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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Gray's history of Crookston continues: 'Legendary Locals' of Crookston and antique quilts at the Carnegie

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  •     I need help because I am writing another book about “Legendary Locals of Crookston” to be launched before the All Schools Class reunions end of June of 2014. I have about 93 people on my short list; I need at least 100 “important” individuals from the town of Crookston.  I really must have the assistance from the Crookston community to find more information on certain individuals that are NOT in the archives of the Polk County Historical Society. To satisfy the high standards of the Arcadia publisher,  I also need original, black and white photos that were ideally taken by professionals. Sadly, we have a dearth of good photos. It would seem that we will be regretting the ease of easy snapshots when we realize that the groups and individuals not captured by quality black and white photos just do not exist.  That is why I feel it is important to document in this new book people and groups of individuals who were legendary in Crookston.   
        For now, I have 13 people in mind for a chapter on the founding families of Crookston. These were the early pioneers who I didn’t write about in my last publication titled “Images of America: Crookston.”  Unfortunately, Bernhard Sampson will not qualify for this new 128 page book with Arcadia publishers. I’ve already written enough about him. Instead I need to find out more about Mr. Jerome from Jerome’s addition.  I’m still curious about Sam Rosenthal, Sr. and his co-partner Harry Falk (C.O.D. clothing store), and also Louis Fontaine and his sons. Indeed, the Chesterman name is almost as confusing as Kiewel’s name because there was a mayor, photographer, undertaker who were all Chestermans. Others in this section include Judge William Watts, Darkow (hatchery), Sen. A.D. Stephens, Ben Capistran (farmer, horse racer and trainer), Charles Mix, Peter Eide, James E. Greenhalgh (took a lawsuit to the Supreme Court against railroad baron James J. Hill)   
        There is no end of unsung heroes who currently live or have lived in Crookston. I have had the help of other Crookstonites who are “in-the-know” to list a few of the 14 people on my list, who else should be included?  I also need photos of the following: Aunt Polly (Carlton), Carl G. Ash, Eleanor Maves (Ice Follies), Mrs. Henreitta Holte (early pioneer with large collection of American Indian artifacts). Who was most influential in their leadership during the floods of 1950 or 1997?   
        Five politicians are on my list, but I would like to know more anecdotes about these individuals.  My criteria is that I’m looking for longevity and also to find out what these people contributed to help pass certain laws or create policies for the improvement or betterment of Crookston: R.T. Buckler, Mayor Kirkwood (municipal airport), Harold Hagen. Who else?   
    Page 2 of 4 -     So far I have 12 people who are on my list of business leaders and entrepreneurs. Rest assured the legendary Widman family will definitely be in this book. However, I need photos and anecdotes about Clark Dahlgren and Lyle Kiel (sunflowers), Bill Kiewel KROX radio, Hiller (Grand Theater), Russ Sundet (Hobby Shop), Peter Heydt (bowling alley), N.P. Stone (implement dealership), Strander (abstract company). If other candidates are proposed, it may mean I will change my existing list but it especially helps if I get good black and white studio photos done by professionals.
    I can think of five legendary musicians and artists.  Yes, T.W. Thorson is at the top of my list. What a legend Thorson was in the Crookston community with the Northwest Singers and everything else he was involved in. Of course more recently, the legendary Marcoux Corner quartet will be included.  What about piano teacher Sister Carmella, who took lessons from her? There should be really good photos of Cindee and Dean Brown in community theater, who is willing to lend them to me to scan?   
        There’s a plethora of photos of the 12 educators I have chosen. However, please suggest your candidates to me. Should I include Faculty Frolics at the Crookston Tech in the 1970s, if so, I need photos? I would LOVE to have a photo of Mil Sahlstrom from that era.   
        I have found four who qualify as innovators (scientists, inventors, high tech professionals), but who else should be added and can you supply the photos to go with your suggestion? William Olds (sold bikes then created Crookston’s first car), Gust Swenson (legendary welder), Milton Orville Thompson (NASA scientist), Albert O. Espe (local implement inventor)   
        I am proposing six sports legends from Crookston but I am unsure about who they should be. Was their some Crookstonite who competed in the Olympics? Did someone else from Crookston go to the North Pole or was it the South Pole? I want to find out more about Ed Widseth since the football stadium named after him sits south of the UMC campus. What anecdotes can you tell about Herschel Lysaker (football coach), and someone else suggested Wes Westrum (football?) Any famous baseball players who originated from Crookston?    
        Only one person comes to mind as a spiritual leader in the Crookston community.  Could this be because in the past ministers often moved on to another congregation or parish after only a few years in one community?  Is there any leader within the Catholic faith, besides the legendary Bishop Corbett of whom I already wrote on in the first Crookston book?  It should be someone who stayed in the Crookston area for a time to make their impact and presence known.
    Page 3 of 4 -     Does Crookston have any famous criminals or mobsters?  That is something I almost don’t want to highlight or focus on, one comes to mind but I’d rather not write about it since he is still on death row. I’d rather write and research about first responders to emergencies and I have two in mind for that topic.     
        Crookston has had their share of doctors and lawyers and the following are names that have been offered: Dr. Halvor Holte (started Bethesda Hospital), Halvor Steenerson, Dr. Oppegaard, Dr. Mercil. I need photos of the latter two doctors. I have nine people who might be considered champions of the Crookston community: Bruno Jurchen (historical society), Miss Lommen (early librarian), Herman F. Skyberg (U of M board of regent), and Walter Ross (did he push for the sugar beet factory?). Who else might you suggest they might already be on my list?
        Finally, there are at least two famous military persons: Andrew J. Kelley (early settler who fought in the Civil War), Nels T. Wold (Congressional Medal of Honor winner from WWI). Some of you may have remembered reading several articles I labored over this summer about Nels T. Wold. By the way, due to the urgent requests of a few of my avid readers, I will be selling a 54 page booklet, a compilation of 25 of my historical articles about Crookston. This booklet will supplement the “Images of America: Crookston” book and is text only with no pictures and uses articles I have written this past year in the Crookston Daily Times. Some people who bought the first Crookston book wanted to read more of the text that I had worked on this summer.  If you come to the Splash Park Fundraiser at the Eagles on Oct. 1st, Tuesday evening from 4 to 9, the booklets will be on display and for sale for $8.    
        For those of you who want to meet up with me to hand over whatever photos I can scan for the next Crookston book, a good place will be on the subsequent Tuesdays and Fridays of October when we will have antique quilts on display at the former Carnegie library. If you want to share a story or two of the people I have mentioned, I will be at the library from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.    
        In October we are showcasing exhibits of the Red Cross quilt with over 350 names embroidered on it.  Come see the lovely antique quilts and crazy quilts donated to the Polk County Historical Society. You might even have a quilt you would want to donate to put on display. Come learn from others’ who have warm stories to tell about their favorite quilts. You may want to listen on Friday, October 18th to the reading of “Grandy’s Quilt” written by Renee Rongen.  We will also feature an experienced quilter, my high school classmate, Charlotte Arneson Peterson. Charlotte will talk through a “bed turning” program, showing off 20 different quilts and their history on Friday, October 25th.   
    Page 4 of 4 -     The Polk County Historical Society has never done anything like this event before. If this is successful, we hope to show off our American Indian artifacts in November.  Also, people can bring their own artifacts to show and tell. In December, we will focus on the antique children’s toys we have housed at the Polk County museum.

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