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Worthington 150: Horace Ludlow developed Okabena apple

Ludlow a figure in Worthington's early history.

Okabena apple
Jay Milbrandt, descendent of Horace Ludlow, inspects an Okabena Apple tree growing on his farm along the shore of Lake Ocheda south of Worthington in this Globe file photo.
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WORTHINGTON — Prior to coming to Worthington in 1875, Horace J. Ludlow, a native of New Jersey, had learned the sewing machine business from an uncle and had been manager of the Singer Sewing Machine Co.

150 YEARS OF WORTHINGTON
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After coming to Worthington, he bought land, in addition to hardware stock from Hewitt & Martin, which he kept for 12 years before going into the grocery store business.

In the fall of 1882, Ludlow purchased 87 acres of the old Hoffman homestead on the south shore of Lake Okabena. This was the first land farmed in the vicinity of Worthington. G.J. Hoffman had taken a claim here before Worthington was founded and before the railroad was built in the county.

The noted Okabena apple was started from seed Hoffman had procured from Peter Gideon, Excelsior, and was developed by Ludlow.

After a few years on the farm, Ludlow returned to Worthington, putting up a residence here and starting a nursery business.

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In 1895, he returned to the farm, acquired 208 acres of lake shore land and, in 1907, erected his spacious stone and frame home, long noted for its hospitality. The residence later became part of the Lake Haven nursing home complex (now South Shore Care Center).

Ludlow spent thousands of dollars in fruit experiments, and his 400-acre Okabena Apple Orchard became well known throughout the state.

He and the former Mary E. Barlow had married April 4, 1873 at Ripon, Wisconsin. Of their three sons, Herbert Dwight was the only one to continue in the nursery business. Milton engaged in farming and J. Burr, one-time mayor of Rushmore, had many business interests in that community before becoming a banker at Minneapolis and then at Sibley, Iowa.

The Ludlows also had two daughters, Una, who died as a child, and Helen, who became Mrs. Frank Hansberger and made her home in Ohio.

150 YEARS OF WORTHINGTON
A timeline that celebrates big moments in our town's history.
The Indian culture along the shores of Lake Okabena remained undisturbed until the mid-19th century, when white settlers first moved into the area.
An addition to the junior and senior high complex, the auditorium was designed with the classic art deco features so popular at the time.
The first public school consisted of 49 students and two teachers who met in various rented rooms throughout the village.
At least 50 confirmed reservations were received from Midwestern windsurfers of various skill levels.
One night he ran smack-dab into a group of evangelists while staggering out of a saloon. He was converted on the spot. Since then he traveled all across the country preaching the gospel and convincing sinners to “get right with God.”
The city’s Army National Guard unit, Co. F of the 215th Coast Artillery, was ordered to active duty in 1940, a full year before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
First festival focused on playing soccer.
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Jack started as an immigrant shoemaker and went on to lead a flamboyant rags-to-riches life. He was part of an interesting era in Worthington’s history.
Last local casualties were from Vietnam war.
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The Mobergs and Larsons came to America together in 1870, an arduous journey by boat, foot, wheel car and railroad.
Worthington’s economic base began to broaden from the narrow pedestal of farming to the much broader one of agriculture.
Worthington soared to a new population of 3,481 persons by the 1920s.
Adrian proposed dissecting Nobles County so it could reign over a new county.
In 1916, a hexagonal bandstand was built about 75 feet out on Lake Okabena at the foot of Third Avenue.
His most notable accomplishment was in 1911, when the four-story hotel which bears his name was built, with 118 feet of it faced on 10th Street and the courthouse square.
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Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle shares thoughts on city's milestone anniversary.

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