441 North Park Drive, Morton, MN 56270 info@renvillecountyhistory.com 507.697.6147

58 County Boys Give Their Lives in World War II

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12 Men From Eastern Renville County Made Supreme Sacrifice in the Second World War.

The first consolidated list of Army dead and missing in World War II – a compilation of the names of nearly 310,00 men and women who gave their lives in the nation’s service – were released by the War Department today.

The Renville County list shows 58 gave their lives in World War II. Nine of these men are from the Buffalo Lake area.

An overall death and missing rate of 2.98 percent from all causes was indicated by the listing. Of more than 10,000,000 men and women mobilized into the Army between the presidential declaration of unlimited national emergency on May 27, 1941, and the concluding date of the study, January 31, 1946, a total of 307,554 had been killed in action, died of other causes or became missing, later to be determined dead. In addition, 1,424 persons were still carried as missing on January 31, 1946, bringing the total number of names in the list to 308,978.
Of this total, 57.1 percent, numbering 176,432 were listed as killed in action. Other casualty breakdowns showed that 25,493 (8.25%) died of wounds suffered in combat; 929 (.3%) died of combat injuries; 85,219 (27.6%) died other than in battle, and 19,451 (6.3%) were administratively determined to have died. The missing figure of 1,424 represented .45% of the total.
The tabulation for the State of Minnesota reads as follows:
Killed in Action (KIA) 3,793
Died of Wounds (DOW) 607
Died of Injuries 23
Died Non-Battle (DNB) 1,626
Finding of Death Under Public Law 382
Missing 6,463 (M)
The list of men who gave their lives in battle under one of the causes mentioned above includes only those whose home address was Renville County.
Sgt. John A. Aalderks, KIA; Pfc. Frank E. Barber, KIA; Pfc. Quinton Leslie Sanford Benson, KIA in Saipan 07/06/1944; Lieut. Eva M. Biebel, DNB; Sgt. Charley V. Blondell, KIA; Pvt. Jerome S. Boyum, KIA; Pfc. Wayne V. Brandt, DNB; Clarence F. Buehler, KIA; Pfc. Emil A. Butendorf, DNB; S/Sgt. Myron A. Carrigan, KIA; 1st Lt. Robert G. Chesky, M; T/5 Charles Christensen, KIA; Pvt. Harry B. Clancy, KIA; Pvt. Merlin J. Clouse, KIA; Pvt. Raymond A. Coursoll, KIA; Lt. Comm. John B. Daly, KIA; Pfc. Arthur M. Distad, KIA; Pfc. Howard R. Dodge DND; Pfc. Matt J. Dworshak, KIA; Pfc. Ertwin H. Gens, KIA; Capt. Leonard A. Haen, KIA; 2nd Lt. Robert M. Hagestad, DNB; 2nd Lt. Herbert C. Hansen, KIA; Sgt. Leo C. Hartmann, KIA; S/Sgt. Frank E. Hautals, DOW; Pfc. Halvor H. Helgeson, KIA; Pfc. Lester L. Ingalls, KIA; Cpl. James F. Hoff, KIA; Pvt. Leonard C. Johnson, KIA; S/Sgt. Harold C. Julson, KIA; 2nd Lt. William P. Kieffer, KIA; Pvt. Joseph A. Krentz, M; S/Sgt. Walter O. Kurth, KIA; Pfc. Erwin A. Lindquist, DOW; Pfc. Henry Markgraf, KIA;; Pfc. Arnold E. Nicolai, DNB; Sgt. Lester E. Odell, DOW; Pfc. Silas J. Olson KIA; Pvt. John Palacias. DOW; Pfc. H.J. Pawlitschek, KIA; PFC, Charles P. Pederson, KIA; T/5 Gordon C. Powers, KIA; Sgt. John P. Revier, KIA; Sgt. Herman R. Rewerts, KIA; Pfc. Vernon R. Romness, DNB; S/Sgt. William Schroeder, DOW; Pfc. Herbert F. Schlute, KIA; Sgt. Ellsowrth J. Seesz, DNB; Pfc. George F. Spevacek, KIA; Pfc. Charles M. Stegel, KIA; T/5 Milton O. Stoll, DOW; S/Sgt. Timothy J. Sullivan, DOW; Sgt. Carl O. Swanson, KIA; Capt. Lyle R. Torbenson, KNB; Sgt. Rudolph C. Trapp, KIA; Sgt. George E. Wabashaw, KIA; 2nd Lt. Philip N. Wolling, DNB; Pfc. Edgar G. Wood, KIA and Pfc. George S. Works, DOW.

Editor’s Note: We honor all Renville County veterans at the Renville County Historical Society, if you have more information to add to the veterans’ lists for all the military and wars please contact Nicole at the Museum 507-697-6147. We want to make sure they are honored.

Social Media Avenues

Posted on May 16, 2020!

Due to Governor Walz’s Stay at Home order the Executive Director, Nicole Elzenga, has been working from home. During this time period organizations have been posting more frequently on their social media avenues to share artifacts, photographs, stories, and more. Elzenga has also added a few new videos to the YouTube page for visitors to see exhibits in the Main Museum.
Some of the social media posts have included such hashtags as #mnmuseums, #RenvilleCountyMN, #letsgotomorton, #MNHistoryatHome, and a few fun ones #mnoddities, #creepiestobject, #recipecollection, #artifactoftheday. Simply copy-paste one of the hashtags into GOOGLE or another search engine and the pages will show up with various museums’ posts.
RCHS is considering putting a booklet together of the posts to have for sale at the 2020 Renville County Fair.
If you have an #mnodditiy in your own personal collection please share on our various social media sites and be sure to tag us!
As the Stay at Home order will expire on Sunday, May 17, 2020 (midnight) Elzenga will be returning to work at the office but the Museum is still closed to the public until June 1, 2020. This information may change but Elzenga will keep the information updated on the website and social media avenues. Remember #HistoryMatters and we are all in this together. Stay safe & healthy and we hope to see you later this summer!


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Renville County Country (Rural) School Districts by Township

Norfolk District 28 (Red) and District 36 (White) on the Museum Grounds in Morton, MN.

Bandon: 29, 60, 66, 69, 124
Beaver Falls: 4, 5, 6, 7, 135
Birch Cooley: 2, 3, 13, 19, 20, 55, 96
Bird Island: 64, 85, 103, 123
Boon Lake: 25, 34, 38, 77, 120, 122
Brookfield: 49, 99, 118, 133, 134, 138, 139
Camp: 1, 10, 30, 31
Cairo: 23, 26, 32, 39, 45
Crooks: 52, 75, 105, 119, 140, 145
Emmet: 9, 33, 37, 58, 127
Ericson: 42, 88, 98, 131, 142, 161
Flora: 8, 18, 22, 80, 97
Hawk Creek: 16, 21, 40, 41
Hector: 51, 63, 65, 102
Henryville: 11, 12, 27, 59, 104, 111
Kingman: 68, 82, 117
Martinsburg: 71, 78, 83, 92, 113, 129
Melville: 76, 81, 93, 100, 114
Norfolk: 28, 36, 47, 84, 101, 112 Editor’s Note: 28 and 36 buildings are on the Museum Grounds in Morton, Minnesota!
Osceola: 90, 110, 115, 136, 116
Palmyra: 46, 84, 87, 91
Preston Lake: 24, 53, 57, 130, 132, 143
Sacred Heart: 14, 15, 35, 50, 108, 128
Troy: 67, 70, 73, 89, 126, 137
Wang: 42, 44, 48, 61, 94, 141
Wellington: 54, 56, 95, 109, 125
Winfield: 62, 72, 74, 106, 121

Editor’s Note: I am aware of a few standing schoolhouses used as township halls including Beaver Falls District # 5. What schoolhouses are still standing in Renville County? What schoolhouses were moved to other locations like Norfolk Districts # 28 & 36? Contact Nicole 507-697-6147 or email director@renvillecountyhistory.com to share this information. We are working on a map to locate the country schools and country churches that are still standing in Renville County. We would like to GPS the locations of the other churches and schoolhouses no longer standing.

Fire Destroys Public School Building Last Wednesday Night published in the Bird Island Union March 9, 1916

The School Building around 1906.

Had a Good Start before Discovered–22 Below Temp Weather and Dep Snow Hampers Firemen–School to Resume Work Monday Morning.

The Birds Island Public school building was totally destroyed by fire last Wednesday night. The fire was discovered by Levi Mitchell and J.J. Desmond about eleven o’clock when Mr. and Mrs. Mitchel were starting home after spending the evening at the Desmond home and the alarm was given. The fire department worked under great difficulty in getting its apparatus to the fire owing to the 22 below weather and deep snow but could do nothing to save the building because the fire had started on the north side of the basement near the steam boiler and had obtained a hold on the soft coal supply which filled the basement and building with a dense smoke in which no fireman could work. The firemen tried to put out the flames through the north basement windows as a last resort, but it was soon given up and as so headway could be made and inside of two hours the whole building had been gutted and shortly afterward the south wall caved in.
The building was insured for $11,000 and the contents for $7,000and the loss is total. The building was probably worth about $2,000 and the contents around $10,000 according to an inventory recently taken. The safe was opened Sunday and the contents which consisted of school records found in fairly good condition.
As to the origin of the fire no one knows how it started. M.J. Battendorf, janitor, left the building as usual about nine o’clock that night after banking his fire and everything was all right at that time.
The building was erected in 1899 by the village to be given to the county as a courthouse if Bird Island was made the county seat. It was used by the village as a hall until 1902 when it was bought by the school district and remodeled into a schoolhouse. With the addition of a complete high school course and the growth of the school the building had become unfitted for the purpose and the state finally demanded a new building, and this matter would have come before the voters of the district sometime this year anyway, so outside of the present inconvenience to pupils and teachers for quarters and equipment there is not much cause of to worries ver the loss; although it would have been much more convenient to have had the old building until the new one was erected and ready for them.
At the _______ (Editor’s note: the text from the scan of the microfilmed newspaper was too dark to read) decided to take the Easter vacation now which would allow time for securing quarters and equipment for the reopening of school, which will convene next Monday. The high school department will be quartered in the village hall, using the second floor for an assembly room and the lower rooms for the various high school departments. The grade will be located in the M.E. Church, Norwegian Lutheran Church and old Baptist Church buildings, but the definite location of each grade will not be given until the Monday morning meeting at the village hall as the present plans may be changing to some extent.
Bird Island and the residents of school district No. 64 will have a problem to solve in the near future to provide a new school building. We have the opportunity at hand to place our schools at the head of all of the schools in the county by erecting a modern building, fully equipped that will draw pupils from every part of the county. As long as we have to build, let’s not be backward in the amount to be spent, but wit the characteristic generousness that has made Bird Island famous put up a building that will stand out in Central Minnesota. You will find the big taxpayers in favor of a building for the future and a few thousand dollars more or less cuts but little figure when you consider the returns in the coming years.


Published in the Morton Enterprise on November 26, 1915.

Belview and this Time on Opponents Home Floor—Score 46 to 23

Friday night brought out another victory for the local high school team, a second winning over the town team of Belview.

Like the previous game, Belview started coring with free throws and soon the score was 2 to 0, with our team trailing. Chief, vowing “none of those upstart Belview boys would beat our team,” got the bunch together and soon we had a comfortable lead. Baker, Gaasch, and Donlon also scored a basket or tow this half. The score at the end of the first half standing, Morton 21, Belview 9.

The second half Fish went against Donlon, a substitute taking Gimmestad’s place at left forward. Belview, with a, do or die spirit, started with a rush, but after ten or twelve minutes were pretty tame. Fish was the star for the losing team. His work at all times being flashy and swift.

Chief Orth was the star for the locals, and though outjumped by his man, played a great running game, making 9 baskets. Baker and Gaasch played consistently throughout and they followed well, each garnered several baskets.

Morton                                                Belview
Gaasch                      l.f.                    Fish
Baker                        r.f.                    Gimmestad
Orth                            c.                     C. Nelson
Donlon                       r.g.                   D. Nelson
Fuller                          l.g.                   Mogen
Field Goals: Orth 9, Baker 6, Gaasch 5, Donlon 2, Fish 6, Nelson 2, Mogen 1. Free Throws: Fish, Baker 2, Nelson 4. Referee—McGowan

The Morton team was royally entertained after the game by a dance and an oyster supper. Several rooters also accompanied the team.

The High School girls scheduled a basketball game with Renville and went to that place Saturday, Nov. 20, to contest for honors wit them. The trip was made by auto and added to the discomfort of the cold drive, the girls were delayed on account of car trouble. Due to this delay, they did not arrive there in time for any practice and in their chilled condition had to contend on an outdoor court.

The Renville girls were found to be very sociable and proved to be good opponents. With the exception of their center, they were about an equal match in size with Morton. Being accustomed to outdoor play8ing, the Renville girls had the advantage of the homegirls. Thruout the entire game there was no evidence of dispute or unfair play.

During the first half Renville made 9 points, Morton 2. The honor for this heroic deed goes to Agnes Donlon. In the last half Renville lined up the rest of their 28 points; Morton failed to score, but the disagreeable weather must be considered. Morton made numerous fouls, but these errors enabled them to discover their weak points and they hope to overcome them in their future games.

The line-up:
Morton                                                Renville
Prior                            C                     Peterson
Mahowald                 B C                 Dale
Little, Rush               L F                  Brown
Donlon                       R F                  Brown
Munsell                      L G                  George
Everet                         R G                 Huff
Referees—Misses Gruebler and Frederick