The following information about early Village leader S. Earl Ainsworth comes from Beverly Brown Gaddy.
Earl Ainsworth was called “Mr. County Government” because he served on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners for 22 years. St. Louis Park was his home town, however and he also played many rolls as the Park changed from the sleepy village where he was born to a major suburban city.
In more ways than one. Earl knew both sides of the tracks. His Uncles, S. E. and C. W. Davis brought the Monitor Drill Co. to St. Louis Park in the early 1890s. His parents (Lucian Laurel Ainsworth and Georgia Etta Noyes) and grandparents (Walter C. Ainsworth and Elenora Septera Davis) came to the community at that time. Earl was born here in 1894 and grew up in the Park’s Center district – near what is today’s Jorvig Park. Married in 1914, Earl and Olga lived for more than 40 years at 6216 West 35th Street – across the tracks, but only a few blocks from the early Ainsworth home. [Built in 1925, Olga lived there until 1971.]
Earl left Lincoln School at 14 and went to work full time at Monitor Drill. By 17, he was stockroom foreman. A self made man, he took evening classes at Dunwoody Institute and the Minneapolis School of Business as well as occasional courses at the University of Minnesota. Among other jobs in his early years. Earl organized the Ainsworth Transfer Company when he was 23. Seven men with three trucks and a tractor did general hauling in St. Louis Park, Hopkins and surrounding communities.
After fighting briefly as a lightweight (135 pounds) in the 1920s, he began managing several boxers.
Earl’s father and grandfather served as treasurer for the village which may have influenced his public service career. Earl was working for the Bartuch Meat Packing Company when he became village assessor in the 1920s. He rose at 4 AM, reported to work in St. Paul at 5 AM, then returned to St. Louis Park for his afternoon work as assessor (1923 to 1944). He worked for Bartush for 41 years and with his gregarious nature, became well known to many business people throughout the Twin Cities. Each December 24 he would stuff his 270-pound frame into a Santa suit and deliver gifts to his customers children and other children around the county. When his granddaughters (Beverly and Mary Lou) were old enough, he would take them as his elves to deliver coloring books, crayons and candy to the school children.
A dedicated Republican, it wasn’t easy to be elected to an office in Hennepin County – a DFL stronghold. With great support from his St. Louis Park base, he won election as County Commissioner in 1944 and served in the post continually for 22 years until his death in 1966. While he had his share of battles, some of his most rewarding experiences came as chairman of the roads and lakes committee. He took special interest in the county’s many road projects, and drove thousands of miles in personal inspection visits. There were 37 municipalities in Ainsworth’s district located west and north of Minneapolis. He was known as THE spokesman in the county for the suburbs.
Earl’s wife, Olga, was as energetic and involved as Earl with many community activities. They were both involved with the Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star. Earl was a long time Sunday School Teacher and Superintendent and the Ainsworths were pillars of their Union Congregational Church. Earl was in the Optimist Club, headed Bond Drives during World War II, worked with the Red Cross, March of Dimes, Arthritic Foundation and many other organizations. Olga was secretary to school superintendent Robert E. Scott for twelve years. By the 1930s she was running the Ainsworth appliance business. Suburban Electric. Later she worked as credit manager for the Alden Wonderall Company, a St. Louis Park children’s clothing manufacturer. She was very involved with Earl’s election campaigns and, like Earl, took a leadership role in many clubs and community activities. She helped organize the first Girl Scout troop in St. Louis Park and was a charter member of the Women’s Club.
Earl Ainsworth’s interest in his home town was evidenced by his spearheading a history project. Earl funded the work of graduate student Norman F. Thomas in researching early Park history. A sizeable manuscript was completed in 1952. This manuscript is a valuable reference source although it was never published because of high printing costs.
After Earl’s death in 1966, the City of St. Louis Park dedicated a city park in his name. Olga took part in the dedication on June 26,1967. S. E. Ainsworth Park is located at 28th Street and Pennsylvania, consists of five acres of land, is operated by the Parks and Recreation Department and features a wide open “green” area, a roofed sun shelter, swings, slides, baseball field and backstop, etc. A daily playground program is conducted for little ones during the summer and an ice skating rink is maintained during the winter. A safe sliding hill is also available for winter sports.
Earl died Tuesday, November 22, 1966 and is buried in Lakewood Cemetery. Olga died January 10, 1974.
The following was culled from Census data.
Walter G. Ainsworth was born in New York in 1839. His wife Elenora “Nora” was born in 1849. They were married in 1865.
Walter and Nora’s son Lucian (also known as Louis) was born in 1865/66. His wife Georgia Etta was born in 1869. By 1895 they were living in St. Louis Park. Their children were:
- Walter Clair (known as Clair) born 1893
- Spencer Earle (known as Earle) born 1894
- Clyde, born 1898 – married Gladys
- Willard, born 1903
- Leonard, born 1904
Both Louis and his mother Nora died before 1920. At that time the household included Grandpa Walter, Mother Etta, Willard, Clair, Clyde and his wife Gladys.
By 1930 the only Ainsworth in the Village was Earle.