William Pickle and the community called Clover

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 31, 2002

Back in 1890 the dairy farmers living in the portion of Pickerel Lake and Nunda Townships known as Clover Valley had a problem. To market their milk, they had to rely on creameries in Emmons, Albert Lea and Alden. Because of the poor roads in that era, this proved to be quite a challenge.

By June 1890, several meetings had been held by the farmers to discuss their milk marketing problems. These farmers felt they were somewhat in the middle between the other creameries. The logical solution would be to build their own creamery. What resulted was the organization of the Clover Valley Creamery Association. According to several historical accounts, this was one of the first separator creamery organizations in the state.

The original officers of the new creamery were: Charles

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Radke, president; George W. Hall, vice president; John M. Geissler, secretary; William Wohlhuter, treasurer; Henry Drommerhausen, George Scherb, Fred Voss Sr., Fred

Fink, and Herman Klukow, board of directors. Wohlhuter was at different times president, secretary, and treasurer of the creamery.

That fall the new creamery was ready to process milk and make butter. The wooden building with its brick chimney was built on land owned by William P. Pickle. It was located about two miles north of Bear Lake and .6 miles north of the Concordia Bear Lake Lutheran Church. This particular place was next to Pickle’s General Store, already open for business.

Pickle had been a resident of Freeborn County since 1859. During the Civil War he served with the 21st Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment. After the war the Pickle family lived in Hartland, Albert Lea and Nunda. He opened the store in early 1890 and became the postmaster for the new community of Adair.

The Adair name didn’t last long. Postal authorities thought this name was too similar to that of the town of Adrian, located to the west of Worthington in Nobles County. The decision was made to change the name to Clover.

In 1891 Pickle moved to a nearby farm in Nunda Township. He retired in 1898 and moved back to Albert Lea. Pickle died on Aug. 18, 1905, and is buried in the Bear Lake Lutheran Cemetery.

Replacing Pickle as the Clover postmaster and store operator in what was then a predominate German-American area were William Wohlhuter, Frank Yost, Peter Flesch and George Enser.

With the start of rural mail deliveries to this part of Freeborn County about 1907, the Clover post office was closed. However, the store continued to operate as a place for area farm families to shop and as a center for socializing by folks bringing milk to the creamery situated next door.

The Clover Valley Creamery Association had several buttermakers during its 25 years of operations. They include James Brewer, Peter Kvale of Emmons, Robert Kepping and Andrew Hanson, also of Emmons. In fact, a roster of this creamery’s buttermakers and their assistants is on a flat marker in front of the upright Clover historical marker.

By 1915 the roadways in this part of Freeborn County were improving. For a good part of the year farm families could travel to other localities to deliver their milk and to do shopping. As a result, the drop in patronage for both he creamery and store at Clover resulted in both ceasing operations.

In 1973 the Pickerel Lake Township Board, assisted by the Freeborn County Historical Society, erected a marker to indicate the site of Clover. This marker is located just east of County Road 14 (690th Avenue), south of County Road 15 (162nd Street) corner, and 2.2 miles south of County Road 17 (180th Street).