I like saying Merry Christmas, but I have some friends who have different religious convictions. So this is for all of you and us.
This is my summary of the year. I am not sending out cards this season for a number of reasons. Much of my time this summer and fall was taken up by healing from knee replacement. I went into rehab right out of the hospital to start the cycle of strenuous physical therapy. I got home and continued. I did well, and continue to do well. Thank you to those who knew and offered hopes and prayers. It all worked. It honestly took the summer to get my brain somewhat back to thinking straighter, though. Medications and healing really can take a toll.
Then when I started to get better, I sold books and spoke at a few United Methodist events while spending the fall editing and citing my essay on Rev. Mary MacNicholl, the first woman in Minnesota to receive full-clergy rights in the Methodist Conference. Frank and I took off to Blair, Nebraska, in October to meet and visit with a good phone friend, Muriel Neve, who was Mary’s good college friend at Drew Seminary. When I returned home, I concluded my editing and citing the paper that ended up to be 66 pages, not including 3 citation pages. It has been sent to its new owners, The General Commission on Archives and History for the Methodist Church in Madison, New Jersey, from which I received the grant to write about her life. I am still working on the video that I produced. I have it in that format, but I cannot seem to sync it with the music. Hopefully, that’ll come soon.
I was “on” Christmas until last week when my husband was admitted to the hospital with extremely low hemoglobin counts. Four days of being put to sleep, three times for tests including bone marrow, a transfusion, iron shots, and blood testing each day, and we are no closer to an answer. Some guesses but no answers….. I am thankful he is home, but this year on our anniversary I have come to realize the real test of marriage comes in the vow “. . . in sickness and in health . . .” Frank has had many health issues since he retired–almost all of them here in Central Minnesota. Hopefully, we will have answers soon.
For all of you, I hope for a blessed season, and I hope for all of us a great and greater new year.
Around December 14, Dad, and sometimes the rest of our family, went to find our tree. For years, we drove in from the country and bought from Ellis Kniss at the Kniss’ Fairway Store. Because the branches were wrapped, wired, and often covered in snow, we were always surprised with what we had purchased once we began to unwrap our symbol of yuletide cheer.
Sorry, I had to take down my video because YOUTUBE and movie maker in Microsoft were incompatible. I will let you know soon when I will reload.
Today, December 5th, 2019, my Mary MacNicholl video will premier at 5 pm CDT. The title is “Mary MacNicholl: A Woman with Vision.” I had no extra help creating the video from powerpoint but it meets the needs for the grant I received from GCAH of the International United Methodist Church. I also sent a 65-page essay, with a 3-page bibliography to Drew, New Jersey, their headquarters. I want to thank those who helped me (and everyone else who had to listen to me whine about it) with this large project.
As I continue to research my next novel in the series Minnesota Main Street Women and attend various selling and signing events for my previous books, I think of how to answer those who do not know that the historic village of Clearwater, Minnesota, began beyond Nelson Brothers, below the hill, and tucked under the Highway 24 bridge many people travel to get from Clear Lake, to Annandale, or Interstate 94. Would a brown historic sign on the Interstate help those interested to know more about this quaint town?
Simon Stevens’ house in Clearwater.
Even when people know that Ole Man River rolls by this lovely village, they probably don’t know the history surrounding the area. Many are surprised that Simon Stevens, one of the founders of Clearwater, was a younger brother to Minneapolis founder Colonel John Harrington Stevens. Of course, the name John Harrington Stevens isn’t just on the tip of their tongues either. Both were mover-shakers-promoters in Minnesota, seeing the potential of milling around bodies of water like the Mississippi and Lake Minnetonka. Nothing remains of his house, but history and maps tell us he settled on section 1, somewhere near the Plastic Plant and the Lyons’ Club, off County Road 75. Here is another tidbit:
Star Tribune, 7 Jun 1876, Wed, Main Edition
Three unidentified women by Cedar Point
One book buyer, after browsing through my historical Around Clearwater and seeing the picture of three unidentified women asked, “Where is Cedar Point?” My answer was a bit ambiguous. How do you explain what used to be is no longer there? When I was younger, I might have told him to take Highway 152 north, turn right across the bridge, and drive down the dirt road past Michaels’ house. At the fork, turn right and go just a few hundred feet to see the river and the village island. This was Cedar Point, and little was left of the early settlers’ beloved spot. Now, I had to tell him to head north on County Road 75, turning east once past the dam. Maps on my cell show it is now called Franklin Rd. Go with the curve of the road a half-mile or so and take the road that leads to the right. Now private property, the little village park sat where half-million-dollar or more homes now stand. Beware; Locals aren’t necessarily invited to have a picnic on the owner’s property.
Clearwater has many historic homes, businesses, and landscapes waiting to be explored. I’m pondering where to go next?
Book clubs and other groups: I’m waiting for an invitation to come to your group. Just send me an email. I love talking about Minnesota Main Street Women.
I’ll be selling and signing my books at the Perfectly Unique Arts and Crafts Fair this upcoming weekend, Oct. 12. Come out in the mess of rain and SNOW to pick up some early Christmas presents. From 10-3 at the St Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center, downtown St. Cloud, MN, I’ll be sitting at my table waiting for you.
This is a picture of young Lloyd Laughton in front of the Boutwell Hardware Store. Maude Porter is upstairs in her millinery store, creating her hats and wondering how long she can keep watch over the drunks going in and coming out of Quinn’s Saloon across the street. Read all about it in PINS & NEEDLES. My other books, SCRUPLES & DRAMS, and AROUND CLEARWATER, will be there as well.
Last week, I had the opportunity to go to my grandchildren’s open house events at their elementary schools. The halls were hot with excitement…..seriously, hot! All those little bodies, hand-in-hand with parents and welcomed by teachers and administration crammed the buildings. Youngsters and parents carried bags full of paper, folders, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, and Kleenex to organize their desks and supplement teacher needs. Anxiously, my girls met all their teachers and got acquainted with their surroundings. When we left over an hour later to a much cooler outdoors, they retained that excitement; albeit, they felt a bit relieved that the unknown was out of the way now.
When I taught high school so long ago and later post-secondary, I remember those “first days.” New students mostly oozed hope for success, while those veterans of the system made promises for the betterment of everyone’s future. I, too, hoped for a good year, and I remember the heat that penetrated our old building on hot, muggy afternoons.
As I get ready for two upcoming presentations about Reverend Mary MacNicholl, the first woman fully-ordained in the Methodist Church in Minnesota, I wonder about her excitement, apprehensiveness, and fear as she traveled from New Jersey to teach at the Navajo missions in New Mexico and later in Florida at another mission for Black girls. Up to her employment with the Methodist Missions, she had felt dismayed because she had had no offers for employment from local schools in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. Money was tight during the Depression, and with WWII on the horizon, she needed to support herself. I am sure she hoped she would be an effective teacher as well as getting prepared financially to attend Drew Seminary in the future. Mary MacNicholl taught what she knew, and when she became a minister, she impressed and encouraged others to serve in any capacity they could. I know of some who became ministers, nurses, social workers, and teachers, as I did, to help those who needed help and to serve in their communities.
If you want me to bring Reverend Mary’s story to your community, any and all of my novels in the Minnesota Main Street Women series, or Around Clearwater, contact me at books@cynthiafrankstupnik.
I am off to Buffalo, Minnesota, for its annual Arts & Crafts sale this Saturday 9-3:30 to sell and sign my books. Last year, I was amazed and wowed with the many people who take on a great day of shopping and fun. The weather looks great too. August 2018 was hot–95–and humid. I heard it will be low 80s and maybe a bit humid but more enjoyable for me sitting there and you walking and browsing.
If I saw you last year, I am in the same location–booth #3o3, to the side of the Sterling Drugs, on 1st Ave South. I will be sharing the booth like last year with another writer, Marlene Chabot, who writes mysteries. I am nearly out of Postcards from the Old Man. Yet, I have Around Clearwater, the history of the people and places of the village and a great guide when reading my historical women’s fiction: Scruples & Drams, and my newly launched Pins & Needles, both part of the Minnesota Main Street Women series. Jennie Phillips, an apprenticing pharmacist and protagonist in Scruples, which is set in Clearwater, Minnesota, in 1895. Maude Porter is the main character in Pins. A milliner, leader of suffrage and temperance, and daughter of village founders Thomas and Abigail Porter. These women are true characters and their stories are based on their personal histories with lots of fiction thrown in to tell their stories. I have sales going on in all my books, and special deals if you buy two or three of them.
Today, two WCCO news guys, Matt Brinkman and Jason DeRusha, reported from Lake Minnetonka on the segment “Goin’ to the Lake.” They talked a bit about the lake’s beauty, the great food outlets along the shore, and supplied a short history of the area. I was a bit dismayed when they started with Prince–even non-cult followers like me know “Purple Rain.” They gave the audience a Wikipedia-like summary of its early history, mentioning early “settlers.” I know this is history, Minnesota’s history, and I know they don’t have lots of time to say everything on air, so I get it.
Little has been written about Simon or connect him to this site, very few people connect him to brother John Harrington Stevens, and few know he was such a historic character who made so much happen in Minnesota. Without him and others like him, Clearwater might not have been founded. This weekend, Friday, in particular, Clearwater celebrates its heritage, and like days of old, the town sponsors a kiddie parade. After a long postponement, both the kiddie and the grown-up parade are back, where I think it belongs because of the word HERITAGE, downtown Main Street, where the town first began running parallel to the Clearwater and Mississippi Rivers. So here is a brief identification and synopsis of the parade route. Follow the Grand Marshal, Elaine Paumen, and take notice of the town that used to be. (By the way, you can gather more information about the sites in my AROUND CLEARWATER historical.)
Start at the Clearwater Dam area. Where the Rendezvous will be setup is where Clear Water–began. Sawmills, Quinn’s Tasting Room (not a saloon but it old booze),pulp mills, flour mills, and a number of other stores lined the banks of the Clearwater River. Abigail Camp Porter became the first white woman to settle in the village. She came from Stowe, Vermont, and served as the housekeeper for the first townsite hotel–along the banks of the river. BTW, none of this was there anymore even when I was a youngster.
As you come to the top of a slight rise, you’ll come to a newer section of town, as far back as the 1860s or so–Here on Oak Street, after you were dropped off by the ferry on the banks of the Mississippi, you’d most likely find a few buildings to inspect. Hardware stores, watch and jewelry dealers, general mercantile, shoes–you name it, and you could find it here.
Boutwell’s Hardware Store sat on the corner, a few hundred feet from the ferry landing. Upstairs, Maude Porter had her millinery store, as I wrote about in Pins & Needles. Across the street sat Pat Quinn’s Saloon and the Whiting Building–none of these buildings are there anymore.
To the west is the Masonic Temple–still standing– that houses the Masons upstairs, and hosted a variety of different businesses –general mercantile, beer parlors etc. 3. From here, you’ll see a variety of landmarks and areas where some used to be. You’ll go by James Lyon’s house and store. Many of the town originals remember it as the Solinger home –(where it is now all lit up and entertains with yuletide music at Christmas)–
Jessie Maude Porter’s last home sat next to Solingers but that too is gone. She was daughter to T. C. Porter and Abigial Camp Porter, early towns founders. Maude lived to be 103, was born, and lived all but her last year or so in Clearwater.
Kitty-corner is the United Methodist Church on Elm. This was the first church that was formed, but the first church built was the Congregationalist and sits on the hill by the apartment-once-school building.
A building or two down is another hardware store that is now owned by potters. When I was young, we often went here to buy nails, a stash of gifts, and just about everything else. And next to that is now a business office but it was once a bank as well.
Across from here at an angle are an old home and meat market, once owned by Luther Laughton–a name very well-known to the early citizens.
Next to this building on the corner stood the Lyons’ Mercantile. When I was a kid, the post office sat there.
3. I am beginning here with #3 because this building which now houses apartments was the Phillip Drug Store that I write about in Scruples & Dramshttp://www.cynthiafrankstupnik.com/product/scruples-drams-novel-minnesotas-main-street-women/. On the corner of Maple, this historic building has lived many lives. Drug store, Kniss Grocery, and now apartments to say the least. Right next door was –not so historic–Tri-County Lumber. Directly across the street from Phillips’s stood a hotel that burned down and was replaced by another grocery store, and then variety store.
4. Nearly at the Next block–Ash–was what early and old villagers referred to as the Black Smith Hill, named for all the blacksmiths that worked their trade in this area. A large house on the Corner is a large home once owned by the Banker Shaw. It was sold many times and often remodeled. Across the street, mid-block, was the Phillips’s home. Jennie and her father Stanley, as well as the rest of the family, trod back and forth many times a day from home to drug store as I told in Scruples & Drams. Most of the houses that line Main Street are historical, many have been remodeled, and many empty lots still sit waiting to be built on. Clearwater Outfitting can be seen off Pine Street. It is housed in the original creamery building.
5. You’ll find yourself coming to almost the end of your parade route soon once you go under the bridge, which has a historical life all its own. Thomas Porter owned much of the land from her on until you reach the Eagle Trace Golf Club.
Thomas, Abigail, and Maude Porter provided a home across the street for friends and relatives in their large home once it was built in 1871. This large white structure is on your right close to Porter Circle. After Maude moved out in 1910, Frank Kothmann owned it and most of the land.
Finally, you’ll be pulling into Eagle Drive on the left. Here you’ll be entertained even more Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2-3. The Rendezvous will start Saturday and go though Sunday. All the specifics can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/498211524260628/.
Back to Simon Stevens….without his foresight and adventurous spirit, he may not have come to Clearwater. But this beautiful landscape surrounded by water wouldn’t have been unfounded for long. Stevens may not have had a big name written in many history books like his brother, but he took on every job the town gave him, built a large farm, and had a strong family that carried on his name for years to come.
More information can be found in my Around Clearwater.
Thanks to Clearwater Remembers and Monticello Times for a couple of the various pictures provided.
The world of book reviews: I have to admit, besides staring at a blank page on my laptop screen on a day I have nothing to say or write about, asking for a review of one of my books is not only daunting but scary. I feel like my whole being is laid open for surgical purposes. Self-critical thoughts like–who told me I could write? run through my head. Then when the reviews arrive, I beat myself up with how could I have not seen what the reviewer saw?
So when I received a few 4/5’s, 80% or B in the world of education, I felt humbled. I also have had little control over my editing process with any of my books, but that is to put blame on others instead of myself. Each book I have written has had many eyes on it throughout its process. Yet once it is published, I see glaring typos. How can this happen? These editors and proofers have wonderful skills, but regrettably, mistakes happen. No excuses. I know that the author is responsible for her own work–no matter how she can’t see the proverbial forest for the trees. Yet, when I received a 3/5 because a reader didn’t like the topic or chose the wrong book, I have a hard time not getting angry.
Overall, I have a crowd of people who love following the lives of my Minnesota Main Street Women series. I am humbled again, and thankful for their generous comments. Here are just a couple reviews:
PINS & NEEDLES
“In this historic novel set in 1909 Maude Porter and Jennie Phillips balance their careers with fighting for women’s basic rights – some openly, others behind the scenes. These old friends, who we met in Cindy Stupnik’s earlier Scruples & Drams, continue to face fearsome adversaries with growing courage and conviction. Along the way, we meet the historic characters who populate the village of Clearwater, Minnesota and get a flavor of early white settlement and its challenges. Stupnik has a gift for drawing us into the time and place, and this book hits the mark.
Sally Roesch Wagner, Ph.D.; Executive Director, The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, Inc.
Frank-Stupnik’s Minnesota’s Main Street Women series does not disappoint. First with Jennie Phillips and now with Maude Porter, the unheard, real-life stories of early Clearwater, Minnesota, residents are coming to light. These women don’t exactly fit the narrative for what we think of when we think of women living in the early twentieth century. Neither of these women married, and both ran their own businesses in town, thriving in an age when most women worked in their homes.
I’ve been researching and collecting data for my next novel, a prequel, in the Minnesota Main Street Women’s series. If you have read Pins & Needles, you can make a guess who the main character will be. There is so much for me to write about. I am having a hard time sorting and narrowing. A hint: She was the first woman in the early village of Clearwater and married a fur trader.
This year, August 2-3, will begin Friday night with the parade down historic Main Street Clearwater, MN at the Clearwater River dam. Down here where the Clearwater flows into the Mississippi is where the original town began, along the banks. Sawmills, flour mills, Quinn’s Tasting Saloon, and so many other businesses got their start. Parade-goers will follow Main all the way down past the original Porter farm (told about in Pins & Needles), eventually sold to Frank Kothmann, and down to his property on the Mississippi River at Driftwood Golf and Fitness. Those of us who love the history of Clearwater are shouting out a big “Hurray!” Welcome home. This is where the Heritage in Clearwater Heritage Days should be!
I finally had a knee replacement on May 3. Many of you saw me hobbling around. I’d have good days and bad days, but this winter was the worst. Not only had I needed this surgery for quite a while, but the knee had caused my ankle to degenerate from the reconstruction I had in 2005. This caused my podiatrist to have a brace designed and cast for me to wear to protect my ankle from further issues. My doctors, family, and I took special precautions in order to commit to my recovery–blood thinners due to a previous pulmonary embolism, intensive, in-house rehab physical therapy for 2 weeks 3 times a day, and when I was released to go home, lots of care and more physical therapy 3 times a week with my favorite PT. After 8 weeks of physical therapy, I’m doing great, and better yet, NO BOOT to protect the ankle.
–With REV. MARY MACNICHOLL-–
I am putting the final touches on the powerpoint slide presentation for the first woman to be fully ordained in the Minnesota Methodist Conference in 1958. Most of you know that I earned a grant from the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History to write her story. Little did I know that this woman, Mary MacNicholl, who would be my minister in Clearwater, Minnesota, in the 1960s, had broken through her own ‘glass ceiling’. How did I know back then our church community would be served by such a celebrity? Not sure I or anyone else knew Mary Mac’s impact, but I know I felt honored to be noticed by her when I sang in the choir, attended Methodist Youth Fellowship, enrolled in our short confirmation class (Methodist youth usually have only a six-week education), she came to my graduation party, and when she often stopped to have coffee with my mom. She awoke our consciences, our awareness of the world around us, and our knowledge of our Methodist tradition. Sixty years after her ordination and forty years after her death, I hope to do justice to Mary MacNicholl’s story and service. The essay is ready to be sent to the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History. The new and improved powerpoint will be tested when I speak at Wykoff United Methodist Church. This was one of the three churches Pastor Mary MacNicholl was charged with after she graduated from Drew Seminary in 1949. I will be presenting her story on July 21 during the church service at 8:30, a.m.
–BRINGING THE STORIES OF STRONG MINNESOTA MAIN STREET WOMEN TO MY READERS–
I was busy up to surgery–actually, less than a week before I sold my books at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center. Then the hiatus. Now, I am excited and ready to begin my busy time of the year–July through November.
Come see me at the Clearwater dam where I’ll be participating in the Rendezvous. Here where the Clearwater River merges with the Mississippi, the village was first created. In the 1850s, sawmills lined the banks and built the first houses and store buildings. Feed mills, sawmills, stores of all kinds– hardware, general merchandise, jewelry, clothing, shoe, and furniture sat on the banks of the Clearwater or up on Oak Street and Main Streets. These buildings and the people who occupy them are the subjects of my Around Clearwater history and Minnesota Main Street Women series. Each protagonist, Jennie Phillips in Scruples & Drams and Maude Porter in Pins & Needles, a real woman pioneer from Clearwater, made her mark on the community. They both see gender inequalities in the world as far as suffrage, health, education, and legal issues. Their desire to make things right for the women and their families they encounter is a major theme in my series.
If you want to know history, Arcadia Publishing’s Image of America: Around Clearwater is the most up-to-date word on early Clearwater.” Burrowed below bluffs overlooking the Mississippi and Clearwater Rivers, Clearwater’s houses, its churches, and most of its original businesses resemble those that settlers had left behind in the East. With its arch-like trees sheltering Oak and Main Streets, the community remained home to many who lived and died there and those who had moved on only to return for yearly Old Settlers gatherings. This sense of community allowed Clearwater to thrive. Flour and pulp mills lined the shores of the Clearwater River. Mercantile, hardware, jewelry, and drug stores cropped up, providing the products for a growing community. Trade once powered by steamboats on the Mississippi was taken over by James Hills Great Northern Railroad. While the village and surroundings have changed over time, the original charm is still there, ready to be explored again.”
–WITH SOME FINAL THOUGHTS–
Speaking of Clearwater, Minnesota’s heritage that I have been writing about for a number of years, Clearwater’s Heritage Days is coming up August 2-3, with the Rendezvous lasting through Sunday. Along with coronation activities going on before the celebration begins, the parade comes back to downtown Clearwater on Friday night at 7:00 beginning at the Clearwater Dam. What a great move back to come back where the village began by the Clearwater and Mississippi Rivers. The parade route will begin there and end up at Eagle Trace Golf Course.
This length of Main Street will take you by many of the historic sites– past the Boutwell Hardware and Pat Quinn’s Saloon (neither are standing–that I write about in Maude Porter’s story, Pins & Needles. It will take you past the historic United Methodist Church I attended when I was in my youth, and down to the drug store (now an apartment building) I write about in Jennie Phillips’s, the woman druggist) story, Scruples & Drams. Three blocks further you will come to the Thomas Porter home and farm that he built beginning in the 1870s. He was a fur trader, farmer, village treasure and besides serving Wright County, and served in the Minnesota Legislature for a few terms. Your final stop will be at Eagle Trace Golf Club, which was his original land that extends down to the Mississippi River. I had trouble with the golf club’s webpage but this gives you at least the location: 1100 Main St. https://www.yelp.com/biz/eagle-trace-golf-and-event-center-clearwater
Come join us for some fun. I’ll keep up better from now on and let you in on the different spots I’ll be located over the next few months.