Time capsule entombed in granite more than a century ago is opened near Lake Solomon, Minn.
A time capsule entombed 105 years ago inside a granite monument in the wooded, country Vikor Lutheran Church Cemetery on Lake Solomon was opened Thursday. Placed there in 1907 by the state of Minnesota in memory of Guri Endresen for her "heroic deeds during the Indian massacre of 1862," the time capsule revealed a snippet of time in the community back then -- newspapers, a letter written in Norwegian, a black and white photo of a state senator and an unusual amount of documents associated with banks.
Also included was a two-page typed account of Guri Endresen's harrowing experience of finding members of her family killed during the U.S.-Dakota War and how she cared for other wounded pioneers.
The contents of the time capsule, and their excellent condition, surpassed the expectations of those who came to watch, including Linda Swalin, of Spicer.
"I anticipated a pile of dust," she said. "This greatly exceeds my expectations."
Doug Hanson also was concerned about what they would find.
"I was most worried it would be just crumpled up," he said.
Although the 100th anniversary of the installation of the time capsule was five years ago, the opening was delayed until this year, which is the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War, said Hanson.
Besides waiting the extra five years to see inside the capsule, Thursday's on-lookers -- who were either descendants of people buried in the cemetery or had historical ties to the little church that closed years ago -- had to exercise some patience as the opening of the capsule took a little longer than expected.
First, the top two segments of the heavy monument had to be removed with a mechanical lift and set aside.
That revealed a small patch of protective mortar on the base of the monument that had to be chipped away with a chisel and hammer.
"They didn't want to make it easy," said Ron Christianson, who wielded tools for several minutes before exposing the top of the small metal time capsule.
As the spectators anxiously watched, the lid of the box was pried off.
Then the contents were carefully coaxed out of the tight quarters.
Every item was in pristine condition.
There was a small coin pouch from the Kandiyohi County Bank with leather that was soft and pliable. There were also pamphlets from the Minnesota Bankers' Association and another simple coin purse from another bank.
The coin purse was empty, which caused at least one person to mutter that perhaps the bank executive from 1907 could have spared a few coins to put in it.
The time capsule provided an example of how many newspapers there were in Willmar in 1907. There were issues of the Willmar Journal, the Willmar Tribune, the Republican Gazette and the Lutheran Herald, which was written in English and Norwegian.
A stunning black and white photo of L.O. Thorpe, a state senator from Kandiyohi County and a banker, got the most oohs and aahs at Thursday's opening.
"It's really in remarkable condition," said Paulette Tvete, who said she had been hoping for more than just paper documents.
In the tightly jammed box there was also a document from Shipstead & Johnson Brothers Marble and Granite Monuments, which apparently provided the spire in the cemetery where the time capsule was housed.
Luvern Tvete, who was there to watch the opening, said his grandmother's cousin, Olia Birkeland, made the metal box for the time capsule.
The contents will be on public display June 24 when the Vikor Lutheran Church is opened for its once-a-year church service.
The worship service, which will include music with Norwegian heritage, begins at 11 a.m., followed by a potluck dinner. A program will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. in the sanctuary to remember and honor Guri Endresen.
She's not only a historical pioneer figure, but she played an important role in the Vikor Lutheran Church. Before there was a church building, services were conducted in Guri Endresen's home and she's buried in the quiet cemetery.
The Kandiyohi County Historical Society will also have the nearby Guri Endresen cabin open for visitors from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. June 23 and 24.
The contents of the time capsule will be in the domain of the Minnesota Historical Society but will remain in Kandiyohi County.
Hanson said the next step is to decide what to put back into the time capsule, which will be opened in another 100 years.
That discussion will also take place June 24 at the church, which is located on Kandiyohi County Road 5, north of Willmar.