By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, FOREST CITY, MN In 1975, when Paul and Lynda Huseby moved to their new home on the northeastern shores of Spring Lake, they were told of the property’s long history, including an original log cabin that remained on the property.
The historic building had served various purposes throughout the years, from a granary to a machine shed.
Thirty-seven years later, the couple decided to rebuild in the exact location of what is believed to be the original living quarters of the first homesteaders.
Instead of tearing down a piece of history, it was suggested to the Husebys that they donated the structure to the Forest City Stockade, where it can be preserved and utilized to tell the story of the early settlers.
“I figured the Stockade would be a nice place for it,” Paul said, adding that it was a nice alternative to just tearing it down.
Bob Hermann, an organizer of the stockade restoration project, which serves as a memorial for the brave pioneers who settled there during the Dakota Uprising of 1862, agreed with the decision.
“When we find one of the vintage 1800s log buildings . . . we like to move them to our site and give them a brand new life,” he said of his “home away from home.”
After the decision had been made, the Husebys began taking down the lean-to that surrounded the cabin.
In early May, Nordberg Excavating out of Dassel moved the cabin to its new home at the Stockade, where it will be turned into a leather shop; one of many buildings that have been erected adjacent to the stockade that will help tell the story of early life.
“We give our thanks to the Stockade for preserving old buildings, and to Nordberg Excavating for their time and equipment in moving it,” Paul said.
The log cabin was jointly donated by Lynda and Paul Huseby, their son, Matt Huseby, of Dassel; daughter, Sarah Wabbe, her husband, John, and their son, Luke, of Waconia.
Though it’s unclear when this cabin was built, it was typical of the early settlers to build a log cabin like this as temporary shelter while the permanent house was being built, explained Bob Gasch, owner of an original 1869 log cabin in rural Cokato.
History of the Forest City Stockade
The Forest City Stockade, as it stands today, began as a restoration project by Meeker County for the state’s bicentennial in 1976.
The original stockade was constructed Sept. 3, 1862, by the residents of Forest City to protect themselves during the Dakota Uprising. The large-fence-like structure surrounded a two-family home.
Early in the morning of Sept. 4, 1862, soon after 240 people sought refuge, the stockade was under attack.
At the site of the stockade, the memorial reads “The Indians were driven off, but a state of siege existed for 10 days before the people were relieved by Company B of the 8th Minnesota Volunteer Regiment.”
After the stockade had served its purpose, the wooden walls came down and the area was left as a field until the stockade was resurrected again in 1976.
The stockade was built to correspond with its original dimensions and measures 120-square-feet with 10-foot logs rising above ground.
In addition, a two-story log cabin was built and furnished with artifacts. Sadly, Hermann reported this original museum was a victim of arson in May 1999.
Just outside of the stockade, buildings have been built from donated log buildings or homes and constructed by volunteer labor. The goal of this project is to rebuild historic Forest City as looked in 1862.
From a general store to a doctor’s office, each building provides a walk through the past.
Each of the buildings are open during the Stockade’s annual Rendezvous, which takes place the third weekend in August.
Inside the building, volunteers dressed in period clothing offer demonstrations related to the building’s purpose. The Huseby building, for example, will be a leather shop. One of the stockade committee members will demonstrate the art of leather work by making harnesses and belts. This building is expected to be completed in time for both the Rendezvous and Paul’s birthday weekend, August 18-19.
This year is also the stockade’s 150th anniversary of the original stockade.
The second event at the Stockade each year is Pioneer Christmas, which takes place the first Saturday of December.
For more information on the Forest City Stockade, check out the website at forestcitystockade.org.
The stockade is located on Highway 24, a half-mile south of Forest City. From Highway 15, turn west on CSAH 27 in Kingston about nine miles. Then, continue west on Highway 24.