On this Veterans Day, remember the service of Northfield-area men and women by looking through the documents and photographs at the Northfield History Collaborative that tell their stories.
Browse or search through to see some of our partners’ items from the Civil War, World War I, and other conflicts. Below, I’ll highlight some new items from the Spanish-American War and World War II.
It’s been 115 years since the beginning of one of America’s lesser-known conflicts: The Spanish-American War.
Personally, I could remember from high school history that there was something about Cuba, something about the Philippines, and something about Teddy Roosevelt. If you want a quick primer, Wikipedia offers a good overview here. Their first sentences put the whole thing in a quick nutshell:
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, the result of American intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. American attacks on Spain’s Pacific possessions led to involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately to the Philippine–American War.
In this post you’ll see this fantastic photo from the Carleton College collection of five young men associated with the school: John Gleed Redding (1901), Frank Knapp, Ernest C. A. Lundeen (1901 – a member of Company K), Fred Charles Smith (1899), and George G. Larson (1901).
Northfield’s young men were eager to play their part in history back in 1898. As this roster, now online at the Northfield History Collaborative, shows, 90 men from the area volunteered when a National Guard unit was assembled: Company K, 4th Minnesota Infantry. A fun sidenote about this piece: It came to the Northfield Historical society framed. When staff went to unframe it for scanning this summer, there were two more pages inside! You’ll see them at the link as well.
A related item is also new to the Collaborative: An attendance roll book for Company K. It recently came to the Northfield Historical Society from the City of Northfield. It includes some details about promotions, discharges, and so forth.
From what I can tell, Company K itself never went overseas, though the attendance roll book does note the death of one man – a J. F. Severson. He is not on the original roster noted here, and I’m afraid I don’t have any information about him.
A note at the bottom of the roster does mention the death of another man. Clarence Whitford was a tall 18-year-old, a student from New London, Wis, according to the roster. From Company K, he enlisted in the 34th U. S. Infantry. The Northfield News of April 20, 1901 reports how he died in the Philippines of typhoid fever early in 1900. A funeral was held for him at All Saints Episcopal Church in 1901; he was interred at Oaklawn Cemetery.
WORLD WAR II
Here’s a transition for you: That news article above says Clarence Whitford was the nephew of R. C. Phillips of Northfield. To my knowledge, R. C. Phillips was the father of Nellie Phillips, also known as “Mom Phillips.” She wrote a Northfield News column during World War II to servicemen. So Clarence Whitford and Nellie Phillips were cousins.
The Northfield Historical Society holds about 25 scrapbooks full of Mom Phillips’ columns to servicemen, clippings about their letters home, and a few original photographs and documents. The Collaborative recently posted the first three scrapbooks online: 1, 2 and 3. These are a great way to understand more about what life was like for Northfielders on the homefront, eager for news from the local boys abroad. We plan to add more of the scrapbooks early next year, so be on the lookout for those.
Another collection to watch for: photographs of Northfield’s World War II servicemen and women from the local VFW post.