History of Mabel
Frank Adams, the chief engineer of the railroad in Southern Minnesota, purchased land from William Loomis and C.D. Taber and platted a village. He named the town for his little daughter, Mabel.
Following the coming of the railroad, businesses flocked to the new village. E.L. Tollefson was the first to open a general store. In fact, he had already an established business in Riceford, but he moved it, store building and all, to Mabel. Albert and Frank Jones came from Hesper, as did Jones and Tamas, hardware dealers. A Mr. Thompson erected a hotel, later enlarged by Lewis Tollefson, which still continues to accommodate salesmen and travelers as well as permanent guests. Lumbermen, grocers, and even a photographer’s studio and a millinery shop set up business. Two elevators were built in 1879 and E.N. Snell, who operated one of the elevators, is credited with building the first home in Mabel.
E.L. Tollefson’s enterprises ranged far beyond his mercantile business. He was instrumental in establishing the creamery, livestock and grain buying and shipping egg and poultry business and real estate. He accumulated land in Fillmore, Houston, Dodge, Mower, Anoka, Lac qui Parle Counties in Minnesota, as well as in North Dakota and Iowa. As his interests multiplied, the need for a bank became apparent and he established The Bank of Mabel, later incorporated as The First National Bank of Mabel with Mr. Tollefson as president. The bank remained in the hands of his descendants for more than seventy years.
By 1912 the town had grown and many businesses had changed hands. But there were also quite a number which had their start in the early 1900s which would remain in the same family for forty or fifty years and even into the 1980s. Such was the case with Joe Larson’s Hardware, Abbie Spande – Ford Garage, Johnson Livestock, Norris Hanson – Druggist, Olean Amdahl’s Shoe Store, Arne Rotnem, General Store, Knute Olson – Lumber, E.R. Antrim – Editor, Dr. J.C. Lannin and Dr. Hildus Nass – Physicians, and Dr. L.V. Peterson – Dentist.
In 1912 thriving businesses lined both sides of Main Street for two blocks. An electric light plant had been set up and it was not long before there was a “white way” on Main Street. About thirty-five residences and a number of stores installed electric lights. Telephone service which had been brought into Mabel in 1899 was enlarged and improved in 1915 by the incorporation of the Mabel Telephone Exchange Company into a mutual company. There were two Lutheran churches, a Methodist church, and a second bank, The First State Bank of Mabel. The Bolland Opera House where home talent plays, banquets and traveling artists entertained the populace, was destroyed by fine in 1916. Silent movies were shown in the old Gem Theater until 1930 when the Castle Theater was started with equipment to show sounds movies.