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Lismore Minnesota
History

From "An Illustrated History of Nobles County" by Arthur R. Rose, published 1908


Of Nobles county's eleven incorporated villages Lismore is the youngest. It is a town of 181 inhabitants, located on the Rock Island railroad and on section one, of Lismore township. Portions of Leota, Willmont, Larkin and Lismore townships comprise its trade territory, which, in my judgment, is the finest and most prosperous part of Nobles county, excepting that surrounding the village of Ellsworth. The village itself is prosperous and enjoys an excellent trade. It is built mostly of wood, but the buildings are all permanent and substantial structures.

Lismore was founded as a direct result of the building of the Burlington railroad, now operated as the Rock Island, through northwestern Nobles county, and came into existence during the summer of 1900. The road had been constructed a part of the distance it now covers during the fall and winter of 1899 and the towns of Reading and Wilmont, on tlie same railroad, had been founded. The work of laying the track was again taken up in the spring of 1900, and the road reached the site of the present town of Lismore at three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, June 9. Immediately thereafter was commenced the building of the town.

The story of the selection of the site of Lismore is an interesting one. To Emil Graf and than any others, belong the credit for the existence of the town. When Thomas Brown, the Burlington right-of-way man, was in the vicinity purchasing lands for the road's right-of-way and locating his townsites he stopped one night at the farm home of Emil Graf, situated some two or three miles northeast of the future town of Lismore. The settlers of the vicinity, who for so many years had been such a long ways from market, were anxious to have a town builded nearby. So they inquired from Mr. Brown the company's intentions relative to the location of townsites on the new road. That official stated that his instructions were to locate only one town between Wilmont and the junction of the road. Such a decision meant that the proposed town would he built some three miles further west.

But the surveyors, who were then in the field, were having trouble running their lines and getting the grade they wanted. By making a detour to the south it was found that a good grade could be secured, although the mileage would be increased. This course was finally selected, and the lengthening of the road made possible the location of two townsites. Mr. Brown decided that one site could be selected in the vicinity, and Messrs. Graf and Reickoff suggested the southwest quarter of section 1, Lismore township, as a site. Mr. Brown agreed to locate the town there if the land could be bought for $30 per acre, and he, accompanied by the two gentlemen who were interesting themselves in the matter, went to see Clarence Swanman, the owner. That gentleman promptly demanded $35 per acre for the quarter. The Burlington agent refused to consider the purchase at that price, and negotiations ceased.

Messrs. Graf and Eieckoff were determined to have the new town in the vicinity, and to raise money for the extra $800 demanded they scoured the country for subscriptions to a fund. They were successful in raising the money, and under an agreement with Mr. Brown turned the cash over to that gentleman when the Lismore depot was completed. The property had been bought by Mr. Brown in the latter part of March. The question of a name for the village then arose. Several names wove suggested, among others that of Graf, in honor of the pioneer settler of the vicinity. Mr. Graf would not consent to be thus honored, and the name Lismore was finally chosen by Mr. Brown, named after the township. The township had been named after a town in Ireland.

County Surveyor Milton S. Smith surveyed the townsite April 23, 24 and 25, 1900; the dedication was made July 23 ; the papers were filed in the office of the register of deeds July 25." After the coming of the railroad in June it was not long before the building of the town was under way, and in July the lirst business houses were opened. The St. Croix Lumber company was  the first on the site. Lumber had been liauled from Wilmont and piled on the ground. A sign on the same gave forth the information that it was a lumber yard. This enterprise was immediately followed by others, and before the close of the year quite a little town had taken its place on the prairie. James Beacom erected the first building in the town— now the Leader office—and opened a saloon. The second building completed was the O. B. Bratager store building, and that gentleman opened his store on July 6. J. James Montgomery built a small elevator and a little dwelling. William Finley was installed as manager of the elevator and occupied the house. Mr. Montgomery also engaged in the lumber business. James S. Ramage opened a lumber yard and hardware store, which were under the management of Arch Priest. The Bank of Lismore opened its doors on September 1, its temporary home being in a lumber yard. Three months later the bank was incorporated as the State Bank of Lismore. Other business enterprises established in 1900 were a livery barn by Anton Halverson, a butcher shop and restaurant by Joseph Stadter, and a blacksmith shop by Andrew Peters.

A number of residences were also erected during the year, and all the buildings of the new town were of a permanent character. The Lismore postoffice was established September 23 with O. B. Bratager as postmaster, and that gentleman has since had charge of the office.

During 1901 there was a resumption of building operations in Lismore, and the town received many additions to its business life. A school house, churches and several fine residences were built during the year. On December 6, 1901, the Lismore Leader said: Lismore, for a place only a little over one year old, has made good and substantial growth. Lismore has one bank, two general merchants, one furniture store, two saloons, two pool rooms, two lumber yards, three elevators, four coal dealers, one hotel, one hardware store, two machinery firms, one blacksmith shop, one livery stable, one dray line and one newspaper.

A census taken April 10, 1903, showed the new village to have a population of 186. After 1901 the growth of Lismore was slow. That year it reached a size proportionate to the trade of the surrounding country. While there has not been increase in population, each year has witnessed improvement in Lismore, and there is yearly increase in the amount of business done.

Lismore was incorporated in the spring of 1903. Emil Graf, Jacob Hendel and Henry Bust were the inspectors of the first election, which was held May 27. Of the thirty-seven votes cast at that time, twenty-three were in favor of incorporation and fourteen were opposed. The town's first officers were chosen June 17. and that same evening the council met and set in motion the machinery of municipal government.

Lismore's population, according to the 1905 census, was 181, of which 83 were native born, 71 Minnesota born, and 27 foreign born. Of the last named the countries of birth were Germany, 14; Norway, 7; Ireland, 1; England, 1; other countries, 4. The town has a good school and a number of church organizations.

 

 

 
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