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Wabasha Minnesota History
From the book
"HISTORY OF WABASHA COUNTY, MINNESOTA"
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge and Others
Published Winona, MN by H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1920
Republished Currently by
This history originally located at
Original page was difficult to read due to fixed width background used
Wabasha, the county seat of Wabasha County, is one of
the oldest towns on the Mississippi, having been
occupied continuously since 1826. Situated on a
beautiful terrace overlooking the Mississippi River, and
almost surrounded by towering bluffs, its location is a
most picturesque one, and possesses many commercial
advantages. Like many other Mississippi River towns, the
city is stretched along the banks of the river, its
tendency to length being increased by the fact that the
railroad station lies at the extreme east of the city,
while the courthouse and the public school and the ferry
are near the western edge. The principal business street
lies parallel to the Mississippi River and only a block
Railroads having their terminals here tap the rich
valleys of the Chippewa and Zumbro, and a ferry
terminating at a road which leads across the bottoms to
Nelson, Wisconsin, lays tribute on the wheat lands of
southwestern Buffalo County. Good roads leading in all
directions also make it the natural center of the
surrounding fertile lands in Wabasha County. Passenger,
freight and lumber traffic on the Mississippi River,
once so important, is now at a minimum, but the river
still has its part in the prosperity of the town. Two
boat building concerns construct excellent craft, rough
fishing and searching for clam shells are both
important, and as the result of the latter industry, a
button factory is maintained.
Another View of the City ~ Contributed by Chris Miller
The building in the lower center is advertising Cremo
Cigars for 5 cents each.
The writing reads: 9/29/06 S.G. Lake City and Wabasha
Hello! Am down here visiting have been to Chippewa
Falls, Eauclaire, Plum City, Maiden Rock Wis.
The most important industry, and one that dates since
the early days, is that of milling. A large line
elevator concern also has its headquarters here. In
addition to boats, already mentioned, sash and doors are
produced in considerable quantities. Livestock, barley
and produce are also shipped.
The city possesses many advantages in the way of
religion, education and philanthropy. There are
Catholic, Congregational, Episcopal and German Reformed
churches, and in addition to the large public school,
the Catholic people maintain an important parochial
school. The Catholic people also have here an orphanage
and hospital. There is likewise an excellent sanitarium.
The municipal improvements include waterworks, an
electric light plant, a sewer system and fire
protection. The city hall is adequate and sightly.
There are three newspapers, the Wabasha County Herald,
the Wabasha Standard, and the Wabasha County Leader. The
two banks, the First National Bank and the Farmers &
Merchants State Bank, maintain the financial integrity
of the city. The Commercial Club is a live organization,
looks after the city interests and maintains club rooms.
The public library has a wide scope and is well
patronized. The two elevators, the live stock shipping
association and the creamery furnish a market for farm
The courthouse and jail are commanding architectural
features, and with the near-by magnificent high school
building, add much to the beauty and importance of the
Augustin Rocque settled in Wabasha in 1826. About the
same time came Duncan Campbell. Both settled in the
extreme western part of the present city, across the
slough. In 1838, Oliver Cratte built a house on the
levee. Joseph Buisson settled nearby the same year.
Francois La Bathe established a post here sometime after
the Black Hawk War. His date is usually given as 1841.
He sold out to Alexis Bailly, who spent the remainder of
his life here. Among these early traders gathered a
little settlement of people, mostly mixed blood
In 1842 Father Augustin Ravoux, of St. Paul, sent a log
building from Mendota to this place to be used as a
chapel. The building was placed upon a raft and floated
down the river, and set up on the point where Main
street now terminates. This was the first building for
religious purposes ever erected in Wabasha. It was used
for the purpose designed several years, but went finally
into disuse as a church edifice in consequence of the
irregularity of services, and was afterward used for
secular purposes. The first paper printed in Wabasha was
printed there, and a school was taught in it.
The city of Wabasha was named in 1843 after the great
Dakota chief. An interesting ceremony accompanied the
christening. A hole was dug in the ground on the levee,
and a bottle containing a paper giving an account of the
event was placed in the hole; then a post was set up
over it with a board nailed thereon, upon which was
printed or written the name "Wabashaw" in large letters.
A bottle of whisky was broken to celebrate the
christening. In 1853, ten years later, the old sign-post
was still standing. It is difficult now to locate just
the place where the post stood; but it was on the levee
between Alleghany and Pembroke streets. Francis Talbot
saw it when he landed here in 1853 from the steamer
Nominee. At the time of this christening, Wabasha was
nothing more than a trading-post and stopping place for
traders and voyageurs. It had been a stopping place for
the traders for a long time as they passed up and down
the river, trafficking with the different bands of
Indians on both sides of the river and around the lakes,
their headquarters being at Prairie du Chien, so that
"the Prairie" seemed like home to them, particularly so
to the pioneer Frenchman. After the territory was
organized Alexis Bailly was appointed justice of the
peace by the governor, and was thereby made the first
civil officer of the county. Before that time the manner
of living had been quite patriarchal in its way, and no
better illustration can be given of it that to quote Mr.
Rocque's advice to his sons, which gives his opinion of
the law. It says: "Mes fils, ce faut que vous engardez
bien a ce moment parceque la loi c'est venue en ville.
La loi c'est le diable, et Monsieur Bailly il est la loi."
Interpreted: "My sons, it is necessary that you be very
careful now, because the law has come to town. The law
is the devil, and Mr. Bailly is the law."
In 1849 a bill was passed organizing the territory of
Minnesota, whose boundary on the west extended to the
Missouri river, and at that time the whole region was
little more than a vast wilderness. Alexis Bailly was at
Wabasha. Charles R. Read and Fordyce S. Richards at
Read's Landing. H. S. Allen, of Chippewa Falls, built a
warehouse upon the levee at Wabasha in 1849, and some
years added to it and opened a store therein in company
with a partner named Creamer. The agent here was named
Murphy. The Dakota Indians were numerous, but very
peaceable with the white people, many of whom were their
relatives, but their enemies, the Chippewas, were often
made to realize their hatred, and when some unfortunate
Chippewa ventured so near as to lose his scalp, the
Sioux would hold what they called a scalp dance. The
last of these occurred in 1858, on the levee just below
the American House, then kept by C. W. Wyman.
In 1850 Congress constructed a military road from
Wabasha to Mendota, costing five thousand dollars. The
length of this road was 75 miles. Philo Stone in 1850
erected a dwelling on Levee street. Mr. Stone was a
native of Vermont who had come to this country in 1838.
He engaged in hunting on the neutral grounds between the
Sioux and Chippewas, which being seldom visited by
either tribe, made excellent ground for hunting. He was
very brave, of a wiry, quick, impulsive temperament, and
passed through many skirmishes in earlier times, always
coming off the best man.
Christian Shively and Amos Wheeler arrived at Wabasha
about the same time as Mr. Stone. A building on the
levee was erected in 1853 by a river pilot named Harold,
and it was kept as a boarding house known as Harold's
Exchange until destroyed by fire in 1858. Francis
Talbot, the last of the pioneer fur traders, came here
in 1853 with letters of introduction to Mr. Bailly, from
his friend, John H. Kinzie, of Chicago, with whom Mr.
Talbot was connected at an early day.
An early settler has said: "When the writer of these
annals first came to Wabasha, in the spring of 1857, the
teepee of the Indian was to be seen in every direction,
and the dusky form of the savage might be expected to
walk in upon you, or be seen peering curiously at you
through the window at any time. Usually they wanted food
or "coshpop" (the Indian term for ten cents), begging
being one of their strong characteristics. Just below
the house in which we lived stood a little copse of
wood, where the death-song of the "poor Indian" was
heard many times when he thought himself dying; the
"fire-water" of the white man proving too much for him.
He would get thus far on his way back to the teepee, lie
down, as he thought, to die, and then the terrible wail
would begin and continue until the poor fellow was
overcome and dead-drunken sleep drowned all
sensibilities. Their dances, too, were very frequent and
dreadfully hideous, yet apparently enjoyed with all the
zest their benighted brains and energies could desire.
Their medicine and war-dances were the most frequent;
they had also a snake-dance, which took in all the
serpentine antics and hisses, while the monotonous
beatings of their drums was most unearthly.
Sitting at our dinner table one day, we were startled by
the door being opened suddenly and five dusky faces, one
above the other, peering in at us, the last one with
face painted black and red, with mischief-gleaming eyes
and two feathers in his hair. Our eldest son, who, in a
short time, had caught much of the Sioux language, upon
seeing the last face, jumped up and accosted him with,
"Now, Dick, what does all this mean?" "Indian hungry,"
was the reply. "But why are you here with that face?"
"Dick dandy," he replied, and it appeared that he had
painted and dressed himself in those habiliments for our
especial benefit. The Indian was known ever after as
The town of Wabasha was platted and laid out in 1854 by
A. S. Hart, the proprietors being Oliver Cratte, Joseph
Buisson and Philo Stone. In the spring of 1857 a new
company was organized and the town site greatly enlarged
by the platting of one thousand acres on the west side
of the slough which divided the plateau from the
original site. This company consisted of Messrs. S. P.
Gambia, B. W. Brisbois, S. L. Campbell, Tho. A.
Tomlinson, H. B. Rice, Gen. Shields, Oliver Cratte and
Philo Stone; Hon. S. L. Campbell, trustee. A large
warehouse was erected on that side by the Lowry
interests of New York City, and the foundation of an
extensive hotel was laid, and the prospect was
flattering for the growth of the city on that side. But
the terrible convulsions in the financial world which
commenced this year came with crushing effect upon the
young city, and discouraged both proprietors and people.
Immigration fell off, and business of all kinds suffered
exceedingly. In consequence, that part of the city was
given up and the land divided among the proprietors in
Wabasha was incorporated in 1858, by special act of the
First State Legislature. The first officers were: Mayor,
Capt. W. W. Wright; aldermen, John B. Downer, William B.
Lutz and W. W. Prindle; recorder, Carlos W. Lyon;
treasurer, S. N. Wright; justice, Charles Webb;
surveyor, D. W. Wellman; attorney, John N. Murdock;
official paper, the "Minnesota Patriot."
The city charter was revised during the winter of
1868-69, which revision divided the city into two wards,
with two aldermen elected in each ward, who held their
office two years. The city boundaries and limits were
defined as follows: "Beginning at a point in the
Mississippi river on the dividing line between Wisconsin
and Minnesota, at the mouth of a small creek, called
Smith's creek, between Wabasha and Read's Landing;
thence up said creek to the west line of township 111;
range 10; thence along said township line to the
southwest corner of section 6, in township 110, range
10; thence along the south line of section 6, 5 and 4 of
township 110, range 10, to the southeast corner of said
section 4; thence north along the east line of said
section 4, township 110, range 10, and section 33,
township 111, range 10, to the Wisconsin line; thence
along the Wisconsin line up to the place of beginning."
The ferry between Wabasha and the point opposite in
Wisconsin has been practically continuous since 1862.
From the Wisconsin point across the river, the bottoms
extend some three or four miles before the main land is
reached at the present village of Nelson. In 1858 an
effort was made to build a road across these bottoms in
order to secure the Wisconsin trade, but the project at
that time was not carried out. For more than half a
century the extremely poor road conditions on the
Wisconsin side made the operation of the ferry a most
dubious business venture, with little profit in case of
success, and a much better chance for loss. In 1918,
however, the Wabasha Roller Mill Co., with James G.
Lawrence at its head, leased the ferry from the city,
built a mile and a half of fine durable road, with
necessary bridges, to Nelson, Wis., and began the
operation of a cable ferry which has proved a great
benefit not only to the Mill company and the Wisconsin
farmers in the transport of wheat to the mill, but also
to the citizens of Wabasha and those on the Minnesota
side generally. All kinds of freight are handled. A
gasoline launch is used for propelling the barge, the
trip taking about three minutes. The ferry operates the
The Wabasha Free Public Library is one of the old
institutions of the city. In the fall of 1868 a club was
organized with 42 members, the object being to develop
literary culture and build up a library. The club rented
a hall and furnished it neatly, supplied the table with
the daily papers of the state, together with most of the
popular magazines and leading literary journals, and
filled the shelves of the room with a select number of
books. They also furnished facilities for all and
various drawing-room games. This club consisted of the
best society of the place, both ladies and gentlemen.
Its managers, however, were gentlemen. During the winter
of 1870-71 the interest in the club seemed to be on the
wane, and fears were entertained that this good
beginning might have to be abandoned. But the ladies
decided that it should not be a failure, and they took
the library off the hands of the gentlemen entirely,
reorganizing under the name of the "Ladies' Library
Association." The interest in the library has grown and
the institution is today a strong factor in the
educational development of the community. In June, 1909,
it was taken over by the city and is now supported by a
city tax. It contains about 5,000 volumes.
Postal service in Wabasha is among the oldest in the
state. The early traders received their mail from
Prairie du Chien, in the summer by boat, and in the
winter by the carriers bound for Ft. Snelling. In 1849,
Fordyce S. Richards, the trader at Read's Landing was
appointed postmaster here, and mail matter for Wabasha
came to that point. In 1853, Alexis Bailly was appointed
postmaster, and service since that time has been
continuous. In 1856 a tri-weekly mail service was
arranged with the steam boat companies for the summer,
and a somewhat less frequent service by means of
overland travel in the winter. In 1857, when H. C.
Burbank inaugurated a daily stage service between La
Crosse and St. Paul, mail was received daily from each
direction. The original name of the postoffice, as of
the county and city was Wabashaw, but in 1858, the
government dropped the final letter, and the office has
since borne its present name.
Wabasha has been famed for the attention which it has
paid to education since the earliest days, and still
maintains its pre-eminence in this respect, the present
commodious high school building being as well equipped
as any similar institution in the state. The first
school taught in Wabasha was a private school taught by
Thomas F. Flynn. After the first school-district in the
county was organized, which was that of Wabasha,
District No. 1, in 1855, a school was taught in it by H.
B. Potter, the building used for the purpose being the
old log Catholic church which stood upon what was then
called "The Point." Mr. Potter taught a few months in
1856, and then the school was discontinued. Miss E.
Hogard taught a private school for a few months in a
small building on Bridge street, erected by B. S. Hurd
in 1856, Miss Hogard taught during the spring of 1857,
but discontinued it on account of the public school
being resumed by Miss A. Strickland, who taught for
about three months. Mrs. J. J. Stone then opened a
private school in her own house on Pembroke street, and
taught more or less during the years of 1858 and 1859,
removing her school to a small frame building on Main
street, below Pembroke. During the summer and fall of
1858 a private school was taught on the west side by E.
F. Dodge, in a building erected for that purpose by
Jarvis Williams, of Saco, Maine, who then resided on
that side. Meantime steps were being taken by the city
for the erection of a schoolhouse adapted to the needs
of the town, and lots were purchased in block 5 of South
Wabasha for that purpose. A stone building 40 by 45 feet
was erected during the summer and fall of 1859, the
cornerstone being laid with appropriate ceremonies on
July 4, 1859. This house cost $2,500. A school was
opened in it on January 3, 1860, taught by W. C. Bryant,
assisted by Henrietta Angier, of Toledo, Ohio, all
private schools merging into it. Mr. Bryant was from
Cincinnati, Ohio, where he had done much to establish a
high grade of common schools, and his efforts here were
the very first made in Wabasha county toward the union
or graded schools. Mr. Bryant continued his teaching
until the close of the spring term. No other school was
taught in the building as a schoolhouse, as the city
donated the building to the county for a courthouse the
same year, and the county offices were removed thereto
in the fall of 1860.
In the fall of 1860 Walter Gurley opened a private
school in the courtroom of this building, teaching it
until January, 1861, when Joseph Gates took the school
and completed the term, teaching another term during the
spring of 1862. The public school was taught very
successfully during the winter of 1861-62 by Mr. H. I.
Whitmore, his school numbering one hundred pupils. The
next school was taught by Mr. Gates, during 1862-63, in
the Baptist church building, which was rented for that
purpose. A wooden structure at this time was in process
of erection, by private enterprise, for an academy,
which stood on Third street, between Walnut and
Allegheny streets. It was completed in November, 1865,
and a very successful school taught in it during the
winter of 1865-66 by L. Jenness. A parish school had
been instituted under the auspices of the Episcopal
church, by the Rev. H. G. Batterson, in 1863-64, which
was first taught by Kate Dougall, afterward by Wealthy
Tucker, of Winona, in a building owned by Henry de Camp,
corner of Bailly and Second streets, but as the other
schools advance in character and course of study, it was
given up, the teacher, Miss Tucker, accepting a position
as assistant in the school of the academy. Mr. Jenness,
having a better offer in Minneapolis, left in the spring
of 1865, and no school being taught, Mrs. Marian T.
Bowditch opened a private one in the courtroom for the
summer. Mrs. Bowditch continued her school, assisted by
her niece, Miss E. Bowditch, in her own house the next
winter, discontinuing it in the spring of 1866.
Meanwhile the school in the academy was taught by Rev.
Bonnel, a Baptist clergyman, assisted by his wife.
Public school was taught in the Baptist chapel by Joseph
Gates, assisted by Mrs. J. J. Stone, Miss M. Staples
teaching the summer term. After the purchase of the
academy by the city, Mr. Hopper was employed as
principal, Henry F. Rose succeeding him. Mr. Rose
remained two years, and was succeeded in the fall of
1867 by E. Hogle, who taught the school two terms,
assisted by Miss D. Clark and Miss J. Lynch. Mr. E. A.
Booth succeeded Hogle, and remained until the spring of
1868, when he resigned the place, his position being
filled the next term by Mrs. E. L. Douglass; Jennie
Fyfe, teacher of intermediate department; Miss McCune,
The academy building was now too small to accommodate
the different grades, and rooms were rented therefor in
different parts of the city. In the spring of 1868 the
subject of a more commodious and central schoolhouse was
agitated, which resulted in the erection of a fine
edifice in block 4, South Wabasha, and in the gathering
of the different departments of the graded school under
one roof. The board of education, after deciding upon
the amount of funds needed for that purpose, and to
issue bonds upon the credit of the school-district No.
1, submitted the same to a vote of the electors of said
district on April 27, 1868, as required by law. The vote
cast was for the issue of these bonds, and they were
issued to the amount of twenty thousand dollars,
redeemable between July 1, 1870, and July 1, 1880. The
size of this building was 62 1/2 feet by 82 1/2 feet, is
three stories high, including basement, and contains
twelve rooms, besides the halls and wardrobes; four in
the basement, four on the first floor, with a wardrobe
to each room, and four on the upper floor, with
wardrobes also. The high school department occupied the
double room on the northwest side of the house. A belfry
in the center of the building contained a bell of six
hundred pounds, and it is warmed by three Lossing
furnaces. Messrs. Gates, Brink & Harlow were the
contractors, and the whole cost of building and seating
the rooms amounted to twenty-five thousand dollars. The
board of education at the time consisted of Rev. B.
Wharton, S. S. Kepler, J. Satory, J. B. Davis and George
The school was opened in this building in December, with
R. H. Sturgis, principal, and four assistant teachers.
In September, 1870, S. L. Sayles, of New York, accepted
the position of principal of the school, with five
assistant teachers, and taught and regraded it very
successfully. Mr. Sayles resigned the position in 1872,
and was succeeded by M. B. Foster, also an able and
efficient teacher, who remained four years. E. Hogle
succeeded him for one year, when J. B. Hawley was
employed, together with six assistant teachers. In the
fall of 1880 Mr. Hawley resigned and Wm. A Snook
succeeded him, remaining two years. Horace Gibson took
charge of the school in September, 1882. Thus was the
present school system inaugurated and established, and
its later developments have been still more extensive
and thorough. In 1894 a large brick schoolhouse was
built on Mulligan street near East Second, which is now
used for the grades and the manual and normal training
A few years ago a new high school was felt to be a
necessity, and appropriate measures were taken for the
construction of the present handsome and commodious
building, which was built in 1917, at a cost of $60,000.
It fronts on Market street, its rear being connected by
a closed passageway with the school building erected in
1894. It is of pleasing architectural design, with the
interior carefully planned, and well lighted by large
windows in all the rooms. In addition to the class rooms
it contains a fine gymnasium, surrounded by a balcony
for spectators, and a spacious auditorium used for an
assembly room and for lectures, plays and various public
entertainments. The heating plant is separate from the
building. The high school is organized on the junior and
senior high school plan, the seventh and eighth grades
being assigned certain high school studies and
constituting the junior high classes, while the senior
high school classes take more advanced work and
additional studies, this plan affording the advantage of
a more gradual transition from common to high school
work. The enrollment for the year ending in June, 1920,
was 200 in the grades and 110 in the high school, from
the latter there being 15 graduates. Twelve teachers are
employed in the high school and six in the grades. The
present superintendent is Anton Fischer, who came to
Wabasha the latter part of August, 1920, from Benson,
Minn. He succeeded L. U. Towle, who was superintendent
for seven years previously. The Wabasha high school in
its equipment, management and standard of scholarship
take high rank among the similar institutions of the
Schmidt Memorial Park is one of the notable improvements
of Wabasha. When the schoolhouse was planned it was the
regret of every lover of the beautiful in the city that
it should stand on the edge of an unsightly piece of
what was practically waste land. It was Mrs. Julius
Schmidt, the widow of one of Wabasha's prominent
citizens, who, after her husband's death in April, 1915,
conceived the happy idea of perpetuating his memory by
the transformation of this piece of land into a public
park, and who thoroughly and beautifully carried out the
plan. In the present year, 1920, she has added to the
attractions of the park by the erection of a fine
drinking-fountain, which she presented to the city at a
public ceremonial on Saturday, August 21.
The river front of Wabasha has been beautified by the
laying out of the Mill River Gardens, which stretch
along the river bank for 650 feet. These gardens are
tastefully laid out, are planted with wild and
cultivated flowers and furnished with walks and arbors.
This work was initiated by James G. Lawrence, head of
the Wabasha Roller Mill Co., and has transformed a once
uninteresting section of river front into one of the
most attractive spots in Wabasha and the vicinity.
Among the notable buildings, in addition to the high
school, elsewhere described, are the City Hall, a
substantial two-story brick building with basement and
belfry, erected in 1894; the large and imposing Court
House, with its well lighted and commodious offices, and
the County Jail, a fine brick building, of modern design
constructed at a cost of $40,000 in 1918.
The old Baily House, built in 1858, is a historic
landmark, still in a good state of preservation. Baily
was a noted Indian trader, elsewhere mentioned in this
volume, who, after bringing General Sibley to Mendota in
1843, came to Wabasha and settled here. He was buried
here with his two wives, the first of whom was a
Faribault. The Baily House in its palmy days sheltered
many noted guests, among whose names appear those of
Gen. Franz Sigel, Gen. Buckner and Marshall Field.
The Journal was the first paper published in Wabasha
County. It was established July 4, 1856, at Read's
Landing, by H. J. Sanderson, and moved to Wabasha in the
spring of 1857, where it was published till some time in
the fall of 1858, when it died. The city records show
that it was made the official paper of the city of
Wabasha April 27, 1858. Some time during the summer S.
S. Burleson bought an interest in the paper, and later
in the same season acquired entire control. Sanderson
went south, and, when Vicksburg surrendered to Grant,
was one of the rebel troops captured there, and was
recognized by several of his old Wabasha acquaintances.
On Christmas Day, December 25, 1858, S. S. Burleson
issued No. 1 of the Minnesota Patriot, which was made
the official paper of the city May 3, 1859. It died a
natural death some time during the summer. Burleson was
a lawyer, but at a later date studied theology and
became an Episcopal minister. Both the Journal and the
Patriot were Democratic in politics.
October 29, 1859, H. C. Simpson commenced the
publication of the Wabasha Weekly Journal, a six-column
quarto, republican in politics, and an adherent to the
cause of Abraham Lincoln. On November 23 of that year
the newspaper was made the official organ of the city.
In the spring of 1860 G. W. Marsh bought an interest
with Simpson, and the paper was published by Simpson &
Marsh. This was the year of the first contest between
Wabasha and Lake City for the county seat, and it was
said that the Journal received financial recompense for
aiding the cause of Lake City, the result being that the
two editors barely escaped drowning in the Mississippi
by a mob of indignant citizens. December 8, 1860, the
paper was discontinued at Wabasha, and started again at
Lake City, January 3, 1861. Simpson soon after enlisted
in the 2d Minn. Vol. Inf., and passed from sight of his
Wabasha friends. Marsh went to Wisconsin, and at a later
date was crippled by an accidental gunshot.
TheWabasha County Herald is the oldest paper in Wabasha
County and one of the oldest in the state, having been
started before the state was admitted. In the early
spring of 1857 the McMaster family settled at Read's
Landing. Two of the sons, T. A. and W. C., were
printers, and they either brought with them, or soon
obtained, a press and material, and made arrangements to
publish a newspaper. It was at that time proposed to
call the village of Read's Waumadee, and the newspaper
was named the Waumadee Herald, and the first number was
published during the first week in May. On the twelfth
day of that month the Messrs. McMaster were drowned in
the Mississippi by the accidental upsetting of a skiff
in which they were crossing the river, and with them
died the Waumadee Herald. Norman E. Stevens, a young
printer from Illinois, arrived at Read's some two months
after the death of the McMasters, and with the
assistance of the business men of the village,
especially T. B. Wilson and F. S. Richards, made
arrangements to purchase the office from the McMasters
family, and on June 27, 1857, he published the first
number of the Wabasha county Herald. Mr. Stevens was an
eager Republican, and the paper was devoted to the
advocacy of the principles of that party.
In the fall of 1860 the people of Wabasha, dissatisfied
with the course taken by the publishers of the Journal,
determined to have a paper that would assist in the
development of their town instead of their rival Lake
City, and such arrangements were made with Mr. Stevens,
that in December he moved his material to Wabasha. On
December 12, 1860, the paper appeared, with Wabasha and
Read's at its head as joint places of publication, and
it was so published until the spring of 1863, when the
name Read's Landing disappeared from its head.
Some time during the year 1861 the issue of a
semi-weekly edition was commenced. It was continued
until the close of 1862, and was a bright, newsy sheet.
During the year 1862, U. B. Shaver was sole publisher
for a few weeks, and Stevens started a paper at
Plainview, but it was not a success and he returned, and
Shaver and Stevens were joint proprietors up to about
April 1, 1864, when Stevens sold his interest to his
partner Shaver and moved to Paxton, Illinois. For a few
weeks in the summer of 1864 R. H. Copeland had charge.
August 3, 1865, Shaver sold out to E. W. Gurley and
Frank E. Daggett. Both were eager republicans and had
served in the Union army, and Daggett had won a
lieutenant's commission by gallant service. Gurley was a
pleasant writer and did most of the editorial work
during the short time he remained connected with the
paper, and Daggett, who was an excellent printer,
attended to the mechanical department. Mr. Gurley was
not in good health and soon retired, and at a later date
went to North Carolina. Henry W. Rose, the purchaser of
Gurley's interest, was a writer of very much more than
ordinary ability. Under his editorial management the
Herald was generally regarded as the ablest country
paper in Minnesota. About January 1, 1868, Daggett
became ambitious of a larger field, and, disposing of
his share in the Herald to Rose, went to La Crosse and
purchased an interest with Lute Taylor in the Republican
and Leader, of that city. The Herald remained under the
sole management of Mr. Rose form this time until his
death, in April of the same year. For a few weeks during
Rose's illness, and after his death, J. K. Arnold had
charge of the office; but Daggett, whose La Crosse
enterprise had not proved a success, soon returned and
purchased the office from Lorenz Ginthner, administrator
of Rose's estate, and was sole proprietor until the
summer of 1870, when he sold to Amasa T. Sharpe and
Willis D. Palmer. The leading editorials during the two
years following were furnished by John N. Murdoch, a
well-known lawyer of Wabasha, and a Republican of the
straightest sect, and he did not allow the Herald to
become lukewarm in its politics. Later, in the autumn of
1872, Sharpe and Palmer left Wabasha for Ottawa, Kansas,
where they established the Ottawa Republican. W. S.
Walton was the next proprietor of the Herald and to him
is due much of the credit for inaugurating the movement
which resulted in building the midland railroad from
Wabasha to Zumbrota. During a part of the time his
brother, H. H. Walton, was associated with him in the
paper, and June 1, 1878, W. L. Lewark, who for several
months had been foreman in the office, bought a third
interest in the establishment. April 1, 1879, Mr. Walton
sold to W. H. H. Matteson his two-thirds interest in the
Herald. Matteson and Lewark ran the paper until April 1,
1881, when O. F. Collier purchased from Matteson and
assumed the business management, with Mr. Lewark
controlling the types and presses.
On September 26, 1888, almost the entire office and
outfit were destroyed by fire. The 27th was publication
day, but without a break the paper appeared. This was
accompanied by taking the forms to Lake City and doing
the printing on the Graphic-Sentinel press, the use of
which the owners of that paper, Messrs. McKinney &
Linnen, kindly accorded. A new outfit was at once
procured, and as soon as the old quarters in Lucas
Kuehn's building had been sufficiently repaired the
proprietors again occupied it and proceeded to fit up
the office in metropolitan style. New type was purchased
throughout, new stands, furniture and fixings, a
five-horse engine and large steam boiler were installed,
radiators and steam pipes introduced, and the entire
building heated by steam. A large Cottrell press was
purchased, also a large Gordon jobber, and the office
was placed on a better footing than ever before.
About 1890 or 1892 Mr. Collier withdrew from the firm,
the paper being subsequently published by J. F. McGovern
& Co., the new firm being composed of J. F. McGovern,
James Keating and W. L. Newark, Mr. Newark having
previously been a partner with Mr. Collier. The new firm
continued for several years until Mr. Newark dropped out
about 1895 or 1896, but the paper was still published
under the firm name of J. F. McGovern & Co. up to
September 1, 1905, when S. M. Quigley bought the
McGovern interest, the firm becoming Keating & Quigley.
As such it remained until October 16, 1908, when Mr.
Quigley bought out Mr. Keating, and has since remained
the sole owner. W. J. Dornuf, who has been with the
Herald since 1909, is the active manager of the plant.
The old steam power system was replaced some eight years
ago with electric power. The plant is thoroughly modern,
containing all the necessary equipment of an up-to-date
office. The Herald is a standard seven-column,
eight-page weekly. In politics it is independent with
Democratic leanings. The oldest newspaper in Wabasha
County, it is also the official paper of the city ~ a
privilege it has always enjoyed, and has also been the
official paper of the county since early days except for
a few years. Under its present ownership and management
it is enjoying continued prosperity.
The Federal Constitution, a Democratic journal, was
published for a few weeks in the summer of 1864, by Dr.
F. H. Milligan and John W. Tyson; it was short-lived,
had no office, and was printed on the Herald press.
The Wabasha Bulletin was established in the summer of
1879 under the guidance of Editor Slagel. In the latter
part of 1880 it passed into the hands of J. R.
Pennington. The next and last owner was C. J. Hines.
The Wabasha County Leader, the latest addition to the
ranks of journalism in the city of Wabasha, was
established in March, 1919, by an incorporated company
consisting of a number of farmers residing in various
parts of the county, there being now about 200
stockholders. It is politically independent, its chief
object being the promotion of co-operative enterprises.
W. W. Cheatham is employed as editor. The Leader has
already a circulation of about 1,200 and is still
growing. It has a good modern plant with everything
needed for a successful journalistic enterprise. The
paper is an eight-page, seven-column weekly, neatly
printed, and apparently has a promising future.
The Wabasha Standard was first known as the Wabasha
Democrat, under which name it appeared early in
February, 1888. The founders and proprietors were A. J.
Stone and C. J. Haines, the former a Republican and the
latter a Democrat. The political complexion of the paper
was at first Democratic, but as such it was conducted
but a short time. Its name was soon changed to The
standard ~ about 1899 ~ and a year or so later the
partnership was dissolved, Mr. Stone becoming the sole
owner and editor. He conducted it as a Republican weekly
newspaper until his death in December, 1906, after which
event it became the property of his widow, Mrs. Emma C.
Stone, who employed an editor and other necessary help,
and continued its publication until September, 1918,
when she sold it to the present editor and proprietor,
Hugh R. Smith. Mr. Smith has made no change in the
politics of the Standard, which is a six-column quarto
of eight pages, neatly printed. The plant includes a
good cylinder press, a type-setting machine, job press
and other modern equipment, and the paper is flourishing
under its present management.
St. Felix Parish of the Roman
Catholic Church at Wabasha, with its various
religious, educational and philanthropic activities,
dates back to 1842, and is therefore one of the oldest
church organizations in the Northwest. In 1842 the Rev.
Augustin Ravoux, of St. Paul, sent a log building from
Mendota to this place to be used as a chapel for
worship. It was placed upon a raft and floated down the
river, and after reaching Wabasha it was put up on the
ground of what was called "The Point," which is now the
terminus of Main street, north. This was used as a
church edifice some 14 years. As there was no settled
pastor of the flock, services were very irregular, and
the building was finally used for secular purposes. The
first printing press of the town was set up in it, and
the first paper printed in the county issued therefrom.
A school was also taught in it for a time, but finally
the old church fell into decay, all traces of it having
long since been obliterated.
In the autumn of 1858 Rev. Felix Tissot came to the
place and immediately took measures to erect a new
church upon the ground of the catholic cemetery in the
southeast part of the city, on what is called "Rocque's
Addition." It was completed in the spring of 1859, but
it proved to be too far from the center of the town for
convenience, and in 1862 it was taken down and moved to
lot 6 in block 22. The size of this church was 30 by 50
feet, there being a tower in front in which was a bell
weighing 500 pounds. It was consecrated by R. Rev.
Bishop Grace on July 27, 1862. In the fall of 1872 a
school was opened in the basement story of the church,
under the charge of the Sisters of Notre Dame,
Milwaukee, of 90 pupils, with three teachers, Sister
Venantia the superior.
This church, proving too small for the increasing
congregation, had to give place to a new and large brick
structure on lot 1 and half of lot 2, in block 26, the
cornerstone of which was laid with imposing ceremonies
by Re. Rev. Bishop Grace. I was completed in 1874 and
dedicated with imposing ceremonies.
The first resident pastor of Wabasha was Rev. Felix
Tissot, rector of St. Felix Church from October, 1858,
to October, 1866, when the parish was placed in charge
of Rev. James Trobec. A convenient rectory was built
upon lot 6, block 22, at an expense of $2,2000, in the
Father Trobec continued as pastor until 1887, when he
was succeeded by Rev. Max Wurst, under whose long
pastorate of 32 years the parish had a steady and
remarkable growth. Father Wurst proved a devoted priest,
an indefatigable worker, and a man of great
administrative ability, whose labors bore abundant
fruit. He not only personally supervised all the various
branches of parish work, but applied himself
continuously, and to the full extent of his remarkable
powers, to enlarge their scope and increase their
The brick church erected in 1874, after an existence of
nearly 20 years, was completely destroyed by fire, and
in 1893 was rebuilt by him with improvements. Just
previous to this he had built the Sisters' residence and
the St. Felix School building, the latter being
completed in 1902. Father Wurst also built the present
rectory, enlarged and beautified St. Felix cemetery, and
after strenuous efforts succeeded in having the State
Sanitarium located in Wabasha ~ an act of public spirit
appreciated by all the citizens irrespective of creed.
For this work of development and upbuilding he was
especially fitted by his thorough and extensive
knowledge, both of civil and ecclesiastical law, and in
a good cause he spared no efforts. His activities in
building up the parish attracted wide attention and drew
many settlers to Wabasha and the surrounding country.
The church recognized his services by advancing him to
the ecclesiastical dignity of Monsignor, and they were
equally appreciated by the members of his flock and by
the citizens of Wabasha generally. His earthly labors
were brought to an end by his death in 1919, and he was
succeeded in the fall of that year by Rev. John N.,
Bartholome, another man of energy and proved ability.
Father Bartholome is a native of Wabasha County, born
and reared in Chester Township. He pursued his classical
course at St. Francis Seminary, at Milwaukee, studied
philosophy for two years and theology for four years at
St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., and was there
ordained in 1902. His first appointment was at
Worthington, Minn., where he remained 18 months. From
1904 to 1919 he was stationed at Fulda, Minn., where he
built up and improved the parish, erecting a fine church
costing $60,000 and a school which cost $40,000. Since
taking over the Wabasha parish he has made some
important improvements here, which were begun soon after
his arrival and have just been completed (September 1,
1920). The interior of the school has been revarnished
and calsomined (calcimine: a white
or tinted wash of glue, whiting or zinc white, and water
that is used especially on plastered surfaces:
Merriam-Webster), the convent has been supplied
with a new heating plant, and the rectory has been
practically rebuilt inside and a garage erected, the
total cost amounting to about $25,000.
St. Felix School is a large
and important institution and furnishes full instruction
in the graded and high school courses, equal in extent
and thoroughness to that supplied by the public school
system. The building is a large brick structure of two
stories and basement, with convenient and well lighted
class rooms, and an auditorium capable of seating 1,000
people, which at present is also used as a gymnasium.
There are twelve Sisters of Notre Dame connected with
the parish, with Sister Euphemia as superior. Eight of
the Sisters are teachers in the school, which has an
enrollment of from 325 to 350 pupils. The school
includes a large music class under the charge of a
special music teacher.
In connection with the parish there are also some 14 or
15 active societies, the Knights of Columbus
organization alone having more than 500 members. Another
prominent organization is the German Benevolent Society,
having a membership of between 190 and 200. All these
societies are engaged in religious, philanthropic or
social work calculated to bring useful results and
maintain and advance the general interest.
Wabasha is the home of two important charitable
institutions under the control of the Catholic Church ~
St. Elizabeth's Hospital and St. Joseph's Orphanage,
each of which has had a large and steady growth.
St. Elizabeth's Hospital
Photo Contributed by Chris Miller
St. Elizabeth's Hospital
had its origin in 1898, when a small house belonging to
Dr. Milligan, and standing on the present site of the
institution, was purchased, and, after being remodeled,
was fitted up to accommodate from ten to twelve
patients. That the demand was urgent may be inferred
from the fact that within a very few days the hospital
was filled to its capacity. Within the next two or three
years cottages were erected to meet the increased demand
for room. These, however, were found insufficient, and
therefore in 1905 a three-story brick building was
erected, with accommodations for 25 to 30 patients, in
addition to the nurses and management. It is an imposing
structure, beautifully located one and a half miles from
the business center of Wabasha, on the bank of the
Mississippi River, and commanding a view of the river
and the Wisconsin bluffs. The reputation of the hospital
spread, and within a few years another addition had
become necessary. The need was met by the construction
of a modern three-story wing, which was begun in the
summer of 1818. The hospital has been made a fire-proof
building and contains a fine operating-room, with all
the necessary scientific appliances, together with a
magnificent chapel. The present capacity of the hospital
is from 60 to 65 patients.
St. Joseph's Orphanage
Photo Contributed by Chris Miller
St. Joseph's Orphanage,
Wabasha, was established in December, 1900, when Bishop
Cotter sent five children of the Connolly family of
Winona to Wabasha so be taken care of. The Sisters had
no place for them, but could not turn them away, so a
small cottage was fitted up and the children housed. By
the fall of 1904 the need of a regular orphanage had
become so pressing that larger and better quarters had
to be provided, and a substantial brick structure, with
accommodations for 85 to 90 children, was begun, and was
completed in November, 1905. The building adjoins its
companion institution, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, and,
like it, commands a fine view of the Mississippi River.
An eight-grade school is conducted in it. The girls who
remain for high school training are sent to St. Felix
Parochial School in Wabasha, the boys being sent to St.
Mary's College at Winona. Desirable homes are found for
all the children, the Sisters exercising supervision
over them until they become of age. Both Catholic and
Protestant children, from two to sixteen years old, are
received by the orphanage, which is a charitable
institution liberally assisted by citizens of the Winona
diocese. There are 22 Sisters connected with the
orphanage and hospital. Thirty-five acres of land have
been purchased, on which vegetables and garden produce
are raised for the use and benefit of the institutions.
Grace Episcopal Church ~
The first Episcopal service held in Wabasha was given in
June, 1857, by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Kemper, missionary
bishop of the Northwest, which included Wisconsin,
Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Dakota. After Minnesota
became a diocese, the first service held in the diocese
by its bishop, the R. Rev. Henry Benjamin Whipple, was
at Wabasha, in the Baptist chapel, October, 1859, as he
was on his way up the Mississippi to St. Paul. Regular
services were held during the year 1860, by the Rev.
Charles W. Clinton, in a room fitted up for that purpose
in a building on Bridge street known as Apollo Hall. A
Sunday school had been organized in the winter of 1857
by a lady, holding it in her own house, under the
sanction of Bishop Kemper, being assisted from time to
time by clergymen who held occasional services in the
place before Rev. Clinton's ministry began. That school
has been continued until the present date without
interruption, and it was the first Sunday school
organized in Wabasha. Mr. Clinton remained about eight
months, preaching alternately here and at Lake City.
After he left, the Rev. C. P. Dorsett held occasional
services until the autumn of 1862, when the Rev. H. G.
Batterson commenced his labors here, his first services
being given on the twenty-third Sunday after Trinity,
November 23, 1862. The parish was not organized until
December 16, when, at a meeting, it was voted to call
the organization by the name of Grace Church, Wabasha,
regular service and Sunday school being held in the
court-house. In the spring of 1863 three lots were given
by Wm. W. Prindle for church purposes, and arrangements
were made during that year for building a stone church
upon the ground, contract let to R. P. Andrews for the
laying of the walls. The basement was completed in the
spring of 1864, and corner-stone laid on June 15, with
appropriate ceremonies. A copper box was placed in the
stone, containing: a copy of the Holy Scriptures in
English, according to the standard of King James'
translation; a copy of the Book of Common Prayer; a copy
of the church Almanac, with parish list for 1864; also
copies of the "Church Journal," "The Northwestern
Church," and the "Wabasha County Herald;" one silver
dime and half-dime of the issue of 1853, and English
shilling piece of the reign of George III, 1788; a
five-cent Canada coin of silver, Victoria, 1858; ten and
five cent specimens of the postal currency; ten-cent
piece of scrip, Bank of Tennessee, Nashville, December,
1861; a copper coin of Canada and United States; ein
kreuzer, 1816; photograph of the first bishop of
Minnesota (Bishop Whipple) and the pastor, Rev. H. G.
Batterson; the names of the bishop and clergy of other
officers of the diocese. Unfortunately, on June 23, the
builder and contractor were drafted for the war, and the
work on the structure had to be suspended and the
project finally abandoned, for, as the price of labor
and material advance, the parish had not the means to
carry forward the work. (Note: I
have added punctuation to the list of items placed in
the cornerstone as they were divided only by commas and
the result was quite confusing. Note also, speaking of
George, that there was in New England a statue of
George III of England which my distant grand-pappy,
Oliver Wolcott, Governor of Connecticut, ordered chopped
up, melted down, and made into bullets to fire against
the English in the American Revolution. George was
thereafter referred to as the "Melted Majesty!")
During the winter of 1864-65 the Rev. Mr.Batterson was
absent from the parish on account of ill health, during
which time Ralph E. Arnold gave a lay service every
Sunday morning and took charge of the Sunday school,
which at this time numbered one hundred and nineteen
scholars. Mr. Batterson returned in the spring, and on
the first day of June, 1865, the Baptist chapel was
purchased and removed to the church lots on corner of
Bailley and Third streets. It was thoroughly repaired
and painted, a bell tower in the rear being added, and
the opening service was held therein on Sunday, July 30.
By a general subscription, aided by friends of Mr.
Batterson, a bell was purchased of Messrs. A. Fulton,
Sons & Co., of Pittsbutgh, Pennsylvania, and it was rung
the first time on Sunday morning, October 29, 1865. The
weight of this bell was 850 pounds.
On April 30, 1866, the church was incorporated and the
following named wardens and vestrymen elected: Carlos W.
Lyon, Charles R. Read, William W. Prindle, William T.
Dugan, Nathan F. Webb, James G. Lawrence and Ralph E.
Arnold. Of these officials Mr. Lawrence, now 84 years
old, is still one of the leading members of the church.
About this time the Rev. Mr. Batterson preached his
farewell sermon and was succeeded by Rev. Samuel Wardlaw,
who commenced his labors June 24, 1866. His successor
was the Rev. Alex Seabrease, B.D., who took charge of
the parish May 23, 1869. During this year the parish
built a rectory costing $1,600, and steps were taken to
fill up the basement of the church. The Rev. A.
Seabrease closed his connection with the church June 2,
1872. After him came the Rev. Horace Hills, who closed
his rectorship of the parish September 30, 1877. He was
succeeded on October 7, the same year, by the Rev. James
Cornell. The Rev. James Cornell was succeeded by Rev.
Joseph J. Hillmer, who was pastor for twelve years and
three months, his successor being Rev. Elmer Lofstrom,
who served seven years. After him came Rev. Charles H.
Plummer, who was pastor two years, and was succeeded by
Rev. Caleb Benham, who also served two years. Then came
Rev. John Evans. The Rev. John Evans was pastor for two
years, and was succeeded by the Rev. Archibald Sidders,
who also remained two years, leaving in August, 1919.
After Rev. Archibald Sidders said farewell to the parish
no services were held, except occasionally by the
Bishop, until recently, but now Rev. Joseph J. Hillmer,
of Winona, a former pastor of the church, is holding
services twice a month.
The present stone edifice, a most beautiful piece of
architecture, was erected in 1900 by Mr. Thomas Irvine,
now of St. Paul, as a memorial to his wife, Mrs. Emily
Hills Irvine, who was the daughter of the Rev. Horace
Hills, formerly rector of the parish. The building is
one of the most tasteful pieces of church architecture
in the state. The chancel window, representing the two
Marys at the tomb Easter morning, was made by Tiffany of
New York at a cost of $3,000.
The Congregational Church of
Wabasha was organized in February, 1856, the
original members being Deacon Oliver Pendleton, Mrs. W.
W. Prindle, Mrs. W. Hancock, Mrs. H. Wilson, Malcolm
Kennedy and W. S. Jackson, Rev. H. H. Morgan, missionary
director. This organization, next to the Catholic, is
the oldest in the place. The first settled pastor was
the Rev. S. L. Hillier, who commenced his ministry May
1, 1857, services being held in what was called Apollo
Hall. Mr. Hillier was succeeded by Rev. David Andrews
October 15, 1858, and he was the first clergyman who
held service in the new church. This church was built on
lot 2, of block 14, on Second street, its size being 22
by 50 with a bell tower in the rear containing a bell
weighing 1,000 pounds. The building was dedicated
October 20, 1858. Rev. Mr. Andrews was succeeded by the
Rev. Hiram Doane in August, 1860, he commencing his
labors on the 27th. Upon the breaking out of the
rebellion Mr. Doane resigned his charge for another in
the service of his country, and was succeeded by the
Rev. L. N. Woodruff, September 16, 1862, and Mr.
Woodruff by Rev. S. A. Van Dyke in 1864. The next
pastor, the Rev. Edward Hildreth, assumed charge in
April, 1866. The Rev. Henry Loomis was pastor 1867 to
1868. The Rev. C. W. Honeyman succeeded Mr. Loomis in
the spring of 1872, in which year the society erected a
beautiful parsonage upon lot 1 of the church property,
which cost $3,6000. Mr. Honeyman's health failing him,
the Rev. O. Hobbs officiated from January 14, 1874, to
April 2, 1874, when he was succeeded by Rev. E. J.
Wicks; and Mr. Wicks ended his labors with this
congregation in August, 1875, being succeeded by the
Rev. S. D. Todd on November 3 of the same year. Mr. Todd
continued his ministry here until succeeded by Rev. J.
W. Ray April 4, 1877. Mr. Ray continued his pastoral
relations until the autumn of 1882, when he was
succeeded by the Rev. C. P. Watson. The Sabbath school
was organized in the autumn of 1858, and has been
continued with unabated interest and success until the
present time. Malcolm Kennedy acted as superintendent
some twenty-two years. W. S. Jackson was the very
efficient and interested librarian of this school from
its commencement to the time of his death in February,
1882. The first deacons of this church were Oliver
Pendleton, Sr., and William W. McDougall. Rev. C. P.
Watson served until 1883. The succeeding pastors have
been as follows: N. T. Blakeslee, 1883 to 1889; W. H.
Medlar, 1889 to 1898; R. L. Breed, 1898 to 1902; W. B.
Pinkerton, 1902 to 1907; W. H. Short, September, 1907 to
November, 1908; Wilbur M. Evans, April, 1909 to
February, 1910; Henry Ketcham, October, 1910 to August,
1913; James A. Orrock, September, 1913, to 1914; W. A.
Pringle, 1915 to 1917; Elmer D. Gallagher, September,
1917 to the present time. In 1914 the Methodist
Episcopal Church, which for some time had been going
down hill, federated with the Congressional (sic) Church
and supplied two of the pastors above mentioned, the
Revs. J. A. Orrock and W. A. Pringle. The federation
lasted for some seven or eight years, at the end of
which period the Methodist Church, having only about 35
members left, and the church property being badly out of
repair, gave up their own church organization, the
majority of the members, about 25, on July 4, 1920
(Sunday), joining the Congregational Church, and further
accessions from the same source are expected. The
present membership of the church is about 130; the
Sunday school enrollment about 100, The Woman's
Missionary Society and Ladies' Benefit Society are
active factors in church work. The present church
edifice, a neat frame building, was erected in 1884, the
old edifice being united with it so as to form one
building. It is located on W. Second street at the
corner of Walnut. Miss Julia Hilker is the present
Methodist Episcopal Church of
Wabasha ~ The first Protestant services held in
Wabasha were by Rev. Dwight Kidder, in the American
hotel, in 1855. Mr. Kidder was a Methodist, and had been
sent to take charge of the mission embracing Read's
Landing, Wabasha, Central Point and Wacouta. A class
formed in Wabasha, consisting of H. B. Potter, leader,
H. Tracy, T. G. Bolton, J. W. Bolton, Nancy Bolton, Ruth
E. Bolton, Mrs. Wilds and Hannah Drew. The first
quarterly meeting held in the place was in the log
chapel belonging to the Catholics, December 15-16, 1855.
Rev. Benjamin Crist was appointed to this charge in
1856, but did not remain, and services were interrupted
until August, 1857, when the Rev. S. Salsbury was placed
in charge, his work to comprise Wabasha, Read's Landing
and Cook's Valley. Mr. Salsbury left in the spring of
1858, and the next pastor in charge was the Rev. James
Gurley. A Sunday school was instituted this year of
forty-five scholars. The next pastor in charge was J. L.
Dyer, the next Rev. Jesse Smith, in charge to the fall
of 1861, when the Rev. Harvey Webb was placed in charge
and remained until 1863. During his administration, the
church was reorganized according to the statutes of the
state, by appointing John R. C. Creighton, secretary,
Rev. H. Webb, pastor, presiding. Five trustees were
elected: Thomas Roberts, John R. Creighton, James
Crowley, John Lewis and James Luscombe. They decided to
build a church upon a lot which had been previously
purchased on Second street. A building committee was
chosen, consisting of Rev. H. Webb, L. Dietz, John
McArthur, Thomas Bolton and Thomas Roberts.
Specifications for the church building were, size 24 by
40 feet, height 14 feet, the vestibule being added
afterward. The whole expense of building amounted to
$1,000, and it was dedicated on August 6, 1862. The Rev.
A. Wilford was placed in charge September, 1863, and
remained in charge during 1863-64. In November, 1864,
Rev. Wilford was appointed, by the governor, chaplain to
the 3d Minn. Vol. Inf., and his place was supplied by
Rev. J. R. Creighton, who had received license to preach
at conference of 1864. At the next session of conference
in 1865, Rev. T. M. Gossard was appointed in charge, and
he was succeeded by Rev. J. L. Farber, who was
reappointed in the fall of 1867 and remained until 1868,
when the Rev. S. G. Gale succeeded him. Rev. W. C. Rice
was pastor in 1860-70, and he was succeeded by Rev. B.
Y. Coffin, who remained in charge until the fall of
1871, when the Rev. S. G. Gale was returned as pastor.
Mr. Gale remained two years, when Rev. W. C. Shaw
succeeded him. Mr. Shaw died in February, 1874, and the
Rev. M. O. M'Niff was appointed to supply the remainder
of the year. September 14, 1875, Rev. W. H. Soule was
appointed pastor and remained in charge until October
21, 1878, when the Rev. James Door succeeded him.
October 11, 1880, the Rev. W. C. Miles commenced his
pastorate, which continued until October 10, 1882, when
the Rev. D. J. Higgins was placed in charge. This church
was removed to Fourth street, lots 7 and 8, in 1870, the
old lot being sold for three hundred dollars. The first
stewards were: H. B. Potter and R. F. Morris, in 1855.
The first trustees were James Crowley, Thomas Roberts,
J. R. Creighton, John Lewis, John W. Luscombe. The first
Sunday school superintendent was R. F. Morris. For a
number of years this church had a flourishing existence,
and then a period of disintegration set in, due to
deaths and removals, the limited resources of the
members, and perhaps other causes which need not be
specified. At last, too weak to be self-supporting, in
1914 the church federated with the Congregational Church
of Wabasha, and on Sunday, July 4, 1920, when only some
35 members were left, a majority of them joined the
Congregational Church, and the Methodist Episcopal
organization in this city came to an end. The edifice,
badly needing repairs, has been sold, and will be
remodeled into a residence by the purchaser, Mr. Wall.
The German Lutheran and Reformed
Congregations ~ A German Lutheran congregation
was organized in 1875, with a membership of fifty, with
the Rev. August Kanne as pastor. Their service was held
in the court-room until July, 1876, when their church
building was completed on Market street. The size of
this church was 25 by 40 feet, and the whole expense,
including the church lots and belfry, amounted to
$2,000. The first trustees of this church were Jacob
Thoney, Sr., Christian Florine and Wilhelm Ruchenbauch.
This church and society have a Sunday school, which was
organized in 1876. A seven-hundred- pound bell was
purchased in 1877. The first pastor of this church was
Rev. August Kanne, who was succeeded in 1879 by the Rev.
A. Krahn. The lot upon which the church was built was
found to be not pleasing to the congregation, and in the
spring of 1881 another was purchased on corner of
Jefferson and Second streets, South Wabasha, and the
church removed to it in the spring of 1882. The first
members of this church were: John Voelger, Henry Balow,
Jacob Thoney, Joseph Thoney, Jacob Ray, Jacob Gengnagle,
Peter Tervana, Peter Yanette, Herman Lessing, George
Bance, Peter C. Cavedetesher, Jacob Miller, William
Reichenbach, Jacob Mingold, Peter Klaus, Philip Grub and
Jacob Schuler. In the course of time the German Reformed
element in Wabasha became stronger than the original
Lutherans, and this church practically passed into their
hands, though Lutheran ministers continued to preach at
intervals. Services were continued more or less
regularly until about 1918, the last pastor being the
Rev. Tilman Hornemann. Since then no services have been
held, though it is thought that they may be resumed in
the near future.
The Baptists organized a society in Wabasha in 1857,
which for awhile had a flourishing existence. A church
edifice was erected in 1857, and a suitable bell was
presented by the citizens. The pastor, Rev. James
Wharton, kept the congregation together for some two
years after the church was built. The congregation was
then dissolved, but the church building continued to be
an important religious, educational and social center.
Wabasha has two banks, the Farmers and Merchants State
Bank and the First National Bank. The first attempt to
establish a banking house in Wabasha was made in the
flush time of May, 1857, when Hiram Rogers & Son opened
a banking office on the corner of Pembroke street and
the Levee. Mr. Rogers was a prominent business man of
Zanesville, Ohio, who came west in the prosperous times
of 1856, and had made some investments in St. Paul
before coming to this city, in the spring of 1857. He
purchased quite freely of real estate here, paying
"wild-cat" prices for lots to which he could
subsequently gain no title, on account of the vexed
question of half- breed scrip. Being squeezed in the
financial crisis of 1857-58, he closed his banking
house, abandoned all his property here and departed for
St. Paul, having permanently invested about $17,000 in
this city, from which he realized nothing.
Kepler & Jackson, a mercantile company, were in the
meantime engaged to some extent in selling exchange on
eastern banks, but this was merely by way of
accommodation, and they made no pretensions of
conducting a banking business.
A new chapter in the banking history of Wabasha was
started in the spring of 1864. W. W. Prindle, the county
clerk, and N. F. Webb, clerk of the district court,
formed a partnership under the firm name of Prindle &
Webb, and opened a banking office in a wooden building
on the corner of Main and Alleghany streets. The bank
location was subsequently changed to the south side of
Main street, where they fitted up the small building
between Alleghany and Walnut streets, and conducted
business several years. The firm as it originally stood
was subsequently changed to Webb, Prindle & Chase, and
finally became Webb & Co. Webb & Co. continued in
business until April 12, 1872, when an assignment was
made to E. M. Birdsey, who, when the bank was declared
bankrupt, was appointed assignee in bankruptcy for the
settlement of the estate. The creditors subsequently
received fifteen cents on the dollar, the liabilities
In 1872, about two months after the failure of Webb &
Co., a banking house was opened in the Campbell block
(on Main, a few doors west of Pemboke), by A. D.
Southworth and W. J. Florer, under the firm name of A.
D. Southworth & Co.; capital, ten thousand dollars. This
banking establishment soon gained the confidence of the
mercantile community, did a successful business, was
subsequently removed to the north side of Main street,
just east of Pembroke, and continued in business until
the fall of 1881. W. J. Florer, having died in August of
that year, and A. D. Southworth being unable to attend
to business through ill health, the banking house of A.
D. Southworth & Co. dissolved, and the Bank of Wabasha
was organized as its successor.
The Bank of Wabasha, which
through the firm of A. D. Southworth & Co. dated back to
1872, was organized September 1, 1881. The incorporators
of the Bank of Wabasha were: C. F. Rogers, C. F. Young,
L. S. Van Vliet, A. D. Southworth, James G. Lawrence, W.
S. Jackson, Knud Johnson, Dr. J. J. Stone, J. H. Evans,
H. P. Krick, Samuel Hirschy, Henry Funk, Mrs. C. E.
Krick, Mrs. M. A. Florer, Mrs. A. L. Hills, Mrs. M. E.
Wetherbee, Loring Ginthner, H. J. Whitmore and Lucas
Kuehn. The capital stock was placed at $50,000, of which
one-half was paid in. W. S. Jackson was elected
president, and held that office until his death in
February, 1882, when he was succeeded by Lucas Kuehn.
Bruce Florer, who had been for some time cashier of the
bank of A. D. Southworth & Co., was elected cashier.
October 1, 1882, the bank removed to the north side of
Main street, midway between Pembroke and Alleghany
streets, in the new building which the Odd Fellows had
just completed at that time.
The First National Bank of Wabasha
was chartered June 30, 1883, as a bank of issue,
deposit, loan and exchange. It was merely an enlargement
of the scope of the Bank of Wabasha with no change in
ownership or management. This bank is still in
existence. It has a paid up capital of $50,000, with
surplus and profits of about $55,000, and deposits of
$800,000. The officers are: President, C. C. Hirschy;
cashier, L. Whitmore; assistant cashier, H. H. Whitmore.
The Farmers and Merchants State
Bank of Wabasha was established in 1911. Its
president is J. R. Kelly; vice-president, L. Schurhammer;
cashier, H. J. Mars; assistant cashier, P. N. Carrels.
The bank has a paid up capital of $25,000; surplus and
profits of $6,480, and deposits of $312,000.
The first agricultural fair of the county was held in
September, 1859, at Wabasha, across the slough, in the
building erected for a warehouse, which building, in
1864, was removed to this side the slough and occupied
as a grain elevator until it was consumed by fire April
The Wabasha Roller Mill Co.
is the most important industry in Wabasha. Wabasha Mill
Company was organized in September, 1882, with a capital
stock of $75,000. The incorporators were James G.
Lawrence (president), Lucas Kuehn, W. P. Dugan, H. P.
Krick, L. F. Hubbard, P. A. Richards (secretary and
treasurer), and J. E. Young (head miller). This industry
was started as a partnership concern, in 1872, by Downer
& Lowth, who erected the mill and conducted the business
about five years, when they sold out to Messrs. J. G.
Lawrence, W. H. Campbell and A. G. Foster. J. G.
Lawrence became the sole owner by purchase in 1878, and
managed its affairs successfully until the formation of
the joint-stock company as above stated. The first mill,
erected in 1872, was originally a burr mill with six run
of stones, and had a capacity of nearly eighty barrels a
day. Various improvements were introduced from time to
time until 1881, when the whole mill was remodeled and
made a full roller mill. By this change the capacity was
increased to 225 barrels a day, and their average daily
product raised to 175 barrels.
Subsequent improvements have increased the capacity to
1,200 barrels daily, and the product has become famous
under the name of "Big Jo Flour." A large part of the
wheat is obtained from farmers in Wabasha County, and
from a number in Buffalo County, Wisconsin, just across
the river. The latter supply has been made more
available through improvements carried out by the
company in the leasing of the ferry from the city, the
introduction of a cable system, the barges being pushed
by gasoline launches, and the construction of a good
road across the Wisconsin bottoms to Nelson, Wis.,
whereby the old impediments to transport have been
removed. The ferry is operated during the entire year
and is a most useful and necessary institution, as the
nearest bridges across the river are at Red Wing and
Winona, 30 miles above and 35 miles below Wabasha,
respectively. General freight is handled, as high as 100
tons being handled in a day, the capacity for the barge
being from four to five teams with loads. The Wabasha
Roller Mill, or "Big Jo" Mill, as it is commonly called,
is now the largest industry in this section. The
business has been built up chiefly through the efforts
of its forceful president, J. G. Lawrence, whose
son-in-law, W. B. Webb, is now vice-president of the
company. The mill is a familiar landmark on the river,
and occupies a fine location, which has been further
beautified by the laying out and cultivation of a floral
garden along the river front, provided with seats and
The R. E. Jones Company was
organized in 1888 by R. E. Jones and James G. Lawrence.
They installed the electric light plant and engaged in
the buying of grain and produce. The concern was
incorporated in 1889, Mr. Lawrence being president to
1896, at which time he sold his interests to H. J.
O'Neill. Other industries of Wabasha may be found
mentioned in the biographical part of this volume.
Wapahasa Lodge, No. 14, A. F. & A.
M., antedates the incorporation of the village.
The population of the city at that time probably
aggregated 600 persons, among whom were several who,
remembering the old days when they were "wont to be
called from labor to refreshment," determined to
establish a lodge of the craft in the new home they had
chosen for themselves in the upper Mississippi Region.
Accordingly a petition for a dispensation to open and
conduct a masonic lodge was forwarded to Grand Master A.
T. C. Pierson. A dispensation was granted October 22,
1856, and on January 7, 1857, a charter was issued,
under the authority of the grand lodge, empowering S. L.
Campbell, J. J. Stone, F. J. Collier, S. A. Kemp,
Lindsay Seas, Wm. Pierson and B. A. Grub to open a
lodge. The lodge was organized in due form with S. L.
Campbell, W. M; J. J. Stone, S. W.; and F. J. Collier,
J. W. The original lodge room was in the upper story of
a new building on the corner of Walnut street and the
Levee, which had been erected for general merchandising
purposes by Campbell, Gambier & Pendleton. From those
quarters in the upper story of this structure the Masons
subsequently removed to the upper story of the brick
building on Main street, between Alleghaney and Pembroke
streets, at that time occupied by Luger Bros. as a
furniture warehouse and salesroom. From Luger's, in 1870
the lodge removed to the third story of the Campbell
House block, since burned. The upper story of this
building, which stood just west of the present Masonic
block, corner of Main and Alleghaney streets, had been
erected by special contract with the members of the
Masonic order, who had contributed six hundred dollars
toward the erection of the block, in consideration of
which, and a stipulated rental, a lease was executed for
a specified term of years. In 1878 the craft removed to
the third story of John Schirtz' building, and there
remained until the completion of their own building,
Masonic block, of which they took possession December 1,
1880. This property was owned for many years by the
Masonic Building Association, but in the latter part of
the year 1918 it was purchased by Wapahasa Lodge, which
now owns it. The lodge meetings are held in the upper
story, the lower being rented out for commercial
purposes. The present membership is about 125.
Relief Chapter, No. 35, R. A. M.
~ Wapahasa Lodge, No. 14, had been in existence
twenty-four years, and the Masonic building was just
completed when the members of the craft deemed it wise
to take steps toward the establishment of a chapter,
that such as desired might receive instruction in the
more advanced work of the craft, as exemplified in the
higher orders of Masonry. A dispensation to form a
chapter was accordingly petitioned for. This
dispensation was granted December 12, 1880, and on
October 11, 1881, a charter was issued by the grand
chapter of the state, constituting Relief Chapter, No.
35, of Wabasha, Minnesota, naming the following as
charter members: Jos. Buisson, C. J. Stauff, Francis
Talbot, H. N. Smith, A. Campbell, A. J. Bent, W. H.
Campbell, David Cratte and I. J. Pennock. The Chapter
continued in active operation until some five years ago,
when, on the recommendation of the Grand Lodge, it
surrendered its charter and its members dimitted
(demit: to withdraw from office or
membership: Merriam-Webster) to Lake City, this
action being taken in accordance with the principle of
centralization, so that there might be fewer Chapters,
but those existing of greater strength.
Red Leaf Chapter, O. E. S.,
was instituted January 12, 1881, with the following
named charter members: Mesdames Franc D. Clarke, Mary I.
Stauff, Ellen L. Dugan, Anna L. Walton, Carrie E. Krick,
Emma S. Peck, Susan S. Robinson, Barbara Porter, Selma
Oswald, and Messrs. W. A. Clarke, C. J. Stauff, E. J.
Dugan, H. Oswald. This Chapter has not been active for
Teutonia Lodge, No. 19, I. O. O.
F., is the outgrowth of the German Aid Society
established in this city in 1860. This "aid" society was
a local organization, having for its object the
promotion of social relations among its members and the
care of its members in case of sickness. It had a
numerous membership and was in quite a flourishing
condition for some years after it began operations. But
it was soon apparent that its benefits could not be
extended beyond the limits of its own pale, and as its
members removed from the city, they were thenceforth
debarred from all benefit connected therewith.
Accordingly, in 1867, a committee of five was appointed
by the society to take the situation under
consideration, examine the workings of the various aid
or fraternal associations having a national existence,
and report which one, in their opinion, was the nearest
allied in its objects and work to their own local aid
society. This committee consisted of F. L. Riechter, L.
Gintner, John Satori, J. T. Gintner and F. Kling, who,
after due examination and consideration, reported in
favor of the I. O. O. F. as most nearly answering the
ends sought. The report of the committee was approved,
and they were further instructed to proceed to
Plainview, Wabasha County, where there was a lodge of
the Odd-Fellows order, receive initiation into the same,
and so be prepared to take all necessary steps to secure
a lodge of the order in Wabasha. The duties assigned the
committee were duly performed; a paper was circulated
among the members of the "Aid Society" to ascertain how
many of the members were willing to enter an Odd-Fellows
lodge when formed, and all things proving satisfactory,
the five members forming the committee of the Aid
Society, being now members of the I. O. O. F. at
Plainview, petitioned the grand lodge for permission to
open and conduct a lodge of the I. O. O. F. in Wabasha.
The petition was duly granted, and on September 25 the
lodge was organized as Teutonia Lodge, No. 19, I. O. O.
F., of Wabahsa, with F. L. Riechter, J. T. Ginthner,
John Satori, L. Ginthner and F. Kling as charter
members. The first meeting of the lodge was held in the
hall in the third story of Schwirtz block, and continued
to meet there until 1876, when they removed to the
second story of John Satori's building, northeast corner
of Main and Pembroke streets, which quarters they
occupied till the completion of their own building in
the fall of 1882.
Oriental Encampment, No. 24, I. O.
O. F., of Wabasha, was instituted February 23,
1883, with eight charter members, the charter being
countersigned by Grand Patriarch Romaine Shire, and
Grand Secretary J. Fletcher Williams. The name of the
charter members, as they appear on the charter displayed
on the walls of the lodge- room, are: Herman Oswald,
John Schermully, C. H. Crause, Henry Burkhardt, F. H.
Milligan, M. D., Paul Casparis, E. J. Dugan and Michael
Other early lodges were: Wabasha Lodge, No. 577, K. of
H., organized in 1877; and Wabasha Subordinate Union,
No. 215, E. A. U., both of which for some years had a
considerable membership. Later the Ancient Order of
United Workmen, the Degree of Honor and the Royal
Neighbors established lodges which are now flourishing.
The strongest fraternal order now in Wabasha is the
Knights of Columbus, which has a membership of about
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