|A History of STRUM
and the TOWN OF UNITY by Roy Matson
|launched their housing projects at monthly meetings held there.
Later the village became owner and when the new municipal center was erected there was
no longer a need for the old hall as a meeting place. It had many owners. How long it
remained under Modern Woodman supervision is unknown but it seems original
construction cost back in 1900 were carried partially by the bank when it began operation.
A remodeling project took place during the mid-twenties when the stage was moved to
the north side and heating unit was installed. Again the bank furnished backing and when
the bank closed in 1931, a director, N. M. Rognlien, was the owner.
A Town Meeting - 1933
The depression was at its most bleak time when I reached my 21st birthday. I could vote
and happened to choose the hour scheduled for the township annual meeting to attend the
polls. The meeting was the only such I ever attended and it made an indelible impression.
I can remember a packed Temperance Hall. Usually those meetings were sparsely
attended. Not this time. All except maybe myself had one objective, cut taxes to the bone.
And cut they did. J. P. Hanson was chairman and gaveled the meeting. Reports were read
and critizised, calls for small outlays were quickly voted down. Came the board’s
recommendation for the year and all were amended with a lower figure for each item.
When this part of the agenda had ended a quiet came over the room as if a great wrong
had occured. That, too, ended.
Mads Hanestad, a former supervisor, fixed his eye on Chairman Hanson and demanded to
know what the board members were charging per diem. In his deliberate, halting manner
Hanson explained that pay was $3.00 per day when a full day was given to town affairs.
No doubt many knew of countless errands, continuous doorbell ringing and free hours he
along had given during those strenuous months. This explanation mad little impression.
From the back of the room came the booming voice of Pete Christianson, “I move we cut
the town board in two.” Quickly from big, jovial John Rognlien, in Norwegian, “Do you
want a saw or an axe for the job, Pete?” Hilarity reigned for a minute. John’s remark had
put some humor back in the meeting. His question had eased tension and board members
were left intact, both physically and otherwise.
The Lumber Yard
N. C. Foster’s railroad reached here the last days of 1889 and by spring a supply was
stacked along the spur. Shortly afterward a small building had been erected with Sivert
Rekstad handling the business. As lumber retailors in those days handled only lumber,
Rekstad built the present oil storage building on 5th avenue wherein he stocked doors,
windows, nails and other accessories of the building trade. He was a good builder and
among other things had a fixed opinion about an advantage of square nails over round
ones. For that reason many buildings in this area will have square nails long after the round
were in full use.
Foster sold considerable lumber here in early days. First settlers could haul a load of hay
to his mill at Fairchild and return with a load of low grade, wide pine boards suitable for
sheeting. The short run from his mill to yards on the railroad line enabled him to lay in
stocks of lumber that retailed at $10-$12 per thousand feet. Then, too, bridge plank and
timber bills appear continually on early township records. Bridges were many and
In 1906 Foster sold his yards to Wilson-Weber Lumber Company. In 1910 they sold to
North Star who sold to Midland Lumber Company in 1916. Owen and Nelson became
owners in 1919 and operated as O & N Lumber Company. United Building Center later
became owners and Willard Riphenberg purchased their interests in 1968 and operated as
Willard’s Building Center until 1979.