About ohjennydarling

The short and sweet: I'm Jenny. I'm eighteen, I'm a freshman in college, and I'm from the lovely state of Minnesota. I'm passionate about words (English and Spanish), photography, theatre, singing, loving Jesus and loving people. This is not about me. This is all about Jesus. {Profile picture credit to Ri & He Photography}

1900s Education: Introduction

long prairie school

One early school was a crude shanty built in 1854 at Long Prairie for 10 students. The shanty had a board roof and two half windows.  (Photograph found in “Images of America Brooklyn Park & Brooklyn Center” by Pat Snodgrass.)

Have you ever wondered what it was like to go to school in the 1900s? Or what it was like to be a teacher during this time? With a new school year just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to do a four-part series on information relating to the 1900s and education.  Topics include the one room school house, the eighth grade exam, historic and local high schools, and what it was like to be a teacher.  Enjoy this flashback into the history of school and see how far we have come!

Series by Haley Sjerven, Staff Member

A Sheep Story

Everything served a purpose on a 1900 farm, and this included animals.  Farm families didn’t keep animals as pets, but rather as a valuable asset for work efficiency and resources; they provided food for a family and helped field work get done faster and better.

The Eidem’s main livestock were sheep, which came in to Osseo on trains from Montana every fall.  Brooklyn Park farmers would send out potatoes, and Montana farmers would send back sheep.  They were then herded from Osseo to Brooklyn Park, walking through the streets all the way back.  Sheep were first brought to Osseo in 1893 by a man named Edward Egan who purchased 100 of them from a farmer north of Anoka, who fed them during the winter before returning them to Montana.  As the years went by, word spread about Egan’s success, and soon winter sheep-feeding became a common practice for Hennepin County farmers.

Known for their meat, wool, and quality fertilizer, sheep were a common part of any Midwest farm.  Wool was a valuable resource, especially in the long, cold Minnesota winters.  In the spring, the sheep would be skillfully sheared by a farmer, and then the wool was spun into yarn.  Before being spun, wool had to be “carded”: brushed out with two special brushes in order to be straight enough to put on the spinning wheel.  Women would have “spinning bees,” large social events in which the women of the community would gather together at one house with their wheels and wool, spending the day making yarn.  They then used the yarn to knit hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters, stockings, and anything else used to keep warm in the winter.  Not only is wool incredibly warm, but it’s also waterproof, so snow didn’t soak through it, making it easier to work outside during the winter months.

Sheep are still a beloved part of Eidem Homestead today.  Children love to see the animals, feed them corn, and pet their soft wool.  The spinning wheel, wool pieces, and carding brushes are still an important part of every tour, and we still have spinning demonstrations at events from time to time.  The Eidems have left their legacy in many ways, and we are proud to continue to carry it out.

History of Bake Contests

During Brooklyn Park’s annual Tater Daze festival, Eidem Homestead will host its annual bake contest.  Featuring pastries, breads, canned goods, and items made with potatoes, guests will participate in the time-honored tradition of kitchen competition.

Throughout much of American history, bake sales and contests have brought people together for community causes, such a raising funds for a church or school.  Contestants took great pride in their work, and recipes were and often still are thought of as a prized possession.  State and county fairs have also been hugely popular for this, awarding a multitude of prizes, ribbons, and bragging rights for centuries.

To promote its Best Family Flour and celebrate its eightieth birthday, the Minneapolis-based Pillsbury company hosted its first annual Bake-Off contest in New York City in 1949.  Thousands of entries were submitted to this nationwide competition with the winner receiving a $50,000 grand prize.  A hundred finalists won a trip to NYC and a stay in the hotel where the contest was being hosted, a Hamilton Beach mixer, a General Electric Stratoliner push-button range, and a $100 cash prize.  Since that first year, the contest has only grown, boasting celebrity judges every year, traveling to new cities, and now offering a $1 million prize to its first-place winner.  There are two age categories: junior (ages 12-18) and senior (age 19+), just like Eidem’s bake contest has, and the contest emphasizes quick and easy recipes for working America.

The success and popularity of the Pillsbury Bake-Off spurred other companies on to create their own contests, such as the National Chicken Contest, the National Beef Contest, and the Egg Recipe Contest.  Cooking competitions have also filled up television all over the world, with popular programs being The Great British Bake-OffMaster Chef and Master Chef JuniorChoppedTop ChefKids Baking Championship, and (baker’s) dozens of others.

Though competition divides people, food has an unmatched ability to bring the together.  Perhaps that’s why cooking competitions are so admired; despite having winners and losers, everyone always gets something out of it.

The Eidem bake contest has seen more than its fair share of delicious dishes in the last three years since it was started, and we cannot wait to taste everyone’s creations this year!  If you’re interested in participating, get your entry form here and and don’t forget to check out the event on our Facebook page.


Read the other excellent articles that provided the information for this post!  You can learn even more about baking and history.





Why it’s Tater Daze

Our annual city festival, Tater Daze, is just around the corner!  In just two weeks, we’ll be celebrating potatoes along with Brooklyn Park culture and history.  It’s a well-known fact that these versatile starchy vegetables are an integral part of the history and identity of Brooklyn Park, but just how did they shape the community?  Potatoes were a source of sustenance to individuals and families in more ways than one—they provided a family with a useful ingredient in the kitchen, but were also used in trading of crops and other farm goods.

Hans Eidem delivered potatoes to A.E. Coulter for C.F. Henry in Anoka off Second Street. (Courtesy of Eidem family/Brooklyn Historical Society)

Potatoes were grown in large fields and yielded a plentiful crop.  It was typical for a farmer to bring wagon loads stacked high with over 200 bushels into market multiple times a week.  Annually, anything up from 26 million bushels could be expected to ship from farmers to buyers.  In 1915, Brooklyn Township was one of the biggest potato-producing communities in the United States and by 1970, Brooklyn Park boasted 98 farms spanning 7,825 acres.  The city’s last commercial potato grower, Calvin Gray, stopped farming in 1992, nearly 100 years after Brooklyn Township had been deemed “an exclusively agricultural town” by writer Isaac Atwater.

In 1912, C.W. Hamilton’s 50-acre field gave 250 bushels of early Ohio potatoes a day. He began digging his crop on July 2 at $1.50 per bushel. During the peak of the crop, he had four horses hauling two loads a day to Osseo.
George Warner weighed an average of 87 truckloads daily, and the potato farmers and buyers expected to ship 8-14 million more bushels in 1912 than the previous year when they shipped 26 million bushels. In order to ship that many potatoes, 91,900 train cars were needed. If these cars were lined up, the train would be 700 miles long and reach all the way to Detroit. (Courtesy of Vera Schrieber/Brooklyn Historical Society)

Tater Daze began in 1964, and at that time, Brooklyn Park had only been about 15 percent developed and there were at least five families that were four generations deep in potato farming.  The first year’s festivities included a queen pageant, a Tater Mash dance, kite flying, a parade, games, a farmers’ market, rides, and a pancake breakfast.  Prizes included gasoline, free groceries, cash, and 420-pound bags of potatoes donated by local growers.  Many of these activities and prizes are still part of the celebration today, along with some new ones, like a talent show and a petting zoo.  A publication from 1966 about Tater Daze said “Brooklyn Park farming and potatoes are almost synonymous.  Potatoes put us on the map in the first place.”  The countless stories of potato-growing families and a look at the numbers prove the influence of the crop on the city and why we still continue to celebrate it.  Brooklyn Park would not be what it is today without potatoes and the farmers who grew them.

A Place to Slow Down

We live in a fast-paced, non-stop world.  Everything and everyone is constantly and immediately connected, making a moment of solace a rare find. The beauty of a living history site is that it allows guests to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of their normal world and slow down their pace, even if only for a few hours.  Life in 1900 was still quite busy, especially on a farm, but it was a different kind of busy.  Getting things done was more about getting them done with quality than accomplishing the most in the shortest amount of time. I always tell people that Eidem Homestead is a great place to bring their young children.  Little kids don’t have much of an attention span and are constantly looking for new things to entertain them, so a visit to a fifteen-acre farm with activities from feeding goats to baking biscuits can barely bore them.  It’s beautiful to watch them come here and be captivated by something as mundane as pumping water to do laundry the old-fashioned way.  They fully absorb themselves in the activities going on here, letting their imaginations run wild while learning about what life was like long before they were around.  They’re still little kids, bouncing off the walls and asking every question they can think to come up with, but something is different.  The pace is slower and the environment is more calm.  They’re interacting with their surroundings, and you can almost see their brains being filled up with all the things they’re learning. While families with young children make up a majority of our guests, it’s not uncommon to find adults who just come here on their own.  I often hear the parents of young children say things like “oh cool, I didn’t know that’s how things worked!” after seeing a demonstration or participating in an activity.  From middle-aged adults and senior citizens, I often get questions about specific pieces of equipment or ways of doing certain tasks because they remember similar things from a family member’s farm when growing up.  The adults enjoy the interactive environment of the homestead just as much as the kids do.  It feels good to unplug and interact; to slow down and be a part of something so vastly different from the world in which we live; to rewind back to a simpler time.