Reprinted from the Tri-County News March 4, 2004. Text is from a personal letter dated June 25, 1972
Dear Lois & Richard:
Your letter turned my thoughts back many years, and memories of those days are vague, to say the least. It was the spring of 1901 when we moved to Kimball. My father died in Sept. 1903, and Mother sold the farm and we moved back to Minneapolis in the spring of 1904. An elderly couple named Withey, and their son Guy, bought the place. They came from either Shakopee or Chaska, possibly near where you are located. They brought many head of cattle, and our barn was large enough to accommodate them, but I guess they felt more pasture land was needed, and sold the property and moved on to North Dakota. I think they lived there only two or three years. I know nothing of who bought the farm from them or the present owners, the Holmans.
When my father was having the house built in 1901, he had a stone mason from Watkins build the foundation, and Papa and Wallace, or Mattie and I, used to go with him to help load rocks from the shore of School Section Lake, a couple of miles away, I believe that was the only time we ever went to that lake, and I had a hard time remembering it. The name, Freda Eckman sounds familiar but I cannot connect it with any of the people we knew. Possibly they were the people my father dealt with in obtaining the rock. And Rueben, Elmer and Freda probably were much younger. We girls were 16, 17, and 19, when we left the farm, and I, the youngest, am now 85. So, if they were in the 70s, they may be considerably younger. We never attended school after leaving Minneapolis, as there was no high school at Kimball or nearer than Annandale, and 10 or 12 miles was a long way to drive to school - no school buses, you know. So we would not have known the Eckmans from school association. In those days, traveling was done by walking or driving horses, and we didn’t get far from home. Mattie and I always had to be home in time to drive the cows from pasture and do the milking. Those were “The good old days?” Ha!
The mill you refer to was on Clearwater River at the eastern edge of Fair Haven, and we did take corn there to be ground into corn meal. Mother used the corn meal to make Johnny Cake which we liked very much. It was baked in a thin sheet and served hot, spread with butter and syrup. The corn, sorghum and butter were all home produced. Wheat was sold at the elevator in Kimball where we bought flour in 100-pound sacks. Practically everything in the food line was raised on our place. The full basement under the house was partitioned. half for the furnace and wood chunks for fuel, and half for vegetable storage. When winter came, we had our vegetable cellar stocked with an ample supply of potatoes, carrots, rutabegas, parsnips, onions and cabbage, as well as navy beans, popcorn, and even honey and a barrel of sorghum molasses, all produced on our own farm. Hens supplied the eggs, as well as meat for Sunday dinner, and hogs were butchered for fresh meat, bacon, and salt pork. Under the kitchen was a 50-barrel cistern where rainwater was stored and a small hand pump at the sink gave us soft water. Our drinking water came from a deep well near the kitchen door. Talk about modern conviences - we had them! Even an outdoor Johnny! We did have a small room designed for a bathroom when and if a way was found to bring in the water. There was no electricity, we used kerosene lamps.
Judging from your knowledge of the location of our farm on the road between Kimball and Fair Haven, I wonder if you have driven through that area, perhaps on your drive home from here. The house was well built on first-grade materials, my father was particular about that, and should have remained in good condition if given good care, paint jobs, roofing, etc. many fine homes hereabouts are more than a century old.
We enjoyed the family get-together very much, and thank you and Jack and Marian for making it possible. Maybe there will be another time when Jim and Meryl can be with us too.
Loving greetings to you and family,
Aunt Bea (Beatrice Maloy)
This piece of history, in letter form, was submitted by Lois Eckman Wills in hopes that you or your family just may recall the people and places written about.
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“Hidden in Plain View, a Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad.” For the first time, the secret story how enslaved men and women navigated their escape. Keeping the Underground Railroad Quilt story alive, but whose stories have yet to be told, come see and hear producer Jo Caldwell’s brilliant production at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in Kimball’s historic city hall. Everyone is welcome. Bring guests. Refreshments follow program. There is no charge.
Our historians enjoyed meeting you at the Expo April 6. Hope you had a great day. And our prize winners are:
Tom Konz-history book
Judy Anderson-2 coffee mugs
Ron Graham-centennial map
Marlene Kunkel-note cards
Penny Blanchard-note cards
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Reflections of The Kimball Area’s Rich Heritage