Houston County Historical Society

Houston County Historical Society Hours: Mon-Wed, 10am to 4pm Visits at other times can be made by appointment. Free admission; free-will donations encouraged. The Houston County Historical Society, an all-volunteer organization, provides many services to county residents and visitors.
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Located by the Houston County Fairgrounds in Caledonia, Minnesota, the Society maintains exhibits in the Main Museum, the Sheldon Presbyterian Church, Flatten-Swenson Pioneer Home, the Mayville Town Hall, the Daley School, and the Ag Machinery Building, that are open during the Society's business hours and by appointment. Besides the exhibits and artifacts, the Society has extensive resources, including microfilm for Houston County births, deaths and marriages; land and probate records; declarations of intent and naturalization records; county newspapers; Houston County state and federal census; and county Lutheran and Presbyterian church records. Over 20,000 photographs and growing. Our library includes: county histories, plat books and maps, church and community histories, cemetery recordings and records, obituaries, clippings and ephemera files, genealogies, some school, business and church records. Other exhibits can be found in The Church of the Holy Comforter, Episcopal in Brownsville, and the Christian Bunge Jr. Store in Eitzen. Both are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Society also maintains the former Caledonia Presbyterian Church and manse. The Houston County Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution, established in 1948 by Dr. Carleton Qualley, a Spring Grove native, and reorganized in 1960, to preserve and share the history of Houston County. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Houston County's past through museum exhibits, photographs, research materials, educational programs, tours and historic sites.

Operating as usual

Caledonia Argus
10/01/2020
Caledonia Argus

Caledonia Argus

Do you remember this event in Houston County? Reader Glenn Buxengard shared this story with us.

La Crescent Area Historical Society
09/15/2020

La Crescent Area Historical Society

La Crescent Area Historical Society
09/14/2020

La Crescent Area Historical Society

Buckboard
08/31/2020

Buckboard

Nice salt shaker from Staggemeyer Grocery Eitzen MN.

08/30/2020
La Crescent Area Historical Society

La Crescent Area Historical Society

GIGANTIC RUMMAGE SALE! FEATURING FATHEAD STEVE'S FOOD TRUCK. Our annual rummage sale is Friday, Sept. 4th from 7:30 am to 5 pm. And Saturday, Sept. 5th from 7:30 am to noon at 28 SO. ELM ST., LA CRESCENT.
Hunt for that wonderful treasure while enjoying a tasty treat.
All proceeds benefit the La Crescent Area Historical Society's mission of preserving La Crescent's history.

La Crescent Area Historical Society
08/12/2020

La Crescent Area Historical Society

Please read and respond to this post by La Crescent's Historic Cameron House below:
08/05/2020

Please read and respond to this post by La Crescent's Historic Cameron House below:

Do you know anyone who has lived in our historic home? We would love to hear your stories about this grand old home built almost 165 years ago. As part of our ongoing efforts to preserve this National Historic landmark and honor those who have treasured it over the years, we invite you to share memories or photos of your connections to the property.

Here are some interesting facts on the builder Daniel J Cameron. Daniel J was born in 1825 in New York, the youngest child of Scotland born Daniel “Donald” Cameron (1779-1861) and Jenette McVean Cameron (1781-1865). His parents moved with him to La Crescent in 1856 where he built a larger replica of their home. Their oldest son, Peter was the founder of La Crescent and lived in La Crosse. Another son, Alexander built a smaller replica of their home complete with windowed belvedere in Kalamazoo, MI. Two daughters lived in La Crescent area as well, Jane Cameron McArthur and Catherine Cameron Richardson.

Daniel J. who built the stately home at age 30, never married and was known for hosting Uncle Dan’s holiday family gatherings and local events. After his death in 1899, his home was given to his niece and caretaker, Helen McArthur. A trust was established by Ara D Sprague and his sons through the Sprague State Bank in Caledonia. The two Sprague homes are the only other homes in Houston County registered on the National Register of Historic Places. We created a list of additional home owners of the house through county documents as listed below. Check out the names to see how many are familiar to you.

Thank you to the Houston County Recorder staff for carefully maintaining the historical records that allowed us to find these official documents. Those books are very old and heavy!

A piece of the past at Buckboard in Caledonia.
07/19/2020

A piece of the past at Buckboard in Caledonia.

A piece of the past from Eitzen Minnesota

Here's a wonderful profile of Sheldon's @Schech's Mill from the folks at @Luna Valley Farm near Decorah, Iowa.Houston Co...
05/26/2020

Here's a wonderful profile of Sheldon's @Schech's Mill from the folks at @Luna Valley Farm near Decorah, Iowa.

Houston County is so lucky to have Ed at Schech's Mill, keeping history alive and well.

On Sunday we took a field trip to Schechs Mill with Benji Nichols (happy birthday, Benji)!

Fun side note: There used to be a mill in Springwater (close to where we live) that was built for Tom’s great great great great grandfather Benjamin Beard and then sold to Benji’s great great grandpa, Charles Stortz. Benji recently shared a school paper with us that Tom wrote about the mill after interviewing Benji’s grandma Virgil back in 2000. (Another side note: Tom’s parents bought their farm from Benji’s grandparents so the family ties run pretty deep). Having this family history in the back of our minds made our time together at the mill all the more special.

Walking into Schechs Mill is literally like walking back in time. Fortunately, owner Ed Schech is handy and keeps the three original turbines and four French quartz millstones running because without his dedication and handiwork, this mill would just be a remnant of the past instead of the magical water powered mill that it is. Ed is the last descendent in a long line of millers that first began with his great great grandfather in 1887.

In the past, Schechs was known for the breadth of products it ground. In addition to flour and corn meal, Schechs also produced buckwheat flour, whole wheat flour, graham flour and whole wheat cereal. For awhile, the mill stopped producing flour and switched to grinding animal feed. In the 1970’s they went back to producing flour. Today, Ed grinds grain for the spirits produced at RockFilter Distillery in Spring Grove!

We got to watch Ed turn on the water powered turbine and see our winter wheat ground into flour under the weight of the 130 year old French quartz millstones. It was unlike anything we’d ever seen. Ed walked us through the sifting process where we removed wheat bran, by hand, using three different screens to get to a product resembling all purpose flour.

We came home with bags of flour, made from the organic wheat that Tom grew last year. (This is the same wheat being used for the Pulpit Rock Brewing Company Dreaming of Fields spontaneous fermentation project.) It’s our first time having the opportunity to bake bread (and cookies!) with wheat that was grown on our farm. Thank you Benji and Ed for this incredible gift!

There are so many questions running through our heads. What would it look like if more flour was able to be milled and sold locally? What would our landscape look like if there were better markets for small grains like wheat? How do products like locally milled flour and cornmeal fit into our local food system?

All of us were filled with questions as we left the mill. But mostly we left thinking about how awesome it would be to have access to locally grown and milled flour and cornmeal.

Thank you very much to The Farmhouse Eatery and Gifts for their generous donation to HCHS!
04/12/2020

Thank you very much to The Farmhouse Eatery and Gifts for their generous donation to HCHS!

The Farmhouse donated this beauty to the Houston County Historical Society today!

Minnesota Historical Society
04/01/2020

Minnesota Historical Society

Happy April Fools' Day! In 1906, The Journal Junior (the kids' section of The Minneapolis Journal, which became part of Star Tribune) had children send their best failed jokes to the newspaper for the April 1 edition.

Here are a few of our favorite submissions.

03/19/2020

The Museum & Research Center is CLOSED until further notice, per the Governor's order. Thank you for your understanding.

2020 marks the 100-anniversary of Houston County 4-H and its clubs. The 4-H Extension Office has collected historic phot...
02/06/2020
Caledonia Argus

2020 marks the 100-anniversary of Houston County 4-H and its clubs. The 4-H Extension Office has collected historic photos from our archives, and they will be published in the Caledonia Argus, each month featuring a new decade. February will feature the 1930s.

Have you seen the historic Houston County 4-H photos in the paper lately!? Now you can check them out online too! We'll be featuring photos from the 1930s in February.

A street scene of Brownsville, Minn., date unknown.Courtesy of Buckboard
12/10/2019

A street scene of Brownsville, Minn., date unknown.
Courtesy of Buckboard

A Street scene of Brownsville MN

Don't miss the last day of Old Fashioned Christmas Open House TODAY! 12pm-3pm at the museum.Free admission, everyone is ...
12/08/2019

Don't miss the last day of Old Fashioned Christmas Open House TODAY! 12pm-3pm at the museum.

Free admission, everyone is welcome.

Thank you to everyone who came to the HCHS Annual Meeting on Sunday! We honored Marveen Feil and her late husband Leon f...
11/04/2019

Thank you to everyone who came to the HCHS Annual Meeting on Sunday! We honored Marveen Feil and her late husband Leon for their years of volunteering for HCHS and taking care of the Christian Bunge, Jr Store Museum in Eitzen. We also listened to the interesting World War II story of Glen Jostad, who became a Prisoner of War, as told by one of his daughters, Cherryl.

THIS WEEKEND at the Historical Society:(Both events are free and open to all!)Do you ever wonder how history informs our...
10/23/2019

THIS WEEKEND at the Historical Society:
(Both events are free and open to all!)

Do you ever wonder how history informs our sense of place? This Saturday, you'll have a chance to explore this very idea with two wonderful visiting writers! Join us for History’s Landscapes: A Writing Workshop (no experience necessary) at the Houston County Historical Society from 10 am - noon on Sat with Timothy Otte. We'll be looking at the HCHS exhibit to inform a collaborative poem.

THEN, later that night, join us for History’s Landscapes: A Reading with Timothy and Andrea Rae at Mainspring down the street at 7 pm. Timothy and Andrea will read from their own works, as well as sharing the collaborative community poem from the workshop earlier that day.

Do you ever wonder how history informs our sense of place? This Saturday, you'll have a chance to explore this very idea with two wonderful visiting writers! Join us for History’s Landscapes: A Writing Workshop (no experience necessary) at the Houston County Historical Society from 10 am - noon on Sat with Timothy Otte. We'll be looking at the HCHS exhibit to inform a collaborative poem.

THEN, later that night, join us for History’s Landscapes: A Reading with Timothy and Andrea Rae at Mainspring at 7 pm. Timothy and Andrea will read from their own works, as well as sharing the collaborative community poem from the workshop earlier that day.

Both events are free and open to all!

Last Friday, HCHS took our annual Volunteer Appreciation trip, this time to Winona. Our day included a tour of the Watki...
10/22/2019

Last Friday, HCHS took our annual Volunteer Appreciation trip, this time to Winona. Our day included a tour of the Watkins Museum and the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.

Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers that help keep the Houston County Historical Society running!

COME VISIT DURING THE HOUSTON COUNTY FAIR!Open 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, August 15, 16, and 17;...
08/14/2019

COME VISIT DURING THE HOUSTON COUNTY FAIR!

Open 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, August 15, 16, and 17; and 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, August 18. The Research Center will be closed.

New displays will include World War II memorabilia to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944. This will include uniforms, photographs and other artifacts from the Society’s collection.

Community Band uniforms and instruments, an old fashioned picnic scene, and a display of sewing machines and sewing items will be featured throughout the main museum. In addition, oriental clothing and other vintage clothing, including a dress worn by Elizabeth Gilchrist Ratcliffe when she married Benjamin Ratcliffe at Mt Hope farm on June 25, 1863 in Alamakee County, Iowa will be on display.

The Sheldon Presbyterian Church will have 1950s dresses to enjoy.

Visit the Flatten-Swenson Pioneer Log Home, Mayville Town Hall and Daley School for other displays.

Audrey Almo of Caledonia will entertain visitors with her accordion music.

Thanks to Laura Deering for visiting us, and for writing this fascinating piece on links between Houston County and the ...
07/15/2019
Brownsville, Minn.: Gateway to underground railroad?

Thanks to Laura Deering for visiting us, and for writing this fascinating piece on links between Houston County and the underground railroad!

“They hid them in caves.” Reading this personal hand-typed document from decades ago, made my hands tremble. I handled the document on recently-completed trip to research the Underground Railroad in nearby Brownsville, Minn. Readers may recall a six-part series in the Tri-County Record last year...

Can anyone help identify folks in this photo?Sent in from Angie Lietzau Grabko:"This picture is from my grandfather Ralp...
05/17/2019

Can anyone help identify folks in this photo?

Sent in from Angie Lietzau Grabko:
"This picture is from my grandfather Ralph Lietzau's photo collection. It is dated August 1925 and was taken somewhere in Houston County. I believe they are members of the Helm family. I think the two on the bottom right are Dick and Erma Helm. Any help identifying?"

This picture is from my grandfather Ralph Lietzau's photo collection. It is dated August 1925 and was taken somewhere in Houston County. I believe they are members of the Helm family. I think the two on the bottom right are Dick and Erma Helm. Any help identifying?

La Crescent Area Historical Society
04/01/2019

La Crescent Area Historical Society

The Way it Was in La Crescent in 1918 - Hauling logs on a horse drawn cutter in front of the old La Crescent Public School.

La Crescent Area Historical Society
04/01/2019
La Crescent Area Historical Society

La Crescent Area Historical Society

Terry Visger, a well-known storyteller, will unravel the tale of "The Clammer's wife" at the La Crescent Area Historical Society's Annual Meeting at Pine Creek Golf Course on Saturday, April 6.

This story is about life in a bygone era. A century ago, people earned a living by clamming: searching for shells, and, hopefully pearls, in the Mississippi River. The work of clammers not only has been documented in local history, but also led to our understanding of freshwater ecosystems.

The evening begins with a social at 5:30 p.m., followed by a catered sirloin tips dinner, a brief business meeting and approval of amended bylaws, and the storytelling. The evening costs $17.50 per person and is open to the public.

To make reservations, email the historical society at [email protected] or call 507-895-1857 by March 30. The society's website, https://lacrescenthistory.org has more information. Learn about Terry Visger at https://www.talesbyterry.com.

Books Wanted!Drop off used books at the HCHS Research Center on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays, 10am-4pm.**Please note...
02/12/2019

Books Wanted!

Drop off used books at the HCHS Research Center on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays, 10am-4pm.
**Please note we can no longer accept encyclopedias**

Thank you to everyone who stopped by this weekend for our Old Fashioned Christmas Open House! And a big thank you to all...
12/10/2018

Thank you to everyone who stopped by this weekend for our Old Fashioned Christmas Open House!

And a big thank you to all of our volunteers who helped decorate the museum, and brought in the beautiful holiday displays this year!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by this weekend for our Old Fashioned Christmas Open House!

And a big thank you to all of our volunteers who helped decorate the museum, and brought in the beautiful holiday displays this year!

Undated photo of Caledonia's Main Street, found and shared by Buckboard. The building pictured is currently owned and oc...
11/23/2018

Undated photo of Caledonia's Main Street, found and shared by Buckboard.

The building pictured is currently owned and occupied by Kelly Meyer, realtor.

I believe this is Kelly Meyer reality building on Main Street.

Beautiful fall photo of La Crescent's Cameron House!
11/08/2018

Beautiful fall photo of La Crescent's Cameron House!

Thankful for the beauty of nature

Here's a fun piece of history in Caledonia that The Wired Rooster shared, using information they found in 2014 in the Hi...
11/08/2018

Here's a fun piece of history in Caledonia that The Wired Rooster shared, using information they found in 2014 in the Historical Society's microfiche archives:

"Our building was built in 1906 by the Zimmerhakl family of barbers, headed by Anton and his two adult sons, Lee and Eddie. They had their three-chair barbershop in the west side of our storefront.

Here's the interesting part:
The FIRST CUSTOMER at the barbershop on their opening day of Monday, October 15th in 1906, was Mike Roster from Freeburg. The Caledonia Argus newspaper clipping mentioning this called him MR. ROOSTER (the Roster family were apparently regularly called "Roosters," we've since learned).

How fitting is that?? And no, we didn't know this until AFTER we'd chosen our name!"

Some of you may remember us sharing this back in 2014 before we opened, but it's worth sharing again:

Our building was built in 1906 by the Zimmerhakl family of barbers, headed by Anton and his two adult sons, Lee and Eddie. They had their three-chair barbershop in the west side of our storefront.

Here's the interesting part:
The FIRST CUSTOMER at the barbershop on their opening day of Monday, October 15th in 1906, was Mike Roster from Freeburg. The Caledonia Argus newspaper clipping mentioning this called him MR. ROOSTER (the Roster family were apparently regularly called "Roosters," we've since learned).

How fitting is that?? And no, we didn't know this until AFTER we'd chosen our name!

Thank you to everyone who came to our Decoding the Driftless Film Screening and Annual Meeting at the Historical Society...
11/05/2018

Thank you to everyone who came to our Decoding the Driftless Film Screening and Annual Meeting at the Historical Society yesterday!

Special thanks also to George Howe for presenting the film screening, and being available for questions afterwards.

Thank you to the students at St. Peter’s Catholic School in Hokah, for visiting the Houston County Historical Society (a...
10/10/2018

Thank you to the students at St. Peter’s Catholic School in Hokah, for visiting the Houston County Historical Society (and for sharing your photos)!

Thank you to the students at St. Peter’s Catholic School in Hokah, for visiting the Houston County Historical Society (and for sharing your photos)!

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104 History Ln
Caledonia, MN
55921

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Comments

This picture is from my grandfather Ralph Lietzau's photo collection. It is dated August 1925 and was taken somewhere in Houston County. I believe they are members of the Helm family. I think the two on the bottom right are Dick and Erma Helm. Any help identifying?
photo was among Bottolfsen family photos in Cedar Co Nebraska, photo taken in Spring Grove, possible names, Svendsen, Loeng.Loing or many others. any help would be so appreciated. thank you
photo was among Bottolfsen family photos in Cedar Co Nebraska, photo taken in Spring Grove, possible names, Svendsen, Loeng.Loing or many others. any help would be so appreciated. thank you
photo was among Bottolfsen family photos in Cedar Co Nebraska, photo taken in Spring Grove, possible names, Svendsen, Loeng.Loing or many others. any help would be so appreciated. thank you
photo was among Bottolfsen family photos in Cedar Co Nebraska, photo taken in Spring Grove, possible names, Svendsen, Loeng.Loing or many others. any help would be so appreciated. thank you
unidentified photos taken in Spring Grove Minnesota, digital copies only. I believe these folks to be members of my family tree and possible connections to the surnames of Bottolfsen, Svendsen, Loing/Loeng, Steen or others. any help would be wonderful, thank you
unidentified photos taken in Spring Grove Minnesota, digital copies only. I believe these folks to be members of my family tree and possible connections to the surnames of Bottolfsen, Svendsen, Loing/Loeng, Steen or others. any help would be wonderful, thank you
site will only let me post one pic at a time, sorry for multiple posts unidentified photos taken in Spring Grove Minnesota, digital copies only. I believe these folks to be members of my family tree and possible connections to the surnames of Bottolfsen, Svendsen, Loing/Loeng, Steen or others. any help would be wonderful, thank you
unidentified photos taken in Spring Grove Minnesota, digital copies only. I believe these folks to be members of my family tree and possible connections to the surnames of Bottolfsen, Svendsen, Loing/Loeng, Steen or others. any help would be wonderful, thank you
At Crowe Family Farm - George Crowe, Florida Eglinton Mackey, Henry May, Aaron Crowe, James Mackey Sr., Gertie Wise, Lizzie May Crowe and Belle Mackey.
Mound Prairie School - Mary Mackey Lietzau
Mound Prairie School - Mary Lietzau in middle