Goodhue County, Minnesota

 

 ~ Frontenac Township ~

Frontenac, rich in historic traditions, and decorated by the hand of Nature in her most lavish mood, dates its settlement back to the beginning of the eighteenth century, when the sandy point directly opposite Maiden Rock was the scene of much French activity. It is situated in the northeastern part of the town of Florence, on beautiful terraces rising from the level of Lake Pepin. Above the village rises the towering peak of Point No-Point, so called from the fact that the winding of the lake is such that the approaching traveler from down the river, after sighting the point from six or seven miles away, gets apparently no nearer to it until he reaches Frontenac and finds himself at its very base.

Maiden Rock, opposite Point au Sable, has the common Indian tradition of the maiden who, forbidden to marry her lover, leaped to her death from its precipitous height. The story, told in a breezy manner in a newspaper some years ago, is perhaps more interesting reading than the same story related in more dignified language. The story alluded to is as follows: "A Dakotah maiden, Wenona, camped at the foot of the rock with her family once upon a time, as they say in the fairy tales.

Wenona was a very beautiful maiden. Maidens who are heroines of romantic tales are always beautiful, no matter what their color may be. Of course Wenona had lovers. There was a rich old chief who had polecat skins without number, and ponies and whatever else in the way of personal possessions that made an Indian a desirable suitor in those days. To be sure, he was old, but that did not matter, in the eyes of Wenona's parents.

Wenona herself had given her young heart and love to a brave and handsome warrior named Chaska, who, however, being young, had not yet had time to accumulate polecat skins, and so on. He was therefore not at all desirable in the eyes of the parents, as is often the ease with poor young lovers and prudent old folks. The maiden's parents argued that love is an illusion, and that wealth, represented by polecats or any other commodity, is a very substantial fact, which is a very foolish thing for a maiden to ignore. So these cruel parents forbade their daughter to see the young brave anymore and insisted that she marry the rich old chief with the pelts. They thought that settled the question; but a few evenings later there came floating down from the summit of the Rock, nearly a hundred feet higher, the death song of the heart-broken and faithful Wenona. When it was finished the maid leaped out and fell, a bruised and broken corpse, on the jagged rocks below, almost at the feet of her heartless parents. James Wells, the Indian trader, and others acquainted with Indian character and ways, were asked some fifty years ago what they thought of this tradition, but all agreed that it was unlike the Indian, and that the Indians themselves put little faith in the story. Moreover, Chaska and Wenona are names signifying simply the oldest born son and daughter, respectively, and occurred in every Dakota family.

Modern Frontenac had a beginning in the late forties of the nineteenth century, when the old Indian trader, James Wells, more familiarly known as "Bully" Wells. Wells sold his building in 1854 to Everett Westervelt, and removed to Faribault, afterward meeting with a tragic fate at the hands of the Sioux during the frontier outbreak of 1862. In October of that year Israel Garrard and Louis Garrard spent some time along the shores of Lake Pepin, and greatly prepossessed with the historic associations and beautiful scenery, concluded to secure an interest along the lake shore. Dr. L. H. Garrard went to Europe, where he remained two years, while General Israel Garrard, afterward one of the county's most distinguished citizens, remained at the trading post with Everett Westervelt. In 1857, when the half-breed scrip was issued, Frontenac was purchased by Mr. Westervelt and Israel Garrard and divided into quarter interests, Mr. Westervelt owning one, L. H. Garrard one, Israel Garrard one, and Kennet Garrard, then in the United States army, the other quarter. General Garrard established what was practically a baronial estate at Frontenac, naming it St. Hubert's lodge. For ages to come, the village of Frontenac, on the lakeside, will be inseparably connected with the names of General Israel, Dr. L. H., General Kenner and Colonel Jeptha Garrard, and with that of General McLean, the mother of the Garrard's having married his father, Judge McLean. Among the guests at St. Hubert's have been such celebrities as General Charles King, the popular novelist, and Joseph Jefferson, the great actor, as well as innumerable army officers of national note.

Frontenac at the present time is a popular summer resort. The Frontenac Inn occupies a point projecting into the lake, consisting of several acres of ground. About this hotel are cottages in picturesque positions, and in the neighborhood are croquet and tennis lawns, boat houses, bathing houses and stables. There are fine opportunities for boating, fishing and hunting, which have won for the place a national prominence. There are charming drives to the fine points of view on the surrounding bluffs on good roads. The drive along the lake shore, six miles to Lake City, affords many a delightful prospect. An Episcopalian chapel offers opportunities for Sabbath worship. Nearby is the Villa Maria School for girls, conducted by the Ursuline sisters.

Frontenac Inn, one of the most desirable summer resorts on the Mississippi River, is managed by Celestine M. Schaller, whose able conduct of the place is bringing back to Frontenac some of the prominence which in former days it occupied in the summer plans of people in search of rest, amusement or recreation. It is a comfortable building, with airy rooms, plenty of sunshine and with a beautiful view from every window. Situated along a picturesque drive are a number of roomy and comfortable cottages which are used by the guests of the Inn. The Inn and the cottages are surrounded by a beautiful park. Fishing, boating, croquet, tennis and dancing are among the amusements offered, while those who enjoy walks and drives can find no more picturesque surroundings. Many of the large Mississippi boats stop at the Inn and a buss connects the place with the railroad at Frontenac station. The table at the Inn is widely known for its excellence. Miss Schaller is a capable manager, and the place is being improved year by year under her direction.

Frontenac Station is on the S. M. & St. Paul railway, twelve miles south of Red Wing. It has a German Lutheran church, a stone yard, a grain elevator, a saloon, general stores and blacksmiths. The town hall is also located in this village. The stone quarries are worthy of extended note. The stone is of a light cream color and is used in large quantities for building purposes, tombstones and monuments. George W. Garrard is the owner.

The Frontenac stone quarry has been operated more or less since the early fifties. Its light cream stone, used for general ornamental work, is noted throughout the United States, and is used in the interior of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the great church of the Episcopal denomination in New York, and one of the handsomest church edifices in America, which will cause its praises to be sung by countless generations to come. Among three hundred samples of stone submitted, from the best quarries in the world, the Frontenac stone was selected as being the most suited for interior work of the most exquisite nature. Other smaller contracts have all shown the adaptability and beauty of this stone. George Wood Garrard, the owner and manager of the quarry, has taken an artistic as well as a business interest in the Frontenac product.

General Israel Garrard, for nearly half a century the patriarchal sage and patron of Frontenac, was probably a man of wider and more distinguished fame than anyone else who has resided in this county. Of him it has well been said: "General Garrard was beloved by all who knew him, for his kindly and courtly manner toward all, for he was a peer among the finished gentlemen of his age and by many he was regarded with a love that could but spring from hearts that had been soothed in times of tribulation and distress by his more than generous sympathy and substantial assistance. The extent of his benevolence, touching the needs of scores of the distressed in this region and elsewhere, will never be fully known. For though his liberality to all who were in distress is known to have been munificent and far-reaching, he was one who never permitted his loving kindness to be noised about.

Israel Garrard was born in Lexington, Kentucky, October 22, 1825, the oldest son of Jeptha D. Garrard and Sarah Bella Ludlow, his wife. He was descended on the paternal side from James Garrard, one of the earliest settlers and governors of Kentucky, and on the maternal side from Israel Ludlow, one of the original proprietors of the town site of Cincinnati. As a boy Israel Garrard was a pupil of Ormsby M. Mitchell, afterward attending Cary's Academy and also Bethany College in "West Virginia. He read law with Judge Swayne at Columbus, Ohio, and graduated from the Harvard law school, at Cambridge. Mass. At the age of twenty-nine, in company with Dr. Louis H. Garrard, General Garrard came into the wilds of Minnesota on a hunting trip. For several weeks he camped on the shores of Lake Pepin, and being impressed with its beauties, determined to make the spot his future borne. He took up a tract of land several hundred acres in extent, running for over seven miles along the shore, and over half as far back from the water. This land was in the famous half-breed tract, and Colonel Garrard obtained it from the old Jean Baptiste Faribault, paying for the half-breed scrip to the old French-Indian, on the spot where the city of Faribault now stands. The original hunting trip was made in the fall of 1854, and the purchase was confirmed in 1857. After the hunting trip in 1854 Dr. Garrard went to Europe for two years, while General Garrard remained at Frontenac with Everett Westervelt the successor of James Wells, the Indian trader. In 1857, when the half-breed scrip was issued and the purchase of Frontenac was made, the Garrard tract was divided into quarters, Everett Westervelt owning one, Dr. Garrard one, Israel Garrard one, and Kenner Garrard, then in the amy, another. General Garrard at once started the establishment of St. Hubert's lodge. The lodge, now owned by his son, is a quaint mansion, built after the style of the old southern houses of antebellum days. A stag's head with a cross between the antlers is the coat of arms of the residence, after the patron of hunters.

St. Hubert, who, having as a roysterer dared to desecrate Good Friday by a riotous hunt, was stopped by a spirit stag with a crucifix on his forehead, after which the knight, awe-struck dropped on his knees in the forest, surrounded by his retainers, and devoted his life to the cause of religion, the wild hunters becoming monks, and Hubert their abbot, the castle being converted into a monastery. Albert Durer, the father of etching, long ago portrayed the scene, and a heliotype of the etching, from the Gray collection at Harvard, occupies a place of honor in the library of the Garrard mansion. Around St. Hubert's lodge at Frontenac were gradually erected small cottages, in which were domiciled the working people of the estate. These were brought from Cincinnati by General Garrard and were, almost without exception, Germans.

When the Rebellion broke out, General Garrard, faithful to the Union, hurried south. He raised a troop of cavalry at Cincinnati, equipped it at his own expense and then presented it to the governor of Ohio. Of this regiment, the Seventh Ohio Cavalry, he was the colonel, having had some previous experience during the siege of Cincinnati, on the staff of Major McDowell, commanding the organization of city and state forces. After the mustering in of his regiment, until the close of the war, he was absent from the field but eight days, and then his command was in camp recruiting. He commanded a brigade much of the time, and after the capture of Stoneman on the Macon raid before Atlanta he commanded what remained of the division. June 21, 1865, he was promoted to brigadier general by brevet, and on July 4 of the same year he was mustered out. On taking leave of his regiment he was presented with a cavalry standard, on which was embroidered the following epitome of his service: "Carter Raid, Dutton Hill, Monticello, West's Gap, Nuffington Island, Cumberland Gap, Blue Springs, Blountville, Rogersville, Morristown, Cheek's Cross Roads, Bean Station, Dandridge, Massy Creek, Fair Garden, Synthiana, Atlanta, Duck River, Nashville, Plantersville, Selma and Columbus." On the plate on the staff is an inscription expressing the regiment's confidence in him as a leader and its respect for him as a patriot and gentleman.

At the close of the war the general returned to Frontenac, and with occasional trips to the East, spent the remainder of his life on his estate. He loved books and was a great reader. His generosity was proverbial among the people of southern Minnesota. He was a member of no church, but contributed to all.

He almost supported the little Episcopalian chapel, and the Lutherans found him a willing contributor. He gave the Ursuline sisters 100 acres of land on which to build their convent, and there are few rooms in the building that do not contain some article presented by him. The general was a most hospitable man and entertained many well-known people at St. Hubert's lodge. General Charles King was a frequent guest, and several of his popular novels were written while at St. Hubert's. General King was so impressed by the beauty of Frontenac that he made the cottages and hotel the scene of several stories. Joseph Jefferson made St. Hubert's his headquarters for many a fishing excursion, and the army officers always found the latch string hanging outward. General Garrard was very fond of military men, his active service having given him an interest in them which was shared by his two brothers. General Kenner Garrard and Colonel Jeptha Garrard. The former was a West Point graduate, and the latter, like his brother Israel, presented a troop of cavalry to his governor.

Israel Garrard was married in May. 1856, to Catherine Wood, the oldest daughter of George Wood, a distinguished New York lawyer. To this union were born two children, George Wood Garrard and Margaret Hills Garrard. The general died September 21, 1901, as the result of injuries received while extinguishing a fire caused by an overturned lamp. He is laid to rest in the family cemetery, the spot being one which he and his wife selected many years ago. In his death the county lost a distinguished citizen, hundreds lost a warm friend, and his generation lost a most kindly and noble soul. Mrs. Garrard died January 12, 1867.

George Wood Garrard, son of General Israel Garrard, was born in Peekskill, New York, August 20, 1863. He was educated at Morgan Park Military Academy, Chicago Illinois, and supplemented this training with extensive travels in Europe and the Orient. Like his father, he has been a collector, and the Garrard mansion now contains many relics and works of art which he has added to the family heirlooms. His collection of Japanese curios is particularly interesting. Mr. Garrard has devoted his life to managing the Garrard estates, and at the present time is manager and owner of the Frontenac Stone Company, mentioned elsewhere. He was married in 1889, October 31, to Virginia Colden Hoffman, daughter of Lindley Murray Hoffman, a prominent New York broker, and his wife, Margaret Mott. To Mr. and Mrs. George Wood Garrard have been born three daughters, Beulah Murray, Evelyn Stuart and Catherine Wood, all at home.

  Goodhue County |Minnesota AHGP 

Source: History of Goodhue County Minnesota, Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge, H. C. Cooper Jr, & Company, Chicago, 1909.

 

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