Monday, January 9, 2017

Otter Tail County and World War I

A rather difficult to find book of local note is Otter Tail County Minnesota in the World War, published in 1919. The Otter Tail County Historical Society has a copy that is in tough shape, but still accessible.

The only other copy I am aware of is owned by the Herdman family. Byron Herdman shared his family's copy of the book with me and while there is no image of a sendoff from Parkers Prairie (unlike an interesting image of a sendoff for the troops in Henning) there is images of soldiers from Parkers Prairie itself. Click here to view these images.

This is a fascinating book and I have a couple of photocopied. If you ever want to look through them, just send me an email and I would be happy to borrow them out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Military History of Otter Tail County

I was looking around the Otter Tail County Historical Society and came across this excellent source.

The OTCHS has done an excellent job giving a synopsis of Otter Tail County Military History.

They have a couple of great sounding exhibits opening in February- 'Otter Tail County in World War I' and 'Making Otter Tail County.' More information can be found here.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Vietnam Veterans Plaque Unveiled

The new Vietnam Veterans Plaque was unveiled on Veterans Day last Friday, November 11th. As part of the Veterans Day program, Fred Liljegren, Parkers Prairie High School graduate, a veteran, local character of note, and History Club Advisor, gave the keynote speech. His speech encouraged students to 'pay your debt' as many veterans have sacrificed for our country to be the great place that it is. He emphasized vigilance over complacency, gratitude over arrogance, and giving over entitlement. He encouraged students to take charge of their own education and to challenge themselves. 

At the conclusion of the address the new Vietnam Veterans Plaque was unveiled. The previous plaque (see earlier post) was missing a few names and there was not enough room to fit the others on. The new plaque is pictured with Mr. Liljegren above. Since its unveiling, another name has been brought to our attention (good thing there are extra name plates) and will be added soon. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

William O. Douglas

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"Common sense often makes good law." William O. Douglas, 1957.

I was well aware of William O. Douglas's long tenure on the Supreme Court. He was selected to serve on the Highest Court in the Land by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939, just a couple years after the failed court packing scheme in which FDR attempted to expand the number of judges to ensure his New Deal programs would not be shut down. Douglas became the longest serving judge in Supreme Court history, serving thirty five years. During his time on the court he wrote thirty books and numerous opinions.

He was an unconventional judge, writing his opinions quickly and using a variety of techniques, earning him the nickname Wild Bill. He was in the minority opinion often. He was a strong voice for First Amendment rights. He was a factor in a number of historic cases, upholding FDR's internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, claiming a right of privacy in the "penumbras" of the Constitution that later was used in part to legalize abortion, and he granted a temporary stay of execution to the Rosenbergs, who had been convicted of selling atomic bomb information to the Soviets.

Long story short, this Douglas played a major role in twentieth century America. I will spare writing more about his accomplishments here as there is plenty of great sources that cover that ground. The real question is, what is he doing on this site?

A couple of weeks ago I was eating at Tilly T's and ran into Norman Barge. During our conversation he brought up Douglas and his connection to Otter Tail County. He left me some additional information in my mailbox at church. It turns out that Douglas was born in Maine Township in Otter Tail County in 1898. A quick search did not give me the precise location of his first home, but I have a couple of students who will be researching it and post it in the next week.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A.W. Perkins

Fred Liljegren and Delmer Schmidt placing a Veteran’s Star at AW Perkins’ grave.

On a small hill north of Parkers Prairie, on the property of Demer Schmidt, is a solitary government issue limestone grave marker. There lies the body of A.W. Perkins, who fought for the Union for the entirety of the Civil War. This past week The Parkers Prairie History Club, along with Mr. Schmidt, placed a Veteran’s Star at this site to honor Mr. Perkin’s service.

According to the Otter Tail County Historical Society, Perkins was 17 years old when he enlisted in October of 1861. Joining him at Fort Snelling were his father and two brothers. They served in the 4th Minnesota Infantry Company D, and their first stop was Fort Abercrombie in North Dakota. Their job was essentially to keep peace on the frontier between Native Americans and settlers. Needless to say, this is assignment was not what many of the men who signed up wanted. In March of 1862 the Company was sent to St. Louis.

The adventure that many of the enlistees sought came quickly at this point. After participating in the Battle of Corinth, a fight that came down to hand to hand combat before a Confederate retreat, The Siege of Vicksburg followed. This was another crucial Union victory orchestrated by Ulysses S. Grant. It was brutal, forcing the Confederate soldiers and civilians of the town to be reduced to eating dogs, cats, and rats. This was the last Confederate hold of the Mississippi River and ended at the same time as the Battle of Gettysburg, providing the Union two major victories.
Perkins then took part in William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea, destroying everything along the way and crippling the South.

While the Historical Society was unable to find a cause of death, it is known that Perkins moved to Elmo Township to be with his parents and a younger brother, Abe Lincoln Perkins, who is buried on the same hill without a marker. This area was the frontier at the time, and death records were not always kept consistently. Gravestones were also not easy to get or afford during this time. However, Andrew Wattson Perkins was issued his marker for his service to the country.

Special thanks to Missy Hermes of the Otter Tail County Historical Society for researching A.W. Perkins and Delmer Schmidt  for allowing us access to his property and for joining us in honoring Perkins with his Veteran’s Star.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Vietnam Veterans Plaque

The PPHS History Club is looking to find the names of Vietnam veterans not already listed on the plaque in the high school, which is dedicated to all those who attended Parkers Prairie High School and also served in the Vietnam War. We are also looking for the names of nurses who served in the Vietnam War and attended PPHS. Unfortunately, not all of the names were put on the plaque, and we are looking to fix that. As of now, the History Club knows of two Vietnam veterans who are not listed: Leon Hansen and George Woida. The names listed below are all those who are currently on the plaque. If you know of anyone whose name is not on the list and should be, please contact David O’Brien at or Fred Liljegren at 218-338-6173. Keep in mind that the veteran does not necessarily need to have graduated from PPHS, only to have attended. Thank you for any information you may provide!
Veterans whose names are currently listed on the plaque: Stevan Angell, Dwight L. Benson, Robert C. Bjerketvedt, Ronald C. Diedrich, Gary D. Diekow, Roger A. Dittberner, Lowell E. Freudenberg, John L. Gessel, Warren S. Hall, Kent B. Halverson, Terry E. Iverson, Donald M. Martinson, Michael A. Lein, Bruce N. Boehne, James H. Hanson, Urben T. Hellerman, Leroy C. Hemquist, Ronald D. Hink, Thomas M. Hink, Alvin C. Johnson, Robert C. Julig, Daryl P. Koep, Douglas D. Kraemer, James M. Kraemer, Gale D.Uhde, Klaus W. Seeger, David Diedrich, Steven J. Jenson, David E. Larson, Jon M. Larson, Thomas D. Larson, Ronald A. Lenke, Richard J. Lenarz, Allan J. Lenz, Robert W. Lenz, Earnest A. Lind, Roger O. Lukken, Gary C. Uhde, James A. Watt, Donald Myren, James R. Boehne, Roger A. Meyer, Gary J. Olson, Dennis O. Payne, Tony J. Quitmeyer, Alan D. Ratajesak, Kenneth L. Rauscher, James A. Robbin, Marvin H. Schauland, Charles T. Severson, Thomas R. Terfehr, James J. Theusch, Lester O. Freske, John T. Lundblad, Charles A. Thun, Donald A. Uhde, Thomas A. Uhde, Charles K. Venzke, David A. Weber, Dennis Weber, Duane S. Weller, Irvin G. Woodworth Jr, Donald H. Zuehlke, David E. Booen, David F. Carlson, Ralph S. Guck, Michael F. Theusch, Richard S. Theusch, and Donald R. Rubner.
UPDATE 7.27: Thus far we have over a dozen names that will be added.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Herdman Barn Pictures Part Four: FOLDEN TOWNSHIP

Click on the image above for part three of the Herdman Barn Pictures. See here for more information on these images!