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Column: A unique perspective on Org's history

WORTHINGTON — There is a township in Redwood County named Sundown. This seems notably appropriate. If one did not already exist, some township on Minnesota’s far western border should act to change its name to Sundown.

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In a point of historic fact, a great long time ago there was a village named Sundown in Sundown Township. In the passing of years the village of Sundown disappeared. Completely. I have a snapshot: someone once ordered a polished granite marker like the headstones found in cemeteries and had it placed on the village site. “Here was Sundown.”

This is remarkable because there is almost no town settled along our frontier that has not continued to exist to some degree, in some form. There are several examples — think Klondike in Lyon County, Iowa, which may have been named after a winter such as the one we have lately experienced. There are not many people any longer who make Klondike their home, but the notable Klondike bridge over the Sioux River still is there. There still are remnants of the Klondike mill. There is no need for a granite marker.

Talk of Sundown and Klondike was part of a conversation lately regarding a column that was focused on Org. “Is there a history of Org?” I was asked. No. But Org past and Org present live in the hearts of a knot of residents of the region. Henry Pfeil gave me a T-shirt celebrating Org’s centennial (1990), a T-shirt designed by son Michael.

In the archives of the Nobles County Historical Society are the postal books kept by Org’s Postmaster, Charles King. King’s Register of Domestic Money Orders. Written with pen and ink in commendably legible script, the Register is nearly an Org diary.

Well — on Feb. 4, 1905, Peter Anderson placed an order for $2.61 with Sears Roebuck & Co., Chicago. Later the same day Alfred Hanson placed an order for one dollar with the Independent Snuff Co. of Chicago. On Feb.16 George Kleeman placed a $10 order with Remington Typewriter Co. of Omaha, plus a $1.50 order with Outer’s Book Co. of Chicago. At the outset of the month —Feb. 2 — Mrs. King paid a postal fee of three cents to order the Poultry Journal from Mt. Morris, Ill. Cost of her subscription was one dollar.

Postmaster King was one of Org’s chief postal patrons. He stocked his main street general store through the mail, in part. During that same February more than a century gone by the postmaster placed orders with John Morrell & Co. of Sioux Falls, Swift & Co. of St. Paul, the Beckley-Ralston Co. of Chicago, the Sioux Specialty Co. of Sioux City, the National Souvenir Co. of Owatonna, Fairbanks Morse & Co. of St. Paul and the Des Moines Rubber Co. In effect, the Postmaster was ordering online.

The national origins of residents is suggested by their newspaper subscriptions: J. Rabenberg, $1, Lincoln Frei Presse of Lincoln, Neb.; Mrs. O.B. Thueson, $1.50,Veckobladet of Minneapolis; F. Johnson, Svenska Amerikaushe Posten of Minneapolis. There are more subscription orders for English language papers, for the Minneapolis Tribune, the Minneapolis Journal, the Minneapolis Daily News, the Sioux City Daily Tribune, the Chicago Examiner, The Farmer of St. Paul, The Christian Herald.

The dawn of spring is documented both by dates and by the orders which went to Sheldon Greenhouse, Northrup King & Co. of Minneapolis, Gurney Seed & Nursery Co. of Yankton, S.D. Warm days are with us once again.

Another of Postmaster King’s books is a cash book; Org’s post office dealt in tens of dollars, not in hundreds. The postmaster was audited and there is a notice from Washington in one of the two Account and Record Books: “Sir, Your postal account for the quarter ended Mar. 31, 1917, has been audited and shows a balance due the United States of $5.19…”

One of the last entries of their kind in Nobles County history perhaps are a pair of transactions recorded on May 3, 1909, when Ole F. Johnson sent two money orders for $100 each to the U.S. Land Office. In that day, it might still be said the post office at Org was doing land office business.

Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.