The Yesteryear Farm of Memories

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1511 Iglehart, St. Paul, Minn. 55104

It was a crisp November evening when my wife and I and our young friend, John Mulfort, drove from our home in the Midway area in St. Paul to the Magnuson Museum at Center City, Minnesota.

The 'Yesterfarm of Memories Museum' is located on the 125 acre farm owned by Dennie and Hazel Magnuson, a husband and wife team who organized the museum in 1966. The farm is seven miles northeast of Lindstrom, Minnesota, 1/2 mile north of Co. Road 20. Motorists from the East follow No. 20 to eight miles northwest of Taylors Falls. Dennie and Hazel are progressive people. 'Our main object,' he told me, 'is to acquire, restore, if necessary to set the scene of yesterday; the things the pioneers used in their homes, their work, for worship and entertainment.'

Ole Anderson homesteaded the farm which was purchased in 1871 by Dennie's father, Peter Magnuson. Migrating to Minnesota from Ohio, the Magnusons soon became quite attached to their new home as well as the surrounding community.

The area, now comprising the communities west of Taylor's Falls, or the areas of Lindstrom, Center City and Almelund, became almost ninety-five percent Swedish as the Swedish emigrants kept coming in the late 1800's and continued into the twentieth century. However, the trend soon changed. Young people went away to school and found employment elsewhere; others drifted away and found jobs until now the area is sprinkled with several different nationalities, most of whom are employed in the Twin Cities and suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Beginning with the beautiful St. Croix River Valley at Taylor's Falls, it is a scenic locality well worth any vacationer's time it takes to drive through it. From the Twin Cities, it's about a half-hour drive on I 94 to 35 E to Lindstrom. Dennie said if we'd stop at the Standard Station in Lindstrom, they could direct us to his private drive.

Now as we turn back to the farm and museum, there is one thing Dennie is justly proud of. It is the twenty-five acre tract of virgin timber on the farm. 'Yes,' he says, 'It's virgin timber.' 'People walk in there and are thrilled. It's something they didn't believe existed in these days.' But it does, even in one of old cut-over Minnesota's wooded areas.

The museum building is a relatively new structure. The split log varnished siding on the outside; the attractive porch at the entrance combined with the varnished pine walls inside, all contribute to the rustic pioneer effect the visitor experiences when they enter this accumulation, now exhibited as things used by people of the Past.

It seems incredible that the flat irons with the detachable handles used by Grandma when we were kids is classed as an antique today.

On display in the museum, we saw lamps, clocks, dishes, stoves, furniture, telephones, books, coffee grinders, guns, lanterns, tools, washing machines and just about everything ever used by the early settlers.

In the musical department we found hand crank music boxes, crystal set radios complete with earphones, a hand roll organ and several dozen old phonograph models, dated 1895 and later. One thing that interested me was a machine that played music from a flexible disc which seems to be sheet steel. In the museum reception room we found an old-fashioned organ and an Edison Cylinder Phonograph with a morning glory horn.

An old-fashioned school room features the 'readin', writin' and 'rithmetic' of the by-gone days.

Well, I never could describe everything in this museum but I should have mentioned before that Hazel appeared on Channel 2 Television, Twin Cities. An audiotape was made. She played the player-piano and roll-organ.

Now let's see what they have in the line of heavy equipment, some of which I'll try to enumerate.

Dennie says he has every method of grain cutting that was ever used; hand cycles cradles, a reaper and six self-binders, one of the binders is a right-hand cut.

At the top of the list of threshing machines stands a 28-inch steel Avery. He also has two 22-inch separators and a 33-inch Russell which is in need of rebuilding.

At the head of the list of steam engines is a 1910, 20 HP Russell. Another headliner is a Wood-Tabor-Morse 8 HP portable built in 1881. Others listed are a double cylinder, double drum, steam engine winch, a double cylinder, 10 ton Buffalo Springfield road roller, an oscillating steam engine with no boiler, a steam two-cylinder stoker engine that was used to fire locomotives by augering the coal and a popcorn engine completes the list of steamers. Several dozen gasoline engines are on exhibit.

A Fordson tractor bought by Magnusons in 1921, the first tractor owned in the locality, along with seven Case tractors which are all different, make up the tractor display.

There is an antique car show of several makes including a 1915 Ford Touring car and a 1926 Ford T Speedster, buggies, wagons, sleighs, cutters and other horsedrawn equipment including a left-hand plow among numerous other items, all interesting, are there for the visitor to see.

While we were in the museum enjoying the heat from the gas heater, a couple walked in. Hazel introduced us to Mr. and Mrs. Gilmar Johnson of Frederic, Wisconsin. We found them real nice to visit with, and we soon learned that they have attended steam shows and threshing bees over a wide scope of the country.

Mrs. Johnson has represented the Iron-Men Album and Gas Magazine at these shows and really enjoys it. Perhaps the highlight of the Johnson's experience was an occasion when they entertained the late Rev. Elmer Ritzman and his wife, Earlene, in their home.

Dennie told me as many as five-hundred tourists from Sweden, sometimes including royalty, visit the museum each year.

When the Threshing Bee season rolls around, usually in August, the 20 HP Russell and the Steel Avery separator are moved to Almelund, Minnesota, a few miles away where a threshing show is held.

Gilmar Johnson is the engineer at this event, as well as on occasions when the Russell and the Wood Tabor Morse are steamed up at the museum.

Dennie, being physically handicapped, enjoys reading. He told me he subscribes to twenty-five magazines. He pointed to his large collection of Iron-Men Album and Gas Magazines, both of which head the list of his reading material.

I sincerely regret that I am not capable of describing the great work Dennie and Hazel Magnuson have accomplished with their unfaltering perserverance in accumulating and restoring all of these things at the Yesteryear farm of Memories Museum.