History of Sleepy Eye

Timeline created by sechamber
  • Chief Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba was born

    Chief Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba was born
    Chief Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba was born at Swan Lake in Nicollet County. Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba was a member of the band of Dakota Native Americans. At 6'2", he grew to be a large and well proportioned man, of rather dignified appearance, was good natured and plausible, but lacked distinction as a hunter or warrior. It was believed that his eyelids drooped slightly and his name, Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba, which translates in English to Sleepy Eyes, was derived from this physical characteristic.
  • Becoming A Chief

    Chief Sleepy Eyes went to Washington DC to receive a document from President Monroe declaring that he was officially a chief, succeeding Blue Spirit. He then became a chief of all of the Lower Sisseton Sioux (Dakota) from Carver to Lac-Qui-Parle.
  • Moving to new home

    Chief Sleepy Eyes was asked to move his camp to a lake west of his village, which was later named after him, as was the town which was erected years later near the lake. In the Dakota language, the word Sisseton means swamp-dweller. The Sisseton people lived in or near sloughy areas and Chief Sleepy Eyes settled on the north side of Sleepy Eye lake, near the present site of Sportsman's Park campground.
  • Chief Sleepy Eye dies

    Chief Sleepy Eyes died on an island in Bullhead Lake in Roberts County, South Dakota in the tepee of a very old Indian Chief named Red Eagle. Red Eagle had dressed Sleepy Eyes in one of his own new buckskin suits, and in this he was buried under a large tree. Also buried with Sleepy Eyes was his pipe, a small mirror, his tobacco pouch of raccoon skin, on which the head was left as an ornament, together with beads and other small articles. Chief Sleepy Eyes was buried in a sitting position.
  • Earliest travelers to Sleepy Eye

    Earliest travelers to Sleepy Eye
    Earliest travel in Minnesota was by waterways or across country until the railroads became a reality. Because of that, the pioneers settled near these transportation modes. Sleepy Eye was no exception. A few families acquired land near Sleepy Eye Lake.
  • Deciding to plat a town

    Deciding to plat a town
    Thomas Allison, one of the earlier settlers, decided there should be a town located by the lake. He took his idea to the railroad's attorney, Walter Brackenridge of Rochester, MN. After listening to his ideas, Brackenridge agreed with Allison and purchased some land from him. They, with the help of others, set about the task of platting the area.
  • The railroad comes to Sleepy Eye

    The Winona & St. Peter Railroad first reached Sleepy Eye.
  • Newspapers get published in Sleepy Eye

    The railroad brought newspaper men to the community. First to be published was the once-a-month "Argus", which lasted until July 31, 1874. "The Sleepy Eye Wide-Awake" began publication February 25, 1879. One year later, Thomas E. Bowen established the "Weekly Herald", but sold it to W.R. Hodges in August. On July 3, 1890, Huston G. Hayes published the first issue of the "Dispatch". On June 9, 1908, Hodges bought the "Dispatch" and merged papers to become our current "Herald-Dispatch".
  • It's official: Sleepy Eye becomes a town

    Allison and Brackenridge signed the agreement officially platting the Village of Sleepy Eye Lake. Promptly at 9:00 a.m. on September 19, the plat of Sleepy Eye Lake was filed in the County's Book of Plats.
  • St. Mary's builds first church

    With the rapid growth of this new village, the need for a Catholic church was soon evident. That first church, a small wooden structure, was built in 1876. Prospering, the parish was able to give the church a brick veneer in 1877.
  • St. John's builds first church

    There was also a need for a Lutheran church. The first church built by St. John's Lutheran parish had had living quarters in it, but as soon as a parsonage could be built, that part of the church building became a school. That was in 1885, nine years after the church was built.
  • Sleepy Eye Flour Mill

    The Sleepy Eye Flour Milling Company began operations.
  • St. Mary's School opens

    St. Mary's School opens
    Members of the Catholic church became interested in building a parish school. A building was erected, containing four classrooms on the first floor, while the second floor was home for the sisters who taught at the school. About 90 pupils enrolled and were taught under the direction of the Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester, MN.
  • Second Depot is built

    A second depot for the railroad was built and used as a freight depot for many years. It still remains today, housing the Depot Antiques, a repository filled with antiques, primitives, antique lighting and much more.
  • Larger Public School was built

    The first school, built of logs near Sleepy Eye Lake in 1867 by Thomas Allison, was used by approximately 20 students only during the summer for classes. Students were expected to study by themselves during the winter months. A second school, a two-story building, was ready for use in 1874. The third school, complete with 10 rooms was built in 1891 and cost approximately $30,000.
  • Sleepy Eye Flour Milling Company flourishes

    Sleepy Eye Flour Milling Company flourishes
    The Sleepy Eye Flour Milling Company owned 27 elevators in Minnesota and South Dakota. It had its own cooper's shop in which it made the barrels for the flour. Although capacity was 5,000 barrels of flour daily, not all flour was packed in barrels. Many of the brands produced by the Sleepy Eye Flour Mill, including Cream, Apple Blossom, Gold, Snowflake, Chief and Cyclone Brands of flour, were sold in cloth sacks. The mill ran night and day, six days a week, and shifts were usually 12 hours.
  • Public School burns

    Public School burns
    Four years after the larger Public School was built, an explosion occurred and burned it to the ground. A new school was built the same year and remained until 1982 when it was demolished and a new one story school was built.
  • Berg Hotel built

    Berg Hotel built
    Carl Berg constructed the second hotel in Sleepy Eye. He chose to build the hotel with red brick which was enhanced with beautiful Kasota stone. The Berg Hotel had an interesting visitor stop in and ask for food for himself and his horse. He offered to pay by giving Berg his gun. Barter was common, and because news traveled slowly, the town had not yet heard about the Northfield robbery. When the news did arrive, it was clear to Berg that he had been host to one of Jesse James' gang members!
  • Dyckman Library built

    Dyckman Library built
    The first public library in Brown County was built by Frank H. Dyckman, a banker and a proprietor of the Sleepy Eye Flour Milling Company, who decided to give back to the citizens a token of his appreciation for their kindness in his earlier years. The cornerstone was laid, and in it was placed copies of the account of the dedication of the school building with pictures of all school buildings to date, newspapers and a complete list of the subscribers to the library fund to that date.
  • W.W. Smith builds beautiful home

    W.W. Smith builds beautiful home
    William Watkins Smith, a banker, built a beautiful home, which included Queen Anne and Classical Revival styling which were carried through the Smith house. It is currently on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been turned into a bed & breakfast, containing two elegant front parlors that are furnished with period pieces and crystal chandelier, and a library filled with volumes of early books acquired from the Smith estate, as well as carved oak chairs.
  • Chief Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba remains move to Sleepy Eye

    Chief Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba remains move to Sleepy Eye
    The citizens of Sleepy Eye, along with Red Eagle and his son, went to the spot under the large tree where Chief Sleepy Eye was buried. There was no mark of any kind to identify the place, but Red Eagle, who was then over 90 years old, sunk a spade that hit Sleepy Eye's skull right in the middle. The remains were sent to Sleepy Eye and buried with proper ceremonies in a small park dedicated to him. A 50-foot tall granite obelisk marks Sleepy Eye's final resting place.
  • Railroad Depot built

    The present depot building was built of red-faced brick and stone-trimming. It consisted of a baggage room, men's waiting room, family waiting room, telegrapher's room, ticket room, and teh east end lunch room, For 87 years, the Chicago and North Western Railroad had passenger rail service at Sleepy Eye.
  • St. Mary's constructs larger church

    St. Mary's constructs larger church
    Along with the new school and a growing congregation, the Catholic Church needed to construct a larger church. The new Baroque-style church, which could now seat 1,000, was completed in the summer of 1902. Its two lofty steeples, which can be seen across the prairie for miles in all directions, are 170 fee high, with the building measuring 175 feet in length. The church was solemnly blessed and dedicated to the worship of God under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians.
  • Sleepy Eye's first telephone

    Sleepy Eye Telephone Co. was organized in 1905. In the days before, the first telephone exchange took place in "a room with a coal-heater, very warm in winter and in summer...the switchboard was a very crude affair. It had a wet battery and a water supply in a jar next to it." Messages carried by the seldom-used telephone were often those of tragedy. If a call came in for a non-subscriber, there was a charge of ten cents for notifying the person to come to the telephone office to take the call.
  • St. Mary's builds larger school

    With a larger church and an even larger congregation, the present St. Mary's Grade School was built, containing 20 rooms in a two-story building, which accommodated both grade and high school. A larger two-story high school was completed in 1951, providing 30 additional classrooms.
  • Sleepy Eye Flour Milling Company closes

    Because of bad business conditions and increased competition, the Sleepy Eye Flour Milling Company closed for the last time. Trademark passed to the St. Louis Flour Mills, then to the Pillsbury Company.
  • Babe Ruth comes to Sleepy Eye

    Babe Ruth comes to Sleepy Eye
    Sleepy Eye has always been a baseball town. The most famous baseball player to visit Sleepy Eye was Babe Ruth. He and Bob Meusel joined local players in an exhibition game. Ruth hit one homer, grounded out to the shortstop and struck out once for a .333 average. He played in the outfield part of the time and aldo did some pitching. Cool weather did not bother the Minnesota players, but Ruth and Meusel were huddled in heavy sweaters.
  • St. John's lays cornerstone for new school

    Growth of the community and of the St. John's Lutheran parish made a new school a necessity. Members laid the cornerstone of a new brick school on the same site the old school had occupied.
  • Sleepy Eye Drum & Bugle Corps organized

    The original Sleepy Eye Drum & Bugle Corps had 27 members and was led by C.E. Franklin. The corps first entered Minnesota Legion competition in 1934 and won the Class B title in 1934, 1935 & 1936. Entering Class A competition, they won in 1937 & 1938, and again from 1947-1951, as well as winning other titles. They were considered "the snappiest color guard in the State." Throughout the corps active existence, membership exceeded 245 men.
  • Del Monte builds factory

    Del Monte builds factory
    The California Packing Corporation found a suitable location to build a pea and corn canning factory in Sleepy Eye. The first pea and corn pack took place at Del Monte Corp during the summer, where each pack lasted about 2 weeks working night and day.
  • Sleepy Eye Lake goes dry!

    Between 1931 and 1932, it seems almost impossible that a lake could go dry, but it happened in Sleepy Eye Lake. Several people took advantage of this misfortune and planted "Depression gardens" in the lake bed and a booming crop of potatoes were harvested.
  • The railroad makes its last stop in Sleepy Eye

    The streamliner "Dakota 400" made its last stop in Sleepy Eye. After that, the depot served as a freight office until it was turned into the Depot Museum, which is filled with artifacts from the Sleepy Eye area. The depot was also named to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Schoenstatt Shrine completed

    Schoenstatt Shrine completed
    On the shores of Sleepy Eye Lake, the Schoenstatt Shrine was completed. The Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary needed to find the perfect place to build the shrine to continue their ministry. A farm had been donated near the lake on which the shrine, and later the retreat center, were built. The shrine is Sleepy Eye is one of more than 160 exact replicas of the original shrine located in Schoenstatt, Germany.
  • Chief Sleepy Eye statue is unveiled

    Chief Sleepy Eye statue is unveiled
    A statue of Chief Sleepy Eye was unveiled and dedicated in Wooldrik Park. The bronzed statue stands eight-feet tall and is placed atop a Morton granite base surrounded by a brick sidewalk. The statue was sculpted by JoAnne Bird, a member of the Wahpeton-Sisseton band of Dakota Native Americans, which is the same band as Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba. Sleepy Eye is the first city in the nation to have a full-sized bronze statue of a person of Native American descent in true likeness.
  • Sleepy Eye receives a Linus statue

    Sleepy Eye receives a Linus statue
    A new addition came to rest on the front lawns of the Dyckman Free Library. One of the Linus statues, a public art initiative that displayed 105 statues all over St. Paul, Minnesota, was purchased and designed specifically for Sleepy Eye. Cartoonist Linus Maurer, a Sleepy Eye native, became friends with fellow cartoonist Charles Schultz, creator of the Peanuts cartoon strip, while teaching at the Art Instruction, Inc. in Minneapolis. Schultz created his Linus character after his friend.
  • Sleepy Eye builds lake trail & aquatic center

    Sleepy Eye builds lake trail & aquatic center
    The grand openings of both the Sleepy Eye Lake Trail and the Sleepy Eye Family Aquatic Center were the culmination of many years of hard work and planning. Many people have come to enjoy the outdoor recreation that the city has been able to create for the community and its visitors.