Alexander Harkin learned about land in Minnesota from his brother, Barney, Jr., and he decided to come and raise his sheep and farm. The land proved to be great for farming as was the hill side where he grazed his sheep.

Getting to Minnesota was about a two-week trip.

Alexander and Janet arrived in West Newton around the middle of May, taking a trip by boat, train and horse and wagon in 1856. The area was not very populated at that time.

Planning on starting their new life here as farmers, Alex started building a log home and then started his farming tasks.

They moved into the village in 1867 when he started the first store in town in his house. He also built a grain warehouse shipping grain by boat to St Paul, while still farming and raising sheep.

Being successful in the house store, he built the 1870 store which operated until 1901. His daughter took over the store in 1893.

There will be a display of items that were in the trunks that people used for their trip to the new land. Transportation pictures will also be in the display.

The 1870s Harkin Store is open Friday, Saturdays and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the program Sunday afternoons from 1-4 p.m. Admission to the program is included with admission to the store. The gift shop is also open with lots of new items and has the same hours as the store.

The store is located nine miles northwest of New Ulm on Nicollet County Road 21, or the bottom road, or nine miles east of Fort Ridgley. Nicollet County Road 21 is under construction, so follow the detour signs, call the store when open for directions at (507) 354-8666, or call Nicollet County Historical Society which operates the store at (507) 934-2160. 

– Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society