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

This site began in 2002 to advertise for my Gauer Family Reunion and has evolved over time to include articles of interest to others with roots in Lake Lillian.

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

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. See my Introduction below.

Material is added to this site from time to time. 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 history 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 Annual Gauer Reunion has been held every year usually on the second Sunday in August since 1930 in or near Kandiyohi County, Minnesota.


The 88th annual reunion will be on Sunday August 12, 2018 at or near Willmar MN

The most recent reunion was attended by 26 people on Sunday, August 13, 2017, at Rice Care Center in Willmar.

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.

Anders Anderson Reunion

This reunion was last 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. The next one is planned to be in Willmar during July 18th - 21st, 2019. We expect many from Norway will come.

 Revised August 30 2017