A Boom Town
By E.S. Killie
The last of the Wells County towns to be reached by the Surrey cut-off was Wellsburg. This town mushroomed rapidly in 1914. The Post Offcie there was established April 1, 1913, with Jacob Heil postmaster.
The rapid growth of the village is largely due to the outstanding performance of three young carpenters, Fred and Gilbert Meland and Martin Roken, who spent their first cold night in the Wellsburg depot, through the courtesy of Walter Leidahl, agent.
The next day they completed their own shack and their first job was erecting the Steen and Rock Cash Store. With whatever help they could muster, they went on to build the Wellsburg Mercantile Store of which John Jorgenson was proprietor. Next they set up the Wendel Wilkie Hardware Store and the Lumber Yard Office.
They then built the ornate Wellsburg Farmers State Bank, an August Peterson bank with J.B. Williams as Cashier. Also that summer, they put up the Wellsburg Hotel, Christian Johnson, Proprietor, Ole Larson’s blacksmith shop, Dean Campbell’s barber shop, the two room Wellsblurg school and Mike Keller’s pool hall and bowling alley, as well as some residences in the community.
The Victoria and Billingmeier and Hiel elevators were started in 1912, but since they were not completed, their managers, Joe Schatz for Victoria and Heil for the other, bought grain on the track during the fall of 1912. The Equity Farmers’ Elevator, with Lous Bogstad as manager, was not built until 1918.
In 1914, the three partners built the Meland Brothers Livery Stable and the Jake Heil house. In 1915, they built the Bethania Lutheran Church on land donated by John Hoveland who also donated the cemetery plot. Roken’s house was built in 1915 and Fred Meland’s in 1916. About this time the three also built the Benson County Ag School at Maddock and several other schools.
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