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Windom Minnesota Community Guide

City Of Windom History

Source: History of Cottonwood and Watonwan Counties, Minnesota; Chapter XVII; Illustrated, Volume I; by John a. Brown; B. F. Bowen & Co. (1916). Text scan courtesy of Genealogy Trails History Group.

Windom, named in honor of United States Senator William Windom, a native of Ohio, but long an honored resident of Minnesota, is situated on the banks of the Des Moines river, one hundred and fifty miles southwest of St. Paul and one hundred and twenty-two miles northeast from Sioux City, Iowa. Windom was declared the county seat of Cottonwood county in the autumn of 1872, the county officers having maintained their offices at a point a few miles up the river at what was known as Great Bend, for a short period after the county was organized.

The population of Windom, according to the United States reports for 1890, 1900 and 1910 was as follow: In 1890 it was 835; in 1900 it had reached 1,944, but in 1910 had fallen to 1,749. It is now supposed to have about two thousand-possibly twenty-one hundred.

The first building really worth mentioning on the plat was the one erected on lot 8, block 18, about the middle of June, 1871, by S. M. Espey, which was used by Espey & Lukens as a hardware store. Among the early buildings, one of importance was the Windom hotel, erected on the corner of Third avenue and Ninth street by Clark & Bell. E. C. Huntington established the Reporter as the first newspaper of Windom and Cottonwood county, issuing volume 1, number 1, on September 7, 1871.

Perhaps the description of Windom given by Editor Huntington in his paper will give a clearer understanding of the surroundings and first events than any other account that can be now reproduced.

Windom As Viewed In 1893

Editor Huntington, of the Windom Reporter, in his paper in April, 1893, speaks of Windom and its prospects after the following fashion:

"The history of Windom is not one of the precious relics of the ancient world, which the capricious centuries have let drift to us, nor is it one of the precious treasures which lies buried beyond recovery under the 'tide whose waves are years.' There is no spirit of Attica breathing through the records, telling of the valor of barbarian founders; no pre-historic ruins or relics of dead ages encumber the site of the growing city. The city and surrounding country are but a chapter of American life, with its push and energy. The pioneers, many of whom are still living happily in the retrospect of labor well done, were not the 'sons of holy gods, culling the fruits of illustrious wisdom from unharried land,' but were the sons of the unconquerable Anglo-Saxon, who gave to the world the Magna Charta, political and religious liberty, and whose onward march has planted civilization and the Cross wherever its sturdy sons have gone. There is but little romance connected with the early days of this prosperous town and county. Its lowly history deals more largely in the modest yet manly experiences of the ones who toiled and laid the foundations of a prosperity that has continued and widened, and will continue to grow until the brightest dreams of the most hopeful have been realized.

"Its shipping embraces grain, stock and flour and a large local trade has built up an aggregate of many large, thriving establishments creditable to the little city. Her school building is a model structure of modern convenience and architecture. Her schools are on a par with any of the country, being taught by competent and skilled instructors. She has six churches; three solid banking institutions; a flour-milling capacity of one hundred and twenty-five barrels daily; four large elevators, a tow mill and a splendid stock market. Windom now has a population of nearly fifteen hundred as cultured and refined people as can be found in our great state of Minnesota. The streets are wide and well kept, and the business portion of the place completely surrounds a beautiful park which is nicely grown up to large shade trees and is laid out in beautiful driveways; some of the beautiful dwellings are nestled beneath the side of a towering hill, while others are on the banks of the historic Des Moines river, which carves its way to the great Mississippi, thence to the ocean. Then, in closing, we may be pardoned for mentioning the two weekly newspapers."

It was in the early spring of 1871 that S. M. Espey first came to Windom, after having traveled over the territories from the Pacific slope in search of a home. He came to Windom before the railroad came through, hauled lumber from St. James to erect his store and, in company with A. P. Lukens, set up an establishment on the southeast corner of block 18. They engaged in the hardware business for a year or two and then the firm sold to Stark & Williams. Mr. Espey, soon after the opening of his store, was appointed postmaster and served in that capacity for ten years.

In 1871 John Hutton and W. H. Wilson began business together. In a short time Wilson sold his interests and, moving to LuVerne, engaged in business there. During the several years of grasshopper devastation, Mr. Hutton gave immense credit to the farmers, with little prospect of payment, but, strong in the faith that the country must in the future outgrow its then bad record, he did much toward holding settlers on their claims, for without indulgence on the part of the business men depopulation would have become complete. The country rallied from the distress, the farmers began to prosper, and Mr. Hutton, with the rest of the business men, were finally rewarded with the payment of old claims.

First Events

The village of Windom was platted June 20, 1871, by A. L. Beach, of the St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad Company. One week before its platting, A. P. Lukens, S. C. Highly and others arrived with lumber and commenced the erection of buildings. Early in June of that year S. Hunddleston & Sons erected a bakery on lot No. 8, of block No. 8, and dug the first well in the village plat. They built an oven with blue clay obtained in the digging of the well. In this oven was baked Windom's first loaf of bread.

Among the first events in the young village may be mentioned the following: The first sermon in Windom was by Rev. J. E. Fitch in Espey & Lukens' hardware building. The first dance in town was in the same building. The first attempt at organizing a lodge in Windom was in October, 1871, when the Masonic fraternity commenced its work here. The first attorney in the place was Emory Clark. The first physician was Dr. Allen Smith, who commenced his practice in October, 1871. He returned to Ohio, from which state he had emigrated, and there died. The first death was that of P. A. Ruhberg, on March 13, 1873. The first school was taught as a "select" school by Miss Hellen F. Lawton, in the winter of 1871-2. The first train of cars to enter the village was early in July, 1871. The first postmaster was S. M. Espey. The Presbyterian church was organized on October 15, 1871, with eight members and Rev. E. Savage as its pastor. The first Methodist Episcopal church quarterly conference was held at Windom in December, 1871. In September and October, 1871, ten thousand dollars were paid out in the village for wheat. In 1874 Windom had three churches-Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist Episcopal. Prudence Masonic Lodge was also then in operation. In 1873 a large two-story school house was erected at a cost of four thousand dollars. The first term of school was taught there in the winter of 1873-4. In the spring of 1873 large quantities of lumber were rafted to Jackson and to points in Iowa, on the Des Moines river. That year the wagon bridge was constructed by N. H. Manning.

Commercial Interests, 1872 and 1882

Upon the first anniversary of the village of Windom, the following business interests were represented:

Attorneys-E. Clark, J. G. Redding and A. D. Perkins.
Furniture dealer-McMurtrey & Freeman.
Flour dealer-L. Clark.
General dealers-D. Patten & Co., M. E. Donohue, Hutton & Wilson.
Harness shop-J. Hoople.
Hardware and implements-Espey & Lukens.
Hotel-The Windom, the Hyatt House.
Implement dealer-Graves & Co.
Jeweler-C. A. Ludden.
Lumber dealer-G. L. Loope, St. Paul Lumber Co., T. W. Gilleland, agent.
Meat market-H. M. Clark.
Newspaper-The Windom Reporter, S. and E. C. Huntington, editors.
Nursery-E. B. Jordan, agent.
Physician-Dr. A. Smith.
Wagonmaker-E. Morton.
In a period of ten years the village grew considerably, as is evidenced by the business directory of 1882:

Attorneys-A. D. Perkins, Redding & Laing.
Agricultural implements-B. W. May, S. S. & A. W. Johnson.
Blacksmith shops-P. A. Ruhberg, John Svenson, Sherwood & Hubbel, J. McCurtrey.
Bank-Bank of Windom.
Druggists-D. Patten & Co., Tilford & Klock, A. Quevli.
Flour and feed dealers-S. S. & A. W. Johnson, LeTourneau & Gillam.
Furniture dealers-Mrs. L. D. Smith, Jenness Bros.
General dealers-John Hutton, R. R. Jenness, P. Seeger, A. Quevli, E. & S. Sevaton.
Harness shop-J. A. Hoople.
Hotels-The Clark House, owned by J. Clark; Windom Hotel, M.Grimes, proprietor; The Hyatt House, W. W. Barlow, proprietor; City Hotel, John Nolan, proprietor.
Hardware dealers-R. E. McGregor, William Besser.
Hay pressers-J. H. Clark, Paul Seeger, J. G. Redding, Clark & May.
Jeweler-C. A. Ludden.
Lime and fuel dealer-George Besser.
Livery-James Hanton, Gabriel Oleson.
Lumber dealer-J. H. Clark.
Meat Markets-H. M. Clark, Nason & Halter.
Millinery shops-Mrs. H. S. Ellis, Mrs. LeTourneau.
Mills-Windom Mill, owners Collins & Drake; Seeker's Custom Mill.
Machine shop-Novelty works, owned by L. Clark.
Physicians-C. A. Greene, J. H. Tilford, S. D. Allen.
Repair shop-H. C. Gillam.
Restaurant-Mrs. A. H. Bosworth.
Real estate dealers-Huntington & Perkins, Redding & Laing.
Sorghum refinery-B. W. May.
Wagon shop-W. B. Cook.

In 1882 the village had seven hundred inhabitants, two neat little churches, Methodist and Episcopal, and a Presbyterian church under construction.

Windom Post Office

Windom postoffice was established in 1871 and up to this date there have been no irregularities or robberies in the postoffice here. The receipts of the office, not including money order transactions, during the last fiscal year ending July I, 1916, were $10,282.27.

Five rural free delivery routes extend out from Windom into the surrounding country. The following is a list of the postmasters who have served since the establishment of the Windom postoffice: S. M. Espey, H. A. Cone, S. B. Stedman, Joseph McMurtrey, George E. LeTourneau, M. T. DeWolf, A. J. DeWolf, H. E. Hanson, G. E. LeTourneau, present postmaster. These names are given in the order in which the postmasters have served, nine in all, making the average term held by the several postmasters, five years. These men have been fairly representative citizens of the place and have sought to serve the patrons faithfully and well.

Municipal History

Windom was separated from Great Bend township and incorporated as a village in the spring of 1875. Emory Clark, attorney, was elected the first president and C. H. Smith, recorder; the trustees were, M. Grimes, L. D. Smith, J. N. McGregor. The first ordinance was passed by the council on April 15, 1875, and related to the selling and bartering of intoxicating liquors within the village.

Among the presidents who have served the village have been: Emory Clark, John Clark, S. M. Espey, A. W. Annes, John Hutton, M. T. DeWolf, C. W. Gillam, W. A. Smith, E. H. Klock, Jens Anderson, L. Sogge and Gustav Miller.


On September 9, 1884, an election was held to determine whether the village should remain under the original charter or reorganize under the provisions of the law of 1883. The reasons for this action on the part of the council were the doubts in regard to the construction of the charter, which had been amended and so mutilated by the insertion of an amendment in the wrong place as to make it almost impossible to construe it at all, thus leaving the city with a form of a charter which might have been good, but under which it was unsafe to proceed further. The trouble was discovered at the time of the Woolstencroft prosecution in 1882, but it was not until 1884 that the charter began to show lack of value in the prosecution then pending. It was thought by able counsel that the village had no right to prosecute for an offense against the ordinances and the opinion involved so much doubt that the council thought it wise to incorporate under the general laws rather than take a chance of testing the old charter in the courts, with little hope of success. The result of the election upheld the opinion of, the council, the proposition carrying by a vote of sixty-six to thirty-nine. The first officers under the new incorporation were: A. D. Perkins, president; C. F. Warren, recorder; trustees, C. A. Ludden, A. W. Johnson and John Hutton.

In 1916 the town was again re-incorporated and this time with the following officers: Gustav Muller, president; O. E. Elness, J. O. Thompson and T. A. Perkins, trustees; P. S. Redding, clerk.

The present indebtedness of the town is forty-five thousand dollars. An electric light system was installed in 1915 and 1916 at a cost of twenty-six thousand dollars and a great amount of money has been expended on street improvement, for which the town has every reason to be proud. In the way of fire protection, the city depends upon direct pressure and is equipped with two hose carts, one hook and ladder wagon, one thousand feet of fire hose and a volunteer fire company of twenty-five men.

In the way of parks, the town has two, well provided with shade trees and nicely kept.

The Waterworks

The water supply for the town of Windom up to early in the year 1913 was from a well, generally supposed to be two hundred and eighty feet deep. In addition to this deep well, were a couple of small points feeding into the bottom of a large pumping reservoir from a sixty-five-foot vein.

The deep well pumping outfit had become stopped up in some manner and all efforts to dislodge the obstruction or get hold of it failed. It was decided to procure a deep well drilling outfit and put down a twelve-inch pipe and point in the reservoir where the small points were feeding into the bottom. A contract was entered into with the J. F. McCarthy Company, of Minneapolis, to do the work. A twelve-inch pipe and a point or strainer was put down to the sixty-five foot vein, with the result that an additional supply of water was secured, but not enough to supply the demands.

While the well outfit was still on the grounds, it was decided to try and remove the obstruction in the deep well. When the obstruction was encountered the drillers could not drill through it faster than six to eight inches in two days and they could not pull the old pipe and get to the strainer. The deep well was abandoned.

The supposition prevailed that another twelve-inch pipe to the sixty-five foot water vein might supply enough water to make another storage reser�voir and thus get a sufficient supply without going to the expense of another deep well. The drilling machine was moved to the west side of the power house and a twelve-inch pipe put down. The water vein was very shallow and so full of fine sand that its use was almost out of the question. A test was made and, at the very best, the flow was only eighty-five to ninety gallons per minute. The old deep well pump was set up over this well and pumped occasionally to help out the reservoir supply on the east side.

On the 8th of June, 1914, the council decided to put down another deep well and advertised for bids. The J. F. McCarthy Company were the successful bidders, the price being six dollars per foot, the town to furnish the fuel for the engine and they to pay all other expenses. Work was commenced on July 13, 1914. The well when completed consisted of a twelve-inch hole to the depth of two hundred and ninety-one feet from the surface of the ground.

The pipe used was standard well pipe, forty-nine pounds to the foot. The well is equipped with twenty feet of No. 12 Johnson strainer in two pieces, six and fourteen feet long respectively. This screen sets in about a foot of clay on the bottom of the well; a course of gravel strata of nearly nine feet above that and another strata of gravel about six feet above that. This gives the well about fifteen feet of gravel on the strainer. As a test, the well was pumped twenty-three hours continuously, from ten o'clock in the morning, September 4, to nine o'clock in the morning, September 5. This test developed over two hundred and twenty gallons per minute and seemed to improve as the pumping continued.

Windom Library

The Windom Library Association was organized in November, 1883. At the first meeting, which was held in the school house, G. M. Laing was chosen temporary chairman and H. J. Keith, secretary. The meeting proceeded to perfect an organization which resulted as follow: Doctor Tilford, president; Mrs. LeTourneau, vice-president; Mrs. Huntington, secretary; Mr. Perkins, treasurer; Mr. Espey, librarian. The object of the organization was to advance the mental and moral interests of Windom and the surrounding community. Any person could become a member of the organization upon the payment of two dollars or the contributing of five dollars worth of books. A ticket of membership could be used by any member of the family. For non-subscribers a nominal fee of ten cents was charged for the use of a book.

The state of Minnesota has made it possible for all towns and communities that cannot support a library to make use of the traveling state library. It was really by this means that the present library was started.

The Tourist Club first made it possible to secure the traveling library of fifty volumes and had their headquarters in the directors' room of what is now the Farmers State Bank. After two or three years of successful operation, it was requested of the club that they should take over the subscription library of the town, consisting of three hundred and fifty volumes. This was accomplished and a room was given them in the basement of the court house.

At present the library consists of one thousand one hundred volumes and two traveling state libraries, one of which is the juvenile. Seventy-five books of general literature belonging to the state are in the library all the time. Three thousand five hundred books are loaned annually. In the way of magazines and papers nothing is taken but the Book Review.

The means of support is the one big question in connection with an institution of this kind. As the books are loaned free of charge to anyone in the county, little is derived from this source except in the way of fines, which amounts to about fifteen dollars per year. In order that expenses may be kept at a minimum, members of the Tourist Club act as librarian, serving in alphabetical order. The city council appropriates the small sum of fifty dollars annually and the club a sum equal to about half the amount. The library is kept open only on Saturday afternoons.

True, it can readily be seen that the library is being kept alive with the fond hope that in the near future it may receive the support from the town and county to which it is rightfully entitled.


In April, 1881, rain and melting snow occasioned a rapid rise in all the rivers with the result that the railroad and wagon bridges in Windom were washed out. The loss of the wagon bridge made immediate action necessary for a means of crossing the river until a new bridge could be built. Private boats were put into use for a day or two and twenty-five cents charged for the carrying of passengers across. The village council deeming that suitable means and safety should be provided for the convenience of the public, at once decided to operate a rope ferry, together with a small boat, first as a matter of convenience to the public and, second, to protect them from imposition. Failing to find private parties ready to engage in the enterprise, council began work upon the boats. In a day or two a skiff was put on for immediate use, which served well for the removal of freight and passengers until a larger boat could be built. But the large boat could not be used until eight hundred feet of one and one-half inch rope was secured. About two hundred dollars were expended, besides paying a man two dollars per day for operating the ferry.

To meet the outlay, the council established the following schedule of rates: Footmen, ten cents for round trip; man and horse, ten cents each way, fifteen cents a round trip; cattle, five cents each; teams, one way, twenty cents; both ways, twenty-five cents; single horse and carriage, fifteen and twenty cents; school children, free; tickets for foot passengers, in packages of twenty-five and upwards, half price.

The First Elevator

In August, 1873, D. Patten & Co. began the erection of a grain elevator, the first one to be built on the Sioux City & St. Paul railroad, with a capacity of fifteen thousand bushels. The firm commenced buying grain in 1871 in a little warehouse on the side track between Eighth and Ninth streets. Soon the capacity of this structure became too small and in 1872 the firm constructed another warehouse between Ninth and Tenth streets, and finally the increased amount of business led to the construction of the elevator.

The Ruse Hospital

The Ruse hospital was started by Mrs. A. Ruse in 1906 and has earned quite a reputation as a place of exact medical science and courteous treatment. All kinds of surgical operations and medical treatments are conducted by the physicians in charge, namely, Doctors Sogge, Dudley and Weiser. Most of the time three nurses are employed who have in their care about two hundred patients annually.

Cigar Factory

The cigar factory No. 194, owned and operated by O. S. Skillingstad, was started in 1905 by the present owner and since that time has enjoyed a most profitable business. Mr. Skillingstad manufactures several different brands. The high quality and satisfaction of his goods is evidenced by the fact that the smokers of the town of Windom consume nearly his entire output, which averages about one hundred thousand annually.

Windom Ice Cream Factory

Probably but few Windom people realize that they have a most flourishing little manufacturing plant in their midst in the Windom Ice Cream Factory. H. E. Hakes, the owner and proprietor of the ice cream factory and the creamery in connection, removed here from Bingham Lake in the fall of 1915, and his coming brought with it the removal of the ice cream plant from that place. Mr. Hakes has a most enviable reputation as a producer of pure ice cream, and the high quality of goods he puts out keeps spreading the sale of his products. He has the most improved machinery for the manufacturing of ice cream and he is able to turn out several hundred gallons of the cooling cream a day. Every train out of Windom carries it in large quantities. Besides Windom, he supplies every town on the Currie branch, as well as supplying dealers at Mountain Lake, St. James, Heron Lake, Sibley, Iowa; Slayton, Lake Nelson, Brewster, Adrian and other places. At the present time Mr. Hakes employs four people in the ice cream factory and on the milk and cream routes which he also owns.

The Flouring Mills

The flouring mill is one of Windom's prides. The mill was built by E. F. Drake and Samuel Collins in 1878. The first mill dam was constructed in 1878 just opposite the mill. For some reason or other this dam proved very inadequate and was constantly washing out and in need of repair. The present dam was constructed in the summer and fall of 1885. The dam is one hundred and twenty-five feet long and forty feet wide at the top, giving a fall of ten feet. It was constructed of brush, hay and gravel and is known as Bell's patent. The system was successfully used by Captain Eads in his jetty work at the mouth of the Mississippi river. This dam is located about eighty rods below the wagon bridge and about twenty rods below the bridge is the mill race which leads to the flume, which is seventy feet long and fourteen feet square.

Water power alone was employed until 1882, when steam power was added, to be used when the water in the Des Moines river was too low to furnish the power required. In 1882 Drake became the sole owner and continued to operate the mill until 1902, when T. C. Collins acquired the plant and continued to run it until his death, in October, 1914. In 1906 the firm became known as T. C. Collins & Son and since the father's death the son has had control and management of the concern. Thus three generations of Collins have had to do with the flour-making industry of Windom.

The daily capacity of the mill is one hundred and fifty barrels and their well-known brands of flour have ready sale within a radius of one hundred miles. Another article of merit that is here manufactured is a breakfast food.

The Windom Wagon Factory was organized January 10, 1899, with a capital stock of five thousand dollars. The officers in 1901 were, W. A. Smith, president; C. W. Gillam, secretary and treasurer; O. S. Thompson, general manager. During the first two years of operation this company built and placed on the market fifty splendid wagons.

Tile Factory

The tile factory owned by Walter Cowan has been in existence for many years, but the exact date of its beginning cannot be obtained. Mr. Cowan has owned the factory for several years and has manufactured many thousands of tile. Since the farmers are beginning to realize the necessity of tiling, Mr. Cowan can hardly supply the demand. During the summer months he gives employment to several men and it may be said that through the influence of the factory much business is brought to Windom that otherwise would go elsewhere.

The Windom Manufacturing Company

The Windom Manufacturing Company was one of the early industries of Windom. It served well its day of usefulness, when flax was raised on the broad prairies of southwestern Minnesota. About 1892-3 W. A. Turner established a large tow-mill at Windom. He had a large building and dry rooms in which the raw material was dried before entering further into the mill. He had a fifty-eight-horse-power engine to propel his machinery. He had to run the flax straw through his mill twice after it was taken from the dry room, which was kept at a temperature of two hundred and twenty degrees, with a drying capacity of one ton per hour. His mill had a capacity of six tons a day.

This concern also started in to manufacture a new kind of self-feeders for threshing machines, flax breaks and rice machines. After the growth of flax was discontinued in this section of the country, this factory had to abandon its enterprise, but, while running, paid out eight thousand dollars a year for flax straw to the surrounding farmers.

Landmark Removed

The following item is taken from the Windom Reporter of October 28, 1884: "One by one the old landmarks are being replaced by better and more substantial buildings. The old house on the corner of Third and Tenth streets, erected in 1871 by A. Huddleson and son, and occupied as a bakery and residence, was one of the first buildings in Windom and the one in which the first child was born in the village and named William Windom Huddle-son. The building soon after completion was vacated by Mr. Huddleson, who removed to Wisconsin, and was occupied through the winter of 1871-1872 by E. Clark. In the spring of 1872 the house and lot was bought by S. S. Johnson, who resided there for several years using the lower floor for flour, feed and pumps."

The Old "Lock-Up"

In 1885 the village of Windom had a "lock-up," twelve by fourteen feet, built of two-by-four dimension stuff and painted on the outside. It contained two cells, seven by twelve feet, and two iron-barred windows, twelve by thirty inches, six feet from the floor. At that date it was very poorly kept, inhabited by many rats and mice and naturally very unsanitary. For a time it was used by both county and village, but subsequently it was condemned by the authorities.

Windom's Commercial Interests In 1916

In the summer of 1916 the business and professional interests of the city of Windom were as follow:

Auto-garage-John Moore, Silliman Brothers, Frank Pope.
Attorneys-Wilson Borst, Newton L. Glover, P. S. Redding.
Banks-Farmers State, First National and Windom National banks.
Barber shops-Newell P. Freeman, H. C. Hamilton and Richard S. Reese.
Blacksmith shops-John Loken & Son, Smestad & Grotte and Ole S. Thompson.
Bakeries-J. M. Eibright and the Windom Bakery.
Clothing stores-Gustav Mueller and G. A. Peterson.
Cigar manufacturer-O. S. Skillingstad.
Creamery-Windom Creamery Company.
Creamery stations-J. E. Jenness and E. E. Berry & Son.
Confectioneries-John F. Hinkley, Nick Hules, Thomas Hules, Charles J. Koob.
Draftsman-William A. Peterson.
Druggists-Andrew A. Quevli, Frank Stedman.
Ditch contractors-Samogge & Redding.
Dray lines-William Belton, W. E. Bates.
Dentists-John A. Adamson, Henry Beise and C. H. Vroman.
Elevators-Co-operative Elevator Company, St. John's Elevator Company and G. W. Gillam.
Furniture dealers-James A. Crane, E. E. Berry & Son.
Feed store-John Loken.
Feed Barns-Thomas Chatham, Miller Brothers.
Fuel dealers-Walter J. Johnson, Ole Grotte and the lumber companies
Grocers-J. M. Ebright & Son, Headley & Miller.
General contractors-Christopherson & Westgard, Carl Peterson.
General dealers-Michael L. Fisch, Foss Mercantile Company, A. Quevli & Co.
Hotels-The Park, Commercial.
Harness shops-James Devlin and A. D. Nelson.
Hardware dealers-Earl Marshall & Son, C. Nelson & Co., Albert Wynne.
Implement dealers-Jens Anderson, Ole Elvrum.
Ice dealer-Yerkee Brothers.
Jewelers-Arthur B. Cone, Charles W. Lowery.
Lumber dealers-Grosjean & Lampert Lumber Company, Struck-Sherwin Lumber Company, and the Tuthill Lumber Company.
Liveries (horse)-L. T. Chatham, J. C. Church.
Mill-Richard Collins.
Music store-Edward E. Gillam.
Moving picture show-"The Wonderland."
Milliners-T. Kittleson, Mrs. Josephine Lowery.
Meat markets-M. S. Potter, Wieks & Burrill.
Merchant tailors-Nels Anderson, John Hoffman.
Newspapers-The Cottonwood County Citizen, The Windom Reporter.
Notions-Orris M. Garrett, Windom Variety Store, S. L. Rogers.
Physicians-Dr. William T. DeCoater, Dr. Joseph H. Dudley, Dr. Ludwig Sogge, Dr. Frank R. Weiser, Dr. F. C. Griffith, Doctor Tegland.
Photographer-Jesse O. Thompson.
Produce dealers-John F. Jenness, Windom Produce Company, J. F. Reide.
Restaurants-Minute Cafe, Frank R. Shaub, J. G. Hinkley.
Real estate dealers-Kettlewell & Jeffers, Silliman Brothers Land Company, Ringkob-Peterson, Sanger Land Company, Marshall Land Company, Benjamin A. Cone, Andrew Cowan, George F. Robison, Robinson & Potter, J. T. Johnson Land Company.
Shoe store-Ed. Larson.
Stock buyers-Gus Swanholm, Miller Brothers, M. T. DeWolf.
Tile works-W. P. Cowan.
Telephones-Windom Mutual, Northwestern. Veterinaries- F. E. Judd, John Tyas.

Commercial Clubs

In February, 1908, there was formed in Windom a Commercial Club, with officers as follow: President, W. F. Savage; vice-president, C. W. Gillam; secretary, F. G. Dunnicliff; treasurer, John T. Johnson; directors, W. J. Clark, T. C. Collins, M. L. Fisch. Rooms were kept open over the First National Bank until that structure was burned. The membership fee was thirty dollars.

The present Commercial Club was organized on March 4, 1914. All phases of business were represented at the meeting, which was held at the court house. It started out with seventy members. The first officers were: President, C. W. Gillam; vice-president, J. O. Thompson; secretary, L. S. Churchill; treasurer, M. L. Fisch. The club has already secured many advantages for the city of Windom. The present month - August, 1916 - it has secured a great band tournament, representing bands from St. James, Currie, Heron Lake and other neighboring towns, six in all.

The Tourist Club

The Tourist Club was organized in October, 1896, with Mrs. T. C. Collins as president; Mrs. Wellington, vice-president; Mrs. C. A. Greene, secretary; Mrs. Force, treasurer. The club derived its name from the fact that the club members took up the study of things beyond their own immediate realm for the purpose of self-improvement. The membership is limited to twenty-five. The club carries an associate membership, members of which are taken from the active list. To become an honorary member one must have been an active member for a period of five years. At present there there [sic] are eleven associate members and four honorary members. The club meets every Monday evening. For the coming year the club begins the study of the "Romance Cities of America" and "Problems of the Day."

The officers for the coming year are as follows, among whom are Mrs. Collins and Mrs. Greene, who are holding the same offices as at the time of organization: President, Mrs. T. C. Collins; first vice-president, Mrs. George Robison; second vice-president, Mrs. Gillis; corresponding secretary, Mrs. Harriet Hunter; recording secretary, Mrs. Greene; treasurer, Mrs. Strunk; critic, Mrs. Chestnut; assistant critic, Mrs. Emor Smestad.

Woman's Literary Club

The Woman's Literary Club of Windom was organized on June 27, 1903, with Mrs. C. W. Gillam as president. The club has studied the works and literature of many of the best writers, including Shakespeare, Marlowe and many others. But the efforts of the club are not confined wholly to the study of classic art and literature, but also home problems and home economics.

The officers elected for the year 1916 are as follow: Mrs. Carpenter, president; Mrs. J. T. Johnson, vice-president; Mrs. Scurr, recording secretary; Mrs. A. D. Perkins, corresponding secretary; Marie Quevli, treasurer; Mrs. A. D. Perkins, chairman of program committee. The Mayview course of study has been selected for the coming year's work.

Windom Pioneers

The following is a list of the pioneers Who helped to lay well the foundation stones of the sprightly little city of Windom: W. A. Smith, George F. Robison, William Besser, George Miller, O. Elvrum, D. C. Davis, C. A. Lowe, C. H. Rupke, H. A. Cone, John Hutton, E. Gillam, James Dolan, Frank Stedman, W. B. Williams, George E. LeTourman, C. W. Gillam, L. J. Robinson, J. F. French, Charles B. Pierce, R. H. Reese, W. A. Cook, E. L. Leonard, NI. T. De Wolf, E. C. Huntington, T. C. Collins, H. M. Clark, E. Sevatson, R. R. Jenness, Will Gillam, S. S. Gillam, J. N. McGregor, H. Bosworth.

Windom's Greatest Fire

A fifty-thousand-dollar fire visited Windom in July, 1900. It commenced about noon, with a high northwest wind. There was but little water in the tank and the hose owned by the town was rotten and soon found to be useless. Not an ax nor any implement for fire-fighting was to, be found for the use of the firemen. It was believed the fire had its origin in the old Mason barn hay-loft, back of the Quevli store. When it was known that the fire laddies could do nothing, St. James and Heron Lake were appealed to for aid. The railroad gave special trains to bring the fire companies from these places. In a short time men and hose came from St. James and in less than thirty minutes from the time of call, the Heron Lake fire company was landed in Windom. Dick Gage, the engineer that hurled the company up from Heron Lake, made the run in an incredibly short time. On authority, never disputed, he made the twelve-mile run in twelve minutes and unloaded his freight at the Windom depot. The St. James company made their run in thirty-one minutes, including a stop at Bingham Lake. After the water supply was found giving out, the Heron Lake engine run to the Des Moines river, but it was found they could not force the water up that far, so when the Luverne company arrived a line of hose was established between the wagon bridge and town, but again it was found that the engines were not making steam sufficient. Then a steam threshing engine belonging to Matt Miller was fired and run to the scene and greatly aided the other engines in pumping water sufficient to check the flames somewhat. Coal ran out and a special was sent to Heron Lake for a supply from the railroad yards. A passenger train brought a hundred laboring railroaders from Bingham Lake, and more were tendered if needed. These were stationed all over the southeast part of Windom with pails of water ready to quench any fire that might be set from flying cinders, etc. As a matter of fact, had the home fire company been encouraged and the supply of water, so near at hand, been looked after before the day of fire, nearly all this heavy loss might have been saved Windom. The thanks of the people of the place to the kindness of the railroad company, the fire companies at St. James, Heron Lake and Luverne, are even to this late day being expressed by the citizens of the place.

A. Quevli was the heaviest loser, $17,000; he had $2,000 insurance. Thurston Bros. had $8,000 insurance and estimated their stock at $16,000. M. D. Gates had on stock about $1,500 insurance and, all told, lost about $5,000. Johnson & Foss had $800 insurance and lost about as much more. Fish Brothers had an insurance of $2,500, and saved most of their stock. A. Opperud lost the building in which Arthur Cone was doing business; this was worth about $2,000. O. Nason had $1,500 insurance and lost $2,000. Olf Erickson had some loss in his restaurant. Dr. Moen lost his library and many valuable surgical instruments, at a loss of $2,000. George F. Robison, L. J. Robinson and Dr. De Coater, all occupants of the Robison & Robinson building, lost about $2,000. The above named losses only include the business places and there was, besides these losses, several small buildings and barns, easily totalling [sic] a thousand dollars more.

Other Conflagrations

On March 1, 1885, a fire destroyed the store of R. R. Jenness, occupied by N. Freeman as a general store. Loss, $8,000; insured for part of the amount.

On February 1, 1910, the First National Bank building, with most of its contents, was destroyed by fire, which originated in the basement. The first floor was occupied by the bank and the large store of M. L. Fisch. Mr. Fisch was the heaviest loser, with a loss of $25,000; insured for $15,000. The bank lost $16,000 on building and $3,500 on fixtures; insured for $10,000.

In November, 1910, another fire burned the Farmers' Elevator, built in 1885, at a cost of $5,000, and owned by E. Sevatson. It was insured for $4,000. Four thousand bushels of wheat was lost.

Source: History of Cottonwood and Watonwan Counties, Minnesota; Chapter XVII; Illustrated, Volume I; by John a. Brown; B. F. Bowen & Co. (1916). Text scan courtesy of Genealogy Trails History Group.    Home Page    Contact Us    Privacy


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