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Albert A. "Gus" Thayer, 1848-1923

Albert A. “Gus” Thayer

Albert Augustus “Gus” Thayer (1848-1923)

Carolyn “Carrie” (Hill) Thayer (1859-1942)

1848:  Albert A. Thayer was born in Adrian, Mich., December 28, 1848, to David and Catherine (Warren) Thayer.  His forefathers migrated from England and came over on the Mayflower.

1854:  At the age of five, Albert Thayer came with his family to Hennepin County, Minnesota, to a 160-acre farm east of Osseo. Albert attended the district schools and was reared to farm pursuits.

1864:  Albert Thayer enlisted as a musician (drummer boy) in the Seventh Minnesota Volunteer Infantry.  He was 16 and lied about his age. He saw southern service for seven months.  He was mustered out at Fort Snelling August 16, 1865.  After his father’s death, he operated the home farm until 1878.

1869:  Albert married Mary Colbern (1850-1975) of Osseo, Minn.  She died in 1875 leaving two children, William (1871-?) and LeRoy (1873-1950).

1878:  Albert Thayer went to Fair Haven in Stearns County and took the contract for the Star mail route between Fair Haven and St. Cloud, a distance of 20 miles.  He operated a daily stage over this route for ten years.  At the same time he conducted the Star Hotel at Fair Haven.

1880:  Albert married Caroline Hill, whose parents, Horace and Eliza Hill, were pioneers at Forest City.  The Hill family moved to Monticello to take refuge from the Indians during the 1862 Dakota Uprising. 

Five children were born to Albert and Carolyn Thayer:  Elsie May (1879-1950); Effie (1883-1976), wife of J.E. Walters; Albert “Bert” H. (1887-1966); Martha; and Agnes (1895-1987).

1888:  “Memories of Annandale,” by Lotus Williams:  When the railroads came to the area, hotels were built to accommodate the travelers, the people who came for vacations, and the railroad workers.  Two hotels were started across the street from one another on Oak Ave.  John Charles built the first hotel in Annandale in 1887 on the west side of Oak Ave.  Across the street, on the east side of Oak Street, Red O’Loughlin built the Pleasant Lake House in 1888.  (The two hotels were on the corners of Oak and Elm   Street (present-day Highway 55.)  The two hotels looked much like the hotel Albert Thayer built in 1895, without the balconies.  

1890:  Albert Thayer moved to Annandale and had charge of the livery for four years.

1894:  Albert Thayer went into the hotel business managing the Annandale House, formerly the Charles Hotel.

Pioneer Park Big Woods News, Dec. 2010, by Brian Partridge:  On December 4, 1894 at 10:00 a.m. the Annandale House burned down. The disaster caused the owner D. Lanore a total loss of $1,800, while the Thayers lost everything, valued at $200 and with no insurance.  The Thayers were in need of a place to live, so they purchased the Brooks Photography building near where the current Thayer Hotel stands.  Having gained acceptance in the community, there was a concern for their well being.  So it was on December 26th the same year that Gus was appointed constable of Annandale.

The Annandale House was a great loss to the business community.  Even the Soo Line knew of the impact of travel to this area.  Almost immediately, the Soo Line offered Gus land and operating capital to build a new hotel opposite their train depot in town…  On August 1, 1895, work began on the foundation of the new “Thayer Hotel.” 

Annandale Centennial Book, 1988):  “In 1895 the hotel Albert Thayer managed burned down.  Thayer immediately started building the Annandale hotel, which he owned and operated.  When the hotel burned down, the Soo Line Railroad convinced him to build the Thayer Hotel to accommodate passengers who were beginning to come to Annandale’s resorts.  Also, by now, there were over 700 people living in Annandale, and the need for a good eating and lodging establishment was there.

“The Soo Line depot was across from the hotel, a livery next door to the east.  Main Street (Oak Ave.) was bustling with a variety of businesses.  A boardwalk connected the hotel with the train depot before State Highway 55 was constructed.  The Thayer Hotel was a favorite stopping place for drummers (salesmen), recreation seekers and local diners.”

Minneapolis Journal, July 21, 1900:  “… A.A. Thayer of the Thayer Hotel is one of the most popular of the Soo Line landlords and an excellently astute businessman.  With a gift of land as a bonus and working capital, he has erected a three-story hotel of some forty rooms.  Under its hospitable roof nearly every drummer and sportsman in the state has blessed his lot and encored his piano rendition of “The Girl I Left Behind” and “The Campbells are Coming.”

1904:  St. Paul Daily Globe, May 23, 1904:  The Thayer Hotel is the leading $2 per day house on the Soo Line Railroad between St. Paul and Minot.  The proprietor, A.A. Thayer has been in the hotel business for 20 years and knows what the public wants, and is always ready to serve them.  Mrs. Thayer is in charge of the dining room, and this insures a good meal.

“Memories of Annandale,” by Lotus Williams:  “The Thayers had operated an hotel in Fair Haven for ten years and were experienced operators.  The Thayer House had 35 rooms, a sample room where traveling salesmen could display their samples to buyers, and a fine dining room.  Mrs. Thayer was an excellent cook and well-prepared food made her dining room popular.  Thayer House cared for transients and also provided a home for unattached residents of Annandale.

Some of the teachers, the druggist, the editor of the Advocate and several others found a comfortable home with the Thayers.  Relations between them were most cordial.  The following incident illustrates their feeling.  The Golden Rule Store in St. Paul had just instituted the practice of selling goods on credit with monthly payments.  Mr. Thayer purchased red carpets for the halls and rooms and was unable to meet the payment on time.  The Golden Rule came to reclaim the carpet.  The permanent residents enjoyed their carpets so much that they banded together and paid for the carpets, presenting them to the Thayers.  The Thayers operated their hotel until Mr. Thayer died.  They had five children, four daughters and one son.  Their eldest daughter, Effie, married James Walters, son of George Walters who owned the livery stable next door.  In time, James and Effie operated both hotel and livery.”

1909:  Great Northwest Magazine, Dec. 1909:  “ …we are glad to make mention of such an excellent  house as the Thayer of which J. E. Walters is proprietor.  There are 35 rooms in this three-story hotel and they have been tastily decorated, steam heated and lighted with gas, while nothing that would add to the pleasure and comfort of the guest has been over-looked.  This is one of the best houses in Wright County and has a large patronage.  There is an elegant dining room with seating capacity for 38 where first class meals are served…  Mr. Walters is of honorable character, quiet and unassuming, a staunch friend and an honest fellow.  Previous to his becoming landlord of the Thayer, he was engaged in the livery business and still conducts the same.”

1915:  History of Wright County, 1915:  Mr. Thayer is quartermaster of Buzzell Post No. 24, GAR, at Annandale.  

Mr. and Mrs. Thayer have five children.  Elsie May is at home; Effie is the wife of J.E. Walters of Annandale; Bert H. is cashier of the State Bank of Annandale; Martha is in the post office in Belgrade, Minn.; Agnes is a student at the State Normal School in St. Cloud.        

1923:   Annandale Advocate March 3, 1923:  Civil War Veteran Answers Final Taps.  Albert A. Thayer, pioneer Minnesota settler and hotel keeper died at his home here Saturday.  Albert A. Thayer was born in Adrian, Michigan, December 28, 1848.  He was the only son of David B. and Catherine Warren Thayer.

In 1854 he came with his parents to Hennepin County and settled on a farm near Osseo, Minnesota.  He had an intimate acquaintance with the privations of pioneer life, when folks got along quite well with such conveniences as log houses and dirt floors.  All honor to that hardy generation that cleared the acres and first broke the ground.  During the Indian fright he kept the horses harnessed day and night in order that the family might flee at the first alarm.

In 1864 at the age of 16 years, he enlisted as a musician in the 7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and saw southern service for seven months.  He was mustered out at Fort Snelling August 16, 1865.

After his father’s death, he operated the home farm until 1878 when he moved to Fair Haven, Stearns County, Minnesota, and took the contract for the Star Mail route between Fair Haven and St. Cloud, a distance of 20 miles.  He also operated a daily stage over this route for ten years and at the same time conducted the Star Hotel at Fair Haven.

In the year 1890 he moved to Annandale and managed the hotel and livery business.  After the hotel burned, he erected the present Annandale Hotel and carried on the business until 1916.  In the fall he moved to northern Minnesota and conducted a farm for four years, and then returned to Annandale and again took up his residence here.

He was married in 1869 to Mary Colburn of Osseo, who died in 1875.  In 1880 he was united in marriage to Carrie J. Hill, who with the following children survive him:  William W. of Rhinelander, Wis.; Leroy D. of Clarissa, Minn., Elsie May, Agnes F., Bert H., and Mrs. J.E. Walters, all of Annandale, and Mrs. George Rochat of Osseo.  He has two sisters, Mrs. J.E. Fullerton of Los Angeles. Cal., and Mrs. W.C. Weeks of Charleston, Ill. He has 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He died at his home in Annandale on Saturday, March 3, 1923, at the age of 74 years, two months and three days, following an illness of only one week.  (Note:  Cause of death was pneumonia.  Interment at Woodlawn Cemetery, Annandale.)

Mr. Thayer was an active, energetic man, giving liberally of his time, labor and sympathy to all whom he could.  He was an honorable gentleman.  To man, woman or child, he always extended a cordial greeting that lent a ray of light to brighten their pathway in the journey of life.  We extend our sympathy and bow humbly to the will of God.

Funeral services were conducted Monday at the Methodist church at 1:30 p.m., Rev. Kishpaugh officiating, assisted by the John L. Buzzell Post GAR.  Members of the American Legion were pall bearers.  The Circle ladies attended in a body.  The floral offerings were many and beautiful.  Several old time friends, whose acquaintance was made when he was landlord in the hotel, sent flowers.         

1940:  Albert and Caroline Thayer’s son Bert (1887-1966) and his wife Ruby Cofield Thayer (1888-1982) operated the Thayer Department Store in Annandale from 1940 to 1965.  Their son Gordon operated the store with his parents.

1942:  Annandale Advocate, August 20, 1942:  Mrs. A.A. Thayer passed away at the Fairview Hospital in Minneapolis.  She was married to Mr. Albert A. Thayer.  They ran the local hotel in Annandale.

1978:  Annandale Centennial Book, 1988:  “The City of Annandale acquired the hotel in 1978, shortly after it was designated a National Historic Site.  Because of the bad state of repair, some city leaders threatened to tear it down; however, thanks to a court injunction obtained by local visionary progressives, it was avoided until a viable restoration plan was accepted by the city in 1984.”

Compiled by the Annandale History Club Secretary