History Stories

Our region has a rich history. Some of it’s fascinating and inspiring, some of it not so much. Here you’ll find Greater Mankato Area history stories so you can judge for yourself.

Submitted Image - The Kato Ballroom

Save the Last Dance – The Kato Ballroom

The Kato Ballroom has seen a lot of music since its founding in 1942. Flexibility and adaptation have been the keys to being one of the few surviving ballrooms in Minnesota
Photo from the Library of Congress - General William T. Sherman, center, leaning on the breach of a cannon, with his staff at Federal Fort No. 7 near Atlanta, Georgia in this stereopticon slide.

A Civil War Hero’s Gift to Mankato – John Eaton Tourtellotte

John Eaton Tourtellotte served admirably in the Civil War and was on of Mankato's first benefactors
Photo by Rick Pepper - Madsen's/Randall's last days

Madsen’s Had Everything You Needed – a One of a Kind Store

From 1946 to 1976 Madsen's Foods was a fixture in Mankato. From 1975 to 2001 the store continued as Randall Foods until the room collapsed and it was razed to make way for Cub West.
Photo Courtesy of the Minnesota American Legion Archives - American Legion Auxiliary spring conference at the St. Paul Hotel March 27, 1931.

Dr. Helen Hughes Hielscher – Founder of the American Legion Auxiliary

Dr. Helen Hielscher was a trailblazer. She was one of Minnesota’s first female surgeons, the first female doctor in Mankato and the founder of the American Legion Auxiliary
Photo courtesy Muriel Kuebler Berndt - Muriel and Barbara Kuebler in “50 Miles from Broadway,” one of the “short” pictures produced by Pathe Films to run in theaters between newsreels and the main feature. Barbara is third from the left and Muriel is to the immediate right of the tuba player.

Mankato’s Vaudeville Stars – The Kaye Sisters

Mankato natives Muriel and Barbara Kuebler were once known as the Kaye Sisters, a sister dance act that performed with the famous traveling Pantages circuit during the days of vaudeville.
Photo from the Standard Historical and Pictorial Atlas and Gazetteer of Blue Earth County, MN, 1895 - The Bierbauer Brewery stood at the end of Rock Street in Mankato for many years. The brewery buildings are now gone. Albert and Lillie Bierbauer’s house, which is pictured on the left, still remains on the corner of 6th and Rock Streets. This photo was taken in 1895 and at the time the brewery was producing 18,000 barrels annually.

Looking Back – William Bierbauer Brewing Company

The William Bierbauer Brewing Company (later the Mankato Brewing Company) operated in Mankato from 1863-1971.
Submitted Photo - Schmidt Mansion, Mankato - It’s an interesting coincidence that the Marsh family home was located on top of a hill behind a slough (now the current West High School). Lovelace describes her house in Emily of Deep Valley as “a little house huddled against a low hill. It was old and weather-beaten” and had a “faded white picket fence.” The Marsh house was torn down in 1923 and an elegant house was built on the property by Oscar and Katherine Schmidt. The Schmidt Mansion remained in the family until 1958, when the YMCA acquired it for office space. The house was torn down in 1988 to make room for a new facility.

Marguerite Marsh and the YMCA in the Great War

Mankato native, Marguerite Marsh, served the troops with the YMCA during The Great War, WWI
Submitted Photo - “University Archives” is a photograph of the University Archives and Southern Minnesota Historical Center in Memorial Library at Minnesota State Mankato

MSU Mankato — COVID-19 Community History Project

The archive team at MSU Mankato is busy collecting the perspectives of students and community members about the Covid-19 crisis
From History of the Red Jacket Valley by Julie A. Schrader - Panoramic view of the Red Jacket Bridge and Trestle by Mankato photographer, John R. Snow at the dedication of the bridge on August 22, 1911. Snow coaxed the train engineer into backing up so the camera could capture everything. He was credited with the first panoramic photograph taken in the Mankato area. Actually, the photograph is a composite of four photographs snapped from the same spot and then pieced together.

Transportation Advances Through the Red Jacket Valley

Julie Schrader tells the tale of train and automobile advances through the Red Jacket Valley south of Mankato
Stack of books

Storybook Tour — A Literary Journey Along Highway 14

Take a whirlwind tour along Minnesota Highway 14 to explore three of our favorite children's authors: Maud Hart Lovelace, Wanda Gág, and Laura Ingalls Wilder