Mower County, Minnesota

Group File 21


Joseph N. Thatcher

b: 1846

Joseph N. Thatcher, a substantial citizen of Brownsdale, was born in Burlington, Vermont, on March 25, 1846, son of Stephen and Helen G. (Isham) Thatcher, of English and German descent.

He lived with his parents in Dane township, Dane county, Wisconsin, and in Winnebago City, Faribault county, Minnesota, until 1874, when he came to Brownsdale, where he has since been engaged as a carpenter and contractor.

Mr. Thatcher is a prominent Mason, and is the historian for this work of Lafayette Lodge, No. 116, of Brownsdale. He and his wife both belong to the Eastern Star.

Mr. Thatcher married Aurelia, daughter of Lemuel and Mary (Stockwell) Ware, New Yorkers by birth.

Eight children have been born: Stephen V., Mary W., Julius E., Leland L., Thadeous. George K., Helen W. and Laura W. Mary is the wife of Ned Hunt. Stephen Thatcher, father of Joseph N., came west in 1853, settled in Dane township, Dane county, Wisconsin, and in 1862 took up his residence in Winnebago City, Faribault county, Minnesota.




Gilbert Thompson

b: 1844

Gilbert Thompson, one of the old settlers of Freeborn county, lives in Newry, but owns considerable land in Lansing township, this county.

He was born in Norway in 1844, came to America in 1868, to Grand Meadow in 1870 and to Newry township in 1871. Woods then covered that vicinity, and the fields were in five-acre lots. He worked his fields with a yoke of oxen and hauled his grain for many miles with them. There were no mowers or binders in that part of the country at that time, and Mr. Thompson had to cut his grain by hand, rake it together, and tie it while on the ground.

He married Thora Scarabraaten, who has proved an able helpmeet.




John A. Thompson

b: 1828

John A. Thompson, a veteran of the Civil war, is now living in retirement in Austin, enjoying the fruits of a long and well-spent life.

He was born in Preston, Chenango county, New York, November 23, 1828, son of Robert and Dorothy (Skinner) Thompson, the former of whom, a farmer and blacksmith, was born in New London county, Connecticut.

When John A. was eight years of age they moved to Addison, Steuben county, where he grew to manhood, learning the trade of carpenter and teaching school in Addison. Here he met and won his wife.

He came west when twenty-six years of age and proved up his claim to a quarter section in what is now Windom township.

He was married by a Baptist clergyman near Addison, N. Y., April 30, 1857. In a few days they started for their new home in Mower county, going by rail to Dunleith, then up the Mississippi to McGregor, then by wagon to the town of Windom, where John A. erected the first frame house in the township and commenced improving his land. Here they started life together, and the years proved kind to them, bringing a large measure of happiness and prosperity as the result of hard work and self-sacrifice.

During his early years here Mr. Thompson taught school winters and work at his trade, thus helping to erect some of the oldest buildings in Austin.

During the Civil war the subject of this sketch enlisted in the army and served in Company C, Ninth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, first against the Indians and then in the South, after which he was mustered out with his regiment at Fort Snelling. Then he returned to his farm and attained prominence in the community.

At the organization of the town of Windom Mr. Thompson was elected one of the first board of supervisors, and was chairman of the board for many years. He served as county commissioner for one term. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson continued to live on the old farm until 1891, when they moved into Austin, and their home has since been here. They are highly regarded for their many excellent and sturdy traits of character. They have helped materially in laying the foundations of our present prosperity and development.

Mr. Thompson is a Mason and a member of the G. A. R.

He and his wife have had eight children, of whom six are living: John A. Jr. Robert, Howard, Sylvester, Thaddeus, and Emily. Mary and Mora are dead. John A. Jr. is an assayer in Nevada. Robert, Howard and Sylvester are farmers. Thaddeus is a mail carrier in Austin. Emily married B. C. Manchester and lives on the old homestead in Windom township.

In 1907 Mr. and Mrs. Thompson celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. The affair was attended by the old soldiers, old settlers, Masons and the ladies of the Eastern Star, as well as by many other relatives and friends. The happy couple was highly eulogized and received many beautiful presents.




Lewis Thompson

b: 1827

Lewis Thompson, also known as Lars Thorson, was the first Norwegian settler of Lansing township, and lived on a farm in that township forty-three years.

He was born in Norway, September 13, 1827, and remained in his native country until 1845, when he came to Rock county, Wisconsin.

In 1856 he came to Mower county and pre-empted a quarter section in section 7, Lansing township. He continued to reside on this place, working hard and living a frugal life, increasing his possessions until he owned 400 acres. He held various local offices, and was highly esteemed by his neighbors. After living in retirement in Austin for several years he died in 1904.

He was married in Mitchell county, Iowa, August 1, 1857, to Elise Tollefson, a native of Norway, who came to Rock county, Wisconsin, with her parents at the age of ten years.

Mr. and Mrs. Thompson were the parents of nine children: Jennie, Carrie, Theodore, Edward Inga, Maria, Oline, Ole, Lewis and Aaron. Carrie is the wife of C. I. Johnson, a merchant in Austin. Lena is the wife of Edward Engen. Aaron lives on the home farm and has four children: Lee, Esther, Reuben, and the baby.




Theodore L. Thompson

b: 1861

Theodore L. Thompson, who has a fine farm of 160 acres in Lansing township, was born December 15, 1861, on the old Thompson homestead in Lansing township, son of Lewis and Elise Thompson, the pioneers.

Theodore L. was reared on the farm, was educated in the schools of his neighborhood, and later took up farming for himself.

He married Annie Olson, and they have seven children: Clara, Agnes, Hilda, Florence, Blanche, Ruth and Esther. Clara is the wife of T. Paulson.




Knute Thompson

b: 1850

Knute Thompson, a respected farmer of Nevada township, was born in Norway, October 26, 1850, son of Thomas Torbenson and Turber Knustader, his wife, both of whom were born, spent their lives and died in Norway.

Knute came to this country in 1872, making the trip in a sailing vessel from Norway to New York. He landed on American soil June 25, after an eight weeks' tiresome and dangerous trip. He lived three months in Wisconsin, and then came to Nevada township, this county, where he worked out by the month for a year. Then he rented land a year, and at the end of this period had saved enough to acquire eighty acres of good land in section 7, Nevada township.

In 1882, he purchased eighty acres in section 4, Adams township, and has since continued to make his home here. He has erected a comfortable home and the necessary buildings for stock and crops and carries on diversified farming. He devotes his attention largely to grain and cattle raising, selling the milk from his herd to the Adams Co-operative creamery.

Mr. Thompson is a Republican in politics, has been road overseer for twelve years and member of the school board nine years. He aligns himself with the progressives.

The subject of this sketch was married November 8, 1872, to Arlia Askleson, a native of Norway, and they have seven children: Trina, Alex, Thomas, Theodore, Hans, Henry and Clara. Trina is now the wife of Ole Erickson, of Northfield, Minn.: Alex is farming in Williams county, North Dakota, and is also interested in coal mining; Thomas is married and resides in Faribault, Minn.; Theodore is at home; Hans is married and has a homestead in Williams county, Minnesota; Henry has a homestead in Valley county, Montana; Clara is the wife of William Peterson, a builder in Minneapolis.




Olaus Thorson

b: 1861

Olaus Thorson, assessor and prominent farmer of Bennington township, was born in Rock county, Wisconsin, December 23, 1861, son of Thor Knutson and Betsy Knutson, his wife.

These worthy people, natives of Norway, came to America in 1861, lived in Rock county, Wisconsin, until 1868, then came to Fillmore county, this state, purchased 120 acres, and followed agricultural pursuits, dying, respectively, in November, 1892, and January, 1876.

Olaus received his education in the district schools, lost his mother when he was fifteen, was reared on the farm and there remained until 1889, when he came to Mower county and purchased 160 acres of land in Bennington township, where he erected buildings and improved the land. He has added to his place from time to time until he now owns 320 acres, all under a high degree of cultivation.

Mr. Thorson is a Republican in politics, served nine years as school treasurer, and is now in his seventh year as clerk of the same district. In addition to his real estate, he is a stockholder in the Farmers' Co-operative Creamery and the Farmers' Co-operative Elevator at Ostrander.

The subject of this sketch was married October 4, 1884, to Oleva Barnes, of Fillmore county, and they have eight children: Clarence, Bernard, Oscar, Oneay, William, Owen, Roosevelt and Leona, all living at home except Clarence, who is managing a 240-acre farm in section 21, Bennington township.

The family faith is that of the Norwegian Lutheran church.

Mr. Thorson is known as the "threshing machine man" of the community, having operated four different threshers in the town of Bennington since he first started in 1891. In the fall of 1910 he sold his threshing machine and threshing business to his son, Bernard Thorson. When Mr. Thorson started in this line in 1891 he purchased a Huber engine and a Columbian Victory separator. His second thresher was the Minneapolis, and his last two were the J. I. Case thresher.




Andrew S. Todalen

b: 1850

Andrew S. Todalen, who owns 240 acres of good land in Udolpho township, was born in Norway in 1850, son of Sever Severson, and came to America alone in 1897.

After living two years in Corning, Mower county, he went to North Dakota, and there remained sixteen years. Then he returned to this county and purchased the Cook farm, on which he at present resides.

He married Julia Helgeson, daughter of Helga B. Olson, Sr. The mother of Mrs. Todalen is still living and has reached the ripe old age of ninety-one.

To Mr. and Mrs. Todalen have been born seven children: Sever, Helge, Maggie, Halver, Adolph, Alfred and Mollie.

The family worships at the Lutheran church.




William Todd

b: 1857

William Todd, superintendent of the City Water, Electric and Power Plant of Austin, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, September 1, 1857.

When twenty-two years old he emigrated to the United States, first locating in Iowa for a year and then removing to Austin, Minn., where he entered the employ of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad, with which he was connected until 1900, in the capacity of stationary engineer.

He then took a position with the Austin city waterworks, and subsequently became superintendent of the City Water, Electric and Power Plant, in which position he has shown himself an ideal public servant, having been largely instrumental in making public ownership in Austin an unusual success.

In politics, he gives his allegiance to the Democratic party. Numerous offices have been held by him in the Masonic order, such as past master, past high priest, past commander, and past grand high priest for the state of Minnesota. He is both a Knight Templar and a Shriner. The American Waterworks Association numbers him among its members.

Mr. Todd's wife, whom he married in 1881, was formerly Elizabeth Morrison. They have four children: Jane C., Catherine R., Isabel A., and Elizabeth M.

The family attend worship at the Presbyterian church.

William and Katharine (Rae) Todd, parents of our subject, are natives of Scotland, which has always been their home. Nine children were born to them, five boys and four girls, viz.: William, the subject of this sketch; John, rancher, residing in Spokane, Wash.; Jane, a resident of Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia; James, deceased; Elizabeth, deceased; Thomas, of Glasgow, Scotland; Andrew A., farmer of Rockhampton, Australia; Christine, of Rockhampton, Australia, and Margaret, deceased.




Nels A. Tonding

b: 1870

Nels A. Tonding, the capable buttermaker for the Oak Grove Creamery, Lansing, was born in Denmark in 1870, son of Anders Nelson, a farmer in that country.

Nels A. came to America in 1896, came directly to Corning and at once took up his present employment. He has general charge of making the butter in the creamery with which he is engaged, turning out $50,000 worth annually.

Mr. Tonding is well liked in the community, belongs to the Danish Brotherhood, and worships at the Oak Grove Lutheran church.

He married Christiana Anderson and they have four bright children: Laurits Christian, Carl Hemming, Johanne Emelia and Niels Helmot.




Peter T. Torkelson

b: 1881

Peter T. Torkelson, a skilled and popular physician of Lyle, was born in LaSalle county, Illinois, in 1881, son of Gilbert and Caroline (Fosen) Torkelson, natives of Norway.

Gilbert Torkelson came to America as a boy of twelve, and his wife came in 1877. They farmed in LaSalle county until the death of Mrs. Gilbert Torkelson, in 1886, some time after which her husband moved to Newark, Kendall county, Illinois, where he now lives.

Peter T. received a good common school education in his home neighborhood, and attended the high school at Morris, Ill., two years. Later he entered the University of Valparaiso, taking the scientific course two years and graduating from the course in pharmacy in 1903.

After working a time in a drug store in Morris, Ill., he entered the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery, and graduated in 1908, later receiving his hospital practice as interne in the Norwegian Lutheran Deaconess Hospital at Chicago.

From February to April, 1909, he increased his knowledge by acting as assistant in the Heron Lake Hospital, at Heron Lake, Minn., after which he located in Lyle, where he has built up a large practice.

He is associated with the American, Minnesota State and Mower County Medical associations, and belongs to the Masonic and Pythian orders.

He votes the Republican ticket and attends the Norwegian Lutheran church.

Dr. Torkelson was married September 8, 1909, to Belle Brekken, of Sacred Heart, Minn., and to this union one son, Kermit G., was born July 7, 1910.




Lewis Tow

b: 1873

Lewis Tow, who has charge of his father's extensive real estate interests in Mower county, lives in section 36, Windom township, and although he has lived here but three years he has taken an active interest in the progress of the community. Being yet a young man, his friends predict for him a successful future.

He was born in Cedar Rapids, Benton county, Iowa, March 29, 1873, son of Lars and Julia (Strand) Tow.

He received his education in the schools of Iowa, and has devoted his life to business and agricultural pursuits.

Lars Tow was born in Norway and married Julia Strand. They came to America and after living three years in Illinois, located in Iowa, where they now live.

Lewis Tow owns much land in Iowa, and 980 acres in Windom and Nevada townships, Mower county.




George W. Benton

b: 1832

George W. Benton was born in Utica, N. Y., February 16, 1832. His father, Royal Benton, was a native of Connecticut, and was a merchant in Utica at the time George W. was born. The family migrated to Ohio, and settled in the town of Vienna, where the father opened a tailor shop, and spent the remainder of his days. The family remained at Vienna, and when George W. was 16 years of age he started with a team to Logan county, and worked on a railroad one season. Then he went to Bellefontaine and engaged in teaming.

He was married there in 1852 to Caroline J. Royer, after which he rented a small place and commenced burning lime and selling building stone. After a year or so, he began buying and selling horses, taking them to Galena and Kentucky. In 1854 he made his first trip to Minnesota, engaging his time in buying a drove of horses which he sold in St. Paul.

He first visited Mower county in December, 1854, and he and his family spent the winter here with his brother, Elon, 1856, on section seven, town of Windom. He teamed for a while and in 1857 claimed the southwest quarter of section nine. The following winter he built a log house, and in the spring of 1858 moved into it. With true pioneer zeal he started in farming, and in 1883 he had increased his land to 720 acres.

He had also erected a fine house and outbuildings. Mr. Benton's wife died in October, 1880, leaving four children: Royal, Winfield, Charles and Alfred. In November, 1881, Mr. Benton married Sarah C., daughter of Barnabus and Maria (Fitch) Johnson and widow of George Bennett. Two children have been born to this union: Ormanzo J. Benton, who is engaged in the boot and shoe business in Austin, and Herbert W., who clerks in Fargo, N. D. Mr. Bennett, Mrs. Benton's first husband, was born in Schatigee, N. Y., and died at Mona, Iowa, in 1881, leaving one child, George A.

George W. Benton died in April, 1902, as the result of an accident occasioned by his team of young horses running away. He was greatly esteemed and his demise caused a widefelt sorrow.




Galen K. Truesdell

b: 1865

Galen K. Truesdell, one of the substantial citizens of Austin and an able and genial traveling salesman, was born in Austin, July 18, 1865, son of William and Mary (McDonald) Truesdell.

He received his education in the public schools and started commercial life as a clerk in the store of his uncle, James Truesdell, an Austin shoe merchant. He worked in this store eight years, and was then employed four years in the store of F. P. McBride and four years in the store of F. O. Hall.

He began his career on the road in 1893, as flour salesman for the Campbell Brothers. A year later he traveled for Franklin McVeagh, selling groceries, and the following year represented the Mason City Grocery Company. Since then he has been employed by the Griggs-Cooper Company, of St. Paul. He has built up a large trade, and not only does excellent service for his employers but is also popular and well liked among his customers.

He belongs to the I. O. O. F. and the U. C. T., and votes the Republican ticket.

Mr. Truesdell resides at 209 South Main street, making his home with his mother, and his sister, Almeda E.




William Truesdell

b: 1829

William Truesdell, formerly an Austin manufacturer, now deceased, was for many years an honored resident of this county.

He was born in New York state, October 8, 1829, and there received such education as the schools of that period afforded. Then he learned cabinetmaking, which he followed for many years.

In 1860 he came to Austin, and continued his trade, also engaging in the manufacture of chairs and bedsteads. He died October 8, 1870.

William Truesdell was married September 12, 1864, at Austin, to Mary McDonald, who was born at New Brunswick, October 8, 1841, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Israel McDonald. Mrs. Truesdell came to Austin in 1863.

To her union with William Truesdell two children were born: Galen K. is a traveling salesman, and Almeda E. is a successful teacher in the Austin schools.

The family faith is that of the Methodist Episcopal church.




Hans A. Turtdal

b: 1857

Hans A. Turtdal, a successful farmer of Nevada township, was born in Norway, August 24, 1857, and came to America in 1878.

After landing in New York, he made his way directly to Nevada township, where he worked as a farm hand ten years and then rented land for six years. He purchased forty acres of land and started farming on his own account. His operations have been crowned with success and he now owns 180 acres in section 21. He has followed diversified farming and makes a specialty of raising hogs for the market and cows for beef and dairy purposes.

Mr. Turtdal is a Republican in politics, but has never aspired to public office.

He was married February 12, 1891, to Annie Lee, a native of Wisconsin, born December 9, 1860. They have three children: Lena, aged eighteen, at home; Trina, at school in Albert Lea, and Alfred, who lives at home and attends the public schools.

The family worships at the Lutheran church.




Fred C. Ulmer

b: 1880

Fred C. Ulmer, business manager of the Austin Herald, daily and weekly, was born in Clear Lake, Iowa, December 23, 1880, son of Charles and Bertha (Pezold) Ulmer, both of German birth.

He was brought by them to Austin in 1891, graduated from the Austin high school in 1901, and began his newspaper career as a reporter on the Mower County Register. A year later he entered the employ of George A. Hormel & Co., and remained with this firm until 1907, when he became a copartner in the firm of Skinner & Ulmer.

Mr. Ulmer is an official of the Episcopal church, worshipful master of Fidelity Lodge, No. 39, A. F. & A. M., and a member of various other organizations and clubs.




Nicholas Ulwelling

Nicholas Ulwelling, now deceased, was a solid and respected citizen of Lansing for many years, having taken up his residence in the township in 1892 and purchased the old Yates farm.

He was born in Germany and came to America with his parents in 1851.

They emigrated to Washington county, Wisconsin, and in 1870 came to Mower county and located in the township of Nevada. In 1892, as before related, Mr. Ulwelling came to Lansing. His farm is now one of the richest in the county, consisting of 440 well-tilled acres, with suitable and modern buildings and machinery.

After a life of successful toil, Mr. Ulwelling passed away January 19, 1910.

Mrs. Ulwelling now has charge of the farm, assisted by her children, and is a capable business woman. Before her marriage she was Margaret Uschald, a native of Wisconsin, but of German descent.

The children number nine, as follows: Frank, Joseph, Margaret, Nicholas J., John, Anna, Henry, George and Trasse. Margaret is now Mrs. Gerhart, of Windom township, and Anna is Mrs. Balwers.




B. Underdahl

b: 1863

B. Underdahl, a substantial farmer of Clayton township, was born in Norway, September 29, 1863, son of Ole and Bertha Underdahl, who came to America in 1886 and who are now living on rented land in the township of Clayton.

The subject of this sketch came to America in 1882, and from New York came directly to Mower county.

On his arrival here he worked out five years, and then purchased 160 acres in section 32, Clayton township. On this place he has since conducted general farming. His well-equipped barns were erected in 1900 and his comfortable home in 1903. Mr. Underdahl breeds Shorthorn cattle for beef and dairy purposes and also raises Poland-China hogs.

He is a Republican in politics and has been school director of District 83 eight years and road overseer four years.

Mr. Underdahl was married March 26, 1887, to Engre Hegge, a native of Mower county, and this union has resulted in ten children: Ole, Rachael, Alfred, Leo, Alma, Berdina, John, Stella, Thelma and the baby.




Glenn W. Vail

b: 1877

Glenn W. Vail, a skilled dentist of Lyle, was born in Hiawatha, Kansas, April 18, 1877, son, of Benjamin H. and Emily O. (lHutchinson) Vail, natives of New York, who came to Henry county, Illinois, in the early days, and after living there and in La Salle county for a time, went to Hiawatha, Kans., where they remained until 1882.

Up to this time, Benjamin H. had been engaged as a wagon maker. Upon moving to Auburn, Neb., in 1882, he engaged in the retailing of windmills, pumps and other farm machinery. Eight years afterward, in 1890, he went to Omaha, Neb., where he still lives. His wife, Emily O., died at Hiawatha, Kans., in January, 1881.

Glenn W. received his education in the public and high schools, and in 1900 entered the State University of Iowa, at Iowa City, graduating from the dental department in 1905.

For one year he practiced at Panora, Iowa: and then came to LeRoy, where he has since been located, maintaining an office well equipped with the most modern appliances.

Dr. Vail belongs to the Minnesota State Dental Association and to the Southern Minnesota Dental Association. He is an active worker in the Commercial Club, a popular member of the Knights of Pythias and an attendant of the Congregational church.

He was married, June 10, 1905, at Iowa City, to Lena R. Wood, of -Mankato, Minn., who died November 1, 1906, leaving a son, Dana F., born October 31, 1906.

January 26, 1910, he was married at Winona to Dena L. Hedemark, daughter of B. D. Hedemark, a former Lyle shoe merchant, who died in June, 1909, Mrs. Hedemark still making her home in Lyle.




Everard J. van Bronkhorst

b: 1878

Everard J. van Bronkhorst, successful dentist of Grand Meadow, was born in Austin, January 6, 1878, son of Anthony and Annetta (Riss) van Bronkhorst.

He attended the graded schools of Austin and graduated from the Austin high school. In 1895 he entered the University of Minnesota and three years later graduated from the dental course in that institution.

He first started practice at Lyle, in this county, and two years later entered into partnership with Alvin M. Lewis, of Austin. This partnership continued eight years and on August 1, 1908, Dr. Van Bronkhorst came to Grand Meadow, where he has since practiced his profession with marked success. He has a well-equipped office and the beautiful home which he has just completed in the village speaks for itself as to his success, taste and popularity.

He is a member of the Mower County Dental Association and of the M. W. A., his political beliefs being embodied in the platform of the Republican Party.

The subject of this sketch married Louise Siebert, of Wells, Minn., and this union has been blessed with one son, Siebert A., born November 6, 1907.




Anthony J. van Bronkhorst

Anthony J. van Bronkhorst was born in Holland and after coming to America located in Forest Grove, Mich. Annetta Riss was also born in Holland, and came to Illinois when young. They first met in Austin and were here married.

Anthony van Bronkhorst was a painter and paper-hanger.

He died June 21, 1909, and his wife passed away April 19, 1888, both being buried in Austin.

They were the parents of four children: Everard J., Josie, Mattie and Henry F. Josie is the wife of Jesse Jones, of Austin; Mattie is the wife of Dr. A. E. Donker, of Forest Grove, Mich.; Henry F. is cashier for the Chicago Great Western at Rochester Minn.




W. L. Van Camp

b: 1876

W. L. Van Camp, the efficient manager of the Austin exchange of the Northwestern Telephone Company and for several years secretary of the Austin Commercial Club, was born in Byron, Minn., September 15, 1876, son of W. P. and Dora D. (Newell) Van Camp, the former of whom was a farmer and a maker of musical instruments.

W. L. attended the schools of his native place and also the high school at St. Thomas, N.D. He farmed at the latter place until 1897, when he began service for the Northwestern Telephone Company at Minneapolis.

January 28, 1901, he came to Austin in his present capacity with that company and has done most efficient work. He is a member of a number of the leading fraternal organizations.

Mr. Van Camp was married May 23, 1904, at Austin, to Kathryn D. Mayer, daughter of M. J. Mayer, and their home has been blessed with two children: W. Leslie, Jr., born January 9, 1906, and Marcella D., born July 8, 1907.




John Miller Vandegrift Sr.

b: 1808

J. M. Vandegrift, a farmer of Red Rock township, where he has spent the greater part of his life, was born in Wilmington, Del., in 1849, son of John and Mary (Worn) Vandegrift, the pioneers.

He was brought to Mower county in 1856 and reared in a log cabin in section 34, Red Rock township. He attended the public schools, and since then has devoted his life to farming. lie has a comfortable residence, and his cattle are well housed in commodious buildings.

Mr. Vandegrift married Anna, daughter of Soren and Anna Sorensen, both of Denmark, and they are the parents of eight children: Louise M., John M., Thomas O., Howard C., Margaret A., Miles H., Alice A. and Sumner W.

In 1888, Mr. Vandegrift purchased his parentís farm of 160 acres. He also owns the 160 acres adjoining, thus making a farm of 320 acres. This place he has greatly improved, and a feature of the landscape is his fine grove of poplar and evergreen trees.

In 1908 his little son had a bonfire in the barn, this igniting the building and totally destroying it. Mr. Vandegrift then built his present large and commodious barn, 104 x 32 feet, with many modern improvements. Aside from his Mower county property, he owns 480 acres in Beltrami county, this state.

He is a progressive citizen, a scientific farmer, and a sympathetic father, being one of those men whose life and work are a distinct advantage and benefit to the community.




John M. Vandegrift

b: 1808

John M. Vandegrift, the pioneer, was born in Philadelphia, Pa., May 15, 1808, and there learned the mason trade. In 1843, with his wife, Mary Worn, who was born in Philadelphia, July 13, 1809, and whom he married February 17, 1831, he went to Wilmington, Del., and then in 1850 moved to Indianapolis, Ind.

In 1856 Mr. Vandegrift brought his family to Mower county and settled in section 34, Red Rock township, where he was living at the time of his passing away, July 19, 1875. His wife died December 1, 1890.

Their children were named Amanda L., William R., Elizabeth M., Thomas B., Mary W., Charles H., John M., Virginia and Clara.

Mr. Vandegrift was an early justice of the peace in Red Rock.




Thomas Varco

d: 1893
#1 of 2 items

Thomas Varco, one of the earliest settlers, was born in England and moved at an early date to Canada, where he married Emaline Eddy, who was born in Coberg, Ontario, and is still living at the good old age of 84.

The family moved to Wisconsin, there remained six years, and then came to Austin, arriving July 24, 1856.

A daughter, Mrs. Amy Hart, now living in Austin, well remembers this long and tedious trip to Austin by ox cart.

Thomas Varco was a farmer and raised a family of eight children, of whom five are living: Amy, now Mrs. Joel A. Hart; Maitland, who married Hattie Bowers; Charles, who married Isabel Gemmel; Jennie, now Mrs. Burton Hart, and Justin, who married Etta Streeter and manages the home farm.

Thomas Varco died February 12, 1893.


Thomas Varco

d: 1893
#2 of 2 items

Thomas Varco, now deceased, was one of the well-thought-of men of the county.

He was born in England and came to Canada at the age of six years. There he was educated, grew to manhood and married.

In 1847 he came to the United States and located in Fond du Lac county, remaining there until 1856, when he brought his family to Mower county and took a homestead of 160 acres in Austin township. To this he added from time to time until he owned 480 acres, upon which he farmed until later life, when he gave each of his sons eighty acres.

He passed to the Great Beyond in February, 1893. His wife, who was Emeline Eddy, still survives, living in her own home on the old homestead.




Daniel B. Vaughan

b: 1835

Daniel B. Vaughan was born in Clinton county, New York, July 3, 1835, son of Benjamin and Johanna (Kimble) Vaughan, the former a native of New York state and the latter of Vermont.

He went with his family to Rock and Dane counties, Wisconsin, and in 1855 came to Mower county, pre-empting land in the northwest quarter of section 15, Lansing township. Here he has since continued to live with the exception of three years spent in the army and several winters in the woods.

In 1862 he enlisted in Co. C, Ninth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and served until the close of the war.

He was married March 13, 1861, to Elsie Lyons, daughter of Joseph Lyons, and this union has been blessed with three children.




Maitland E. Varco

Maitland E. Varco, whose family name is perpetuated in the name of the railroad station four miles south of Austin, was born in Fond du Lac county, Wisconsin, July 8, 1851, son of Thomas and Emeline (Eddy) Varco, the pioneers.

He came to Mower county with his parents in 1856, and received his education in the district schools of Austin township, later engaging in farming with his lather.

When twenty-six years of age he received a present of eighty acres from his father, and to this he added another eighty, making in all a quarter section in section 35.

In 1900 he rented his place and engaged in the painting business in Austin for several years, but later returned to his farm, and is now doing general farming.

He is a Republican in politics, has served in township and school office, and has joined the Modern Woodmen and the United Workmen. He attends the Seventh Day Adventist church.

The subject of this sketch was married December 24, 1876, to Hattie E. Bowers, daughter of J. S. Bowers, now deceased, a prominent farmer of Lyle township. Mr. and Mrs. Varco have two children. C. Mabel is now Mrs. James H. Aultfather and Gertrude G. is a teacher and trained nurse.




Charles R. Varco

b: 1853

Charles R. Varco, the oldest merchant of Rose Creek, was born in Fond du Lac county, Wisconsin, July 25, 1853, and came with his parents, Thomas and Emeline (Eddy) Varco, pioneers of Mower county, to what is now Varco station, Austin township.

He received his early education in the district schools, and graduated from the Austin high school.

At nineteen years of age he engaged in teaching at Cedar City, in Austin township. After teaching three terms, he had saved enough money to purchase a small frame building at Varco station, which he fitted up as a store, obtaining his first stock of goods on credit. From 1875 to 1882 he engaged in the general mercantile business in this building, and then purchased the building and mercantile business of Stanley Warner, of Rose Creek, to which place he moved and where he has since remained in business. At the time of the purchase the store was 40x22.

His rapidly increasing business made it necessary for him to enlarge his store three different times, until he now has a floor space 76x34. He carries a large stock of general merchandise, including a large stock of boots and shoes, and in fact everything found in an up-to-date store of this kind. In addition to his mercantile business, in 1887 he opened a harness shop where he has an expert harness maker and repairer in charge.

Aside from this he has at various times been interested in other lines, having been a stock dealer four years; in the machinery business six years and in the grain business two years. He owns several warehouses, and a commodious hall above his store, which is rented for general public affairs. He rents out three dwelling houses in the village of Rose Creek, and eighty acres in Windom township. His residence is a pleasant building on South Chatham street, in the city of Austin.

Mr. Varco is a stockholder in the Inter-State Telephone Company and in the Austin Weed Exterminator Manufacturing Company. He is a progressive Republican, a member of the B. P. 0. E., the M. W. A. and the A. O. U. W. Mr. Varco is an up-to-date man in every respect, and is interested in everything that pertains to the growth and development of the county.

The subject of this sketch was married October 10, 1878, at the bride's home in Austin township, to Isabella Gemmel, born February 11, 1858, daughter of Andrew and Phoebe (Phelps) Gemmel, pioneers.

To this union have been born five sons: Albert R. is a graduate of the Austin high school and the Minnesota State University, and holds a diploma from each of these institutions as well as from the C. & C. Hospital at St. Paul, being now a physician at Miles City, Mont. Charles E. is manager of the Yellowstone Valley Mercantile Company, with headquarters at Sydney, Mont., controlling four stores. Lynn G. is manager of one of the stores of the Yellowstone Valley Mercantile Company with headquarters at Fairview, Mont. Thomas E. is with his brother Charles at Sydney. Walter L. lives at home. All are graduates of the Austin high school.

The family faith is that of the Methodist Episcopal Church.




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