Gateway to Minnesota


"In 1881, George [Emmons] and his brother Lewis/Lars [Emmons] operated a store 1 mile south of the Minnesota/Iowa border in Winnebago County, Iowa, near a community then called Norman.  Five years later, in 1886, they moved their buiness across the border into Minnesota.  They built on their father's [H.G. Emmons] farm and called the place Emmons." 

The Village of Emmons was incorporated in 1899 and George Emmons was elected mayor.  The Emmons City Hall was built in 1899 and has since been replaced with a more modern structure.  Water and sewer service were added in 1901 followed by the first cement sidewalk in 1908.  The railroad station was moved to Emmons from Norman, IA in 1904 following a lengthy court battle with the railroad company that went as far as the Supreme Court [MINN. & ST. LOUIS R. R. CO. v. MINNESOTA, 193 U.S. 53 (1904)].  The depot remained on the Iowa side of the state line, resulting in a dual designation of Emmons, MN and Emmons, IA.  The Emmons Lutheran Church was built in 1902 and dedicated the following year.  The current church building was built in 1960.  A four room school house was built in 1904 and was replaced with a larger brick school building in 1922.  Though they had shared resources for years prior, the Emmons School District officially merged with the Glenville Minnesota School District to form the Glenville-Emmons School District in 1998. 

Notable figures in Emmons, Minnesota history include both H.G. Emmons who served in the Minnesota House from 1877-78 and son Henry H. Emmons who served in the Minnesota House from 1919-1921.  Henry H. Emmons died in office in 1921.  Emmons is the birthplace of artist Lloyd Manford Herfindahl b.1922- d.1996.

Mayors of Emmons, MN:

George Emmons 1899-1905
Nels Rasmusson 1905, 06, 15, 16, 20, 21
Selmer Thornby 1906-1908
Lewis Emmons 1908-1910
Ole Knutson 1910-1911
Ferdinand Yost 1911-1912
Carl Olson 1912-1913
Alfred Emery 1913-1914
Henry Clemmetson 1914-1915
Christ Olien 1916, 1917, 1922, 1923
Sever Singlestad 1917-1918
William Guthier 1918-1920
Andrew Rasmusson 1921-1922
Fred Knutson 1923-1928
Lewis H. Knutson 1928-1934
Sever Vinge 1934-1938
Alfred Holstad 1938-1948
Harlan Knutson 1948-1954
John Benson 1954-1959
*LeRoy Roberts 1959-1995
Paul Henschel 1995-2008
Mark Heggestand 2009
Imogene Opdahl 2010
Paul Henschel 2011- present

*The longest consecutively serving mayor in the State of Minnesota history (pictured above)


Where is Norman, Iowa?

Norman, Iowa was a town during the late 1800's/early 1900's located just to the south of Emmons, MN on the IA side of the border . According to an article in "Emmons, Minnesota: A Century of History," Norman, IA had a school, post office, 2 shoe repair shops, 4 general stores, blacksmith shop, hotel, hardware store, boarding house, depot, stockyard, lumber yard/coal yard, school, and public croquet court. During this time, people in Norman referred to Emmons as "Devil's Corner."

Some memories of Norman, Iowa from "Emmons: A Century of History"

"Highlighs from the Norman children were the organ grinder and the gypsy caravans. The hurdy-gurdy music could be heard from quite a distance as the oragan grinder with his bear and monkey would put in their annual summer appearance. The bear would climb any available pole and after the monkey performed he would pass the hat. Children flocked from all over the town down the Main Street. The trio went on their way after the pennies had been collected."

"One of Norman's earlier residents recalled that Mrs. Arneson, Mrs. Maggie Ausen's mother, operated a very successful business. Going to the Arneson home was quite a thrill as you could peek into the parlor, which had a boughten rug on the floor. They were a novelty in those days."

Some memories of Norman, Iowa from an excerpt of a manuscript submitted by Eleanor Bailey and written by her aunt. Ms. Bailey's father, Chester Bailey, is mentioned below:

Now I am in the second grade and we move to Norman, Iowa, this is cold country. We live above a store and there with a creamery across the road. Oscar sells Grit Magazine to many travelers that bring in milk from the farms and we pass out “Doan’s little Liver Pills”. Dad walks in on the crusted snow ten miles from the dredge. Across the road is Emmons, Minnesota. We go about a mile or so to school. The town of Norman is a ghost town with a row of store buildings and a boardwalk in front.

Sometimes a caravan of Gypsies came along, and then Mom would get us upstairs right quick. The Gypsies would take things from the stores. They would also try to tell the fortune of the blacksmith across the road, but with a red hot iron he could get rid of them. They had lots of children and quite a few wagons.

Once a circus came to the town of Emmons, about a half a mile or so from where we lived. Oscar carried water for the elephants and got to see the circus. We saw it as it went by our place.

1910, winter coming and plans going forward to move to Florida. Dad thinks his health would be better. He bought some land by Largo near Tampa Bay. Chester Wayne born Dec.31, 1910. Lots of snow and the milk was brought from the farms to the creamery in bobsleds.

The demise of Norman and birth of Emmons

It was suggested in an article printed in "Emmons: A Century of History," that "It is possible that the lack of foresight on the part of [Norman] area property owners to sell lots for commercial and residential purposes stymied the growth." Many of Norman's buildings, including the depot, were later moved either to Emmons or to an area about 1/2 mile west of Emmons on State Line Road near the creamery that was once referred to as "Kingsville".

If you venture south on Hwy. 69 into IA, you will notice a group of homes to the east of the highway in the first 1/2 mile south of town. This grouping of residences is all that is left of Norman, IA.


1 "Emmons: My Emmons Did Not Start Out Emmons,"http://abraley.home.att.net/gendocs/emmons/

All other information from "Emmons, Minnesota: A Century of History" unless otherwise noted.