“Historic Happenings,” a book by Susan Hvistendahl, has been published this month through a partnership of The Entertainment Guide and Northfield Historical Society Press. It is a compilation of selected “Historic Happenings” columns which were originally published in The Entertainment Guide between 2007-2013. Other volumes will follow, including historic happenings at St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges.
The newly published book includes stories about the people, businesses and events that have made Northfield the unique place that it is today, dating back to John North, who founded the town in 1855. The book contains stories of North’s establishing a Lyceum where settlers sought “intellectual improvement” in debates on issues of the day and North’s ties to Abraham Lincoln. Also noted is an episode when “Ax-Wielding Settlers” promoted temperance in Northfield in 1858 and the inspiring life of Hiram Scriver, early merchant.
Also part of the fabric of the town’s history are the Archer House (which opened in 1877) and the Ware auditorium (now the Grand Event Center) and the Odd Fellows building (at the site of Three Links today) which both opened in 1899. The beloved popcorn wagon, established by Vera Johansen, has been a familiar sight on Bridge Square since 1979. Other events covered in the book are the speech General Dwight David Eisenhower gave to 10,000 at Laird Stadium in 1952 just before he was elected President, the tragic day in 1915 when lions attacked their trainer during a 1915 carnival, the 1997 Northfield Raiders’ state football championship and, of course, the infamous day of “Robbery & Murder!” on Sept. 7, 1876, when the James-Younger gang tried to rob First National Bank but met their match.
And, above all, there are stories of the amazing people of Northfield, past and present, featured in this book: Northfield News writer Maggie Lee, town icons Sid and Dan Freeman, performers Marilyn Sellars and Johnny Western, Laura Baker with her school for people with developmental disabilities, Northfield High choral director Yosh Murakami, Wayne Eddy of KYMN, Celtic music wizard Laura MacKenzie. And three residents who were the Jeopardy! answer to the question, “Who are Northfield’s Quiz Show Aces?”—Hillemann, Crippen and Soule.
The book will premier at Winter Walk Thursday Dec. 11, Hvistendahl will be signing copies of the book during between 6-8 p.m. at the Northfield Historical Society, 408 Division Street. There will also be a book presentation and book signing at the Northfield Historical Society on Thursday, Jan. 15, starting at 6:30 p.m.