Towner County Historical Society
Towner County Historical Society began to function in 1954. It was organized by a Dr. K. Koski, who came from Iron River, Michigan,to practice in Rolla. Dr. Koski interested the finns into organizing the Society.
The Society started with only a few members at first. Their objective was to collect historical facts and information dating back to 1896, when the first Finnish settlers arrived. The founding meeting was held July 30, 1954, at the Towner County Mount View School. At this meeting, officers were elected and 30 new members joined. By-laws were drafted, and the group took the official name.
The Society decided to build a memorial monument for Finnish pioneers. A date, July 8, 1956, was set as to when the memorial monument would be unveiled,. Discussion came up as to where the monument would be located. The Society’s board of directors went to confer with Theodore Leonard and Amelia Johnson, who were descendants of Riter A. Johnson, as he had promised to give an acre of land for that purpose. The land that the Johnsons donated is on the north side of Highway #5, seven and a half miles east of Rolla.
The Society ordered the $400 granite monument. Then preparation of the land started to take shape. The land was worked and grass was sown. Men planted pine trees, American Elm and Boxelder, on the acre of land. One of the money raising projects was a dinner held at the Rolla City hall, with proceeds of $135. On June 18, 1956, the monument was placed on the lot. On sunday, July 8, 1956, the unveiling and dedication took place.
A large crowd of people was in attendance. Pastor Gorts led the people in prayer and Thanksgiving, consecrated the memory of the Finnish Pioneers great achievements. and dedicated the Memorial to commemorate these accomplishments to future generations. Then the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Maammee Laulu” and, with closing signals by the buglers, after which, everyone went to the Rolla Auditorium for a banquet dinner and program.
The Society had 80 members at one time. This organization was disbanded some years back. As of today, the Finnish Monument has as picnic shelter and rest rooms, and it is a very nice quiet placed to stop at, to have a picnic, or just to stop and look at the historical monument.
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