Goodhue County, Minnesota


 ~ Wanamingo Village ~

In 1855 a small building was erected by W. Wright between sections 25 and 26 of Wanamingo Township and in this shack were sold some of the necessities of life to the pioneers of those days. This store was sold to P. Miller, who again sold to Smith & Lamberg. Their successor was John Kempe and later A. Urness. Before the sixties another store had been erected by C. Dirstine, whose business was later bought by Hermund Serum. Failing in health Serum sold to Martin Halvorson, who continued the business until his death, nearly thirty years.

In those early days Wanamingo was the only trading point for the entire surrounding community. The marketing of grain and other business matters had to be done at Red Wing, Faribault or Hastings. About 1856 a post office was established and received the name of Wanamingo. Later a blacksmith shop was erected by Chrislock & Gunderson. This shop was later bought by J, J. Tiller. Another shop was erected by C. R. Chrislock, a cobbler shop by Hans Isackson and a harness and boot and shoe shop by Melchior Munson. A schoolhouse was built and a hotel erected by Wm. Miller. Every little while surveying crews were out in the neighborhood and rumors had it that one or more railroads were going to build through. Meanwhile a thriving little inland town sprung up and a townsite was platted by private parties.

In 1857 or 1858 one Clark built a small mill nearly one mile further east on the Zumbro River. This mill was bought by Nelson & Norby and a larger mill was erected on the south side of the Zumbro River on the town line between Minneola and Wanamingo townships. Later Norby assumed full ownership until one-half interest was bought by Fordahl Bros. At present A. J. Fordahl is the owner. In 1889 Ole Sletten erected a store just opposite the mill. Shortly afterwards a cheese factory was built and started in operation by the farmers. This was sold to R. O. Lund, who again sold to Gutzler Bros, of Kenyon. The factory was remodeled for a creamery. The company failing, the patrons again assumed charge of the creamery in proportion to the amount due them for cream delivered.

September 9, 1893, the first steps were taken for the organization of the Diamond Co-operative Creamery Company, which name his since been changed to Minneola Creamery Company and has become one of the most successful co-operative creamery organizations in the state.

In 1904 the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company broadened the narrow gauge track from Wabasha to Zumbrota and extended the track to Faribault, at which time the present townsite of Wanamingo was platted by the Milwaukee Land Company.

The village has experienced a steady growth since the townsite was first platted and at present has a population of about 200 or more inhabitants. That the place has become one of the busiest little villages in southern Minnesota is but a reflection on the farming community in which it is located. Wanamingo Township was according to the census of 1900, the richest agricultural township in the United States and there is very little if any difference in the adjoining townships surrounding the village. A genial spirit has existed between the business of the village and the farmers of the vicinity. Business enterprises are controlled by local capital, the farmers holding a good share.

The following are business enterprises represented in the village at present:

The Farmers State Bank of Wanamingo, with a capital of $10,000 was organized in 1904 through the efforts of Henry M. and Martin Halvorson. The bank received its certificate of organization December 2, 1904, and commenced doing business February 1, 1905, in their banking house, which had been erected during the previous fall. Their banking house is a one-story brick building, handsomely erected and well equipped with modern furniture and fixtures. The stock was subscribed and is held by farmers and business men of the community. The bank's business has been guarded by a careful and conservative management and has had a marvelous increase until the deposits have reached $220,000 and loans $185,000. The bank has a permanent surplus fund of $3,500. The directors are: O. Follingstad, N. J. Olness, Chas. O. Roe. E. B. Lunde, T. Thompson. Hon. C. L. Brusletten, Hon. A. J. Rockne, Martin Halvorson and Henry M. Halvorson. The officers at present are: O. Follingstad, president; Henry M. Halvorson, vice president and secretary: N. J. Olness, vice president; Martin Halvorson, cashier.

The Minneola Creamery Company was organized December 26, 1893. The first set of officers were: President, J. B. Locke; treasurer, O. T. Berg; secretary and manager, Edw. G. Hammer. The directors were: Henry Weiss, Henry James. N. J. Olness and R. O. Lund. J. B. Locke, who probably did most to promote the organization of the company, served as president until his death. O. T. Berg has served as treasurer of the company since organization. R. O. Lund served as secretary and manager from 1894 to 1900. Carl Fossum has served in the same capacity since 1900. The present officers are: President. L. H. Ofstie; secretary and manager, Carl Fossum; treasurer, O. T. Berg. The directors are Sam O. Aslackson, Oscar Steberg. O. R. Reberg and O. T. Teigen. The company manufactured last year over 550,000 pounds of butter, which sold for over $125,000. Business has outgrown the present plant and a new building is under construction, which will be one of the most modem creamery buildings in the state. The building is being-erected from concrete blocks and tile blocks with cement floors and ceilings and the building is arranged so that the products shall be handled to the best advantage and labor brought down to the minimum cost. M. A. Swee is the present butter maker.

The Farmers Elevator Company was organized July 8, 1905. The first set of officers were: President. L. J. Gjemse; vice-president, H. O. Naeseth: secretary, J. A. Norstad; treasurer. Henry M. Halvorson. The directors were A. T. Tongen, O. S. Haugen and Alfred Steberg. The company has a paid capital of $4,200, owns two well equipped elevator buildings and has a surplus fund of $2,500. Chas. O. Roe served as manager from organization until July, 1909. At present H. O. Naeseth is manager and E. G. Rosvold assistant manager. The officers at present are: President, L. J. Gjemse: vice-president, T. B. Tunks; secretary, P. L. Paulsness and treasurer, E. I. Morkri. The directors are: F. R. Miller, A. A. Steberg and Nels Nerison.

Farmers Mutual Telephone Company of Goodhue County was organized in 1903. Has 200 phones and is having a steady growth. The officers are: President. O. T. Teigen; vice-president, P. L. Paulsness; secretary. A. Fordahl; treasurer, Martin Halvorson; directors, P. L. Ulstad, O. R. Reberg and L. L. Romo.

Wanamingo Flour Mills, fifty barrel capacity and feed mill in connection; A. J. Fordahl, proprietor.

Milwaukee Elevator Company, August Moses, agent.
Wanamingo Lumber Company, dealing in all kinds of building material and coal; H. S. Swan, manager.
Myron & Olson, hardware and machinery; A. O. Berg manager.
Syverson Bros., hardware and farming implements; Martin Syverson and Adolf Syverson, individual partners.
Romness Bros., general merchandise. Nels O. and Halvor O. Romness are the individual partners.
J. A. Norstad & Co., general merchandise; J. A. Norstad.
Wanamingo Restaurant, H. N. Setran, proprietor.
Ree Restaurant, B. M. Ree, proprietor.
Johnson Telephone Exchange; L. J. Johnson proprietor.
Harness, Shoe and Repair Shop; A. Brislance, proprietor.
Dealer in Live Stock, A. A. Steberg.
Meat Market, Paul Jacobson.
Livery and dray, Richard Tiller.
Blacksmith Shop, John Wolf.
Photograph Gallery, C. E. Pearson, who is also postmaster.
Weekly Newspaper, Wanamingo Progress, Edw. Oredalen, editor.

The village has a first grade school and a church is being erected by the Lutheran Evangelical denomination. The village furthermore has good railway, passenger and freight service and receives its mail twice daily. The citizens are enterprising and progressive. Good business blocks are being erected, beautiful homes are built and fitted with modern conveniences, and cement walks are being constructed. There is no reason why the village should not continue to be the common trading point of the surrounding community and grow as the farming community demands it. By Henry Halvorson.

The Wanamingo, Cherry Grove and Minneola Mutual Fire Insurance Company was organized May 27, 1876, in accordance with chapter 83 of the general laws of the state of Minnesota, approved March 9, 1875. The following named gentlemen signed the articles of agreement:

Ole P. Floan,
N. J. Ottum
Henry Nelson
O. J. Wing
Ole R. Lund
Peder N. Nesseth
Ole J. Romfo
Ole T. Berg
Rognald Olson
John A. Borstad
Ellef Haugesag
Ole J. Kvittem
Haagen Nelson
Swen Olsen
Tosten Kleven
Ole Aufinson
G. H. Stuvrud
Ever Iverson
Gunder Bremseth
Lars J. Romo
N. A. Stageberg
Peder N. Lerfald
John J. Lilleskov
Hans Isackson
Nils O. Nordly
Thosten Thompson
Haagen Thoreson
R. H. Chrislock
Samuel A. Holland
John O. Baar
Johanes J. Marejeren
Lasse N. Morken
Nils K. Fenne
A. J. Barsness

The first officers were: President. Ole P. Floan; secretary. N. J. Ottum; treasurer, Nils O. Nordby. The board of directors consisted of these three gentlemen and Filing Albertson, Ole J. Romfo, Ole T. Berg, Ole R. Lund and Peder N. Nesseth.

During the year 1885, the company enlarged its territory, admitting the following towns: Roscoe. Pine Island. Zumbrota, Belle Creek. Leon, Goodhue, Kenyon. Holden and Warsaw, so that it now comprises a territory of twelve townships. It has grown steadily until at the present time it has a total of 1,150 persons, holding over 1,200 policies, covering an insurance of $2,500,000. The company has during the time of its existence, sustained and paid 563 losses amounting to $48,227.92. During the year 1906 a special meeting was held to prolong the company's existence for another term of thirty years. At this meeting all the then existing by-laws were repealed and a new set enacted, one more director being added. The present officers are: President, O. J. Wing, Wanamingo; vice president, O. T. Berg, Cherry Grove (Mr. Berg has been a director thirty-three years, since the organization of the company); treasurer, N. A. Stageberg, Wanamingo; directors, P. O. Finstuen, Roscoe; O. O. Nordvold, Zumbrota; O. F. Kalass, Minneola; Oliver Berg, Pine Island; Edward Rowles, Belle Creek. The company has two special agents, H. O. Oakland, Wanamingo; O. I. Morkri, Cherry Grove. The headquarters are in the township of Wanamingo. and the annual meeting is held in the village of Wanamingo on the third Saturday of January. The company is now doing an immense business of over half a million dollars insurance annually.

In 1908 it was $546,635, and has been as high as $576,825 in one year. The yearly expenses are very low compared with other companies of about the same size. During 1908 it amounted to only $596.21. This shows that the company has accomplished its object of being a money-saving institution. The insurance rate prior to 1906 in this company was three mills on the dollar for five-year terms, but this rate proved to be inadequate to defray expenses to pay the losses, so the rates were raised to five mills, and since January 11, 1906, no assessment has been made, it appears that the present rates are sufficient. The following report furnished through the kindness of A. H. Tongen, secretary of the company, shows the great amount of business done since May 27, 1876. The policies issued have amounted to 5,513, and have covered an insurance of $9,272,364. The policies cancelled have amounted to 4,319 and have covered an insurance of $6,871,771. This leaves in force 1,194 policies, covering an insurance of $2,400,771.

Receipts - Membership and policy fee, $36,081.05; assessments, $23.284.00; interest. $507.51; borrowed, $795.54; other sources, $10.33; total receipts, $60,678.43. Disbursements - Losses caused by lightning (444), $20,170.88; losses caused by fire (88), $24,833.80; losses caused by steam thresher (19), $967.71; (total losses, $45,972.39); paid back borrowed money, $795.54; other expenditures, $12,912.17; total paid out. $59,680.10; credit balance. December 31, 1908, $998.33; total, $60,678.43.

Martin Halvorson, Sr., now deceased, was a pioneer merchant of Wanamingo. Quiet in his manners and disposition, he never sought public life or office, but his many good qualities endeared him to all with whom he came in contact. He was born in Norway in 1842, and came to America in 1866, locating in Wanamingo Township. Soon after arriving in this county he entered the employ of H. C. Serum, who kept a general store in Wanamingo village. In 1872, Mr. Halvorson purchased the establishment and one year later was appointed postmaster, a position he held until 1898. His store was a great success, and not only did the farmers for miles around seek his place to purchase goods, but also to ask advice and to secure Mr. Halvorson 's opinions, which were always sure to be sound and good. Mr. Halvorson was married in 1873 to Greatha Bjornethun, also a native of Norway, by whom he had seven children: Henry, Lena (deceased). Rev. Jens, now of Ashland, Wisconsin; Lena, now Mrs. (Rev.) M. Thomson, of New Folden, Minnesota; Martin, Frederick, who is on the old homestead, and Gustav, a student in the law department of the state university at Minneapolis. Mr. Halvorson died in 1899, and his widow still survives.

  Goodhue County |Minnesota AHGP 

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


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