Cemetery stories back from the dead

EG Ad CS (2)After a year-long hiatus the Northfield Historical Society is excited to announce that Cemetery Stories will return to Oaklawn Cemetery October 10. The event will feature seven Northfielders from the past: Anna Mohn, Nellie “MOM” Phillips, Grace Whitter, Ira Sumner, Fredrick Heiberg, Margaret Evans Huntington, and George Huntington. Volunteers will adopt the personas of the seven while telling their stories at respective gravesites.

Tours will run October 10, 4:20–8 p.m. You can reserve your spot by calling the society at 507-645-9268, buying online at northfieldhistory.org, or by stopping by the Scriver Building at 408 Division Street.

“We’re excited to bring back this popular event after taking time to determine how best to infuse it with fresh ideas,” says NHS Executive Director Hayes Scriven.

Here is a taste of what you’ll learn at this year’s Cemetery Stories event:

  • Anna Mohn was born in Decorah, Iowa, in 1852. She married Thorbjorn Mohn, who went on to become the first president of St. Olaf College. During the event Anna talk about how the college grew, her memories of the failed 1876 raid by the James-Younger Gang, and about how her family started the Mohn Printing Company.
  • Nellie “MOM” Phillips was born October 18, 1887. She grew up in Northfield and graduated from Carleton. She is most well known for her Northfield News column “To our boys in the Service.” She always claimed she had more than 300 children — the men and women she wrote to during the war. Many would write her and she would answer and sign the letter “MOM.”
  • Ira Sumner was born June 24, 1845. One of Northfield’s earliest photographers, he was best known for taking pictures of the dead robbers after the failed 1876 bank raid. In 1866 he moved to Northfield from Red Wing and worked with Z. Roberts, Northfield’s first photographer. Roberts taught Sumner about large-format cameras and lighting. Sumner acquired Roberts’ business in 1872.


The Arts and Culture Commission invites Northfielders to submit the name of anyone whom they feel is worthy of being considered its 2016 Northfield Living Treasure.

The deadline for nominations is November 6, 2015. Nomination forms can be downloaded from http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/1507 or picked up in hard copy in the Museum Store.

The annual award honors an individual who has, over a period of time, made significant contributions to Northfield in, through, or on behalf of the arts and culture, so as to enhance the reputation of the city and the quality of life of its citizens.

Nominees may be either a practitioner in one or more of the arts, or an arts or cultural leader, supporter, or advocate. The award is one of recognition and has no financial value.

Criteria for nomination are adapted from the United Nations guidelines to countries, states, and cities who also offer such awards:

• The nominee must be living and a Northfield area resident.
• The nominee must have amassed a body of work that demonstrates consistency of excellence.
• The nominee must be an inspiration to others.
• Personal admirable attributes that the nominee may possess include: kindness, courage, wisdom, grace, authenticity, humor, humility, respectfulness and generosity.
• The nominee is encouraged to serve the community and share their expertise for a period of no less than twelve months from January 1 to December 31 during the year after receiving the award, to the extent they are able.

Previous recipients of the award have been Ray Jacobson, sculptor and visual artist; Myrna Johnson, theatre director, performer and arts-community leader; Cora Schultz, Northfield Youth Choirs founder and leader; Paul Niemisto, Vintage Band Festival founder and Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra founder and conductor; Patsy Dew, photographer, theatre artist, NAG and Senior Center arts programming developer and mentor; and Dewayne and Theo Wee, accomplished pianists, music teachers, and unstinting performers and accompanists for individuals and groups at more Northfield events than can be accounted for.

FINAL voting for 40/40 Exhibit in October

NHS 40th logoFor the past few  months NHS staff have been developing the 40 for 40 exhibits. We have enlisted help of some of our NHS members, but now we are asking for some broader community input. We have narrowed down the final exhibit themes to ten possibilities. We only have room for five. Help us choose what goes into the exhibit. This is the final round of voting before the exhibit opens in October.
You only have until September 30. The final exhibit opens on October 22.
The rules are simple, you can vote once per day! The artifact that has the most votes will be the winner!


What it is all about…


Joseph Lee Heywood

Today will mark the 139 anniversary of the failed bank raid by the James-Younger Gang. The gang rode into Northfield intent on robbing the First National Bank of Northfield. It was just a bit before 2:00 p.m. when three of the raiders entered the bank. It only lasted seven minutes but those seven minutes have stayed with Northfield forever.

This week Northfield celebrates the Defeat of Jesse James Days (DJJD). The celebration is for the towns people that defeated the James-Younger Gang. People like, J.S. Allen, Henry Wheeler, Elias Stacy, A.R. Manning, Frank Wilcox, Alonzo Bunker and of course Joseph Lee Heywood. It was because of the bravery of these men the gang was defeated. Heywood paid the ultimate price, he refused to open the vault for the gang even after multiple beatings and was he was killed for protecting Northfield’s future. It is the extraordinary courage of these ordinary men that we honor this week.
DJJD starts Wednesday (September 9th) with a graveside memorial for Heywood in the Northfield Cemetery at noon. It is a great way to start off a fun-filled weekend as it really helps put things in perspective.

DJJD: A Community Event

2013 DJJDThis is a guest column NHS Executive Director, Hayes Scriven submitted to the Northfield News on September 5.

For the past two years I have been writing a column to the Northfield News wearing my general chair of the Defeat of Jesse James Days Committee hat. However, since this year I am no longer chair — that honor has been passed onto TJ Heinricy — I will instead don my Northfield Historical Society hat.

DJJD is a fun, family-friendly community event. Because of the crowds and commotion, though, some consider it an annoyance (and understandably so). But here’s an often-forgotten fact: At its heart, DJJD is a community celebration.

DJJD is about honoring the heroes of 1876 and supporting Northfield’s nonprofits. At its core, DJJD is all about honoring Joseph Lee Heywood, Alonzo Bunker, Elias Stacey, Frank Wilcox, Henry Wheeler and the others that were involved in defending the First National Bank of Northfield.

We must remember that what these people did helped shape Northfield into the great place it is today.

Through community pride and support, the DJJD committee is still helping shape our great city. With more than 160 volunteers, DJJD is the largest all-volunteer festival in Minnesota. These are the dedicated people that attend the monthly meetings, chair events, ride horses, drive tractors and much more. This does not include the volunteers from the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, the Sertoma clubs, the Swim Club, the Sundowners Car Club — too many to list in all.

Finally, the one thing most people do not know is that DJJD functions as a fundraiser for many of these service clubs. Last year the DJJD Committee donated $39,000 to charities and high school students in Northfield. That does not include the more than $100,000 that charities made on their own using the DJJD celebration as a fundraiser — the majority of which comes back into the Northfield community.

DJJD is so much more than a carnival, entertainment center, car show or even a parade. It is a time of year when Northfielders can come together to celebrate the unique qualities that make this community great. So please join us September 9-13 to celebrate our community and the sacrifices of the people that came before us. But also let’s just celebrate Northfield!

Hayes Scriven
Executive Director
Northfield Historical Socety

What happening at NHS during DJJD

Raid photoDefeat of Jesse James Days is September 9-13. NHS will have special hours during the celebrations. They are:
September 9, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
September 10, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
September 11, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
September 12, 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
September 13, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Loon LiquorsNHS Open House
Every year we host an open house, this year we are celebrating the release of Derk Hansen’s new painting, “I knew how to handle a rifle.” See more about that below. In addition, we will also be hosting a product tasting by Northfield’s own Loon Liquors. The tasting will include their inaugural product, “Loonshine”, their newest gin, “Metropoligin,”and if we are lucky, we may even get to taste some of the test batch of their “James-Younger Gang” themed whiskey. So join us on Thursday September 10, at 6:30 p.m. for our open house.

LawDogs_Cover (2)Dan Marcou Book Signing
Author of the newly release book Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History will be signing copies of his book September 12 and 13 at the NHS tent on Bridge Square. The book gives the reader a fresh perspective on the old favorites, Wild Bill Hickok and the Earps, from a cop’s point of view. Additionally, you will read about the best law men and law women you have never heard of, whose careers and achievements eclipse even those of better known law men. A complete chapter is given to praise the unmatched efforts of the citizens in Northfield and Madelia, Minnesota in their successful battle and pursuit of the notorious James Gang. Finally, a book gives the real heroes of the James Gang saga their just due.

NEW Derk Hansen painting!Derk shot from Facebook
In addition, patrons will be able to order prints of Derk Hansen’s newest painting “I knew how to handle a rifle.” This new limited edition painting will celebrate the heroism of Northfield resident Henry Wheeler, a medical student home on leave who witnessed the robbery unfolding in front of his father’s store. After altering the other citizens by shouting “ROBBERY ROBBERY!,” he grabbed a rifle and found a good vantage point. Wheeler was responsible for the shot that wounded Bob Younger and the bullet that killed Clell Miller.
In this painting Derk captures the moment when Wheeler shoots Miller — a scene that flanks Wheeler’s portrait which was taken from an 1873 carte de visite.

New in the Museum Store!
Every year during DJJD we always stock up on some new merchandise and this year is no different. Take a look and get ready to cowboy up!


Labor Day

labor-day-2015-3The Northfield Historical Society will be closed in honor of Labor Day.

We will reopen on Tuesday September 8 at 10:00 a.m.