Now that we are past 100 on our list of Morrison County Influentials, let me tell you, it’s getting difficult to pick people. We keep saying things like, “Is so-and-so on the list?”, repeating names we’ve already covered. Certain local historical figures just stick out in our minds because of their accomplishments. Once we’ve discussed those folks, the next tier of Influentials don’t seem so obvious, not because their accomplishments aren’t important, but because lots of people share a certain high level of achievement. How do we choose one over another for our list? The heartening thing is that human beings as a whole seem to have figured out how to make the most of their lives, although that doesn’t make it any easier for us.
On to last week’s names:
101. George Flint Parker (1846-1926) – Born in Massachusetts. Entered the Civil War as an infantryman when he was 15 years old. Served until the end of the war, spending his final four months and twenty days as a prisoner of war. Worked in a shoe factory after the war. Came to Morrison County in 1879 and homesteaded land in what was then Green Prairie Township. In 1880, Parker Township was formed, being named after George Parker because he was its first white settler. He contracted with the railroad to cut ties and managed six sawmills, which were part of a larger company. Parker “was the first man to introduce sawed ties for railway construction.” (pg. 579, History of Morrison and Todd Counties, Clara Fuller) Between June 1889 and October 1892, he managed Brooks & Company, a general merchandise store. He served as Treasurer of the township and later as postmaster of Randall.
102. Simon P. Brick (1862-1950) – Born in Canada. Came to Little Falls in 1885. Worked as a bookkeeper and salesman for the Little falls brewery for three and a half years. He was appointed Deputy County Auditor at that time, serving for 8 years in this position. He then served five years as the elected City Clerk of Little Falls. He worked in the field of insurance for a number of years and then was elected to the position of Clerk of the Morrison County Court, to which he was re-elected 4 times. He resigned as Clerk of Court in 1913 to become postmaster of Little Falls. In 1912, he was elected Mayor of Little Falls and served in this capacity for a one-year term.
103. Verne “Vernie” Lockwood (1877-1962) – Born in Hennepin County, Minnesota. His father, Isaac Lockwood, died when Vernie was three years old. At the age of 22, Verne opened his first business, a grocery store, “with seventy-five dollars cash and some money which he borrowed from his neighbors.” (pg. 590, History of Morrison and Todd Counties, Clara Fuller, 1915) He ran this store from 1899 to 1905, at which time he started a general mercantile store in Motley, Minnesota. He closed his Motley store in 1910 and “established a general line of implements and hardware, furniture and harness” (pg. 590, Fuller), valued at $10,000 worth of of stock in 1915. He was one of the incorporators of Land O’ Lakes Creamery in 1921. Verne Lockwood served on the Motley City Council and school board and was Treasurer of the Morrison County Fair Association. He was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1931 and served in this position until 1938.
104. John Schmolke (1861-1934) – Born in Germany. Came to the United States when he was 22, after having learned the shoe-maker’s trade. He arrived in New York City “with only one German penny, [which was worth] one-quarter of a cent in American money.” (pg. 566, Fuller) Came to Buckman, Minnesota, in 1883, also virtually penniless. He spent his last penny on a community picnic the day he arrived. John worked for a thresher for 20 days and earned $20, which he used to buy leather to repair shoes. With the money he earned, he purchased a house and a half acre of land in Buckman. He and Joe Hortsch opened the first store – a grocery store – in Buckman, remaining partners for one year, when Schmolke bought out the business and ran it himself. Eventually, he began to deal in farm real estate and started a small hotel. He became an agent for cattle buyers and is responsible for buiding five creameries – Buckman, Lastrup, Ramey, Agram, New Pierz (Genola) – in order to provide a market for cream. “Today , after a little more than thirty years in America, John Schmolke is what might be called a land baron. He owns several thousand acres, most of which is in Canada. In Morrison county he owns about fifteen hundred acres.” (pg. 567, Fuller) A copy of a piece of his letterhead says, “Catholic Colony Organizer” under his name.
105. Bertha Rhodes (1875-1957) – Artist, teacher, writer, community organizer. Born in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Daughter of J. H. and Ellen Rhodes. Moved to Little Falls in 1879 with her family. Studied art at the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts and Art Students League in New York. Trained as a kindergarten teacher in Minneapolis and conducted a private kindergarten class in Little Falls, which included story hours for the children. She opened a private art studio in Little Falls in 1900. “She organized the Junior Boy Scouts, helped campaign for the city gymnasium and organized to arouse public sentiment for the high school at Little Falls. Miss Rhodes was founder and first settlement worker of Little Falls Civic Improvement League and first juvenile court officer. She organized Garden clubs and held street fairs to display produce until the plan was taken over by public schools.” (pg. 267, Who’s Who Among Minnesota Women, Mary Dillon Foster, 1924)
The next five Influentials:
106. Florence Williams
107. John Vertin
108. Austin Grimes
109. Charles Gravel, Sr.
110. P. H. Newman