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LIFE IN BLACKDUCK DURING THE
TURBULENT 60s, EXCITING 70s, EVENTFUL 80s, AND PROSPEROUS 90s
Contributed by Avonel
Many of us in 2000 remember well the past
40 years. Following are contributions from people which will remind us
of those days and record it for future generations as we settle into the
Contributed by Paula Baumann
For the past 100 years, the city of
Blackduck has spread its wings and expanded in all directions and with
it, its newspaper has too.
The American newspaper has served the
Blackduck community for the past 100 years and is, today, Blackduck's
oldest continuing business. Established in 1901 by the Oberg family, The
American has evolved to be one of the state's best weekly newspapers.
The first edition of The American was
printed by Ernst L. Oberg on December 11, 1901, and was printed by The
American's competitor, The Blackduck Times. Oberg would later own those
same presses, having bought them from Times editor, E.J. Taylor.
Taylor had brought the first press into
Blackduck, "By much trouble and perseverance he succeeded in getting a
press and some printing material on the ground from Moorhead." The press
was brought by wagon.
"The American belongs to no one party
although the editor has his own personal views. It will be independent
and will endeavor to deal fairly with all .....The The American comes to
Blackduck to be one of you and asks the patronage of her citizens."
Oberg was quoted as from what was written in the first edition." While
The American isn't locally owned today, it still belongs to the
community and while the staff and owners have personal ideas of their
own, the newspaper still adheres to Oberg's statement of being fair to
all and continues to produce the quality its readers have come to
When Oberg first began the newspaper,
subscription rates were just $1.50. The paper was housed in the Bank of
Blackduck building, which Oberg and his brother, Carl, founded. In April
1902, it moved from the bank across the street to the Scjei building,
and in June of that same year, the newspapers were moved into a building
opposite of the drug store on Summit Avenue between Main and First
Streets. Later the building was moved to First Street East.
In 1930, W.L. "Lee" Oberg purchased
partnership from his father. The elder Oberg died September 29, 1927,
and following his father's death, Lee purchased the remaining half of
the business from his mother, Grace.
It is said that the next move for The
American was to a new building at 412 Main Street which it is said was
to be where the old Blackduck Times was located. Lee died October 16,
1966. He had served as Minnesota Newspaper Association's president and
with his wife's help, the paper won many awards including fire
prevention newspaper campaign, a tradition which is still being kept
today. The American, over the years, has won numerous writing awards and
won awards for community service.
The newspaper was then purchased by the
Bob Tuff family, April 1, 1965'. Between 1967-68, the paper went from
"hot metal" printing to "offset" and was changed from a broadsheet
format to tabloid size. At this time, the pages were put together in
Blackduck and transported to Bemidji to The Pioneer for photographing
and printing. The newspaper office was located in what is now Nenson
Plumbing on Main Street.
Blackduck American Office
In September 1974, enough equipment was
purchased so that the newspaper was able to be pronged once again in
Blackduck, and the plant was moved from its location at 412 Main Street,
to the former Co-op Oil Building at 209 Main Street, where it remained
until 1996. The Nendicks purchased the former newspaper office and used
it for a display area for furniture and appliances, and for storage.
In February 1997, the newspaper's owners purchased The Kelliher
Independent's paper and inventory when The Independent burned. This was
not the first time that the Blackduck paper had bought the Kelliher
At this time, a local subscription was
$8.00 per year. In the beginning, the staff included the publisher, his
wife and two employees. When the move was made to the old Co-op
building, the staff was comprised of the publisher, his wife, plus 13
full and part time employees. Today, The American now carries a staff of
two with numerous correspondents throughout the area.
Bernie Elhard and his wife, Kathy, bought
the newspaper from the Tuffs in the 1980s and owned and operated it,
along with The Northome Record. While the Elhards owned the newspaper,
they also built up an outside printing business which made business
cards, letterhead, envelopes, and the like. They also sold reams of
paper and poster board and various other office supplies.
The Elhards sold the paper in the early
1990s to John Ainley of Bemidji. Ainley brought the newspaper back to
broadsheet form and only had the paper a short time before it reverted
back to the Elhards who, in turn, sold it again, this time to Park
Newspapers, Inc. out of New York. Park also owned The Bemidji Pioneer.
During that time, the company also purchased The Blackduck Shopper from
Scott Balsiger. When Park dissolved its company, following the death of
founder Roy Park, both publications were sold to Alabama Holding Company
who, later that same year, sold them to Media General out of West
The newspaper and shopper were then sold
to Bill Marcil and family of Forum Communications, Inc. of Fargo, N.D.
The Forum Company also owns The Bemidji Pioneer, Alexandria Echo Press,
Detroit Lakes Tribune/Record, Hancock Record, Morris Sun/Tribune, Park
Rapids Enterprise, Wadena Pioneer Journal, Willmar Tribune, and the
In 1996, The Forum sold the old newspaper
building to Beck Oil Company and leases its present-day location at 33
Main Street Northwest from Richard Hentges. Even though The American is
a part of Forum Communications, Inc., decisions concerning the
publications are made in Blackduck by local management.
While the newspaper is not locally owned,
it is still put together with a pride that comes from living in the
Blackduck community and the surrounding areas, from living here and
knowing the residents and listening to what they want in their local
newspaper. Local subscriptions today cost $24.00 per year and is the
bargain that it always was. Thanks to computer-age technology, all the
newspaper components from stories to advertising is still done in
Blackduck along with page layout.
With the purchase of digital camera
equipment, The American boasts of colored front page pictures each week
which still makes it Minnesota's best weekly newspaper and it will
continue to grow and thrive in this community as it has for the past 100
Contributed by D' Ann Anderson
Anderson Fabrics, Inc. is a nationally
known workroom located in Blackduck, that has been sewing draperies,
bedspreads, table linens, valances, and all accessories since June 1980.
It began in downtown Blackduck in a basement which used to be the old
bowling alley! There were seven sewing machines and eight employees the
first summer. It has grown to be the largest workroom of its kind in the
United States, with an operation about the size of three football fields
- and is still expanding.
An aerial view of Anderson Fabrics, Inc.
Monday through Friday, approximately 400
employees work very diligently to produce about 450 packages which are
shipped every day to their customers from coast to coast in the U.S.A.
Several orders have been shipped internationally also.
A factory outlet store was opened in
downtown Blackduck in 1985. It stocks remnants for "crafters" as well as
thousands of yards of fabrics that can be used for almost anything you
can think of for your home or business. There are many ready-made items
in the store - or you can order any custom-made product.
Anderson Fabrics Factory Outlet Store in downtown Blackduck
The Blackduck Americinn Motel opened the
end of May in 1991. The accommodations include an exercise room, indoor
pool, whirlpool, sauna, and a spacious lobby with a breakfast area. A
complimentary, deluxe continental breakfast is served from 6:00-10:00
a.m., and guest appreciation snacks and beverages are served from
All rooms have microwaves, refrigerators,
coffee pots, and hair dryers. A conference room will accommodate 12-15
people and is equipped with a TV and VCR and an adjoining suite if
needed. Fourteen of the thirty-three total rooms are suites; three of
which contain a whirlpool tub. The pool and patio areas provide relaxing
reception accommodations for reunions or weddings. There are smoking and
no-smoking rooms and complete handicap facilities are available.
The Americinn Motel, decorated by Anderson Fabrics, Inc.
It is a motel that "feels like home" and
is beautifully decorated by Anderson Fabrics, Inc. of Blackduck. It is
conveniently located next to Highway 71 and is very close to a family
restaurant, snowmobile trails, golf course, Blackduck Lake, and downtown
ANDERSON TV &
Contributed by Roger & Celia Folstad
This business and property, originally
known as Anderson Jewelry & TV, was purchased by Roger and Celia (nee
Bogart) Folstad from the previous owners in 1977. After 21 successful
years, the Folstads sold the building, and now rent space in the rear of
the original building to operate their service business.
Even though the jewelry and gift ware
lines have been discontinued, the Folstads take pride in and look
forward to providing local area sales and service of top-quality
products, such as, Dish Network Satellites, Zenith TV's and VCR's &
Whirlpool appliances, well into this millennium.
Contributed by Kevin Beck
Beck Oil Company is directly descended
from one of the earliest petroleum distributing companies in Blackduck,
dating back to the mid 1920s.
The original company was named J.E. Fox,
Ltd., and they distributed White Eagle gasoline, which was a product of
Socony Vacuum Oil Co. Louis C. Beck was hired as an agent for the
company in 1930. The owner then moved to St. Paul, leaving Louie to
manage their company.
The company switched suppliers in 1934
and began distributing Phillips 66 products in the area. A steady, solid
business was built by Louie, who also worked hard to establish a
reputation of honesty and good service.
In 1946, Louie and Orin J. Wolden formed
the partnership of Beck and Wolden and purchased the business from J.E.
Fox, who wished to sell their interests in Blackduck.
Claude Anderson was hired as a
driver-salesman and their sales territory was steadily expanded. Claude
remained as driver-salesman until 1951 when he went into the cafe
business. At this time Walt Hensel was hired to take Claude's place and
Milton Beck was hired in 1954.
Louie retired in 1962 and a new
partnership was formed between Orin J. Wolden and Milton Beck, who
continued the company name of Beck and Wolden.
Hensel retired in 1966 and Gary Eklund
was then driver-salesman.
Many changes have taken place since 1986.
In 1987, a NAPA Auto Parts Store was
added to Beck's Auto Service, offering a complete line of auto and truck
parts. In 1990, Blackduck Food-N-Fuel was purchased and in 1992,
Barclay's Bait and Tackle. Today the two businesses combine to operate
as Timberline Sports and Convenience.
Timberline I Food & Fuel
In 1998, Texaco replaced Unocal as Beck
Oil Co.'s primary petroleum supplier. Finally, Beck Oil purchased Cass
Lake Mini Mart in 1999, bringing the total to three stores and two bulk
plants under the management of Beck Oil Co., as they continue to grow
along with Blackduck and its surrounding area.
Contributed by Ethel Benson
In the 1930s, A & H Timber Company was
started. The owners were Tom Abrahamson and Iver Houge. They began
buying logs from farmers and loggers in the area, loaded the wood on
cars, and shipped to various paper mills. At that time, business was
booming as loading took place in Funkley, Hines, Tenstrike, and
Blackduck. Tom Abrahamson retired in the 1940s and went to Norway, when
the company was obtained by 0llie Jamtaas and his partner became Fred
The company was then known as B & J
Timber Company. Together they continued buying wood from local farmers
and loggers. Changes were taking place and the depots were closing. This
made it necessary to hire trucks with pulp trailers to carry the wood to
In 1973, 0llie retired and the company
became Benson Timber Company. Owners, Nile and Ethel Benson ran the
business. In 1995, Benson Brothers, Mike, Mark, and Kurt, joined their
parents, and have helped in many ways. Kurt is the buyer and
book-keeper. They have trucks and drivers that haul wood to ten
different mills. Today, they are running the business. Father helps out
with good advice - Mother is retired.
Contributed by Bryan Shastid
Imagine what it was like in the 1960s
and earlier - what it must have been like to witness or be involved in a
car crash! You would have to look up the telephone number of the
Sheriff's office, and probably have to call "long distance" to reach
them - then while waiting for deputies to arrive, the injured could only
be aided through the good intentions of bystanders. The waiting often
resulted in the injuries becoming more serious. Eventually, in some
locations, .an "ambulance" furnished by a funeral home, would arrive. It
sometimes had a light and siren, and was usually staffed by two
attendants. They would put their patient on a stretcher, place it in the
ambulance; then both attendants would get into the front seat, and aided
by their souped-up engines race as fast as they could to the nearest
hospital. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), realized that
people were dying needlessly on the way to the hospital, and began what
has become our modern day EMS (Emergency Medical Services).
The Blackduck Ambulance Service has been
in existence since 1972. It is unclear what was used for an ambulance
before that time although some of the original ambulance attendants
stated they took a three hour long first aid course to be certified as
an attendant. In 1972, new laws were passed requiring ambulance
attendants to complete and pass a 27-hour long Advanced First Aid
Course. The City of Blackduck Ambulance Service had a crew of 12
volunteers, (all but one of which were firefighters) and one ambulance
parked in the fire hall.
An addition was added to the city garage
in 1977 that made a new home for the ambulance service until they moved
to the current city hall. A fund-raiser basketball game against the
ambulance crew was held as well as an open house with free-will
donations that year. Requirements for training increased to an 84-hour
EMT course (Emergency Medical Technician).
Blackduck Ambulance Service
The 1980s brought several changes to the
ambulance service. In 1981, issues that continue to plague the service
were addressed, one of which is the shortage of weekday volunteers. A
full time administrator was hired by the city of Blackduck to help
resolve that problem. New equipment was purchased, including Medical
Anti Shock Trousers (MAST) as well as a new ambulance! In 1982, a
benefit dinner / musical entitled, "I Do, I Do!" was held, which raised
a thousand dollars for the ambulance service. A defibrillator was then
purchased in 1983 and the ambulance service acquired a certified EMT
instructor on staff in 1985 who was then able to teach the new 100-hour
EMT class. The service quickly outgrew its space in the city garage and
a new facility with a garage, office, and training room was built and
opened in 1989.
Several major challenges faced the
service in the 1990s. Beltrami Country went county wide with its 9-1-1
system, removing the old emergency number based at the nursing home. The
ambulance service's administrator left and the volunteer crew was down
to just 5 EMT's, (the minimum number the state allowed to keep a service
open). Due to a host of factors, the City of Blackduck decided to
dissolve its ambulance service. However, the volunteers, with help from
the city, formed its own ambulance service which became the Blackduck
Ambulance Association, Inc. in April of 1995. New classes were held
which boosted the roster to nearly 20 volunteers. New ambulances were
purchased to replace the older rigs and the association expanded its
scope of practice to include IV's and certain drug administration, as
well as advanced airway placement. Communications were also improved
with two-way radios and alpha-numeric pagers. Inter-agency training also
increased during this time. Donations were received from local groups
such as the fire departments, VFW and Legion Clubs, as well as from
private citizens, to allow for new equipment to be purchased.
The ambulance service's most recent
challenge was in 1999 when, once again, they lost many members who
covered shifts during the day nearly forcing it to close. The
association went before the Beltrami County Board and obtained temporary
funding to pay for full time positions to cover day shifts. A task force
was formed to develop a permanent solution to this problem that had
plagued the service nearly from its beginning.
Today, the Blackduck Ambulance
Association has many goals, some of which include increasing the scope
of practice to part time Advanced Life Support capabilities and
eventually placing satellite stations throughout the area it serves.
Other goals are promoting safety and good health to the community
through appearances at health fairs, and presentations to young people
during National EMS Week every May.
The Blackduck Ambulance is truly a
community based, volunteer service. Without the support of the
community, it would have vanished a long time ago and it could not
function today without its volunteers. The Association states that as
long as support and funding are there, it will respond when needed to
provide the top notch, skilled, and professional pre-hospital care the
community needs and expects.
BLANDIN VISIONING -
BLACKDUCK / BLANDIN INVESTMENT PARTNERSHIP
Contributed by Avonel Kjellberg
Six people from Blackduck School District
Area attended the Blandin Seminar on Visioning in the summer of 1990.
After presenting the Blackduck / Blandin Visioning to the City Council,
the group was directed to start the visioning process. After much work,
the dedicated workers presented the vision to the council in 1992. The
vision helped develop a dialogue between rural and city people and
township governments. More people were now involved in community
In 1997, the Blackduck Visioning
Committee, Blandin representatives and local residents from the
Blackduck School District Area reviewed our vision. The groups decided
that the two most important directives of the vision were in the areas
of youth and economics.
In 1998, the Blackduck / Blandin Group
joined with Blandin in the Blandin Community Investment Partnership. The
basic philosophy of the partnership is one of mutual investment.
Committees have a strong base of leaders who can recruit a diverse,
multi-generational group of individuals and major stake holders
committed to a process of identifying and taking action on significant
The community members must be willing to
explore new ways of looking at issues and be committed to measuring
results together with the Blandin Foundation.
In return, the Blandin Foundation will invest in the community by
providing technical assistance and meeting facilitation with assessment
tools, and resource materials; financial resources and convening of
multiple communities to share the lessons learned in the partnership.
Each step of the process will help
communities prepare grant applications for funding significant projects.
All people from the Blackduck Area are welcome to attend.
Presently the group is planning the 2001
Centennial Celebration for the Blackduck Area. At a community meeting on
May 9, 2000, volunteers were placed on many committees needed to make
this year long celebration successful. The committee welcomes all
Contributed by Nance Kunkel
The Blackduck Community Library started
as an idea in 1908, when a group of young women formed a club known as
the Young Ladies of Blackduck, for the purpose of establishing a library
and reading room for Blackduck and the surrounding community. By March
of 1909, the Library and Reading Room was up and running. These young
women seemed, by all accounts, to be a tireless group, as they hosted
events and fund raisers on an almost bimonthly schedule! One particular
event, held in 1911, was a dance for twenty-five couples with "peace and
harmony prevailing," at which they served "light refreshments" at
midnight, and danced until 2:00! Another event, in December of that same
year, included dancing after a show, and that time they danced until
The members of the YLB (also known as the
Wild Bees) took turns caring for the library. Those who were unable to
take their turn forfeited fifty cents to pay a librarian. The first to
be librarian was Miss Nina Leak. This practice continued until 1918, at
which time each member paid $1.00 per year to hire a librarian. Mrs.
J.C. Parker was hired as the librarian. The library at this time was
what was known as a subscription library, where patrons paid a yearly
fee for the privilege of borrowing books. The reading room was located
in the office building previously occupied by the Chicago Lumber and
Coal Company, and this is where the old Ice Cream Chalet is now on Main
Street. The rooms were open to the public every afternoon and evening,
and books could be exchanged on Wednesday evening and Saturday evening.
Many of the books were provided by "the traveling library company",
others were donations from residents.
In 1913, Mrs. Dudley and Mrs. French were
appointed to see what lot could be purchased for the purpose of building
a library. A lot south of the Catholic Church, which would presently be
the corner lot to the west of the Presbyterian Church, was purchased for
$300.00, and George Horton erected the first library building there at a
cost of $275.00. The new building was opened with a party on November
14th of 1914, with "tea and wafers" being served to the public. Many
clubs and merchants provided financial support for the library. Wood for
heating was donated by Mr. Alsop, and Mr. French sawed it free of
One of their favorite and most successful
fund-raisers for many years was what is known as a "tag day". This
occurred each year on the first of May. The tags were little ducks and
they were carried in May baskets. A "Tag Day" is similar to the American
Legion's Poppy Day. The ladies often made $50.00-$60.00 with this
In November of 1917, the voluntary
organization known as the Blackduck Library Company was incorporated
under the name Blackduck Public Library. This was done at the suggestion
of Mr. Wilson, so that the organization could be legally recognized as a
group, rather than individuals. Mrs. F.L. Kolden was the first
president, holding office until 1924, when Mrs. William Cross took the
office. Mrs. Cross was one of the original Young Ladies of Blackduck.
She continued to be officially connected with the library until 1980,
and remained a library supporter for many years after.
In 1917 and 1918, the group collected
funds and books to send to the "soldiers and sailors serving our
country." They collected $40.00, and 260 books, and provided the only
such effort in Beltrami County.
A report for the year ending in April of
1921 shows a membership of 37, four traveling libraries of 50 volumes
each, a building fund of $526.98, and a circulation for the year of 1911
books and 287 magazines, with 151 borrowers. In 1925, the building was
enlarged and remodeled under the supervision of Joe Thullen. This was
also the year that the Village Council took over the library, so that
tax revenue could be used to partially support the library.
Mrs. Parker resigned as librarian in
1928, and Mrs. Wm. Cross took her place. Statistics show that in 1937
the library contained 1068 volumes for adults, and 273 for children.
Mrs. Cross resigned as librarian in 1940, and was succeeded by Mrs.
Grace Oberg, Mrs. James Angell, and Ms. Lorena Feenendahl. Between 1948
and 1958, other librarians were Mrs. Carl Gilstad, Mrs. Roy Balsiger,
Mrs. Magda Bogart, and Ms. Jean Cox.
The Library continued to grow and to
thrive. In 1953, the city decided to move the library into the City Hall
building, which was a two story building located where the fire hall is
now, in order to combine expenses. The board was extremely dissatisfied
with that location, and after only a few months moved back into their
building. In 1962, the building was totally redecorated, the front wall
was remodeled, and a new window was installed. The Blackduck Garden Club
donated and maintained a window box for flowers, and in 1963 took over
the responsibility of beautifying the library property, a tradition that
continues to the present day! Library hours at that time were from 2:30
to 5:00 every Wednesday and Saturday. Tri-Sigma Study Club initiated the
first story hour for children, with an average attendance of 25
children. There has been some speculation that the Wild Bees of
Blackduck evolved into the TriSigma Study Club.
During 1969, the Board held numerous
special meetings to study the feasibility of membership in the
Kitchigami Regional Library System. The members of the board approved of
this, and with the encouragement of the village council members and
county commissioners, the Blackduck Public Library became part of the
Kitchigami Regional Library System on September 1, 1970. At this time,
the hours were increased to five days per week, and the library got its
first telephone! Librarians were Mrs. Wm Cross and Ardale Lausche. A
disastrous explosion of the oil heater caused extensive soot damage in
the fall of 1970. The library was closed for many weeks, during which
time the building was repaneled, rewired, redecorated, and refurnished.
The Library Board spent many hours cleaning the books, not wanting to
trust such a delicate chore to the professional cleaners.
In 1974, Mrs. Cross and Mrs. Lausche
resigned as librarians, and Marge Mack and Mrs. Keith Matson took their
places. Mrs. Matson resigned in 1975, and was replaced by Mrs. Glen
Stern. Mrs. Stern had been an active volunteer for the library. Ms. Mack
remained librarian until 1993 when she retired.
By 1981 the city again was discussing
moving the library to the city hall, which at that time was located in
the old bank building on the corner on Main Street. The Library Board
had sought an estimate on enlarging their building, and found that the
building was no longer sound enough to add on to. This move occurred in
1982. The back two-thirds of the (present) city hall was given over to
the library, with a half-wall and gate separating the two areas. This
was not an ideal situation, but did provide more space for the library's
increasing collection and circulation needs. This lasted about ten
years, at which point the city needed increasingly more space, as did
The library board began considering other
properties which might be available. Two buildings which were seriously
considered were the old Creamery (which at that time was the
veterinarian's office, subsequently destroyed by fire, and the lot is
now occupied by the Cease Funeral Home) and the former Big A Auto Parts
Store. The Blackduck State Bank provided an excellent price on the Big A
building, and that was purchased by the board for a new library
building. The building (which stood where the new post office now is)
was remodeled, and in May of 1993 the library moved into its new
quarters, with a grand-opening celebration for the public. The building
was well situated for a library, with an accessible entry, room for a
study table, a separate children's area, and a "Secret Garden" provided
by the Blackduck Garden Club. The library board had an agreement with
the city to pay for the building through donations and fund-raising,
over a period of five years. Because of the overwhelming level of
support from the area served by the library, and several grants
received, the $50,000 mortgage was put to rest in the fall of 1998. The
library board held many fund-raising events, including several dances -
but none of them lasted until 4:00 a.m.!!
During the summer and fall of 1997,
automation was added to the services provided by the library. The
remainder of the Kitchigami Regional Library System had long since gone
on automation for requests, the card catalog, and other parts of daily
operation. The Blackduck Community Library had to participate, or face
the possibility of losing its place as a regional library. The city of
Blackduck agreed to re-obligate the funds necessary, and by the end of
September, the library was fully on-line. The Aurora System which was
installed enables patrons to view the card catalogues of three Regional
Library Systems, over 33 libraries, and also provides the ability to
request books from all over the country, including the Library of
Congress (which is celebrating 200 years of service in 2000!) Internet
Service is available to the public at no charge, and a word-processing
computer is also available.
To facilitate the city's effort to
maintain a downtown location for the post office, the library building
was sold in 1998. Many long discussions were held to determine the
future location of the library. Because of the need to make the Post
Office space available for construction, the library was moved in March
of 1999 to a temporary downtown location in the former Anderson Jewelry
building, next to the Northland Community Bank. The decision had been
made to build a new facility for the library. Herb Lien of the Blackduck
Telephone Company issued a "challenge grant" to the Blandin Foundation
for $30,000.00. This challenge was met, and with the balance of the
funds provided by the city of Blackduck, a new building was ready for
occupancy by November. On December 5th, 1999, a grand-opening / birthday
party was held at the new facility to celebrate the new building and the
library's 90th year of service to the community. Everyone is very proud
of the new facility, and plans are underway to landscape the property,
with the help of the garden club, and financial support from the
townships. Future plans for the Blackduck Community Library include
finishing the landscaping, providing more computer workstations for the
public, and enhancing the children's section of the library.
Statistics at the end of the 20th century
show a collection of 17,070 items, with 572 borrowers on record. In
1999, a total of 16,733 items were circulated, with service to 4,884
adults, and 3,268 children. Twenty-two special tours and programs were
hosted during 1999, with a total attendance of 350 persons.
Presently the Blackduck Community Library
is open 20 hours per week, Tuesday through Saturday. Two librarians are
on duty, Nance Kunkel and Michele Krueth. A monthly story hour is held
during the school year, and a Summer Reading Program is held each
summer, with attendance increasing over the past several years to 82
participants in 1999. The library board meets on a monthly basis,
planning annual fund-raisers such as the Soup and Pie Fest each October,
and a Pie Sale each November, as well as an annual Spring Fling Raffle
and other efforts. The mission of the Blackduck Community Library
remains "working together to enrich individual and community life,
striving to provide equal access to information, ideas, and knowledge
through books, programs, and other resources."
Contributed by Dr Paul Bengtsen
Dentistry in Blackduck: Although it is
not well documented, we know that in the early 1900s in Blackduck
dental care consisted only of removal of offended or diseased teeth by
whoever had skills and a pair of pliers available. The late Dr. Tuomy, a
Bemidji dentist, recalled coming to Blackduck by train for afternoon
dental visits in the teen and early 20s. In one memorable afternoon in
1920 he removed 186 teeth. He said that after the lumberjacks would get
their anesthesia at the saloon, they would stumble over to have their
The first permanent dentist I found
record of was Dr. Louis Conley. He was born in Cannon Falls on June 3,
1880. He grew up in Cannon Falls, graduated from Carlton College, and
finished his dental studies at the University of Minnesota School of
Dentistry in 1908. He practiced in Kasson for four years and in Cannon
Falls for twenty years. He moved to Blackduck in 1928 with his new wife,
Maude. He put up his office on the second floor of his own house on
North Main, across the street from what is now Bogart's Service Station.
In 1950 Dr. Conley moved in as an
operator in Dr. Palmer's new clinic on Summit Avenue. It was there that
he practiced until shortly before his death in 1961. In the late 1960s,
Dr. Heglund, a Bemidji dentist, used the same operatory on a part-time
In 1977, Dr. Paul Bengtsen came to
Blackduck full time. He grew up in Bemidji, where his father was a
dentist, and graduated in 1972 from the University of Minnesota School
of Dentistry. He then spent three years as a dentist in Africa and two
years in Sweden. In Blackduck, he initially opened a clinic in the house
owned by the school district, which was recently vacated by
superintendent Gene Kjellberg.
In 1978, he bought the old Blackduck
liquor store on Summit Avenue, which he converted to a Dental Clinic. In
1982, he moved across the street, remodeling Dr. Palmer's clinic
building. Dr. Bengtsen has been in Blackduck for 23 years and practices
at Blackduck Dental Clinic to this day.
FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER 1995-Present
Contributed by Ruth Sherman
The Bemidji Area Council of Nonprofits
and area residents began development of the Blackduck Family Resource
Center long before a space or staff person came into the picture. In the
early 1990s the Council of Nonprofits staff began discussions with
member agencies of the Council regarding the need to expand the delivery
of human services to residents of Northern Beltrami County. Member
agencies were responding to the fact that the Bemidji area was
developing a vast array of services that were not readily accessible to
a large portion of the county. Upon agreement from member agencies,
staff of the council contacted key community members in the Blackduck
and Kelliher areas in order to receive input as to the desire and
support of such an outreach project.
Residents of Kelliher and Blackduck
responded to this outreach effort with a resounding "YES!" A steering
committee was formed involving superintendents from Blackduck and
Kelliher (Tom Hoppe and Larry Phillips), Blackduck City Planner (Jody
Johnson), Blackduck Headstart Coordinator (Terry Leinbach), School
Social Worker (Mary Aery), Zion Lutheran Church Pastor (Dean Oelfke),
and others. The communities were combed for possible sites and a
decision was made to locate within the community of Blackduck. Although
Kelliher was in need of services, it was felt that the location was not
central enough to Blackduck area residents and a suitable location there
was not available. Upon deciding on a site for the Center, funding was
secured by the Council of Nonprofits through the Emma B. Howe
In the early planning stages the purpose
of the Resource Center was simply to make space available to BACN
agencies so that they could come into the community and provide their
services. Essentially, it was a common location for multiple services
allowing agencies to provide limited services without the cost of a lone
|During the first year of
operation, agencies struggled with the marketing aspect of
operating in Blackduck. No one was responsible for promoting the
Center and agencies operating out of Bemidji were not familiar
with the workings of small communities. Recognizing a need for
adjustment, steering committee members worked out an agreement
with the Northwoods Coalition for Battered Women to place a
staff person (Brenda Cartwright) at the center a few hours a
week in an attempt to "advertise" and coordinate Center
services. At the end of the first year of operation, there was a
question about whether the site could continue due to lack of
use. Agencies were struggling to gather enough local business to
justify the travel
Blackduck Resource Center
Blackduck. A decision was made at that point to employ a
halftime staff person to spend more time bringing service
providers to the site.
In the fall of 1994, a Social Worker
(Ruth Sherman) was hired by the Bemidji Area Council of Nonprofits to
work at the Center. At that point, functions changed in several ways.
The emphasis on collocating services remained intact. A focus of the new
staff person was to establish agreements with service providers to help
them deliver the services needed in the area and to market those
services effectively. In addition, staff began making agreements with
agencies to supply brochures, flyers, applications, and general
informational materials about the programs available to the general
public. This information was gathered at the Center and disseminated to
those needing it. The assembly of all of this information allowed the
staff person to meet with residents, listen to the needs they expressed
and then provide them with a summary of the programs and services that
would meet their needs.
This concept eventually became known
around the county as "Service Access." This way of doing business
quickly gained momentum, resulting in a need for expansion of the
original Center site into two apartment units within the Pioneer Cross
Apartment building in 1998.
Today, there are 8 agencies which deliver
services out of the Center on a regular basis, supplying over 15
separate programs to area residents. Information and Referral is
provided 4 days a week and is serving more than 50 people a month.
Area churches and youth groups meet at
the Center on a regular basis. The Center has become known as a central
site for area businesses and families to coordinate efforts for Holiday
giving. In addition, the Center currently houses a small food shelf and
a clothing resource. A schedule of seasonal events occurs at the site
including such things as Tax Assistance in the spring, Home-Buying
Programs each winter, Flu Shots in the fall, and more.
The Center remains open to local input
through an active advisory team currently consisting of Pastor Dwight
Warden, Donna Bodien, Terry Leinbach, Mary Aery, Edith Nelson, Linda
Ferdig, Avonel Kjellberg, Lorraine Warden, Sandra King, Dennis
Montgomery, Dr. Lisa Harmon, Leona Hand, and Ruth Sherman. Additional
sites of Service Access are being developed in Bemidji and Kelliher.
* Member Agencies Include: Upper
Mississippi Mental Health Center; Evergreen House; Path; BiCap;
Annishnabe Legal Services; Planned Parenthood; April's Shelter;
Headwater's Science Center; Pathways; Northwood's Coalition for Battered
Women; Adult Day Services of Bemidji Area Council of Nonprofits; Bemidji
Area Race Relations Council; Gilfillan Center; Headwaters School of
Music and the Arts; Lutheran Social Services; Sexual Assault Program;
Ours to Serve House of Hospitality.
Contributed by Charlie Anderson
The Blackduck Volunteer Fire Department
was organized in 1901, the same year the village was organized. Fire
fighting methods used the first two years were bucket brigades. In 1903,
a water tower and mains along the principal streets were completed, and
a hose cart pulled by the firemen was used thereafter.
In 1902, a 300 pound bell for calling
firemen to fires was purchased. The bell was located in the tower over
the old city hall.
In August, 1902, the first fire ordinance
was adopted by the village council. This ordinance restrained the use of
stove pipes within the business district. In 1903, Articles of
Incorporation for the Fireman's Association were filed. Also in that
year, a forest fire from the southwest threatened the entire village
again. In May 1904, the danger of losing the village came from the
southwest. A special train brought companies from Bemidji and Tenstrike
to help fight it. A train stood by to evacuate the village if necessary,
but late in the afternoon the fire was brought under control near
In those early years, the hose cart was
pulled by the firemen or by a team of horses owned by the dray man. When
the fire bell would ring, this team would take off for the fire hall as
fast as they could go, not waiting for their owner, if he happened to be
off the wagon. Upon arrival at the hall, firemen would hitch the hose
cart behind the wagon and proceed to the fire.
Attending tournaments held each year was
a big event for firemen in the early years. Teams from each department
competed against each other in events such as ladder climbing, hook and
ladder races, a wet test which was seeing who could get water coming out
of the hose first, and many other events. Records show that the
Blackduck firemen usually did well in these events. Serious practice and
training were held often. In 1903, it was noted that firemen took picks
and shovels to smooth Summit Avenue so practice could be held. Later, a
special track for practice was constructed north of the school. These
tournaments were held by the Northern Minnesota Firemen's Association.
Blackduck attended in Park Rapids in 1903 and in Hallock in 1904.
In 1905, Blackduck had the honor of being
host for this event, and newspaper articles state it was the most
largest and most successful tournament up to that time, and had the
largest crowd in Blackduck history. Two special trains, one from Walker
and the other from Bemidji brought delegations into town. Three brass
bands played every evening. This went on for three days.
The local department raised $1,600.00 to
put on this event (a large sum in those days), and not one cent was
donated. It was raised by holding dances, home talent plays, and
It wasn't until 1937 that the department
became mechanized. A Chevrolet fire truck was purchased from the
firemen's funds at no cost to the village, and this truck is still in
the fire department's fleet. In 1958, another truck was purchased and
added to the department. In 1961, contracts were signed with the
townships of Hines, Hornet, Langor, and Summit, and with the village of
Tenstrike for fire protection. A rural fire truck waspurchased at this
time for this purpose. Since then, five more townships have contracted
for fire protection. Additional fire fighting equipment has been added.
Lewis F. Parker was the first Fire Chief
and was instrumental in building the department. E.N. French was elected
chief in 002, followed by J.M. Reed in 1907. William A. Cross became
chief in 1908 and served until 1950, a total of 42 years. Herbert J.
Lien was then elected chief and served until 1969 followed by ben Bergin
who held the office until his retirement in 1972. ice Heieie served as
chief in 1973 and upon his transfer to Grand Rapids, Melvin Gilstad
became chief in 1974 until 1976.
Wolden took over as chief in 1977 until
1987. After Jim Wolden, Larry Falk was acting chief from 1988 to 1992,
and Scott Palmer is the present chief and has been since 1993.
Blackduck Fire Department
In 1992, a new three-stall addition was
added to the fire ill. In 1994, a 1250 gallon per minute pumper was
purchased by the Rural Contract Association. A new 2100 gallon tanker
was added in August of 1998. The current fleet includes two pumper
trucks, two tankers, the 1937 truck, and a rescue vehicle bought with
In February 1998, the duties of the fire
department expand-1 to include extraction and rescue of individuals in
automobile accidents using a device called the Jaws of Life.
The Blackduck Fire Department presently
consists of 25 volunteers and provides fire protection for 360 square
miles plus the city of Blackduck. This includes three municipalities and
FLORAL & GIFT
Contributed by Ron and Linda Schaefer
Blackduck Floral was purchased by Ron and
Linda Schaefer from Robert Czech in July of 1981. Czech had operated
shop in the Carpet Country building for about five years. Schaefers
continued the floral business in the building until September of 1987,
when they moved into a new building constructed just north on the former
Co-op property. The new building is a 28' x 48' wood frame structure
with handsome bay windows, gray vinyl siding, and an attached
greenhouse, used `for seasonal bedding plants, shrubs, and Christmas
Blackduck Floral and Gift
Blackduck Floral & Gift offers a complete
line of fresh and silk flowers for all occasions and green and blooming
plants. Gift items include Precious Moments, plush animals, chocolates,
ceramics, stone ware, helium balloons, and many other items. A
nation-wide wire service (AFS) reaches loved ones out of town.
Ron is now retired after many years of teaching business at Blackduck
High School. He keeps very busy managing the shop, making deliveries,
and making many trips in the spring to keep the greenhouse stocked. He
even manages to keep several lawn mowing jobs in his schedule. Linda
works at the store full time. Employees include Lynn (Nagle) Boreen,
Peggy Gross, Sandra Lien, Ginger Juelson, Jackie Barclay, and other
part-time help during holidays and other busy times.
The Schaefer's sons, Paul and Brian, have
put in a lot of time with the business delivering, stocking, and keeping
the warehouse and the grounds in order. Their time is limited to
weekends now when available, as both are college graduates and are
involved with jobs and activities in Bemidji and Walker.
The business serves Blackduck, Northome,
Kelliher, Squaw Lake, and the Bemidji area, and has grown considerably
in the past years!
Contributed by Dorothy Sonnek and Darlene Mathews
The Blackduck Golf Club was founded in
1936 when a group of businessmen met at the Blackduck State Bank and put
in one dollar each to form the Club. These businessmen were Leonard
Kolden, Anton Thompson, Chan Moon, Dr. S.L. Conley, James Sullivan, I.J.
Hauge, O.E. Jamtaas, Lee Oberg, and James Johnson. O.E. Jamtaas was
elected secretary-treasurer and he held this position for 40 years.
According to the late Lloyd Cox, they
each put in $10 and purchased the title on 70 acres of tax title land
next to the Pine Tree Park by Blackduck Lake, which was later turned
over to the village of Blackduck.
The village was then successful in making
a WPA project of the Golf Course.
O.E. Jamtaas, Harry Cann, and Lee Oberg,
with a 100 foot surveyor's chain, measured and laid out the 9 hole
course and Blackduck's First Hundred Years
this original arrangement has changed very little.
Harry Cann was foreman of the WPA crew
that cleared, grubbed, and hand raked and seeded the fairways, and also
gathered rocks to line the banks of the creek across four fairways,
according to the late Lloyd Cox.
Clarence Collison was in charge of the
building of the beautiful, log club house. The Federal Forest donated
the pine logs and the Club furnished various other materials with WPA
The course had sand greens which were
later rebuilt into beautiful grass greens in 1960. To begin with there
was a great deal of volunteer labor on the course, even mowing of the
fairways. The village had purchased an adjoining 80 acres which was
originally intended for an additional 9 holes, but since has been used
for other purposes.
Through the years, the Blackduck Golf
Club has been managed by Charlie Donager, Lloyd and Marge Cox, Darwin
and Dorothy Anderson, Polly and Duane Beck, Elwyn and Ron Ruud, Dennis
and Pat Grace, Fred and Pat Pfeiffer, Duane and Jane Dueffert, and Jodi
and Ray Burmeister.
Looking back in history, in 1950, family
membership dues were only $10.00. Dues then jumped to $35.00 in 1965,
and are currently at $400.00 in 2000. A watering system was added to the
course in the early 1960s and a sprinkler system was added in the early
1990s. In 1972, there was a large addition built on the clubhouse which
had a beautifully carpeted and furnished dining area with a seating
capacity of 100 and a modern equipped kitchen and pro-shop.
Blackduck Golf Course Club House
That structure was razed and in 1998 a
new clubhouse was built on the same site. A unique, circular stained
glass window was created and donated by Hilton and Maxine Beck, Jim and
Judy Gorman, Bill and Colleen Balsiger, and Jeanne Mistic. Beautiful,
oak kitchen cabinets were planned and built by Frank Guenther of
Kelliher. The new Clubhouse consists of two levels with rental space on
the top floor and the Pro Shop on the lower level. Additional sand traps
have been added to the course in Blackduck Club House1999, and in 2000
the club purchased 12 new riding carts.
At present, the 2000 Golf Board consists
of Gail Johnson, Diane McKean, Hal Mistic, Bob Cribb, Jim Hentges, Ron
Kostohryz, and Lawrence Anderson.
Stained Glass Window in the Blackduck Club House
The Ladies Golf League is active and the
present officers are: President, Judy Ross; Vice President, Bev Bryant;
Secretary, Val Hentges; and Treasurer, Nita Brown. The Men's League
continues with play on Wednesdays with a Best Ball contest in the
evenings. Local golfer, Leo Manthei, shot a course record of 32, which
remained a record for many years.
Local members encourage others to come
and enjoy our "Best Kept Secret" in northern Minnesota!
Contributed by Judy Mouser
Early in 1975, while visiting friends in
Bemidji, Dr. Mouser learned that the city of Blackduck was looking for a
medical doctor. Bill Balsiger was contacted and arrangements were made
to visit with the search committee. Dr. Mouser accepted the position and
plans were made to rent the building Dr. Palmer had been using. Dr.
Mouser began seeing patients in October of 1975. Office visits were
$7.50 per visit. Three employees were hired and office hours were from
10 a.m. to 5 p.m on weekdays. Dr. Mouser would drive to Bemidji every
morning to see patients in the hospital and would sometimes have to
drive back again in the evening if the patient had a specific need which
couldn't be handled by phone. Before the new highway was completed, this
was sometimes a difficult trip.
In 1984, the Blackduck Medical Clinic
became too small a facility for the growing practice. B&F Construction
was contracted to build a new building at the corner of Margaret Street
and First Avenue West, where the clinic is today.
Blackduck Merit-Care Clinic
In 1996, the Clinic building was sold to
the Blackduck Development Corporation. This committee leased the
facility to North Country Regional Hospital, and later to Merit Care,
who presently operate the business. Dr. Mouser continues to practice in
Blackduck and is joined by Doctor Lisa Harmon, and Physician's
Assistant, Patricia Burdick.
Continue to Blackduck
History Page 4