In 1856, two Stoppel brothers, Francis, usually called Joseph, and George settled side by side in Rochester Township. George left Germany in 1834 and spent several years in Switzerland and France. In 1848, he sailed to the United States to join his brother in Ohio where he met and married Maria Ann Faber. Seeking affordable land, Joseph and George traveled to Minnesota with their families. On April 28, 1856, the two each filed a claim for 160 acres of land and paid $1.25 per acre, for a total of $200. The two families lived in a cave during the first winter. The cave in still standing along with three other caves built on the farmstead. Thereafter, George built a number of buildings, although the only ones still standing are a barn, the backhouse, a silo, and the stone house built in 1861. The farm stayed in the family for 100 years, until it left family control in 1956. The farmstead was purchased by the Olmsted County Historical Society in 1972. The George Stoppel Farmstead stands today as a national register historic site to commemorate the early pioneers and agricultural history of SE Minnesota.
The Ralph Stoppel Farmstead was originally claimed by Francis Joseph Stoppel in 1856. The farm was divided between his sons Henry and Charles. Charles built a farmhouse on his part of the property in 1892. Ralph Stoppel, Charles' son, took over the farm and lived there for much of his life. The farm was sold to the Olmsted County Historical Society in 1972. This farmstead has a mixture of original buildings and recreated buildings. The farmhouse burned in 1992, one hundred years after it was built by Charles Stoppel. The Ralph Stoppel Farm is also the home of the Mechanical History Round Table. This group plans the annual “Days of Yesteryear” event on the second weekend in August.
In 1885, the Hadley Valley Schoolhouse was built in the township of Haverhill 3 miles NE of Rochester. The cost to build the schoolhouse was $800. The school had both girls and boys attending the schoolhouse until 1957 when a larger brick building was built to accommodate more students. The schoolteacher taught grades 1-8 totaling around 35 students. The teacher taught arithmetic, history, spelling, geography, elocution, reading, writing, and penmanship. A typical school day started around 8am and ended around 3:45pm. Most students were farm kids and were assigned chores to do at school. Around the 1930s the schoolhouse had electricity and an indoor bathroom added. The building was moved to the fairgrounds in 1961 and then moved to the History Center in 1975. The schoolhouse has been preserved over the years. In 2018, a new roof was put on with new cedar shakes. And in 2019, the schoolhouse was scraped and repainted.
This log home was built by an early Rochester settler, William Dee. Irish immigrant William and his wife Bridget built this cabin in 1862. Their first child was born in the cabin the night they first occupied it. The cabin is made using poplar logs. With the help of 25 men, the cabin was built in just one day. It was first located in Rochester on 6th Street SW near 4th and is typical of an early settler’s home. The last person to live here was Anna Benson Ward, who rented the cabin for $3 per month from 1907 to 1911. Anna lived in the cabin with her 5 children. The Dee Cabin has been moved six times over the years, including the move to its current home on the campus of the History Center. The cabin has been preserved over the years. In 2011, many of the logs were replaced and the cabin re-chinked. And in 2020, the cabin has had a new roof put on it with cedar shakes.