pages 476-478

Henry L. Gaylord, of Fertile, a prominent pioneer of Polk county is widely known through the many interests of his busy career as lawyer, real estate dealer and farmer.  He is a native of Minnesota, born at Rockville, Stearns county, November 15, 1857, the son of L.P. and Lida Gaylord, who came from Connecticut to St. Anthony Falls in 1855 and shortly afterward removed to Rockville, where L.P. Gaylord operated the mill and postoffice and owned some six hundred acres of land.  The Sioux outbreak of 1862 caused him to seek safety for his family at St. Cloud and he later sold the land in Stearns county and for a number of years was employed as a lumber scaler by Bridgeman, making his home in Minneapolis for eight years.  In 1877 he came to Red Lake Falls, then in Polk county and took a homestead four miles west of the town, in Louisville township, where he was actively associated with the organization of community affairs and served in various local offices.  Later he lived for a number of years in California, returning to Polk county to spend the last years of his life with his son, in Fertile, where his death occurred in 1901, in his eighty-second year.  Two sons, William O. Gaylord and Henry L. Gaylord, are both residents of Minnesota, the former being a farmer in Beltrami county, having formerly been an employee in the courthouse at Minneapolis.

H.L. Gaylord came to Crookston as a young man of twenty years and as his first business venture, secured a contract with the Great Northern railroad for cutting cord wood, supplying them with some five hundred cords for engine use.  The proceeds from his work enabled him to purchase a yoke of oxen and establish his farming activities and in 1882 he located on a homestead in Liberty township [transcriber’s note: Township 147 West, Range 45 North, 5th Prime Meridian], where he was one of the first settlers, Pat Connery and Christian Sankey being the only previous residents, the latter having been the first to file on a claim in that township.  Mr. Gaylord built a log house for his family and spent six prosperous years on the place, during which he erected good buildings and put one hundred and sixty acres under cultivation and stocked his farm with a large herd of cattle. 

But ambition directed his attention to other fields.  The goal which his childhood’s wishes had fixed for his manhood’s career was the practice of law and native determination and industry brought him victory over the restricted advantages and seemingly discouraging circumstances which attended his desire.  During the years spent on the farm he secured law books from John Bottineau of Minneapolis and through his own efforts fitted himself for admittance to the bar and for practice in all the courts.  During the earlier years of his life this latent ambition and ability had led his instigation of the organization of a number of debating societies in private homes and school houses and such a club was started by him in Fertile.  Mr. Gaylord is notably associated with the history of Fertile, as the man who had charge of the sale of the lots when the town site was put on the market in 1888.  The town was laid out by J.B. Holmes, of Minneapolis, who then sold the site to James M. Payne, a town site owner of Carlton, Minnesota, and Mr. Gaylord was made the local agent. 

In the first week fifty lots were sold.  The first building was erected by John LaDue, who removed his store from the old town of Fertile, which he had started some years previous, about a mile south, and Fritz Barholz also moved his hotel to the present site of the Fertile House.  Other pioneer merchants were A. L. Middleton,  Orpheim & Nelson and Mr. Gilmore.  The law and real estate office of Mr. Gaylord was the fourth building to be erected on Main street.  Mr. Gaylord began the practice of law before the justice of the peace, while still living on his farm and served as a justice of peace for fourteen years.  From the experiences of the early days he recounts many amusing instances of legal procedure, among which was the granting of a decree of divorce by a justice of peace in Norman county, and recalls a case which he settled out of court by refusing a search warrant to a man who claimed that a sum of money had been taken from him in a saloon and instead searched the man, discovered the missing funds in the plaintiff's shoes. 

His principal opponent in these days was Mr. J. Walsnuff.  Other members of the profession, who have since moved away, where Edward Titus, now an attorney in Minneapolis, and Thomas Keith.  For twelve years, Mr. Gaylord was associated in his professional interests with Judge Watts, during which time Mr. Watts gave his attention to the business in Crookston and Mr. Gaylord remained in Fertile.  They were easily recognized as among the most able in this section and stood at the head of the profession in their activities in the courts, having as many as eighty-five cases on the calendar for one term.  They engaged in numerous criminal cases and always successfully established their retainers’ cause.  The association was dissolved upon the election of Mr. Watts as judge and Mr. Gaylord has since continued the practice of law in the office which he opened in Fertile in 1893. 

A number of the important cases in whi8ch he has been interested have involved disputed titles to land and his practice has included cases in the Supreme court, in one of which the sustaining of his contention that it was illegal for a justice of peace to change venue to a justice of peace in an adjoining township not adjoining the village, resulted in a state law.   Aside from the many accomplishments of his legal career, Mr. Gaylord has engaged extensively in the real estate business, retained an active interest in his farm and for the last five years, has engaged in the mercantile business, operating a general store in Fertile.  As a real estate dealer, he has handled on of the largest businesses in the county making a sales record of one week’s sales of fifty quarter sections of land.  In Fertile he has built some thirteen buildings among which is on of the first brick structures. 

He has given particular attention of the raising of potatoes in his agricultural enterprise and has taken three hundred bushels from the acre, raising a crop of ten thousand bushels.  In all phases of public affairs his career has been marked by loyal service and able support of the best interests of the community and as a member of the school board he was influential in securing the present splendid organization of the public school system.  He is a member of the Republican party and has ever been an active worker in political circles.  His fraternal affiliations are with the Masons and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  Mr. Gaylord has been twice married, his first union was to Laura M. Briggs of Minneapolis, in 1875, and two sons were born to this marriage; Harry O., who lives in Grand Forks, and George, who is a barber at Park River, North Dakota.  In 1907 Mr. Gaylord was married to Kasper Aggerness, of Fertile and they have six children, Christina, Henrietta, Lida, Belle, Henry and Harriet Beecher.

submitted Jan 20, 2003 Jon Raymond - please contact him for more information

SOURCE: Compendium of History and Biography of Polk County, Minnesota, Major R.I.
Holcombe, Historical Editor; William H. Bingham, General Editor; W.H. Bingham
And Company, Minneapolis, Minn.; 1916; reprinted by Higginson Book Company;
Salem Massachusetts; (book no longer copyrighted)
Library of Congress control number 16009966
This book can be ordered from Borders Book Store or from Higginson.
Both companies have web sites.  The cost is about $70
and well worth the price.


Source:  Information from "Fertile: Hub of the Sand Hill Valley"

**speaking about the 1880's - "Settlers on the tract of land which became the original township of Fertile were H. L. Gaylord, attorney...." (p. 7)
**"Henry L. Gaylord, lawyer, real estate agent and farmer, who was the third settler in Liberty Twp, in 1882, was in charge of the sale of lots when the original townsite (Fertile) was put on the market in 1881.  He sold 50 lots in the first week." (p.14)

**"The law office of Hl. L. Gaylord was the 4th building to be erected in Fertile.  It was located between the Fertile House and the old Village Hall in the area of where Gambles stands today." (p.14)

**Page 28 has a photo of the 6th-9th grade boys in school, including a George Gaylord.

**Page 34 says in speaking about St. Joseph's Catholic Church: "Henry Gaylord, a Protestant, donated the lot on which the church was built."

**Page 36 - W. L. Gaylord is listed as receiving mail at the Fertile Post Office in 1903.

**Page 82 - "Caspara Aagnenes Lee's husband died.  In 1907 she married Henry L. Gaylord, Fertile's first lawyer, who also had a store.  He had three children by his first wife, Laura M. Briggs.  Henry and Caspara had six children: Christina, Henrietta, Lida, Belle, Henry and Harriet.  She died in 1918 and Mr. Gaylord married his third wife, Minnie Peters, and they had 8 children."

**Page 86 has a quote from the June 22, 1939 Fertile Journal. "A Father at 83: A son was born in the morning of June 14 to Mr. and mrs. Henry L. Gaylord, and is reported to be a healthy, husky chap.  The father, veteran local attorney, is 83 years old and has been married three times.  The new baby is his 18th child, 7 of them being by the present Mrs. Gaylord, who is 40 years old.  Three children by his first wife have pased away, twin girls dying in infancy and a son, harry, dying at the age of 56 years.  Mr. Gaylord has 12 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren all of whom are older than his youngest child.  Mr. Gaylor came to this community over 61 years ago and has seen Fertile develop from a prarie settlement to the thriving village it is today."

submitted by March 2004


Source:  "Garfield, the first 100 Years"

**page 9 lists H. L. Gaylord as a Justice of the Peace, 1887-1888.

** page 21 talks about the town possibly named after Fertile, Iowa, where the LaDue family was from.  It then says, "Johannes Rongen and H. L. Gaylord also came from Fertile, Iowa."

submitted by March 2004



Interested in local history?  Lived here most of your life?  Studied, discussed and heard a lot about East Grand Forks?  Okay, you can recall a period in East Grand Forks history when there were no Gorman’s?

Hardly, for the Gorman Family arrived here in 1881, well over a year before the Village of East Grand Forks (or Nashville as it was first called) was even incorporated.  And, the family has been in the cabinet building business from those early beginnings right up to today.

Gorman Cabinets-Home Center, 2105 Central Avenue NW, is observing its centennial year during 1981.

While the scope of this family company’s business has broadened considerably, as East Grand Forks has grown over the past 100 years, the construction of quality cabinets continues as a major phase of that business.

As busy as conscientious and competitive retailers have to be in these days of high taxes, costly overhead and inflation-driven prices, the Gorman family has not had a lot of time to dwell on the milestone anniversary – 100 years in the same business in the same community – as they probably would have preferred.
Like their forefathers, the present business operators – Mike and Nancy Gorman, their sons, Steve and David, daughters-in-law, and employees – had the spirit to pioneer themselves into something new and are in the throes of establishing their new Hiway 220 North locale and in the newest phase of their business – hardware store keyed to the “home center” concept.

Steve Gorman, who brought the Gorman’s Hardware into the “home center” concept, says it is essentially aimed at the homeowner who wants to or is at least willing to try to become a do-it-yourself caretaker and wants help and guidance, as well equipment and supplies, from a central source.

In addition, he or she wants this central source to have supplies and equipment on hand and guidance available for tackling the whole gamut of home maintenance and renovation, including furniture, floor coverings, lawn and garden care and exterior as well as interior building care.  The concept calls for a more capable and patient staff and a much broader stocking pattern than had been necessary in the more traditional hardware store or lumber yard.

When Steve began those services in February 1976, it was the first firm to do so in an extensive region of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

It was in 1973 that Gormans began a series of moves of various phases of their business to their present site.  They were among the first local businesses to locate out on Minnesota Hiway 220 North and were in fact outside the city limits when they made the move of their counter-top construction and cabinet building operations into a 60-by-175 foot building they erected.

The only other businesses in the area at that time were Valley Lumber, Hoffert Motor Service, Inc., Troyer Manufacturing and Midwest Bag Warehouse.
“Counter-top” construction is a pioneering effort by the Gormans that paid off.  Mike devised his own press and bending machine for shaping laminated formica material in the early 1960’s.  Gorman’s was the only manufacturer of those tops between Seattle, Wash., and Minneapolis-St. Paul.  Under Dave Gorman’s guidance now, it is one of the very few manufacturers of formica counter-tops in the multi-state region.

Mike recalls, “My father, Frank, though he kept telling me formica was a flash-in-the-pan material that would soon lose its popularity, still encouraged me to follow through with my own convictions in this matter.”

In the spring of 1974, Gorman’s responded to a void in the community – no local hardware store – caused by urban renewal beginnings in downtown East Grand Forks.  They entered the hardware business full tilt and associated with the Our Own Hardware chain.

Though the hardware store operation was started at Gorman’s downtown location (site of the present city library), Mike and Steve say they sensed in 1975 that the urban renewal changes being made in the downtown area – especially the closing of one block of DeMers Avenue for the Holiday Mall – had created such major changes in traffic patterns that they would be forced to move all of their business operations.

In 1975, they began construction of a 20,000 –square-foot addition to their Minnesota 220 North building and moved all business phases there in the spring of 1976.

“We had found that accessibility to us for the general public has improved immeasurably out here,” Steve recounts.  “First, for our rural area customers.  And now, after we have been here awhile and the city has grown as it has around us and to the north, more and more local customers, as well, appreciate this location on a main highway artery and in an area where front-door parking can still be taken for granted.”

Steve and Mike note that Gormans continues to enjoy a long-standing reputation in rural areas for quality work in the cabinet building trade, built up through many years of workmanship.  Business records reflect that they still serve a good number of rural and small town customers throughout a 75-mile radius, stretching from Thief River Falls on the east to Devils Lake, Cavalier and Hillsboro in North Dakota.

For several years in the 1950s and 1960s, when East Grand Forks was enjoying its heaviest population growth, Gorman’s did a lot of work for home building contractors, Mike and Steve remember.  “Today, with more and more homeowners, conscious of keeping their property in good repair and of the cost advantages remodeling and renovating have over new home construction, and are becoming do-it-yourself enthusiasts, more of our business is tending toward servicing individuals,” according to Steve.  The growth in the residential development of north side East Grand Forks has proved a plus for them in this regard.

And the commercial developments along Highway 220 North has provided further support for the wisdom of their move.  Today, Highway 220 North (Central Avenue North) includes three bank and saving-and-loan offices, three dining establishments, a major grocery supermarket, a used car dealer, a farm equipment manufacturer, two insurance offices, a mobile home dealer, an appliance store, a veterinarian, a laundromat, two mortuaries, a bar and a lumber yard, plus the East Grand Forks AVTI.

During the 1870’s, there had been an immigration of consider numbers of Canadians of Scotch and Irish descent into Polk County to homestead.  Many of them congregate in what became known as the Marais Community, located near what eventually became the Village of Mallory.

“The Album of Biography of the Red River Valley of the North and Park Regions,” published in 1899, states in part: “A large percentage of the most enterprising and valuable citizens which make up the population of the Red River Valley consists of Canadians.  They are a race proverbial for their integrity, industry, and enterprise and the remarkably rapid growth and development of the famous Red River Regions is due, to a large extent, to these traits of its citizens,”

Michael Gorman did a lot of cabinet work.  This specialization was carried on by his son Frank after his death, Mike says, recalling family history about the paternal grandfather he was named after.

Mike recalls his paternal grandmother was a wonderful, red-headed Irish woman who lived until 1927 in a house where Henry Tweten’s law office stands today.  But, he is frustrated because he cannot remember her given name.  “All we ever called her was Grandma,” he recalls.

Frank Gorman, son of the first Michael and father of his namesake, worked as a youth with his Dad to get his training in Carpentry.  Later, he worked for several years with Al Noyes in a variety of carpentry tasks.  These included building false fronts over slot machines in tavern basements, and constructing walk-in coolers for taverns that were some of the finest examples of woodworking in the region.

Born in 1882, Frank had five brothers – Fred, his twin, Jim and John, the family’s second set of twins; and William and Patrick.  He had four sisters – Ida, Etta, Bertha and Margaret.

Frank was the son who assumed full control of the carpentry and cabinet business his father had started.  He had John G. Turner as an employee for awhile and then returned to working by himself in 1926 or 1927, concentrating on fine cabinet making and sash and door work, Mike remembers hearing about his father’s early days.

Frank’s first location when he returned to working on his own was on the corner where Valley Queen Laundry and Cleaners now stands.

The stock market crash that helped trigger the Great Depression of the 1930s occurred in October 1928, but Frank Gorman persisted with the business through those years and, in 1937, moved his shop downtown at 205 2nd Street NW, about where the present America Legion Post is now.  An addition was built there in 1940.

Frank’s wife was the former Cora Jeffrey, who was born and raised on a farm about six miles south of the then city limits in The Point area.  She was the daughter of Joe and Josephine Jeffrey.

Mike was the second child and only son born to Frank and Cora.  Their three daughters are: Mrs. Duane (Pat) O’Leary of Detroit, Mich., Mrs. Vivion (Ethel) Kouba of East Grand Forks and Mrs. Alex (Eileen) Fisher of Fulda, Minn.

A 1940 graduate of East Grand Forks High, Mike served nearly four years (1942-1946) in the Navy during World War II, most of the time in the Sea Bees (construction battalion), a natural because of the experience in his father’s shop.  “For some reason, I always remember I started to work on the molding machine when I was 11 years old,” Mike says.

He was involved primarily in the construction of air bases and moved about often his first year and a half, going from Rhode Island, to Maine, to Virginia and then to North Africa.  For the last 28 months, he was stationed in the Azores Island complex in the Atlantic.

Discharged as a chief petty officer, Mike returned home in February, 1946.  He went to work for his father fulltime almost immediately and the company was renamed Frank Gorman and Son.  The business prospered in the post-war years and especially in the 1950s and 1960 as East Grand Forks’ population grew as never before.

There were a number of further additions built onto the shop at 205 2nd St. NW and, in 1948, a basement house was built next door (on the site of the present city library) for the then newlyweds, Mike Gorman and the former Nancy Danielson.

Miss Danielson, who had been raised on a family farm in Bygland Township, married Mike on St. Patrick’s Day 1948.  Their first child, Steve, was born in 1951, several months before the upper stories of the new house were completed in 1952.

Mike recalls patrons from the Eagles Club, that used to be located downtown, would sometimes stop to dance on the roof of their unfinished basement home as a prank that wasn’t always so humorous inside.

Growing up in that area of downtown East Grand Forks provided Steve Gorman with a lot of vivid memories.  He recalls the nearby “Dogpatch” area by the Red River, where transients who rode the freight trains would often jump off to camp for a night or two.  Carnival personnel working in the Grand Forks area or just passing through during the summer months would often use that same area to camp and would come to the Gorman shop to get various items repaired.

Steve remembers how frightened he would be, as a preschool child, if he was in the shop when they came in.  “They were usually rough looking characters and I was scared of them.”

During the mid-1950s, Frank Gorman officially retired, about eight years before his death in June 1960.  Under Mike’s sole ownership, the business continued to expand its product lines and manufacturing capabilities.  In 1960, Mike and Nancy had their family home moved to 1818 River Road NW, so a new store could be built over the remaining basement.

About the time of the first move to the Highway 220 North location (1973-1974), the family incorporated the company and changed the name to Gorman Cabinets, Inc.  Mike serves as president and general manager, under this organizational arrangement, and Nancy, continuing an active part in the firm’s daily business, is secretary-treasurer.  Steve is vice-president and sales manager.  David Gorman, Steve’s brother, joined the firm officially as a stockholder and began fulltime work with the company at this time, also.

Steve and Dave represent the fourth successive generation that has become involved in the business and Steve currently has a year-and-a-half-old son – named Michael.

The family business that was operated so long with hardly any outside help was required to take on more and more hired help to handle its expansion during the 1950s and 1960s.  Today it has eight to ten year-around employees and, at certain seasons of the year, 15 to 20 persons on the payroll.

Besides their two sons, Mike and Nancy raised two daughters.  They are Mary Beth, a graduate of the University of Minnesota who lives in Minneapolis and works in computers systems analysis programming for Cray Research Company, and Peggy, who recently married Paul Zavoral of Bygland, vice president of R.J. Zavoral & Sons, Inc., a local road construction firm.  She is a graduate of UND and works in the Grand Forks Urban 4-H Program.

Steve is married to the former Maxine Benson of Verona, N.D.  They both hold bachelor of arts degrees from Concordia College at Moorhead.  He earned his in the fields of biology and physics and graduated in 1973.  She graduated in 1972 with major preparation in the fields of biology and English.

Dave, who attended Concordia for two years, is married to the former Lori Gulbranson of East Grand Forks, who is a graduate of Thief River Falls AVTI and an LPN who works part time at Valley Memorial Home.

One of the biggest impressions about running the business, Mike says he gained from Frank was, “You work like hell to get the work done, done right and delivered.  You can’t expect to follow any eight-hour-day schedule.”
Despite the frequent six-day weeks and 9-to-10 hour days that competitive retail and manufacturing business requires of them, Mike and Steve both have made determined efforts to give of their time and their talents to community affairs, also.

Mike has been a director and a president of the East Grand forks Chamber of Commerce.  He was chairman of the old Development Growth Committee of the chamber, which tried in vain for several years, 1972-1976, to get city council members to work jointly with the chamber in a program geared to recruiting new businesses and industry for this community.  “We just could not get the aldermen in those days to budge at all,” Mike recalls.

submitted Jan 20, 2003 Jon Raymond - please contact him for more information


SOURCE: “A Meeting of the Reds: East Grand Forks, 1887-1987,”
Two Volumes, (out of print),  Dr. Stephen Sylvester,
East Grand Forks Centennial Committee,
East Grand Forks, Minnesota, copyright 1988
page 73

Frank Gorman, the son of Michael and Bridget Gorman, was born Oct. 25, 1882, in Ontario, Canada, and came to East Grand Forks at the age of seven years.  He served in the Philippine War during the Boxer Rebellion in 1902, Artificer, Company 1, 20th Regiment Infantry.

He was a carpenter and owned and operated Gorman’s Cabinet Shop in East Grand Forks.  In 1917 he married Minnie Jeffrey, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Jeffrey of East Grand Forks.  They had four children: Eileen, Michael Kenneth, Ethel and Patricia.

Eileen Married Alex Fisher of East Grand Forks and they have three childred: Michael, Mark and Deborah.

Michael Kenneth married Nancy Danielson of Bygland [note: Polk County], Minn.  They have four children: Stephen, David, Mary Beth and Margaret (Peggy).
Patricia married Duane O’Leary of East Grand Forks and they have five children: Kathleen, Lee, Terri, Timothy and Paul.

Alex and Eileen live in Fulda, Minn., Mike and Nancy live in East Grand Forks, Vivion and Ethel live in East Grand Forks and Duane and Pat live in Detroit, MI.
Frank Gorman died in 1960 and Minnie in 1979.

submitted Jan 20, 2003 Jon Raymond - please contact him for more information


SOURCE: “A Meeting of the Reds: East Grand Forks, 1887-1987,”
Two Volumes, (out of print),  Dr. Stephen Sylvester,
East Grand Forks Centennial Committee,
East Grand Forks, Minnesota, copyright 1988
page 73

The Mike Gorman family came from Smithfall, Ontario, Canada in 1880.  There were ten children in the family and all grew up on the Minnesota Point [note: residential section of East Grand Forks].  They were Bill, Maggie, Fred, Frank, Bertha, Etta, John, Jim, Pat and Ida.

Mike Gorman was a carpenter and shortly after arriving from Canada, he opened a cabinet shop in East Grand Forks.  His son, Frank, continued in the cabinet business and in 1947 was joined by his son, Michael K. Gorman.

Frank Gorman died in 1960 and his son, Michael, continued on in the cabinet business.  He was later joined in the business with his sons, Stephen and
david.  David is presently with his father in the business located on Highway 220 North, East Grand Forks, and is the fourth generation of Gorman’s operating a cabinet business in East Grand Forks since 1881.

submitted Jan 20, 2003 Jon Raymond - please contact him for more information


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