Janet Hagen and Frank Waters, wed in 1993 at the Pioneer Home Museum.
Janet Hagen and Frank Waters, wed in 1993 at the Pioneer Home Museum.
In December 1993, the Spring Valley Historical Society hosted both a mock wedding and a real wedding at the Pioneer Home Museum. The Rev. Jon Olson presided, and acting as the bride and groom were Eric Reiland and Becky Rasmussen. However, one of the museum directors, Edna Hagen's own granddaughter, Janet Hagen, and Frank Waters were wed in the real ceremony. The reason this event has come to mind was because a real wedding took place at the Washburn-Zittleman historic home just recently. Your columnist, Mary Jo, was wed to her longtime friend, Don Oss, another Spring Valley native.
A little background: Don was born here, graduated from high school, worked summers for Reid Murdoch, later Libby. He attended Luther College, served in the army, then to the University of Minnesota, graduating as an engineer. He worked for Hanna Mining on the Iron Range for 27 years; after retiring he and wife, Willie, moved to Columbia, Mo., where he continued as a consultant engineer. His wife died in 2004, and recently he bought a house in his old neighborhood and moved to Spring Valley.
Mary Jo, too, was born here, attended area schools, and graduated from Stewartville High. She came back to town to work at the Osterud Agency, married Gordon Dathe, they had two sons, Dave and Gene. Gordy died in 2006, and she continues her involvement with the historical society and other pursuits. As you may know, this column has appeared in the Tribune since 2004, and she may be one of your guides when you visit the museums.
Last year at the society's annual meeting, both Don and Mary Jo appeared as speakers regarding the iron mining industry that took place near here from 1943 to 1969. Over five million tons of ore were taken from the open pits, and shipped to smelters in Illinois via the Chicago Great Western railroad through Ostrander. At the time, Ostrander was the "second largest shipper of iron ore" in the state, second only to Duluth. Hanna Mining was once one of the largest employers in Fillmore County, and there is an exhibit regarding this industry in the Ag Building at the museum.
What else can you see regarding weddings at the historical society museums? A framed wedding certificate from 1886 is a treasure. It contains pictures of the bride and groom and the pastor, but what is fun is what it says: "Anthony DuMez and Myrtle Howard were united in marriage by me." And whose picture is the biggest? The pastor's! Another wedding certificate from 1902 near the Congregational Church exhibit for Arthur Miller and Sarah Biel, also showing pictures of the bride and groom, but what is noteworthy — her wedding dress is on display at the Washburn-Zittleman historic home across the street. It is of gorgeous brown satin with gold floral trim, seen in the “sunken bedroom.” Often wedding dresses were "dressy" but something the women could wear many times for other occasions. One of the more modern white wedding dresses is shown in the Costume Room, worn by Lela Hagen Gammell, dated 1914.
In fact, a wedding dress is on display in the parlor at the historic home, the same room where Don and Mary Jo were married. This dress was worn in 1857 by the grandmother of Thelma Conley who was the daughter of Fred Conley. You may remember the Conley brothers, Fred and Kerry, who invented cameras, operated a camera factory here in 1899, later in Rochester. They were boyhood friends of Richard Sears of Sears, Roebuck fame, who grew up here. Sears' 1908 catalog carried 13 pages of Conley cameras. Recently the Rochester Post Bulletin had reports of controversy about “saving” a Conley home, but a decision was made for its destruction. Three shelves of Conley cameras are on exhibit at the Methodist Church Museum as well as items relating to Richard Sears.
The museum is open daily, 10 to 4 p.m., and there is an admission charge. See you there!