posted by Gary Gauer November 2023

Added LL population data and chart May 2024

aerial view

LL census

Lake Lillian Timeline and Sources 1923- 2023

Many people over the years have written stories about the history of Lake Lillian. This is a tribute to them and is a list of events and sources that I have found interesting.

Old newspapers of the nearby towns of Willmar, Atwater and Bird Island are on microfilm at the Minnesota History Center in St Paul and collections at the Kandiyohi County Historical Society. They are good sources for review of the history of Lake Lillian.

In 1988 and 1990, Wendell Lundquist, 1929 -2003, researched newspapers to report, copy articles, and publish his Lake Lillian History entitled "The Anderson Sisters." Wendell used 8 .5 x 11 sheets to a total of 568 pages in 3 volumes and self-published them in soft cover with plastic bindings. The volumes are complete through 1938.

Lake Lillian Newspapers

The "Lake Lillian Echo" was published for a short time in 1926.

Our weekly newspaper , named the "Lake Lillian Crier" started in 1949 and had a 40 year run.

Editor-owner when years
Glen Johnson 1949 12
Richard Higgin Mar 1961 11
Dennis Baker Aug 1972 17
ended dec 1989 total 40


Kathy Summerlet Nelson (1937 - 2013) worked for the Lake Lillian Crier, the Cosmos Sun and the Atwater Herald newspapers, Baker Publishing of Spicer and Petterson Electric of Lake Lillian. She compiled the following items for years 1949 - 1980:

1949 Friday, May 6
Glen Johnson published the first issue of the "Lake Lillian Crier". The first issue was eight pages (full size), four of which consisted of ready print. The Crier converted to tab size in November of 1951 and back to full size in August of 1968
Lake Lillian will have Waterworks. The results of the February election were 146 votes cast; 125 for, 20 against, with one spoiled ballot.
In May, the name for the new Lake Lillian Theatre was chosen as "Lakeside " Theatre.
The Lake Lillian Farmers Elevator was destroyed by fire in May. The estimated loss was approximately $130,000.
Vernor C. Johnson accepts the call as pastor to First Lutheran Church in November. He will begin his duties in February of 1952.
Lois Linn, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Linn, won the County Spelling Contest in Willmar in April.
The Clem Huebsch barn was destroyed by a windstorm in June. Mr. Huebsch was pinned under the wreckage for some time.
Fire damaged the Flann Hardware early Sunday morning in January. Approximately $20,000 damage was done according to Alton Olson, Fire Chief.
In July, a?new fire truck was delivered to Lake Lillian.
Plans are underway in July to purchase the Funeral Home now owned by the Building Corporation of Lake Lillian.
Excavation began in August on the new school in Lake Lillian.
I. T. Coil retired after 33 years of service to the postal service in March.
The Clarence Lund barn was destroyed by winds of 75 miles per hour in July.
Mayers Meat Market held its grand opening in February following a fire and a complete remodeling.
In September, Polio vaccine was administered at the school in Lake Lillian.
A new dial system will go into effect in March for the Minnesota Central Telephone.
Lake Lillian now has a father son team as barbers. They are Elton and Norman Erickson.
Harry Hawkins received an honorable service award for 39 years as mail carrier in June.
In July, the dedication of the new St. Thomas More Catholic Church was held.
Lake Lillian has the highest percent in the County for Blood donations with 108 donations last week.
Property damage was high in Lake Lillian as a twister struck the town in May.
H.L. Jacobson resigned as local bank cashier effective in July.
Three cars of the Minnesota Western derailed near Thorpe in November.
William Wallenta and William Wittman had a narrow escape in March when their car plunged through the ice on Big Kandiyohi Lake into 11 feet of water.
The Lake Lillian Crier was sold to Richard Higgin in March.
Glen R. Johnson was sworn in as State Savings Bond director in January.
Karen Ackman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Ackman, was crowned Region V Dairy Princess in June
Mrs. Delia Bjur closed her small rug factory in March.?? A new 1,000-gallon tank truck was added to the Lake Lillian Fire Department in June
A Centennial celebration is planned in Lake Lillian in conjunction with Appreciation Day in August.
Grace Lutheran Church dedicated their?new Sunday School addition in April.
The St. Patrick's Day storm was the worst in many years in our area in March. The Lake Lillian Creamery patrons received a new service with the delivery of a new bulk truck in May
A new municipal liquor store will be housed in the old meat market.
The old Strom Store is being remodeled for the opening by Byron Nielson
Railroad to curtail service to Cosmos, Lake Lillian and Blomkest.
C&C proposed re organization of the Lake Lillian School District.
WCCO named H. L. Jacobson to "Good Neighbor" Award.
The Railroad petitioned for abandonment.
Bird Island Lake Lillian school consolidation plat to be filed. Voters get third chance to form new school district in October.
Bird Island consolidation approved by voters in January. Lake Lillian Creamery does over $1 million in business during 1969.
Francis Whetston purchased the Lake Lillian Garage from Kenneth Petterson in April.
In July, Byron Nielson sold the Lake Lillian Recreation to Robert Hovland.
Lake Lillian is eligible for 80 % sanitary sewer grant.
Fire destroyed the local Grocery store, Erickson's Store, along with the Barber Shop in January.
Richard Higgin sold the Cosmos Sun and the Lake Lillian Crier to Dennis Baker of the Atwater Herald.
Gary Fuchs, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Fuchs, is the 1973 FFA Star Agri Business winner.
Tyrone and Sue Helland opened the Lake Lillian Super Foods in July.
Waldo Johnson took over the ownership of the Lake Lillian Lumber Company from Alton Olson in January.
Lyle Portinga was hired as manager of the Lake Lillian Elevator in November.
The worst blizzard in 35 years hit the Lake Lillian area and the entire state of Minnesota.
Duane Socwell purchased the Lake Lillian Welding Shop from Mel Mason in April.
The Jaycee 'Chapter was formed with Mike Flann as president.
Don BolI was named the Lake Lillian Jaycee Outstanding Young Farmer,
Dan Nordin was ordained at Grace Lutheran Church in July. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Chester Nordin.
Bill Seehusen was given a gold watch for 25 years of service to the Lake Lillian Elevator.
In March, the City Council moved to proceed with plans to blacktop the city Streets.
Lake Lillian purchased a new ambulance in April.
Streets were renamed in Lake Lillian.
Ruth Horns was honored for 34 years of teaching in May.
The Bird Island Lake Lillian Panthers won the State Basketball Championship in March.
Bill Pehrson purchased the Lake Lillian Super Foods. from Ty Helland in June.

Above by Kathy We need a review of the Crier from 1981 through 1989

1984 May 11
The Elevator Explosion caused severe burn injuries. 2 died and 4 others survived . The concrete elevator structure survived. The damaged equipment was replaced.
1989 December
Last issue of the Crier at the end of a 40-year run

Some More events to remember

Grace Lutheran Church building was completed in Lake Lillian . The newly named Congregation had previously been known as the Tromso Norsk Evangeliske Kirken and was located along County Road 8 North of the Lake
The Lakeside Theater had movable seats to allow Roller skating. Eventually the building became a bowling alley before its current use as The Horseshoe Bar
February 16, the new slip-formed concrete elevator was open for business. A fire destroyed the core buildings of the Hemp plant. The plant had been converted from processing hemp fiber to dehydrating alfalfa for feed
2 young men, Dean Lundquist and Aldine Erickson died in a car accident. St Thomas Moore Catholic Church built up over its lower level.
First Lutheran built an addition to the lower level and a new front entry.
June 1 Art and Dorothy Wittman bought Franks Place, and renamed it the Red Star. They had previously operated the tavern now known as Don and Dees until 1962. The Red Star was later owned by Gary and Patti Wittman.
The 50th Anniversary issue of Lake Lillian had many historical articles in the Crier
September Lucky Horseshoe is opened by Don and Gary Wittman in the former theater / bowling building. Bernie and Vonna Laugen operated a Super Club in the building for a time. Leverne "Gilly" Gilhoi had heart transplant Jan 1977 and died Mar 77
Last classes at the 1955 school
Last service at the Methodist Church
1987 June 20
Auction, and end of the Ford Garage business of Dale Johnson, son of Wm R.
December Last issue of the Crier
1992 July 1
The Lake Lillian News started as a monthly newsletter operated by volunteers and it is ongoing at 31 years as of the LL centennial in 2023.
Food Garage was opened by Dennis Jacobson in the former Ford Garage.
United Lutheran additions complete for the merged congregations of Grace and First Lutheran
2013 Sep 23
K&M Liquor Store Fire damage
2017 Sep 11
Food / Ford Garage Destroyed by fire
Lake Lillian Centennial Celebration

More timeline happenings?

You may know of many other events or business ventures such as the Flann Feed Service or the winery that should be added to this listing. Let me know what and when so they can be included in a future edition.

Sources in my collection

1958: A book called "Round Robin of Kandiyohi Centennial Year 1858 - 1958" was privately published by Karl and Helen Thurn and contains a section of Lake Lillian by Vernor C Johnson

1964: The Orange booklet "The First 100 Years 186 - 1964". Was issued by the Lake Lillian Civic and Commerce and is now posted on my website,

1970: "The Centennial History of Kandiyohi County Minnesota" covers the period from 1870 to 1970 and includes some of the history previously published in in the 1906 "Illustrated History of Kandiyohi County."

1976: An article in the West Central Tribune featured Lake Lillian in a series of stories entitled "Brief Histories of Our West Central Towns" by Ron Drevlow

1982: Muriel Madsen and Lenore Magnuson wrote some LL history: "Lake Lillian Makes Tracks Toward its Sixtieth Year" for the Kandiyohi County Historical Society Published in the September 1982 issue of "Kandi Express."

Sometime before 1986 and after 1980: A Brochure "Lake Lillian, Welcome to our city ,in the heart of rich farmland on Minnesota Highway No. 7" featured a list of businesses and an outline map of the area with a numbered list headed Places of Historical interest.

1986: "Lake Lillian Minnesota Our Hometown" was published by First State Marketing Corp.. Affiliate of First State Bank.

2006: An article by Carolyn Lange in the West Central Tribune: "Chimney overlooking Lake Lillian offers a glimpse into the past."
Some information about the Hemp plant was credited to Billie Scott, a local Historian.

2006: "Looking Back, Kandiyohi County, The Early Years" was presented by West Central Tribune and Kandiyohi County Historical Society It is well done book with text and many photos with captions.

2011: Glen Johnson's book : "A Matter of Trust Taking a $2 Stock To $140,000.The Personal Memoirs of GLEN R. JOHNSON." He was Born May 2 1929 and Died August 1 2016. He started the Lake Lillian Crier when he was 20 years old and became the most successful man born and raised in Lake Lillian.

Another book not in my collection:

1994: "Where Buffalo Fish Abound" A pictorial History of Kandiyohi County by the Kandiyohi County Historical Society

Family History books: The Gauer Family, The Flann Family, The Hanson Family and The Erick Larson Family with sections also of the Solomonson Family and the Mathiasen Family.

The Minnesota Digital Library is online and includes articles of Kandiyohi County photos, WW1, and plat maps of 1886 and 1900.

So what events were important to fill in the dash between 1864 and 2023 ? What events can you add to this article?