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Notes from the Paynesville Historical Society. . .

Merchants Hotel By Connie Williams

I would like to thank those people whose history is represented in our museum, for coming to visit this summer. We have had a visit from Mike Behr, and the great-grandson of Dr. Robert Hoover, the first doctor in Paynesville in 1860.

Dr. Hoover was an ordained Methodist minister from Pennsylvania. He settled in Paynesville and practiced medicine. He went to medical school for three months and received his medical license. He made $40 the first year he was here. He had two horses that he hitched up to make a team. One horse galloped and one horse trotted. His patients could always tell it was him coming because of his odd horses. Being a frail man himself, he always had a lot of compassion for his patients.

Mike Behr is the son of Phillip Behr and grandson of Charles Behr who gave us many native American artifacts. They also gave us a story of the Sioux Indian uprising. The Behr family were early pioneers in Paynesville.

Also visiting was Nancy and husband Paul of Illinois, the great-granddaughter of Dr. George P. Ferree, who was the second doctor in Paynesville. The Ferrees have donated many of the doctor's things, such as pictures, his riding gloves, his carriage lantern, and many medical instruments. There are stories of Dr. Ferree being chased by wolves across the lake in his carriage.

John and Lois Lundemo, who are of Elk River in the winter and Paynesville in the summer, were in to visit. John is the son of Oscar Lundemo who was a member of the Original Broggie Gang. The Broggies were 15 young men from Litchfield whose love of camping and fishing first brought them to Lake Koronis by horse and wagon in 1896. They were actually the first people to own private property on Lake Koronis.

All 15 of their names were on the deed. They called their camp "Brog" and themselves "Broggies." Their mascot was a wild turkey.

Over the next several years they built a cottage, a boathouse, and a coal cellar. They took turns using the cottage. By the early 1920s, most of them had gone off and gotten married. The land was subdivided. Oscar Lundemo acquired a portion of the property by tax deed. In the 1930s, he purchased two sub-divisions of the lot including where the boathouse still stands. Only one family still lives on the property. Victor Lundemo still lives there today on the south side of Lake Koronis. The family has put up a monument to their father, Oscar, and the Broggie's on 50 feet of land. This has been donated to the Paynesville Historical Museum. Oscar Lundemo later became the owner of Watkins Drug for many years. After his father passed away, his son Lewie kept the store until 1962.

We also had a visit from Carol Taylor Ahles, whose grandparents are Nick and Catherine Dreis who owned the Hotel Russell which later became the Merchants Hotel. For $2 a day patrons were furnished room and board in 1901.

Carol Taylor Ahles made a priceless contribution to the museum. She donated the hostel registry book from 1912. Some familiar names in the registry are: Phipps, Chisholm, Latterell, Van Vorst, Phalen, and many more.