By Cecelia Wattles McKeig (from The Depot Express newsletter, Winter 2014)
In studying the buildings, blocks, and streets of Bemidji, I don’t know why it should surprise me that Bemidji people often lived a long time at the same addresses. After all, my mom is still in our family home after 70 years, but I find it interesting that some families chose to stay in the same house over decades. So much for upward mobility! Maybe we move less than the stereotypical American family, but I found many families and even neighborhoods that did not change much in the make-up of the families who lived there. One could choose from a multitude of examples, but these are just two of those homes.
601 Fourth Street
Annie Schauls purchased this corner lot from the Carsons on February 17, 1899, for $75, and the deed was delivered to Frank Schauls. Deed records show that she sold the house for $1,000 to Ed Pagel on March 16, 1904, and bought it back again from him the next day. A real estate person might be able to explain the “why” of these transactions. This house appears in Bemidji’s first city directory  owned by Frank Schauls. This section of Bemidji was heavily populated. Small houses on lots on America, Irvine, Mississippi and Park Avenues gave quick access to the business area and train depots that contributed to Bemidji’s rapid growth. To move north of Eighth Street, for example, was really moving to the suburbs.
Frank Schauls ran a saloon in 1904. The case of Frank Schauls vs. Frank Gagnon went to a jury trial during the fall term of 1904. Schauls, the plaintiff, alleged that during the time he rented Frank Gagnon’s building at the corner of Minnesota Avenue and Second Street, certain repairs were made to the building by the defendant, and that while the repairs were underway his saloon business was damaged. He claimed damages against Gagnon upon this ground. Bailey & McDonald represented Schauls, while P. J. Russell appeared for Gagnon. A second case came up the next week. “The case of Frank Schauls vs. Willitts & Cahill was taken up this morning and occupied the entire forenoon. The plaintiff in the action wants damages for rent which he claims to have overpaid, the amount being $40.” The jury went to their room at noon and had not yet reached a verdict by the end of the day.
Frank Schauls was born in 1861 and married Anna Schwarz in 1899 in St. Cloud. Agnes was born February 2, 1900. Son Frank was born in Bemidji on June 26, 1901. John Casper Schauls was born in Bemidji on August 1, 1904. Frank and Anna Schauls also farmed in Maple Ridge Township. Mr. Schauls died in the spring of 1906, which left Annie as a young widow with three children.
Annie Schauls married Jacob Funk on August 31, 1908. They moved to a farm at Maple Ridge Township. Mr. Funk accidentally drowned while riding in a gasoline launch on Mud Lake less than a year later on August 4, 1909. It appears that Funk was returning to his home from a trip to Puposky and had nearly reached the landing when he fell out of the boat, sinking to the bottom of the lake into deep mud. Funk could not extricate himself and drowned without rising to the surface. Mrs. Funk was looking out of the window when Jake was coming across the lake and noticed him in the boat. She looked again a few minutes later, and the boat was running wild without any occupant. Their baby boy, Joseph Funk, was born the next day on August 5, 1909. This young man had a tragic start and an early death as well. He became ill and died while a sophomore at St. Thomas College in 1930.
Anna Funk was left with four children, three from her first marriage (Agnes, Francis and John) and baby (Jacob) from her second marriage to Mr. Funk. She moved back into the house at 603 4th Street and in 1913 advertised that four unfurnished rooms were available for rent.
According to the 1920 Census, she and her children were back at the farm in Maple Ridge Township while she rented out the house. It was occupied by G. B. Bagsley in the 1920s and by George Mahn in the 1930s.
Agnes Schauls was mentioned frequently in the newspaper social columns. She was the attendant for the wedding of Grace Riley to Joseph Forester in May 1919. Rudolph Welle was the groomsman. Agnes was also a music student at St. Cecilia’s Music Studio and performed in a quartet at St. Philip’s Hall in 1919. She became a nurse and was married in Bemidji on April 28, 1932, to William Lindusky. They moved to South St. Paul. Mrs. Funk eventually lived with the Linduskys and died on March 31, 1943.
John Schauls married and farmed in Maple Ridge Township. Frank married Ermyl Ashby on June 16, 1934, in Bemidji and moved into the house of his childhood. They raised seven children in the house at 603 4th Street. Mr. Schauls worked at Kenfield Lumber Company for many years and also farmed in Maple Ridge Township. Except for one year, he spent his entire life in Beltrami County. He was a member of the St. Philip’s Catholic Church and the town and school boards of Maple Ridge Township. He was still a resident of 603 Fourth Street at the time of his death on November 25, 1975. Mrs. Schauls lived at the house until her death in 1993.
406 America Avenue
Samuel Robinson and Agnes McConnell were married in 1898. They were two of the earliest residents of Bemidji. He purchased a business lot on the corner of Third St. and Bemidji Avenue on February 1, 1899, and they built this house about the same time. Their daughter Ella Robinson was born in 1898. The 1900 Census shows that Samuel and Agnes had four children (Mable, Effie, Elliot and Ella) living with them. Agnes was the mother of the three youngest children. Judge Spooner granted an absolute decree of divorce to Mrs. Agnes Robinson from her husband, Samuel Robinson on June 5, 1905, and she was allowed the custody of two children, a boy of eight and a girl of five, presumably Elliot and Ella. On the 1910 Census, she and her three children (Effie, Elliot, and Ella) were living at 406 America Avenue. The Sanborn Map Company in 1914 described the house as a dwelling, 1½ stories, with a one-story apartment and porch, and a small building also on the lot. Agnes McConnell Robinson lived in this house for 42 years until her death on May 5, 1941.
Edward Joseph Brouillard moved to the Bemidji area in 1917. He was a private in the infantry in World War I. He and Ella Robinson married when he returned on September 25, 1919, and he moved into the Robinson home. During his career, he worked for the Crookston Lumber Company, the Bigelow Lumber Company, Robertson Lumber Company, and E. E. Kenfield & Sons. He was a member of the Ralph Gracie Post and the Bemidji Fire Department.
Agnes died in 1941 and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery.
Edward and Ella continued to live in the home. The Bemidji City Manager reported in April 1969 that a contract for purchase of the Brouillard property had been concluded for additional parking for City Hall. The Brouillards moved to the Northland Apartments. Edward died on December 24, 1970, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery. Ella died in Indiana in 1976.