Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Doris the Riviter

Doris Robieson Hoplin - A "Rosie the Riveter" Story




4 Rosies in Sacramento 

Those of a certain age will find this story familiar, but there are fewer and fewer of those of a certain age.  It is a story that should not be forgotten.

In 1941, America entered WWII with a drastically under-manned military, less than 1/2 million men in uniform vs 8 million in the Wehrmacht and 2 million in the Japanese Imperial Army. A rapid military ramp-up coinciding with a massive industrial effort led to a severe shortage of workers in America's factories. This marked the beginning of the "Rosie the Riveter" phenomenon. Between 1940 and 1945, nearly 20 million American women went to work in various war-related jobs. By 1944, 475,000 women worked in the aircraft industry, 65% of that sector's workforce. 


Public domain image

The iconic "Rosie the Riveter" image was coined in a song of the same name written by Red Evans & John Loeb and popularized by the big band of Kay Kyser. The inspiration for the song is disputed. It may have been Rosalind Walter, who worked the night shift building F4U Corsair fighters, or Rosie Bonavita in San Diego, but the iconic red kerchiefed Rosie posters became most closely associated with Rose Monroe, who worked at Michigan's Willow Run factory building B-24's. Rosie was also the subject of a documentary film, "The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter" and a Hollywood drama, "Rosie the Riveter". 

Norman Rockwell put Rosie on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. It proved so popular that the War Department used it during War Bond Drives. [Editor note: the original Rosie the Riveter Rockwell painting sold for ~$5 million in 2002]. And Rosie was featured in other propaganda posters, the most famous being the "We Can Do It" poster

[Editor note: there was also a lesser known "Wendy the Welder" by Norman Rockwell.]  


"You came out to California, put on your pants, and took your lunch pail to a man’s job. This was the beginning of women’s feeling that they could be something more."
SYBIL LEWIS, RIVETER FOR LOCKHEED

[Editor note: Even if you read no further, take a look at a WWII Rosie photo album in colorized on mashable.com.]

In addition to the civilian workers, nearly 400,000 women served in the U.S. armed forces, including 60,000 nurses. [see my series of 8 posts on WWII Army nurse, Othelia Rosten's Story of the 95th Evac Division]



Doris in Lowry next to a war bond poster
My aunt Doris was Lowry's "Rosie". During WWII, she worked for the U. S. Army Air Force in the manufacturing department in Sacramento and San Bernadino, California. "Doris the Riveter" doesn't have the alliteration of Rosie ... and she didn't drive rivets, but hers is real and specific case of the contribution the women of America made to the war effort. 









Editor note: The following account is edited from Robieson family stories.

Doris worked making parts to repair the shot up planes that came in to McClellan Army Air Force Base in Sacramento, CA., a maintenance, repair and training facility. [Editor note: Jimmy Doolittle's B-24 bombers were retrofitted at McClellan to be "carrier based" planes for his raid on Tokyo in 1942]

She never actually worked on airplane construction – rather making the parts. At times she was asked to hold a part that was likely on a wing, where they needed someone with very small hands. She might hold a rivet while someone pounded it in place. It was a dirty job, sometimes the planes came in all blood spattered.

But her story didn’t start on the West Coast. When she was seventeen she went by train to Portsmouth, Virginia with Uncle Jim and Aunt Verona to help take care of Jane and Joan while Verona got the house set up. Doris said she did a lot of caring for Jane and Joan. She remembers that she turned eighteen while in Virginia and fully intended to get a job on the East Coast.

But Grandma Ellen came down with encephalitis (sleeping sickness) and Grandpa asked Doris to come home to help out. Doris came back to Lowry where she got the twins off to school, made Grandpa’s breakfast, milked the cow, etc. She also worked at the Lowry Implement office and helped put machinery together. There were no men around to work with the war so they asked if Doris could please help out. The farmers couldn’t get new machinery because of the war, so they had to fix used machines and got parts wherever they could. 

Then Claude Middents, the Lowry Druggist, asked if Doris could please come over at noon to cover the shop so the druggist could go home to eat lunch. Uncle Francis worked at the drug store some too. So she had three jobs.

One day, Grandpa Jim told her that a guy would come talk to her and that she should listen to him. Apparently Grandpa knew who and what this was about. The man explained that they were looking for girls to train for the war effort in a six week course in Glenwood. They could take classes in radio, sheet metal, etc. Doris chose sheet metal. She still has some of the things she made in class. She made two dustpans with long handles and gave one to Grandpa Jim that he used in his office in the depot. The other one was used upstairs in the living quarters. They were well built and will last forever.

After the training in Glenwood, about ten girls went by train to McClellan Field in Sacramento, California where they worked making plane parts. There was a call for people to go work in Hawaii. But some guys told the girls that they didn’t want to work in Hawaii because of the blackouts – there would be no movies, no nightlife after work. So they transferred to San Bernadino Air Depot, which became Norton Air Force Base in 1948. Here she was closer to Uncle Clarence who occasionally took her out for dinner. While there, the girls had easy access to Los Angeles and San Diego that had parks and things to do on weekends, which they always had off.

As the war was wrapping up, Doris and four others quit their job and planned to take the bus home the next day. But after thinking harder, she knew her dad would have a fit if she took a bus. So she decided to take the train instead. Uncle Clarence and a friend popped in and Doris said the girls were all packed and planned to take the bus, but Doris would take the train the next day. Uncle Clarence asked ‘What’s wrong with taking the train today?” So they went shopping for some bread and things to make sandwiches for the trip and when they got to the train station with just half an hour to spare. She got on and left just like that.

She talked about the beautiful train trip through the mountains. Many years later she and Uncle Bud flew to Denver and took the Amtrak train to the Emeryville stop, near San Francisco. From there they rented a car and drove to LA. She had researched the Thomas Gainsborough painting ‘The Blue Boy’ and finding it wasn’t in Great Britain where she had thought, rather it was in a private museum in Los
Angeles, one of the reasons for the trip. She got to see the painting and they flew home from there.

When Doris quit her Rosie job, she went to Minneapolis where it was easy to get jobs in the city.  Jeanne Robieson Bennett was working at Abbott Hospital and had a davenport that opened up to a bed, so she could move in with Jeanne and help pay rent. Ruby Robieson Bennett lived on the same block as Northwestern Hospital across 26th street. There were a lot of old houses that had lots of rooms rented out to working girls. One room opened up and Doris lived with Ruby for a while. Doris went to work for Ewald Brothers' Dairy of "Golden Guernsey" fame and was one of the Ewald girls featured in their advertising. 



Doris was glad they finally gave Rosie the recognition she deserved. A few years ago, she was asked to write up what she remembered and sent it in. She believes the information collected was used for a Rosie the Riveter display in Burlington, Washington. And Ken Burns was coming to either St. Cloud or Luverne, Minnesota collect personal accounts of the war for a seven part, 14-hour long documentary called ‘The War’ that aired in 2007 on public TV and premiered in Luverne, Minnesota.  Luverne along with Sacramento, Mobile & Waterbury were the 4 towns featured in the series. Doris wasn’t interviewed for that but the documentary is available on Netflix


Copyright © 2017 Dave Hoplin

Sources:
Robieson's "Doris' Rosie the Riveter" story
History.com http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/rosie-the-riveter
Ken Burns "The War" Sacramento http://www.pbs.org/thewar/the_witnesses_towns_sacramento.htm

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lowry Pioneers


Minnesota Historical Society photo


The water tower says 1886, but other sources say 1887. So, we'll go with the water tower.

In any case, in 1887, Lowry, for a brief time, became the western terminus of the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Ste. Sault Marie railway, known by it's english pronunciation "Soo". The date probably doesn't matter that much except for centennial celebrations, but either '86 or '87 marked the beginnings of the Village of Lowry.





Ben Wade, as it was then known, became a railway branch point, had a roundhouse and railroad shop. This eventually moved to Glenwood. The Village of Lowry was named for the then president of the "Soo Line", Thomas Lowry, who went on to Minneapolis streetcar fame and wealth.


1960's Soo Line Railway map


The village was sited on portions of the farms of Hugh Bryce and Thomas Hume. Lowry was initially part of the town of Ben Wade and did not incorporate as a village until 1896.


ancestry.com photo

ancestry.com photo


Both Hugh Bryce and Thomas Hume were Scotsmen, moving to Pope County from Canada about 1870. Hugh Bryce farmed but also had a freighting business, delivering goods on the "Red River Trail" to Fort Gary (Winnipeg) and other military outposts in the northwest.  The current Soo Line railway parallels that early pioneer oxcart trail.



ancestry.com record


Another Scotsman, August Lysen, appointed in 1899, was the Lowry postmaster for nearly 30 years.



So, Lowry has deep Scottish roots.


However, the first town council president was Martin Bartos, a Bohemian.
Martin Bartos
ancestry.com photo
Martin partnered in the creation of the Lowry Roller Mills flour milling company. The mill was later purchased by Leslie & Misenol who operated until it burned to the ground in 1937.

Minnesota Historical Society photo



Mill ashes. Author's collection


Hugh Bryce, E.R. Benson and Palmer Cox were on the original town council. According to census records, E.R. (Ed) Benson was the son of Swedish immigrants and worked as a cattle buyer and in 1930 had a radio set.

Palmer Cox
ancestry.com photo


As far as I can tell, Palmer Cox was the first hardware merchant in Lowry. The hardware dates from 1897 but its history, at least through 1916 is fuzzy.  It was owned by Palmer Cox in 1897. And then became Cox & Shermack.  I don't know what "Shermack" that might be.



From the 1897 "Age of Steel", hardware news.



The Lowry Hardware, Furniture & Machinery Company came into existence in 1904 with directors Wencel Bisek, John J Hagstrom, Fred E Robinson, Iver M Engebretson and Luther L Gibbon.

From the 1904 "Hardware Magazine".






At some point, ownership or management passed to "Stark & Anderson". I know this because of a purchase agreement in 1916 between them and my grandfather, Ole Hoplin, and great uncle, David Nelson, when the business became Hoplin & Nelson Hardware, Furniture and Machinery Co. (see my posts "A Good Place To Trade" and "Hoplin & Nelson Hardware").

William McIver, another Scot and progenitor of a number of Lowry notables, was an early merchant, partnering with Thomas Hume to establish a mercantile which operated for 70+ years, and came to be known as "McIver's Store" in my day. [see the interesting McIver Family History]

John J Hagstrom was the village's first implement dealer. Lowry residents of a certain age will remember "Happy" Hagstrom. [correction: "Happy" was John's son]

Pope County Historical Museum photo
Rebuilt after the 1911 fire

James Simpson, an Irishman by way of Canada, operated one of the first cooperative creameries in the state of Minnesota.

Pope County Historical Museum photo

Dr. L.L. (Luther Llewelyn) Gibbon, a beloved local physician, came to Lowry in 1897. Doc Gibbon graduated from the University of Minnesota, College of Medicine and Surgery in 1896 and practiced in Lowry from 1897 to his death in 1930. Doc Gibbon served as a surgeon in the medical corps in France in WWI. His surgery skills were so renowned that Starbuck Hospital drew patients from as far as South Dakota. My uncle Donald L. Hoplin shared his middle name in honor of the good doctor. When Doc Gibbon died of a stroke in 1930, this as the Great Depression was making for difficult times, his wife Anna, "allowed" my grandfather to buy Doc's old mammoth Hudson for $400. I don't believe that vehicle was ever driven in that decade. Cost prohibitive.

From the 1908 Minnesota Who's Who:
GIBBON, Luther, physician; born at Norwood, N. Y., March 29. 1875; son of Alfred Henry and Mary Jane (Gant) Gibbon: came to Minnesota. 1882; educated in public schools of Minneapolis: Minneapolis Academy; University of Minnesota. College of Medicine and Surgery, graduating, degree of M.D., 1896. In practice at Lowry since Nov. 8, 1897. Unmarried. Address: Lowry, Minn. 
[Editor note: Dr. Gibbon married Anna about 1912] 

There were a few Scandinavians around. The bank that was to become "Lowry State Bank" was established in 1899 and chartered in 1907 with Andrew Jacobson as president, succeeded by Iver Engebretson in 1926 who served as cashier until assuming the presidency. Iver was certainly "involved" in the Village of Lowry.

From the 1908 Minnesota Who's Who:
ENGEBRETSON, Iver Martin, banking; born at Ben Wade, Minn., March 11, 1877; son of Pedor and Anna (Ronning) Engebretson; educated in district schools of Pope Co., Minn., and state high schools of Glenwood, Alexandria and St. Cloud. Unmarried. Began in banking business Oct., 1899 and is cashier of Bank of Lowry; director and treasurer Lowry Telephone Co.; director Lowry Hardware, Furniture and Machine Co., Northwestern Mortgage Security Co. of Fargo. Was first Sargt. Co. M, 13th Minn. Vol. Inf., Spanish-American war and in the Philippines; treasurer village of Lowry; ex-president village council. Member Norwegian Lutheran Synod, M. W. A., Court of Honor. Address: Lowry, Minn. 
[Editor note: Iver married Sarah Jane Andrew in 1910]


Natural Disasters


Per the Glenwood Herald: In July 1897, Lowry was struck by a tornado, destroying the northern part of the town killing Samuel Morrow and his daughter and injuring several people and sweeping away the depot, lumber yard and the elevator. Damages estimated at $50,000.

Per the Glenwood Herald: In November 1911, the east side of main street was completely destroyed by fire. Destroyed were the Mercantile, Drug Store & JJ Hagstrom's Implement. Damages estimated in excess of $40,000. (Note: This is why all the east side buildings are brick and the west side mostly wooden structures.)
See my posts ("Main Street - West Side" and "Main Street - East Side" ).

And an unnatural disaster in 1915.  See Sid Stivland's post "Mayhem in Ben Wade Township".


Copyright © 2017 Dave Hoplin


Note:  Additions and corrections are welcome.  Please comment.

Sources:
Builders of Pope County - Daisy Ellen Hughes
Pope County Museum
www.mnopedia.com
wikimedia commons  - wikimedia.org
ancestry.com (public genealogy trees)
Minnesota History Center - mnhs.org
Lowry Centennial 1886-1986
Lowry Group website - lowrymn.com
Glenwood Herald
1897 Age of Steel (Google books)
1904 Hardware magazine (Google books)
1908 Minnesota Who's Who (Google books)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Twin City Bronze - Part 2

Usually, when I encounter a statue on my bike rides I am able to make a "Minnesota connection".  These are the "expected" monuments. There are also, however, the "unexpected", which makes it fun to keep looking.

The Expected

It is not surprising to find a mammoth statue of Leif Eriksson near the state capitol building since Leif discovered Minnesota and is rumored to have lived in Kensington for a time in the 1300's. I choose to ignore the other, later claimant on the opposite side of the capitol, Christopher Columbus.

Leif Eriksson

And it is also not surprising to find Father Hennepin on Hennepin Avenue before the Basilica of St. Mary, the very first basilica established in the United States. Father H's explorations and missionary work were a major part of my 6th grade Minnesota History class. Remember - Hennepin, LaSalle, LeSueur and Pierre "Pigs Eye" Parrant? Vive la France

Father Hennepin


Hubert Horatio Humphrey is stationed before the Minneapolis City Hall. Hubert served as mayor of Minneapolis from 1945 to 1948 after which he was promoted to the US Senate and then to Vice President under Lyndon Johnson and then lost the 1968 presidential race to Richard Nixon. "The Happy Warrior".

HHH


John Pillsbury, the great flour magnate and supreme University of Minnesota regent and benefactor, graces a knoll on the U of M campus. However, he stands not in front of Pillsbury Hall, a block or so east on Pillsbury Drive, but rather across from Burton Hall. Go figure.

John Pillsbury


F. Scott Fitzgerald of 'Great Gatsby' fame and husband of Zelda, was a St. Paulite, can be found in Rice Park. Did you know his name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald? Apparently he was a distant relative of that amateur poet.





And Herb Brooks is puzzlingly stationed by the Ordway Theater. After the 1980 "Miracle on Ice", he's Minnesota's closest thing to a saint.



And of course , Mary Richards, still tossing her tam on Nicollet Mall, although she has been moved inside. Not a big fan of worshipping TV characters.

Mary Tyler Moore aka Mary Richards

Thomas Lowry, best known by this blogger and readers for the founding of his namesake metropolis. He currently stands in Triangle Park, Minneapolis. [Editor note: I am drafting a petition to the Minneapolis Park Board to have him moved to a site next to Sequoia Coffee, Highway 55 & Main St., Lowry, MN.]

Thomas Lowry, Street Car magnate

The Unexpected.  The "what the heck" statues?

The surprising "what the heck?" moments from my catalog of statues are the most fun. What's the story behind these?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It's not really that surprising to find a statue of the great poet in Minneapolis, given his Gitchee-Gumee epic, but he sits off in the weeds - dressed in a toga no less. He's hard to find. You must walk down a dirt path below the Minnehaha Park's Pergola Garden - and he's deteriorating badly, along with the rest of us. (Editor note: full disclosure - he's not bronze). I suspect few are aware of his existence.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

HWL in the weeds


It turns out the good Henry, carved by sculptor Andrew Gewant, was the center-piece of the now defunct Longfellow Zoological Gardens, a bustling zoo on southern reaches of Minneapolis. Henry and the Longfellow House are all that remain of that zoo, incorporated into Minnehaha Park. The zoo was privately established in 1907, was immensely popular and easily reached at the end of a street car line. A perfect Sunday afternoon outing. The zoo featured animal shows with lions, elephants, seals, and a monkey house. Minnehaha Creek was diverted for a seal pond. The zoo ran into hard times in the 20's and eventually many of the animals were moved to Como Park and the land deeded to the city in the 30's.

Longfellow Zoological Gardens ~1910. Photo courtesy Library of Congress
What to do with Henry.  No funds could be found to move him, so he sits today in his original location which is now out-of-sight back in the weeds. [Editor note:  it's actually a prairie restoration]



Gunnar Wennerberg


Gunnar Wennerberg

Gunnar is tucked away near the Stevens' House in Minnehaha Park. Gunnar was a well known (by Swedes) Swedish poet and singer and statesman in the mid 1800's. As far as I can tell, he was never in Minnesota. The statue, sculpted by Carl Johan Eldh, was erected in 1915, funded by the Wennerberg Memorial Society. Svenskarnas Dag irrational exuberance, I believe. Or perhaps a Scandinavian art war to counter the Norwegian "Ole Bull" statue in Loring Park.

Wikipedia has this faint praise for Gunnar's work:
"His poems, to which their musical accompaniment is almost essential, have not ceased, in half a century, to be universally pleasing to Swedish ears; outside Sweden it would be difficult to make their peculiarly local charm intelligible."



General Emiliano Zapata

Zapata stands on Lake St. in Minneapolis. The statue is a gift from the Mexican state of Morelos. Zapata, a native of Morelos, fought in the Mexican Revolution for the rights of peasants that in 1914 led to the overthrow of the Mexican government. Lake Street has seen waves of immigrants over the past 200 years and General Zapata represents the indomitable spirits of all nationalities. The statue was unveiled in 2013.

Zapata


Nathan Hale

Nathan Hale in Nathan Hale Park, Summit Ave, St. Paul
September, 1776, as he was about to be hanged in New York by the British for spying, Nathan Hale said: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country". Well deserving of tribute, but how did he end up on Summit Avenue?

Well - Nathan Hale was a graduate of Yale and the statue was offered to that university. The Yale curator thought the statue made Hale look too old, so the offer was rejected and Nathan came to Minnesota, the first Revolutionary War tribute west of the Mississippi. The statue was erected in 1907.



Johan Fredrik Schiller

Schiller in Como Park, St. Paul
The Schiller statue was created in Berlin and gifted to the City of St. Paul by the U.S. German Society and St. Paul's German citizens in 1907. Perhaps not coincidental that Norwegian, Ole Bull & Swede, Gunnar Wennerberg came to town about the same time.



Indian hunter and dog

Indian hunting with dog

In a non-functioning fountain on Summit Ave, St. Paul


Lumberman

The Lumberman
In Camden neighborhood, North Minneapolis.

Copyright © 2017 Dave Hoplin

[All photos from the author's collection, except where noted]



Monday, September 25, 2017

Twin City Bronze - Part 1

The Twin Cities are home to a remarkable number of bronze statues and as far as I can tell, not a single general-on-a-horse. Many honor artists, writers or musicians - though there is a fair sampling of politicians - and many are tucked in out of the way locations. I have bumped into (not literally) a number of them on my bicycle tours.

Hiawatha and Minnehaha

Prior to my generation, memorizing poetry was a standard grade school requirement. My grandmother could recite poem after poem from memory and my mother won an award for reciting "The Village Smithy" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow before her 3rd grade class. Memorization is now pas·sé , as is memory itself, thanks to our friends at Google. However, there is one poem I did memorize in elementary school - "The Song of Hiawatha" - also by Longfellow. Well, to be honest, I memorized just the first stanza, the "By the shores of Gitchee Gumee / By the shining Big-Sea-Water / Stood the wigwam of Nokomis ...". Turns out there are some 22 chapters in this epic poem. It is written in trochaic tetrameter in case you wondered.

And as you may know, this is all "Minnesota Stuff". Gitchee Gumee is now known as Lake Superior. Nokomis was Hiawatha's grandmother and has a Minneapolis lake, park, street and library bearing her name. And then there is Hiawatha and his love, Minnehaha. Apparently, there was a real Hiawatha, one of the founders of the Iroquois Nation, but the one we are concerned with here is fictional, the subject of Longfellow's poem. Hiawatha not only has a lake, street, school etc. bearing his name, but also a light rail line and a golf course (soon to disappear) and a bank. Minnehaha has a street, a creek that runs from Minnetonka to the Mississippi and Minneapolis' best park named for her. And tucked back in the weeds just upstream from Minnehaha Falls is this:

Bronze of Hiawatha & Minnehaha
The statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha was created by Jacob Fjelde, a Norwegian immigrant, so the pair look pretty Scandinavian. The statue was installed in 1912.

Ole Bull

Keeping on the Scandinavian theme, tucked away on the fringe of Loring Park at the edge of downtown Minneapolis, you will find a statue of Ole Bull, erected in 1897, also by Jacob Fjelde, and here the Norwegian likeness seems appropriate.

Ole Bull

Ole Bull was an internationally famous Norwegian virtuoso violinist, an acquaintance of Chopin and Paganini. In the 1840's he made an extensive concert tour in the USA. In his grade school years, my father was a member of Mrs. Lesley's Lowry Children's Orchestra - in the violin section. He claimed that he was destined to supplant Ole Bull in the annals of violin virtuosity, but his brother Don, sat on his violin thus ending a budding career. This was during the depression years so a replacement was not in the cards.

Norman Borlaug

The next obscure statue is of Norman Borlaug. I suspect the name is unfamiliar to you. Dr. Borlaug was an agronomist and humanitarian whose work to produce high-yield, disease resistant wheat is credited with saving a billion lives from starvation. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

Norman Borlaug

His statue is modestly placed in a green space on the University of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus. Here's to more praise for humanitarians.


Twin City statuary seems to be making a comeback. There are over 100 Peanuts character statues scattered around the Twin Cities. These are all fiber glass. Poor Charlie Brown. Another embarrassment. Maybe more on this another time.

And the Minnesota Twins are getting into the "swing" with bronzes of the famous circling Target Field.  I'll let you guess who these two are. Hint: not Sid Hartman.




To be continued.

Copyright © 2017 Dave Hoplin

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Vintage Lowry Photo

Help me out here.  There are several people in this 1950ish Lowry photo I cannot identify.

Identified:

  • Leo, Blanche, Barbara Dahl
  • Signe Greenfield
  • Martin, Marian, Lorraine, Harold, Merlin Heggestad
  • Ole , Esther Hoplin
  • Glenn, Ruth, David Hoplin
  • Dave Nelson
  • Olaf Nelson
  • ...
Who are the rest?  Please use the comment field below to help me out.  Thanks in advance.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Lowry Hill

Lowry Hill Neighborhood
Since the 1880's, Lowry Hill has been one of the posh neighborhoods of Minneapolis, situated to the immediate west of downtown, surrounding the Walker Art Center. (see red outline). The even posher Kenwood borders it to the west.

Minneapolis also has a "Lowry Tunnel" and a "Lowry Avenue" and a "Lowry Bridge" and a "Lowry Park". This strong Lowry presence piques my interest as I hail from the sleepy village of Lowry, Minnesota, somewhat to the west of Minneapolis. Turns out there is a strong connection.



Lowry Bridge (author photo)

Lowry Park (author photo)
Lowry Tunnel (Star-Tribune)





















The lawyer, Thomas Lowry, arrived from Illinois in the late 1860's. Interestingly, Thomas' choice of profession may have been influenced by the family's lawyer - Abraham Lincoln.  In the early 1870's Lowry and a partner acquired 148 acres of "prairie" to the west of Minneapolis, albeit with a rugged hill known as the "Devil's Backbone". The hill was considerably higher than it is currently because in the course of developing the area Lowry had the top of the hill "chopped" and hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of dirt moved to the marshy lower area - now the Walker's Sculpture Garden.  An 1879 artist rendering of the area is on a Loring Park historical marker located at Grant St. , west of Nicollet Mall. See https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=91406

Thomas Lowry home (Mpls Historical)

The first "Lowry Hill" house was Lowry's own, located where Walker Art Center now sits.  With Lowry's exemplary "model home", the area soon became the place to build for the city's shaker's and movers. Donaldson of department store fame, W.S. Nott of fire engine fame and Lowry's architect himself, Frank Long among his neighbors. 

Lowry subsequently became involved in other ventures - the Twin Cities street car system - and, significantly to me, a partner in the Soo Line Railroad, which had a station at a lonely spot in west-central Minnesota in the 1890's. The residents decided to name the spot "Lowry" after the railroad and street-car tycoon.

So out of curiosity, I recently did a bicycle tour of Lowry Hill Neighborhood looking for some of the early homesteads. I was happy to see that not every residence was a "mansion".  Most of the houses pictured below were built between 1900-1910.

Somewhat ostentatious. Original owner was Charles Pennington, Soo Line President.

Once the home of Minnesota Governor, John Lind







And even better ...