WEST NEWTON TOWNSHIP - Sunday visitors at the Harkin Store learned about the history of West Newton Township and about people who wanted to learn more details.
"We already have lots of information about the Harkin family, but we're researching other area families too," said Harkin Store Site Manager Ruth Grewe. "Local and non-local people with local roots have left notes here asking for any historical information on their ancestors."
Historical accounts of West Newton residents and notes from people seeking information have been left on the store's porch including one written about Xavier Zollner by Ken Zollner of New Ulm.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Harkin Store Site Manager Ruth Grewe displays some historical materials on Sunday.
According to Ken Zollner's account, Xavier volunteered to ride a fast pony during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. He rode to Birch Coulee, a campsite between Franklin and Morton that later was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war for U.S. forces.
After riding to Birch Coulee, Zollner turned around and rode to New Ulm, then to Fort Ridgely. On the way, he was fired upon by Indians, but he was not hit, according to the account.
Crossing a creek, Zollner's horse stopped near the body of a dead white man in the creek. At Fort Ridgely, Zollner found Indians on three sides of himself, so he abandoned his horse and crawled on his belly. He was able to safely enter the fort and helped fight off the attacking Indians.
Zollner was paid $20 for warning New Ulm of the pending attacks, according to the account.
Managed by the Nicollet County Historical Society, the 1870s Harkin Store thrived when the railroad passed by the small town of West Newton before it was closed when the railroad ceased to operate nearby.
The store enables visitors to savor the smells and sights of the period as costumed staff present a variety of programs.
Weekend programs will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through September.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).