Winona Journal – Home
19April 2024

College scores

Tennis (men): Saint John’s 9, Saint Mary’s 0

Tennis (men): UW-Whitewater 8, UW-LaCrosse 1

Tennis (women):  Saint Benedict 9, Saint Mary’s 0

19April 2024

Remember when: Houston County’s KKK hate-mongers

HOUSTON, Minn. – The Ku Klux Klan revival in the 1920s took firm root in Houston County at white-hooded gatherings and with racist bluster but even more so a rabid hatred aimed at Catholics, according to historian Nancy Vaillincourt. In a recent presentation at the Houston library, Vaillincourt showed Klan paraphernalia and historic photographs. The Klan in Houston County was especially strong in the Money Creek area. At least one clergyman — a Protestant, of course — wore a white robe and hood and preached against those Papist Catholic immigrants down in Hokah. Women too wore white hoods and garb. They called themselves the Ladies of the Invisible Empire. There remain gravestones up Money Creek engraved with KKK symbols. Vaillincourt said. Like the Klan elsewhere in the 1920s, the Houston County outpost subscribed to American and Protestant extremism. With few blacks living in Minnesota, the Klan’s most notable hatred, against backs, didn’t gain much foothold. The obsession was more at Jews but no less at Catholics. The Klan saw Catholics as an alien threat because they had a foreign leader — the Pope.

Klan ascents

The white supremacist Ku Klan Klan dates to Civil War veterans from the break-away southern states. Historians say it was the first organized terrorist movement in U.S. history. At first it targeted former slaves who had been freed, but its mantra of hate spread to include Jews, Catholics and new immigrant groups. Although the Klan faded within a decade, it has re-emerged in two later periods:

> 1920s. From a small surviving group in Georgia, the Klan revived in the 1920s, this time also in the Midwest and West. It took on a fraternal structure with mystic rites, closed-off initiation ceremonies, and secret passwords. The organization sold white costumes, complete with hoods, and even had a gold coin currency. Activism came to include cross-burnings and parades. Nationally the membership peaked at an estimated 3 million to 6 million.

> 1960s. Another Klan rebirth developed from a confluence of local white supremacist groups to fight the Civil Rights Movement. Violence and murder were among its tactics. Scholars estimated membership between 3,000 and 6,000.

Vaillincourt. An Owatonna librarian shows a Klan hood to a Houston library audience. She has spent years examining newspaper clippings and artifacts to construct a portrait of the Klan in Minnesota in the 1920s.

Klan’s undoing

The Klan of the 1920s in Minnesota peaked in 1925 with a state Klanklave at the county fairgrounds in Owatonna. Activities included three weddings against the backdrop of a flaming cross and a parade down Cedar Avenue. Probably 2,400 Klan members attended, although the organization’s well-oiled publicity machine claimed 10,000. The Klan then purchased a tract of land in Owatonna for its 1926 and 1927 state assemblies. “Klan Park,” it was called. But by then two events were already dooming the Klan:

> David Stevenson. He was the Grand Dragon of Indiana and chief Klan recruiter for seven states.  He kidnapped and raped a young social worker. Bites into her breasts were so deep that her lungs became infected. She died. The sordid story was news everywhere. One headline had her “chewed by a cannibal.” Stevenson went to prison for life. Many Klan member, even the most adamant, were so turned off that they chose to disassociate themselves..

> Anti-Masking Law. The 1926 Minnesota Legislature created a law to prevent Klan members from hiding behind their hooded masks: “A person whose identity is concealed by the person in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise, unless based on religious beliefs, or incidental to amusement, entertainment, protection from weather, or medical treatment, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

19April 2024

Pigeon Falls collision kills driver

PIGEON FALLS, Wis. – A driver was killed and two others were injured in a collision on U.S. Highway 53 between Pigeon Falls and Whitehall. Trempealeau County Sheriff Brett Semingson declined to release the victims’ names. The accident was about 11:05 a.m. at Daggett Coulee Road. Deputies said a SUV crossed into the other lane and collided head-on with a pickup truck. The SUV driver died apparently outright. The pickup driver and a passenger were taken to the Whitehall hospital. Their injuries were described as non-life threatening.

19April 2024

Vehicle slams into highway truck: Two hurt

NODINE, Minn. – A Jeep crashed into a state highway truck with a load of trash heading down the steep Four-Mile Grade near Nodine. Both Jeep occupants were taken 18 miles to a LaCrosse hospital with sustainable injuries. The collision was on dry pavement about 10:50 a.m. Both vehicles were headed east toward Dakota and LaCrosse. Injured were Randall Hall Kevin, 20, of Tinley Park, Illinois, and a passenger, Arianna Nicole Soco, 20, of Hammond, Indiana. The state truck was hauling a trailer with trash. Unhurt were the occupants — driver Camron John Sylling, 23, of Eitzen, and passenger Donald Ray Bollman, 51, of La Crescent.

19April 2024

Reuniting a Rochester duck brood

Ducklings rescued. Although not a 911 call, it was an urgent matter. A mama duck and her ducklings were down a storm sewer. The Truck 12 crew from the Rochester Fire Department raced to the rescue, although without sirens and flashers. The crew removed the sewer grate and sent a firefighter into the deep dark to extract the whole family. And, as the story goes, everybody lived happily ever after. Image: Rochester Fire Department.

19April 2024

Amazon to build north Iowa distribution center

MASON CITY, Iowa – Mega online retailer Amazon announced plans for a 50,000-square foot distribution center in Mason City. It will be what Amazon calls a “last mile fulfillment center” to hasten deliveries to addresses in north Iowa. The site: Near the airport on U.S. Highway 18. Groundbreaking: In May.

19April 2024

Chrysler dealership foresees doubling showroom

WINONA, Minn. – The Chrysler Winona car dealership hopes to be relocated on the south side of ghe Winona Mall, behind the Sugarloaf Ford dealership, by the end of July, co-owner Andy Puetz said. Architects are still working on the final design, but the plan, he said, is to keep a combined Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram showroom like now but larger. The new showroom will accommodate four vehicles, more than the present two. Outside will be space for the dealership’s normal inventory of 60 to 80 new vehicles and a similar number of pre-owned vehicles, he said. The move makes business sense, he said, noting that the Huff Street site – once a Chevrolet and Toyota dealership – is rented. Building new from scratch elsewhere, he said, was financially advantageous. The new site comprises most of the the former south Mall parking lot: “To the back and to the left if you were to stand on the Highway 61 facing the Ford store, it’s the northwest corner.”

Kwik Trip? Joe’s Tires?

Puetz said he had no idea about persistent chatter around town that Kwk Trip wants to build a convenience store at the current Chrysler site at  121 Huff Stret site: “We do not own the current building we are in, so we are not involved with the remarketing of it.  We are not aware of any suitors.” the usual Kwik Trip spokesperson at corporate headquarters in LaCrosse has failed to respond to media queries. About other scuttlebutt, Puetz said it’s untrue that Joe’s Tires, at 1252 W Service Drive next to Sugarloaf Ford, is part of the deal.

Current home. At Huff and Second streets.


Puetz: “While we enjoyed being downtown for many years, and hoped to be for several more, our circumstances dictated us moving to a new location to be the most feasible and affordable.  We will be able to be in a facility for less than what it would cost to purchase the current one, and yet have a brand new building in a higher visibility location. It was the only alternative that really made sense in the end.  We will have room for all of our employees and customers will enjoy the same great service that they are used to having.”

Puetz. Co-owner, general manager.

18April 2024

College scores