IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co. Misc. Historical Items
updated May 11, 2017

Village of Bee, Waterloo twp.

History of Bee ** Bio of Leonard 'Buck' Sadd

village of Bee in Waterloo twp

Bee, in northern-most Waterloo twp., is a tiny Norwegian settlement that grew out of a flour mill on the Waterloo creek, the Sugar Bee Mill. It is one of the prettiest spots along the Iowa-Minnesota border.
~photo contributed by Errin Wilker

A History of Bee
By Percival N. Narveson

SPRING GROVE, Minn. - A village that once had a post office and produced butter that rated the quality award of the National Creamery and Butter-makers Association now has a population of only eight.

Sales taxes afflicted the hamlet of Bee years before they came to Minnesota, and there were other complications at Bee because the village store and saloon straddled the Minnesota-Iowa line.

It was the Irish who first looked with favor on this scenic little spot between high hills through which Waterloo Creek flowed. They came in the early 1850s, but soon moved on, leaving cultivation of the lands to Scandinavians who began streaming into the locality in 1854-55.

Early history is scanty, but by the early 1860's a post office had been established, a mill built, and there were several stores.

It was Joseph Schwarzholf, native of Westphalia, Germany, who made the settlement boom. After arriving at Dorchester, Iowa, in I853 with his parents, he opened a brewery there in 1862, rented it to an operator in 1863, moved on to Highlandville, Iowa, and after a short stay there, settled at Bee, where at 4th of July celebrations and on other festive occasions, he was unable to keep the crowds supplied with beer — evidence that already the area was well populated.

Although Schwarzholf didn't have much trouble running his store at that time despite the fact that some of the shelves were in Iowa and the others in Minnesota; but operating the saloon in the same building caused complications.

Iowa had been dry since 1855. It appears that this state-line village wasn't bothered too much by officialdom until 1885 when the laws on intoxicating beverages became more stringent. But the owner solved that by moving his liquors in the Minnesota side of the building.

There were advantages, too, in operating in two states. When an Iowa sheriff pursued a lawbreaker, he could step over to the Minnesota side to protect himself from arrest. Likewise, Minnesota law enforcement officers could not pursue a lawbreaker into Iowa.

Bennie Magnusson, now of Spring Grove — who operated the Bee store with his mother, Mrs. Magnus Magnusson, until her death in 1936 and then until 1950 — recalls the sales tax problem, Iowa adopted the sales tax long ago but Minnesota didn't until this year. To keep the prices uniform, he paid the tax out of his own pocket. While both Iowa and Minnesota had cigarette- taxes, the Iowa taxes were higher, so the cigarettes were stored and sold on the Minnesota side. Bonnie paid his properly taxes and obtained his car license in Iowa, but kept the car in Minnesota.

For many years a gnarled tree slump — with iron rings screwed In to serve as a hitching post — marked the state line in front of the store.

Schwarzholf, who also was postmaster during his residence here, employed one Hans Presatter as his mailer. He had learned the trade in his native Norway and was an expert millstone refinisher, a highly skilled art. After being used over and over again to grind wheat, the millstones had to be recut, and Presatter was in great demand for refinishing them in all the mills in the area. While employed in Schwarzhoft's mill, he lost a hand and part of an arm in an accident.

When Schwarzhoff moved out of Bee in the early 1890s, John Gunderson and Gustav Smerud became subsequent mill operators. After the dam was carried away by a flood, Smerud installed a gasoline engine and ground stock feed. The mill was a familiar landmark in Bee until in the early 1930s, when it was razed.

Hans Morken and Hans Clauson secured Schwarzhoff’s store; Clauson later sold it to Morken. who operated it until 1911. He sold to a newly organized mercantile firm with L. B. Olen as manager. On July 4, 1917, the business was purchased by Magnus Magnusson, and it stayed in that family until Ben Magnusson sold to his brother-in-law, Leonard Sadd, who after a short time closed it. Sadd and his wife, the former Christine Magnusson, still live at Bee [see his bio below].

It was Magnus Magnusson — whose family became more intimately connected with Bee than any other — who received the national medal for quality butler; he earned the honor three times. Magnus learned butter making from Professor T. L. Haecker, considered to be the founder of the cooperative creamery movement in Minnesota. Magnus entered the dairy school in 1892, held his first job as butter-maker at Strand, Minn., and in 1894 went to Bee, where the Honey Bee Farmers Association, one of the first cooperatives in northeastern Iowa, was in the process of being organized. Local farmers purchased 300 shares valued at $600 and began operation in a creamery building constructed by George Amray. Magnus is generally credited with much of the success of the Honey Bee Creamery, which continued in operation until the early 1940s, when many of the smaller creameries found it necessary to join with larger units.

The butter was usually packed in wooden tubs containing 64 pounds, but for a time the Bee creamery capitalized on its name by selling butter directly to a firm in Philadelphia in 10-pound rolls called "Honey Bee Butter Rolls."

Magnusson was born in Folgerohavn near Bergen, Norway, in 1869. When he was 17 he came to the U.S., locating at Gary, Minn., where his sister had immigrated earlier. He was butter maker for 31 years, his son, Bennie, assisting in later years. He continued operating the store at Bee until his death. He was succeeded as butter maker by Ole Morken, Paul Pagel and Olaf Goodno.

In addition to the old store and four residences, all that remains of Bee today are blocks of old foundations, depressions in the ground where other buildings stood, and a beautiful view as Waterloo Creek winds among; the steep tree-covered bluffs from Wilmington Township, Houston County, to Allamakee County, Iowa.

Those first Irish settlers were George Carver, who staked out a claim on the south side of the state line on the site of Bee, George Edgers, Michael Callahan, Charles Kelly and Michael Tanner. Edgers and Callahan sold to Ole Bye, believed to have been the first Norwegian settler in the area.

The first Scandinavians called the settlement Bergen from the Norwegian city by that name. The name Bee is of uncertain origin. One plausible theory is that it is derived from the Norwegian "by” meaning hamlet or town, and that through some quirk of translation the village emerged as "Bee."

As most frontier villages, Bee had its blacksmiths, among them Henry and Charley Peterson, sons of Hans Peterson, early Spring Grove blacksmith, and John Akre, expert smithy and wheelwright who moved to Spring Grove in 1913 bringing an end to the industry in Bee.

Although small, the tiny village played its part in the development of the region, and only within the last year or two has it been left off the official highway maps of Minnesota.

~From the Winona Daily News" (Winona Minnesota) Sept. 24,1967
~Transcribed by Cindy Bray Lovell

Iowa Woodman Gathers Peace in the Wilderness
By Gene Raffensperger

When one seeks out the world of Buck Sadd he drives northeast out of Dorchester on a gravel road that hugs the bluff that looks down on Waterloo Creek.

Waterloo Creek is a trout stream and even on days when the cold is so intense that occasional cracking noises come down from the timber the stream is open and running in many places. It is spring-fed and the water is warmer than the outside air.

Surely there are deer here, certainly there are birds and squirrels and rabbits.

Mostly, however, there is a sense of peace and quiet over the valley of Waterloo Creek, and this is the world of Buck Sadd.

The road takes a sharp turn, crosses a bridge over the creek, and there are three houses ahead. This is Bee, Minn., although there are no signs to prove it, the mailing address is Spring Grove, Minn.

There is a sign saying "Minnesota State Line" right in front of the house on the right, half of which at one time was a store. That is Buck Sadd's place and he lives in the part of the house that is in Iowa.

Leonard (Buck) Sadd, 61, is a farmer. He'd like to be a fish farmer, he said. But to date his efforts at raising trout have not met with success.

Once he was a clammer on the Mississippi, alter he was a commercial fisherman, and still alter he worked for a time with the Iowa Conservation Commission at Lansing.

Now he and his wife [nee Christine Magnusson] live at Bee, Minn., with some milk cows and a dog named Rex.

Although Bee, Minn., looks safe from the population explosion and urban sprawl, Buck frets occasionally about people crowding in on him.

Trout fishermen have found Waterloo Creek to their liking and though some are Buck's friends, others have come uninvited and on occasion have fished without permission on Buck's private land.

"Now I like people and I like company and I'm glad you dropped by today, but I like my privacy too," said Buck.

"When it gets too congested around here I just go up over the hill and talk to the trees. When they start talking back to me I know it's time for me to come back."

Not a wink or a grin betrayed this bit of leg pulling, so the question that followed was, what do trees say?

"That's confidential," said Buck, and he had to chuckle himself at that.

Buck has a radio but he doesn't read much. He said that he gets more satisfaction from "reading" squirrel tracks that lead to his corn crib or watching the birds in the feeder outside the window.

"I'm out of step with this jet and rocket age, and I'm not running for office," he explained.

He does not plan to move to town.

"I've seen all the neon lights I want to."

He pointed to his trout pond.

"I wouldn't trade that for the whole of Des Moines."

~Des Moines Register clipping, hand-dated 1966
~Transcribed by Errin Wilker

Leonard 'Buck' Sadd Obituary


Return to Misc. History index