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Map exhibit opens April 3

WORTHINGTON -- In 1888, the Nobles County plat map lists Gilbert Anderson as the sheriff and a grocery and restaurant proprietor. E.R. Lathrop was pastor of the M.E. Church and the editor of the Worthington Globe, and A.P. Miller was the editor a...

Map
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Nobles Coounty Historical Society members (from left) LeAnne Meyer, Pat Demuth and Jacoba Nagel show some of the documents and photos that will be a part of the "Minnesota on the Map" display being organized at the museum in the basement of the Nobles County Library and Information Center in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- In 1888, the Nobles County plat map lists Gilbert Anderson as the sheriff and a grocery and restaurant proprietor.

E.R. Lathrop was pastor of the M.E. Church and the editor of the Worthington Globe, and A.P. Miller was the editor and proprietor of the Worthington Advance.

And Willmont Township was spelled, well, Willmont Township.

The 1888 plat book is the oldest one the Nobles County Historical Society (NCHS) will have on display during the upcoming "Minnesota On the Map" exhibit, which begins with an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. April 3 at the historical society, in the basement of the library. The open house is being held in conjunction with an open house at the Nobles County Art Center.

The traveling exhibit, based on a book by the same name, comes from the Minnesota Historical Society and features 23 reproduction maps and atlases, a video station and laminated maps, plus an oversized jigsaw puzzle map of the state.

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The dedication states the book is "To all those whose visions and hard work put Minnesota on the map."

To complement the state's offerings, the NCHS will have a variety of local plats and maps on hand.

NCHS member Pat Demuth, who went to a workshop in Minneapolis to learn how to put the display together, said they have three copies of the 1888 plat map, but two are in very rough condition. To display it to the public, the society opted to preserve pages by laminating them individually.

The unusual thing about the old book is that it shows where the landowners were from, what they did for a living and when they moved to Nobles County.

And, according to the book, they came from every place imaginable to do whatever they could.

Farmer, stock raiser, blacksmith and wagon maker, merchant, hay presser and physician. Dealer in general merchandise and drugs. Dealer in lumber, clothing, or bailed hay.

They came from Wisconsin, Iowa, New York and Maine, and from Germany, Scotland, Sweden and Norway.

"It's interesting to see where they from, what they did," said NCHS president Jacoba Nagel. "We've been talking about doing something like this for a long time."

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The NCHS has pages from a 1912 business calendar featuring J.E. Erickson's machine shop, along with some of the school work Erickson did as a child.

"We think he was in school around 1905," Demuth said. "But there are no dates on the homework."

The NCHS also has plats from 1914 and 1935, plus another that has not been dated. Demuth is trying to date it based on the names and land records.

The maps and plats they have are generally donated by people who have had the items come down through their families or find them at estate sales and in attics.

The NCHS applied for a grant for the exhibit in October 2010 and has been working to get the local aspect of it together ever since.

"They said it was one of the exhibits small enough to fit in our museum," Demuth said. "On the grant form, we had to explain how we would use the exhibit to promote out museum and help our society."

After the open house, the exhibit will be open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For those not interested in the maps, other items will be on display, such as school items, books, dolls and various pieces of Nobles County history.

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And for those still curious about the Willmont spelling, Burlington Railroad representative Thomas Brown selected the site for the town site after the township was established, according to "The History of Nobles County."

The township was named Willmont as a compromise between two groups of citizens. One wanted the name to be Willumet, the other wanted the name to be Lamont.

They combined the two and came up with Willmont. Desiring a distinction between the two, Brown spelled the town name with only one "l."

By the time the 1935 plat book went to press, the township was spelled Wilmont.

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