Hadley, Minnesota

Hadley, originally known as Summit Lake, is located in Leeds Township, within three miles of being the center of Murray County. The prairie village sits on a hill overlooking Summit Lake, for which the town was named. The lake is 80 acres in size and is the tributary to Beaver Creek. The village was surveyed on October 1, 1879 for the branch line of the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad Company. At this time, Summit Lake was then renamed, "Hadley" by the railroad officials. At one time there were only two villages in Murray County located on the branch rail line, Hadley and Avoca. Hadley was the third village in the county to be platted and had four streets and four avenues.


The residents of Hadley can trace their ancestors back to the first brave settlers who came from Norway when Native Americans camped on the shores of Summit Lake. Hans Simonson, the first settler arrived in June 1872. The next was Christian Christiansen who arrived in October, the same year. Then came Gilbert Johnson, and Theodore Knutson, closely followed by Claus Clausen, L.O. Solem, Peter Thompson, Nels Sevenson, Hans Jacobson, Olus Johnson, and Sven Nilson.

For more information and a complete listing of families in Leeds Township search Early Western Murray County History by Robert Forrest.


One of the first things the early settlers did was to establish a place of worship. The oldest Lutheran congregation in Murray County, originally known as Beaver Creek Church, is the Hadley Lutheran Church. It served a territory ranging from Lake Shetek on the north, six miles east of Slayton and as far west and south as Chandler and Lake Wilson. From official papers, Leeds Township was the foundation of the Lutheran Church in Murray County. The celebration of the Hadley Lutheran Church 125-year anniversary was held on June 20 and 21, 1998.

Before the church was built, services were held at the homes of the settlers. Pastor L. Lund , the first minister, made regular trips to Hadley, coming every five months from Westbrook, driving a yoke of oxen attached to a wagon. The first church was erected in 1880, 20 X 28, at a cost of $200.00. Lots to build the church on were donated by the railroad. In 1908 a new building was erected. In 1939 the congregation changed the name from Trinity Lutheran Church to Hadley Lutheran. Claus Clauson donated one acre of land to the church in 1873 for a cemetery. The cemetery is located on the north edge of Hadley and is called Highland Cemetery.


The Scandinavians in Leeds Township knew that education and learning the English language were essential. The first school was held in the winter of 1874, when Miss. Ida Peterson went from home to home, spending a week at each place. She received one dollar a week, sometimes less, and her board. The first school house was built at the Claus Clauson farm in 1878. In 1880, one team of horses and one yoke of oxen hauled the schoolhouse to Hadley. It was 12 X 14 and had 34 pupils. The school term was three months.


 The second school was built in 1887. The third school built in 1903 was a two story building, 40 X 30. Hadley's School District Number 21 was consolidation in 1955 with Slayton, and the building was torn down in 1963. Laurie Mahon's Memorial ball field is located on the site of the old school.


Baseball was organized in Hadley in 1882, which is one of the earliest baseball teams organized in the State of Minnesota. Baseball masks, catchers mitts, and pads were unknown at that time. No town the size of Hadley can equal the winning record over the years of the Hadley Buttermakers. The team received its name "Buttermakers" from the occupation of churning butter at the Hadley Creamery.


Members of the 1998 Hadley Buttermakers team are Scott Sawatzky, Brennan Winter, Ted Johnson, Jim Andrews, Jon Bloemendaal, Adams Beers, Luke Beers, Terry Kirchner, Paul Sanow, James Wajer, T.J. Gertsema, T.J. Schmidt, Mark Clauson, Manager Myron Bennett, Bat Boy Briclyn Johnson and Bat Girl Jennifer Krant.

Hadley Creamery

One of the most important establishment was the Hadley Co-operative creamery, which was organized by farmers and Hadley businessmen in 1905. At one time Hadley had the largest creamery in Southwest Minnesota. The creamery was built on land donated by Alex Lowe. Gus Block was the first butter maker. The first batch of butter churned in the new creamery amounted to 628 pounds. It was called Hadley Gilt Edged Butter. A new modern brick creamery was built in 1922 on the shore of Summit Lake. Due to an increase demand and business, the creamery installed a buttermilk dryer, locker plant and egg buying station. By 1946, the creamery had manufactured 26,650,000 pounds of butter and paid producers over $8,250.000, including interest. In the middle 1960's the Hadley Co-operative Creamery went out of business. In 1967 the building was purchased by the Hadley Sportsman Club and made available for different community functions. Today the building is a private home.

Notes of Interest

Hadley, at one time, had a livery stable, butcher shop, hotel, bank, creamery, elevator, dray line, doctor, two grocery stores, hardware store, John Deere implement shop, lumber yard, saloon, garage, blacksmith shop, town hall, and sometimes one or two restaurants.


 The oldest family business in Hadley was Clauson Well Co. founded in 1900 by B.O. Clauson. The next owners were Richard and Allan Clauson. The business closed in 1995.

A.C. Dale started the blacksmith shop in 1882.

B.H. Larson founded the Hadley Lumber Co. in 1904. Ruttolf Larson, B.H's son, took over the lumberyard and then sold it to Russell Gamble. In 1962 a fire destroyed the lumberyard. A gas station and auto repair business was established on the site of the old lumberyard until 1974, when it became the location of Hadley steel.


The State Bank of Hadley opened in 1916 with $16,000 in stock. The first bank robbery in Murray County took place at the Hadley Bank December 20, 1923. Three men were arrested in Mankato, but later acquitted. The bank operated until 1932 when it closed, along with other banks and businesses in the great wave of the depression.

A jail was built in 1904 and was used once. It was later used for village and township meetings and elections 

Hadley was the starting place for the George Lowe Road Construction Company and, also, Rupp Construction Company.

Carl Clauson started Hadley Motor CO. in 1919. They sold Essex Terraplane and Hudson cars.

Electric lights came to Hadley in 1919.

Hadley had the first brass band in Murray County.

 In the early 1940's, Mrs. Elizabeth Bishir was the first woman mayor in the State of Minnesota.

Hadley has sent four men to the State Legislative; Herman Nelson, John G. Johnson, Alex Lowe, and Trigg Knutson.

1998 Hadley Businesses

Hadley Farmers Co-op Elevator purchased the Hubbard and Palmer Elevator in 1914 and was organized as a cooperative elevator. This local elevator provides the area farmers a place to buy, sell, and store gain.

Hadley Steel is owned by Brent Johnson and James Sorenson and has been in business since 1974. They are builders of gain storage and drying equipment. They employ between 15 and 25 workers.

The Hadley Community Center was built in 1991 and is attached to the Liquor Store. Organizations, groups, and the public use the Center to hold meetings, banquets, and private parities.

In the 1970's the railroad company made the decision to abandon the railroad lines in Murray County, due to the changing times. Today the tracks have been ripped up and hauled away leaving no sign of what once was. Hadley, like so many other farming communities created by the railroads in the 1870's never had a large economical growth to encourage others to come into the community or to provide jobs for the youth to stay. Today, Hadley is a community that has maintained a strong religious background, a desire for education, a respect for the land, and the love of baseball.

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