Gilfillan's Ghost


| April 2001



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Gilfillan volunteer Frank Vogel

In the early 1870's, Charles Duncan Gilfillan started the water works in St. Paul, Minn. In 1882, he sold his company to the city of St. Paul and purchased approximately 13,000 acres of farm land in the state's Redwood County.

The early years of ownership the property was farmed Bonanza style using many farm hands. The present estate was the headquarters for the operation. Horses were used for power, cattle were raised and exported to Europe. In the earlier days most of the corn was shipped in from Iowa. When the railroad was lord in this area Mr. Gilfillan had his own siding at this site.

After Charles D. Gilfillan's death his son Charles O. Gilfillan took over management. Under his management the property was broken up into 160 - 320 acre parcels. The land was cleared, buildings and fences built, and rented to tenant farmers. Over time the tenants and others were given the chance to buy the property.

Charles O. Gilfillan married a local girl and they made Gilfillan their home as he managed the property. Charles O. died in 1962, his widow in 1990. In their will the property was transferred to the Redwood County Historical Society.

A photo of the main house and office, with the pagoda connecting them. Note the 'widows watch' around the chimney on the house roof.

Shortly after the Redwood County Historical Society accepted ownership of the property, the Friends of Gilfillan was organized: A group of volunteers who take care of upkeep and maintenance, and provide tours during the warm months. The house, the focal point of the estate, is furnished as it was when Mr. Gilfillan passed on.