Part seven of a series (part six published a year ago in February 2022)
Houston County and Fillmore County were established, broken off from Wabasha County in 1854. An 1882 history of Houston County reviewed some newsworthy events in the county during its first three decades. For additional historical perspective, the following – except for editorial notations in parentheses – is quoted with the original spelling and punctuation. These entries reflect some of the “breaking news” and observations from the year 1877.
The Year 1877 (continued)
There were then three newspapers, with 1,200 aggregate circulation, and one bank.
In the spring, the magnificent church at Spring Grove was completed, it could be seen for miles around.
The silver wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Fred. Gluck took place on the 7th of February, at their home in Brownsville. It was an immense time, a regular old settlers gathering.
In June there was a four days session of a musical convention in Hokah, conducted by Prof. H. S. Perkins, of Chicago; Mrs. Mollie S. Tyler assisted as pianist.
The glorious 4th was celebrated Caledonia in the time honored way. S. W. Walker was Chief marshal; E. W. Trask, President of the day; W. M. Bowdish, Chaplain; Capt. W. H. Harries, Orator; and Prof. W. D. Belden, Reader.
On the 18th of August, Miss Honorah Mead, in Caledonia was fatally burned by her clothing taking fire at the house of Mr. Russell.
An accident occurred on the Southern Minnesota Railroad east of Hokah, on the 27th of August, caused by a landslide. The fireman, Daniel Gates, was killed.
On Tuesday, the 28th of August, the citizens of Caledonia voted on the proposition to raise a special tax of $3,000 to sink an artesian well in the village, which was rejected.
At 2 o’clock on the morning of October 14th, a fire was discovered in the rear portion of E. P. Dorival’s store, which was the commencement of what proved to be an extensive conflagration for Caledonia. The building occupied by Hart & Norton, was soon in flames, a building occupied by Dr. McKenna, and owned by Thomas Ryan, were torn down to stop the spread of the fire in that direction, which, however, proved unavailing, as the next building to be lapped up was the Journal building, occupied by the photograph gallery of D. W. Webb. The printing material was removed in front as the fire entered the rear.
Next came the post-office building, occupied above as a law office by O’Brien, the owner, and his partner, Smalley. With the post office the fire stopped in that direction.
On Main street the fire destroyed E. P. Dorival’s old store building, filled with goods, Thomas Ryan’s boot and shoe store, and the west wing of Crogan’s building. The whole destruction was accomplished in less than two hours.
There was some insurance, but only partially covering the value of the property destroyed. (ditor’s note: The history listed estimated individual financial losses of eight businesses, totaling $15,000, which had the approximate purchasing power of $444,000 in 2023.)
On Monday, October 8th, during a quarrel in the store and saloon of Mr. Shipsted, in Houston, between one Carlson and another named Benson, the latter drew a pistol and struck forcibly on the counter as a menace, when it was discharged, the ball passing through the body of Randall Kane, who died the next day leaving a wife and child to mourn his sad end.
For the year ending November 30th, the number of marriages, divorces, and naturalizations in Houston County, was as follows: Marriages, 87; Divorces, 3; Naturalizations – Norwegians, 25; German, 18; Irish 6; French, 3; others, 2: total, 52.
On Monday night of the 10th of September, the Post-office in Caledonia was entered and robbed of pennies and small change to the amount of $8.
In October, a brakemen named Daniel Vann was killed at Hokah while coupling cars.
Early in December, a Reading room was established in Caledonia, and it flourished for a time as a valuable institution.
In Sheldon, on the 16th of December, William Phelps, a young man about 17 years of age, a son of John Phelps, was fearfully burned by the explosion of a can of powder which blew out one side of the house.
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