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News from the week of June 7, 2006


Dirt bike accident claims life of Marshall teen

A 15-year-old Marshall teen died Friday as the result of injuries he sustained in a dirt bike accident near Tracy. David Peters was airlifted from the scene of the accident, about six miles north of Tracy on County Road 11, at about 2 p.m. Friday.

The incident was reported at about 1:30 p.m. Tracy Ambulance and the Tracy Fire Department responded to the accident, and kept County Road 11 blocked off from traffic while a helicopter arrived and later departed the scene with Peters.

Peters was taken to Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he was pronounced dead at about 3 p.m. A funeral for Peters was held Tuesday afternoon in Marshall. He was a student at Marshall High School and had recently completed his freshman year.


Rain boosts crops

Monday night thunderstorms ended a late spring dry spell, with precipitation totals ranging from .3 of an inch up to 4.26 inches.

“The amounts were really varied,” said Shannon Christenson, of the Amiret Grain Elevator.

The rains came at a very beneficial time for farmers, who have just finished planting soybeans, into the fields, Christenson said.

“This was especially good for the beans. We had good subsoil moisture. It was just that the seed beds were starting to get a little dry.”

Monday night’s rain report include: Balaton with .3”, Milroy .4”, Slayton .5”, Currie with .5”, Tracy .62”, Lucan 1.5” and Lamberton, over 4” in some areas.

The precipitation, coupled with recent warm weather, really helped to get crops growing, said Brian Hicks, who farms northeast of Tracy. “With the hot temps now the corn is just growing like crazy,”

“All the beans are in and looking real good,” Christenson agreed.

Now that the crops are planted, farmers’ attentions are turning to weed control, Christenson explained, “Farmers are now starting to spray, especially for broad leaves in the corn fields.”

Both Christenson and Hicks are staying positive about good yields this fall. Hicks explains that everything is in place for a fruitful harvest as long as we receive “timely rains and favorable weather during pollination.”


'Wheels' rolling again

By Kyle Lessman

The Wheels Across the Prairie Museum opened its doors to visitors once again on Memorial Day.

The Tracy museum opened in 1985 with one building. Twenty-one years later the museum has 10 buildings and a 1915 switch engine, complete with a tender car, wooden box car and caboose attraction. The buildings include an 1860s log cabin. An indoor military display, the train, depot and machinery hill are among the visitor favorites, said museum curator, Mary Lou Ludeman.

“It’s fun watching the grandpas explaining the tractors (on machinery hill) to their grandkids.”

One of the newer museum displays on the grounds is the Monroe Township Hall. The building was a town hall in the 1890s and later doubled as a country school until 1954 when country schools were absorbed into the district. Even though the hall moved onto museum property four years ago it continues to be used for Monroe Township meetings. “(The town hall building) is a really good tool for teaching people about government,” said Ludeman.

The museum has a staff of 15 volunteers who perform such tasks as hosts and maintenance. More volunteer hosts are always welcome. The museum receives financial support from the City of Tracy, the American Legion, state grants, and private donations.

Museum hours are Monday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. through the Labor Day weekend.

Jon Wendorff is president of 'Wheels'

Jon Wendorff has been elected president of the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum’s Board of Directors.

Other officers are: AnnaGene Burke, vice president; Bettie Johnston, secretary; Janet Randall, Treasurer; Mary Lou Ludeman, historian. Member-at-large board members are: Art Peterson, LaVerne Holm, Charles Snyder, Kim Sanow, and Dorthey Pamp.

The board members were elected at the museum’s annual meeting May 16.

Discussion was held on several proposed projects:

• Installation of a new front walkway in memory of Lois Evans Pamp, with money for the improvement being given by the Dorthey Pamp family.

• Repair work on the museum’s 1915 switch engine.

• Improvements to the pathway leading to the machinery building.

The Wheels museum will be open Monday through Saturday, from 1 to 5 p.m. through Labor Day. The Hwy. 14 attraction opened in 1985.


Currie will again be courthouse home

“A county seat war is simply the greatest curse that can befall a county, nothing can last as long and work up more bad blood and cause men to do worse acts. It is a serious matter and people should think twice before they take part in one.” —Murray County Pioneer, 1889

A groundbreaking ceremony to build a replica of Murray County’s first courthouse took place at End-O-Line Park in Currie Sunday. Murray County Commissioners Robert Moline, Kevin Vickerman, and Bill Sauer, Currie Mayor Jim Jens, and Slayton Mayor Cal Wurpts took part in the ceremony.

Completion of the courthouse replica is expected in time for the 150th anniversary of the founding of Murray County in 2007.

Currie was the first county seat in Murray County. A courthouse was built in Currie in 1882. But a bitter rivalry soon erupted between Slayton and Currie over the county seat. Petition drives, two referendums, pleadings before the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the forcible removal of county records from Currie to Slayton, back to Currie, and back to Slayton again punctuated the dispute. Slayton eventually won the battle, and a new courthouse in Slayton was built in 1891.

According to Christy Surprenant, End-O-Line assistant director, the exterior of the new building will look like the original courthouse. The interior will be furnished with old records and furniture from Murray County’s second courthouse, which was demolished in 1981.

The cost to build the courthouse replica in Currie is estimated at $75,700. Donations for the construction are being accepted at End-O-Line Park.

What happened to Currie’s original courthouse is disputed. Some people feel that a storage building in Currie was the original courthouse. Others say the original courthouse was torn down in 1964.

Surprenant said that the authenticity questions squelched plans to move the building to End-O-Line. Instead, the decision was made to build the replica.

End-O-Line Curator Louise Gervais credited End-O-Line staff member David Hansen with spearheading the courthouse restoration project.


Century-old list of names turns up in Harvey St. yard

By Seth Schmidt

The yellowed piece of paper caught Ernie Surprenant’s eye as he puttered about his yard at 766 Harvey Street. Curious, he hooked the paper with his cane and grabbed it.

“I had no idea what it could be,” Surprenant said.

A column of 58 typed names filled the 7x21” paper. A date—May 20, 1910—was scrawled in pencil to one side. Typed dates, ranging from Feb. 1, 1908 to as late as Oct. 1, 1920, appeared to the right of each name, listed roughly in alphabetical order.

Small amounts of money, some with the inscription “pd,” are to the right of each name,

Surprenant, 86, was stumped as to how a century-old scrap of paper could have found its way into his yard. The most plausible explanation is that the paper blew over from an auction at the Midstates Auction lot on May 20. The Lawrence Shoeman estate and Frances Gregoire auctions on that day both had antiques and collectibles. The paper found by Surprenant could have blown over from a box at the Shoeman/Gregoire sale.

What does the 1910 list represent? Property taxes? A special assessment of some kind?

Surprenant, a 1938 Tracy High School graduate who has lived in Tracy most of his life, recognized some of the names. C.J. Berdan was a postman. Ira Buzzell was “probably” the father of Charles Buzzell, who later became a prominent Tracy attorney. J.A. Craig lived in the large house west of what is now the Almlie Funeral Home. John Filkins was recalled as a one-time mayor of Tracy. Father Carlin was a priest at St. Mary’s Church. H. A Cole had a clothing store in Tracy. George Donaldson operated a coal business. H.C. Heine had a shoe store on Front Street. W. D. Haycock and Don Casselman were dentists. Neil Fitch was a prominent businessman. J.E. Alexander lived on Morgan Street near the Methodist church.

But Surprenant drew a blank on many others. Most names on the list are no longer listed in the Tracy phone book.

Other names on Surprenant’s mystery list include Oluf Anderson, H.A. Bates, Louis Beehrle, F.S. Brown, K.A. Brown, A. Betts, Ed Billiet, A.G. Betuorne, R. L. Brainerd, C. H Canedy, W. E. Curtis, Walter Carlaw, J. W. Campbell, W. M Corcoran, J. Casey, William Carroll, N. R. Crouch, Jas Collins, H. A. Cole, George Courville, E. D. Davis, C. M. Duus,

T. R. Doherty, Re. FF. Dobbs, Charles Dwyer, M. English, George Erbes, Maggie Evans, George Fitch, R. K French,

J. R. Fitch, F. Frederickson, John Fallon, M. D. Gibbs, G. H. Goodwin, John Greenman, O. Galstad, O. M. Gullerud, J. D. Glassburner, J. A. Hunter, Paul Haugen.

Several business were listed: Herald (probably the Tracy Weekly Herald), First National Bank, and the Central Creamery.

“A lot of those names are before my time,” Surprenant said.


Display honors deceased veterans

By Kyle Lessman

A tribute to Tracy area servicemen was dedicated at the Tracy Veterans’ Memorial Center on Memorial Day.

Last year a committee of American Legion and VFW members was put together to discuss changing the name of the Prairie Pavilion to the present name of the Veterans’ Memorial Center. After that was accomplished “we just kept meeting,” explained committee chairman, Dale Klein.

The committee, consisting of Mayor Steve Ferrazzano, Dale Klein, Gale T. Brekken, Ernie Surprenant, Darrel Janssen and Bernie Holm, decided to transform an old trophy case in the front hallway of the Veterans’ Service Center into a tribute to Tracy area servicemen who had died. Klein explained that the idea was to fill the case with pictures and names of the deceased veterans.

“We are Veterans and we just wanted to honor those of us who have passed,” said Klein.

The display has pictures of veterans who were killed in action, prisoners of war and missing-in-action. A complete list of the deceased veterans from World War II to the current war in Iraq also accompanies the memorial.

Each committee member worked on a different task, explained Klein, such as getting the name plates printed, reinstalling the glass in the front of the trophy case and installing a light fixture inside the case. The committee is still working on installing flags and placing a plaque above the case.

Those recognized with pictures in the memorial are:

Killed-in-action—Chauncey Rowell, Burton Burelle, Lester Lasnetske, Joseph E. Trout, Sylvester Neyhens, Leslie Craig, Herman Hoffrogge, P.H. Hoidale, Melvin Lein, Stephen Seltz, Milo Nelson, Donald O. Dahl, Raymond Kragtorp, Don Moon, Harley Moon, Norris Olson, George Raymond, Raymond Cooreman, John H. Erbes, Robert Thilges, Jack Craig, Jack English, Sylvester Lasnetske, Keith Ebery, Victor Peterson, Larry Walterman, Edward J. Haugen, Robert J. Vahlsing, James Gustafson, Norry Olson, Keith Garvey, Ridgely Anderson, Jason Timmerman, Robert Brown, Ralph Trout, John Sammons, Harvey Peterson, Wendell E. Behrens, Robert Linnan, Merle E. Brown, L Trout, Marvin Sammons.

Prisoners of War—Earl Werner, Vincent Imme, Paul Quillin, Thomas Brecht, Francis Morey, Ernest Kertchmen, Galend Stone, Kenneth Morge.

Missing-in-action—William Wreath.

The committee received some of their information from a scrapbook compiled by the late Brownie Stafford. Some pictures are still needed to complete the case. Photos are being sought of Ralph Trout, John Sammons, Gay Stone and Kenneth Monge.