A History of STRUM
and the TOWN OF UNITY
by Roy Matson
THIS IS PAGE 16  |  TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE BACK PAGE FORWARD
payable in gold at the Augusta bank, interest at 6% as enticement. Foster organized the
high sounding Fairchild & Mississippi Railroad Company and Sumner citizens were
promised one seat on the board of directors. Ed Matchett was promptly elected to fill that
position in 1888.

The first train rolled into Osseo from Sault Ste Marie on June 30, 1887. Six cars were
filled with outgoing freight and more were promised. Foster had secured a mail contract
and planned two trains per day.

It was a start and when the line continued its building program down our valley two years
later, the name had been changed. It made no difference. The rails were greeted with great
enthusiasm because it meant a closer market for any produce and the value of land rose
whenever this service was available. It was a great year for the Beef River Valley.

Carterís Crossing was reached during the last days of December, 1889. The assessment
roll of that year shows A. J. Lyons owning about all the land on which Strum now lies.
The St. Paulís church, Holden and Kittlesonís stores, a blacksmith shop and two small
creamery buildings were located north of the river. It is often said that the town moved
but such is not the case. Holden moved his small store unto the present Robbe Store lot.
Kittleson, with a new partner, Hans Willumson, erected a new store about at the present
Post Office site. These two merchants were the town, but many people became interested
in the possibilities at once.

Eleva had its first train a few days later and held a day long celebration. Mondovi held its
observance later in 1890 and provided a large trade area for the new line which had been
sold to the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad.

No one who worked with the grain business is now alive and no records are available, but
William Kromroy, who came here in 1919, commented that even at that later date he had
dispatched 14 carloads of produce in one day and 30 per week was not an uncommon
number to be shipped from Strum.


Election Returns By Wire

The coming of the railroad spur down this river valley brought an interesting convenience
- telegraph service. All depot agents were operators and the single wire was an
unbelievable connection with the outside world. Market prices of farm produce were
available daily, messages to relatives could be sent and received and watches could be
checked for correct time. Best of all, in 1896 the depot agent let it be known that general
election returns would be received the same evening, if anyone was interested.

Interested! Many years later an elderly man told of that evening. He was a young boy at
the time, had heard of McKinley running against a many named Bryant and begged and
received permission to accompany his dad and a couple of uncles for a most interesting
and important evening.

The depot was full, he recalled. Besides village men a contingent from every valley seemed
present. A scoreboard was up and after every clicking of a little machine the agent handed
a vote to be posted. Ohio, Illinois, Maine, Virginia . . . the list of states reporting was like
a fairy tale to this interested boy. Long after midnight came the word: McKinley was the
winner. All agreed the service was unbelievable.

All headed for home and the boy remembers it was a cold, moonlit early morning. He was
of the Johnson Valley group that would walk south and east. First to part were several
from Rognlien valley. Then a mile east came a parting at the Johnson Valley corner. GOP
enthusiasm ran high and one fellow suggested the 15-20 men present give nine hurrahs for
McKinley before parting. All agreed and nine hurrahs rang out, waking every dog in the
valley that cold, still morning, and maybe a few wives. Everyone felt it had been a fine
evening except Elland Flaten. He was a Democrat.