|A History of STRUM
and the TOWN OF UNITY by Roy Matson
|because "Unity had no poor persons." In 1883 we find $125 was again appropriated for a
bridge over the river near P. B. Williams’ home. Sumner had spent $75 for a bridge at this
crossing in 1877. Also, the second resolution regarding control of stray livestock was
presented by Williams, a problem that was discussed at several later meetings in the
1880’s. Barbed wire had not yet been introduced.
Came 1884 and the first indication that Thor Holden and Ole Kittleson were in business.
Per Bonkrud’s blacksmith shop later bought by C. Finstad was also doing well. All
buildings were on the present Woodland Drive, except Holden, whose lot was across the
street at the west end of Woodland. Kittleson received a postal appointment in February,
1885, a move welcomed by local settlers as now a long walk to Bower’s post office at
Hamlin was not necessary. The shingle on Kittleson’s store let people know they were at
"Strum", a sign that needed repainting twice (see “Names” later in this book). His building
stands at 313 Woodland Drive.
In 1886 the price on wheat dropped to below a dollar a bushel and hard times continued
for two or three years. A move to buy a pole driver for building a bridge lost at the annual
meeting, but later that year a most interesting entry in the clerk’s minute book appears.
“Tollef Olson, a poor person, was sent back to Norway”. Cost was $60. Bridge work in
1887 cost $329 but there is no indication where this amount was spent. 135 votes were
cast at the spring election and voters decided to hold their next meeting at Finstad’s Hall.
Good news came from up the river. Osseo citizens had induced N. C. Foster to build a
railroad spur to their village. The first train came into their town on June 30, 1887. Six
carloads of produce were unloaded and more was promised. The name of the railroad, the
Fairchild and Mississippi, had all the indications that it would be extended down the valley.
Township authorities had been busy. 118 votes were cast at the spring, 1890 meeting. P.
B. Williams offered a Canada thistle resolution and a “particular bastard case” was left to
the town board. In 1891 the vote rose to 134 and the poor appropriation rose from $50 to
$150. The growing town must have impressed the board to provide some safekeeping
equipment. A safe was bought at a cost of $48.70, freight included. It followed the
residences of various town clerks as they served through the years until it reached and
served E. N. Kleven for his many terms. It was very heavy so when the present sheriff’s
wife remodeled a room, she covered the unsightly thing. Future posterity take note, it is
In 1892 153 votes were cast, the depot was built and the community had a telegraph wire
connected to the outside world. Not much is recorded in 1893 but the next year brought
160 voters to the Unity annual meeting that was now held at the newly built Temperance
Hall, the township home for the next 80 years. The river bridge finally received a major
overhaul. Sivert Rekstad supervised the job and Clement Thompson bought the old
planks for $15.00. The tax roll totalled $2,406.09 of which $600.00 was township tax.
177 votes were cast in 1895. A move to buy a grader lost and records show that men
working on their poll tax were credited $1.25 for working a ten hour day. It should be
mentioned that Unity had been divided into 4 road districts with a supervisor and
timekeeper for each. Reports were due in December of each year. The town board rented
a grader from Sumner at $4 per day until they finally purchased one from the C. Aultman
Co. for $130.25 in 1897. That was also the year Dr. Torkelson moved in, records showing
his appointment as health officer of the township.
About this time, 1888-89, farmers had decided to recognize the cow as having a future in
their plans. Two small buildings were erected just beyond Finstads blacksmith shop to
serve as a creamery. It was a cooperative effort, but after a year or two the business
closed its doors, only to be reopened through the private efforts of Kittleson’s new
partner, Hans Willumson. Feeling the creamery served a need, he bought cream,