Firemen watch as the barn at Oakwood Subdivision Rages

Firemen watch as the barn at Oakwood Subdivision Rages

It took less than 10 minutes from the time firemen set the blaze until the roof caved in.

From Our Files - 10 Years Ago

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Thirty Years Ago (1989)

Firemen watch as the barn at Oakwood Subdivision Rages.

It took less than 10 minutes from the time firemen set the blaze until the roof caved in.

Belle Plaine was gearing up for the 8th annual German Day celebration on Saturday, April 15. Neil Keohane of Neil’s Pub started German Day in 1982 to give equal time to the area Germans and scheduled it four weeks after the St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

After 27 years in the baking business, Don and Bonnie Stienessen sold their bakery to Tom and Valerie Peterson of Faribault, who decided to name it Starlight Bakery. Tom said he had been baking since 1971 and was a seventh generation of bakers in his family. Valerie had 11 years of baking experience and both were working at Nelson’s Super Valu in Faribault for the last five years. The Petersons planned to provide 270 varieties of baked goods. The Stienessens continued living in Belle Plaine but spent their summers at their home in northern Minnesota, where Don expected to work part time baking at Grand View Lodge on Gull Lake and Bonnie continued operating her antique and collectables shop in Crosby.

Beverly O’Day of rural Belle Plaine was granted a diploma for successfully completing the course of study in professional interior design offered by the extension division of the Sheffield School of Interior Design of New York City.

Jim Anderson, eighth grade son of Gary and Roseanne Anderson of Belle Plaine, went to the Landmark Center in St. Paul on Saturday, April 8, to test his knowledge against 100 other top geography students in the state in the 1st annual Geography Bee sponsored by National Geographic magazine. Anderson received a t-shirt in addition to a certificate and having his picture taken with Governor Perpich. He won an inflatable globe and a geography book from BPHS.

Over 400 people attended the Health Fair on Saturday, April 8, in the Belle Plaine Elementary School gym and took advantage of having their health assessed. About 108 had their cholesterol levels tested, over 100 had their blood pressures checked, and 35 blood sugar tests were performed. Booths set up around the gym represented more than 30 health groups.

BPHS celebrated National Library Week and 1989 as the Year of the Young Reader by purchasing 400 new permabound books using Block Grant Funds and featuring titles most requested by students and faculty.

The BPHS instrumental music department saw lots of stars Thursday, March 30, at the District 13 music competition in St. Peter, with every band soloist and ensemble receiving a star rating, the highest possible rating. The vocal soloists and ensembles also received star ratings as well as certificates, the second highest rating.

In its third year of existence, the BPHS Knowledge Bowl Team was growing in interest as an extra-curricular activity. Members of the team were seniors Deanna Koepp and Jodi Gregory; juniors Kris Giesen, Carrie Nordeen and Denise Koepp; and sophomores Cindy Berger, Eric Einertson, Michelle Gransee, and Jon Ploetz, with Sue Stier as the advisor.

The BPHS Speech Team traveled to Jordan on Friday, April 7, to participate in the Jordan Invitational Speech Tournament. Twenty-four students competed for Belle Plaine and the team placed fourth in a field of eleven schools with over 200 participants.

The BPHS Softball Team opened its season with a loss to Jordan, 11-1; a non-conference loss to Watertown Mayer, 13-9; and a win against Le Center, 13-3 in six innings, to even their conference record at 1-1.

The BPHS Baseball Team opened its season with three losses, including 2-0 against Jordan, 7-5 with Watertown, and 9-7 to Le Center.

60 Years Ago


Henry Miller, formerly of Belle Plaine, and a Minneapolis man were killed, and Harry Gregory of Belle Plaine and Glen Kerkow of Jordan were hospitalized as a result of a head-on collision on Hwy. 169 near the foot of the Shakopee hill.

Kathleen Leonard, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Leonard, was chosen by the local Legion Auxiliary to attend Girls’ State that summer.

‘Barbecue Days’ was the name selected for the three-day summer celebration which was sponsored jointly by the Commercial Club and the Fire Department. The celebration was to be built around a huge barbecue pit to be erected between Hahn’s and Coast-to-Coast stores, serving free barbecues Sunday afternoon.

One of the town’s oldest industrial buildings was being torn down. Originally, the Louis Lindemeier cement block factory, and later owned by Matt Gansen, the place had not been in operation for a long time.

No permanent pastor had yet been named for Sacred Heart parish to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Father O’Connor. However, Father Patrick of the Jordan Franciscan monastery had been asked by the Archbishop to be administrator for the parish until such time as a pastor was named.

Mrs. Millie Stratton, widow of the late James H. Stratton, died at Methodist Hospital at the age of 88.

Elizabeth Maley, last of a pioneer Faxon Township family, died at her home in Minneapolis at the age of 84.

Winners at the district vocal contest were Lorayne Stier, mezzo soprano; Rachel Stradcutter, contralto; Paul Tillquist, baritone; Otto Schultz, baritone; and the girls’ sextet - Gloria Sass, Rachel Stradcutter, Helen Stier, Elayne Stier, Janice Dahlke, and Lorayne Stier.

Continued dry spring weather kept local firemen on the run. The most serious blaze was at the Eugene Paul farm (formerly Bill Dunn’s) about ten miles northwest of Belle Plaine. Four buildings were destroyed and a number of other wooden structures started burning but were extinguished. Both the Belle Plaine and Green Isle fire departments were called.

The Ahrens Trucking Service with Raymond Ahrens as the proprietor was sold to Elroy Koepp, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Koepp, and Herman Leistiko, the latter from Watertown. Mr. Ahrens retired to engage in farming the land he bought north of town.

Henry Bessel, 69, lifelong resident of Henderson Township, died suddenly of a heart attack while visiting his daughter in Henderson.

The Minnesota River Conference came into existence with eight area high schools as charter members, including Belle Plaine, Lakeville, Jordan, Le Sueur, Montgomery, New Prague, Arlington, and LeCenter.

 90 Years Ago


The second week of April saw the area blanketed with snow. With seeding finished, the new covering was a welcomed moisture addition.

Jacob Haering, who for many years lived on what later became the Klehr farm in St. Lawrence, died at his home in Chaska.

Our Harmonia Four – Edward Melchoir, Elziar Fideldy, Paul Kirchoff, and Roman Schmidt - were kept busy filling programs engagements, being called to Hudson, Wisconsin, Fairfax, Shakopee, Le Sueur, and Montgomery.

At the solicitation of an organizer for the Lions Club, the local commercial club voted to affiliate for the ensuring year with the new organization.

Baseball hopefuls were getting organized for the coming season. Sentiment appeared to favor joining a league with Carver and Sibley county towns.

Tom Hert, popular Blakeley boy, was seriously hurt following the crash of two taxicabs in Minneapolis. Hert was attending Dunwoody Institute and after school hours was employed by a cab company as a driver. A reckless driver crashed into him and Tom was unconscious for several days.

John Moriarty, 24, who lived in his native Tyrone Township until 18, died at his home in Le Sueur.

Mike Herrmann, Norwood police officer, engaged single-handedly in a gunfight with three bandits, brought one down, and was himself recovering from two bullet wounds in a Minneapolis hospital. John Ford, one of the bandits, was so severely wounded that he was not expected to recover. The other two were arrested at their homes in Minneapolis.

Veronica Retka of Derrynane Township died and her funeral was held from the Lexington church.

120 Years Ago


A total of 360 acres in the immediate vicinity was under contract for the raising of sugar beets that season.

Borough Council fixed salaries for street work at $1.25 per man for a day of ten hours and $2.50 for a man and team.

The spring flood in the river valley covered all the bottomlands and was running six feet over the road at the cut-off.

Hardware stores carried big stock of bicycles. There was the Hibbard at $50, the Ajax at $35, and the Columbia Chainless at $65 to $75.

E. E. Chard and Mae Brady were married. On return from their wedding trip, they were serenaded by the town band.

The following students made up the ninth grade in the Belle Plaine Public School: Josephine Carlson, Henry Battendorf, Alma Batemen, Robert Foley, Herbert Chard, George Schoell, Frona Taylor, Charles Townsend, Anastasia Fitzgerald, Rose NcDevitt, and Ethel Hill.

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