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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


Published in the Morton Enterprise on March 31, 1916.

Neighboring Towns Asking for Dates and Expecting Us to Again Have a Strong Winning Team

While all the neighboring towns are writing to Morton trying to schedule games, we are unable to give them a satisfactory answer. It was hard to organize a team last year on account of not having a team for so many seasons previous, but after finishing second in the Renville County League there is no doubt that we can make all the teams travel a little. Morton has a good location for a baseball diamond and lacks nothing but a grandstand to make it an up-to-date ball ground.

A meeting will be held in the near future and everyone interested should come and help organize a team. All we need is the “pep” and support. We can surely have the support, judging from the enthusiasm shown during the basketball season. As we have the material we should have one of the best teams around here this year.

Don’t forget to boost this because it is going to help the town. Take a look at our Baseball Team. Didn’t that boost Old Morton!!!
High School Baseball Team Organized
A meeting was held Wednesday and about twenty members turned out to help organize a baseball team.
A.H. Martin was chosen coach, Frank Gaasch captain and Harry Donlon, manager. Practice has begun at school and the boys will be in trim to play in a few weeks. ~~ B.B. Reporter

Last Week’s Games VS Madison and Gibbon

Published in the Morton Enterprise on March 3, 1916.

The past week has been a “beaner” for basketball, and altho there has not been a game played on the home floor, every Mortonite has witnesses each game once or more. The reason for the nervous actions noticeable on our townspeople of late was the needless anxiety felt for the team in their return game with Madison.

The local coach arranged for a game with Madison for Saturday night in order to spare them the fatigue of the journey and to instill a little confidence into the fellows, he had them defeat Dawson Friday, merely to keep up the powerful thirst for victory.

Noting the friendly spirit of the Dawson people, the homeboys beat the Dawson boys three to one to spare their feelings.

The summary:

Morton                         Dawson

Baker              RF                   Bacon

Gaasch           LF                    Hanson

Orth                 C                     West

Donlon RG                  Sorenson

Fuller               LG                   Taylor

Goals – Baker 10, Gaasch 3, Orth 2, Donlon 1, Bacon 1, West 2, Sorenson 2. Free throws – Baker 1, Taylor 1. Referee – Gillot. Final Score: 33 – 11

The game at Madison proved to be the hair-raiser of the series, as both teams fought fierce and fast from the going. Victory was momentarily uncertain, but the strain soon told on the weaker aggregation, when our boys forged ahead.

Madison played in hard luck during the first half; using a sub-center who was in poor condition, they were at a disadvantage, while it helped us materially. But it may be added that Morton played superb basketball, many throws bordering on the sensational. Baker was the individual point-getter, while our midget guard kept the much-feared Garberg trying desperate shots thru out the game.

Altho star playing was noticeable the general playing of the team as a machine won the game.

Morton              Madison
Baker              RF       Garberg
Gaasch           LF        Mooney
Orth                 C         Lindseth
Donlon RG      Oppegaard
Fuller               LG       Bjeldenas
Field throw – Baker 11, Orth 3, Gaasch 9, Fuller 1, Mooney 2, Garberg 1, Lindseth 2, Oppegaard 2. Free – Oppegaard 4, Baker 2. Referee – Jacobson. Final Score: 50-18. The boys acknowledge splendid treatment given them at Dawson and Madison.


Published in the Morton Enterprise on March 10, 1916.

They Now Have Claim To Al But The Northern Part of Dist. 7 – Willmar or Alexandria Game Decides

In a game characterized by much unnecessary roughness and countless fouls, the local basketball team emerged victorious, winning from the strong Marshall quint by a score of 42 to 21.

Marshall had won nine straight games and when they saw they were to be humiliated on their own floor, they resorted to tactics that didn’t help them to score and the result is that they were defeated. This was the first game wherein a Morton layer was disabled, Orth being rendered temporarily useless by a well-directed foot of one of the Marshall players. Donlon also has a souvenir on exhibit this week.

Morton started the scoring when Baker made a basket from underneath the basket, but Marshall scored, tied and topped them, 6 to 4. They, however, were not to keep the lead for Morton soon got right and closed the first half with the score of 20 to 7 in their favor.

The second half was the feature part of the game, with long floating shots by Donlon and Orth, and magnificent teamwork by Marshal. This was partly offset by many fouls.

That game eliminates all contestants on the south side of the district and the next game will likely declare success or failure. It will probably be played with Willmar or Alexandria. These two teams play their eliminations game on March 10th on the St. Cloud floor.

Morton                                      Marshall
Gaasch             LF                    Madden
Baker               RF                    McLaughlin
Orth                  C                      Jacobsen
Donlon            LG                    Soucy
Fuller              RG                   Strand
Goals: Gaasch 2, Baker 7, Orth 4, Madden 3, Strand 2, Jacobsen 2, McLaughlin 1. Free throws: Baker 8, McLaughlin 5. Referee: Campbell. ~~W.F.K.
The B.B. boys, with their coach, Mr. Martin, were guests at a dinner given by the Senior girls Friday at 6:30. The dinner was enjoyed and very much appreciated by all.