Cottonwood County MN History--Westbrook Twp. and the Village of Westbrook


Westbrook Twp. and the Village of Westbrook
Cottonwood County, Minnesota



The second township from the county line on the north is Westbrook, which comprises all of congressional township 107, range 38, west. It is bounded on the north by Ann township, on the east by Storden, on the south'by Rose Hill township and on the west by Murray county. Westbrook village is within this civil township and is mentioned at length in this chapter. Originally, the township had many lakes and ponds, with several creeks, most of which water-courses have disappeared from the surface of the county as time has changed the conditions; ditches have been cut, tiling carried on for a number of years and, today, the waste land within the territory is small. The soil is very fertile and produces all the grain and grasses common to this latitude.

The school and churches have ever been prominent factors in the township and those are treated with others of the county in special chapters in this volume.

The population of the township in 1895 was 599; in 1900 it was placed at 688 and in the United States census returns for 1910 it is given as 579.

Westbrook township was organized at the meeting of the county board, September 6, 1870, upon the petition of thirty legal voters in township 107, range 30, west, and township 108, ranges 37 and 38, west, they asking that four congressional townships be organized into one civil township and that it be named Westbrook, and the board of county commissioners ordered it done and called the first election for the township to be held at the house of Morton Engebriztson, Saturday, September 17, 1870, with election judges as follow: John Hanson, John Rotte and Hogan Anderson; the clerk was George W. Walker.

THE VILLAGE OF WESTBROOK.

Westbrook was platted June 8, 1900, by the Inter-State Land Company, in section29, township107, range 38 west.

Westbrook township contained the first settlers of the county, one authority stating that the first settler after the Indian massacre of 1862 was Joseph. F. Bean and next, George B. Walker, followed by otber families settling in Westbrook township. Thus it was that when the Currie branch of Omaha railroad was built through here in 1900, it tapped a magnificent farming region, well settled, rich and productive, the trade of which for maay years was far from market. On nth of July, 1900, the sale of lots was held for the now prosperous town of Westbrook, the buyers wading around in an oats field, which yielded forty bushels per acre, looking for corner stakes. This was the beginning of Westbrook. Previous to this time there had been an effort made to have the town started on what is , now known as the west side, and for a while there was a restaurant, store and several "blind pigs." The present site of the town was the result of a disagreement between the townsite company and Adolph Peterson. At the lot sale the highest price paid was six hundred dollars for the corner lot, now occupied by the First National Bank. The first people on the ground to do business was the L. P. Dolliff Lumber Company, with G. F. Streates as manager, and the Laird-Norton yards, with H. E. Daffer as manager. Sivert Norum had moved a shed from Storden in. which he started a boarding house for the workmen, until he got up the building known as the Commercial Hotel, later occupied by the saloon of John Stitz. This was the first building in town and in addition to keeping boarders, Mr. Norum also sold the first groceries of the town in one room and was also the first postmaster. At that time, before the railroad was built, tie carried the mail, three times a week from Storden.

The nest building was that of J. E. Nelson, the harness man, and about this time the town got busy and was a veritable beehive of all kinds of mechanics.

Schippel & Malschke started their large two-story brick block, twenty-five by one hundred feet, and the State Bank, later the First National, rushed to completion the finest two-story brick and stone building in the town, at a cost of five thousand five hundred and eighty dollars. This bank was organized, December 1, 1900, with an authorized capital of two hundred thousand dollars, twenty-five thousand of which was paid up. The first officers were: President, J. W. Benson, of Heron late; vice-president, B. N. Bodelson, of Dundee; cashier, J. O. Pearson, of Heron lake. Farmers and business men took an active interest in the bank and very soon it was among the strongest in the county.

St. John Brothers were the first in the field with a. first-class store building, forty-six by seventy-two feet, with a storage house thirty by forty feet, all of which was opened for business on September 30. The post-office was moved into this bujlding. January 7, 1901, and M. A. Johnson was appointed postmaster, Mr. Norum having resigned.

Wild & Spaulding built a large two-story frame building/together with a large warehouse for buggies and farm machinery. Other improvements made during the fall of 1900 were the Eridcson two-story building, the Theo. Miller building, later occupied by J. E. Villa; the Dick Needhaus city meat market building, John Holland's saloon, Dorster & Fritsche's two-story implement house, later owned by Peterson & Norum; Silliman Brothers' big store and hall building, J. J- Hubin's furniture store and residence, the building occupied by O'Neill & McCormick's saloon and the building occupied by Rehnelt's pool hall. The city drug store and building was moved here from Dundee by E. F. Fricke.officers were: President, J. W. Benson, of Heron lake; vice-president, B. N. Bodelson, of Dundee; cashier, J. O. Pearson, of Heron lake. Farmers and business men took an active interest in the bank and very soon it was among the strongest in the county.

St. John Brothers were the first in the field with a. first-class store building, forty-six 'by seventy-two feet, with a storage house thirty by forty feet, all of which was opened for business on September 30. The post-office was moved into this bujlding. January 7, 1901, and M. A. Johnson was appointed postmaster, Mr. Norum having resigned.

Wild & Spaulding built a large two-story frame building/together with a large warehouse for buggies and farm machinery. Other improvements made during the fall of 1900 were the Eridcson two-story building, the Theo. Miller building, later occupied by J. E. Vjlla; the Dick Needhaus city . meat market building, John Holland's saloon, Dorster & Fritsche's two-story implement house, later owned by Peterson & Norum; Silliman Brothers' big store and hall building, J. J- Hubin's furniture store and residence, the building occupied by O'Neill & McCormick's saloon and the building occupied by Rehnelt's pool hall. The city drug store and building was moved here from Dundee by E. F. Fricke.

The Kane-Slice Implement Company was the first to engage in the implement business. They constructed a large two-story warehouse, twenty-four by sixty feet, just west of the First National Bank.

Peter Anderson conducted the first livery in the barn to the rear of the hotel. Very soon afterwards Frank G. Myres put in the Westbrook livery and early on the ground with a well equipped blacksmith shop was John Bendixen.

Brown & Roberts had the barber shop, Getty & Green conducted a real estate office, W. G. Owens, attorney, and Dr. C. P. Nelson were the professional men.

At this time Dolliff & Company and Laird-N'orton Company erected mammoth lumber sheds which were necessary in order to keep a sufficient supply of lumber on hands for the numerous buildings that were being constructed. Four large and first-class elevators were put up to meet the demands of the farmers, they being me ones of the St. John Brothers, Hubbard & Palmer, Eenke Brothers and K. Krueger.

Evidently anticipating the rush of business the railroad company put in commodious yards and sidings connecting with the elevator and stockyards, dug a deep well and installed a large water tank and just west of to Bingham Lake.

Schueller & Welter, of Morgan, bought the Commercial Hotel, which was conducted by Frank Scheffert until April, 1902, after which time the town was several months without a hotel. The west side continued to make show for business and J. D. Bevier and family had a restaurant and hoarding house, a small general store and blacksmith shop. There was also a full fledged, "reading room" besides several "restaurants." The county attorney closed the last named places and business on the west side declined until nothing is left except some of the buildings and the Krueger elevator. The west side is now one of the fine resident districts of the town and no longer is there any feeling of separation or distinction from the rest of the town.

Two large ice houses were built, one operated by Chris Hanson for the Westbrook Ice Company and one by Peterson & Carlson.

Up to May, 1901, some sixteen or eighteen residences had been built. B. E. Low was the first to move to town to live as retired farmer, he coming from his farm near Lake Eliza. Johnson Brothers built and occupied the first good residence, later the property of Walter Larson. The homes of J. A. Pearson, Chris Hanson, George Spooner, S. Norum, P. D. Peterson, J: J. Christy, I. C. Freeman, Frank Meyers, W. F. Wenholz, B. E. Low, K. Krueger and Gustav Grams were among the principal residence improvements of the fall and winter of 1900.

INCORPORATION, ETC.

Previous to March, 1901, the village had no officers, and every man was a law unto himself, but at this time incorporation was made, an election held and the first set of officers chosen. They were as follow: Mayor, H. A. Johnson; councilmen, August Wild, W. H. Wenholz, G. A. Schippel; recorder, G, F, Streater; treasurer, J. A. Pearson; justices of peace, George Spooner and D. Needham; constable, D. J. Green; assessor, S. B. Stockwell; I. C. Freeman, marshal; attorney, W. D. Owen. The work oi the first council ior the good of the town will ever stand as a monument to their business sagacity and wise administration. At this time three saloons were licensed, at one thousand .dollars each.

About May 1, P. H. Rupp built a shoe store, F. H. Fricke also put up a small shoe store. Among other improvements was the completion of Doctor Nelson's comer drug store at a cost of two thousand dollars; Schip-pel's two-story brick block, adjoining the First National Bank, in the fall, at a cost of three thousand dollars; Sampson's restaurant, twenty by thirty-six feet, at a cost of five hundred dollars. D. H. Flynn bought and finished the two-story frame building started by John Kaeding. The Sentinel built a home, twenty by forty-eight feet, at a cost of nine hundred dollars. Linschied's two-story building, used as a photograph gallery, constituted the business improvements of the year. The Standard Brewing Company put up a large cold storage house the same year.

In 1902 the Commercial Club was formed and as a result of their hustle the town secured a splendid one hundred barrel flour-mill, costing sixteen thousand dollars. Land for the mil! was secured between Hubbard & Palmer's and Krueger's elevators and the first active work was begun on May 8, by Bert Milligan, who started the mill. Mr. Gress, of the Sleepy Eye Milling Company, was at the head of the new enterprise. The mill was later destroyed by fire, and never rebuilt.

A glance at the village will show that it has been quite active in the way of improvements. In 1902 the town installed a complete water-works system, at a cost of seven thousand dollars. The water is furnished by a well sixty-three feet deep, resting in lake sand. At one time a test was made to ascertain the strength of the well. Water was pumped out at the rate of forty-five gallons per minute, with the result that the water in the well was lowered only twelve feet, after which it was impossible to lower the supply. Water is pumped into a tank holding thirty-five thousand gallons and thereby the town is furnished with an abundance of water.

In January. 1915, an electric plant was put in at a cost of eight thousand dollars. The plant run from about dusk in the evening until midnight. In the way of fire protection, they have an organized fire company of twenty-six men and an ample supply of fire equipment, such as hose, ladders, etc. The town has five miles of cement walks and each year more are added. The order of the town must be pretty good, because no marshall or policeman is on the pay roll and the "lock up" has a deserted appearance.

The presidents that have served the village are herein given in their order of service: M. A. Johnson, C. A. Zieske, D. H. Flynn, I. D. Annis, V. T. Miller, E. C. Soll, O. C. Anderson, J. E. Villa and W. F. Mead.

The present officers are inclusive of the following: President, W. E. Mead; trustees, M. J. Breen, Reinhold Ewy and A. L. N. Christiaason; recorder, Jos Budish.

The Westbrook postoffice was established at about the same time the town was incorporated, Mr. Sivert Norarn being appointed the first postmaster. Other men who have served in the same capacity are Andrew Lorson, M. A. Johnson, Clark W. Seely and John L. Sammwis. The receipts for this office are the largest in the county, with the exception of Windora. Three rural, routes distribute mail through the rural districts from this, office. The receipts for the last fiscal year, exclusive of the money department, amounted to three thousand three hundred and sixty dollars.

On October 1, 1901, a meeting was held in Ancient Order of United Workmen hall for the purpose of organizing a street fair association. William G. Owens was made the temporary chairman. The meeting proceeded to elect officers and the following were chosen; President, William G. Owens; vice-president, M. A. Johnson; secretary, W. B. Leo; treasurer, J. A. Pearson; executive committee, J. E. Villa, Ed. Loomis and J. J. Christy. Six hundred dollars were offered in premiums. The first fair was a success, as were those which, followed. It was estimated that five thousand people attended and enjoyed the features usually found at a county fair, such as the baby show, wild west, merry-go-round, vaudeville, etc.

BUSINESS DIRECTORY FOR 1916.

The business interests of Westbrook in July, 1916, were in charge of. the following:

Auto garage— Federson & Ltidwiekson, E. Paetznick, Grant Ross.
Attorney—John L. Sammons.
Banks—First National, Citizens State.
Barber—Edward Dietchman.
Blacksmith—E. A. Paetznick, James Sorenson.
Clothing—Cohrs & Ewy.
Dray line—John Simning.
Drugs—Walter E. Mead.
Dentist—F. M. Miller.
Elevator—John J. Christy, Farmers Elevator Company, C. Krueger, F. Romke.
Furniture—Hans J. Christianson.
General dealer—George Woodward, Westbrook Co-operative Company.
Grocer-G. A. Scheppel.
Hotel—The Westbrook.
Harness—J. E. Nelson.
Hardware—Footh Brothers, Bengton & Sons.
Ice dealer—John Simning.
Implement dealer—Westbrook Implement Company, R. Ewy.
Jeweler—Theo. J. Arneson.
Lumber dealer—Botsford Lumber Company, L. P. Dolliff & Company.
Livery—John E. Anderson.
Milliner—Anastacia Travel.
Meat market—Falk Brothers.
Motion picture show—The Dixie.
Newspaper—The Sentinel.
Physician—H. A. Schmidt.
Produce dealer—Hansford Produce Company.
Photograph gallery—T. F. Leavitt.
Restaurant—T. P. Anderson.
Real estate—R. L. Eckert Land Company.
Stock dealer—Westbrook Stock Buyers Association, Charles Pasmore.
Veterinary—E. R. Tillisch.
Telephone—Windom Mutual and Northwestern. Westbrook, although in its infancy, impresses a stranger as being the most city-like village in the county. It has wide and well-improved streets, which are clean and unusually well lighted with electric lights. It is one of the very few towns of its size in southern Minnesota that owns its own power and water plant. It can boast of a newspaper that has a wide circulation, a model of its kind and one which does credit to the town and the community. <.br>
Westbrook is a town of beautiful homes and well-kept lawns; a place especially well suited and inviting to the homeseeker, because there is found almost any religious denomination one may seek and a school system that would do credit to a town many times it size. In the western part of town is a park that the town board bought of Whited, the townsite man, a short time after the town was laid out, for the nominal sum of one thousand dollars. The park is not merely a square lot witli a few trees scattered here and thete, but, instead, one sees trees of various species, symetrically placed and of a uniform size. The park is well supplied with inviting seats and chairs and is thoroughly lighted with electric lights. Westbrook's first annual chautauqua, held July 9 to 14, 1916, was held in the park, which made an ideal location. Up to this time there were many people in the village and vicinity who did not realize what a fine place for such a gathering the town has. The chautauqua was a success in every detail.

It has been stated upon good authority that Westbrook has as much business as the other towns on the Currie branch combined, which, if true, we predict that in the next decade she will be second to none in the county as a business center. At the time the townsite was laid out, it was considered the best on the Currie branch, as it was surrounded by a magnificent territory of rich farming lands, which had been settled for many years by thrifty and progressive fanners, many of whom were homesteaders twenty-five to thirty years ago. The location of Westbrook is an admirable one from a business standpoint, speaking geographically. It is on the west side of Cottonwood county, a little over a mile from the Murray county line and is about the center of the county on a north and south line, twenty-eight miles from Windom and has a wide trade territory in every direction.

As an index of growth and improvements in the town from July 11, 1900, to May 1, 1901, one need notice only the assessed valuations. The assessed value of building improvements was forty-four thousand dollars. On May 1, the personal property valuation was seventy-four thousand five hundred and twenty-two dollars. These values did not include real estate.