The first depot was begun in Hersey in 1871. A coincidence, my grandparents, Duncan MCNAB, began building their house on the same day, on their claim, the place now occupied by Florian KUNERTH. In the spring of ’72 the depot and agents cottage were completed. The agent’s cottage or the “parsonage” as the early residents called it sat across the track about where the present Highway 60 goes through. The cottage is now located on the Eric MARTINSON farm. It is the center house there being three on this farm. The R.R. was laid through Hersey in the fall of 1871. John J. FITCH secured the position of head teamster with the R.R. Contractor for grading the and St. Paul Railroad. He was the first man to drive a team through Hersey township along the right-of-way of the proposed new R.R. FITCH was among the first to secure a homestead but did not more to it until 1873, it was the N.E. ¼ section of section 34.
The Railroad Co. gave the name Hersey to our Village, the name in honor of General S.F. HERSEY of Bangor, Maine, who was a director of the SX.Cy-St. Paul Road. As the road was not being used in the winter of 1971 and 1872, no agent was stationed here. In 1972 W.R. BENNETT came to take charge of the station. He stayed until 1873, when he transferred to Worthington. He was succeeded by Frank WESTON and he by KENNEDY, according to a short thesis on Brewster in ‘Rose’s History’. I found in the ‘Worthington Advance’, that a Mr. Daniel BAKER was station agent in 1876. He is suppose to have built a two-story brick building in Hersey, completed in 1877 to be used for a furniture store below and hall above. I have found no record of where he took over the store but in later years I find a Park Furniture is selling out, so I assume he started the store.
In the county paper it reports L.L. MORRIS as a station agent in 1879, who the following year, left for Blue Earth. He was succeeded by Mr. CHEESES. John GARY (sic) became agent in 1893 in which capacity he served until 1931, when he retired. Mr. GRAY(sic) died in 1938.
The railroad station was called Brewster after 1880. In the meantime, after our Village was named Hersey, the Omaha Road took over the one running through here, and had a station named Hersey in Wisconsin. This made it quite confusing, consequently the name of our Village was called Brewster. We had nothing to do with the naming of it, the president of the R.R. said we were named after a director on the Omaha Road. However, a booklet published by the North Western Railway System giving the origin of names of towns on the line stated we were named in honor of Elder Wm. BREWSTER, one of the first settlers in the Plymouth Colony. So you may have your choice, at any rate we were named! However, the local Post Office kept the name of Hersey until 6 years later in 1886.
In the early years the night agents changed so fast it is hard to keep up with them. Some were promoted to steady jobs, others were elevated by the toe of the superintendent’s boot, and others were compelled to go to other roads to secure recognition of their greater abilities.
In 1907 there were 5 east-bound and 5 west-bound passenger trains, two of which carried light freight. In these days large crews of Greek and Italian laborers worked on the tracks, many causing great hardship on the law officers, and leaving an odor of filth behind them. This is no reflection on the nationality but on the caliber of the workers.
In 1911, the yellow colored depot was painted a dark read; business on the railroad was good, from 5 to 15 traveling men called on Brewster merchants each day between trains. In 1912 a new roof was put on the depot. In 1915 a crew arrived to begin remodeling at the station. The wooden platform was torn down and a crushed stone platform put in. The old platform was level with the cars on one side for easy loading.
In 1907 C. LIEN of Woodstock, was section foreman. A.C. SEVERSON had worked on the road since 1898, but was not allowed to become foreman because of color blindness. He had worked on the railroad since he was 14 years of age. In 1915 John WEY was a track-walker for the railroad. He walked as far as Brown’s Hill checking the track each night, and walking back on cold winter nights, with icicles in his mustache and with frozen fingers. The walker from Worthington came as far as Brown’s Hill approximately where the school house on Highway 60 stands. Another walker inspected the track to Heron Lake and returned on the train.
In 1916 the R.R. officials met with the Commercial Club to discuss plans for a new depot. In 1917 a new depot was built, the walls had a tiled-finish up to 5 feet, with a molding around. The remainder of the wall was plastered. The floor was of hard-wood, seats of the latest design in oak. The ladies waiting room had a large writing table and 2 rocking chairs. The structure consisted of the large waiting room, ladies waiting room, agents’ and ticket office and a trainman’s lobby. The building was electrically lighted.
In 1918 Chris LIEN resigned as section foreman and accepted a job as a 2 yard man for Brewster Lumber Co. Mr. GROFF of Ashton became foreman.
In 1919 there was a wreck on the Omaha R.R., a mile north-east of Brewster, when a truck broke on a car containing lead. Nine cars were derailed, making a scramble of apples, salmon, sardines, dried peaches, an automobile, barley and numerous other articles. The track was torn up several rail lengths. In 1922 Frank WESTON, agent, left and Ernest SCHEMMEL took his place.
In 1925 stop-signs were installed at the crossing. In 1926 Dick BUSSER was section foreman. In 1932 George KLEEMAN was the new agent. In 1933 Paul MASON was night operator. In 1936 George BLOOM was section foreman. In 1938 KLEEMAN went to Mr. Lake; ROSS of Bingham Lake was temporary agent until 1939, when Evan TRIMBO, Miloma agent, was appointed.
In 1945 TRIMBO left Brewster to go to Worthington. P.L. KREKELBERG of Dovry replaced him. KREKELBERG had been night operator here in 1920. KREKELBERG left in 1957, going to Belleplane. He was replaced for six-months or so by K.P. BICKNER, who went to Henderson. Henry TEN KLEY, present operator came from Craig, Neb., October 1, 1957.
In 1954 blinker-signal lights were finally installed at the crossing.
If you would like to reminisce, here is a list, or partial list, of night agents, helpers and agents I gleaned through my various reading sessions: A.G. LANE, G.G. DUNN, BYERS, COSGROVE, LEHMAN, JAMIESON, KILBURN, BRADLEY, HAMILTON, JOHNSON, NELSON, BECKER, GIBB, OLSON, PATRICK, FARNELL, SWANSON, SMITH, IVERSON, DOUGAL, ZIEBERTH, BRADY, SCHNEIDERLAN, JORDAN, CRAVEN, HOLMBERG, ANTILLA, AXELSON, SCARP, F. & L. KREKELBERG, Miss Alice KNEEFE, WESTON, SCHEMMEL, MARTIN, LONG and Miss COKER.
Nobles County Genealogy
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