Column: Alpha's roots date back to 1878LAKEFIELD — Alpha is little town unknown by many in Jackson County and the southern Minnesota area. It originated as a mail stop on the Southern Minnesota railroad that was built through the area in the fall of 1878.
By: H. Ed Carlson, Worthington Daily Globe
LAKEFIELD — Alpha is little town unknown by many in Jackson County and the southern Minnesota area. It originated as a mail stop on the Southern Minnesota railroad that was built through the area in the fall of 1878. Its placement is five miles or so east of Jackson, a stone’s throw from Martin County and a half-mile south of old Federal Highway 16 or Interstate 90.
Alpha was first known as Wisconsin in 1895 and, as the village, grew it carried the names of Earl and Irwin until the post office was named Alpha. Thus, the town got its name in the fall of 1895. According to newspaper accounts of the time, besides the railroad station, there were two general stores, an elevator, a lumberyard and grain dealer, a schoolhouse and a church.
The town of Alpha was platted in 1895. As Alpha grew, it was petitioned to be incorporated in 1899. There was $35,000 spent in new and improved buildings. The first bank was established by George R. Moore, and his cashier was J.S. Crawley. The U.S. Census of 1900 revealed a population of 209 persons; in five years that increased to 241.
According to the booklet “Alpha; A Hundred Years of History” by Leona Dorschner (1995), the population in 1995 was 162. Mrs. Dorschner was able to make copies from a newspaper named Jackson County Argus, which was a sample copy, dated Friday May 31 1901. There were ads placed for Theo Jasper blacksmith, W.N. McGuiggan repair shop and blacksmith, and Aug Groth & Co., hardware, tinware, paints, bicycles and stoves. Others were for G.H. Whissimore wood work, wagon making, buggy maker, and water tanks; W.C. Dorr livery, feed and sale stable; J. Michaelson Alpha Hotel; F.J. Hassing carpenter work or contracting; John D. Young Lumber Co.; A.J. Fauskee, city barbershop; Chris Gedde, wine, liquor and beer; Bohlander & Borl General Merchandise; F.H. Wherland hotel restaurant; and C.A. Portmann druggist. F.E Isherwood had a livery feed and sale stable, there was George Moore’s Alpha Bank, P.M. Getty sold farming machinery and William Klopp was a multi-businessman — with a billiards hall, farm machinery business and café-restaurant.
Mrs. Dorschner was aided in printing her booklet by the Jackson County Historical Society, and copies are available at the museum in Lakefield.