Morrison County Influentials: 111-115

Last week’s Influentials:

106. Florence Williams (1863-1945). Library Founder. Florence E. (Bennett) Williams was born in New York. In 1889 she married Milton M. Williams (see Morrison County Influentials #28). The Williams lived at Meadow View, a diversified and model dairy farm located just west of Pine Grove Park in Little Falls, Minnesota. Florence and her husband were part of the group that founded Pine Grove Park. Florence was instrumental in organizing the public library in Little Falls in 1892. She developed and implemented a plan to establish a library by raising funds through popular subscription. In 1918, Florence and her husband moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

107. John Vertin (1866-1955). Businessman. John Vertin was born in Austria to Mathias and Katherine (Maurin) Miller. Vertin immigrated to the United States in 1881 and moved to Little Falls in 1892 in order to take over the Maurin and Medved general store. Two years later he married Agnes Miller of Duluth, Minnesota. John and Agnes had eight children – Marcus, Mathias, Bernadine, Rose, John, Margaret, Agnes and Florence. Vertin worked in the real estate business in Little Falls from 1898 until 1902, when he became cashier of the Merchants State Bank of Little Falls. After resigning this post in 1904, Vertin once again took up land business. Vertin also sold insurance and in 1915 built the Vertin Block in downtown Little Falls. Vertin served three terms on the Little Falls City council before becoming city treasurer in 1911, a post which he held for forty-four years. He also served as the president of the Board of Commerce, as director of the fair board and was on the board of the Morrison County Agricultural association. In 1934, Vertin was one of the organizers of the Little Falls Federal Savings and Loan association, serving as secretary for ten years.

108. Austin Grimes (1901-1955). Attorney, Mayor. Austin L. Grimes was born in Little Falls to Austin and Theresa (Johnston) Grimes. Grimes served with the Sixth Marines during World War I. In 1927 Grimes married Kathryn Mary Kenna of St. Paul, Minnesota. Austin and Kathryn had four children – Donald, Richard, Philip and John. Grimes served as mayor of Little Falls in 1927 and 1928 and as Morrison County attorney from 1931 to 1942. He was acting county attorney during World War II while Morrison County attorney Attell Felix was in service.

109. Charles Gravel, Sr. (1844-1922). Businessman. Charles Gravel Sr. was born in Montreal, Canada, to Maxime and Rose (Dugal) Gravel. In 1873 he married Mary Louise Braun. Charles and Mary had nine children – Sophie, Charles, Frederick, Eugene, Clarisse/Clarice, Mayme, George, Louis and Mary. Gravel operated a drug store, a general mercantile store and built houses in Little Falls until 1870 when he moved to Brainerd, Minnesota. In Brainerd, Gravel built culverts and bridges for the Northern Pacific railroad for two years. After moving back to Little Falls, he operated a stage line between St. Cloud and Brainerd, carrying mail and passengers until the Northern Pacific railway was completed in 1876. Gravel built a flour mill at Gravelville in Belle Prairie Township with F. X. Goulet. The mill was in operation from 1876 until 1905, when he sold the mill and built a new one at Pierz, Minnesota. Gravel also built a saw and grist mill with his brother, Narcisse, on the Platte River in Belle Prairie, nine miles northeast of Little Falls. This mill was in operation for about a decade. Gravelville is named for Charles Gravel, Sr. In 1879, Nathan Richardson (see Morrison County Influentials #27) described Gravel as the original owner of the village of Gravelville. Gravel moved to Onamia, Minnesota, several years before his death.

110. P. H. Newman (1849-1908). Businessman. Peter Henry Newman was born in New York to Peter and Ann Margaret (Clemens) Neumann. In 1870 Peter married Gertrude Dueppen of Madison, Wisconsin. Peter and Gertrude had fourteen children (two possibly stillborn) – Margaret, Kathrine, Peter, John, Herbert, Jacob, Anna, Mary (Mayme), William, Christine, Frank and Thomas. The Newmans moved to Morrison County in 1874 where they homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of land near Pierz. After selling the homestead, they moved to Pierz where Newman worked in the hotel business. After trading the hotel for a farm in Buh Township, which he farmed for two years, Newman came to Little Falls and operated a livery business and a meat market. After selling this livery to F. P. Farrow in 1898, he erected a brick building just south of the Farrow livery and started a sales stable, which he operated until his death. Newman also invested in land and, at the time of his death, owned about eight hundred acres, part of which was under cultivation.

This week’s Influentials:

111. Fred Larson

112. James Madden

113. DeZurik Sisters

114. Pat Spence

115. George Wilson

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