Girl Scout Camp

Furtney Resort- Girl Scout Camp


Aaron Furtney was born August 19, 1842 in Ontario Canada.  He was the son of  Joseph and Charlotte (Hilker) Furtney.  He came to Saginaw, Michigan in 1861.  He served in the civil war from start to finish.  He was taken as a prisoner of war and worked as a fireman and engineer on a steam engine as a prisoner. He escaped from the prison and rejoined the union army.  After the war he worked as a fireman on a Ohio River Steamer.

He worked in masonry in Decorah Iowa and as a contractor in Austin Minnesota. Then he worked in the Soo Line Railroad shops in Minneapolis.


 In 1871 he married Martha Hibbert . They had four children:  Dora, Edward, Minnie and Ella.  Minnie Furtney was born in Minneapolis April 1, 1879.  Apparently shortly after that they moved to Fredricks, South Dakota. Minnie wrote that her earliest recollection was living in a five room house in Fredricks.  She told of dirt wall cyclone cellar which they entered through a root cellar under the house.  She also noted that she attended elementary school there in December 1887.  They then moved back to Minneapolis in 1888 where Mr. Furtney worked for the Soo Line Railroad.  Martha Furtney died at the age of 52 in 1891.  Mr. Furtney married Alvina Dupont in 1894.  There were no children in this second marriage.


 In 1896 Aaron Furtney purchased 34 acres on the banks of Lake Charlotte.  The land at that time was wild and covered with brush and no buildings of any kind.  He may have purchased the land from Peter Michaels who is shown as the owner of that land on the 1879 map.  He cleared the land in a park-like tract and erected a rustic two story log cabin.  Minnie came to stay with them in 1897.  It appears that she was working for the Dixon’s prior to that.  We have no record of the other Furtney Children.  He had just started to build a kitchen and dining room addition to the house when in July 1897 a terrific wind tore the house apart.  All that was left of the house was the two downstairs rooms.  Minnie lost most of her clothes and belongings including the garments she had for her upcoming wedding with Robert Dixon.  They went to the Bruska farm after the wind storm for temporary shelter. Later Mr. Furtney rebuilt the cabin finished the kitchen and large dining room.  He opened a summer hotel known as the Furtney Resort.  He also built several cabins on the lake shore.  He had 12 row boats and a launch. The place was a very popular resort.  Furtney would meet his guests at the train station in Rockford. 


Minnie Furtney married Robert Dixon on July 14, 1897. Robert and Minnie lived on a farm on the North side of the James Dixon homestead. They had four children Dewey, Aaron, Martha and Robert.  Minnie wrote “Pa (Furtney) had built cabins on his farm on Lake Charlotte and had a big tourist trade.”  In May 1910 he bought a gasoline launch to put on the lake.  He asked Robert to go to Minneapolis to haul it out. Robert had only the running gear of the wagon as the launch could be loaded easier.  At Minneapolis a bolt broke in the tonque letting the pole fall against the horses.  They ran pulling Robert off the wagon and a wheel ran over his head.  Minnie went to Rockford and took a train to Minneapolis to be with him.  He died on June 1, 1910.  Minnie married Thomas Dixon in November 1911.  They had two sons John and Glenn.


  In 1912 Aaron Furtney sold the resort to a group of Philanthropists who used the resort as a fresh air camp for city boys.  Mr. Furtney died August 18, 1915 and is buried at Austin, Minn.  Minnie died May 12 1958.


Robert and Minnie’s daughter, Martha Dixon Gilbert was born October 13, 1905.        Her husband, Willard Gilbert died in 1947.  Martha lived with her son, Robert and his wife Joyce on the original Thomas Dixon Farm in Rockford Township.  She died February 19, 2008 at the age of 102 years.        

Lake Charlotte-Girl Scout Camp Continued



Monday will begin the exodus of tired Mothers, worn and fatigued from the lack of proper rest and fresh air and of poor Children from crowded districts where they have not had the food, air and care to give them healthy bodies.  Before the close of this hot summer more than 4000 will have enjoyed the summer camp provided by the “The Fresh Air and Outing Association”.  This was an article published in the local Newspaper.  What is this all about?  Is this part of the Stimulus Plan, Obama Care Welfare or Government Bailout?  None of the above!  It was published in the Local Newspaper alright after the Association had purchased the Furtney Resort on Lake Charlotte on April 24, 1912.  The forty acres with the large farm house, sixteen cottages, boats and farm machinery was the largest of the association’s thirteen camps. These were varied from the boy’s camp on Charlotte to the Sunshine Camp at Forest Lake where seventy five   mothers and infants were given a rest.  Up to this time the camps were staffed by volunteers from various organizations during the summer activities under the direction of the Association.  The Charlotte farm offered a new concept for helping the poor families. It could be a self sustaining operation where food and other necessities could be produced on site employing the labor of the idle youth being trained and served. This required full time employees and year around supervision and operation not just during the few summer camping months.  The Board of Directors turned to the members and business associates for help in locating the right people.        


Meanwhile a young man from Austria arrived in 1909 at Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Twenty three year old John Painschaab took a job working for the Pillsbury Milling Company.  John’s first task besides learning the language of his new country was to have a young Austrian Girl join him in America.  He had just met Elizabeth Hinterregger from Bad Klienhirchheim, Austria shortly before he departed for America. (If the reader has trouble with the name of the town in Austria think about John and Liz entering America an English speaking country.) He was positive that with her at his side he could make in this new land. He sent for her and she arrived in 1910.  They were married October 18, 1911. Likely the young couple resided in Northeast Minneapolis while John continued to work at Pillsbury.  The year of 1912 found them handicapped by a strange language struggling to adapt to their new environment.  Then they experienced a most sad and heart wrenching event.   Their eagerly awaited first child was still born.  The child was buried with the traditional service at the Hillside Cemetery in Minneapolis.  Undiscouraged, the young couple remained convinced that better days lay ahead for them in this new country.  John had heard at work that his employer was an active supporter of the Fresh Air and Outing Association.  Little did he realize how this would affect his and Elizabeth’s future life.


(Authors’ note we did not find details of the Painschaab’s life between the years of 1912 and 1915.  Their family did an outstanding job of putting together the Painschaab history.

However we know this was in horse and buggy days and it is unlikely that they lived in Minneapolis and commuted to the resort daily after they bought in 1916.  That period was filled in somewhat with what I thought their circumstances were like.)


The Painschaab’s son, Leonard George was born November 4, 1913.  Early in the year of 1914 the supervisors at Pillsbury were asked to recommend employees for a job at the Rockford Farm on Lake Charlotte.  The position would include overseeing the camp for Boys as well as farming a small acreage.  A large house and farm equipment would be on site.  John’s youthful experience in Austria made him a perfect candidate for the job.

He was highly recommended and soon they were on the way to settle in the country.

The couple was hard pressed to get the resort ready for the first boys that would be arriving in July for the summer camp.  Besides cleaning and stocking the kitchen and dining room there were sixteen cabins to clean.  This operation no doubt fell to Mrs. while John worked the soil which had laid idle for a couple of years.   Tree seedlings had started to take root in the open garden area.   Plowing and planting grain and vegetables  was the first order of work then the constant attention to cultivating to clear the unwanted weeds.  Much of this was by hand and grub hoe however a team of horses was available to pull some of the farm machinery.  John and Elizabeth worked from dawn to dark through out the spring time.  Then, when the first clients arrived there time was spent training and parenting these city boys.  The Fresh Air and Outing Association did hire several workers for kitchen, lake and recreational activities. The several sponsoring organizations provided helping hands during the times their particular groups were at the camp.  Organizing and supervising the overall operation were the main duties of the managing couple.  The campers came in via the railroad at Rockford and hired teamsters provided transportation to the lake site. Every two weeks new faces appeared new mouths to be fed, new hands to be trained and minds to be developed.  This was John’s and Liz’s routine for a couple of summers.   Their son Arnold Jack was born October 21, 1914 their first daughter, Louise Margaret December 4, 1915.


I am not certain that World War One had any influence on this history but it may have so, let’s see how it fits in.  Far away in Europe war clouds were gathering.  Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in 1914.  The Austrians blamed the Serbs and a minor conflict started. Due to the many defense treaties that existed between countries the problem spread rapidly.  Large powers such as England, Germany, France and Russia became involved.  In the United States President Woodrow Wilson had taken office in March 1913.  The country remained out of the war regardless of one tragic event that cost some American Lives.  On May 1, 1915 the British Luxury Liner Lusitania left New York bound for Liverpool England.  May 5th  the ship was sunk by a German Submarine off the coast of Ireland with the loss of 1,924 lives including 114 Americans.  The vessel was also carrying munitions and war supplies.  The United States was outraged but remained neutral.  Then in April 1917 President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany.  This was when a supposed plot for war was uncovered.  A year of war followed peace returned with the signing of surrender on November 11, 1918. 


The Fresh Air Association decided to sell the camp at Lake Charlotte after the close of the 1915 season.  Whether the cost of operation was too high or was it the lack of needy boys we do not know the reason.  It well may have been the later since at that time it was a common practice for very young men to enter the Army or Navy service often at the age of 15 or 16.  Youngsters were employed in the rapidly growing clothing industry and the military equipment manufacturing offered high employment.

John and Elizabeth Painschaab purchased the Fresh Air Camp on a contract for deed on February I, 1916.  The contract required after a substantial amount down a payment of $250 annually.  They managed to scrap this together and prepared for the 1916 season operating a regular family summer resort.  Their business was good since travel to distant destination was still limited pretty much to rail. Many of the families returning were from the Furtney Village era also several new clients from the Cities found the resort. The Painschaab’s son John Peter was born November 17, 1916 followed by Daughter, Elizabeth Victoria October 27, 1917. Shortly after the end of the war another son, Herman Joe arrived February 14, 1919.  Large families were not unusual in the farming communities in those days.  It was said that this was necessary to provide enough hands to work the farm.  Perhaps the opposite was true the farm was necessary to provide for the large family.  John and Elizabeth expanded the farm operation to include chickens and milk cows. (Note Son John was killed in action in World War II).          


I read one story that indicated when the Painschaab children started elementary school their primary language was German. This may be true as that was about all the heard form birth.  The family’s closest neighbor was the Bruska Family whose ancestors had emigrated from Germany.  Also to help with the growing family a young neighbor girl, Lily Reiffler was hired. The Reifflers lived in the brick house that you see on Hiway 34 just west of Garrison Aveenue.  Grandpa Reiffler was from Germany and a brick layer hence the brick house. The Painschaab family did continue to grow with four more children born at the farm.  Antonia Kathrinia arrived September 17, 1920 and then  Joseph Henry,  January 6, 1922 followed by  Anna Marie born January 19, 1923.

Their next, a girl, you might guess was named “Charlotte” Regina born Oct.28, 1925.


The number of tillable acres was limited as major portion of the farm was taken up by the

resort business. They had borrowed money to finance building a larger barn which was needed.  Their income was pretty much limited to the few summer months from the resort  operation.  Finally they just could not make the payments and the land reverted back to the Fresh Air and Outing Association.  Elizabeth and John moved to a rental farm in Hennepin County then back to Waverly Lake. They did have one more child, Rose Marie born July 21, 1928.  John died July 28, 1966 at the age of 80 years. Elizabeth died April 5, 1973, age 86.