Cottonwood County MN History--Midway Twp. and the Village of Mountain Lake

Midway Twp. and the Village of Mountain Lake
Cottonwood County, Minnesota

Midway township is the central sub-division of the county, on the eastern border, and comprises all of congressional township 106, range 34 west. It is south of Selma township, west of the line between Cottonwood and Watonwan counties, and north of Mountain Lake township. The village of Mountain Lake is within this township and was named "Midway," but later changed on petition of the citizens. Originally, this township had numerous swamps and lakelets, but with the flight of years they have nearly all been reclaimed, and now growing crops wave over their surface. The soil is of unexcelled fertility in these old lake and pond beds. Hundreds of miles of private farm tiling have made this one of the best sections in the county, and still the work is going on.

This township, as are others adjoining it, is largely settled by Russians, who came in to this part of the county in great colonies about 1870 and later. They still retain many of their foreign notions, but are thorough farmers and good citizens. If they have any special hobby it is that of supporting an almost endless number of different kinds of Mennonite churches, which practically are the same, only for some special feature.

The population in 1895 was 528; in 1900 it had reached 607, and according to the United States censiis reports of 1910 it was placed at 658.

This township was organized by the county commissioners board in March, 1895, from territory once included in Mountain Lake township, the new township taking in township 106, range 34, west. The first meeting and township election were called by the board to meet at the house of Cornelius Janzen, March 16, 1895.


The village of Mountain Lake received its name from the lake of the same name, located about two miles southeast of the village. In the center of the lake was an island almost circular in form, flat on top and rising out of the water about forty feet. The upper part of the island was covered with trees which could be seen for many miles. This spot served as a landmark and a guide for many of the early settlers.

Near this lake and island the railroad station was first located. In time the station' was moved to the present site and the name of the village was changed to Midway, but the name proving unsatisfactory, was changed back to Mountain Lake.

The village was platted in 1870, but made little progress until after the building of the railroad in 1873. In this year, three general stores were doing business in the village and were owned by S, J. Soule, J. Lynch and Paul Seeger. The store owned by Seeger was probably the first and was located on the site of the State Bank. The store room was very small, but was quite adequate to the needs of the times. Mr. Seeger came from Cumea (Crimea?), Russia, in 1873, and settled on the first claim in the vicinity of Mountain Lake. He was also among the first postmasters. The first blacksmith was Carl Penner, who later moved away and died in California. Among other early business men in the village were Howard Soule, Jacob Reiner, John Janzen and Abraham Penner.

With the coming of the railroad, immigration set in rapidly and the village grew by leaps and bounds. In 1886 ihe village was incorporated with a population of three hundred people, mostly Mennonites from southern Russia.

Among other business factors in the village have been the following: Jacob Heier, who began the furniture business in 1878 south of the railroad track, settled in Mountain Lake in 1874 and began work as a carpenter. David Ewert, who in 1880 opened a lumber yard and store in partnership with H, P. Goertz, came to the village in 1878. P. H. Goosen, the blacksmith, who came into the village in 1875. H. P. Goertz, one of the very earliest settlers and among the very few living in the town, started business with David Ewert and in 1882 started in the lumber business for himself. He also settled in the village in 1875. Henry Hammer located in the village in 1883 and opened up a harness shop in 1877. Mr. Hammer first settled on a tree claim, eight miles north of the village. Frank Baker entered into the lumber business in 1886 and still operates his place of business. Balzer & Hiebert opened a general store in 1888. Mr. Balzer, the druggist, began the drug business in 1889. John C. Hiebert became a dealer in general merchandise in 1891. Abraham Nickel, the harness man, began business in 1891. Edward Rupp, merchant, began business in 1892. A. E. Woodruff opened a large merchandise store in 1894. Thiessen Brothers began their implement business in 1895 . In 1896 Julien Glasman opened, a new meat market. John Jungas began the opetation of a shoe store in 1897. In 1898 P. P. Goerlzen a jewelry store and was quite successful.

One of the early physicians to locate in the village was Dr. John Watson, a graduate of Bellone Medical College, New York City. He began the practice of medicine in Mountain Lake in 1901.

Among other men who have contributed to the business welfare of the town are, J. D. Schroeder, J. J. Unruh, Theo. Nickel and G. D. Schroeder.

Among other early settlers have been the following: Abraham Funk, 1875; H. Goosen and G. Gerdes in the early seventies; Abraham J. Fast, 1875; Henry J. Fast, 1875; Gerhard Neufeld, 1878; Jacob P. Harder, 1873; John Janzen, 1873; Henry Dicktnan and Peter Dick (Krim).


The village of Mountain Lake became separated from the township in 1886. A. Penner was the first president of the town council and John Janzen, the first recorder. The present officers are inclusive of the following: President, J. H. Dickman; treasurer, F. F. Schroeder; recorder, M. S. Hanson; trustees, John Jungas, D. Heppner and A. Janzen; marshal, William Burk; justices, Herman Teichroew and John P. ReMpel; constables, J. J. Brown and W. Burk; assessor, Herman Teichroew.

The town is very active in the way of improvements. Twenty thousand dollars have been spent in installing a water-works system.' The town is furnished with water from a drilled well four hundred and fifty feet deep, three hundred feet of which is drilled through solid rock.

The postoffice at Mountain Lake was one of the first government offices established in the county and at the present time its receipts are the second largest in the county, amounting to four thousand three hundred dollars, exclusive of money orders, for the last fiscal year. Four rural routes serve the country people from this office. Among the postmasters who have held the office are the following; Howard Sonler, John Janzen, Abraham Siemens, Joe Wigton, J. D. Schroeder and I. I. Bargen. Mr. Bargen, the present postmaster, has served in the capacity continuously for the last fourteen years and although a Republican, received his last appointment under a Democratic administration.

The Mountain Lake Commercial Club began its existence on March 1, 1915. In the beginning the membership numbered nearly one hundred, but since the number has decreased until there are only about eighty members. The club is composed of business and professional men in Mountain Lake and neighboring communities. A great many public questions have been brought up and discussed at the meetings with the result that a great deal of good has been accomplished. Among the questions have been those of sewerage, roads, a public rest room, etc. The officers who were first elected still retain their offices. They include the following: President, Frank Balzer; vice-president, Henry P. Goertz; secretary, D. G. Hiebert; treasurer, F. F. Schroeder; executive committee, Dr. W. A. Piper, D. C. Baker and A. A. Penner.

The purpose of the club is to bring into one organization, the business and professional men of Mountain Lake and vicinity, so that by frequent meetings and the full interchange of views, they may secure an intelligent unity and harmony of action, that shall result to their own benefit, as well as the future development of the community in which they live.

The Mennonite hospital of Mountain Lake began its existence about 1905. The organization included only local men, among whom were, H. P. Goertz, D. Ewert. J. D. Hiebert, F. Balzer, J. H. Dickman, J. G. Hiebert. For a few years the institution was run without much success. Finally, in 1912, the company was reorganized and the institution sold to the Bethel Deaconess Home, of Newton, Kansas, and is now considered as a branch of it. The hospital is managed by a local hoard consisting of one member from each of the five Mennonite churches. H. P. Goertz is president of the board; D. P. Eitzen, secretary; Aaron Peters, treasurer.

The physicians in charge are Doctor Piper, of Mountain Lake, and Doctor Sogge, of Windom, who are assisted by three sisters and two or three helpers. In 1915 the institution had sixty-four patients and thirty-two operations were performed.

In 1913 the Mountain Lake Milling Company installed an electric light plant which furnishes the town with electricity. However, arrangements have been made whereby connections are to be made with the Rapidan system and hereafter light will be furnished by that concern.

The fire company is composed of fourteen men, well supplied with a fire engine, hose, ladders, chemical tanks and other necessary fire equipment. The present indebtedness of the town is about thirteen thousand dollars.

David Hiebert, who came from Russia, started the Mountain Lake flour-mill in 1875. He conducted the business for a period of ten years of time. He sold to Neufield & Friesen, who after two or three years .sold to Abraham Penner. Mr. Penner was not a miller and therefore was not very successful. He soon sold out to Diedricks & Hiebert, the present owners, who after running the business for four years, formed an incorporated company known as the Mountain Lake Roller Milling Company. The officers at present are: President, J. J. Diedricks; vice-president, J. J. Hiebert; secretary-treasurer, D. G. Hiebert. The company is incorporated for forty thousand dollars. The capacity of the mill is one hundred and twenty barrels per day. Their special brands of flour are "White Rose," a first-grade flour, and "Natural Patent' a second-grade flour. Besides they make rye, graham, wheat graham, corn meal and rye flour. An elevator is run in connection with the mill which has a capacity of ten thousand bushels.

At the time of incorporation, an electric plant was installed in connection with the mill and was very successful. Recently, however, an oppornity presented itself of securing better service by connection with the Consumers Power Company. The Milling Company, has just entered into a ten-year contract with the above company, service to begin on October 1, 1916. The Milling Company continues to distribute light and power.

The Farmers Co-operative Creamery at Mountain Lake was organized about June 1, 1908. The company owns their own building, which was built especially for the purpose and is doubtless the best an
Mountain Lake has been very fortunate in not having many destrictive fires. In 1897 the elevators belonging to H. P. Goertz and E. Q. Terwilliger were burned, causing a loss of six thousand dollars. It was the general belief at the time that the fire was of incendiary origin, but it was never proven.

In 1900 the creamery owned by P. C. Hiebert burned, causing a loss of four thousand dollars, covered by insurance to the extent of two thousand dollars.

On April 13, 1898, the Hubbard & Palmer elevator burned, causing a loss of six thousand dollars. Seven thousand bushels of wheat were destroyed.

Hiebert Brothers' elevator was burned on January 30, 1899. At the same time an attempt was made to burn the elevator belonging to Hubbard & Palmer. All the losses were covered by insurance.