Dassel, Minnesota

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Downtown Dassel
Downtown Dassel
Location of Dassel within Meeker County, Minnesota
Location of Dassel
within Meeker County, Minnesota
Coordinates: 45°4′53″N 94°18′37″W / 45.08139°N 94.31028°W / 45.08139; -94.31028
CountryUnited States
 • Total1.69 sq mi (4.39 km2)
 • Land1.68 sq mi (4.36 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
1,089 ft (332 m)
 • Total1,472
 • Density874.63/sq mi (337.77/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code320
FIPS code27-14878[2]
GNIS feature ID0642646[3]

Dassel is a city in Meeker County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 1,469 at the 2010 census.[4]


In 1868, some men from the Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad were looking for land. They had chosen a route west from the Twin Cities that went right through a village named Collinwood. But the people in that village didn't want to give up or sell the land that the railroad needed for its rails, crossings, depot, etc. In frustration, the railroad men left town, redrew their route map, and moved one mile north. There they found the settlers in a place called Swan Lake more than eager to sell the land that the railroad needed. (Swan Lake Township was originally a part of Kingston and was named after a lake in the township. The first settlers were men by the names of Ayres and Richardson in 1856. They were surveyors from Mexico, New York. They left in 1862 during the Sioux Uprising and the Indians burned their cabin. After the Indian War, Isaac N. and Antone W. Russel came in 1864 or 1865. Soon a group from Kentucky came. The township became the town of Dassel.) The railroad platted out a new village in 1869, naming it Dassel, after one of their own employees, Bernard Dassel, a paymaster for the railroad, who came from a village named Dassel in the province of Einbeck, Germany. Bernard was a friend of railroad magnate James J. Hill and Hill gave Bernard the job of secretary of the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad, with a salary of $1800 a year. Parker Simons, a civil engineer for the railroad, put up the first frame building in Dassel. Bernard Dassel was put in charge of the pay car that was pulled by the Wm. Crooks Engine No. 1, which made a visit every month to Dassel with the cash for its workers. The station agent at the depot was Charles J. Atwater (who also had a town named after him), who was also postmaster with the new post office situated in the depot. When the post office was opened, it made the name Dassel official, by the way, and Dassel, with its 302 inhabitants, was incorporated as a village on March 4. 1878. The depot was on the north side of the main track until 1883, when it was moved over to the south side.

Most of the early settlers of Dassel came from Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, and Sweden, especially from Vastergotland and Varmland. Adam Brower was living in Indiana when he enlisted in the Union Army in April 1861. He fought in battles at Winchester, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Cumberland, Resaca, and Altoona, where he was wounded and laid up in the hospital for a few weeks. He was taken prisoner by the Confederates in the battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862, and was kept by them until September 20, when he was exchanged for another prisoner. In February 1867, he came to Meeker County and purchased a place near Swan Lake (Dassel). For the first three years, he did brick making in the village, but then he started farming. Harlow F. Ames came to the township, with his brother Henry, in January 1868, and they settled on the farm their father, Harlow, Sr., who had bought the land in absentee. The brothers stayed there until 1869 when their parents came to claim their land. Harlow F. got his own claim and Henry moved between Darwin and Litchfield where he started his famous brickyard, the bricks of which built downtown Litchfield.

George Maynard came in May 1866. He cast the first vote to incorporate the village in 1878. Andrew Davidson came to Meeker County on July 4, 1866. He drove the entire distance from Columbia County, Wisconsin with an ox team, bringing his family with him in a covered wagon. Upon his arrival, he took up a homestead of eighty acres of land on section 14. In 1866, James P. Davis came to Meeker County and took up a claim early in July on section 10. He built up his farm while working at the same time for the railroad. The next fall, he worked in the Forest City grist mill. In 1868, he helped clear the site of the village, chopping down trees, making cordwood, etc. Also in 1866, Frederick Spath came and took up a homestead of eighty acres of land in section 10, where his family lived for nine years. He worked for a while on the construction of the railroad, and on the laying out of the village of Dassel. He opened a blacksmith shop and his family moved into the town in 1875, where, on April 1, 1881, he turned the business over to his son, P. F. Spath, and then moved back to his farm. On the organization of the town in 1867, Frederick was appointed one of the town supervisors, and the following year as chairman of the board. He was also one of the first village trustees and held that office for three years consecutively.

John Rudberg also came in 1866, a busy immigrant year for the town. John took up a homestead in section 26. He moved into the village in 1875 and, along with his brothers Louis and Jonas, bought into the business of Charles Morris who had the pioneer general merchandise store. It was called Morris & Rudberg Bros. and they remained in business until 1881. Then, selling out, John and brother Louis bought the Dassel lumber yard, and also started a furniture business. Louis Rudberg died in January 1884, and John operated the entire business from that time on. Madison DeLong came in 1867 and took up a claim on section 34. He became the town supervisor for eight years, and also an assessor for four. Henry Clay came to Dassel with his parents in the spring of 1868 and he settled on section 28. After serving in the Civil War, Henry came back home to take up his own claim on section 32. He started working for the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railroad Company, building snow fences. In December 1887, he moved into town, and, on May 1, 1887, he took possession of the post office, having been appointed to that position. Erick W. Nelson came with his parents in 1868, when he was 12. After his parents died, he left the farm and came to the village to work as a clerk in a store until May 1886, when he embarked in the saloon business with N. J. Lind.

A. A. Sanford was the sheriff in 1869 when Ralph Peters built a hotel which was run by him until the Dassel House was built in 1872 by George Brower. Brower was the hotel's landlord until 1873 when he sold the property to Samuel A. Bunting. James H. Morris came in March 1869 and he built a sawmill. The sawmill was sold to George Brower, William Bradford, and James Wilson in 1872. The mill operated until 1875 when it was destroyed by a fire. In 1876, it was rebuilt and continued in operation until August 5, 1881, when a small tornado came and wrecked it for good. It went out of business. In the time that it stood, it was owned by Joel B. Smith, the first Dassel President of the Council (Mayor), and also by Robert Hunter and Ruland T. Elliott. The first general store was opened by James H. Morris and his brother Charles A. in 1869. They operated it until 1872 when they sold out to Samuel A. Bunting. In 1873, it was destroyed by fire with no insurance. It was promptly rebuilt by Bunting and he was again in business, but he died on July 27, 1875, at the age of 43. After Sam Bunting died in 1875, his widow operated the hotel until 1877, when John Henry “Hank” Remick became its landlord. On February 3, 1883, it was destroyed again, together with some other buildings in Block 7. This was Dassel's first big fire. Ray F. Case came near to losing his life. He was wedged in between the Dassel House, which was on fire, and a small office building, which was getting ready to be moved out on rollers. But it slipped off and Ray was stuck between the buildings. L. A. Whittemore, Jack Riordan, and Ben Records got a rope around him and he was hauled out, badly bruised and burned, but saved. A new Dassel House was then built by “Hank” Remick, William Galiger, and John S. Larson. After it was completed, Larson sold his interest in the hotel.

Dassel's first schoolhouse was built in 1870, at a cost of $625 and with only three months of school beginning on October 15, with Mrs. W. C. Russell as the teacher. She had 28 pupils and a salary of $25 a month. In 1873, Sarah Phelan became the teacher at $30 a month with a four months school term and 44 students. Dassel, at that time, had just 227 citizens. In 1878, a new $1500 two-story building was built with two rooms, one up and one down, and in 1883 the downstairs was divided into two rooms. The old schoolhouse was sold to the Swedish Lutheran Church and used by them until 1886 when a new church was built. The old schoolhouse church was sold and made into a house. The new school building was in use until 1886 when an $8000 building was built. The old schoolhouse was then sold to the Village on April 8. 1887 for $300 and moved to Lot 17 in Block 8, where it was used as a Village Hall and the Firehouse until 1912 when it was sold for $147, torn down, and the lumber hauled away by the owner. The Auditorium was built in that year and in use until February 24, 1930, when it was destroyed by fire. A semi-fire proof municipal building was built in the same year. The first principal of schools was J. H. McKenney.

Dr. C. A. McCollum was Dassel's first physician and surgeon, coming in 1871. He also was the village recorder for several years and county commissioner from 1878 to 1880. On December 1, 1887, he sold his practice to Dr. J. H. Kauffman for $250. Dr. Kauffman also was the owner of the McCoy Drug Store. Other Dassel doctors were: Dr. H. E. Cassel, who came on February 1, 1889, and in 1891 moved to Cokato, Dr. George E. Sherwood, who came in 1894, but, in 1900, he moved to Kimball, Dr. E. A. Skaro came in 1886 and practiced for two years, then moved to Minneapolis, Dr. Wm. E. Tryon came in 1900 for three years, then left for Minneapolis also, Dr. M. Kranz came in 1902, but stayed for only three months, then moved to Saint Paul, Dr. G. J. Dahlquist came in 1903, staying until 1904 when he moved to North Dakota, and Dr. A. C. Peterson, in 1905.

In 1872, the Pioneer Drug Store was opened by Louis Rudberg and Charles A. Morris. In 1875 Rudberg sold his half of the store to Morris and, in 1880, Morris sold out to Dr. C. A. McCollom and George B. Breed. They sold the store to the Rudberg Brothers in 1883. On his way to Sweden for a vacation in 1885, Jonas J. Rudberg died in Philadelphia on February 8, age 42, and the business was then sold to Ray F. Case, who was the store's druggist. He operated it until he sold out to McCoy & Co. in 1898, who had started the second store of this kind in 1894. Then it became the W. J. Busch Drug Store. Edwin F. Proctor took up a homestead on section 4, in the month of May 1869. He had been in the Civil War, and, under General William Tecumseh Sherman, he was present with the regiment that fought around and burned Atlanta, and in the subsequent March to the Sea. Edwin participated in fourteen battles in all and was only slightly wounded in two of them, at Chancellorsville and at Antietam.

The railroad was completed to Dassel on July 4, 1869, and a celebration was held to honor the event. A few more buildings were put up that year. In 1870, the real boom started. Store buildings, many houses, and a schoolhouse were built, some of the houses are still in use. Jonas Rudberg, brother of John and Louis mentioned before, came in 1869 and lived on his brother John's farm. In 1872, Jonas moved into town and opened a drug store, which he ran until his death in February 1885. James Patterson came in 1870. Peter Anderson had a son, Elias L., who was born in Dassel on July 1, 1870. After working for the railroad as a carpenter, Louis Rudberg, brother of John and Jonas, came in 1872, and he joined John in the mercantile business until his death in January 1884. In 1876, he was elected a member of the Minnesota State Legislature and served one term. Luther W. Leighton came in the fall of 1872 and, in the spring of 1874, he opened the first wagon making shop in town. He continued with that until 1881 when he entered into the hardware business with John M. Johnson until January 1, 1887, when, after selling his interest to his partner, he entered into the new co-partnership in the firm of Osterlund & Leighton, a general merchandise store.

Mickel Hendrickson, in 1872, started the construction of a building for a store, but he died just before it was completed. He was in partnership with John Rudberg owning a threshing machine driven by oxen. In threshing on his own farm, he accidentally stepped into the cylinder of the machine while it was in motion, which caused his death before a doctor could get to him. On June 12, 1873, a swarm of Rocky Mountain Locust, not grasshoppers as often mistakenly reported, invaded the central and southwestern parts of Minnesota. They came in swarms so huge that they blocked out the sun, sounding like a rainstorm. The “grasshoppers” became so thick on the railroad tracks that it took three hours to go just the five miles from Darwin to Dassel. On October 15, 1873, O. H. Sundahl, and Louis and Jonas J. Rudberg opened a general store in the Hendrickson building. On May 1, 1874, Charles. A. Morris bought O. H. Sundahl's share in the business and, on November 10, 1875, the firm purchased the Samuel A. Bunting store from his heirs and combined it with their business. William Wallace was an early photographer in Dassel with tin-types, which were the only pictures they had back then. His photo gallery was opened for business in 1873. After business hours, William would entertain his customers with his violin playing. Ray F. Case came in 1873 with his parents, but following their deaths, he moved to town in 1883 and worked in a drug store with Charles A. Morris, until Morris sold out to Dr. McCullom. Jonas Rudberg bought it from McCullom. Ray still worked there until Rudberg died. Then he and Jonas’ widow formed a co-partnership to carry on the business. In 1886, McCullom bought out Mrs. Rudberg.

Luther W. Leighton was the pioneer wagon maker and repairman in Dassel, opening a shop on May 1, 1874, with a horse tread power running his machine. In 1882, he started a hardware store with John M. Johnson as his partner in the same location. On January 1, 1887, he sold out his interest in the firm of Leighton and Johnson. He then went into partnership with Louis Osterlund in the general merchandise business, the store being known as Osterlund and Leighton. In 1890, this partnership was dissolved and the stock of merchandise divided into equal parts and each of them opened a store of his own. Leighton's store was destroyed by fire in 1894 and he then opened a new general merchandise store in a larger building east of his former location. In 1898, he sold out to the Murphy Brothers. In 1901, they built a two-story brick building, 40×110, on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Fourth Street. The main floor was used for their store, the second floor was used for other rooms and apartments. The building was destroyed by fire on October 11, 1919.

Louis Osterlund, after operating his store for twenty years, sold out to Andrew Olson & Co. in 1911 and retired from business. John Osborn started the first lumber yard in 1874 and then, in 1881, he sold out to John, Jonas J., and Louis Rudberg, who added furniture and undertaking to the business. Oscar E. Lindquist was born in Dassel in 1874. In 1896, at the age of only 22, Oscar became the town's postmaster. O. H. Sundahl started a feed mill in 1875, Ed Lewis started one in 1891, and G. B. Waller started one in 1897. James B. Lewis & Co. established a woolen mill in 1876, which burned down in 1880. A stock company was then formed, the mill was rebuilt and started business again under the name of the Dassel Woolen Mills, with Horace P. Breed and Daniel Methven as its managers. They manufactured all kinds of woolen goods, and the famous “Svenskt Wadmal”, wool fabric that is both warm and water-resistant.

In 1876, Erick Rundquist became a blacksmith in Dassel and two years later he sold half interest in the shop to John M. Johnson. This partnership continued until 1880 when Johnson bought the other half from Rundquist. In 1882, when the firm of Leighton & Johnson opened their hardware store, the blacksmith shop was discontinued. Dassel's pioneer tailor was M. Chellin who operated a tailor shop in 1877 and ran it until his death in 1880. In 1881, Peter Westlin entered that line of business and operated a shop until he died in 1883. Peter Norden came to Dassel in 1883 and opened up his tailor shop. Olof Johnson and N. A. Skoog came in 1889 and also opened a tailor shop. Dassel's pioneer lawyer was W. L. Van Eman, who opened a law office in 1877 and, in 1881, he was succeeded by Douglas Martin until 1885 when he moved to Arizona. A. B. Bunting of Minneapolis came in 1887 but went back in 1889 because of a lack of business. Ed R. Heenan went into the law business in Dassel in 1904, he stayed a year then moved to North Dakota.

The first butcher shop was started in 1876 by J. H. Mclntyre, who stayed in that line of business until 1882 when he sold out to Joseph E. Foster. Mclntyre then became an auctioneer, hoop-pole buyer, and the village constable. In 1888, Foster sold his meat market to Francis Marion Boyer, who went by the name Marion. Other owners of meat markets in the early days of Dassel were: John McCollom, Robert Edminster, Jonas Carlson, J. M. Mattson, Wm. R. Benson, O. M. Mattson, Olson & Paul, Joseph Paul, E. J. Sangren, and Aleck Lundquist. Back then, a butcher shop had its own slaughterhouse located just outside the village limits, so almost everything sold was a home product except for pickled pig's feet, tripe, oysters, lutefisk and herring.

After working for the railroad, John Vogel came to Dassel in 1877 and settled on a farm in section 20. Samuel O. Lindgren came in November 1879 and he attended school until spring when he started working in August Sallberg's store as a clerk. After two years, John went to Minneapolis to work for a while. Then in the summer of 1883, he returned to Dassel and formed a partnership with John Thompson. The following September, they opened a general merchandise store in a building that they had just built. They operated it for four years, then they sold it to the Rudberg Brothers. In 1890, the Rudbergs sold an interest in it to Louis Palmersten of Stillwater, who remained a member of the firm of Rudbergs & Palmersten until 1895, when Nels Rudberg bought out Peter Rudberg and Louis Palmersten, and the partnership was dissolved. Palmersten opened a store of his own and Peter Rudberg bought the hardware store of John Clarquist. Later Charles Olson became a partner with Palmersten under the firm name of Palmersten & Olson. In 1890 Charles sold out his interest in the company and then established a new store known as Andrew Olson & Co. A few years later, Charles sold his share of the business to his brother, Joseph, who became the general manager of this store. John Norgren & Company, dealers in general merchandise, came to the village in the spring of 1875 and established their business. The “Company” was his blind son-in-law, J. O. Berlin. The last ten years of business, it was owned by J. W. and L. M. Norgren. In 1878, Richard Elliot, a Civil War veteran, traded his farm elsewhere for an interest in the steam sawmill in Dassel. Two years later, he sold his mill interests and built a hotel, which, for a time, was leased out. In 1881, he took charge of the hotel himself. At the same time, he started buying and shipping hoop poles and cordwood.

D. Winck started a shoemaker shop in Dassel in 1877 in which he worked for fifteen years, then he retired in 1891 and moved to California. John Henry “Hank” Remick came in 1877 and started running the Dassel House hotel, until 1882. During the summer of that year, he engaged in his old trade of being a blacksmith, but on January 1, 1883, he went into the saloon business with John S. Larson. The following February, their place was destroyed by fire. In partnership with John S. Larson and William Gallagher, Remick then built a new hotel, the new Dassel House, the old one having burned down also. On the completion of the hotel, which was of brick and cost some $4,500, Remick again opened another saloon and remained in that business until 1886, when he closed it out. James H. McKenney came in 1878 to be the principal of the village schools for two years. In the fall of 1880, he bought an interest in the Dassel elevator and took charge of it. The Dassel Brass Band was organized in 1878 with the following members: W. L. VanEman; Director; Louis Rudberg. John S. Larson. Nels Chelgren. Douglas Martin, Jonas J. Rudberg. Oliver Bacon. Charles H. Morris, H. L. Babst, J. W. Norgren, George Norton, John E. Bunker, and Guy Breed. In October 1880, August Sallberg purchased the general store of the Rudberg Brothers and moved to Dassel taking charge of the business. In February 1883, the building was destroyed by fire, and he immediately put up a brick building. He moved into it on September 5 of that year.

John H. Wallace was the first drayman in 1878, with his white horses. A dray was a low, flatbed wagon without sides, pulled generally by horses or mules. It was used for the moving and delivery of all kinds of goods. He sold out to Charles Penney in 1889. Charles ran the dray business until 1893 when William R. Benson bought the business from him. He sold the dray line to Nip DeLong in 1894. (Nip DeLong was the first white child born in Dassel on August 16, 1869.) The Peterson Brothers started a new dray business in 1902 and two years later bought out Nip. In 1906, Ed. Hardy bought out the Peterson Brothers, operating the dray for a year, then selling the business to Nip DeLong again. Nip ran the dray line until 1917 when he sold out to the Isaacson Brothers. The first livery stable was started in 1879 by John Henry “Hank” Remick. Hank managed it until 1894 when a new stable was built on Lots 13 and 14 in Block 7. In its years of business, it had many owners: Lafayette N. Gates. A. L. Jones. A. E. Ansell, Elliott & Huntley, W. R. Benson, R. T. Elliott & Son, and Fred Collier. The first jewelry store in Dassel was owned by O. H. Sundahl in 1879 and he continued in that business until 1887 when he moved to California. August Swanson then opened a shop which he operated until 1891 when he moved to Los Angeles. Other jewelers in the early days were E. J. Iverson, R. G. Scott, August Skoog, and John Gevart.

Mrs. J. H. Mclntyre started a millinery (hat) store in 1879, which she sold to Mrs. John M. Johnson in 1884. Mrs. O. B. Knapp started a second store in 1894. Later on, general stores put in millinery departments and then those small stores went out of business. Dassel's first policeman was Henry Adlerbjelke, who was appointed to the job on January 1, 1880, by H. P. Breed, President of the Council (Mayor). William Porter started a wagon, carriage, and repair shop in 1880. He was in that work until 1884, when he moved to Brandon, Minnesota. Henry L. Babst opened the first hardware store of Dassel in the Andrew Linquist building in 1880 and, in 1882, he sold out to A. M. Bell. Bell ran the establishment until 1886 when he sold it to Bartholomew & Co. They then sold the store to William Galiger and William S. Cox, the business being known as Galiger & Cox. In 1889, Cox sold his interest to Galiger, who became its sole owner. In 1882, L. W. Leighton and John M. Johnson started a second hardware store, the partnership lasting until 1887 when Johnson became the owner of this business. In 1891, Johnson sold out to John Clarquist. Peter Rudberg bought the store in 1895 and operated it until 1900, when the fire of January 12 destroyed it and all the other business places on Atlantic Avenue in Block Eight. The lot was then sold to S. N. Gayner & Co. They built a brick building for a new hardware store.

The first fire fighting organization was established in 1881. On July 25, a petition signed by twelve voters was presented to the Council, proposing that the signers of the said petition might be known as the Dassel Hook & Ladder Fire Company, and on a motion, the following was passed: “Resolved, that J. H. Remick. L. W. Leighton. H. L. Babst John S. Larson. George Norton. S. W. Maxson. J. H McKenney, A M. Bell. Jonas J. Rudberg, P. F. Spath. Peter Johnson and J. H. McIntyre to be known as the Dassel Hook & Ladder Fire Company, and be entitled to all the benefits and subject to any penalties as such to the statutes made and provided.” They were equipped with two dozen rubber buckets, two fire axes, and one hook and ladder truck with ladders. After the town's big fire of February 3, 1883, the village bought a Rumsey Hand Engine and a hose cart with 628 feet of hose for $1560. A fire bell was bought on August 5, 1884, at a weight of 450 pounds, and a cost of $90.81. On May 2, 1884, the Dassel Fire Department was organized and called Engine Company No. 1.

Dingman & Co. started a brickyard in the west end of Dassel in 1881, which was in operation until 1885. Some of the older buildings in town have Dassel brick in them. Marion Boyer, a Civil War veteran, worked at a meat market and ran a dray business in Dassel in 1881. William S. Cox did railroad work until 1881 when he purchased a farm on section 33, Dassel Township, where he farmed until 1885. He moved into town in January 1886, and for a year was a member of the firm of Johnson & Cox, dealers in agricultural implements, until January 1887. Then he was elected city marshal, but in August he resigned and started working for the Minnesota & Dakota Elevator Co. Louis Rudberg and Nels Erickson established a firm under the name of Nels Erickson & Co. in 1881, and built a building en the southeast corner of Block 8, but before it was completed a tornado struck Dassel and ripped off the second story of the building. It was then converted into a one-story building. They opened their general store on November 1, 1881. The post office was located there with Louis Rudberg as its postmaster, who was Meeker County's member of the Legislature in 1876, and County Commissioner in 1877.

Lewis Osterlund came from Sweden in 1881, and in March 1882, Lewis worked in the post office as a clerk, under Louis Rudberg, the postmaster and in Rudberg's store there. On January 1, 1883, he was appointed postmaster. Peter Wicklund bought an interest in the store and became a member of the firm on December 1, 1882. The store was operated for three years and, with a big closing out sale, it went out of business. The building was then used for Dassel's roller skating rink. Roller skating had become a nationwide craze in 1885. The one in Dassel was owned by John E. Bunker. It was 48 laps around for a mile. 50 and 100-mile races were held monthly for cash prizes. World-famous skaters gave exhibitions of trick and fancy skating there. In 1887, the property was sold to J. Norgren & Co. and used by them in the general merchandise business until it was destroyed in the big fire of January 12, 1900. Lewis occupied the postmaster position until May 1, 1887, after which the firm of Osterlund & Leighton was formed and their general store was opened.

Olof Olson and his family arrived from Sweden in 1882 and Olson opened a blacksmith shop. Herman Quady had the first confectionery and lunchroom in Dassel, opening it for business on October 1, 1882. In the early days of Dassel, John E. Bunker, the Remick Brothers, the Spath Brothers, Moon & Edminster, Louis Boyer & Edminster, and Charles B. Dunn were at various periods in the confectionery line of business. Many times, the postmasters carried a stock of confectionery because their compensation as the village postmaster was too low to make a living. Wreisner & Mattson established their business as machinists, blacksmiths, and wagon makers in 1883, but on October 20, 1887, the place was destroyed by fire with no insurance. The firm of Wreisner and Mattson was succeeded by the Wreisner Brothers, and then the Wreisner Brothers & Sons, at the same location, with a garage, machine shop, and oil station. The Dassel Manufacturing Co. was doing business in 1883 with a plant, a foundry, and a machine shop, with fifteen employees. In the Dassel News-Letter of March 13, 1884, their advertisement appeared as follows: “Dassel Manufacturing Co., Founders, Machinists’, Blacksmiths and Woodworkers. Owners of mills, factories, elevators, and steam engines will find it to their interest to leave their orders for new work or repairs with the Dassel Manufacturing Co., manufacturers of all kinds of patterns and castings, experimental and practical machinery forgings, iron and steel, woodturning and scroll sawing. Persons having complicated inventions on their brains, difficult of clearing out will generally find ready help in times of need as we have had a long experience in such cases. We make drawings, specifications and anything in connection with our business.” However, the business failed and the property was sold to Erick Hagelin who converted it to a flour and feed mill in 1885 which he operated with success until 1912 when it was discontinued. At the death of Louis Rudberg on January 10, 1884, and Jonas J. Rudberg in 1885, John Rudberg paid off their heirs and continued the business until 1896, when he retired and sold out to B. Bresden with L. E. Larson as its manager. In a few years, it was bought by Larson Brothers. Farm machinery, wagons, buggies, and bicycles were also sold.

On April 1, 1882, a barbershop was started by E. F. Soule, but after two years it went out of business. In 1889, a shop was opened by Thomas Jefferson, a black barber with the only black family that ever lived in Dassel. In 1891, he sold his business to Ed Jumer and in 1893 the shop was sold to Charles Robison. B. B. Bartlett opened a barbershop in 1893 which was destroyed by fire in 1894 at the same time Leighton's store burned down. Bartlett then moved to Hackensack. Robert N. Doucette went into the barber business in 1896, but three years later he moved to Cokato. In those days, shaves were 10 cents and haircuts 25 cents. Back then, no person of any standing shaved himself. He had a brush and a mug with his name and lodge or business engraved on it, resting on a pigeonhole cabinet on the wall in the barbershop.

In 1885, J. J. Sundquist of Norwood moved to Dassel, built a store building, and put in a stock of drugs. In a few months, he disposed of the drugs and opened a small general store with a photograph gallery. He sold the store and then operated the gallery by itself for many years. Tin-types were now a thing of the past and Sundquist did regular photographs. The first harness shop in Dassel was started by Theodore A. Pramhus in 1885, and later on, he sold out to M. Halvorson. In 1891, Halvorson sold the business to John Sandell. John ran it until 1894 when he closed it out. The stock and tools were sold to Frank Rudberg who opened a shop which he operated until 1901 when he sold out to the Brown Hardware Co. Frank worked for them. Later on, he did the same work in the hardware store of Fred Rudberg and then for many years with S. N. Gayner & Company and the Gayner Brothers. Peter Johnson opened the second lumber yard of Dassel in 1885 and he sold it to John Rudberg in 1887. The Grand Hotel was built by Peter in 1887 and its first landlord was Edward Taylor. It was destroyed by fire in 1903 and not rebuilt.

In the spring of 1885, John J. Sundquist came to town and purchased ten acres of ground adjoining the townsite, where he put up his residence. Later the same season, he purchased some town lots and put up a brick store building. In the summer of 1886, Sundquist put in a stock of drugs and notions and later added clothing, boots, and shoes. In connection with that business, he carried on a photographic art gallery in the second story of his building. A sawmill was built by John Norgren & Johnson in 1885. In August 1886, Harry Herbert Hines came to Dassel and took over the Minnesota and Dakota elevator. In 1886, John Osterman started a tin-shop on Second Street. He sold this business in 1889 to the Swanberg Brothers, who then added a full line of hardware and in 1891 they sold out to Peterson & Wickstrom. In 1901, the Brown Hardware Co., with C. D. Brown as its manager, opened a hardware store which they sold to Fred Rudberg in 1903, who operated it in connection with his furniture and undertaking business until his death on June 29, 1905. Then it became the Holm Brothers store.

Pehr Ekstrom, ex-lawman, came in 1886 and partnered with Peter Johnson of Litchfield in the real estate business. In 1886, Peter Johnson built the Swedish Tile Stove Works in Dassel, the only one of its kind in the country. An exhibit of his stoves was made at the Minneapolis Industrial Exposition in 1886 and 1887. They were called Kakslungs, but they could not compete with the American stoves because of their high cost, so after a few years, the plant went out of business. Charles H. Nash established a cigar factory in 1887, which he operated until 1889 when he sold out to Charles L. Phifer. Phifer continued until 1905 when he discontinued cigar making and retired. His most popular and best-selling cigar was called the “Gold Leaf”.

Dassel's baseball club had the champion team of central Minnesota in 1887 and 1903. The team of 1887 consisted of Watson, the catcher; Herkimer, the pitcher; O. Nash, first base; G. Nash, second base; McNulty, third base; Miller, short-stop; Kearns, left field; C. H. Nash, center field; and Ben Records, right field. The batter, in 1887, had four strikes and five balls, and fouls were just fouls and not strikes, so they didn't count as anything. Dassel's baseball line-up of 1903 was as follows: Lee Wright, catcher; Tom Riffe, the pitcher; Louis Boyer, first base; Arthur Nelson, second base; Charles Gibney, third base; William A. Linquist, shortstop; Albert Colberg, left field; Charles W. Henke, center field; and Fred F. Spath, right field. M. A. Scheldrup opened the Lion Drug Store in 1887, selling out to Anton Heedles in 1889, who operated the store until 1891, then moved it to Minneapolis. In 1891, Ben A. Records resigned his position as the village marshal and opened a confectionery and lunchroom which he sold to E. Braun, Jr., in 1893. In 1894, Records bought back his former place of business. R. C. Trudgen started a drug store in Dassel in 1900, which he kept going for two years, when he moved the stock to Shell Lake, Wisconsin. Peterson Brothers opened a drug store in 1905.

In January 1887, Dr. John H. Kauffman came to Dassel from Virginia. Andrew Swanberg opened a lumberyard in 1889 and he sold it to John Rudberg in 1891. On July 4, 1891, Charles L. Phifer held a popularity contest to select the four best-liked citizens of the village. The Meeker Co. Cigar Factory then placed a new cigar on the market with the picture of Ben A. Records, Louis M. Norgren, John H. Kauffman, and John Riordan on the box lid which soon proved to be their best seller. They were the four highest in this contest. Fred Rudberg entered the lumber business in 1902 but sold out to Larson Brothers in 1903. In 1893, the Dassel Anchor newspaper began publishing. On October 10, 1896, the people of Dassel gathered at the depot expecting to hear William Jennings Bryan make a speech, but his Great Northern engine No. 131 train went straight through at sixty miles an hour, killing one man, and scattering the citizens in all directions. In 1897, Campion & Wolfenden had a portable gallery (a tent) and he specialized in outside views. They enjoyed a good business for two years, then moved to another location. Iverson & Co. started a lumber yard in 1902 and sold it to Herman Manthei in 1910. Then it was run by W. J. Manthei, under the firm name of Manthei & Manthei.

In 1897, Dassel had a race-track called the Dassel Driving Park, three laps to the mile, which was in use for bicycle and horse races for several years. The coming of the automobile seemed to lessen the interest in those sports so, in the course of time, it was discontinued. The track was then used as the fairgrounds and for baseball and football games. In 1898, Ray F. Case sold his drug business to Dr. John H. Kauffman, who combined it with his Ada McCoy & Co. store. Dassel's first commercial telephone line was built in 1898 from the Dassel Post Office to the Murphy Brothers store in Kingston. You could talk as long as you wanted to for only a dime. Later on, it was connected with the local telephone exchange. The Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. reached Dassel in 1900, the long-distance booth was located in the Dassel Anchor Printing Office. Then the Tri-State Telephone & Telegraph Co. line came in and consolidated with the Northwestern Bell. The Dassel and Collinwood Telephone Co. started a business with an exchange covering the village and adjoining country.

In 1898, William A. Linquist established a jewelry, bicycle, and hardware store and was in that line of business until 1904 when he sold out to L. B. Wheeler. John M. Johnson opened a hardware store in 1900, which was destroyed by fire in the fall of that year. In 1900, Erick Hagelin, William A. Linquist, Charles S. Linquist, Minnie B. Linquist, and Oscar E. Linquist built a two-story building, 80×116, on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Third Street. After its completion, it was occupied by the Dassel Post Office, Charles Robison's Barber Shop, William A. Linquist's Hardware, Jewelry and Bicycle Store, Norgren Brothers General Merchandise, and Olson & Co. General Merchandise. On the second floor was O. E. Linquist's living quarters, Ben A. Record's room, D. E. Murphy and Axel Nelson's two apartments, Dr. John H. Kauffman's offices, the Dassel Anchor's Printing Office, the Dassel & Collinwood Telephone Co., the A. O. U. W. Hall, and the Dassel Opera House. In the basement, was Boyer & Edminster's Bowling Alley. The building was destroyed by fire on September 12, 1931. Fred Rudberg owned Dassel's first automobile in 1904. It was a Rambler, named after a bicycle of the same name. Then it became the Nash.

. The Mushroom Building, on the north side of Highway 12, was formerly a gas station. It is now a Dassel landmark and during the summer, June through August, there is entertainment at that site one evening each week. Each year on Labor Day weekend, Dassel is busy with Red Rooster Days, a tradition that originated in 1959. The Universal Laboratories Building at Dassel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There's a wonderful place for disabled adults to work at in Dassel. It's called Red Rooster and my Down Syndrome daughter, Christine, works there every day. They are also involved with the Again and Again thrift store on Highway 12. [5]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.72 square miles (4.45 km2), of which 1.63 square miles (4.22 km2) is land and 0.09 square miles (0.23 km2) is water.[6]

U.S. Highway 12 and Minnesota State Highway 15 are two of the main routes in the city.


Dassel Elementary was recognized as one of 219 public schools in the nation as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School based on academic excellence. In Bloomberg Business Week's list of “The Best Places to Raise Your Kids 2011”, Dassel finished as runner up for the State of Minnesota, behind Cokato[7]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census

2000 census[edit]

As of the census of 2000,[2] there were 1,233 people, 515 households, and 313 families residing in the city. The population density was 832.7 people per square mile (321.7/km2). There were 551 housing units at an average density of 372.1 per square mile (143.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.57% White, 0.16% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 1.62% from other races, and 0.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.87% of the population. 30.8% were of German, 25.6% Swedish, 11.4% Norwegian, 8.6% Finnish, and 6.7% Irish ancestry.

There were 515 households, out of which 29.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.0% were married couples living together, 5.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.2% were non-families. 35.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.0% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 22.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,500, and the median income for a family was $48,854. Males had a median income of $30,759 versus $22,121 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,476. About 3.7% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.8% of those under age 18 and 12.7% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[8] of 2010, there were 1,469 people, 572 households, and 370 families residing in the city. The population density was 901.2 inhabitants per square mile (348.0/km2). There were 620 housing units at an average density of 380.4 per square mile (146.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.4% White, 0.3% African American, 1.0% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.5% Pacific Islander, 1.0% from other races, and 1.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.0% of the population.

There were 572 households, of which 31.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.2% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.3% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.10.

The median age in the city was 35.9 years. 27.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.8% were from 25 to 44; 19.6% were from 45 to 64; and 19.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.

Government and politics[edit]

The current mayor of Dassel is Ronald D. Hungerford, veteran and former teacher at Dassel-Cokato High School. City Council members include Sharon Asplin, Sara Nelson, Jason Benzing, and Wayne Medcraft. Terri Boese is the current City/Clerk Treasurer. City Council meetings are held the third Monday of each month at 7 pm at Dassel City Hall.[9]


Each year on Labor Day weekend, Dassel is active with Red Rooster Days, a tradition that originated in 1959.

The Universal Laboratories Building at Dassel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It is the birthplace of Dr. Shawn Colberg, a great American who has been selected to be the next dean of the School of Theology and Seminary at St. John's University in Collegeville, MN.


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. Retrieved 23 April 2011.[dead link]
  5. ^ Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 339.
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  7. ^ "The Best Places to Raise Your Kids 2011: Best place to raise kids in Minnesota: Cokato - BusinessWeek". images.businessweek.com. Archived from the original on 18 December 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  8. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  9. ^ http://www.ci.dassel.mn.us/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={7EF05F78-937C-4F89-8B47-B950839746C5}

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°04′54″N 94°18′25″W / 45.08167°N 94.30694°W / 45.08167; -94.30694