Built circa 1858 by Lars Endreson, the cabin features dovetail corners, a sign of the quality of craftsmanship of the early Scandinavian settlers who brought their old skills with them to their new home. The hut is one of the few structures built before 1862 that still stands on its original site in Kandiyohi County.
The way the structure was built is a testament to Lars’ âtalent,â said Jill Wohnoutka, executive director of the Kandiyohi County Historical Society.
It also represents the tenacity of the early settlers in Minnesota who “started from scratch” to build their lives here. âIt’s an important part of the story,â Wohnutka said.
The cabin, just north of Willmar, Minn., Near Lake Solomon, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
But its placement on this list is not just a matter of architecture and age. These are the events that happened there during the US-Dakota War of 1862 and the heroic actions of Guri Endreson, who saved the lives of two men injured in an attack.
This brave rescue and two-day trek through miles of open grassland came after her own husband and son were killed on August 21, 1862, in the hut while Guri and her baby daughter were in hiding.
Another son was seriously injured and two daughters were captured and taken away by men from Dakota during the Six Week War.
Students listen to Jill Wohnoutka of the Kandiyohi County Historical Society recount how Guri Endresen helped save the lives of the first Norwegian settlers during the Dakota War in 1862. The Lars and Guri Endresen Hut, located north of Willmar, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Carolyn Lange / Center-West Grandstand
âI can’t imagine the fear she had,â Wohnutka said.
Back then, Kandiyohi County was not what it is now. There were few trees and few roads and few places to find shelter.
In one of the shacks where she arrived, Guri found two men, her son-in-law Oscar Erickson, and a neighbor Solomon Foot, seriously injured and near death. She put them on the wagon and took them to safety in Forest City, where her two daughters – who had escaped captivity – were found.
Wohnoutka said Guri is known to be a “strong person” in the midst of chaos and is a “symbol” of strength and pioneering perseverance during this violent and complicated time in Minnesota history.
A state monument honoring Guri Endreson at his burial site can be found at the cemetery of the Vikor Lutheran Church in Willmar. The monument is particularly noteworthy because the honor was bestowed on a woman of that time, Wohnutka said.
Like most settlers who experienced the war, Endreson fled the area, but four years later returned to the farm site where her husband and son were killed and buried. She continued to live there for some time before other family members made the cabin their home. It has been renovated over the years to retain its original integrity.
The Vikor Lutheran Church located north of Willmar, near Lake Solomon, which has a historical connection to Guri Endreson. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune
Guri Endreson State Monument Location Map
âIt’s kind of a hidden gem,â Wohnutka said of the cabin and the 3-acre site. “And he’s hidden.”
âIt’s not along the road, you have to look for it,â she said.
The cabin is located at 3669 67th Ave. NW, Willmar, Minn. Take US Highway 12 west of Willmar, then travel 4 miles north on Kandiyohi County Road 5 Northwest. Turn west on 67th Avenue Northwest, then turn left at the directional signs that ultimately lead to the site.
The cabin is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Tours are available on request from the Kandiyohi County Historical Society. A kiosk on the site gives details about the Endreson family and provides information about the government’s mistreatment of the Dakota people – an important context for the war between the United States and the Dakota.
âThis is an important story in Minnesota,â said Wohnoutka, who said the war was a âvery complicatedâ and âpivotalâ time in the history of the state and it’s a story that many people have never heard.
Even many residents of Kandiyohi County are unfamiliar with the war or Guri Endreson’s story.
The site is frequented by people from Norway as well as members of Endreson’s extended family, some of whom live nearby.
Those close to Endreson “love Guri’s story and are so grateful that we preserve it,” Wohnoutka said. “They are just amazed that someone remembers their story.”
Lars Guri Endreson’s cabin location map: