Lake Lillian History with Stories and Photos
of a small rural town
in Kandiyohi County Minnesota

Revised October 2019

This site began in 2002 to advertise for my Gauer Family Reunion and has evolved over time to include pioneer articles of interest to others with roots in Lake Lillian. Recent focus has evolved to include articles of My Mothers family with roots in Tromsø Norway and Dalarna Sweden.

Most of the early settlers near Lake Lillian were from Norway and Sweden. The first Norwegians from Tromsø, Norway arrived in 1864. Swedish settlers came from Gagnef, Dalarna, Sweden starting in 1869.

Material is added to this site from time to time. The site contains at least 81 stories or albums to explore.

Check for recent additions on the whats new / notes log. Watch for more pioneer stories soon.

Introduction to my Gauer Family History

My name is Gary Gauer and I have a collection of data on our family hist ory and am in search of more. This branch of the Gauer family stems from my Great Grandfather Mathias Gauer and Elizabeth Graf originally from Switzerland. They raised a family of 3 in Center Township, Dubuque County, Iowa. Their first child was Elizabeth born in 1858, then Mary in about 1862 and then (my grandpa) Mathias born in 1864.

My Grandfather Mathias left Dubuque County and married my Grandmother Magdalena Finger in Grundy County, Iowa in 1893.

Matt and Lena started a large family and moved in 1900 to continue farming in East Lake Lillian Township in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota. Matt and Lena both died young in 1923 leaving eight survivors. These 8 all married and had familys so that I am one of 42 cousins. My dad, Otto, was born in 1909 and died in 1970.

Gauer Reunions

The Gauer Reunion has been held every year usually on the second Sunday in August from 1930 to 2018 in or near Kandiyohi County, Minnesota.

It was not held in 2019 but we are hopeful to schedule a reunion in 2020. It needs to be larger and more than a 3 hour pot luck affair.

It might be the last one and / or with some planning help it could be much more with registration, a tour of the area, catered meal, a history talk or ? There is some interest from the Montana branch of the family.


The 88th annual reunion was on Sunday August 12, 2018 at Independence Place, 1400 Willmar Ave SE, in Willmar MN

Go to the Reunion Photos page for pictures and detail of recent and early reunions.


About 130 postcard reminders are sent out each year. Let me know if you want one.

More Lake Lillian Family Stories
written or collected by
LaVonne Bomsta Hookom

My name is LaVonne Bomsta Hookom, oldest daughter of Wilton and Eleanor Bomsta.  We lived three miles north of Lake Lillian on a dairy farm.  We worshipped at Tromso Lutheran Church before the new church was built in town and the name was changed to Grace Lutheran. We attended school at District #43 and rode the bus to Atwater High School. 

In 1985 my husband and I traveled to Europe with a stop in Norway. We knew that we had to go back someday and track down our ancestral homes.  This was the beginning of our genealogy work, constantly looking for more names, dates, farm places and stories.  My siblings and I regret that we didn’t record our grandparents as they sat around the table or out in the yard sharing the local history.  My grandfather lived with us and was considered to be a local historian. We had the information at our finger tips but I guess we thought they would be with us forever.  We learned from this mistake and started compiling my parent’s life story.

Both of my parents have ancestors from Balsfjord and surrounding region who were with the Tromsø group to settle in Lake Lillian.  They also have other early Lake Lillian settlers in their lineage.   I will post a Pedigree chart for both of them to illustrate their family connections.  My dad always lived on his farm until the last few months of his life when he needed more care.  My mother was born near Cosmos, moved to several farms and finally her parents ended up in Litchfield. As a child, I went with Grandpa Henning and also Grandpa and Grandma Halverson as they visited people around Lake Lillian. At the time I did not know they were my relatives!  I love going down “Memory Lane” and I hope you enjoy reading about my family.

I would like to thank Gary Gauer for providing space on his website to honor our early settlers at Lake Lillian.  They played an important part in our history, made great sacrifices, built farm buildings, schools and churches.  They worked very hard to make a better life for their families.  Watch this site grow as more stories and pictures are added. LaVonne Bomsta Hookom, November 2016.

Anders Anderson Reunion

The reunions are held every 5 years. One was held in Tromsø Norway in 2014. Read about that in the 2014 story of our trip to Sweden and Norway. We were thrilled to attend along with 60 people from the United States.

Another was in Willmar July 18th - 21st , 2019. Attendance was 340 coming from 19 states and included 24 from Norway and Sweden.

They came to honor the pioneer families who came to the Lake Lillian area beginning 155 years ago, in 1864.. For many years, those in Tromsø knew about Lake Lillian and maybe New York City. My Grandmother came 36 years later in 1900.

Many people worked on plans to make this a very memorable event with headquarters at the Willmar Convention Center. Bus tours were set up to visit the area of Lake Lillian and also to visit historic sites in the county associated with the Indian uprising of 1862. I presented a historical talk at the United Lutheran Church when the LL area bus tours stopped there.