Washington County Historical Society

Washington County Historical Society Washington County Historical Society collects, preserves, and disseminates the history of Washington County and its communities. Join us on our journey through the Gateway to Minnesota History!
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The Washington County Historical Society collects, preserves, and disseminates the history of the county and state of Minnesota.

The Stillwater Gazette just celebrated 150 years of publication in Washington County. Over time there have been many oth...
08/12/2020

The Stillwater Gazette just celebrated 150 years of publication in Washington County. Over time there have been many other newspapers that have come and go throughout the county. One small paper was the Grey Cloud Progress. Only a few issues were published and the Historical Society does have scans of most of them.

This was a six page, later four page, paper. The editor was M.G. Mueller and cost was 25 cents per year! We have attached issue number four that has a description by the editor of Grey Cloud Island!!

We also hope that H.C. Fritz's leg has healed and congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Otto J. Radusch on their baby daughter! An a welcome to Dr. W.T. Leonard the new physician in St. Paul Park!!

Old newspapers are filled with fantastic facts as that!

Two different years of the Birdseye View maps of Stillwater, 1870 & 1879. Compare the two and see how much the community...
08/11/2020

Two different years of the Birdseye View maps of Stillwater, 1870 & 1879. Compare the two and see how much the community grew in just 10 years! Churches, stores, lumbermills and the bridge can be seen on the maps. Only $15 plus $7 shipping/handling. You can purchase online at: http://www.wchsmn.org/store-2/gifts-2/

Never too early for Christmas!! Great presents for the entire family!

Some of the steamboats that plied the St. Croix River in the 19th century and early 20th century. Graceful boats that we...
07/31/2020

Some of the steamboats that plied the St. Croix River in the 19th century and early 20th century. Graceful boats that were the work horses of the lumber industry!

In 1882 Bryon Mosier took a partner into his cigar story business. This partner, from Chicago, stood seven feet nine inc...
07/24/2020

In 1882 Bryon Mosier took a partner into his cigar story business. This partner, from Chicago, stood seven feet nine inches tall, weighted about 350 pounds, was a Native American and carried a tomahawk in his right hand. This “silent partner” stood outside Mosier’s store on Main and Chestnut Streets for over forty years. In that time, he scared drunken lumberjacks and was swept away in at least one flood.

This partner was a cigar store statue. It was carved from two pieces of pine, one piece formed the entire body and head of the statue and the other piece formed the right arm and tomahawk. On the crate in which the statue stood, there was an inscription which read: “I greet you for the tribe to the ‘Friendly Valley.’ That’s my job since 1882.”

In 1888 Byron Mosier constructed a new building on the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets. An architectural firm out of Minneapolis was hired to design the new building and in early August 1888 the Mosier Bros. were in their new building with the statue standing guard outside.

The statue later went to stand outside the Lowell Inn. Then it found itself in Southdale Shopping Mall in the 1950s. It was donated to the Minnesota Historical Society and then was loaned to the Washington County Historical Society in 1986 for one season.

Today it is in a crate in the basement of the Minnesota Historical Society. Will it ever be displayed again? Maybe when the Washington County Historical Society opens the Washington County Heritage Center on South Greeley Street, Stillwater then the statue will come and guard the St. Croix Valley once again!

A recent donation from Joseph Young of Alameda, CA -- a photograph of two unidentified men in work clothes. They appear ...
07/20/2020

A recent donation from Joseph Young of Alameda, CA -- a photograph of two unidentified men in work clothes. They appear to be holding wrenches. The photograph was taken by photographer Gustav Halmrast of Stillwater ca. 1900. Halmrast lost his studio in the Grand Opera House fire of 1902. He later reopened and stayed around for another decade. If you have any idea who the men are or what occupation they are in -- let us know!

07/10/2020
Bud Grant Hurls No Hitter

Legendary football coach Harry "Bud" Grant played baseball with the Stillwater Loggers. He was a pitcher with a big bat. He tossed a no-hitter against the North St. Paul Club in 1954.

Stillwater's favorite beach for summer swimmers for several generations was Legion or Kolliner Beach across the St. Croi...
07/06/2020

Stillwater's favorite beach for summer swimmers for several generations was Legion or Kolliner Beach across the St. Croix River from downtown Stillwater. Opened in the early 1930s, it was a go to place to beat the summer heat.

It is with a heavy heart that the Washington County Historical Society announces the death of Robert Goodman. He has bee...
07/02/2020

It is with a heavy heart that the Washington County Historical Society announces the death of Robert Goodman. He has been a cornerstone of the organization for decades and through his leadership as the Endowment Committee Chair that fund has more than tripled. He was generous with his research and was a true historian, researcher, writer and author. He was a mentor to many and a friend to even more. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Nancy and all of his family. He can now have a sit down chat with the likes of Joseph R. Brown!!

06/26/2020
Jim Carter

A former enslaved person, Carter found his way to Minnesota and Stillwater. He became the custodian of the Stillwater Armory and Company K. He became a well respected member of the community and his funeral was one of the largest held in Stillwater up to that time.

06/18/2020
Grand Opera House

Stillwater's Grand Opera House was one of the finest theaters in the Northwest. Some of the best plays & opera's stopped in Stillwater before moving on to other venues. Buffalo Bill, John Philip Sousa and even John L. Sullivan performed there. The Opera House came to a tradgic end in 1902 when it caught fire and burned to the ground.

The Warden's House kitty was found sitting on top of an empty donation box. The box is a lot more comfy when there is mo...
06/17/2020

The Warden's House kitty was found sitting on top of an empty donation box. The box is a lot more comfy when there is money in it so he found a dollar and was putting it in the box in hopes that more will follow. Since the museum isn't open right now people can donate and help fill the box at: http://www.wchsmn.org/support/ or send in a check or cash to: WCHS, PO Box 167, Stillwater, MN 55082.

06/12/2020

Summer is here and even though we are still dealing with the pandemic there will be fun in some of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes. Logrolling Champions have called the St. Croix Valley home for more than a century - including 14 time trick & fancy champions Harold Fischer & Bob Teske! Our latest Half Minute History on logrolling!! Enjoy! #halfminutehistory #logrolling #FischerTeske #Champions

06/12/2020
Logrolling Champions

Champions on the logs in the water are Harold Fischer & Bob Teske. More than a century of logrolling champions from the St. Croix Valley. #logrolling #Stillwater #WCHS #Champions #burling #Fischer #Teske

History is important. Some of our best history can be found in quality books that the WCHS has for sale in the bookstore...
06/09/2020

History is important. Some of our best history can be found in quality books that the WCHS has for sale in the bookstore online. If you are interested in the history of the prison and the notorious Younger Brothers here are three good examples of what to add to your library!

Visit: http://www.wchsmn.org/store-2/

06/07/2020
Good Templar Timothy Nash

A once proudly worn ribbon now in the collection of the Washington County Historical Society again tells its story 140 years later. Timothy Nash, of Cottage Grove & Newport, was a delegate to the International Order of Good Templers in 1880 - a fraternal organization still active today.

06/02/2020
Wilson Family Clock

A Warden's House Museum clock that has chimed throughout history. The family and the artifact are explored in this half minute history

On May 30, 1954 Harry "Bud" Grant threw a no-hitter for the Stillwater Loggers against the North St. Paul Polars. Grant,...
05/30/2020

On May 30, 1954 Harry "Bud" Grant threw a no-hitter for the Stillwater Loggers against the North St. Paul Polars. Grant, and the rest of the Loggers, won the game 2-1. The only run scored against Grant was because of an error!

05/27/2020
Mira Music Box

One of the WCHS finest musical artifacts - the music box was donated by the Bergeron Family. It still plays and is enjoyed by visitors each year.

Warden's House Museum kitty found himself next to early toasters. The first pop-up toaster was invented by Charles Strit...
05/26/2020

Warden's House Museum kitty found himself next to early toasters. The first pop-up toaster was invented by Charles Strite of Stillwater in 1919. Although the first design of the toaster was not "purrr"fect, Strite's patent was eventually purchased by Waters & Ginter of Minneapolis....later changed their name to "Toastmaster!"

Without visitors the Warden's House Museum kitty has the run of the museum...where will he be next??

05/22/2020
The final ride 1932

The last ride of the trolley in Stillwater - leaving through rattlesnake curve never to return.

05/19/2020
Trolley part 2

The legacy of the Trolley in the St. Croix Valley

Willernie was originally included in Grant Township, as were the other communities on the western fringe of Washington C...
05/17/2020

Willernie was originally included in Grant Township, as were the other communities on the western fringe of Washington County near White Bear Lake. When Lincoln Township was organized out of the western sections of Grant in 1918, it included the village of Willernie, then called Wildwood Manor The Village of Willernie was incorporated in 1948 with about 82 acres (only 77 acres are not water), making it the county’s third smallest community. For more information about Willernie visit: http://www.wchsmn.org/willernie/

And to donate to the Washington County Historical Society visit: http://www.wchsmn.org/support/

05/15/2020
Half Minute History - The Trolley part 1

Stillwater had the first electric street cars in Minnesota. The trolley ran until August 1932 when the last car left the community via Rattlesnake Curve by McKusick Lake.

The first Lt. Governor of the state of Minnesota, pictured here, was William Holcombe of Stillwater!! Holcombe was Mayor...
05/14/2020

The first Lt. Governor of the state of Minnesota, pictured here, was William Holcombe of Stillwater!! Holcombe was Mayor of Stillwater when he died in 1870 -- but a lasting gift to the city -- Washinngton Square -- will forever cement his name is the history of the community.

MN STATEHOOD STORY: SWEARING IN EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
Minnesota officially became a state on May 11th, 1858. News of this did not reach St. Paul until May 13th. At that time, the telegraph line ended in La Crosse, Wis. The quickest way to get the news to St. Paul was by steamboat, thus the delay.

Interestingly enough, the swearing-in of the executive officers of the new state, previously elected in October 1857, did not take place until even later. Governor Henry Sibley and Lt. Governor William Holcombe and other executive officers and judges were sworn in on May 24th, 1858 making Minnesota a full-fledged state.
#MNHSHistoryAtHome #MNStatehoodStory

05/12/2020

Washington County Historical Society presents "half minute histories!"

Minnesota Statehood Day!!
05/11/2020

Minnesota Statehood Day!!

The "Birthplace of Minnesota" is known to be Stillwater! Not because of the age of the community but because of the "Sti...
05/08/2020

The "Birthplace of Minnesota" is known to be Stillwater! Not because of the age of the community but because of the "Stillwater Convention" held there on August 26, 1848 which led to a petition to Congress asking them to form a new Territory and that Territory be named "Minnesota." To learn more about Stillwater go to: http://www.wchsmn.org/stillwater/

To donate to the Washington County Historical Society please go to:http://www.wchsmn.org/support/

Oak Park Heights was platted in 1938 and incorporated as a city in 1959, but its story began much earlier, when it was k...
05/05/2020

Oak Park Heights was platted in 1938 and incorporated as a city in 1959, but its story began much earlier, when it was known as Oak Park. The first 10-block plat—entered by John Parker, William Dorr, Gold and Mary Curtis, Olive Anderson, and William M. McCluer in 1857—was soon followed by four more plats. To learn more about Oak Park Heights visit: http://www.wchsmn.org/oak-park-heights/

To donate to the Washington County Historical Society visit: http://www.wchsmn.org/support/

Fireworks over the Stillwater Lift Bridge for Lumberjack Days in 1939. The coronavirus has forced the cancellation of th...
05/01/2020

Fireworks over the Stillwater Lift Bridge for Lumberjack Days in 1939. The coronavirus has forced the cancellation of the 2020 celebration.

Newport, MN was an early settlement on the east side of the Mississippi. It was incorporated in 1889. More information o...
05/01/2020

Newport, MN was an early settlement on the east side of the Mississippi. It was incorporated in 1889. More information on this influential south Washington County settlement can be found at: http://www.wchsmn.org/newport/

Help the Historical fulfill its mission by donating at: http://www.wchsmn.org/support/

Scandia is best known as the home of the first Swedish settlers in Minnesota. The settlement dates from 1850, when three...
04/28/2020

Scandia is best known as the home of the first Swedish settlers in Minnesota. The settlement dates from 1850, when three young men from Sweden—Carl A. Fernstrom, Oscar Roos, and August Sandahl—established a farm near Hay Lake. The trio stayed only a year, selling the farm in 1851 to another Swedish immigrant, Daniel Nilson.

For more information on Scandia visit: http://www.wchsmn.org/scandia/ and to donate to WCHS visit: http://www.wchsmn.org/support/

On the St. Croix, north of Stillwater is a community that originally known as "Judd's Mills," later became "Marine Mills...
04/24/2020

On the St. Croix, north of Stillwater is a community that originally known as "Judd's Mills," later became "Marine Mills," is arguably the oldest community in Minnesota. In 1917 the community incorporated as Marine on St. Croix. To learn more about this historic Washington County community go to: http://www.wchsmn.org/marine-on-st-croix/

To help the Historical Society through these tough times of the pandemic please donate at: http://www.wchsmn.org/support/

Bass Lake, the original name of the lake, was noted for its fresh water and good fishing. Both lake and village were ren...
04/20/2020

Bass Lake, the original name of the lake, was noted for its fresh water and good fishing. Both lake and village were renamed Lake Elmo in 1879 by railroad promoter and St. Paul businessman, Alpheus B. Stickney. Learn more about this Washington County community at: http://www.wchsmn.org/lake-elmo/

Help the Washington County Historical Society continue its mission of collecting, preserving and disseminating the history of Washington County by donating at: http://www.wchsmn.org/support/

In January, 1873 when the St. Croix Railway Improvement Company combined three smaller communities into South Stillwater...
04/15/2020

In January, 1873 when the St. Croix Railway Improvement Company combined three smaller communities into South Stillwater. South Stillwater was incorporated as a village in 1881. The name, however, caused a lot of confusion with the City of Stillwater, so it was changed in 1922 to Bayport. Bayport is still a energetic community! For more history of Bayport click this link to our website community histories - http://www.wchsmn.org/bayport/

To support the Historical Society go to: http://www.wchsmn.org/support/

Address

602 N Main St
Stillwater, MN
55082

General information

The Washington County Historical Society serves as a historical umbrella for the county's history organizations and acts as a community resource for individuals and organizations seeking historical information. The Society: - operates two interpretive museums showcasing county heritage, - provides educational programs to schools and to the public, - assists researchers to document their own, county, and state history, - provides expertise to help community groups conserve collections and produce exhibits, - investigates and publishes county history, -collects and preserves cultural artifacts and documents for future generations, and - showcases county history through exhibits and displays throughout the county. WCHS works with other community groups to facilitate local discussions on history and provide advertising and networking for each other's projects. The ultimate goal is to provide the opportunity for all county residents to learn about and enjoy their area's history and build a sense of community heritage.

Opening Hours

Tuesday 12:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 15:00 - 21:00
Thursday 12:00 - 17:00
Friday 12:00 - 17:00
Saturday 12:00 - 17:00
Sunday 12:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(651) 439-5956

Website

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Comments

I found my grandfather's (Charles G. Brochman) notebook from when he was Treasurer of school dist 13 in 1932-33. Why would the school dist be hiring a guard for the school house AFTER it already burned? Where were the children attending classes that school year after the fire?
St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is organizing a Hands on History Day for the summer of 2020. We are looking for volunteer artisans skilled in historical crafts such as blacksmithing, flintknapping, etc to demonstrate to Riverway visitors. If you are interested in participating please let us know. Thanks
Relative of anyone? Pm me I will mail it. Found in a book that came from my family's homestead in Hugo.
Ancestors from Skaraborg County in Sweden?
Still keeping an eye out for elusive photo of Half-Way House on Stilwater Road while I continue my family genealogy research. I ran across this description today in Stillwater Messenger Saturday 23 May 1887, (page 4?) talking about how the Half Way House burned down and the Gray family remembering what the house was like and the different kinds of visitors that came there. Sorry it's a screen shot so not easy to read. Got it off of MNHS Newspaper Hub. https://newspapers.mnhs.org/jsp/viewer.jsp?doc_id=mnhi0031%2F1HMB4Q58%2F87052101&query1=&recoffset=0&collection_filter=All&collection_name=462c092d-c3f2-4d72-a116-d253ad0cdf05&sort_col=Publication%20Date&cnt=0&CurSearchNum=5&recOffset=0
Are the disbanded Oakdale Hist Soc papers/records etc that were donated to WCHS actually held at WCHS on Main St in Stillwater or are they held at the Eder School in Oakdale? I wanted to come out to Stillwater this afternoon and take a look at what was donated that might apply to my family if anything. First I need to know where the papers are. Second if at WCHS if anyone will be at Main Street location this afternoon? 
Hi Friends. My dad, Steven Lindberg, went to the original Hay Lake school in the 1940-50s. He is turning 75 this year and I am writing a book of stories about him. If you know of someone that grew up with him, please let me know.
Here's hoping someone from the WashCo H.S. will take pics & video of the old lift bridge before and after official closing.
Are your Swedish ancestors from Skaraborg county or the nearby region?