What was it like to grow up in the Sand Lake area? That was the question I had when I drove toward the home of Irene Dombrock. Irene has spent all her life within a few miles of Sand Lake. Sand Lake is 187acres with a maximum depth of 58 feet, stocked with northern, walleye, bass and pan fish, located in the northwest corner of Osceola Township. During the 1950’s and 60’s it had a great swimming beach on the west side, by the 1970’s, swimming was better on the east side.


I visited Irene in the home where she grew up with her Aunt Ella (Lidbom) Lofdahl and Uncle Andrew Lofdahl, whose nick-name was Smith.

Irene’s maternal grandparents, Ole and Martha Wing left Norway with their children and settled in Osceola Township. Irene’s mother, Clara, was born here and attended Godfry School. Nels Lidbom was a fellow student and love blossomed between them and after graduation they married.


Nels’s parents were Gabriel and Bertha (Frank) Lidbom. The Lidbom’s had migrated from Sweden. Gabriel had been a shoemaker in Sweden and Bertha was a candy maker. They came with nothing and life was not easy trying to farm the poor land.  The Wing family and the Lidbom family were early members of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Dresser.


Francis Irene was born to Clara and Nels in the year of the great influenza which struck all in the family. Irene’s mother succumbed to it ten weeks after Irene was born. The traveling minister thought that she should have her mother’s name so she was baptized Irene Clara the same day as her mother’s funeral, both taking place in their home.


Nels was left with three small children and a baby plus the farm work, his sister, Ella and her husband Andrew Lofdahl did not have children. Ella and Andrew took care of and eventual adopted of Irene Clara.


The Lofdahl’s first built a log cabin. In 1900 they built the house that Irene now shares with her daughter and son-in-law. The Lofdahl family attended Bethesda Lutheran Church at Sand Lake where Irene married Ralph David Dombrock (Ike) in a large wedding officiated by Adolph Serenius. A reception was held at the Osceola Hotel for about 200 guests. Ike and Irene have one daughter, two grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.






Mable Anderson, daughter of Aleck and Hannah Johansson married Emil Dombrock and lived in a brick house by Horse Lake (Osceola Township, three miles south of Sand Lake). Most of the Dombrock’s had brick houses because they worked in their cousin’s, Ed Brick Yard. The Bethesda Lutheran Church is built with the bricks from the Dombrock Brick Yard. The Brickyard was about a mile north of the present Wal-Mart. The Polk County Museum has a nice display of the Brick Yard in the lower level of the museum. It was located about two miles north of Wal-Mart. The Brick Yard is no longer there but the land is still in the Dombrock name.


Mable and Emil had three children: Leon, who was in World War II, Ralph (Ike), and Lorene. Under Ike’s picture in the 1936 St. Croix Falls yearbook, it describes him, “Everybody’s Friend and No Man’s Enemy, He’s True Blue.” He lived this in his school years and all his life. Irene wrote the following about her husband:  “Sports was so very important in Ike’s life. In school he was in baseball, football, basketball and tract. After school, he joined the town teams in kitten ball and baseball. He later took up bowling and horseshoe. He was a good competitor.


Ike worked in several feed mills locally: Dresser Feed Mill, Northern Supply at Nye and Wonderoos. He purchased a portable feed mill and operated it for five years. Ike retired at age 65 from his job at Trap Rock, Dresser.


Ike help maintain the Bethesda Church Cemeteries most his life, first helping his father, Emil and when his father became sick, Ike took over the caretaker job which he kept for 30 years. Bethesda Church was an important part of Ike’s life, serving on the board for several years and custodian in the 60’s & 70’s.”


Bethesda Church was the center of the community and the Fourth of July celebration was one of the biggest events.  It was announced in the Standard Press and attended by hundreds of people. The menu was always chicken with all the trimmings. There was a pavilion which held the stoves, the woman worked hard peeling and boiling the potatoes and roasting the chicken. Pie was a must for dessert. Don Carlson, the butter maker brought the large container of ice cream, wrapped so that it would stay froze all day. The highlight of the event was the fireworks which were set off from a raft on the lake until one time the whole raft exploded at once and he never brought fireworks again.