Operated by Ernest and Ann Hamilton
Originally published in the
Tri-County News Aug. 7, 1986
The name on the mail box read “Hamilton’s Mink Ranch.” Our ranch was two miles north of Kingston in full operation from January 1960. (I remember the day, Jan. 4, when we moved. The temperature was 22 below zero) until December 1970.
The ranch began with the mink cages set up under the trees, so the mink could grow with the help of Mother Nature and all the elements. After a few years, with the help of friends (the Wordens), the buildings were constructed. Five 250-foot-long, and one 340-foot-long mink sheds, which, when in full operation, housed 3-4,000 mink.
During these operating years, I especially remember one winter when we had a blizzard in March 1965. The help of the neighbors was needed to help shovel out sheds and cages, which took days to do the impossible job of digging out. It was a few days before the mink got fed. The whole neighborhood was drifted in.
The mink ranch was owned and operated by Ernie and Ann Hamilton, Greg and Cory. And as young and little as Greg and Cory were, they really did their share of the work. Greg was just “so big” when he pulled the hoses to water the mink, and pushed the wheel barrow, and used the fork to help clean the mink yard. Cory was pretty small while she sat on the seat of the tractor to drive while the mink yard was kept clean. The ranch was kept in operation with hired help. It was our ranch that brought my brother, Rudy Burgstaoer from California, as he worked with mink for a number of years. They arrived during the big blizzard in March 1965. Just in time to help shovel!
After 10 years of raising mink, and Ernie battling with his arthritis, and much thought, the mink-growing process ended in December 1970.
The mink ranching first began in the fall of 1955, as the Hamiltons lived south of Darwin, in Ellsworth Township. And then all the cages and equipment were moved to the Kimball rural address.
The mink shed and equipment were sold at an auction Oct. 19, 1974, torn down and removed. Now all that remains of the ranch plot is a field for raising crops, and a grove of pine trees.
During all the years of raising mink and beyond, a mink fleshing service was also in operation in November and December. Processing mink pelts for area ranches as well as for Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin took place. The pelts ready for auction were delivered to Minneapolis or sent to
New York. That operation employed up to 18 people. The fleshing service existed through the 1982 season when it was time for Ann to retire. Ann was in charge of the fleshing service after Ernie pased away in November 1974.
The Hamilton family operated the mink business for 26 years.
Submitted by Ann Hamilton of Kimball.
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It’s been an exciting start of springtime in Kimball’s Historical Society, as we celebrated “In Plain View-A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad” production of designer Jo Caldwell, brilliantly presented here for the first time. Out of all the things you could have done on April 23, you chose to spend the evening with us. It was better because you joined us. We hope it was meaningful for you also.
You need not be a historical society member to attend one of our extraordinary program/events we present several times each year. But if you prefer, join our team and become a society member, too. The price is right and so is the camaraderie. If you have a story and would share it, please let one of us know. Contact us about any of the above at the Kimball Area Historical Society, Box 55 Kimball MN 55353, or call (320) 398-5743, 5250, or e-mail kimball
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May is National