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Nashwauk Minnesota History

Page 1 Overview
Page 2 Lumbering
Public Servants
  Police Department
  Civil Defense
  Fire Department
Page 3 Schools
Page 4 Businesses

Excerpted from

Nashwauk - From Timber to Taconite
The Story of Nashwauk Minnesota

Compiled by the 75th Anniversary Book Committee
Published 1978 by the Eastern Itascan, Nashwauk Minnesota


Although people had come to Nashwauk as early as 1880 to do small scale logging, most of the settlers did not come here until after 1900. Nashwauk was the first mining Community to develop in Itasca County on the Western Mesabi Range, being platted by the Nashwauk Realty Company on May 26, 1902, when forty acres, the present site original plat of Nashwauk, was deeded to them by the Mississippi Land Company. Articles of Incorporation were drawn up and filed, a census was taken, and the area boasted a population of 220. On January 12, 1903, the existence of  Nashwauk became legal, for it was then that the organization of the village of Nashwauk was filed for record.

The Townsite Company that developed Nashwauk was composed of Joseph Sellwood, G.G. Hartley, O.D. Kinney, E.B. Hawkins, G.H. Crosby and E. J. Longyear.

It is believed that Nashwauk was named after a river in Brunswick, Canada. The word is said to be from the Algonquin Indian language meaning "land between."

The first officers of Nashwauk in 1902 were: President, John R. McLean; Recorder, Paul Tweed; trustees, Ed Logan, Ed Larson, A. McWilliams; Treasurer, Erick Johnson.

Officers of the village in 1903 were: President, Hugh Riley; Recorder, Paul Tweed; Trustees, James Hayes, Ed Larson, C.E. King; Treasurer, Erick Johnson.

Soon after incorporation in 1903, a building boom began. Board sidewalks appeared on Central Avenue and tents, shacks and log huts that had been used for temporary dwellings were vacated, as new homes were built. Families continued to arrive, and no other town on the Iron Range grew as fast as Nashwauk did. By 1910 the population was 2080. Nashwauk's population according to the last census in 1970 was 1333.

Logging thrived in the area in the early days. Although iron ore was discovered as early as 1884 in Minnesota, development was cautious. When investors began building railroads, constructing mine sites, hauling in mining equipment, the idea caught fire, and the mining frontier was open. Nashwauk shipped ore in 1902 from the Hawkins mine.

It is interesting to note that the first ordinance passed by this council was one regulating the sale and consumption of intoxicating beverages. Nashwauk truly was a typical and picturesque frontier community with some twenty-one saloons doing business in the area at that time.

The Nashwauk post office was registered in 1902 with Paul Tweed as the first postmaster. In 1903, a $25,000 bond issue was floated for the purpose of constructing adequate water works. It was a memorable day in 1904 when the water works was turned on. Nashwauk blossomed out with its electric street lights in 1906. Nashwauk had a sewage system as early as 1908, and it was the first town on the Range to have a sanitation system.

Community improvements have continued through the years with the growth of the village. The present city hall was built in 1915 and houses the council chambers, township room, public utilities office, and East Itasca Joint Recreation Board.

Nashwauk became a city January 1, 1974, when an act of the State Legislature changed the status of all villages in the State of Minnesota to that of city, thus Nashwauk became the City of Nashwauk.

Present Council members (1978) are:
Mayor Robert S. Williams
Clerk Arlene Halliday
Councilmen Edward Bolf
Jack Clusiau
Charles Ross
Walter Stish
Treasurer Ruth Ross


The village story can be told by its people, the English, Finnish, French, Germans, Irish, Italians, Norwegians, Scotch, Swedes and the Slavic nations. Most of these people came for business reasons, to run a store, to work for a lumber company or to work in the mines. Those who settled down to build homes seemed to form the backbone of the town. They were the solid citizens, the people who made Nashwauk. They all worked hard, played hard and built a fine place in which to live. The story of the land, and of its people who pioneered, played a vital part in the story of Nashwauk.

Paul Tweed was manager of the first hardware store in Nashwauk. He was the first town recorder and held several other village offices. Mr. Tweed was the first postmaster in 1902 and served in that office for eleven years. He died July 30, 1930. Mrs. Tweed, the former Hilma Lance, was here with her father, a foreman at the Crosby Mine. Mrs. Tweed died May 19, 1962. Six sons were born to the Tweeds: Russell, Paul Jr., George (1966) and John (1973) all now deceased; Charles and Chris, who still operate the Nashwauk Hardware at its same location This is the only store in Nashwauk locale which is still being operated by the same family as it was hack in.1902. The store is also celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The lumber business was discontinued several years ago, and the building was destroyed by fire in 1977. Charles lives alone in the family home on Second Street. Chris and his wife Marcella have three children Elizabeth, Rebecca and Paul.

Thomas R. Dodson, now deceased, ran a barber shop here in the early days. He was also the first Justice of the Peace and served as Mayor of the village. Family members include: Ruth Vermilyea Webster and Ray, both of rural Nashwauk; Jewel Mosley, Connecticut; and Horace, now deceased,

One of the early Italian immigrants to come to Nashwauk was Santo Frassini (1865-1922). In 1902 he helped sink the shaft at the Hawkins Mine. He lived in a tent with John and Santo Sella until they constructed the first log building on the site where the Observation Platform stands today. He opened the first candy shop in 1904, later going into business with Santo Sella and Pasquale Verre in the Italian Mercantile Co. In 1909 he conducted his candy business from the building which served as the bank, later known asYetta's store, and now as a garage behind the First National Bank. In 1916 he constructed a brick building on Central Avenue, which housed his candy store and living quarters upstairs. He married Adele Gambera (1874-1941) who came here in 1909, and in 1916 their daughter Mary was born. She was married to Milton "Swede" Englund of Grand Marais in 1946, and their daughter Adele was born in 1956. After Santo Frassini's death, the candy store's lease changed hands over the years Kresek, Gust Callas, Peter and Helen Santrizos, Evelyn Blair, and Gerald Clark, respectively. This store was known as the Gopher Cafe and Bus Depot. In 1970 "Swede" remodeled the cafe. Buddy Grozdanich moved his barber shop in one side and on the other side, a dental office which has been occupied by the following dentists, Tom Waite, O.M. Weber, John Cornell and at present, Paul O'Brien. The Englund family resides upstairs.

T.T. Riley, Nashwauk Minnesota

The T.T. Rileys (Tom and Bridget) came to Nashwauk in 1902 from Wilson, Wisconsin. They operated a livery barn on First Street where the Ronald Sterle home now stands. Mr. Riley served as Chief of Police, Deputy Sheriff, and Sheriff of Itasca County. He was serving as Municipal Judge at the time of his death in April 1936. Mrs. Riley died in October of the same year. Hugh, T. T. Riley's brother, served as the second Mayor of Nashwauk in 1903. Three sons and three daughters were born to the Rileys. William Walter, who was killed in World War I, and for whom the American Legion Post was named; Hugh Edward, and John, both deceased; Mary (Mrs. Frank Ambrozich) of Hibbing; Catherine, a retired professor at Stanford University, California; and Josephine, deceased.

Charles W. Latvala Family in 1954
Charles W. Latvala Family in 1954

Charles W. Latvala, born May 15, 1881, in Vaasan laani, Alajarvi, Finland, migrated to the United States of America in 1894 and settled at Cokato, Minnesota. He lived there for three years and then moved to Sparta, Minnesota, where he worked in the Sparta Mine until 1902. He then moved to Nashwauk, and here settled permanently. He built a store and entered the grocery business. He married Lydia Aho June 24, 1904. He went into the logging business, road contracting, and farming until retirement in 1958. He was active in community affairs, was on the local school board for 19 years; was a village trustee for one term; and president of the Finnish Methodist Church when it was organized in 1907. He heId membership in the Knights of Kaleva, Nashwauk Finnish Historical Chapter No. 20, the Minnesota Finnish-American Historical Society, Itasca County Old Settlers, Nashwauk Retired Men's Club, and the Nashwauk Lutheran Church. He was a director of the First National Bank of Nashwauk for 49 years. He was two terms president of the Timber Producers Association, a member of Nashwauk A.F. and A.M. Lodge 331, Virginia Chapter 77 R.A.M., Eveleth Commandery 35, and the Aad Temple Shrine of Duluth. He was awarded the Cross of Finland in 1963. In 1954, Charles and Lydia Latvala were honored on their 50th wedding anniversary at the Nashwauk Lutheran Church. Lydia Latvala passed away February 11, 1960, and Charles Latvala passed away May 6, 1973 nine days short of his 90th birthday. From this marriage were born six sons: Hans, Edwin, Herbert, Harvey, Richard, and Robert; and one daughter, Helen (Lloyd B. Mitchell). Of the children Hans and Edwin are deceased. The medallion on the taconite rock in front of our Memorial Building is a copy of a post card picture of Charles and Arthur Latvala, brothers.

Jim and Minnie AimonettiMr. and Mrs. James Aimonetti were pioneer residents of Nashwauk. She came with her first husband Felix Tarro in 1902 when there were only three log houses. The Tarros built a building on Central Avenue and opened a saloon and boarding house. They had one son Peter F. Tarro now living in California. Mrs. Tarro was left a widow and later married James Aimonetti. They had two

daughters Catherine (Mrs. Kendal Morse) and Josephine (Mrs. Matt Schroeder) both deceased. In 1926 the Aimonetti's built a house on Third Street. He died in 1962 at the age of 79 and she died in 1963 at the age of 86. Mr. and Mrs. William Brown purchased the Aimonetti home in

1963 and reside there now. Mrs. Aimonetti was an avid fisherman, fishing from the Swan Lake bridge, and winning many fishing contests.

John Lake came to Nashwauk in 1902 and built a house in the Northwest section of town which later became the Hawkins open pit mine. In November he returned to Sparta for his wife and together they traveled here by railroad and horse-drawn sleigh. Mr. Lake worked in the mines, did logging, was a road contractor and also served as a street commissioner. He died in 1946. Their son, Emil, now deceased, was said to be the first child born within the present site of Nashwauk. They also had four daughters: Ihlea, Mrs. LeRoy Allie, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Sadie, Mrs. Don Byers, Zion, Illinois; Erma Lake, resident at Leisure Hills, Hibbing; and Nell, now deceased. Hilma Lake died in 1970 at 90 years of age.

[many additional families shown in book]


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