Tricounty News

The Leppa Family of Kingston, Part 3



'Along the Way' by William E. Leppa, written in 1975

There was a Methodist church right across the road from us and a traveling minister used to visit once a month and stay a few days and preach and teach Sunday School. I used to go there, although I did not belong to it. We belonged to the Lutheran Church and I went to Sunday School there, so I got a double dose of Sunday School.

There is a very interesting thing I can remember about those meetings at the Methodist Church. There was an old neighbor, Mr. Keetch, that used to sit on a short bench by the stove, kind of facing us kids, and he used to try and scare us kids by moving his false teeth around in his mouth and between his lips. They must have been a loose fit; anyway, it looked scary. I wonder how they expected us to pay attention to the preacher with Mr. Keetch making faces at us. The church was later torn down and a new creamery built on the site.

Our house stood on a small hill about three rods from the road and our small barn was close to the road, right where Iver Peterson's store is now. On the corner to the south stood Kit Oatman's fine house. He was the blacksmith. East of the corner about 1,000 feet was the cooperative store where Pa worked.

The street was quite wide so in the evenings the young men used to bat a baseball around, hitting fly balls to each other. At about the age of seven or eight, I was allowed to stay by the batter and slow down the balls as they were returned to the batter. Of course, I had only my bare hands, which was not so good. Now, here is the part I remember so well. Henry Becklund, the manager of the store at that time, gave me a small catcher's mitt. The price of the mitt was 25 cents. That was back in about 1903 or 1904, and the mitt was made from pretty good leather. We had that mitt in the family many years.

Soon after that, Father quit the cooperative store and went to work at Murphy's store on the south side of the river. The Murphy store was owned by two brothers, Timothy and William. William had several sons. One by the name of James was a couple of years older than me, so we finally started to trap muskrats and mink and skunks together, so we had a few dollars every fall. When James went off to high school in Dassel, his younger brother Francis and I trapped together until we moved to the farm.

The Murphy's store building was quite a building. It stood about 500 feet south of the bridge and right east of one end of the old dam. It was two stories high, and Timothy and family lived upstairs. It also had gas lights. The gas was made in their own generator. One of Pa's jobs was to fill in the carbide tank with carbide and water and haul the old slush out back of the building.

There was a feed mill between Murphy's store and the bridge where the old flour mill had been located. Uncle Charlie Leppa owned the feed mill and also the Murphy house. After we moved to the farm, that's where we had our feed ground until we moved to North Kingston. There we bought a tractor and started to grind our own feed.

That bridge that I talked about was a wooden bridge on pilings built in 1861. It was torn down while we were there and a new steel bridge was built in 1903. When the bridge was completed, the contractor guaranteed it to hold up under so many tons dead weight. To demonstrate how good it was, I can remember watching with everybody else in town as they drove three steam engines on it together. That bridge still stands in 1975. (Note: The steel bridge was replaced in 1977.)

Another thing I remember about Murphy's store was that they sold ready-made clothing. My eighth-grade year I was selected for a speaking contest, and we eventually went to Dassel to compete with the Dassel kids. My teacher at that time was Nora Murphy, a sister to the owners of the store. Nora Murphy thought I should be wearing better clothes than I had, so she took me down to the store and they put a new suit of clothes on me for the occasion. I don't know whether the clothes did it or what, but I won.

When I graduated from the eighth grade, we had a graduation night. Nora Murphy took me to her brother's store again, and put a new suit on me, which I had to give back when it was over, same as the other time. That was in 1908, and we had already moved to the farm that we now call the Gust Isaacson farm.

Another thing about that night was that Pa told me not to let Nora Murphy put a tie on me. That would have been a big sin, so I did not wear a tie to my graduation. That's how things were at our house in those days. But here's the strange thing about what came to pass. Twenty years later, when Pa came to be the manager of the Farmers Cooperative Elevator in Kimball, he had to go on business deals to Minneapolis. He asked me to put a tie on him as he did not know how to tie one. You see he had never had any practice with ties and never used one except on business occations.

To be continued ...

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There have been more expressions of appreciation from those who receive the gift of new or renewed membership in this historical society, than ever before. Perhaps you have also run out of ideas that don't break your bank account, as Christmas gift time is just around the corner. Had you thought of that? January is our annual membership month, so the timing couldn't be more perfect! And if that doesn't get your attention, consider one of several other "gifts from the heart" that include numerous keepsake gifts of the Kimball area heritage and history. We call it "wallet friendly" shopping and includes gift certificates as small as $2 for Kimball's 2011 Quasquicentennial assortment of the four railroad postcards, remembrances of Kimball's earliest beginnings.

What a special contribution these stories and photos are from the Leppa Family history, and if you're enjoying them, we'd love to hear from you.

You can find us online and through Facebook at www.kimball history.org.

Contact the Kimball Area Historical Society at P.O. Box 100, Kimball MN 55353, or phone (320) 398-5250, or e-mail kimball

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Dedicated to preserving the Kimball area story

Our officers and board of directors are busy already with great society plans for 2012. Beginning Feb. 28, with another excellent program speaker, another event in March, April and two in June, and the All-School Reunion and Kimball Days in August. Begin marking your 2012 calendars.