A Century City

Brief History of Greenbush

Early Greenbush
"Sha Ach Wah", which means spruce tree or green bush in Chippewa, the local Indian language, was the inspiration for the name of the city of Greenbush. Settlers started coming into this area in the late 1880s, but the big influx of settlers began 1900. They moved here because of inexpensive land: the Homestead Act gave them 160 acres free if they would put up living quarters and develop a few acres into fields. The early settlers were almost all Polish, Bohemian or Scandinavian, and it still remains that way today.

The original setting of the city was on a ridge of what used to be the shores of ancient Lake Agassiz. This village is now referred to as "Old Greenbush". The

beginning of Old Greenbush occurred in 1898 when Olaf Hildahl built a general store approximately two miles northeast of the present city. Shortly thereafter, T.T Lanegraff and son moved their agricultural tools and equipment business from their farm to the ridge. By 1904, the Lear Brothers' farm implements and blacksmithing, Chilstrom's Hotel and Livery, Farmer's and Merchant's State Bank, Mike Johnson's Grocery, and Sander's Greenbush Journal had followed. Thorpe's sawmill was located near the little town. And we mustn't forget Mr. Nixon's business, a "blind pig", to use a colorful expression of the time. Mr. Nixon was a bootlegger. Old Greenbush was developing rapidly.

In 1904, the great railroad came to the area. It expanded north

from Thief River Falls to where present day Greenbush is, where it stopped construction. Being the progressive village that it was, Greenbush merchants moved their businesses, buildings and all, to the new town known as "West Greenbush". All that remains of the old town today is Hvidso Cemetery along Highway 11, more commonly referred to by the locals as Pioneer Haven.

New Greenbush grew quickly and incorporated in 1905. Before long, there were three hardware stores, a print shop, three banks, livery stables, two blacksmith shops, a general store, four small restaurants, four beer parlors, a lumber yard, a large creamery, four implement dealers, three new car dealerships, thirteen businesses with gas pumps, a shoemaker, three wool buyers,

three cream stations, four grass seed buyers, five or six grocery stores, two barber shops, two fur and hide buyers, and a hotel. All of these businesses with a population of 450 people.

Just three or four years later the rail line to Warroad was completed and it ran right through the site of Old Greenbush.


New Town Of Greenbush Makes Great Showing
The village of Greenbush, not yet six months old is a veritable little city. It was late in the fall of 1904 when the extension of the Great Northern reached the platted town site of Greenbush, and a new town grew up like magic. The town was incorporated as soon as possible, sidewalks were built and fire protection provided for. The new

creamery, about completed, received substantial encouragement and the building of the water tower at a cost of $5,000 is a commendable and wise act on the part of the village council. All branches of business are well represented and some very fine business houses have been erected, notably, the Hildahl store building and the Kukowski block.

Besides the Hildahl and Kukowski buildings the newly established village can now boast of having five general merchandise stores, three banks, four hotels, three livery and feed stables, three elevators, one weekly newspaper, a real estate office, two blacksmiths, two lumber yards, two millinery shops, a meat market, barber, harness shop, and last but not least, six saloons. The professionals are represented

by Dr. Young, Dr. Hubbard and Attorney M.J. Hegland.

From the above, an outsider can readily see that the village of Greenbush is a smart little town.


Greenbush Fire Of 1907 Destroys Kukowski Block
The Kukowski Block, built in 1905 by A.P. Kukowski, was barely two years old when it was completely destroyed by fire in the morning of December 27, 1907. The fire, which started in the Kukowski building, spread to several other buildings. Everything was completely destroyed. The Stockholm Saloon and a second saloon owned and occupied by Slominski and Bazel also perished. The Lanegraff building, unoccupied at the time, burned to the ground as did T.E. Thompson Hardware and all

of its contents. From the Kukowski building the fire jumped across the street to the south and consumed the State Bank of Greenbush building (the newspaper office currently occupies this lot). By the heroic efforts of the bucket brigade the fire was kept from spreading to the K.O. Dock Restaurant, only 25 feet from the bank that caught fire three times. The Olaf Hildahl Store directly across from the Kukowski building was also on fire several times but was saved by the use of a force pump and hose.


Green, Great and Growing
Today the population is at 740, businesses have grown and changed with the times. Although the hospital has closed, the nursing home remains an important part of the

community. The nursing home plans to build a new facility in the near future.

The Greenbush School, now the Greenbush/Middle River School, is also an important part of the area. The school burned in 1939, but was rebuilt the following year. In 1993 students from Greenbush and Middle River began their classes together, and in the fall of 1995 they officially consolidated as one school district, keeping sports, education and other activities thriving.


The City Office has a copy of the Centennial Book that can be loaned out. We also have it in PDF format. We have placed it on our website for everyone to enjoy. Please remember that this is a copyrighted book like any other book.