Book reveals Rosemount’s hidden history

 

Longtime resident assembles account detailing town’s rich past

Walk around Rosemount and its rich history is difficult to ascertain.

Many of the buildings from around the turn of the century are long since gone so it’s no wonder the residents of the growing 21,000-plus city don’t think about it much.

Rosemount Area Historical Society member Maureen Geraghty Bouchard laughs when people say there’s no history in Rosemount.

“Read the book,” said Bouchard, a Dakota County Historical Society employee and longtime community volunteer who now carries the title of author after this summer’s publication of “Rosemount: From the River to Space.”

The second printing of the 334-page volume is due out Friday, and people will find Bouchard on Saturday at the Rosemount United Methodist Church during the 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Holiday Bazaar.

The book has already sold about 150 copies and another 150 are on the way.

Bouchard said it’s the book’s 1,100 pictures that have people praising it … and buying it.

“I want people to have the history,” she said. “I do love Rosemount and always have. It is a great town and a great city now. It’s a place I’m very happy to say I’m a part of.”

First chapter

The book started to take shape four years ago when Pam Claussen, the daughter of Hap and Betty Hanson, told members of the Rosemount Area Historical Society that the Hansons had bequeathed in their will an endowment to the society to fund publications.

Hap Hanson, the first superintendent of School District 196, and Betty Hanson, a longtime librarian who was instrumental in libraries being included in the development of new schools in Rosemount, died in 1999 and 1974, respectively.

“We knew we were going to jump on this,” Bouchard said, but they really didn’t know how.

Bouchard, who said she does not consider herself a writer and isn’t a native of Rosemount, hesitated at the thought of writing a history book.

She was born and raised in St. Paul and moved to Rosemount 29 years ago, though the Geraghty family has a long history in town, including having their name associated with one of the few 1900s-era buildings left at the corner of Highway 3 and 145th Street.

It was not until she was cleaning out boxes at the West St. Paul historical society site that she found all the inspiration she would need.

“I found some of the drafts of the county history book and it was all redlined,” Bouchard said. “I thought if she could get redlined, I can get redlined.”

Bouchard said much of the history in the book had been compiled already, but needed to be organized.

She had done countless interviews over the years and started collecting new information with interviews and research.

She estimates she spoke to about 200 people in the development of the book. Among her trusted sources were neighbors Dick and Jean Heinen, Don and Rita Corrigan (Rita designed the cover), along with many other longtime Rosemount residents.

Bouchard started to organize the information in an outline based on a previous county history book. The sections seemed to break out nicely for her into Settlements, Significant Events, Schools, Churches, Businesses, etc.

For casual readers of Rosemount history, the opportunity to meet the interesting characters in Rosemount’s history is in this book. Some of Bouchard’s favorites are one of the founding fathers, Walter Strathern, and businessmen Joseph J. Hynes and John Corrigan.

“People like that who stuck their necks out and tried to do a lot of things made Rosemount what it is today,” she said.

A biography section at the back of the book organized by family name is a treasure trove of information.

Bouchard didn’t restrict herself to telling only of the town’s old-timers. The book brings readers right up to the modern day with information about such happenings as the removal of the Brockway Glass Factory in 2004, the opening of Dakota County branch Robert Trail Library in 2009, the razing of the old St. Joseph Catholic School in 2012.

She said the best part of the book to people is that it “stirs memories” in people.

“It’s great to hear people say: ‘Oh, I remember that,” or ‘I forgot about that,’ or ‘I heard about that, but I never understood what it was all about,’ ” she said.

Bouchard said she strives very hard to be accurate in all accounts and is clear with readers when something is part of an oral tradition, but can’t be confirmed by documentation.

The biggest endorsement comes from longtime Rosemount resident Ed McMenomy, who told Bouchard that if anyone questions anything is wrong in the book, they should talk to him.

Another endorsement comes from Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste.

“To maintain a community that is both close-knit and diverse, it is important to understand how we started and why we developed the way we did,” he wrote in the book’s preface.

“It is my hope that the efforts of the Rosemount Area Historical Society like this book will bond us more closely as we seek to preserve an understanding of our past even as we reach toward the future.”

To help assemble the book, Bouchard enlisted the help of Burnsville resident Jack Kennelly, whose family traces their roots in Rosemount, to edit the book. Dakota County Technical College instructor Connie Larson designed the book.

Bouchard jokes that Kennelly and Larson probably didn’t know what they were getting themselves into by working on the project as its six-month timeline turned into eight months, then into a year.

“At that point, I said, ‘OK, we need to get this to press,’ ” Bouchard said.

She knows that going to press with the book is not so much of an ending as it is a beginning as history is continually being made in Rosemount.

For successive printings, Bouchard is preparing new information about the Rosemount Community Center, the Rosemount High School marching band’s trip to the Tournament of Roses Parade in 2014 and much more.

“That’s what I love about history,” she said. “As soon as I finish a book, there are new things to include.”

Copies of the book are $32.95 plus tax. To obtain a book, email rosemounthistory@charter.net or attend the Holiday Bazaar on Saturday at Rosemount United Methodist Church, 14770 Canada Ave.

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