History of Sacred Heart

The name Sacred Heart, first applied to Sacred Heart Creek, dates back to 1841, according to legend.  This land was then under the crown of France, as part of the Louisiana Territory.  A priest, named Father Ravaud, who ministered to the Indians for over 20 years, was traveling on a heavy loaded flat bottom boat on this way from St. Paul to LacQui Parle when he became ill.  He landed his boat at the mouth of the creek, about 35 miles from his destination, and stayed there until he recovered.  This creek separated into two forks as it entered the river and formed a sand bar in the shape of a heart.  In gratitude to God for his recovery, Father Ravaud planted a cross by the sand bar and carved the name "SACRED HEART, AVE MARIE".

Sacred Heart was originally settled at the Minnesota River in 1866 and later, with the coming of the railroad in 1878, migrated to its present site.

The first post office was established at Minnesota River crossing in 1870, near the mouth of Hawk Creek.  G.P. Green was the first postmaster and the first teacher in School District #14.

When the railroad came through, the first station was named Sacred Heart, after the township.  It was about one year after the depot was built, that Ole Torbenson built and started a store in Sacred Heart.  Then Hans Field built a blacksmith shop on the west side of Torbenson's store.  After these first two enterprises many more followed.  There were two elevators, a saloon, two hardware stores and several general stores.

One of the first improvements in the village was board sidewalks.  Anton Gerde bought a large tract of land and divided it into building lots and soon there were many houses being build.

The village was incorporated in 1883 with Henry Paulson as the first president and G. C. Aarnes as recorder.

The only business place founded before the turn of the century and still operating under the same family name is Nordstrom's Pharmacy, of which Miss Evelyn Nordstrom is proprietor.  The pharmacy was founded in 1895 by her father, Edwin Nordstrom.  He died in 1924 and his daughter, Evelyn, also a pharmacist, continued the business.

Over 75 carloads of stock and 300 carloads of grain were shipped annually while something like 350 carloads of merchandise was shipped in.  The population was about 800, larger than it is now by 100.  Full high school training was included in the public school, which had an enrollment of 225 pupils and 8 teachers.  The school library consisted of 500 volumes.

In 1916, Sacred Heart had five elevators, a flour mill, feed mill, creamery, a farmers' livestock shipping association, several independent livestock dealers, a produce company, two lumber yards, two garages, one hotel, three restaurants, two banks, one newspaper, six general stores, a drug store, a furniture store, jewelry store, meat market, two millinery stores, two hardware stores, three implement dealers, one billiard hall, one undertaker, one photographer, two livery and dray lines, one motion picture theater, two real estate firms, one harness shop, two barber shops, one shoe repair shop, one physician, one dentist, four contractors and builders, on plasterer and two painter and paper hangers.

The old wooden sidewalks have given way to cement walks. The park was set out with beautiful trees, with a bandstand in the center.  In 1906 they built a new village lock up, a $1,400 solid, up-to-date jail, which still stands, but is obsolete.

The kerosene lamps which lighted the village streets were replaced in 1903 with electricity. Even the business places and homes were wired for current.

There were ten men on the fire department in 1916.  Sacred Heart had a bonded indebtedness of $4,000 - said to be the smallest in the county.


Written by Carla Harried

November 18, 1975