Archived Story

A time capsule found at the post office

Published 8:56am Friday, March 11, 2011

Column: Between the Corn Rows

About 75 years ago a copper box was placed inside the hollow cornerstone at the Albert Lea Post Office. ( This cornerstone has the date of 1935, the year construction was started on the present building.) And what’s inside this box can be considered to be a time capsule somewhat based on life up to 1936 in Albert Lea.

Now, just what is actually inside this box? Local historical researcher Kevin Savick has found the answer in the June 27,1936, issue of the Freeborn Patriot newspaper. Here’s a listing of the contents:

• Photographs of President F.D. Roosevelt, Albert Lea Postmaster B.M. Loeffler, Mayor E.L. Hayek, George S. Ruble who suggested an application for a post office and the present name (in 1855), Dr. A.C. Wedge, Albert Lea’s first physician, Col. Albert Lea, and LeRoy Gaarder (the architect).

• Photograph of the entire present post office force taken May 12, 1936, and of the late Thomas Bergen.

• A classified list of the personnel employed on post office building now under construction by contractor C.M. Tapager and under the supervision of construction engineer A.H. Rider.

• A memorandum of post office receipts for 1935 ad personnel of May 26, 1936.

• A short history of the various locations of the local post office.

• Albert Lea’s latest city and county directory and telephone directory.

• Signatures of the personnel of various departments of the City of Albert Lea, plus Freeborn County.

• Annual reports of the City of Albert Lea for the last seven years.

• Letterheads of Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, and Commercial Club (dated 1892).

• Financial statements of First National Bank, Freeborn County National Bank, Albert Lea Building and Loan Association, Peoples Building and Loan Association.

• Membership of Leo Carey Post 56, American Legion, Albert Lea, for 1936.

• History of local Masonic bodies and list of past and present officers.

• Copies of Freeborn County Standard for April 17, 1861, and of April 7, 1864, donated by Clerk of Court Ole A Swanson and Deputy Evan Wulff.

• Copy of Al La Ha Sa and student’s hand book for the junior high school 1935-36.

• Financial report of St. Theodore’s Church 1935.

• Re-dedication observance of the First Baptist Church.

• Program from First Methodist Episcopal Church, April 20, 1936.

• Copy of Boy Scout Herald, May 1936, plus drawing of Scout Camp.

• Copies of Albert Lea Evening Tribune, dates of Dec. 4, 1935, June 1, 1935, and May 21, 1936.

• Copies of Freeborn Patriot, dated May 22 and 29, 1936.

• Copies of Community Magazine for August 1935 and May 1936.

• Letterheads of Big Insurance Agency, Albert W. Jones, Prop.; Queen Stove Works; Globe Manufacturing Co.; Albert Lea Food Products Co., with history and envelope of sample of dry buttermilk.

• Program of Potter Foundry Thanksgiving Party 1934.

• Illustrated catalogs of Wilson & Co., American Gas Machine Co., and Olson Manufacturing Co.

• Report of Land O’ Lakes Poultry Dressing Plant.

• Price list of seeds from Speltz Grain & Coal Co.

• Price of fuel from Moore Coal Co.

• Prices of seeds from Albert Lea Seed House.

• Catalog of various automobiles sold in Albert Lea.

• Spring styles of clothing from Luethold’s Clothing Store.

• One assortment of different varieties of U.S. postage stamps.

Just when will this copper box be opened up and these listed contents retrieved? The real answer is based on how long the Albert Lea Post Office building continues to serve the public at its present location near the corner of South Newton Avenue and East William Street.


In last week’s column the last name of Kevin Savick was misspelled. Maybe the Tribune’s spell checker should be trained to have more respect for his last name. Anyway, his research services are greatly appreciated.

Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.