Photo Friday is back, after a too-long hiatus while I tried to catch up on cataloging a huge backlog of donated artifacts and photos. More about that on Monday.
Today, let's take a look back at a photo donated in 2001 of an earlier Edina. I'm guessing this dates from the 1950s, but you car aficionados may be able to get more specific. (I can't tell a 1958 Oldsmobile from a 1960 Ford, but I know many of you can.)
Any guesses of this photo's location? For those who grew up in southwest Edina, this question is a no-brainer. But the rest of you might have more difficulty, since the area looks (almost) nothing like this today.
Take a good look.
Give up? It's the intersection of Cahill Road and 70th Street, the heart of the Irish Cahill settlement dating from the 1850s.
First settled in the mid-1850s, the Irish Cahill community almost immediately built a church, school and store at this important crossroads. Nearly a century later, the same institutions stood at the same corners (although some in newer buildings.)
Cahill School was built in 1864. Although a modern brick Cahill School was built in 1948, the pioneer era school still was used for kindergarten classes until 1958. The school stood vacant for more than a decade, until it was restored in 1969 and moved to Tupa Park. Today, the Edina Historical Society runs living history programs in the historic building.
Hugh Darcy's son Moses built a general store across the street from Cahill School. Destroyed by fire in 1918, the store was rebuilt on the same site. From 1944 to 1965, retired Edina teacher John Cameron owned what was then called "Cahill Grocery" in the phone book, but was more commonly known as Cameron's Store by neighborhood residents.
St. Patrick's Church, not pictured, served the community at the southwest corner of the intersection. Although the church was also destroyed by fire, the congregation rebuilt a new church at the same corner.
By the 1930s, Protestant families had moved into the predominantly Irish Catholic neighborhood and, by all reports, felt welcome. They held services at Cahill School until they built Calvary Lutheran Church in 1938. Both churches have since moved. The old St. Patrick's church is gone, but Calvary's first church still survives as a single family home and the only reminder of a bygone era.
I like this photo because it shows an important crossroads, both the physical location and the moment in time. By the late 1960s, new retail and housing had transformed the formerly rural landscape forever.
Many people know that the Morningside neighborhood was originally the farm of Jonathan and Eliza Grimes. But few know that the Grimes were not the first owners of the property that lies in northeast Edina. That man was Richard Strout, a land speculator who wanted to create a new community around a mill on Minnehaha Creek. The mill was built in 1857, just as the land values crashed in a nation-wide financial crisis. Guest blogger Fred Johnson, author of the book Suburban Dawn: the Emergence of Richfield, Edina and Bloomington, sheds some light on Edina's "founding father."
By Frederick L. Johnson
Land speculator Richard Strout’s determined attempts to make it big in territorial Minnesota Territory produced decidedly mixed results. Was he a founding father of Edina, a founding failure or perhaps a bit of both?
In May 1857 he earned election as a founding commissioner of the town of Richfield and led a small group of investors who planned establish, in the western part of that village, the flour milling hamlet of Waterville (the future site of Edina).
But the disastrous financial Panic of 1857 destroyed Strout’s plans and his group sold out at a ruinous loss in January 1859. He righted himself when chosen Hennepin County sheriff and won another distinction when selected, at the outset of the Civil War, captain of Company B in the newly-forming Ninth Minnesota Infantry. More misfortune, however, lay ahead.
On August 18, 1862 a new Minnesota civil war broke out when young Dakota men, frustrated by the federal government’s late land treaty payments of cash and food, attacked white settlers and traders living near them in the upper Minnesota River valley.
Bridge Square, 1867. Minnesota Historical Society photo.
For assistance Gov. Alexander Ramsey, bereft of well-trained reserves because of the raging Civil War, called upon Capt. Strout’s Company B. On August 23, the 43-year old officer gathered 40 members of his unit and 20 citizen volunteers at Minneapolis’s Bridge Square.
Ramsey ordered the under-strength, under-trained unit—labeled in one history as “virtually a sheriff’s posse”—to advance west to Forest City (Meeker County) and then south to Glencoe. Strout’s men traveled in nine wagons. Only two men were mounted.
Company B found the prairie “nearly deserted” as they trekked west. The soldiers discovered abandoned homes and evidence of hurried flight, but saw no Dakota or signs of them. Strout reached Glencoe on August 31, pleased to see the community well defended; he then began a return to Minneapolis.
Strout ordered his men to make camp at Acton on the night of September 2. When moving out next morning, the captain reportedly bragged to his soldiers, “All the Indians between us and hell can’t keep us from moving our way through them…”
Little Crow. Minnesota Historical Society photo.
What did stand in Company’s B path were about thirty-five Dakota under the capable leadership of Little Crow and another group of about sixty led by Walker Among Sacred Stones, two miles to the northeast. Shortly after leaving camp, the Indians attacked, trapping Strout’s men between them. Strout ordered Lt. William Clark to launch a bayonet charge and clear the road.
Wagon drivers raced their teams through an opening halting long enough to load wounded. They left the dead behind. The retreat turned into a stampede; soldiers heaved food and equipment from the wagons to reduce weight. Company B suffered three soldiers and one civilian killed in action and another eighteen wounded. Strout and his men fled to Hutchinson.
To many the “Battle of Acton,” as the action came to be called, reflected badly upon Capt. Strout and his men; arguments over their performance raged for decades. Strout stayed in command until March 1864, when he was dismissed from command, tainted by the charge of making a false statement. He did, however, receive an honorable discharge on March 9, 1864.
Richard Strout returned to Minneapolis and later moved with wife Sarah to Emporia, Kansas. He died there in 1899 at age 80.
Richard Strout is listed as the first owner of record on many northeast Edina properties, like this one on Scott Terrace. Because of the financial crisis, Strout's dream of creating the town of Waterville died. He sold the mill and the land that would become the Morningside neighborhood to Jonathan Grimes in 1859. Grimes had no milling experience so he established a partnership with William C. Rheem.
If you think whining kids in the back seat and bumper-to-bumper traffic are unbearable, author Frederick Johnson provides a reality check just in time for your Memorial Day road trip. Our guest blogger has spent many hours at the Edina History Museum with his research for his book Suburban Dawn: the Emergence of Richfield, Edina, and Bloomington. Not only is Fred a great guy (and I'm not just saying that because he's doing my job today - thanks Fred!), he is a talented writer: Suburban Dawn and his previous book Richfield: Minnesota's Oldest Suburb were both honored by the American Association for State and Local History.
Eliza Grimes in her later years
By Frederick Johnson
Here’s a message to present day travelers who bemoan the troubles of traveling cross country with children: Read the story of Edina settler Eliza Grimes.
Eliza Gordon married well when she wed Jonathan Grimes in 1843. Jonathan was a well-born Virginian and a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers) when he and Eliza met in Indiana. An abolitionist with a hatred for slavery, Jonathan had left the south to start a new life in the Midwest. He and his Hoosier bride built the first frame house in southwestern Indiana’s Clay County and began a family. Life was good until the early 1850s when ambitious promoters and politicians began developing the Wabash and Erie Canal, a water link between Indiana and Lake Erie.
Jonathan Grimes in his later years
The waterway cut through their farm and created terrible problems for the family. They suspected a stagnant, malarial lagoon left by canal builders was behind the fevers that plagued Jonathan and also afflicted their children. Then, in 1854 the fever again swept through the Wabash valley, creating an exodus of the afflicted. Many headed for Minnesota, the fledgling northern territory nationally publicized as a health preserve. Promoters of Minnesota trumpeted claims that malaria and consumption (tuberculosis) were unknown there.
In 1855, the Grimes’ first-born son drowned in the canal, and fever, once again, threatened Jonathan’s life. When seven-month-old daughter Anna also became ill, the desperate couple decided to head to Minnesota, hopeful of a climatic cure for their misery. But they knew the route to the remote northwest was by Mississippi River steamboat, with the nearest port, Galena, tucked in the northwest corner of Illinois some 260 miles away. The only way they could reach Galena was by taking wagon roads.
Eliza Grimes faced an incredible challenge. With her husband too ill to sit up, she would need to drive their wagon on the long, arduous trip while tending her three children—two boys, 6 and 2, and the dangerously ill infant daughter. This formidable woman gathered supplies for the trip and placed a mattress in the bed of the wagon for Jonathan and little Anna. With all on board, she headed for Galena.
The Grimes did possess resources for the journey—money, education, and strength of character—but success depended upon Eliza. The trip would test her mental and physical reserves, as well as large measures of courage and determination. The dauntless Eliza managed to get everyone to Galena in a week’s time. There she loaded them onto a steamboat headed for Minneapolis. The fare for the remaining 400 miles to their destination was about six dollars per person. The family’s grim situation began to improve, both Jonathan and Anna began feeling better, and Eliza’s load began to lighten.
The Grimes family found that Minnesota agreed with them. In 1858 Jonathan and Eliza learned of a flouring mill for sale on Minnehaha Creek and, along with a partner, bought Waterville Mill, the future Edina Mill. Later, they bought land to the northeast of the mill and ranked among Edina’s leading citizens.
Modern Morningside residents may not be familiar with the Grimes family, but they will recognize their home and the street that bears their name. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Grimes home west of Grimes Avenue was built after the family had achieved some success with their business Lake Calhoun Nursery. This drawing of their home appeared in their letterhead.
The Grimes' journey would take about 11 1/2 hours today by freeway, shown above. By wagon on rutted roads, Eliza got her family from their home in Indiana (we don't have the exact location) to Galena, IL, in a week. They took a steamboat up the Misssissippi to Minneapolis where they stayed while her husband Jonathan recovered. The rowdy city environment (see previous post) prompted them to seek a quieter life in the country. They bought the mill in Edina and lived nearby in what is now the Morningside neighborhood of Edina.
For further exploration:
For more information about the book Suburban Dawn, see Johnson's web site. A limited number of books are still available for purchase at the Edina History Museum.
Find out more about the Grimes family and the development of the Edina neighborhood and Linden Hills area. Attend a May 25, 2011, walking tour sponsored by the Edina Historical Society and the Linden Hills Historical Society.
Ella Grimes Eustis wrote a wonderful memoir called "Out of My Mind," about growing up in Edina. Her father Jonathan T. Grimes owned the Edina Mill for a short time during the Civil War. He later had a thriving business, the Lake Calhoun Nursery. Ella describes the years when her father owned the mill.
Ella Grimes' father, Jonathan T. Grimes
In 1858 my brother John was ten years old, and Everett, about five years younger, was nearing school age. The trip to the schoolhouse involved passing a saloon owned by A.A. Ames, later a mayor of Minneapolis. Upon the sidewalk in front of this building sat a keg of beer with spigot and dipper, ready to dispense free beer to all ages – one way of cultivating in the young a taste for stronger drink in the future. This was too much for my mother, who had been raised in the strict atmosphere of a United Presbyterian home, and for my father as well, who was of Quaker principles. So in that year they decided, with three growing boys, to get away from the beer keg. In late 1858 or early 1859 they moved out into the country, where my father had purchased the Waterville Mill (later the Edina Mill) on Minnehaha Creek, along with 160 acres of land, from Richard Strout, father of A.A. Ames’ wife.
In buying this property my father had gone into partnership with a William C. Rheam from Pennsylvania. He was a trained miller and was to run the mill while my father managed the farm. For some reason this Mr. Rheam went back to Philadelphia and did not return, so my father hired a Mr. Allen Baird to run the mill. Father built a new and better dam and made other improvements. This was during the Civil War, and the government requisitioned the flour for Fort Snelling. Father kept the accounts and delivered the flour by his team of horses – practically the only ones left in the county, since the government had also requisitioned all horses fit for army use. The mill ran day and night, and it was not uncommon to see twenty-five teams of oxen there at one time.
Father also sold vegetables and butter at the Fort. His trips there and back –probably once or twice a week – were usually made in one day, and many were the times that the ground was covered with snow and there were no landmarks over the prairie areas to show were the road lay. One winter night he became lost in a blizzard, and as horses will not, if possible, face into a storm, they took refuge in a ravine somewhere east of Lake Calhoun – probably between 31st and 36th Streets, and Hennepin and Lyndale Avenues. [See Minnesota Historical Society image of Lake Calhoun, 1859] Here the team went round in circles for the rest of the night, while my father lay in the bottom of the sled wrapped in Buffalo robes, doubtless sleeping most of the time. When daylight came he was able to see his way home. Mother never spoke of her reactions during that night, but I can imagine what they were.
My brother George Sutherland, who was born April 4, 1859, remembered going to the mill when lunch was taken to my father during those Civil War days. The mill was about three-fourths of a mile from home.
Since it was no longer so profitable after the war, the mill was sold to James Baird, who in turn sold it to Andrew Craik in 1869. Craik had come from Scotland via Canada, and had learned the milling business at Three Harbors, Province of Quebec. He renamed it “Edina Mill” after his native home, Edinburgh, Scotland.
For further exploration: Via one of the software mapping programs (Google maps, Mapquest, etc.), map out Jonathan's trip from the mill site (at Browndale Avenue and 50th Street) to Fort Snelling to Lyndale Avenue near Lake Calhoun to home, near 4200 W. 44th Street. Note: The trip occurred prior to the family building the "new house," which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
For further reading: "Out of My Mind" is available for reading at the Edina History Museum.
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Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
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