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Welcome To KEY TO THE CITY's Page For
Mower County, Minnesota


The Garden Spot of Mower County

Page Contents for Brownsdale, Minnesota

Statistics & Facts

History & History-related items

City Attractions


Historical Events

Community events.



Statistics & Facts

The Minnesota state capital is St. Paul.
The population of Brownsdale is approximately 695 (1990), 676 (2010).
The approximate number of families is 286 (1990), 286 (2010).
The amount of land area in Brownsdale is 1.173 sq. kilometers.
The amount of surface water is 0 sq kilometers.
The distance from Brownsdale to Washington DC is 931 miles.
The distance to the Minnesota state capital is 86 miles. (as the crow flies)
Brownsdale is positioned 43.74 degrees north of the equator and 92.86 degrees west of the prime meridian.

History & History Related Items

Brownsdale History books are available in the Brownsdale Public Library. They were written by Grace Gillette, a long time resident of the area. All proceeds of the sale of these books go to the Brownsdale Elementary Parents in Education Group (PIE).
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The Brownsdale Meat Market and the United Skates Roller Rink.
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Brownsdale City Government

Mayor in August 1997 is Marvin Foster

Brownsdale Historical Events

July 13th, 1996 - Brownsdale celebrated it's 140th anniversary.

June 1st, 1996 - The Olympic flame and arrived at the Brownsdale School on Saturday, June 1st at 9:00 a.m.

1995 - The Brownsdale Public Library was allotted space by the city from the old fire department building.

1995 - The new fire department building was finished on South Mill St.

1962 - The Bacon building was torn down.

1957 - ABC's TV's Huntley Brinkley filmed the launch of 35 rockets made by students from Brownsdale and Austin Pacelli. The group was known as the Austin Rocket Society. They launched a 4 ft. ten in. rocket with a fifty cent anesthetized mouse as a passenger. The rocket reached an altitude of 1,642 ft with a velocity of 221 mph. The mouse did not survive and was buried on the launching site. The launch was widely covered and the humane society pressed charges. The students had to appear in Mower County Court. The charges were, however, dropped.

1957 - District #38 became a part of the Hayfield Communits School District.

1953 - A modern school was finished.

1953 - The community building/fire house was built. A room was set aside for the library. A librarian was hired by the village.

1948 - The Brownsdale water tower was constructed. It is 120 ft high.

Early 1940's - The first library in Brownsdale was located in the back room of the Bacon Building.

1937 - .H. Resius and Harold Hartson took a Model "A" truck chassis and mounted a 500 gallon tank on it. They also installed a pump and added wooden ladders. This was Brownsdale's first fire truck and was used until 1948.

Late 1930's - A tent roller rink was in Brownsdale. Today a modern roller rink is located on Market Street. Shoe skates as well as roller blades can be rented. Refreshments and snacks can be purchased. Youths and families form many miles come to enjoy skating at Brownsdale.

1914 - Bert Johnson came back and established the Six Town News, a six column paper. He was also publishing the Stewartville Star. After two years Johnson sold out the Brownsdale plant to W. D. Aylesworth, who published the paper until May, 1923, when J. V. Barstow bought the plant and published the paper until 1934. In 1934 the subscription list was taken over by the Austin Daily Herald.

1900 - Telephones were installed in a few farms between Mayville and Brownsdale.

1899 - L. L. Quimby conceived the idea of having telephones in the depot and business places paying fifty cents a month.

Spring/Summer1897 - A two story, four room school was built in time for the opening of school that fall. This building is now an apartment house.

1896 - The third school house burned down.April 19th,

1893 - Bert Johnson sold out to L. L. Quimby, who published the leaflet until May 17th, 1907. Quimby then discontinued the leaflet and Brownsdale was out of a newspaper.

Spring 1891 - J. W. Buchard started the Brownsdale News, but after three months, in June of 1891, he sold out to Bert Johnson who enlarged the Leaflet to twice its former size.

August 6th, 1890 - The first Brownsdale Leaflet was printed by Bert A Johnson.

1890 - John and Washington Blackhersh or England settled near the large red rock. They began hooking for clay suitable for making brick and pottery. They lived here only a few years, but during their stay here they turned out some fine pottery. There are homes in the area which are believed made of this brick.

July 1, 1884 The first newspaper was printed in Brownsdale called the Brownsdale Journal. It only published for 3 mounts.

1880 The elevator was sold to Cargill Brothers from LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

1876 - John Aten built a warehouse for the purchase of grain and hides and also opened a lumber yard near the railroad depot. In the summer of 1876 this warehouse was destroyed by fire and at once was replaced by a fine elevator.

1873 - Bacon built a brick building on the NE corner of Mill and Main Street. Mr. Bacon carried on the mercantile business until 1880, when he sold out and gave his attention to farming for a few years , but then went back into the grocery business in his building until his death.

1872 Mr. Bacon's business was destroyed by fire.

Spring 1871 - John Aten built a store, half for groceries and half rented to A. L. Sleeper for a drug store.

1871 - John C. Sanborn opened the first butcher shop. In 1906 it was sold to Mr. Braun.

1871 - The first furniture store was built. Coffins were also made there.
A hardware store was built on Mill Street by H. J. Sprague.
The second school house burned down and replaced with a two-story, two room school.
The Southern Minnesota Railroad was completed.

1870 - Samuel Dumkee of Belfast, Ireland came to Brownsdale to build a factory for the manufacture of cloth from flax straw. The business was a success until a poor crop of flax and the removal of the duty on jute. In the spring of 1875 the mill was sold and converted into a flour mill until 1882, when the machinery was sold and soon afterward the building was taken down and the stone used for other purposes.

1865 - Benjamin F. Bacon commenced business keeping a stock of dry goods, groceries, boots, shoes etc.

1864 - A. L. Sleeper and sons began manufacturing the Sleeper poison fly-paper. The fly-paper was only made in the summer as it required a good circulation of air to dry the large sheets of paper that had been hand dipped in the arsenic solution. The sheets were hung up to dry in two long sheds that had doors on both sides, the entire length of the sheds, which were kept open to allow the paper to dry. When dry, the sheets were taken down, and in another building cut into four inch square sheets. One of these squares was placed on a plate and kept covered with water. The flies drank of this poison water and died. Each sheet was warranted to kill one quart of flies (rather an over claim). By 1900 they had built up an extensive business and were selling all over the United States and China and Japan. The sticky fly-paper came on the market and cut down the sale of poisonous fly killers. After Albert Sleeper's death on September 20, 1902, Orzo Sleeper took over the management of the product until 1928, when the business was sold out to a company in North St. Paul. This ended the career of "Sleeper's Lightening Fly Poison".

1858 - The first school house burned down.

1857 - The first boot and shoe store was built by Thomas Alred.

1856- The Brownsdale Post Office was established. John L. Johnson was Postmaster.

Fall 1856 - The first hotel was built by Hosmer Brown on the corner of Main and Mill Streets. It opened in December of 1856. John L. Johnson was the first landlord. He ran it only a few months when E.J. Stimson took over while John built his home north of the hotel.

August 1856 - The first white child was born in Red Rock Township to John L. Johnson and his wife. They named her Minnie Johnson, in honor of the territory of Minnesota.

July 7th, 1856 - The Village of Brownsdale was legally established. Summer 1856 - The first store in Brownsdale was opened by John L. Johnson on the corner of Main and Mill Streets. It carried groceries and merchandise usually found in a country store.

Summer 1856 - The first school house was built.

Spring 1856 - The Brown brothers, Hosmer and Andrew came here. Homer and Andrew Brown, along with John L. Johnson had a village of nearly 150 acres plotted and surveyed.

Summer 1855 - John L Johnson came and took a claim west of the three settlers and built a sod shanty near the red rock for which Red RockTownship is named. He bought the Olsen claim. He and his wife moved into the Olsen sod house.

Spring 1855 - The first settlers came to Brownsdale. They were three Norwegian families called Gunder, Nereson and Olsen. They built sod houses of about 10ft by 12 ft. They sold their claims one year later and moved west.

Brownsdale Community Events

2nd Sunday of July each year at lunch.
Former residents of Brownsdale and today's residents attend this picnic on the second Sunday of July at the Brownsdale School. It is a great social time with music and reminiscing. One of the highlights of the picnic is the viewing of the old curtain from the Masonic Hall, which is hung in the school. It is printed with the advertising of the businessmen of Brownsdale in the 1920's.

Brownsdale Libraries

Brownsdale Public Library, 103 E. Main St., P.O. Box 302, Brownsdale, MN, phone: (507) 567-2177
Mon. - Fri. 2 to 6 pm
Librarian: Carol Smith
The Brownsdale Public Library has many of the best selling books. We now have many large print books as well. There are books on tape, well over 200 videos, internet access, children's books, reference materials and other non-fiction. There are two computers for public use. Go to our website for information about our library's contents as well as a calendar of events, a great links page as well as a feedback page.
HISTORY OF THE BROWNSDALE PUBLIC LIBRARY: The first library in Brownsdale was located in the back room of the Bacon Building on the NE Corner of Mill and Main Street in the early 1940's. The library was staffed by volunteers. When the community building was built in 1953 just to the east of the former Bacon Building, a room was set aside for the library. A librarian was hired by the village. In 1995, when the fire department moved to their new location, additional space was allotted to the library. Brownsdale is a branch of the Austin Public Library and a member of SELCO. (Southeastern Libraries Cooperating)

Brownsdale Schools

Brownsdale Elementary (Hayfield School District) is a grade school for K-5th grade. It has a very active parent group called PIE (Parents in Education) led by Grace Gillette. To raise funds, each spring a carnival is held. It is well-attended. The funds help the PIE group to send the students skating for Christmas or another activity. PIE also helps teachers buy extra supplies they may need. Library books are another high priority. l Treats and prizes for each child are purchased for their birthday. Last year, a large sign was purchased for the entrance of the Brownsdale Elementary's forestry project and also a banner for the children to carry when they are in the High School Homecoming parade. Grace Gillette also wrote a history of Brownsdale book for which all the proceeds went in the PIE funds. The book has sold well over 500 copies. Brownsdale School History: The first schoolhouse was built in Brownsdale in the summer of 1856. This building burned down in 1858. In 1871, the second school burned and was at once replaced with a two story, two room school. By 1895, this building was too small. That winter, the school had an enrollment of 114 in the two rooms. Just before school was to start in the fall of 1896, the school burned down. That winter school was held in two empty buildings on the main street. In the spring and summer of 1897, a two story, four room school was built in time for the opening of school that fall. This building (which is now an apartment house) was used until the new modern school in Brownsdale was finished in 1953. It became a consolidated school of seven districts 38, 39, 41, 42, 68, 89 and 116. In 1957, District 38 became a part of the Hayfield Community School District. At present kindergarten through fifth grade plus early childhood attend the school in Brownsdale. (This information came from a book, Brownsdale Minnesota 1856-1996, written by local resident, Grace Gillette)

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