Sand Sisters

Following is the complete W.P.A. Biography of Josephine M. Sand. It was given by herself and recorded by Minnie M. Cochrane in November, 1937. Note how long the Sand sisters were in business and that they bought their millinery and cafe from other female business owners. There must have been some misunderstanding about Josephine’s last name, as the biography has an extra”S” on Sand.

Josephine Sands was born in Filstdor, Luxemburg, June 7, 1888. She is the daughter of Peter Sands and Margaret Weber Sands.

Peter Sands made his first trip to the United States in 1887. At that time he went to Green Bay, Wisconsin where he had relatives. He did not like it there and returned to Luxemburg. Two years later he made his second trip to the United States. This time he went to Grafton, North Dakota where he bought a farm and sent for his family. Mrs. Sands and her three children were two weeks crossing the ocean. They landed in New York City, had planned to stop in Chicago and visit relatives, but because traffic was lighter and transportation cheaper, they were sent to Grafton via Winnepeg. They reached Grafton July 4, 1889.

After working the farm near Grafton for three years Mr. Sands rented that farm and went to White Rock, South Dakota and took up a homestead. Three years later he returned to the farm at Grafton after proving up on his homestead. Wheat was the principal crop then. The land was new, returns good, except in 1901 when a big hail storm destroyed all crops and damaged many buildings.

Mr. Sands died at Rochester Nov. 27, 1904. He is buried in Little Falls. After her husband’s death Mrs. Sands rented the farm and came to Little Falls to live with her daughters. Later she sold the farm. In 1906 Mrs. Sands bought the lot at 207 4th St. S.E. and built the home where Miss Josephine Sands now resides.

Mr. and Mrs. Peter Sands had three daughters:

A-1 Mary

A-2 Eugenia

A-3 Josephine, subject of this sketch.

Mary Sands learned the millinery trade. While working as a trimmer in a millinery store in Aitken, she heard of a good opening in Little Falls. In 1903 she came to Little Falls and bought out Mrs. Stewart. After buying the store she sent for her sister, Eugenia, who was visiting in Europe, to join her here. This Eugenia did and they opened the Sands Sisters Millinery shop at 112 First St. N.E.

Josephine Sands received her early education in the rural schools of North Dakota.

Mary located in Little Falls. Josephine spent a year with her and attended school here. Later she attended the Little Falls Business College operated by Mr. Millard. After leaving school Josephine went into the Millinery Store with her older sisters. Mary died May 9, 1907. Eugenia and Josephine continued in the Millinery business until 1918.

Mrs. Sands had never felt satisfied in the United States. She always wanted to return to Luxemburg. After the death of Mary Sands, Josephine, in 1909, took her mother back to Luxemburg, but things had changed and Mrs. Sands found she very much preferred living in the United States. She did not even want to make a long visit in Luxemburg. They soon returned to Little Falls. Mrs. Margaret Sands died in Little [Falls] August 23, 1927.

In 1915 the Sands Sisters bought the restaurant from Mrs. Rosa Mueller. The restaurant was located in the Venners Block on First Street. The Sands Sisters continued to operate it there for eleven years. They also carried on the millinery business until 1918 when they sold out and devoted their entire time to the restaurant. The business grew and in 1926 they bought the lots and built the “new home” for their restaurant at 123 S.E. First St. where Miss Josephine Sands still carries on at Sands’ Cafe.

The home on Fourth Street was remodelled and gardens laid out in 1932.

Miss Eugenia Sands died Aug. 4, 1936 leaving Josephine Sands the owner of the business. This year (1937) she installed an air cooling system in the restaurant.

Miss Sands says: “Business has been picking up this last year. Camp Ripley has helped the town in many ways. August 15, 1937 was the biggest day we have had since the 4th of July, 1930. We served close to 1800 people that day. All during the two weeks encampment had all the business we could take care of.”

Miss Sands is a member of the Girl Scout Council, the Garden Club, and the Daughters of Isabella. She is president of St. Catherine’s Aid Society and a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. She resides at 207 4th St. S.E.

This WPA biography was published in the Morrison County Historical Society’s newsletter in 1999.

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