Chapter IX: The War and Changing Attitudes about the Village, 1914-1920

While the nation and the world saw Europe engaged in the great war in this six year period, the people in St. Louis Park were ‘beginning to think of the village as a place to live – rather than as being merely a place in which to work.  One sees a flowering of schools, library, parks, service businesses, and the like, things which would make for more comfortable living – while at the same time the idea of an industrial village was weakening in its hold. Despite the decreasing number of jobs available in the village because of the decline of the number of factories, the population had grown steadily. In 1900 there had been 1,325 people.  The number of which rose to 1,745 a decade later, and was to rise again to 2,281 in 1920. One can see the slow shift from the industrial complex to residential and suburban attitudes. This shift can be explained, in part, by the growth of Minneapolis with its numerous employment opportunities which in turn increased pressure on housing and homesites. Furthermore, it was becoming easier to travel from the suburbs to the metropolis because of the growth in numbers and cheapness of automobiles. Many people clung to the idea that in order to properly rear children the best place was away from city streets, where there were greater areas in which the young could play. While the city was experiencing the suburban movement it was not until the second and third decades of the twentieth century that it became a pronounced trend around Minneapolis which would effect and be exemplified in St. Louis Park.


As evidence of the desire to make The Park a good residential area one can cite the growth of the school system.  The new high school which was in the process of being built in 1915 was finished early in 1914 and was dedicated in a two day ceremony in January. Superintendent Hatch secured as speakers, George E. Vincent, President of the University of Minnesota, and various other deans and school officials.  T.B. Walker, donor of the site, was a guest speaker, and on the second day Governor A.O. Eberhart gave an address. New courses in agriculture and home economics were added for which T. B. Walker gave land to aid in the instruction, in addition to giving an athletic field. Four elementary schools operated in the village.


Seven retail stores or more were operating in the village, among which one could find Hamiltons, operated by Charles H. Hamilton, which handled dry goods, shoes, harness, horse collars and other necessities. E. M. Trenkley ran a grocery and hardware, and his competitors were M. Dworsky, groceries, Johnson and Carlson, meats, Berkewitz Grocery, Brookside Grocery, Lake Street Store, and perhaps others. Pockrandt Lumber would sell one fuel or building materials, and one could rent a room at the Broadway Hotel. Applequist Creamery sold dairy products, while one could get a haircut or play a game of pool at the Brown and Whipps place in the Walker Block. Herbert Carleton or The Minneapolis Land and Investment Company would sell you a lot on which to build. Dr. Watson was the local physician who healed most wounds, prescribed for illnesses, and probably signed most birth certificates.  One could get to town by three public transportation systems: the streetcar, the Milwaukee Road and the MS&StL. The larger industrial concerns in 1915 were Monitor, Martin Manufacturing Company, and Prest-O-Lite; and on the east side of town was a newly established box factory operated by Finger and Bengston.


It seemed to many that the population of the village was sufficient to support a bank now that it had passed 1,500 in the population count. In 1915 a movement was begun by a group of St. Louis Park men to form a banking corporation. R. M. Quimby of Minneapolis was the only outsider, L.W. Fuller, John Applequist, A.H.H. Anderson. Roy R. Johnson, V. E. Johnson, and J. A. Johnson were other incorporators. Quimby had 155 shares of stock while the afore named had five each with thirteen others holding either one or two shares each. In May they announced that $20,000 in capital had been secured and that the State Bank would build a building. In the following month the structure was erected on a lot west of the high school. Within the next six months, the village council had designated the new bank as the official depository of public funds which previously had been left with Minneapolis banks. In general, local people were loyal to the institution and deposited their money for safekeeping and checking, and the bank had an auspicious beginning. However, the bank had been organized during the boom period when many state chartered banks were being formed, often without sufficient study of community needs. Eventually many would have to close and the St. Louis Park State Bank, aided by some internal difficulties, was forced to close its doors in late 1918 or early 1919. The state bank examiner found in the files certain village warrants and asked the city about their payability. He was assured that they were “good as gold.” In 1921, the bank trustees and the village made-a satisfactory settlement and, in general, the affairs of the bank were liquidated. It would be a score of years before with which the residents of the village would have a bank nearby with which to do business.


As has been mentioned, industrial activity in The Park had been declining in the previous period and many of the factory buildings in the marsh had been vacant for short periods. Though many left, there were always a few new companies interested in locating, but the numbers became fewer as the years wore on. As has been noted, some time before 1915 the Martin Manufacturing Company located in The Park, building some of its own buildings. Their principal product was a corn grinder which could be used by farmers and was used over most of the northwest area. In 1919 the firm incorporated., listing as its objective the manufacturing of vehicles, castings, and goods, in metal and wood. To begin their chartered thirty-year life the incorporators stated that their capital would be $100,000, broken down into one hundred dollar shares. The founders of the corporation were M R. Martin, W. P. Martin, M.A. Pavey, all of St. Louis Park, while W. E. Pavey of Rutland, Iowa made up the fourth founder. These men were the officers also, being president, treasurer, second vice-president, and first vice-president, respectively, with D. C. Martin as secretary.  It is doubtful if more than about $35,000 was actually paid in as capital. While the father continued, to manufacture the corn grinder until his death in 1922, the sons became more interested. in journalism. The Gristogram was one of the first of their publications but later the Hennepin County Rural Messenger was published. More will be said about the latter paper later on in this chapter.


Another corporation to locate in the village during this period was the Republic Creosote Company, a firm incorporated on January 20, 1904 with $50,000 capital by two Indianapolis men and Alexander W. Van Hafften of Minneapolis. Its stated objective was to provide posts, timbers and ties which were treated, with preservative solutions, A. E. Larkin was manager of the company in 1918.  The company located in the marsh and. required, several acres of space for their operations.


The Prest-0-Lite Company was another firm which used buildings in the industrial circle. It was a New York corporation which had been organized in June of 1913. At first, the company manufactured tanks and illuminating gas which could be used on the earliest automobile for lights, but with the development of electric lighting on autos it shifted to other commercial activities. Thirty-three years later the company merged with Linde Air Products and lost its corporate identity, though it continues to use a factory in the village.


It was during this period 1914-1920 that the village received its fourth railroad line. Somewhat earlier there had been formed a company named the Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Dubuque Electric Traction Company which planned to build electric railroads in the cities which were included in its title. In September of 1913 various officers of the company had appeared before the village council and asked for a charter or ordinance which would permit it to build across the village from north to south. The line was to be entirely devoted to passenger traffic and was not to use steam trains, nor haul freight, nor was it to charge more than five cents per ride. The council gave its approval on September 50, 1913. Stops were to be made within the incorporated village, at Foster’s Place, at Excelsior Avenue, Goodrich Avenue and Minnetonka Boulevard. In the first week of November the grading crews were active preparing the line for rails. The line, which v/as called the Dan Patch, was given the complete franchise in March of 1914 and waiting sheds were built along the route. It was only about fourteen months before the first cloud of trouble appeared upon the horizon, a cloud which would lead to a storm that was to plague the village for almost a decade – and in the end the village lost. On the third day of June in 1915, the Dan Patch Railroad asked permission from the village fathers to use steam on the line and to haul freights through the village. The matter was referred to a committee consisting of B.W. Carpenter, Arthur H. H. Anderson and Charles H. Hanke, which brought in a report suggesting that the request be disallowed. This report of July 1915 gave two reasons for refusing the request; first, that it was not allowed by the franchise, and second, that people would object to the dirt and noise. The council adopted the report and sent it along to the Dan Patch officials. It seems obvious, from the distance of forty years, that the Dan Patch line had little intention of conveying passengers – and used the promise to carry persons as a device to secure the franchise after which the road would be converted to a freight line. The St. Louis Park Commercial Club sent a request to the village council in August of 1915 asking them to try to induce the Dan Patch line to establish a ticket office in The Park, to secure stops at Excelsior Avenue, Goodrich and Minnetonka, and in addition, establish sub-stations at the above places plus others at Superior Boulevard [Wayzata Blvd], Cedar Lake Road, Park Manor Lake Street, Broadway, and Brookside. The request was sent to the Committee on Railroads which seems to have been assembling a file of complaints. The matter came up again in the March 1916 meeting of the council but nothing was done until the next month when the village attorney was ordered by the council to serve notice on the Dan Patch line that they must cease using steam trains on the line, that they must stop at Excelsior Avenue and that they should sell tickets to St. Louis Park in the Minneapolis office. The injunction was served the next month and for a time the abuses ceased.


Meanwhile the Dan Patch line went into the hands of the receiver and was reorganized, as the Minnesota, Northfield and Southern with James H. Ellison as president, R. H. Benham as secretary, M. J. Dooley as general superintendent and Harlan P. Roberts as general counsel. With the reorganization a new movement was begun to allow the line to run steam locomotives and haul freights. In 1918, an organization called the Dan Patch Patrons Association, with Mr. Benham as president, came to the council and asked for a repeal of that part of the contract which provided for a five cent fare and also that part which forbade the use of steam locomotives. At a later meeting the railroad asked for the same favors but added that they wished modify the provision calling for five stops within the village. St. Louis Park citizens protested the action of the railroad and the council referred the matter to a committee of the whole. The railroad was forced for the second time to adhere to the provisions of the franchise charter.


Again in 1918 the railroad sought to have its franchise modified and wrote a letter to the council saying that they proposed to abandon the no-steam provision in the charter.  Thereafter they ran steam trains through the village which resulted in protests from the citizenry to the village government. When the village asked them to discontinue, the railroad replied that it couldn’t discontinue steam. In one sense the railroad had the upper hand in the controversy in that it would be difficult for the village government to force them to pull up their tracks and further that the village government could not enforce its ordinances or make the line adhere to the charter franchise. The council tried again to enforce the provisions of the charter after the railroad ran a twenty-seven car steam train through the village in 1922 but the railroad came to some kind of an agreement with the village in the 1920’s and continued to run its freights, as it does today.


The significant thing about the whole controversy is not that the railroad won, or that the city lost, but rather that the citizenry was becoming interested in the area as a residential area. Heretofore, the public had not objected to smoky factories, nor had it objected to the other two railroads. Residential desirability was taking the place of the desirability of having factories which would give employment.


The government of the village was largely in the hands of the same group which had administered it since about 1909, when a new group replaced the first generation which had operated the government almost since its inception. In the period 1914 to 1920, the presidency of the council was held by C.B. Hanke or H.A. Bengston, while James H. Brown held the office for one year. The members of the board of trustees who held office for more than one term were B.W. Carpenter, Frank Heyda and Sam Sewall. C.C. Wolford and George F. Moseley most often filled the office of recorder (clerk).  The trustees usually formed themselves-into ten committees for the consideration of special problems. The committees were finance, fire, license, light, judiciary, poor, printing, railroads, roads and bridges, and sidewalks. These committees made studies special problems of the trustees and when their recommendations were brought in to the council as a whole they were most often accepted.


Though there were many ordinances placed upon the books in the period under discussion and in earlier periods, the mention of a few will show what types of problems occurred. In 1915 a new ordinance was established which provided for the use of the Australian (secret) ballot, and in 1917 another ordinance was passed which defined vagrancy. Firearms and fireworks ordinances were placed on the books during the following year. And of course, there were numerous ordinances which changed the names of streets.


An interesting sidelight on the operation of the government is the price that was paid for labor by the village. In 1915, the various workers came to the council and asked for a pay scale of twenty-five cents per hour for a nine hour day, and five dollars daily for teamsters. The council granted the request but provided that after September 1st the rate for laborers would be two and one-half cents per hour less and that man and team would get fifty cents hourly. Under the influence of war inflation the rates in 1920 had risen considerably. Laborers were getting four and one-half dollars for an eight hour day, and man and team were receiving nine dollars. In the same year the legislature permitted the various villages of the state to buy insurance under the Workmen’s Compensation Act which would provide for remuneration if the workman were injured while at work, in place of the old fellow servant doctrine which made the worker responsible for his own accidents. Within a year the council had asked for bids and had purchased insurance.


The minutes of the council indicate some of the problems of society at the time but certainly do not indicate what the public thought of the situations in their entirety. Nevertheless, brief mention will indicate what the more serious problems were. The council had established a committee for aid to the poor some years earlier, but it is difficult to know what costs were borne by the village and what costs were assumed by the county. Usually one poor person or family received some aid from the city monthly. Most often the council approved the requests of the poor relief committee but in a couple of cases reduced the size of the bill of a person who took care of the poor and. indigent – in one case in 1913 from $36 to $10. The sidewalk committee had abandoned the building of wooden sidewalks and in 1916 all new walks were of cement. Streetlights were not all lighted, by electricity, the costs of which came to about one hundred and fifty dollars monthly. As most young boys know, a well placed slingshot stone would break a street light bulb. So serious had this problem grown that in 1914 the council offered. $25 for the arrest and. conviction of anyone damaging street lights. The license committee was one which had not been too active in earlier years Because there had been but few peddlers in the area. About one license to peddle was given yearly. The fees charged for the licenses, which were paid to the village, were in part given to the state – the two percent rebate in 1915 amounting to about $48.00 which meant that there were $2,400 worth of licenses sold in that year. When one considers that a liquor license brought in $700 per saloon and that there were three or four saloons, the other fees were rather small. At the end of World War I there were a number of licenses granted to vendors who wanted to peddle with Ford trucks. Today a license for a horse drawn rig would be almost as strange as was the Ford license then.


There seems to have been considerable trouble with the police force and law enforcement in the period of the war. Some police were accused of overlooking certain offenses and almost aiding law breaking. In 1915 the council, for some unknown reason, fired marshal Hudson and turned over the keys to the constable. Protests were filed by C.H. Hamilton and sixteen others but the marshal was fired – at least for several months. The new officer in the later part of the period was Mr. Wetzel who seems to have been more assiduous in his duties or popular. He reported that in May of 1920 that fines of $700.95 were levied and in July the sum was $403.15. There were a few prisoners in jail most of the time – as is shown by the appropriations made by the council for meals for prisoners.


Fire protection for the village had become a major problem in the war period after the long interim since 1903 when the council had voted to discontinue the fire department and left fire protection in the hands of volunteers.  In September of 1915, trustee Frank Heyda moved, and the council approved, the buying of a motor driven chemical wagon which was to cost not more than $1,600.   Five bids were submitted and in October a two-wheeled chemical wagon costing $275.00 was purchased. Hardly had the new machine arrived when the insurance underwriters informed the village that the buying of another piece of equipment would lower the insurance rates from $1.12 ½  to eighty cents per hundred, which would be lower than the rate in Minneapolis. In the next year [1916] the volunteer fire department was reorganized and was divided into two sections, one to serve the southern area and another to serve the Lake Street section. J. S. Williams was elected chief of the department and Axel Carlstrom was assistant chief. Other members were S.W. Moore, Fred Groh, Roy Johnson, Charles Nyen, Axel Nordin, R.J. Henderson, R.R, Lutzi, C.C. Crellin, A.O. Nyberg, H. A. Bengston, Joe Elias, O. H. Nyberg and O. J. Ween.  [One can see the articles of incorporation in the fire barn.] The biggest piece of equipment the department had purchased up to that time was bought in 1917 when $3,000 was appropriated to buy a Wilcox truck and equipment which was the first motor driven machine the village had. The newly organized department and the new equipment were sufficient to hold the insurance rates constant for a number of years and the next major additions were made in 1930 after the village had made a rather large addition to its population.


Another evidence of the movement which was to make St. Louis Park a residential suburb was the platting of more lots, a movement which began about 1910 and continued during the ten years following. In 1915, for example, Roanoke Acres, Wild Rose, and Boulevard Heights were platted, and in the following year Tingdale Brothers platted Browndale. In 1916 four plats were submitted for council approval among which we find Charles Hanke’s Minnekada Terrace and Watson’s Minikahda Heights. In the meantime T. B. Walker had transferred some of his property, which was held under the name of the Minneapolis Land and Investment Company, to a new holding company called the Pacific Investment Company in which he also held title to certain west coast timber lands. The activity of the promoters who subdivided so much land while so many lots were already available indicates that there was an anticipated demand for lots, or more desirable lots, than were previously platted.


Among the other evidences of the interest in St. Louis Park as a place to live was the activities of the Park Board. This board was a quasi-governmental body which received no tax money except that which the council voted to it.  It was not a governmental organization. In the early 1900s the park commissioner was nominated by some other group – most often the Improvement League – and the council recognized that officer as a semi-governmental official. Herbert Carleton, the ex-schoolmaster, was one of the first, and to him the council donated $200 to improve the village. The number on the park board most often was five of which three could request a donation from the village council which was most often granted. One of the functions assumed by the board was the supervision of-the band. In 1902 the band received an appropriation of one hundred dollars to be spent for music and hiring a band instructor. By 1910 the band requested the council for an additional appropriation in order to buy uniforms but the council thought the request strange and laid the motion on the table. The next year they granted the band fifty dollars for uniforms after the band had petitioned for it. No specific duties were assigned to the band until 1913 when the council tied a string to the appropriation by requiring the band to play one concert weekly during the summer. By 1920 the band was receiving $150 yearly but the village attorney advised the council that it could not make an appropriation of more than $50 unless the village was taxed one-half mill which would bring in not more than $500.  At the request of S.W. Moore and Carl Nelson the village donated $50 this year as it did for many years before.


Growing civic consciousness led to the development of the St. Louis Park Library about 1912. In that year C.H. Hanke, president of the village board of trustees, in addition to County Commissioner C.B. Waddell, Superintendent of Schools (E. Hatch and teacher Irene Bates, appeared before the village council and asked that they aid in establishing a library. Nothing was done until January of 1913 when President of the Council Hanke resolved that a library board of nine directors be established and that reports be kept. Ten days later the first library board was appointed with Mrs. E. H. Hazen, L. F. McDonald and L. M. Larson serving for one year, Irene Bates, E. S. Hatch and G.F. Moseley for two years, and Mayme Waddell, C. H. Hamilton and W. H. Thomas to serve for three years. With this energetic committee a carnival was held in August of 1913 for the purpose of raising money for the new library. Receipts came to about one thousand dollars and with the fund, books were purchased for the library which was located in the brick block and was kept by Mrs. Emma Christiansen. Shortly afterwards the high school and village libraries were combined and the books were moved to the newly-built high school building where Margaret Fletcher was put in charge. One of the more energetic members of the later library boards was H. F. Converse who usually went to the village council, hat in hand, and secured a donation which varied from $200 in 1914 to $500 in later years. Other members of the board at later times were Mrs. H. G. Freeman, Mrs. C. J. Moffatt, C. F. Abrams, Stone and Miss Agnes Olson. In 1921 the library became a branch of the Hennepin County system and thus has three separate branches of government interested in its operations. It is interesting to note that while most affairs seem to concern men’s names, in library affairs the names of women appear more often.


Another enterprise of a quasi-public nature which was established in this period was the newspaper. In the 1890s there had been a newspaper called the St. Louis Park Mail  which was owned and edited by D. W. Bath. For a time it was the official village newspaper and published all official documents. The dates of its origin and demise have not been found, nor has a single copy of the paper been uncovered.  Thereafter, for many years there was no local paper. For a time the Minneapolis Journal was the official paper, but some years the Hopkins News was used and at other times the Hopkins Mirror. About 1914, the Hennepin County Enterprise carried the official notices. The second paper published in The Park was the result of what one might call a hobby of the younger members of the Martin Manufacturing Company. While the firm continued to manufacture metal products the sons began publishing the Gristogram which within a few years had become the Hennepin County Rural Messenger. One of the sources of income of most papers was the printing of official notices from the city of county and D.C. Martin, in 1917, asked the village council to designate his paper the official one. The council referred the matter to their attorney who said it did not meet legal requirements, but whether this meant it had not been in publication long enough or was not published with periodic regularity, cannot be discovered.  Certain it is that it was of proper age for it operated before 1915 when another paper, The St. Louis Park Herald, was established by F.A.Harvey of Robbinsdale, with R.L. Blacktin of St. Louis Park as assistant editor. The first issue of this newspaper came out on Thursday, May 6, 1915, and though it had a tolerable number of advertisements, did not secure the subsidy of village printing though it offered to give exceptionally low rates. Constantly in its columns it remarked that though people said that a paper could not make a “go of it” in the village because the houses were too scattered they could make that statement false by subscribing to the paper. Between the Rural Messenger and The Herald there was a war of words over what today seems like trivial remarks. Nevertheless, after six months The Herald ceased publication, saying that they were merging with the Robbinsdale Tellit because they had lost twenty dollars monthly during the past six months.  Martin continued to publish his newspaper, in addition to doing job printing. In 1918, he secured certain favors from the village government  – of being to print two hundred maps for the village recorder. Later Martin moved the presses to Anoka.  Perhaps the reason the village could not maintain a newspaper was because there were so few advertisers. Or maybe Harvey was right – the people were too scattered to be interested in each other’s doings?


What can one say about the other aspects of life in the village: church, economics, amusement, etc? Nothing much that has not been said before for all developments were but continuations of what had been done in previous years. Of churches there were three; the Congregational which was located across the street from Lincoln School, the Methodist which stood near the end of the streetcar line and near to the brick block, and across the marsh was the Presbyterian church which had been built by Walker. Economically, one must note that the industrial activity of the village was on the decline while the truck gardeners continued their work even though some subdividing was taking place along the east side of the village. Among the truck gardeners one would find the names of Sewall, Rixon, Waddell, Gould, Fletcher, Sheppard, Gast and others. Most of the yeas the crops were good although occasionally there would be a failure of a minor type, as in 1915 when a September hailstorm ruined the tomato crop. Likewise the dairy farmers were still producing milk of which most was sold in Minneapolis, and one reads in the newspapers of the meeting of the Northside Farmer Association though one wonders what was discussed at the assemblies. That the area was an important milk producing community is indicated by the fact that Louis M. Larson was a director of the Twin City Milk Producers Association, an office he held for twenty-one years.


In the field of amusement one can see the beginnings of commercialized recreation which was taking the place of the family or community type. Young people were beginning to visit the Excelsior Amusement Park and the first movies were being shown by Clarence Hanke in The Park Theatre which, it is believed, were the first moving pictures put on the screen in the village. The first shows were given in the brick block for which they charged a nickel and a dime. It would be but a matter of years before nearly all recreation would be commercialized and admission would be charged for all events.


But there were still many sports and recreations which called for no fees. Boys went swimming in the creek, at Mosquito Point, quite likely without parental approval and without the usual swimming attire. In 1916, the recorder read a petition to the village council from three persons protesting against the action of certain bathers in Minnehaha Creek. On motion the council instructed the marshal to make an investigation which he made two weeks later in which he said he could find no evidence of trouble. And for recreation one could always go fishing in one of the nearby lakes or in the creek. About 1915, when many people were getting cars, the newspapers recount that so-and-so had been fishing in a lake more than a few miles distant. Of tennis there was some – the Fullers haying a court and later the Fletchers. Some people prided themselves in their driving horses and. displayed them as one does an expensive automobile. C.B. Waddell had a number of fine horses of which he was proud. His interests in horseflesh were so great that he often visited the Kentucky Derby. Dan Falvey was another fine horseman and it was reported in the paper in 1915 that he was driving a $500 horse. Of football and basketball there was less interest than there is today.  The high school had teams but they had no regular coach – some member of the faculty serving that purpose. A few athletes made a name somewhat more famous than average – Bert Baston being one who was playing his second year on the University of Minnesota football team in 1915 and in his senior year was named an All-American. A request for two arc lights for night football practice was tabled by the council in 1916.


But far and away the sport which, attracted, more attention and had more participants than any other was baseball. By about 1910, St. Louis Park had quite a respectable baseball team with left-hander Art Hecklund pitching and Bill Klebs catching. A few men had uniforms and expenses were paid by passing the hat, in addition to receiving a fifty dollar donation from the council.  The village graded a diamond for the team in 1914 at the request of the manager, S.N. Moore, and the next year there were at least three teams playing: the Merchants, the Glengales and the Hillcrest teams. Among other players were Neilson, outfield; Olsen, second base; Werner, pitcher-third base; J. Nelson, first base, O. Nelson, left field-pitcher; Pelo, thrid base-infield; and Depew, shortstop.  Some of the scores of the games show that they were well fought contests; the Merchants were defeated 5-2 in 1915 by the Minneapolis Olympias, while about the same time they beat Hopkins 5-2, only to lose 13-7 in a return game. With Minneapolis teams the local nine did less well; the Kent Athletic Club beat them 6-4 and the Moline Plow Company team of Minneapolis routed them 32-2. Baseball was popular forty years ago and has remained one of the more popular sports in St. Louis Park.  One team of the period traveled extensively and was beaten once during the season, by an Iowa Nine.


The event which occupied the national consciousness during this period was the World War. This holocaust was in process of formation for many years but one can hardly assess the responsibility for it in terms of individuals, and the events which immediately led to it in 1914 seemed like remote happenings in the lives of the residents of The Park. Wilson had come to office in 1913 through a split in the ranks of the Republican Party when Theodore Roosevelt attempted to challenge the control of the party. William Howard Taft, leader of the conservative faction, was sup ported in St. Louis Park with 112 votes while the Bull Moosers, led by Theodore Roosevelt, secured ninety-five, with Wilson the Democrat winning but eighty-five votes. In the first years of the Wilson administration reforms had been made in the banking system and the tariff, and an income tax had been established for the nation before the debacle in Europe attracted American attention. In the last presidential election before we entered the war, Woodrow Wilson was opposed by Charles E. Hughes. St. Louis Park was again a supporter of the Republican principles, though the election indicated that many had shifted to support the Democrats, believing, probably, that Wilson was doing all that was possible to keep us out of war – though he personally did not promise to do so. The vote in The Park was Hughes 190 and Wilson 188.  When the war-broke out in Europe, Wilson apparently tried to shield the nation from its consequences. However, many saw the challenge of Germany to the democracies of the west and that eventually the United States would be involved. One could hardly overlook the implications of allowing the Germans to sink with impunity the Lusitania, and enforce a blockade of the shipping of neutral America. Eventually, the challenge became so serious that war was declared on April 7, 1917.


When the United States entered the war it became necessary for the nation to mobilize its manpower and in Hennepin County fourteen draft boards were established; thirteen for the city and one for the rural area. It was to the rural board located at Hopkins that St. Louis Park draftees reported. Altogether, more than one hundred and fourteen men reported for service in one of the three branches. Most servicemen were sent to Camp Dodge or Camp Funston for service after which they were sent to France for additional training before being sent “to the front”. As time went on and more men saw action, reports of causalities began to arrive at home to ensadden families. At least six families received the death message, the names of the soldiers being:  Edward Dworsky, Edward Glasgow, Clifford Hamilton, Albert Kjelde, Frank Lundberg and Harold Moldestad. [*The names of the servicemen and those who gave their lives are listed on a plaque on the wall in the Junior High School building. The list is, however, incomplete because there are several from The Park known to the writer who served who are not listed.]  Altogether, Hennepin County sent 2,855 men to the navy, army or marines.



The home front was also busy in trying to help win the war, producing food, arms and ammunition.  Every community had its Red Cross Chapter. St. Louis Park had several, which made bandages, scarves and socks, and performed many other services. People were encouraged to buy Liberty Bonds and the public was told to “Buy Bonds or Fight.” To arouse enthusiasm for the bond sales, Theodore Roosevelt, W.G. McAdoo and many others made visits to principal cities among them Minneapolis. In general, Hennepin County oversubscribed its quota. Likewise the public economized on many things: there were sugarless, meatless, wheatless and fuelless which saved those scarce commodities for war uses, and vacant lots began to raise garden produce to provide food.  Pro-Germans were usually under suspicion unless they subscribed heavily to bonds – and, in some places, if they did not they found their houses painted yellow. Liberty Cabbage became the new name for the German food, sauerkraut, and the comic strip Katzenjammer Kids became the Captain and the Kids.


Eighteen months after the entry into the war the Germans capitulated and the American armies were returned home to seek jobs while the civilians became more convinced that peace had been made permanent, democracy was made safe and hereafter Europe could fight her own wars.


The period 1914 to 1920 witnessed in the village the beginnings of a new movement which was to overshadow the belief that the industrial development was the most important mainspring for development. In this period one sees the beginning of the middle class attitudes which were rooted in commercial and non-local activities. Industrialism was a dying concept, and the village began to espouse the idea that the area was more desirable for residential purposes than for industry. The suburban concept has largely dominated the village since the decline of industry and is the main idea around which activities are integrated.

Return to St. Louis Park:  Story of a Village