The Civil War: The Aftermath of Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863

Gettysburg and Vicksburg PosterWe are presenting the fifth talk in a series commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War on Thursday, December 19, at 6:00 p.m. at the Northfield Historical Society, 408 Division Street in historic downtown Northfield.

This presentation will focus on the aftermath of Gettysburg and Vicksburg.  The south was reeling after those twin defeats. Presenter Jim Stark cover several battles and events including; the fall of Port Hudson, giving the north control of the Mississippi down to the Gulf of Mexico. Battle at Fort Wagner and heroics of the 54th Massachusetts.  He will also discuss the  New York draft riots, guerrilla activity in Kansas and Missouri, and bloodiest two days of fighting in war at Chickamauga Creek, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, and examine the Gettysburg Address.

Jim Stark, a student of the Civil War, will present, The Aftermath of Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863.

The program starts at 6:00 p.m.  and is free and open to the public.


Bringing back the past!

New limited edition printed cards of several Northfield historic buildings will be available through a unique partnership between the Northfield Historical Society and

Keeney and plate


ArtOrg, a local arts organization. Three landmark buildings, the Scriver Building, First National Bank and the Armory building are included in the archival quality cards. Following the discovery of several original etched zinc blocks the oldest of which is from about 1876, a local printer, Keeney Swearer, cleaned the blocks, designed the cards and printed the set using traditional letterpress techniques here in Northfield. Cards come with information on the buildings and the Letterpress process. A limited edition of twenty five sets along with a small number of individual cards will be released at the Northfield Historical Society at Winter Walk on December 12, 2013.

The three blocks were discovered in a local family’s estate. It is unknown where the blocks were acquired but, it has been discovered that the Scriver building block appears in the Rice County Journal the day after the 1876 bank raid. The First National Bank of Northfield image appears in publication articles released by the bank in the early 1910′s. The Armory image appears in the Northfield News in 1916. It appears to be an architect’s drawing for publication while the armory was being built.

In order for the blocks to be printed they first needed to be cleaned. Using a razor blade, each line of the blocks was cleaned of dirt and oxidation. Then prints were pulled to

evaluate where the blocks needed more cleaning. Once they were cleaned as well as possible the rest of the text surrounding the image was designed. Taking the blocks to Artorg’s print shop, lead letters were handset to provide the text. Then the text and the image were set into the press. After hand aligning the paper and setting the pressure the first edition was run. For each card design the entire setup is pulled apart and reset. After the cards are run through the press they are stacked interleaved with paper to dry.

Keeney Swearer is an emerging artist and designer from Northfield who recently

Keeny prninting

graduated from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo MI. He first learned Letterpress at Artorg’s print shop in 2006. Keeney works on many different projects involving different materials. He has sold hand blown glass at the Northfield Historical society and Northfield Arts Guild, as well as showing at the Artorg Gallery. He shown work in New York City and Kalamazoo MI.   The cards can be purchased at the Northfield Historical Society Museum store, individual cards are $5.95 a piece, and the pack of all three cards is $16.95.  There is a limited supply of the cards.

Cat Auction November 16!

catsOn November 16 at the Northfield Eagles Club from 3-6 p.m. NHS and the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society (PEHS) will be hosting a Cat memorabilia auction in honor of Maggie Lee.

Maggie was a founder of the NHS and a great lover of cats and all things purple.  That is why NHS and  PEHS are teaming up to raise funds in Maggie’s honor.  All of the items that are up for auction are from Maggie’s collection.

Come on out and support two great organizations.

When: 3-6 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 16)

Where: Northfield Eagles Club

Cost: Free

Auctioneer: Ed Kuhlman

Items up for auction: Antiques and collectibles from Maggie Lee’s extensive collection of cat memorabilia

More than an auction: Attendees will be able to purchase lunch (pulled pork sandwiches from Estrem Farms). There also will be an open bar and chances to win various prizes.

Proceeds: Funds will be split between the Northfield Historical Society and Prairie’s Edge Humane Society

Minnesota History Player comes to Northfield!

The Northfield Historical Society and the Northfield Public Library are pleased to announce that the 2nd in the series of Minnesota History Players will be at the Northfield

harrietbishopPublic Library on November 16 at 11:00 a.m.  Harriet Bishop, was the first school teacher in St. Paul and she will talk about the role of women in the American frontier and she will discuss the differences between a school from the 19th and 21st Century.

The event features Miss Bishop will be in full period clothing and comes with a full trunk of authentic artifacts that are used in a lively and engaging program.  People of all ages will enjoy and learn about Minnesota’s past.  There are also items on display from the Northfield Historical Society collection relating to early schools in Northfield.

The event is open and free to the public.  It is sponsored by the Northfield Historical Society, Friends of the Public Library and Healthy Community Imitative.  For more information call the Public Library at 507-645-6606 or check out the Northfield Public Library’s blog or the Northfield Historical Society website.


Moment of Truth: The Battle of Gettysburg

Civil War PCDThe Carleton College Department of History, along with the Northfield Historical Society, will present “Moment of Truth: The Battle of Gettysburg” on Thursday, Oct. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Weitz Center for Creativity Room 230. This compelling lecture will be presented by Jeff Appelquist, Carleton Class of 1980, author of three award-winning books including Sacred Ground: Leadership Lessons from Gettysburg & the Little Bighorn. This event is free and open to the public.

One of the many critical events in the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg took place the first three days in July in 1863, fought in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle had the largest number of casualties in the war and is often described as the war’s turning point.

Appelquist is the recipient of dozens of literary awards including multiple first-place prizes in the Writer’s Digest International, National Indie Excellence, and Midwest Book Awards. In addition to Sacred Ground: Leadership Lessons from Gettysburg & the Little Bighorn (2010), Appelquist is the author ofWisdom Is Not Enough: Reflections on Leadership and Teams (2011) and The Great Wild West: An American Journey (2013). Appelquist is renowned as a “first-rate storyteller,” who makes history “come alive.”

In addition to being an award-winning author and expert in American military history, Jeff Appelquist is also the founder and president of Blue Knight Leadership, LLC. He is a former U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer, practicing attorney, and corporate executive. He has more than twenty years experience both as an entrepreneur and small business owner, and as a leader in Fortune 100 companies.

Appelquist draws from his many years of widely varied professional experiences to create a unique and powerful individual leadership and team development program. He is a nationally recognized consultant, speaker, and teacher whose expertise, energy, humor, and passion help organizations forge great leaders and teams. More information

Appelquist earned a BA in political science from Carleton College and a combined law degree and MA in public policy and administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This event is sponsored by the Carleton College Department of History and the Northfield Historical Society. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4217. The Weitz Center for Creativity is located at Third and College Streets in Northfield.

NHS funding proposal up for a vote on Oct. 15

Back in August, NHS Executive Director, Hayes Scriven presented a funding proposal to the Northfield City Council that would expand and formalize services NHS is City Spineproviding to the City and the Northfield Community, in addition to funding future services.  The reasons for the ask were many, but revolved around a few key aspects.

  • The City of Northfield transferred ownership of most of its historical books, video and audio tapes.  The reason for the transfer was that the City had laserfiched all of its motions and ordinances and satisfied their statutory requirement for records retention.

If NHS were to not take and examine them to decide their historic relevance they would have been destroyed.  When any organization digitizes records the next question is, do you destroy the original?  According to state statue, after the City digitizes the record, the permanent copy is considered the digital copy.  However, according to the National Archives:

You may want to digitize your photographs (documents) because it offers safe and easy access to the images in your collection. Once your photographs (documents) have been scanned, you can view them in electronic form and even make hard copies without risking damage to the originals. Do not throw away your original film and other print media after you digitize them. Digitized images are not considered a replacement for originals. Data (i.e. your images) can be lost when the storage media deteriorates; and software and hardware technology become rapidly obsolete, in some cases making retrieval of the images difficult if not impossible.

 At NHS we adopt this same practice of not destroying the original copies of artifacts after scanning them.  Even though we have digitized an artifact,  we do not destroy the

1898 Company K
original.  Even if that means taking up more space in our storage facility. We have found even after digitizing and making the digital copy accessible, patrons still want to see the original file.

The other part of the City donation was hand written ledger books.  The majority of them were criminal court case documents dating from 1896-1971. There were other gems in the donation including a ledger book from the Northfield Light and Power Company (Northfield first power company), a Attendance Role call book for Company K, 4th Infantry from 1898, and building plans for many of the historic buildings in town (including both colleges and the hospital).  If NHS did not take these other items on they would be lost forever as they were not digitized.

This major transfer from the City does not include the transfers we have received from the Public Library (over many years) or the pending transfer from the Northfield Fire Depart of their historical artifacts that date back to the late 1870s.

  • NHS is willing to also lend assistance to the City of Northfield with the Heritage Preservation Commission and other City Departments.  Over the past few years, NHS has been contacted by many departments for assistance with historical research.  These requests over the past few years have increased in frequency.  NHS is willing to conduct the research as we have the resources to perform the task, but we are limited by our staffing.

The other intention of the ask was to start the conversation with the City of Northfield on formalizing an agreement of services and to take care of the collection at the City Boxeshighest professional standard possible.  NHS would like to become the official City Archive for its historical materials.  With this we know NHS would become the center for all research requests from community members, tourists and City staff.

Funding of the NHS at the level of OPTION A (39,656) in the attached document will provide all of these services at the highest professional standard in regards to document preservation and access.  NHS will be able to hire staff at a level that will get this done in the most timely and efficient manner.

Preserving history should be viewed as a forever.  If NHS can preserve Northfield history at the highest and efficient manner, it will be around forever. This funding request is a great step in that direction.

NHS Funding Proposal

Email a letter of support to all Northfield City Council Members here

Alex Beeby letter of support for NHS funding, Northfield News

Martha Davies letter of support for NHS, Northfield News




Cemetery Stories, October 19

StoriesThe Northfield Historical Society will present the 8th annual Cemetery Stories October 19. This year’s event takes place at the Northfield Cemetery. As part of the 150th observance of the Civil  War, this year’s event will highlight Northfield-area veterans of that war. Tours start at 3:40 p.m. and will be repeated every 20 minutes, with the last tour at 8 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 children and $1 for NHS members. Parking is available across the street at the Northfield High School. To reserve your spot now, call NHS at 507-645-9268.

In spring 1861, political solutions having failed, southern forces fired upon Fort Sumter and the American Civil War had commenced. Fearing that they would miss the war entirely, men across the country rushed to enlist for fear that they would miss the entire war. Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey was in Washington D.C. at the time of the Sumter assault and was the first state to volunteer troops to President Lincoln’s call for 75,000 men, which resulted in the birth of the famed 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Men throughout Minnesota and Northfield answered the call to arms. Men named Fingal Fingalson, Halvor Quie, and Andrew Lockrem — who were all good friends — joined on the same day and served in the far-off battles of Manassas, Seven Pines, Seven Days, and Antietam as members of Berdan’s Sharpshooters, who were assigned to the 1st Minnesota.

Many more answered the call to duty, among them George and Charles Scofield, who defied their parents and struck out in the middle of the night to join at Fort Snelling. Only one son would return home.

Two other soldiers named James DeGray and James Little would both be hit by bullets that went through their hats but failed to penetrate their skulls. DeGray’s hat is today in the Minnesota Historical Society and Little’s is currently under display at the Northfield Historical Society’s Civil War exhibit.

Although many of the men remembered during this year’s Cemetery Stories aren’t buried in the Northfield Cemetery, their service and their stories should never be forgotten.  As Oliver Wendell Holmes said at a military gathering after the war, “I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.”