History in Minnesota, U.S.A.


Dahlheimers of Minnesota, 1855 – present


Werner and Emily Dahlheimer


George and Geraldine Dahlheimer’s fifth child, Werner, was born October 26, 1897, in Dayton Township on George’s 80 acre farm near Diamond Lake.


Werner was 18 years old when his father, George, died in 1915.


In early 1916, Werner went to a "house dance", a popular social event at the time. Here, everyone would square dance to music from any combination of violins, fiddles, trombones, coronets and a piano. It was said that if you couldn't play the fiddle you weren't a Frenchman. It was at a dance such as this that Werner Dahlheimer and Emily Bebeau met. 


Emily Bebeau was a woman of French descent from Dayton Township, near French Lake. Emily was the daughter of Peter and Rose Bebeau who lived on a 90 acre farm on the southeast shore of French Lake.  

Click here for more information about Emily  

Click here for photos of Werner and Emily (Bebeau) Dahlheimer’s Family


One and one-half years later, Emily and Werner were married on the morning of November 28, 1917, at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Osseo.


Werner and Emily on their wedding day, Nov. 28, 1917


At that time, anyone who wanted could attend the wedding and the celebrations as no formal invitations were sent out. Werner and Emily were married in the old church in Osseo; later that day they had a wedding dance in a large room above a store in Rogers.


After their wedding, Emily returned with Werner to his 160-acre family farm near Rogers.  In 1917, this land belonged to Werner’s mother, Geraldine (Tina), as his father, George, had died two years earlier in 1915.  Werner and Emily lived on the farm with Tina, and Werner's younger brother, Walter, and his wife, E. Florence. The rest of Werner's brothers and sisters were married and had their own homes.  Werner had primary responsibility for running the farm.


Emily and Werner appear first as a family in the 1920 census for Hassan Township, Hennepin County, Minnesota, under the household of “Warner Dahlheimer”:


Werner's mother, Tina, lived with Emily and Werner until they built a small house for her not far from the main farmhouse. Tina lived there until her' death on May 11, 1927. It was in this little house that the entire family would gather for holidays and family celebrations. 


After Tina’s death in 1927, $240 from her estate was donated to the Church of St. Martins for stained glass windows. 

Source:  A Church of Their Own: Church of St. Martin of ToursRogers, Minnesota – 1912-2002, published by CMC Publishers (2002).


In 1928, after Tina had died, Werner bought the 160 acre farm for $18,000. He was able to do this without incurring any debt as he had sufficient savings. 


Electricity was installed on the farm on July 18, 1929. 

Werner and Emily Dahlheimer's 160 acre farm near Rogers in Hassan Township, Hennepin County, Minnesota, 1930-40


In 1930, the family appears in the census for Rogers, Hennepin County, Minnesota, under the family name “Warren Dalheimer”, which was incorrectly stated:


Emily and Werner worked hard to make a living on the farm. Between the two of them they milked 15-17 cows twice a day by hand, farmed the land, and raised hogs and chickens. Prior to milking machines, it took them two hours to milk their cows. After this was done they would haul the milk from the barn up to the house to separate the cream. This was done using a hand cream-separator. They would then store the cream in the basement until it could be picked up and hauled to the creamery in town. The creamery would then issue them a check.


Emily and Werner also planted and sold potatoes, raised chickens, and sold eggs. On the average, Emily and Werner raised 175 laying chickens which produced approximately 125 eggs per day (10-12 dozen). These eggs were then sold for $0.30 a dozen, which came to about $3.00 a day. Each spring they would butcher the old hens, sell them and buy new chicks for the following year.


Emily and Werner worked together to farm the land and raise their family. Emily could run every piece of farm machinery and did all sorts of backbreaking physical chores, like tying bails, husking corn from the shock, husking standing corn, harrowing, picking stones, and the like.


Werner and Emily had their first child, Julia, in 1918, and seven additional children between then and 1935:  Lucille, Lillian, Dorothy, George, Harvey, Howard and Marlene.




With the exception of Marlene, all of the children were born on the farm. When the baby was due, Werner would summon the doctor from Osseo. He would come out to the farm to deliver the baby, normally stay about three hours for the delivery and charge $35. Emily would then stay in bed for 8-9 days and a maid would be hired to help out. They would pay the maid about $1-2 per day. Werner and Emily's last child, Marlene, was born in the hospital. For this delivery, Emily spent ten days in the hospital, resulting in a charge of about $100.


The Great Depression years following 1929 were difficult for Werner and his family. Luckily, when the U.S. became involved in World War II, Werner was not called into the service since farmers were exempt from the draft. Werner and Emily provide us some ideas what these times were like through an interview conducted by their granddaughter, Kay Dahlheimer, in the spring of 1976.



Kay Dahlheimer's Interview with Werner and Emily Dahlheimer in the spring of 1976, regarding the 1930-40 depression years.


Q = question asked by Kay

A = response by Werner and/or Emily


Q- What did you do for enjoyment?

A- Tried to make the best of what we had...the depression was so bad in a way that you were just glad that you could eat and live.


Q- What was your social life like?

A- We didn't go out much...there was a small town theater that we used to go to once and a while...to see some of the old shows...that was about it...We'd pack the kids up in an 'old model T...


Q- What was the largest problem that you had at this time?

A- Around 1934 there was a drought...in 1930 or so we built the barn and Emily was carrying Howard...then Harvey got sick with convulsions...


Q- At this time it costs about $1500 to have a baby in the hospita1...what did it cost to have a child when you had children?

A- The doctor cost $20-25, then we had a maid corne to the house and she charged $1-2 per day. In 1935 when Marlene was born Emily spent 10 days in the hospital and it cost $48, with a doctor bill of $30. When the children were born at home we had them in the old bedroom...Emily stayed there for 9 days...


Q- What was your annual income?

A- At the most $2000...taxes were about $175...you could buy a pair of overalls for $0.75...


Q- Were you able to save any money during the depression?

A- No...


Q- Did you have any money in the bank when it closed?

A- No...in 1928-29 when grandma (Tina) died, we bought the farm...I bought it clear using money I had in the Anoka and Rogers bank...I took it all out and paid off my debt...I didn't owe anybody anything on the farm and didn't have any money in the bank. The farm cost $18000 at that time.


Q- Did you have any employees working for you?

A- Yes...we always had a hired man...we paid him $30 per month after the depression, but prior to that we could only pay him $20-25 per month...


Q- How long after the depression did you keep your employees?

A- We had to keep him on because Werner was the only other man that could help out...we didn't have machinery like they do today...


Q- When the banks were open, what kind of interest did you earn?

A- 2 percent...we put our money in Minnesota Federal.


Q- What kind of car did you drive?

A- A model-T Ford.


Q- How much did it cost then?

A- $8-900.


Q- How much did grocery items cost? And any other items?

A- Bread was $.04 a loaf …. $1.75 for 100 pounds of milk….$2.50 for a pair of shoes...snuff for $.05 a box


Q- Did you or did you know anyone who worked for the WPA (Workers Progress Association)?

A- Emily's uncle and brother did….they fixed roads, hauled dirt...we knew someone who burnt their corn because they couldn't get any money for it...


Q- What did you think of the government at that time?

A- We didn't have time to think of the government...we had our own problems to deal with...I don't think I even voted in my younger years...we were just interested in our own business and the government was its own business.  We didn't have TV or radio...we didn't have time to read...we didn't get a daily paper...during the depression we cancelled our telephone...we were isolated from the world...there was nobody coming around making big speeches like they do nowadays on TV...


Q- Is there anything you'd like to say about the depression?

A- It was something that you wouldn't want to see happen again but maybe it did the world some good. We wouldn't be living quite as fast as we are today.

A- There were lots of beggars on the road at that time...one time we took the three kids and went out husking corn by hand...when we came back there was a beggar on the steps with cake frosting all over himself...he'd gone into the house and helped himself to a cake that Emily had baked... we didn't lock the doors back then...there were a lot of beggars around...you'd see one every couple of days...some just wanted a little money or a sandwich...this was in 1934...


In order to survive these times, Werner and sons, George and Harvey, spent one year working in Minneapolis at a fish company. During this worked on the farm during the day and at the fish company at night.


Emily and Werner were members of the local parish, St. Martin’s Catholic Church, in Rogers.  Emily was a member of the Christian Mothers organization from its foundation in 1939 and was ultimately recognized in 1989 at the 50th anniversary of the group. Other Dahlheimer relatives were also recognized, including:  Bernadette (Dahlheimer) Zahler (daughter of Frank, son of Henry) and Delrose (Dahlheimer) Milless (daughter of Henry, grandson of Valentine).  Emily and Werner’s daughter, Lucille Gmach would later serve on the board in 1950 as the first elected “Secretary” and from 1971-1992 as chairperson in the kitchen for the annual Church Summer Festival and Chicken Dinner.  Lucille and Emily helped prepare the famous chicken dinner at the festival and it was Emily (and Alice Dahlheimer, wife of William, grandson of Valentine) who created the celebrated Bazaar Dressing: 


“Although the chicken has taken top billing at all the St. Martin’s summer festivals, other parts of the meal drew just as much attention. The recipe for the popular dressing…was kept a secret for many years.  When the festival received a mention in the Minneapolis Tribune column in the 1950s, St. Martin’s parishioner Mrs. Donald Zahler refused to give out the recipe.  It’s a “closely-guarded secret,” concluded the writer Ralph Thornton after interviewing Mrs. Zahler.  The truith is that for many years the dressing formula was not written down.  According to Lucille Gmach, her mother, Emily Dahlheimer, and parishioner Alice Dahlheimer first made the festival dressing “by gosh and by guess.”  It was later written down, hoever, to prevent any alteration (either by accident or intention)… The original recipe was:


Bazaar Dressing (use No. 2 wash tub)


20 pounds of hamburger (fried)

½ of your liver, gizzard, heart (precook, grind, and divide up for each tub in equal amount). We make five tubs.

20 – one and one-half pound loaves of toasted bread

3 quarts of cut up celery (precook)

2 quarts of onions (partly fried)

12 eggs

1 ¼ cups salt

4 tablespoons pepper

3 to 4 tablespoons Accent seasoning

3 tablespoons poultry seasoning

Add more seasoning if necessary.


Source of the above:  A Church of Their Own: Church of St. Martin of ToursRogers, Minnesota – 1912-2002, published by CMC Publishers (2002), p.46-


Note by the author:  As the granddaughter of Emily and Werner, I can attest that the Chicken dinner was fabulous, and the festival itself, with bingo and rides/games for the children was truly memorable.  I grew up looking forward to this annual event!  It was also a great opportunity to see all the relatives.


Following is a photo of Werner and Emily in the 1940’s:


Christmas Day, December 25, 1942, at the home of Werner and Emily Dahlheimer in Rogers, MN


In 1977, Werner and Emily celebrated their Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary. They celebrated this event with a dinner and party with all of their children, grandchildren and good friends.


Werner and Emily Dahlheimer's 60th Wedding Anniversary, 1977


Werner and Emily's children, 60th Wedding Anniversary, 1977

Front, left to right: George, Werner, Marlene, Emily, Harvey, Howard

Back, left to right: Lillian, Lucille, Dorothy



Some of Werner and Emily's grandchildren, 60th Wedding Anniversary, 1977


On September 16, 1978, at the age of 80, Werner passed away.  Emily died almost 13 years later on April 30, 1991 at the age of 92.  Both are buried at St Martin's Cemetery, Rogers, Minnesota.


Emily (Bebeau) Dahlheimer, 80 years old, April 15, 1979



Werner and Emily Dahlheimer's 160 acre farm near Rogers in Hassan Township, Hennepin County, Minnesota, 1960-70


The 160-acres of Dahlheimer land in Rogers were located at the southwest quarter of section 14.  This land was obtained from the U.S. government and was owned, between 1862 and 1909 by an Irish family called “Mulrean” (Matthew, then his son William).  On 28 December 1909, the land was sold for $10,900 to George Dahlheimer, Werner’s father.  Upon his death in 1915, the land was divided between his wife, Geraldine (Tina) and his children.  Tina died in 1927, and in 1928/29, Werner and Emily purchased the entire farm for $28,000.


After Werner and Emily’s deaths (1978/1991, respectively), their children proceeded to develop the 160 acres of the original homestead into a major retail shopping center.  Whereas the farm used to be adjacent to a gravel road which went into nearby Rogers, today the property is located at a major highway intersection of Interstate 94/Highway 52 and MN 101.  The entire area is under development and continues to grow.  The original Dahlheimer homestead now includes a variety of commercial businesses, including retail outlets, such as a Target Superstore and Kohls, various restaurants, and a Hummer dealership. 


Following is a map from 2006 showing the approximate location of the original 160 acres owned by George Dahlheimer and eventually his son, Werner: