Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, Oct. 7, 2002

Author making history for Howard Lake, literally

By Lynda Jensen

The pages of history are turning ­ or actually being written ­ by established author Kirk Besse for the new Howard Lake history book.

The book will be a narrative of Howard Lake history, starting from the 1850s to the present time, Besse said.

Besse, who is related to the Gilmer family in Howard Lake, is doing the book without charge to the Historical Society. He resides in Mound and has part ownership in a publishing company called Victoria Press, based out of Minneapolis.

He is about halfway through the initial draft, or about right after World War I, Besse said.

The new book will take advantage of the substantial groundwork done by the century book committee for 100 Years of the Good Life, which was printed in 1978.

There is only one member of the committee still living, Ella May Dahlberg. Others on the committee were Eldon Luhman (chair), Mildren Zech, Alvin Bakeberg, Marge Rausch, and LD "Pete" Peterson.

In addition to the book, Besse has been doing a substantial amount of research himself, looking through micro-filmed copies of the newspaper, and compiling his own resources.

It is hoped that the book will be finished in time for the 100 year celebration of the Historic City Hall building, in 2004, Don Danford of the Howard Lake Historical Association said.

True drama can't be found anywhere better than such a book, since it contains details about everything from robust prosperity to near riots that ocurred at the Howard Lake stock yards in the 1930s, he said.

The riots were related to the attempt at forming a farmer's union during the Depression, Besse said. Apparently a train came through town that contained proponents of the union, and the altercation ensued, Besse said.

The work is slowly coming together, Besse said. They are toying with the idea of using an architectual drawing on the cover for the new book, he said. It will be printed on acid free paper, he said.

Besse is in his 40s and holds a full-time job in the claims department of an insurance company.

However, his love for history is readily apparent. "I live in the past," he laughed.

What first caught his eye about Howard Lake was stories from his grandfather Willie John Gilmer about his log cabin life when he farmed west of Howard Lake.

The Gilmer family farmed around Spring Lake, which Highway 12 divides to the west. This lake used to be called Gilmer Lake, because so many Gilmers lived around it, he said.

Another book written by Besse is pictured above "Grand Times Amid the Sorrows," which actually features a photo of the Old Town Gallery's original building on Page 115 of this book; however it is incorrectly idenfitied as the Workman building because the photo was incorrectly identified on its back, Besse said.

The Workman building used to take up the vacant lot next to Red's Pizza, Besse said.

Looking for photos, bits of information

Local history was very well documented before the 1920s, he said. After that time is a little more spotty, since he is searching for bits of information about events after this time, he said.

Right now, he is trying figure out what photographs might be available to him from the public.

Besse is asking residents to send an e-mail to him detailing what kind of photo they have: victoriapl@ canada.com.

This will give him a good idea of what he can access, he said. Those who are willing to lend their pictures can drop them off at the Old Town Gallery, or the Herald newspaper office.

The photos will be scanned at the newspaper and sent via e-mail to Besse. They can be picked up at the newspaper office again later, in the condition they were received.

The e-mail will prevent any photos being lost by regular mail, and will allow a faster turnaround for Besse.

Any photos that Besse receives will be treated with care and returned, he said.

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