Parade photo shows a bustling Spring Valley in 1909
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 5:54 AM
Over the last 10 years, this column has occasionally featured the "Decoration Day" parade from over 100 years ago. This holiday was a highlight of the year, honoring veterans of wartime conflicts, and the parade went from downtown all the way to the city cemetery. In 1906 and 1909, the photographer took at least three photos of segments of the parade. Leading the solemn procession was either Col. L.M. Sturdivant or Capt. C.D. Allen on a white horse. Then came about 20 school girls in white dresses with big white ribbons in their hair, each carrying a flag or flowers to decorate the graves. They were followed by the veterans, and it is truly amazing that these men were so able and willing to march. Here we see them carrying baskets of flowers (and a few umbrellas). No doubt there were horses and buggies to transport those who chose not to walk the distance. The photo is dated May 31, 1909.
Of note: on the west side of Broadway, on the left corner was Molstad's general store; then Huntley Drug. Next: D.A. Sullivan's Harness Shop. With all the horses visible, you can imagine he had a thriving business. In the next building there are signs on the windows indicating it was the post office, with a flag flying out front, and a "Job Printing" at one time in the back. Later E.G.H. Adams held forth there with the Spring Valley Sun newspaper.
We also see the power poles with four cross bars with glass insulators and countless wires. Then came an open space. I checked with Sharon Jahn, historian, and she believes that about 1910 Steve Wilder built a brick building in there. As shown, no empty space goes unused, and next-door neighbor, J.B. Viall, the Shoeman, has set up signs for shoe sales; another sign promotes a special brand of paint; and the DeFisk Shows were coming to town.
The large double building, of course, is the Leuthold building with Leuthold & Aamot clothing store on the south side, and W.J. Harris Hardware on the north side. The telephone office was located upstairs. Kerry Conley erected the tall fancy narrow building in the next slot for his jewelry store, and where he and his brother, Fred, invented the cameras that were sold in the Sears catalogs at the time. I think my girlfriends and I rented space in this building for an apartment back in the '50s - many good times we had there, and sunbathing on the roof of the shorter building to the north.
On the corner is the Allard building where we see Olave Olson's Furniture and Carpets. At one time it boasted three stories, but the third story was fully occupied with folks at a play the night the 1894 tornado came through. The state fire marshal declared it a fire trap and the third story was removed about 1900. Beyond that where First National Bank is today, we see two frame buildings, one of them was Bill Benson's shoe repair shop.
First State Bank with its distinctive corner concrete steps, and Dr. Carey, dentist, with upstairs offices. Upper stories were always occupied with living quarters, doctors, dentists, attorneys, you name it. In the foreground we note the water fountain on which is perched a fine eagle, and the water drained to a horse-watering trough in the hitching yard east of the bank. We see all the folks dressed in their finest dark suits, white shirts, hats, and the young lad in his knickers.
A fine Memorial Day, and we suggest you drive by the Fillmore County Veterans Memorial just west of the Methodist Church Museum on West Courtland. The museums will be open daily, 10 to 4, with an admission fee. Plan to spend at least an hour or more to see the complex with church museum, Washburn-Zittleman Historic Home, Ag Building and the History Hall.