Morrison County Influentials: 126-130

Influentials introduced last week:

121. The Brick Manufacturers:  Upon walking through downtown Little Falls, Minnesota, one of the striking things one notices about the buildings is that so many of them are constructed of a distinctive yellow (also referred to as “cream” colored) brick.  This brick was produced from local clay that was found on the western outskirts of town.  Several brick manufacturers operated in this area from about 1882 through approximately 1915.  Martin Scott opened the first brickyard near Little Falls in 1882 and was in partnership with C. A. Sprandel for a time.  Odilon Duclos operated the Duclos Brick Factory.  Supposedly, in 1867, the year “he became a resident of Little Falls,” he “made the first brick ever moulded in Stearns County.” (Northwest Magazine, November 1892)  In approximately 1884, he started his brickyard in Little Falls.  The Minnesota Brick Company of Little Falls was owned and operated by E. Rothwell, in partnership with various others, including M. Dargis. Martin Scott’s brickyard could put out 3,000,000 bricks per year on its own.  Not only was there a demand for brick for local buildings, but customers nationwide ordered Little Falls yellow brick for their buildings.  It was used in the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad shops near Lake Como in St. Paul, for the Hotel Euclid, in West Superior, the Stees Brother’s buildings in St. Paul, and a Northern Pacific Railroad roundhouse in Glendive, Montana.  (Northwest Magazine, October 1891 & November 1892)

122.  Sue (Gruber) Poser – In 1982, Sue Poser and her brother Paul purchased Gruber’s Market in Genola, MN, from their parents.  The business had been started by their grandparents.  Sue opened a quilt shop in one section of Gruber’s Market and quickly made a name for herself through hosting a variety of quilting events.  She and her brother sold Gruber’s Market in 1998, at which time she relocated her business to St. Cloud and renamed it Gruber’s Quilt Shop.  In 2002, “Gruber’s Quilt Shop was inducted into Crafttrends Independent Retailer Hall of Fame.” (Morrison County Record, August 11, 2002)  Due to Poser’s business acumen and her success as a female business owner, in August 2004, she played host to First Lady Laura Bush at her Quilt Shop. (Morrison County Record, August 15, 2004)   In 2006, Poser received the Chamber of Commerce’s first Business Central Mark of Excellence Award.  (Morrison County Record, May 4, 2006)

123.  Ron (1939-2002) & Dan (1948-) Shimek – Brothers and the co-founders of Heat-N-Glo.  Ron and Dan are sons of George and Laura Shimek.  They grew up in Ripley Township in Morrison County, MN. Ron showed a mechanical aptitude early in life, building a rotary law mower at age 10 and a small car at age 13.  In 1975, Ron’s wife Pat told him she wanted a free-standing fireplace in their home.  Ron decided to build one himself, becoming interested in inventing a non-smoking fireplace.  Within the year, his brother Dan would join him to start the Heat-N-Glo fireplace manufacturing business.  Because the brothers were working full-time at other companies, they hired their brothers Steve and Gerald to help with the business.  By 1987, the company had grown to the point where Ron and Dan had to quit their other jobs to run the business full-time.  The headquarters of the business were located in Savage, MN, with manufacturing facilities in Burnsville, Lake City, and Montgomery.  In 1996, Ron and Dan sold Heat-N-Glo, Inc. to HON Industries for $76 million.  They “held more than 20 key patents” related to their fireplaces.  (“Under My Roof: The George and Laura Shimek Family – Seven Generations – 1700’s-2007” by Laura Shimek, 2007)

124.  Walter Folsom (1863-1954) – According to his obituary in the Little Falls Daily Transcript, Walter Folsom was “one of the pioneer music men in Minnesota” and “a talented and versatile musician.” (LFDT, December 4, 1954)  He organized bands in Wadena, Detroit Lakes, Perham, Verndale and Little Falls.  In 1898, he founded Folsom Music Company in Little Falls, operating it in several downtown locations until 1923.  In 1921, he opened a music store in Brainerd, MN.  He taught lessons in violin, cornet, and piano.

125.  Frank Gessell – Morrison County, Minnesota, is known for turkey production, ranking second in the state in 1999, with 5,497,442 birds produced.  (Morrison County Record, November 20, 2002)  The Gessell family of Swanville, MN, is one of the families involved with turkey farming.  In 1998, Frank Gessell, then Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, presented President Bill Clinton with a turkey to be pardoned.  (Morrison County Record, December 6, 1998)

This week’s Influentials:

126. Gilly Maus

127.  R. B. Millard

128.  Austin F. Koslosky

129.  Mike Schulte

130.  Isaac E. Staples

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