Cullen Lakes History
CULLEN LAKE HISTORY GATHERING!
by Georgia Maguire
Attention all property owners with 50+ years on the Cullen chain! We are continuing the process of recording the family histories of early Cullen Lake residents. Please contact Georgia Macguire to obtain a family history form relating their Cullen Lake history. These are to be mailed back and the information will be recorded on a computer disk. Families or individuals may also make an appointment this summer with Georgia Macguire (218-568-4469) to have a more extensive history done by taped interview . Georgia Macguire can be reached during the winter months in St. Paul at (651) 690-1730.
Let's get our histories recorded as a gift to future generations!
by Ann Beaver
ONE FAMILY'S (LUNDBORG/LARSON) HISTORY ON THE CULLENS
Three of Samuel Lundborg's siblings were looking to buy land in the Nisswa area back in 1908 and move north from the Belle Plaine area of Minnesota. They could have bought a parcel that extended west and south from present day Highways 371 and 77 to the shore of Gull Lake. However, that area wasn't wild enough for them. Instead, they bought the property between Upper and Middle Cullen Lakes from the channel west half a mile to
what was then a cranberry swamp. The two brothers and one sister cleared the land and established a farm and tree nursery.
However, they did not own the land between them and the public road, and they worried about one day being cut off. Their brother, Samuel, came to their rescue by buying the land east of the channel from the railroad in order to guarantee them road access. At that time had no intention of settling there (he lived in Pennsylvania), although there was a small cabin on the land, built by a trapper and his Native American wife in the 1850s or 60s. After the purchase, Samuel returned to Pennsylvania where he and his brother-in-law had a jewelry store.
His situation changed, though, and in 1923, Samuel brought his wife and young daughter, Margaret, to Minnesota. They settled in Brainerd, where Samuel established a jewelry store. The family lived behind the store, and they built a small cottage on their Middle Cullen property, where they spent time in the summer.
The Middle Cullen property was, at that time, nothing but sand with a few small trees around the cottage. This "sand bar" extended from the wetlands on the north along the entire east shore of Middle Cullen. Little by little, Samuel, his family, and his brothers planted the upland area with white pines and other trees that were "spares" from the Lundborg Nursery to the west. They planted the lowland areas with plum trees and enjoyed their bounty for years. When the plum trees began to die, they planted spruce and white pines in their place.
The Upper Cullen property was mostly meadow, with wetland areas along the lake. The Lundborg brothers cut the grasses as bedding for the cows and horses and then burned off the meadow each spring. When they stopped this practice, the meadow quickly filled in with native plants, shrubs, and trees.
In the 1930s, a friend of Samuel's from Pennsylvania wrote him saying he had lost his job and couldn't find another . Samuel sent him a train ticket to come to Minnesota. The friend needed a place to live, so Samuel let him build a small log cabin on his property. The tiny cabin still stands, in good shape, on the property today.
Margaret Lundborg worked in the jewelry store, alongside her parents, from the very start back in 1923, even though she was just a youngster. In 1942, when Samuel died, Margaret took over the business. She married Harry Larson in 1946. After living in Brainerd for 14 years, they built a house on the Middle Cullen property in 1960 and moved to the lake. Harry died in 1966, leaving Margaret to once again run Lundborg Jewelry Store on her own. She expanded the jewelry store to include china, and she continued to run it until 1990, when she sold it and retired.
Among Margaret's many photographs is the one which shows a former well known landmark for hunters and anglers -- a 36 "room" martin house -- located where the public access is today. When people were disoriented or lost on the lakes, once they spotted the martin house they knew exactly where they were.
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by Mary L. Hawkins
HISTORY OF PINE ACRES ON LOWER CULLEN
For 54 years, Pine Acres on Lower Cullen Lake has been our family¹s second home. In June, 1948 my husband, Ernest W. Keisling, and I, with three children, Bill (11), Jacqueline (7) and Teresa (6 months), purchased Pine Acres Resort from Otto and Ruby Bosch and moved in the week of July 4th. Otto managed a hotel in Illinois, while Ruby ran the resort with a lodge and seven cabins. Ruby, a.k.a. ³The Chicago Blonde², had vacationers who fished little but enjoyed the night life she provided in the lodge. Having a family, it was quite a job to honor her reservations and we soon informed the Brainerd, Nisswa and Pequot Lakes Chambers that we wanted families as our guests.
Through the years, we had nice friendly families and our children made a point of making friends and planning activities with them, whether they particularly liked them or not, because I told them their hospitality was their ³bread and butter². We took movies of everyone and then showed them when the guests returned the following year.
The children did a lot of work at the resort. Bill cleaned boats, collected and delivered wood, took the ice to the ice boxes in the cabins, dug and sold worms to the fishermen, cleaned their fish, and also served as a fishing guide. Jackie helped with the boat cleaning, cabin cleaning, ran the linens through the Mangle for pressing, took over the worm patch and fish cleaning when Bill got older, and sold groceries, pop, and ice cream in the store. As soon as Teri turned four years old, it was her job to listen for my whistle, then bring the cart to the cabin, pick up the bed linen, rugs, etc., take them to the laundry house and sort them for Monday¹s wash.
We were told that a colonel bought the property in the late 1920s and built a lodge and four cabins. They served meals in the lodge, which had a beautiful fireplace made from the large stones gathered on the shore of Lower Cullen Lake.
Mary Brockhouse owned the resort in the 1930s, added three more cabins and served meals. This was substantiated, by mistake, as I was scrubbing the lodge floor and accidentally snagged a corner of a panel which opened up under the stairs and there I discovered a large set of dishes, a six slice toaster, large iron frying pans and pots, and checkered tablecloths. We were also told that Indians and traders dealt with furs at the highest point of the land called ³High Point² where there were stone tables and benches.
We had many activities at the resort, such as ³Get Acquainted Night² for the adults, movie night with popcorn and pop for children and interested adults, midnight swimming for teenagers, with sloppy joes and hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, trips for the ladies to gift shops around Gull Lake that served tea and held style shows, besides the beautiful gardens we enjoyed.
My husband, Ernie, had a serious heart problem and in 1959, we hired a school teacher and family to manage the resort, but soon learned they were vacationers and not managers. Business fell off with many complaints from our regular families.
In 1960, Ernie and Teri took over the resort and, having a job in Minneapolis, I drove up each weekend to help clean and do laundry. By
September, 1960, that was enough; so we asked Martin Johnson, a realtor in Nisswa, to have the lots surveyed (the cabins all face the lake) and sell them individually, rather than as a resort. He didn¹t believe this was a good idea, but started advertising. Torrance and Emily Bergstrom purchased the first cabin in October of 1960. Bert Beaver and his son, Tom, bought two cabins (#3 and #4) in October 1961, and Jackie and her husband, Dick, purchased small cabin #6. The remaining cabins, except for a small cabin (#5) to the east of the lodge, were all sold by 1966. Teri and I drove up weekends to join Ernie in the remodeled cabin #5. Ernie¹s brother, Lenny, had purchased the lodge and many of the Keislings were coming up for the July 4, 1965, weekend. While Ernie was mowing Lenny¹s lawn for the weekend, he suffered a heart attack. The Bergstroms, coming home from town, saw him and called 911. Lil Beaver administered first aid to him until the
ambulance arrived, but he was pronounced dead on arrival at the Brainerd hospital.
In 1967, cabin #5 was sold to Les and Bernice Loomer. At that time, I purchased 60 feet of lakeshore from Lenny, between the lodge and the first cabin. After Fritz Hawkins and I married in 1968, we hired a contractor who found an old time carpenter at $5 an hour, a plumber, and an electrician to build a two bedroom cabin on the lot. Fritz and a son-in-law, Clayton Woelfel, did the finishing work and we officially moved in 1971.
Bill and Lorraine, who live in Arizona, and Jackie and family, who live in Montana, enjoy the cabin every year. Teri, who lives in Maple Grove, uses the cabin whenever possible throughout the season. Now, all three own their second home with me, since Fritz suffered a major stroke and passed away on August 29, 2000.
There have been many changes since 1948: modernizing the cottages; improvements in Nisswa and Pequot Lakes; more restaurants; Bar Harbor moving to the other side of the road (without slot machines); condos at Breezy Point; additional golf courses; the dance hall across Lower Cullen Lake is now the Nisswa Legion Club; wider highways; larger boats and pontoons; and the main lodge demolished for a new year round home.
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UPDATED August 1, 2002
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