Minnesota History Excursions: Hammond

A few years back, at the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly, the worship service began with a land acknowledgement to honor the lives and histories of Indigenous people. Moving forward, I'll be including an adaptation of that prayer at the beginning of all posts that involve southeastern Minnesota history.

Creator of all peoples, we thank you for the Dakota and Ojibwe people who once called this land their home. We offer our respect to their ancestors who may be buried in this land. Creator of all peoples, comfort those whose history on this land is a story of hurt or pain. Guide and inspire us all who work towards a future of unity, reconciliation, and peace. With thankful and respectful hearts, we pray. Amen. - A prayer composed for the 2018 Southeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly

Justin and I left Olmsted County last Thursday night, so that means instead of an "Olmsted County Adventure," we took a "Minnesota History Excursion"! Destination: Hammond, Minnesota in Wabasha County. Just a short jaunt away! We ended up doing a little drive around the southeastern corner of Wabasha County and visiting Hammond, Jarrett, Millville, West Albany, Zumbro Falls, and South Troy. It was a very lovely night for a drive through the countryside. 

First stop (and the only town we actually stopped in): Hammond. Hammond was named after Joseph Hammond who was the first to till the land on which Hammond now resides. Mr. Hammond's obituary from the Rochester Post on December 27, 1895: 

The Oldest Pioneer.

Joseph Hammond passed to the eternal beyond Monday morning. He was one of the first to settle in
western Wabasha county, and up to a few months ago lived, with his wife, in the village which justly bears his name. Many years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Hammond erected a cabin, which still stands, and tilled the land on which now lies the village of Hammond.

He was about ninety-three years of age and for a number of years has been in feeble health, caused by his advanced age. From the time of his settling until last summer they had been constant dwellers on the old homestead, but then Mrs. Hammond was taken with a stroke of paralysis, and it was deemed best to remove them to the home of their only child, Mrs. Eugene Adams, where they would receive the proper care if anything should happen. During their residence in Hammond they were well looked after by the citizens and were highly esteemed as all of their age should be.

One by one the old settlers are called away and with them go many tales which would add greatly to the
county's history. Mr. Hammond was probably the oldest of the surviving settlers. The funeral was held Wednesday.

Below is a view of Hammond in yesteryear. The church in the middle, far-right is still there. There are a lot more trees now, and a lot fewer houses. There was a very serious flood in Hammond in 2010 that temporarily displaced most of the town's residents. 

Here's an aerial photo taken in September 2010 after the destructive flash flooding. Heart-breaking. 

 When we were there earlier this week, we drove through town and stopped at the Catholic cemetery on the east side of town. While there, I noticed a gravestone with the last name Maldoon.

There were no first names on or around the stone, but I'd seen the last name in several accounts of early Hammond history. I did a little digging and discovered a roster of graves at the St. Clement's Catholic Cemetery. As you can see, #89 refers to the gravestone seen above and two names are written beside it along with the word "probably." 

I quickly became very intrigued at the life and stories of Mrs. Minta [York] Maldoon and Mr. James Michael Maldoon!

Mr. Maldoon was born in Ireland in 1848 to his parents, Michael and Mary. The spelling of the last name at that time was Muldoon. Michael grew up in Lyons, Iowa, and moved to Hammond in the 1870s. He married Minta York in 1887. 

Source: Ancestry.com

Minta was one of the daughters of Edward M. & Mary [Sinclair] York. They were from Maine and had settled in the area that became Hammond around 1855. They had 9 children, and Minta was one of them. 

Mr. Maldoon eventually managed the bank in town as well as the hardware store and the grain elevator (as well as several other properties). After James died, Minta continued on at the bank. Mr. Maldoon died in December 1914. His obituary was included in the January 4, 1915 edition of The Irish Standard. It was also included in the December 24, 1914 edition of the Wabasha County Herald

After James died, Minta continued on at the bank. As I was reading old newspaper clippings that mentioned her, I noticed that she also did a fair amount of traveling. Then suddenly, around 1918, the clippings started to mention Minta's daughter, Mary. As it turns out, after James died, Minta adopted a 19-month-old little girl. Minta was about 58 at the time. She legally adopted her as a single parent, and she named her Mary. The official documentation is included in the September 20, 1917 edition of the Wabasha County Herald. 

Minta's full name was Cecilia Malinda "Minta" Maldoon/Muldoon. She died February 3, 1941 at the age of 82. Her daughter, Mary, was about 25 at the time. She became a Navy Nurse and served in World War II.  Mary married to Richard Chandler Smith. Mary died in 2007 and Richard in 2012. They were married for 62 years and are buried the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville, Missouri. 

Source: Ancestry.com

It has been fascinating to learn about the Maldoon/Muldoon family. Many questions remain! I would love to know more of Mary's story! I'm also interested in Minta's last 15 years; I've been unable to find any references to her cause of death, and I was also unable to find an obituary for either Minta or Mary. 

There's much more to learn and explore in Hammond, so hopefully we'll get back somewhere along the way! In the meantime, I feel grateful for this adventure and the stories it led us to learn.

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