The tragic death of a small boy led
to the naming of this town "New Albin".
lt was July 4, 1872 and a group of frolicking boys
were celebrating the holiday by jumping over a large
bonfire on the street here.
Suddenly, Albin Rhomburg, 11, his pockets filled with
gunpowder, stumbled, and fell into the flames. He was
pulled out of the fire and placed in a tub of
molasses to "salve" his burns. Albin died
the following day.
The townspeople voted to name the town
"Rhomburg" after the lad's father, J. Albin
Rhomberg, but it was his wish that it be, named
"Albin" after his son.
lt was discovered, however, that there was another
town by that name, so they called it "New
Albin." But that is only one brief chapter in
The town might well have remained the most
southeastern community in Minnesota instead of
becoming the most northeastern one in Iowa.
Before it was founded there had been a small
settlement of houses and a stone warehouse up-river a
mile or so tightly cramped between the river and foot
of a high bluff.
This first settlement was called "New
Landing" and later "Jefferson" and was
located in Minnesota. There was not enough building
space there so its inhabitants pulled up stakes and
moved to a larger townsite which was to become
"New Albin" across the state line in Iowa.
The land upon which the village was to be located was
first purchased by John Ross from the government in
1854 and it remained until as late as 1868 no more
than a wheat field.
J.A. Rhomburg, S.H. Kine and J.H. Graves contracted
with Ross for enough land for a townsite in 1871.
Rhomburg was one of the financiers of the Clinton,
Dubuque and Minnesota Railway which was extended
along the Mississippi River to the Iowa and Minnesota
border and began regular train service to the village
Oct. 1, 1872. R.F. Gilas was agent of the depot
built here in 1872.
The first businessmen in the town were Edward Jones,
lumberman; Ole Rice, taylor; Dr. J. Hoyer, druggist;
Peck, harnessmaker; Samuel Stevenson, drayman;
Engelhorn, wagoner; Doolittle, furniture dealer;
Joseph Haberkorn Sr., butcher; J. B. Murray, grocer;
and Fred Spelling, jeweler.
The first school was built in 1847 with H. G. Smart
the first teacher.
The first newspaper was published by an Ejhrler in
The post office established in 1889 with Jacob
A telephone system was built in 1893 and William Bock
was its first operator.
The new settlement grew rapidly and in 1895 had 489
It was the same year of 1895 that the town was
incorporated with first officials William Coleman
Jr., mayor; H. Martin, R. Thomson Sr., G.A. Erickson,
M. Moore, F. Meyer and L. Salhi, trustees; and Louis
New Albin Savings Bank was organized and built in
1898 with L. H. Gaarder its cashier.
The town hall was also erected in 1898.
A Royal Neighbor camp was chartered in 1902.
An interesting sidelight in the history of the town
centers about an event which occurred some 22 years
before any land was even picked for a townsite.
The history of "Captain Lee's Iron
Monument," as it is called, began in 1849 when a
Mississippi River steamboat landed at Victory across
the river and unloaded an iron obelisk, five feet,
eight inches long, 12 inches square at the base, and
tapering to seven inches at the top.
This Pyramid of cast iron weighed 600 pounds and bore
the inscription "Minnesota" on one side and
"Iowa" on a second side. On a third side
was inscribed "1849." The fourth side bore
the inscription "Latitude 43 degrees, 30."
In the winter of 1849-50 a small band of men led by
Capt. Thomas J. Lee of the U.S. Topographic Engineer
Corps. hitched a team of oxen to a sled and hauled
the iron marker across the frozen river and erected
it at a spot where the north edge of the town was
later to be.
lt stood there mostly unnoticed some 80 years until
local persons decided to preserve the marker. They
built a concrete base with bronze marker to tell .the
history of the old landmark.
Because the old historic marker was in a rather
lonely and abandoned spot, and near a road not
frequented by motorists, tentative plans were made by
the Minnesota Highway Department in 1931 to move the
monument once more.
The plan was to move it 10 rods to the west closer to
Minnesota State Highway 26, which becomes Iowa
Highway 182 at the border, so it would be seen by
travelers on the highway. The federal government,
however, forbade moving the marker because the town
was surveyed from where it was located.
Consequently the old monument remains to this day in
its original spot.
~source: September 1963 LaCrosse
Tribune Newspaper Clipping
~contributed by Errin Wilker