of which we may speak.

Two beautiful public parks, one containing eleven acres of natural grove on the lakeshore, are beauty spots quite noticeably a matter of local congratulation. Two Banks, two newspapers, two lawyers and two doctors, look out for the money, the news, the trouble and the health of the people. Two drug stores, three hardware stores, four general merchants, three exclusive boot and shoe dealers, two jewelers, three lumber yards, two livery feed and sale stables, two harness shops, two grocers, two furniture dealers, four agricultural implement houses, three meat markets, three wagon and wood repair shops, four hotels, two cigar factories, twelve saloons, three millinery establishments, two firms of painters and decorators, two merchant tailoring establishments, a 500 barrel flouring mill, five grain warehouses and elevators, two barber shops, two fine clothing houses, and a score or so of other and different trades and business interests and well-stocked, carefully kept restaurants and bakeries and saloons all add their share to the importance and the comfort of the people.

All lines represented are well handled and it is seldom that so complete and well equipped a community is met with. We are essentially an agricultural community and as such desire to be considered. Our hundreds of thousands of fertile acres teem with the wealth which skillful husbandry has but to develop. At this point each year $600,000.00 is paid out for grain; $250,000.00 for cattle, sheep and hogs; $50,000.00 for barley, rye, corn and oats; $50,000.00 for eggs, and poultry; $150,000.00 for butter and dairy products and probably $200,000.00 is earned in the raising of horses and the production of other things essential to the comfort of the people. In round numbers Sleepy Eye's business men distribute through the various channels upwards of $2,400,000.00 in cash every year for the product of the mill, farm, garden, dairy, and poultry house.

This $2,400,000.00 is natural wealth and the constant and every increasing volume of these sources of wealth is what places our entire community in that condition in life called commonly, comfortable circumstances. We do not think the limit has been reached in the production. The straw, now wasted, which is grown with our grain, could be made into paper and the profits of the work added; vegetable, which now go to waste, could be profitably canned or preserved and marketed at a figure which would pay well; more corn and potatoes could be produced for the manufacture of starch; a tannery might do well and the same might be said of oat meal mills, pork packing houses, plow factories and a dozen other lines. To sum all: Sleepy Eye is a good place, a pleasant place, a prosperous place, and could be made better, pleasanter and more profitable by a fuller development of our natural resources.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Windsor Hotel

The Windsor Hotel, North Fifth, was a busy place when this picture was taken in 1901.  It occupied the site of Berdan Plumbing.  The boys sitting on the sidewalk from left to right are: Stub Schmelz, August Schwieger, a Casserly boy, Ralph Reed, Rave Webber, and Harry Anderson.  There are only a few known among the men.  From left to right are: Max Drusch and Sy Conrad: sixth from the left was Hands Handson and number 11 was Martin Casperson.  Those on the balcony from left to right were Mrs. Wheeler and son.  Next is Lena Schavesdick, now Mrs. Fred Krambeer, living on a farm southeast of town.  Next is Mrs. Ole Sundt, Mrs. Frank Koehere, next unknown, Mrs. Emil Krueger, Theresa Schavesdick, now Mrs. William Walters and the other lady unknown.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


This barber shop owner was by Clarence Herbert.  It was located in the basement of the old City Clerk's Office.  Mr. Herbert is pictured at the left and Ed Wiegel, who later purchased the shop, is shown at the right.  The picture was taken about 1914. 
             The men of Sleepy Eye smoked cigars of plenty back in the day - back in the early 1900s that is - so no wonder the showcase in Mr. Herbert's barber shop would have none other than a generous stock of them.  We know that back in 1901 Sleepy Eye had at least four men practicing the craft of cigar making.  They were; C.A. Lemke, J.B. Hecker, Otto Nothardt, and Albert Wandersee.
 Lemke lived on the north side of Main in the block across from the L.P Jensen residence, and that house was between the corner (later site of the creamery) and the Dyckman Library.  Hecker had been employed by Lemke and in 1901 he opened his own shop.  Northardt apparently was on the North side of Main near the Radl (later Martinka) corner.  At least, his saloon was in that block.  There is reason to believe that Hecker later went to New Ulm.  No information has turned up so far about Wandersee, who was perhaps relative of the Wandersee’s living in Sleepy Eye.  In 1902 a William Davison also became a cigar maker, and in 1905 an Albert Kaping was apparently here as well.  H. J. Schobert made the Verdict Cigars.  We know the most about his cigars or at least his boxes.
This is what we do know about Verdict Cigars: the lid of the cigar box has an oval with VERDICT in the center, words Unity and Effort above.  Community Development below.  Inside the lid: VERDICT – To all whom these presents come, Greeting: Be it known that the cigars herein contained are manufactured by H.J. Schobert, Sleepy Eye, Minn.  That care has been exercised in the selection and blending of the different tobaccos to insure a good wholesome smoke.  One which the public will be sure to appreciate after sampling.  In testimony whereof this verdict is rendered and support is solicited for a meritorious article.  Community Development Committee.
            Inside the back of the box – Verdict Cigar Made Right – Right Here.  Outside of the back, no wording.  Right end of box VERDICT.  Front of box, inside and out: The contents of this box have been TAX PAID as cigars of class B as indicated, by Internal Revenue Stamp Affixed.
            Left of box: Community Development Movement – organized to unite the trade of community – Made Right Right Here.  The Revenue Stamp is still on the box, a blue paper stamp with words: Cigars 50, Class B.
            Bottom of box, outside: Fact. No. 247 Dict, Minn. 50, Notice --- Notice.  The manufacturer of the cigars herein has complied with all the requirements of law.  Every person is cautioned not use either this box for cigars again or the stamp thereon again, nor to remove the contents of this box without destroying said stamp under the penalties provided by law in such cases.