Gateway to Lake Shetek
Put yourself back in history to about 1869. Due to the Shetek Conflict, there was only a handful of trappers and traders in the area. In 1872 Neil and Archibald Currie walked into what was to be the Currie settlement. They were Scotsmen whose Scottish ancestors had emigrated to Canada and then south across the great lakes area in the United States to Minnesota.
Irish families also came to Currie. Many left their beloved Ireland because of the destruction of the potato crop in the 1840's. John Sweetman was a chaplain during the Civil War, then in 1867 he embarked on a campaign to bring Catholic settlers to Minnesota. Bishop Ireland, John Sweetman, and Walter Sweetman formed the Irish American Colonization Company which purchased tracts of land from the Winona and St. Peter Railroad Company. Settlers were promised land at $6 an acre, plus a 14' by 18' house erected with sod walls and siding to be put on by the settler. For $250 the settler was furnished with a #9 cooking stove, a breaking plow, a wagon, a harrow and $20.75 for sundries. The settler was to provide a yoke of oxen for about $115, a cow for $25 plus food and fuel. A free railroad pass from Chicago to Tracy was given to the head of the family coming into the settlement. This land to be settled by the Irish was located just north of the Catholic Colony in Avoca and was situated between the Winona and St. Peter Railroad and the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad. The town of Currie was located in the midst of this tract of land and already had a grist mill with three run of millstones, two hotels, a blacksmith shop, a harness shop, a wagon factory, a butcher shop, two grocery stores, two resident doctors, two lawyers, the county newspaper, a new Catholic church that was debt free and had a resident priest. Bishop Ireland also founded the St. Thomas Seminary which is now known as the University of St. Thomas.
Some of the Irish names familiar to Currie are Gorman, Phelan, Neilan, Cummiskey, O'Brien, Donahue, Leonard, Malone, Sweetman, Galvin, and more.
Some names from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland are Larson, Anderson, Peterson, Hanson, Johnson, Carlson, Aanenson, Everson, Olson, Peltola, Sanderson, Torkelson, and more.
From France came the Boudreaus, the Pommiers, the Gervais, the LeClaires, the St. Pierres, the Deslauriers and many more.
Some of the Austrian, German, Luxembourg names remembered in Currie are Koppi, Andert, Kosak, Silvernale, Ruppert, and many more. Farmers and businessmen, they added their knowledge, and stayed through the good and the difficult years in early Currie.
When Murray County was platted in 1872, the nearest place to mill wheat into flour and buy supplies was New Ulm. Caravans traveled from this area once or twice a year by ox-drawn wagon to New Ulm, with the 75 mile trip taking about a week.
At this time Archibald Currie and his son Neil built a flour mill on the bank of the Des Moines River. It was located approximately where Schreier Construction is now. In the 1880's up to 20 teams would be hitched around the mill at a time. Farmers would come from as far as 30 miles away and often stay overnight. The Curries also built a little red store by the mill and stocked a line of general merchandise as well as a supply of medicines and drugs. The original building is currently located in the End-O-Line Park. The mill was later purchased by F.H. Silvernale and the store sold to Henry Paal and John O'Shea. O'Shea sold out to Paal in 1914. The first newspaper in Murray County was established by a Mr. Bromwich on January 1, 1878 and later purchases by J. A. Maxwell. Called the "Murray County Pioneer," the paper moved to Slayton when the county seat was relocated in 1889.
The first hotel in the village was called "The Farmer's Hotel," and was operated by Lon Cole. Another was started by Mr. Finch and operated by W. W. Caulkins. A fire in this hotel in 1884 was responsible for the creation of the Fire Department in town. Lewis Fling operated "Fling's Hotel" which was one of eight businesses lost when the county seat was moved. Fling dismantled the building and shipped most of the lumber to Stansberry, MO.
While the relocation of the county seat causes a decline in Currie's economy for a period, the building of a branch line from Bingham Lake into the village gave the community a real boost. By the early 1900's there were about 33 businesses bringing new prosperity to the area. Among the businesses at this time were the First State Bank with Floyd Silvernale as president. Other businesses were the depot, the post office, the Nickel Plate Restaurant, hardware store, undertaking parlor, two millinery shops, furniture store, drug store, implements and machinery company, meat market, two general stores, livery and dray, two hotels, a veterinary and a doctor.
Improvements that followed in 1909 were electric lights and power and the Woodgate Telephone Company. This point was probably the economic high point for the community.
In 1928, the oncoming depression forced the closure of the First State Bank. The Farmers and Merchants followed in May 1930. By February 1931, Henry Eiselein and a number of Currie businessmen started the Currie State Bank, which is still in operation today.
Many other businesses have come and gone in our community, including the Rex Theater, implement dealers, lumber yard, grocery stores, confectionery shop, livestock shippers, and more.