Tag Archives: Mamie

On This Day: August 23, 1886

Mary’s entry On This Day in 1886 cannot be confined to just one or two tweets. Such a busy day, Mary needed to write on three pages!

Another just as hot day up in the nineties. Went in to City to see Tourists and Mamie off. Took Mamie to Dr. Hand she not well at all. They get off at four. Papa and I went up far as Minneapolis with others. And to opening of Exposition. Oh it was so hot there we returned to St. Paul six and drove to North Oaks. So glad to have it to go to. Chelminski went to day to St. Paul.
[Entry continues on 6/13/1886 page] Aug. 23rd Mrs. Goodkind Mrs. Wirley Miss Goodkind drove out. Missed them.
[Entry continued on 6/14/1886 page] North Oaks Aug. 23rd. Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy Mr. and Mrs. Thorn Miss Thorn Miss Weed Mr. S. Weed Wm. Thorn Rev Dr. Schoffler Mrs. Schoffler Mamie Hill Started for Yellowstone Park  to day.
Photo: Minnesota Historical Society
Photo: Minnesota Historical Society

It’s no secret that James J. Hill was a workaholic. According to biographer Albro Martin, Hill regularly put off vacation offers from friends and business associates, “But, from 1884, when he regretfully declined the Earl of Latham’s invitation to visit his famous breeding farms, to 1889, when he refused George Stephen’s offer of a trip through the Highlands of Scotland, it was always next year.”

Hill did not begrudge others a holiday. Martin describes the 1886 trip to Yellowstone:

Meanwhile, he cheerfully arranged junkets for others, sometimes promising that he would go along, then , at the last minute, deciding to stay at work. In the summer of 1886 he bundled New York politico Smith M. Weed, the Thornes, Mamie, and even Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy into a private car for a trip out west…(317)


Mary had entertained some combination of Thornes, Kennedys and Weeds at North Oaks for a week or more leading up to their departure for Yellowstone. The painter Chelminski left for Saint Paul. After enduring crushing crowds at the opening of the Industrial Exposition in record heat, Mary was happy to reach North Oaks, “So glad to have it to come to.”

1886 Hill Family at the Farm (Painting by Chelminski, Private collection
1886 Hill Family at the Farm (Painting by Chelminski, Minnesota Historical Society)

Perhaps things at the farm might settle down for a spell? Only time will tell…Follow me on Twitter for further developments! I am sure Mary will soon get word on the progress of the Tourists…


Lake Minnetonka with the Hills and Friends

Mary Hill’s diary entry for Friday, August 20, 1886: “A cool morning cloudy very hot day. We went out to Hotel Lafayette and spent the night there with Thornes and Kennedys. Fearful storm in the night. Mamie Phelps Sarah and Mamie came out on train.”

Photo: Minnesota Historical Society
Photo: Minnesota Historical Society

A change of scenery was in order. Visiting from New York, the Thornes and the Kennedys were good friends of the Hills, not just James J. Hill’s business associates. Mary Hill was very proud of the family farm at North Oaks, but it was her job to show her visitors from the East coast all the beauty Minnesota had to offer!

James J. Hill opened the Hotel Lafayette in 1882 on Lake Minnetonka’s Crystal Bay. The hotel was the largest on the lake: 800-feet long and five stories high with over 400 rooms. The parlors, dining and reception rooms were ornately decorated and wide wooden porches faced the lake.

Photo: Minnesota Historical Society
Photo: Minnesota Historical Society

The luxury hotel became a popular destination for wealthy Americans, prominent politicians, and even European royalty. For more than a decade the hotel which had served as the site of many lavish banquets and idyllic summer getaways, burned down after the close of the season, in October 1897.

But on August 20, 1886, the Hotel Lafayette was the perfect backdrop for good friends and family to gather and enjoy a day at Lake Minnetonka. You will see in tomorrow’s diary entry that one night away was plenty for Mary. She was happy to return to her own North Oaks.

Photo: Minnesota Historical Society
Photo: Minnesota Historical Society

Click here to go to my Twitter feed and see what Mary has to say every day in August as I post her daily diary entries. If you are on Twitter, please follow me and check these out: #OTD #MaryTHill.