Kittson County Historical Society

Kittson profiles and photos from the past and present


Lancaster, Mn 56735

Photos and history of the town.

Members: 8
Latest Activity: Aug 13, 2014


The photo was taken from the grain elevator looking south west at the main street of town..
How many of the buildings can you identify. The old city hall is obvious. Doc Hoffman's office, and the grocery store are easy, how about the rest?
The original photo was very wide so it has been scanned in three sections. This is the center section and the other photos will follow.

Discussion Forum

Lancaster 1 Reply

Started by Georgine Cleem Whalen. Last reply by Glenn Browne Jul 1, 2010.

End of School card 2 Replies

Started by Glenn Browne. Last reply by Glenn Browne Apr 30, 2009.

Comment Wall

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on May 16, 2014 at 1:43pm

Dr. Seuss had a cat in the hat but my aunt Eunice Smolak had a cat in the sock on the clothesline in Lancaster.  She was trying to take a picture of the cat but it would not sit still for the historical cat portrait.  She and her sister and a cousin set about to do some problem solving.  Her cousin Grace Johnson suggested that they put the cat in a sock and pin it on the clothesline.  The name of the cat is unknown.

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on May 16, 2014 at 4:02pm

Lancaster businessman George Smolak returns to the Smolak Cream Station after making a delivery to local businesses.  1951

George Smolak was born to Michael and Pauline Pasierb Smolak in Sokoluw, Poland, on April 10, 1887.  His father Michael died in Poland and his mother Pauline married Martin Kraska.  In 1896, when he was nine years old, he and his mother came to the United States and joined his step father, Martin Kraska and his older brother Kasmir Smolak.  They lived and farmed east of Orleans, Minnesota.  George attended a rural Orleans school.

George married Mary Florence Larter on March 7, 1913.  They lived in Miles City, Montana, for three years and returned to Lancaster in 1916.  George worked as a clerk at the C. E. Swenson Mercantile store from 1916 to 1941.  From 1941 to 1947 he was employed as a clerk at Smith’s Store in Lancaster.  In 1947 he established his own business known as the Smolak Cream Station which was affiliated with the Hallock Creamery, in Hallock, Minnesota.  He operated the cream station until his untimely death in 1951 at age 64.  The business was subsequently operated by Olof Hugg.

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on June 2, 2014 at 11:04am

Identity of the buildings in the 1939 aerial photo of the Lancaster business district taken from the head house of the  Farmers Co-op Elevator Co., which was located on the north side of the Soo Line tracks and opposite the Soo Line Depot. 

In the background, beginning to the right of city hall:

  1. Unknown white frame building
  2. Mission Covenant Church
  3. Dairy barn, owner unknown, possibly Bernard “Barny” Rundquist
  4. August Lindquist Farmers Repair (long building with several windows)
  5. Baptist Church (formerly the Methodist Church)

Left to Right, beginning in left corner on west side of Central Avenue:

1. City Hall

  1. William L. Peterson Law Office; also office of The Lancaster Herald, Ernest Meyer, publisher
  2. Homstad Motor Company and Garage
  3. Elmer E. “Jelly” Smith store
  4. Olof M. Glad dry goods store
  5. Grand Hotel/billiards parlor/bar, Peter Swenson, owner
  6. Fred and Melvie Rupert Cash Market.
  7. Andrew W. Clay Drug store
  8. George and Minnie Dahl Cafe
  9. Edward Johnson Farmers Hardware Company
  10. C. E. Swenson Mercantile

Left to Right, east side of Central Avenue:

  1. Lindquist and Bernstom service station
  2. Vault remains of the Farmer’s and Merchants State Bank which burned down in 1935
  3. Dr. M. W. Hoffman dental office
  4. U. S. Post Office.  Aileen Ellefson, postmaster
  5. Edward and Serena Dahlman restaurant
  6. Andrew “Dinty” Glad barbershop.
  7. Two Rivers Telephone Company central office

Visible in extreme lower left corner is the roof and loading platform of the Soo Line Railroad depot.

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on June 2, 2014 at 2:00pm

Lancaster High School girl's basketball circa 1936.  L-R, Helen Pearson, unk, unk, Edythe Smolak, unk, unk.  Pearson and Smolak were members of the class of 1937.

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on June 4, 2014 at 9:20am

Three Lancaster business owners.  Circa 1941-1942.  Left to Right: Elwyn E. “Doc” Syverson, Maimi “Dock” Dockendorf, and Robert D. Kruse.

Elwyn E. “Doc” Syverson, a pharmacist from Centerville, South Dakota, and his wife Ramona moved to Lancaster sometime prior to 1940.  They were employed at the Clay Drug store in Lancaster which was established in 1936 by Andrew W. Clay, a pharmacist from nearby Greenbush, Minnesota. In 1944, Elwyn and his wife Ramona purchased the Clay Drug Store from druggist Ruggles Clay, son of Andrew W. Clay.  Ruggles Clay was owner of the Clay Drug Store in Hallock, Minnesota and was listed as a resident of Hallock in the 1940 census.  In 1947, Syverson and his wife Ramona sold the business to Orville “Ding” Lund, of Lancaster.

In 1940, Maimi Dockendorf and Mrs Leland Knights, both from Thief River Falls MN,  leased the George and Minnie Dahl cafe.  In 1941, Mrs Knight returned to Thief River Falls and Maimi Dockendorf became the sole operator of the cafe.  In 1942, George and Minnie Dahl resumed operation of the cafe and Maimi Dockendorf returned to Thief River Falls.  The Dahl’s operated the cafe until 1945 at which time it was purchased by Matie Cashman.  Cashman ran the cafe until 1948 at which time Herman “Red” and Frida Erickson purchased the cafe.

Robert D. Kruse was the Lancaster area Standard Oil agent for retail bulk gasoline, oil, and other petroleum products..  

The photo is taken in front the Edward Johnson Farmers Hardware Company store and garage.  In addition to a full range of hardware products, the store was also a dealer for Ford automobiles.  In 1916, the Lancaster Herald reported that “the Farmers Hardware Co. received a [rail] car containing eight Ford touring cars” and that “they have most of them sold already as Fords will be in style this year.”  In 1927, the Herald reported that the Farmers Hardware had sold four Whippet cars to area residents.  The store dispensed gasoline from the pump which is visible on the right edge of the photo.  Upon close examination, note that the pump is topped off with the signature glass Standard Oil Red Crown globe.  In 1949, the business was sold to the Lund brothers,Lawrence, Leslie, and Marvin, and it became known as the Lund Brothers Marshall-Wells Hardware. 

The C. E. Swenson general mercantile store adjoins the Johnson Farmers Hardware store to the north.  The Dahl Cafe was on the south side of the Johnson hardware store and the Clay Drug Store was on the south side of the Dahl Cafe.

There was a small open space between the cafe and hardware store buildings.  In the photo, a metal Firestone tire sign occupies that space.


Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on June 14, 2014 at 5:07pm

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on June 14, 2014 at 5:07pm

Class of 1937 - Lancaster High School

Top row, L to R:

G. Elaine Madison

Edythe M. Swenson

Ardyce Karen Norland

Edythe Elinore Smolak

Vivian M. Hoglin

Row 2, L to R

James T. Freeman

Warren O. Glad

Supt. Robert M. Anderson

Earl E. Hanson

Row 3, L to R

Helen E. Pearson

Alice D. Bremer

Alvina Schwenzfeier

Pearl H. Pearson

Helen S. Brosvik

Row 4, L to R

Lawrence A. Lund

Frances A. Swenson

Pearl L. Olson

Margaret Mae Blair

Lawrence Fick

Bottom row, L to R

Clarence Backstrom

E. Mercedes M. Melin

Dorothy A. Anderson

Mary K. Lindgren

Harris O. M. Zakrison

Comment by Skip Smolak Rither on June 15, 2014 at 10:19am

Lancaster school class photo, circa 1931-32, possibly when they were in the 6th or 7th grade.  Students identified are members of the class of 1937.

Back row, 3rd from left: Lawrence Lund

Middle  row, 2nd from left: Warren Glad

Front row, 8th from left: Edythe Smolak


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