Weyerhaeusers left a lasting legacy in Little Falls

By Pat Sharon, Guest Writer

(Editor’s Note: The Friends of Linden Hill are celebrating 10 years of being active in keeping alive the historic Weyerhaeuser and Musser legacies. Following is some of the history of the families that made them an integral part of the city’s growth.)

Back in a time when Little Falls was in its infancy, lumbermen and business partners Frederick Weyerhaeuser and Peter Musser founded the Pine Tree Lumber Company in Little Falls June 24, 1890. Together with seven other partners, they chose Little Falls as the site for their mill because the water flowed well along this piece of the Mississippi River and offered a new dam that had both power and a logging sluice.

Frederick Weyerhaeuser
Frederick Weyerhaeuser

Their sons Charles A. Weyerhaeuser and Richard “Drew” Musser, the “Pine Tree Bachelors,” ages 25 and 26 respectively, came to town in 1891, and managed the Pine Tree Lumber Company.  Drew, whose father was company president, presided over sales and served as secretary for the organization, while Charles managed the company’s logging, sorting and milling activities. Under their collective management skills, the Pine Tree Lumber Company was debt free and earning solid profits by 1899.

The Pine Tree Lumber Company had both an east side and a west side sawmill, as well as a planing mill. At one point, the company employed 500 – 800 employees, with a yearly payroll that exceeded $200,000.

In 1909, the name of the company was changed to Pine Tree Manufacturing Company in order to become a Minnesota corporation. In October 1919, the Pine Tree Manufacturing Company sawmill sawed its last logs and closed.  An era in central Minnesota had ended but would continue in the west.

 

Charles Weyerhaeuser
Charles Weyerhaeuser

In just under 27 years, the Pine Tree had sawed over 1.5 billion board feet of lumber at the Little Falls mills.

Charles Augustus Weyerhaeuser was born April 2, 1866, to Frederick (1834-1914) and Sarah (Bloedel) Weyerhaeuser (1839-1911). During his youth, Charles became known as a bit of a prankster, something that continued on into his adult life. Charles was raised to work hard and apprenticed at various jobs within the family timber business before taking over management of the Pine Tree Lumber Company.  Charles loved being with the lumberjacks and followed the camps as they went north and west.

Weyerhaeuser and Musser were close friends as well as business partners.

In 1898, the two men purchased a 90-acre tract of land just south of Little Falls on the Mississippi River where they had decided to build their residences. Charles married Frances Maud Moon in Duluth, Dec. 14, 1898, and moved into the grand home he had built and named “Homeland.”

Drew built an equally well-appointed home next door, where he lived as a bachelor for five years until he married Sarah Walker of Glen Falls, N.Y. in 1903.

The Weyerhaeusers occupied their home at Linden Hill from 1899 – 1920. In 1920, when the Pine Tree Manufacturing Company closed, they left Little Falls to pursue other lumber business interests. They sold their entire property to Drew and Sarah Walker Musser for a “nickel and a handshake” and settled into a stately home on Summit Avenue, St. Paul. Together they had two children, Carl Augustus Weyerhaeuser and Sarah Maud Weyerhaeuser Rosenberry Sivertsen.

While in Little Falls, Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser and her good friend Sarah Walker Musser were very involved in the community.

Weyerhaeuser family members (from left): Carl, Sarah Maud, Charles and Frances Maud, taken in about 1918 at their farm by Lake Alexander, which the family still owns.
Weyerhaeuser family members (from left): Carl, Sarah Maud, Charles and Frances Maud, taken in about 1918 at their farm by Lake Alexander, which the family still owns.

Both women loved the arts and together established the Musical Art Club. On March 3, 1919, the Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Hall was dedicated as the permanent home of the club. (Located where the Kevin Anderson Architect offices are now.) The hall was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Weyerhaeuser to the community. Maud would often perform there, along with the many talented artists the Musical Art Club brought to Little Falls.

Charles died in 1930, while on a world cruise with his wife in Bombay, India, at the age of 63. Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser married Bruce Sanborn in 1943 and died in 1965 at 89 years of age.

Charles and Frances Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser had one son, Carl Augustus Weyerhaeuser, born in 1901. He was educated by a tutor at the Columbia School in Little Falls, attended the Hotchkiss Preparatory School in Connecticut and graduated from Harvard University in 1923.

Carl worked in the lumber industry for about 10 years, and then branched out to devote his life to art and literature. He served on the boards of many museums and was very interested in historic preservation. Carl married Edith Greenleaf in 1939 and together they had five children. In 1971, Edith Weyerhaeuser encouraged her husband to build a museum to house his art collection and to share it with others. Carl and Edith built The Art Complex Museum located in Duxbury, Mass.

A philanthropic art collector who loved literature and music, Carl left behind a lasting legacy of beauty and learning. Carl died in Boston in 1996, at the age of 95.

The Weyerhaeusers’ daughter, Sarah Maud, was born in 1908. She was educated by private tutors, attended Summit School in St. Paul, Hartridge Boarding School in New Jersey and Vassar College in New York. She married Walter S. Rosenberry Jr., in 1930. Together they had four children. They later divorced.

I n 1954, Sarah Maud married Robert Sivertsen. In keeping with her modest nature her name was not well-known, but her gifts touched many lives, including everyone who ever listened to Minnesota Public Radio. Sarah Maud loved classical music and became a major supporter of the classical music station of MPR. When it came to philanthropic giving, Sarah Maud Weyerhaeuser Sivertsen’s generosity was exceeded only by her humility. Sarah Maud died in 2008 at the age of 100, in St. Paul, where she had lived since leaving Little Falls.

The Weyerhaeusers’ legacy lives on in Little Falls. The Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Museum holds Morrison County’s Historical Society and collections. The stately Weyerhaeuser home at Linden Hill, that was a beehive of the family’s activity in the early 1900s, now houses the Linden Hill house museum where the Friends of Linden Hill share the story of the Weyerhaeusers, Mussers and life in early Little Falls.