Kittson County Historical Society

Kittson profiles and photos from the past and present

Outside Ray's Father's Store

The Historical Society is interested in any info that you can give about this store.

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Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on March 31, 2014 at 10:07am

The Lancaster Hardware Store was the third business to be established in Lancaster MN after the Soo Line railroad arrived in 1904.  The store was built by William A. Lindgren and Oscar Ryden, and was located on the east side of Central Avenue in the vicinity of where Glad’s store is now located.  Oscar Ryden was the son of John Ryden of Hallock.  It was the first business in Lancaster to sell farm implements although the date when implement sales commenced is unknown.  Based upon photographs showing the businesses on the east side of Central Avenue, the photo is perhaps circa 1904-1905, about the time that the building was constructed.  Another photo, possibly taken in 1913, shows the Farmers and Merchants State Bank on the south side of the hardware store, an adjoining building to the north with a John Deere sign on the front (likely the farm implement part of the hardware store), a vacant lot, and then the Lancaster hotel.

Lindgren and Ryden were active in the promotion of their community and of their business.  The first village council election was held  in 1905; Lindgren was elected village trustee and Ryden was elected treasurer.  Both men were members of the fire department and in 1906, Ryden was elected fire chief.  Lindgren and Ryden were also active in the Commercial Club of Lancaster; in 1907, Lindgren served as secretary and Ryden as a director.

The business partners continued their commitment to serve on the village council; in 1908, Lindgren served as council president and Ryden served as treasurer.  In 1908, a regular meeting of the village council was held at the hardware store.  Items on the agenda included a proposal to build a new town hall and a “lock up” both of which were subsequently built.  Construction of the city hall began early in 1908 and the contractor, Walter Norris, notified the council that the new building would be “completed in time to be used for the fourth of July celebration.”  The jail was built on a lot located between the hardware store and the Lancaster hotel.  Initially it served as the jail but was later used as the location of the fire department.  The modest building occupied the site where the dental office of Dr. M. W. Hoffman was eventually located.  Lindgren also served as the local undertaker for a number of years.

Lindberg and Ryden were active members of the Lancaster Swedish Lutheran Zion Church, serving as board member and treasurer, respectively.  Lindgren’s wife, Irene, was a teacher at the Lancaster school.

Lindgren and Ryden were avid sportsmen and were members of the Lancaster hockey team.  According to The Lancaster Herald, on February 22, 1909, they traveled to the Hallock Ice Rink.  Resplendent in their hockey breezers and armed with skates, sticks, and a competitive attitude, they entertained a cheering crowd of partisan fans in a hotly contested but friendly game against what the newspaper called the “married men’s” team of Hallock.  Perhaps with a bit of hyperbole, the Herald portrayed the contest as being “for the championship of the county.”  No mention is made of the outcome of the game or if a suitable County Championship trophy was awarded to the winning team.

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on March 31, 2014 at 10:08am

Investments to improve the business were made from time to time.  In 1907 the firm installed a modern acetylene gas lighting system in the store and in 1918 a new basement was constructed under the building and a modern heating plant installed.

In September, 1920, The Lancaster Herald reported that “A fellow driving a Grant car stopped outside of the Lancaster Hardware company store to get some gas Thursday morning.  However, the fellows were plainly under the influence of the stuff that cheers and as it also happened that a couple revenue men loitering around, the latter insisted on taking a look into the strangers machine.  A search brought to light some over two hundred quarts of good Canadian “booze”.  The load is now temporarily reposing in the safe deposit vault of the Farmers & Merchants Bank and the owners of the car were taken in custody by the revenuers.  One of the fellows gave his name as Jack Kennedy, a resident of Minneapolis.”  In 1925, the Herald reported that The Cities Service Company installed a new filling tank for the Lindgren and Holmquist Hardware Store providing gasoline for the increasing number of automobile owners in the village and a few autos passing through town.  Reprinted from the Warren Sheaf, September 29, 1920, Image 8, provided by Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul MN.

In 1931, Lindgren was returning from a trip to Grand Forks and suffered a stroke resulting in paralysis on his left side.  The severity of the stroke is unknown but his recovery apparently was excellent; the following year, 1932, he served as a member of the village school board.

In September of 1935, and in what The Lancaster Herald described as “the worst fire in the history of Lancaster”, a fire began at about 1:00 A.M. in the back of the Holmquist Hardware store.  Due to strong northwesterly winds, the fire spread rapidly to adjoining buildings destroying the hardware store, the post office and the Lancaster hotel.  The fire was reported by C. E. Patchin, assistant postmaster whose living quarters were in the back of the post office building.  Scant little was saved from any of the buildings and the cause of the fire is unknown.

The newspaper report on the fire refers to the business as the Holmquist Hardware Store with no mention of Lindgren or Ryden.  It is not known if Lindberg and Ryden had previously sold their interests in the business to Holmquist.  In the Lancaster Anniversary book’s introductory essay on the History of the Village of Lancaster, it is simply noted that “in later years, A. C. Holmquist operated the business with Mr. Lindgren.”  It also should be noted that beginning in about 1925, the Lindgren and Holmquist names continued to be associated with the hardware store but the Ryden name was no longer mentioned in newspaper accounts.

In the fall of 1935 the Herald reported that Holmquist had lost nearly everything in the fire and the building and its contents were not insured.  A benefit for the Holmquist family was held at the Lancaster Sion Lutheran Church.  Shortly thereafter, Holmquist and his family moved to Grand Forks ND where he had obtained employment.

It not presently known when Holmquist came to Lancaster to pursue the ownership of the hardware store.  However, he was well qualified in matters of business management.

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on March 31, 2014 at 10:10am

According to The Lutheran Companion , Published in Rock Island Ill., Vol. XXV, No. 26, dated Saturday, June, 30, 1917, A, C. Holmquist had served as Principal of the Commercial Department at the North Star College in Warren, Minn.  The college was under the jurisdiction of the Augustana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and offered classes from 1908 to 1936.

On September 6, 1936, Mr. and Mrs. William A. Lindgren celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.  A story in the Bronson Budget, Bronson, Kittson County, Minnesota
Thursday, September 7, 1911, p. 4, col. 4. reported that “The editor and wife acknowledge with pleasure announcement of the wedding at her home in St. Peter, Minn. of Miss Irene Smith on Tuesday, September 5th to Wm. Lindgren, one of the leading young business men of Lancaster. She first came to Kittson county as teacher in the Pelan schools and later at Lancaster, in both places she proved herself a popular instructor, and here at this latter place began the courtship that has cumiliated [sic] in the eternal matrimonial vows of Tuesday. She is one of the gentlest and most womanly little women within the circle of our knowledge, a graceful ornament to the best of her sex and will bring to the home of the Lindgrens a prominent and respected place in the social life of Lancaster. Mr. Lindgren stands high in business circles, a genial well met fellow, and the many friends of the happy pair extend their best wishes with hearty and unamious [sic] accord.”

On June 10th, 1937, their daughter, Mary K. Lindgren, graduated from Lancaster High School.  In 1939, a well attended farewell reception was held for the William A. Lindgren family.

Lindgren, Ryden, and Holmquist left a 32 year legacy of serving the needs of the community through business, involvement in civic affairs, and their church.

~Except where noted, information is taken from the Golden Jubilee Book, 1904-1954, published by the Lancaster Fiftieth Anniversary Committee and Staff.  The booklet is based upon news items appearing in issues of The Lancaster Herald with the exception of 1911 which could not be found by the Anniversary Committee.

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on March 31, 2014 at 10:12am

On a personal note, my mother Edythe Elinore Smolak was a member of the Lancaster High School Class of 1937 and was a classmate of Mary K. Lindgren.

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on December 14, 2015 at 10:34pm

Additional information about the Holmquist and Lindgren families found in the 1930 census.  The number in parenthesis is the age of the person at the time of the census.

A. C Holmquist (52) was born in Sweden.  He and his wife Dora (47) had five children: Carl (18), Lucille (12), Roy (9), Ray (4), and Ruth (6).  Two of the Holmquist children graduated from Lancaster High School; Carl with the class of 1928 and Lucille was a member of the class of 1935.  Holmquist was listed in the 1930 census as the Proprietor, Hardware.  Son Carl was listed as Salesman, Hardware.

William (51) and Irene (43) Lindgren raised four children in Lancaster.  All graduated from Lancaster High School; Marguerite (17) and Allan (16) were members of the class of 1932 and John (13) was a member of the class of 1934 and, as previously noted, Mary K. (10) graduated in 1937.  Lindgren's occupation in the 1930 census was, Proprietor, Implement Dealer.

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