Members of the Chanhassen Historical Society, along with the city of Chanhassen, are eagerly preparing for the upcoming bi-annual Cemetery Walk to be held Saturday, Oct. 5. Actors, who have been carefully selected for their parts, are preparing their lines. Costuming and rehearsal details are thoughtfully being considered.
We all hope for one of those sunny early fall days where the sun shines through the gold and red maple leaves.
Twenty-one actors will take their place at the headstones of residents of a Chanhassen gone by, doing their best to recreate life in the early stages of settlement. Eleven actors will represent early Chanhassen pioneers at the Pioneer Cemetery, many dating back to the mid 1800s. The settlers at the St. Hubert Cemetery represent a slightly more current era of the early to mid-1900s.
The complete Cemetery Walk gives the observer an insightful overview of the history of the town.
One favorite character along the route of the St Hubert’s pioneers is Albert Pauly. Many of the Pauly descendents continue to call Chanhassen their home.
As did many Chanhassen residents in the early 1900s, Albert Pauly worked on the railroad. In 1914 he took over the local general store run by Henry Kelm.
Albert built his first store along the railroad tracks in Chanhassen. That location is roughly near today’s Highway 5 and Great Plains Boulevard. His location near the tracks was intended to accommodate the needs of the railroad, as well as local residents. Albert carried boots, clothing, pots and pans, oil and coal. Just about anything a Chanhassen resident would need in 1915. The railroad was a major buyer of supplies from Albert’s store.
While working on the railroad, Albert learned the valuable skill of rope splicing. In the early 1900s, reuse, repair and recycle were simply a normal part of everyday life. He incorporated this skill into his new business. The farmers in Chanhassen looked to Albert to splice severed ropes for reuse on their farms.
Albert was an endearing man. He felt that a town business should have only the interests in mind of the residents they serve. Private stories have often been told as to Albert’s compassion toward his customers during the Great Depression.
With Albert’s store conveniently built near the railroad, it became natural that he would also run the local postal service. The incoming mail bag would be tossed off the train without ever slowing down. The mail bag was often picked up from the ditch by store employees, and sorted for the Chanhassen residents to claim when they visited the store.
On Nov. 4, 1929, Albert’s store along the railroad tracks burned to the ground. Albert’s parents lived in the upstairs area of the store and had to be rescued from the blaze. The fire caused many local residents to come to witness the horrible event and to help get as many of Albert’s supplies out of the building as possible. Albert temporarily housed his store in the local Village Hall and his business thrived.
He rebuilt a new store close by. It was located where what is now Goddard School along West 78th Street. The new store was bigger and better than ever. More supplies, such as dry goods and gas pumps, were added to accommodate a new era of shoppers. The post office remained a part of the store. Not to go unmentioned, if you wanted to know the local news and gossip, Albert’s store was the place to come.
In the 1950s, Albert’s son, Dutch (Willard) Pauly, took over the family business running both the store and the postal business.
Albert’s story is only one of many you will experience at this year’s Cemetery Walk. Both the Chanhassen Historical Society and the city of Chanhassen welcome you to attend this event. It is free of charge to the public, but you must register to attend. Space is limited so sign up early.
The easiest way to register is to go the city of Chanhassen website. Open the “Our Community” drop down box on the home page. Select “Cemetery Walk” and follow the easy directions to hold your spot.
We have three performances. The 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, is our indoor event. This is a great performance held at the Senior Center for people who may have difficulty walking the cemeteries. At 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. we have two performances held at the cemeteries with bus transportation provided to and from each cemetery.
Hope to see you there!