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.


Olmsted County Adventures: Haverhill


This evening, we headed to Haverhill!

Haverhill is now a township in Olmsted County. I recently purchased a DeLorme Minnesota Atlas. As I was surveying Olmsted County this afternoon, I noticed just east of Rochester the "Haverhill WMA" (Wildlife Management Area). So that's where we headed this evening just before sunset! Silver Creek runs through the area.

The 1885 edition of "History of Olmsted County" has two pages about Haverhill. It had a few names in its early days: Zumbro, Grant, Shermon, and eventually Haverhill. The first non-native settlers in Haverhill came in 1855.  

Here's the Wildlife Management Area (as well as Justin, Maeve and Finn): 

On our 20-minute ride back home, I said, "Hey, I bet there's a cemetery around here." As it turns out, there was a very small cemetery nearby called Haverhill Cemetery (or Vernon Cemetery). So we stopped. 

Abigail Robinson - died 1865. 

Ezekiel Dennis - Died May 25, 1870. 

There were several stones in a pile with a lot of brush that were pretty hard to read. 

Frank Atwood Burbank died at the age of 12 in 1872. 

Frank's father, M. A. Burbank, was the business manager of one of Rochester's early newspapers - the Rochester Record and Union. He was also a teacher for a long time. M. A. = Moses Atwood. His spouse was Serena. They are buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Rochester

Interesting tidbit connecting today's Olmsted County Adventure to yesterday's...

Moses and Serena had several children in addition to Frank, who died at the tender age of 12. One of their daughters was Emma. Emma married Elbert Vine (of the Viola Vine family!). Elbert's parents were Wendell/Wandell and Henrietta! Elbert's grandparents were Lydia and Henry! Wendall/Wandall is the fellow who hosted the original Viola Gopher Count and then served lemonade. 

Small world, eh? 

It is humbling and grounding and good to be connecting more deeply with the history of Olmsted County. I'm grateful to be here now and thankful for access to so many books and resources that give context to this place and the people who have called it home. 


Olmsted County Adventures: Viola

The blog is back: Holy Everything returns! I can't say for how long, of course. A day - a week - a year? All I can say for certain is that, at least for today, the party has recommenced after about a 6-year hiatus. How shall I summarize the last 6 years? In a word: gratitude. 
  • Husband: Justin (a woodworker who started his own business 2 years ago)
  • Dogs: Maeve (almost 1) and Finn (7)
  • Employment: Pastor; currently called to serve on the staffs of the ELCA & Southeastern MN Synod
  • Post-Bulletin Column: It's still going every Saturday! 10 year anniversary this month!
  • Hobbies: Gardening, Houseplants, Reading, Adventures, Scandinavian sci-fi television series
Periodically I find myself returning to old archives of this blog as a way to find old photos or remember more details about an adventure. I have better notes and photos here than anywhere else! Blogs were so handy before things like Facebook and Instagram were popular. This daily blog, for about 4-5 years, served as a digital scrapbook. 

I'm not sure what it will be like moving forward. Maybe I'll post today and not again for another 6 years. Or maybe this can be a place to share poems and essays. Let's see. 

For my job as the Director for Evangelical Mission for the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, I'm in a different congregation most Sundays. A few months back I started weaving a brief "history nugget" into most sermons - some story about the community or congregation from decades ago. One of the main sources I've used is the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub. A multitude of old newspapers have been catalogued and are searchable. 

The more I've learned about Minnesota history, the more I want to know! 

I am especially curious to expand my understanding of the Indigenous history of the state. A difficult and tragic aspect of many of the published state and county histories of the region is that there is often no mention of Indigenous peoples and histories in the texts, and when it is included, it is usually egregiously incorrect and highly offensive. If you have recommendations of resources that highlight the Indigenous tribes, people and histories of the state of Minnesota, please leave a comment. Thanks! 

Another challenge: voices and histories of women are mostly absent as well. There are stories to uncover, no doubt, but it requires more digging. 

Coinciding with my recent interest in history has been a growing fondness for maps! I know,  I know...how did I make it to 38 without using maps or caring about them!? Alas, better late than never. I still like my phone GPS, but I do feel a deepened connection to "place" when I use a map, and that, for whatever reason, feels meaningful. 

When digging into history, sometimes its useful to start close to home; hence, "Olmsted County Adventures." My mom and I recently visited Viola Township in Olmsted County. Prior to visiting, I read about Viola in "Minnesota's Lost Towns: Southern Edition" (2016) by Rhonda Fochs as well as "History of Olmsted County" (1883) by the Olmsted County Historical Society. 

There are a variety of routes one could take to get from Rochester to Viola. We traveled north through town and then took Viola Road all the way. 

Upon arrival, we parked and took note of the Town Hall, a lovely city park with new equipment, a church and some historical markers! I was keenly excited to learn about what is the country's 2nd oldest, continuous town festival: the Viola Gopher Count which takes place every year in June. 2021 was the 147th annual (it started back in 1874)! Side note: the oldest, continuous festival in the United States is the Kentucky Derby. 

Here's an old article from a 1895 edition of the Rochester Post inviting people to come on over to Viola!

After learning about the annual gopher party, seeing the church, walking over to the nearby flower garden, and taking some photos outside city hall, we traveled about a mile out of town to the Oak Hill Cemetery. 

After having read a fair amount of Viola history, I was looking forward to seeing where some of the earliest community members had been laid to rest. 

Quite a number of young men from Viola died in the Civil War. In History of Olmsted County,  it is mentioned that 30 young men volunteered. Of those 30, nearly all of them died. One was Henry Bowers. Another was David Ketchum. His wife, Myrenda, died shortly before the war.

Mr. Carl Bierbaum is buried at Oak Hill. He is attributed with being the first white settler in Viola. He came up from Iowa in the spring if 1854 with some oxen, a wagon, a 22-inch plow, provisions for a few months and some blacksmiths' tools. 

The Vine family has deep roots in Viola. In fact, W. Vine hosted the first gopher count in his barn (with a side of lemonade for everyone). One member of the Vine family named Lydia lived to be 104! She was interviewed for "The Post and Record" in 1906 (a few years before her death).  Here's a portion of it: 


Mrs. Vine's mind is rich in reminiscences of her early life and she can talk continuously of the past. When asked in regard to her health, replied "I enjoy good health. I suffer no aches or pains. Why I live I don't know and probably will never know in this world. I don't like to think of it as it makes me feel queer to think I am so different from others. When I awake in the morning I think 'here am, an old woman, others who were my friends have been at rest in their graves for years.' What purpose the Lord has for prolonging my life is a mystery to me. I don't like to think of it."

Mrs. Vine visits her relatives and often spends a week at the home of her youngest daughter, Mrs. William Williams. Last fall she visited her grandson, Sheriff Vine of Rochester.

She is interested in the financial affairs of her children and grandchildren. She inquires in regard to the number of lambs and hogs they have. She has a good appetite and eats three good meals a day. She has always dressed and undressed herself until last fall. She is now in the special care of her granddaughter, Mrs. Nellie Smith, who has taught the primary department of the village school for ten years. No one else can make her bed or put her soap stone in but Nellie. Grandma waits impatiently for her return from school and when detained always asks what makes her so late. She often wishes the Lord had taken her when she was one hundred years of age.

She has always taken great comfort in reading the Bible until about eight years ago when her eyes failed. She says she doesn't miss her hearing so much, but if she could only see so that she could walk around the time would not seem so long.

Lydia Grunnell was born in New York, Sept. 16, 1803. She married Henry W. Vine in 1824. Nine children were born to them, five girls and four boys. There are now living Marian, Gertrude, Wendell, William and Ida. The oldest child is now eighty years of age and the youngest fifty-seven. She has fourteen grand children, thirty-one great-grandchildren and ten great-great-grandchildren.

In 1860 they immigrated to Michigan and in 1863 to Minnesota and settled on a farm in Viola. She has resided here since, and he died in March 17, 1892, at the age of eighty-seven years.

Mrs. Vine has a strong religious character. 

She has always drank strong coffee but never thought tea agrees with her. She thinks and studies over her long life.

Mrs. Vine is an early riser. When the family sleeps later than 5 o'clock they hear her call, "are you folks going to lie in bed all day." She has always worked hard and often thinks the rising generation is altogether too slow and putter around about too many things instead of getting something done as she used to do. 

She can remember the war of 1812 and many events connected with it, and also the Mexican war. Her father was English but she was small when her mother died and does not remember her nationality but thinks she was part French. "I remember my mother. She was a weaver and would have me back of the loom to band her the threads. I had to hand her just the right kind. I was about six years old when she died and left eight children - my brothers and sisters are all dead."

"I remember about the war of 1812. It made a great talk among the neighbors. I nave lived under the administration of all the presidents from Jefferson. I remember when Adams and Van Buren were elected."

Next up: the Butterfields! Cornelius Butterfield (1827-1899) and Sophia Jenkins Butterfield (1836-1922) are both mentioned in the book, History of Olmsted County. They were married in Massachusetts in 1855 (Cornelius was from Farmington, Maine; Sophia was from Boston, Mass). After spending a few years in Ohio, they bought a farm in Viola in 1863. Sophia played organ for ever festival, religious service and funeral in town for many years. She was very beloved. Cornelius was the town clerk for 10 years and then was elected a Minnesota state representative in 1880. Cornelius and Sophia eventually sold their Viola farm and moved to Elgin in 1895. A few years later, Cornelius died. 

Sophia remarried Mr. John James of Eyota. There's a nice article about Sophia published in the Plainview News shortly after her death in 1922. 

Of Sophia Butterfield James, it was written: "Mrs. James was of an unusually sunny disposition, and as she said, "she had a great deal to be thankful for" being blessed with a sound physical constitution. She was very active in church work, having charge of the music, singing and playing, as she delighted to do to the honor of God and to the enjoyment of those who listened. For very many years she served in this capacity in the combined churches of Viola and later in the Elgin M. E. church. She united with the church of-Elgin in March, 1907. Among her many pleasant traits of character was her sociability. She was everybody's friend and could entertain young and old alike with the equal enjoyment to the entertained as to her herself. In the death of Mrs. James we have lost one of God's noble women who has been a great blessing to the day and age in which she lived."

It was a Saturday well-spent exploring Viola and learning about some of the people and places that shaped the community. I look forward to sharing more stories and highlights of Olmsted County Adventures! 


This Week's Column

Good afternoon! I continue to write a weekly column for the Rochester Post-Bulletin (heading into year 9 of weekly column writing). I'm going to begin sharing the column link here on the blog each week for those who are interested. 

This week's column is about RBG and civic engagement.


COVID-19 Resources

Dear Ones,

What a month it has been. I'm working on pulling together a variety of resources related to navigating COVID-19 spiritually, physically and professionally. I'll keep adding to these lists.

Grace and peace,

Post-Bulletin "Holy Everything" Columns Related to Pandemic:
  • Be graceful with yourself in uncertain times (link
  • What it means to be a good neighbor (link
Spiritual and Meditation Resources:
  • Blessing in the Chaos by Jan Richardson (link
  • Praise Song for the Pandemic by Christine Valters Paintner (link
  • Resources from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (link
  • Sylvia Boorstein’s Lovingkindness Meditation (link
  • Tara Brach resources (link
  • Resources from "Spirituality and Practice" (link
  • Resource list from the Rochester Meditation Center (link
  • A Litany for Lament (link
  • Fear meditation from Ram Dass (link
  • Three Tips from a Therapist for Calming Your Coronavirus Anxiety (link
  • Leonie Dawson's Quarantine Planner (link
Congregational Leadership and Stewardship-Related Resources:
  • Great resources from SW MN Synod (link
  • Resources from ALDE (link
  • Leadership in the Time of Corona by Joan Garry (link
  • Financial-related resources from the Saint Paul Area Synod (link
For Fun: 
  • Public domain coloring book (link
  • The Cornell Lab birding guide (link
Exercise and Wellness:
  • Core Power Yoga (link


Negativity Bias

Ever heard of negativity bias?

It's a tendency that influences us all and the focus of this week's column:

Post Bulletin link.


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