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History Book

In the 1930s, a federal program during the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, appointed people to conduct oral history interviews across the country.

In Paynesville, Clarence Chisholm conducted over 100 interviews with local citizens. These selections from those interviews were printed throughout 2000 in The Paynesville Press.

Copies of the interviews were provided by the Paynesville Area Historical Society.


Voices of the Past - Herman Knebel

Herman R. Knebel was born in Zion Township, Stearns County, Minnesota, on Jan. 23, 1875, a son of Herman J. and Henrietta (Weber) Knebel.

Herman J. Knebel was born July 14, 1838, in Schoenwerder, Germany. He had two sisters and three brothers: Emelia (Knebel) Schoenleben, Matilda (Knebel) Glenz, August, Gustave, and Gotlieb.

Henrietta (Weber) Knebel was born Dec. 31, 1945, and she had one sister and three brothers: Minnie (Weber) Helmer, August, Gotlieb, and William.

In 1859, Herman J. sailed to America. Here he married Henrietta Weber in 1867. They settled on a farm in Zion Township. They were the parents of four children: Ellen and Sarah, both deceased; Hannah (Knebel) Fox, and Herman R.

Herman J. died before his son, Herman R., was born. Thus leaving the responsibilities of the farm and family to fall upon his wife, Henrietta.

When Herman R. was 15 years of age, his mother died at her home and was laid to rest beside her husband in the Zion Cemetery.

This left the farm work for the children. As they were too young to manage a farm, they rented out the land, but remained on the farm to make their home. Later, they moved to Paynesville.

Herman R. worked as a farm hand for several years. On Oct. 15, 1907, Minnie Manz became his wife. The wedding ceremony was performed by the Rev. C.F. Kachel of St. Paul.

Minnie (Manz) Knebel was the daughter of Herman Ludwig and Louisa (Rien) Manz. She was born Dec. 1, 1880, in Zion Township. She had two sisters: Lydia, deceased, and Bertha (Manz) Nagel.

Herman R. and Minnie were the parents of three children: Loren H., Kermit, and Laverna. All three were educated in the public school and high school at Paynesville.

Loren H. was born Dec. 11, 1908, in Paynesville. He was employed as a butcher in one of the meat markets in St. Cloud.

Kermit was born May 30, 1911, in Paynesville. He lived at home with his mother.

Laverna was born July 14, 1913, in Paynesville. She graduated from St. Cloud Teacher's College and was a school teacher.

Herman R. bought the Paynesville Dray Line in 1895 and operated it for 32 years. During those years, he had the following partners: Art Carpenter, C.C. Peterson, Ted Kohloff, and Ben Bluhm. In 1928, Herman R. sold his share of the business to William O'Brien of Paynesville and retired from active work.

On Feb. 26, 1935, Herman R. died of a heart attack at his home in Paynesville. The funeral was held from the home and First Evangelical Church of Paynesville. The services were conducted by Rev. L.M. Adelman and Rev. George Fenske. The burial was in Zion Cemetery.

Minnie continued living in Paynesville with her two younger children, Kermit and Laverna.

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