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Carlson Block and Tile Company
Presentation to the Annandale History Club
April 4, 2016
Don Carlson

Don Carlson, the youngest of his family, is 92 and said he has lived more years than any member of the Carlson family.  He moved to the metro area when he was a young adult.  Don’s presentation was about the block and tile factory his father, Charlie Carlson, started about 1919 in Southside Township. The Carlson block factory was near present-day Southbrook.   

Carl “Charlie” A. Carlson was born in Sodra Finnskoga, Varmland, Sweden, in January 1866.  In 1883 at age 17 he immigrated with his parents, Arndt and Karin Carlson, who settled near North Crow River Church in Cokato Township.  In 1886 Charlie moved near Annandale.  In 1899 he married Anna Louisa “Louise” Johnson.  He purchased 80 acres in Southside Township, Section 25, 40 acres on each side of present-day Harrison Street (the street that goes by the road to Southbrook).  The family home was on the south side.  Circa 1919 he started a concrete block and drain tile (pipe) factory on the 40 acres on the north.  The blocks could be rock face or smooth.  He also made a small amount of bricks.  Charlie operated the factory until his death in 1932.  His son George continued the business until circa 1952.

There was a sand pit on the premises.  There were two rails and a cart with steel wheels.  The factory was very hot inside, which dried the blocks.  Charlie could look at a site and figure out how many blocks or bricks were needed.  Don Carlson showed a half-block mold that was used at the factory.    

Charlie (C.A.) Carlson was a charter member when St. John’s Lutheran Church organized in 1886.  He served as either trustee or deacon most of the time since then, and for a time as church president.  Charlie and his father helped build the St. John’s Lutheran Church in 1891.  The original church was replaced in 1959.   

Family members were Chas. A. Carlson (1866-1932); wife Louise (Anna Louisa Johnson Carlson, 1879-1935); Annie, Mrs. Fred Olson (1900-1981); Amelia (Mrs. Gerald Shaughnessy); Alfred; Clara (Mrs. Harold DeChaney); Leonard (1909-1982); George 1914-1983); and Donald.  Donald said his mother died in 1935 when he was 11, and he and his brother George “batched it” until George married Rubye Stokes in 1941.

Rodney Carlson, George’s son and Charlie’s grandson, razed the block factory and the remains of the old log house.  He has a new house on the north 40 acres.  The original Carlson house on the south 40 acres is still standing.  It has been brick-faced and there is an addition to the house.

There were other brick and block factories in Annandale.    

Many Carlson relatives were in attendance to hear Don’s presentation.

Annandale Advocate, August 26, 1926:  Little Visits Around the Rural Section, by the Editor  --

C. A. Carlson – At the age of 17, C.A. Carlson came to this country with his parents, settling near
French Lake.  He was born in Varmland, Sweden, January 7, 1866, and was married August 23, 1899, to Louise Johnson and settled on a farm one mile west of Annandale on the Lake John road.  They had $18 when they started and 80 acres of land which was mostly virgin timber land at that time.  Mrs. Carlson was born in Dahlin, Sweden, on January 8, 1879.

The same year they came, the railroad made a survey to build a railroad and two years later they sold their right-of-way to the Soo Line.  The old log house which Mr. Carlson built is still standing and is being preserved as one of the early landmarks in this section of the country.  He was the first Scandinavian to settle in Southside.

With seven Holstein milk cows, a number of hogs, and 150 chickens, producing from the 80 good results that come from only hard work and strict attention to business.  A good size silo graces the place and he also owns a silo filling outfit.  At first Mr. Carlson experimented with a four-acre tract of alfalfa, inoculated the patch with the best seed he could get and told the writer that although at the beginning he did not have very good success, today has six acres of the most excellent stand of afalfa and would not be without it in the dairy business.

In addition to farming Mr. Carlson has an asset that very few farmers can boast of and that is a mountain of wealth contained in 1 ½ acres of the finest sand suitable for drain tile, cement blocks, Duntile and brick.  He has capitalized on these resources and has built a factory for the manufacture of cement products for which a big demand seems to be prevalent.  Every year more and more cement construction is being used and the possibilities in this business are unlimited.  Unfortunately, Mr. Carlson’s health does not permit him to develop the enterprise as much as he could.  At present his annual output is 6,000 blocks a year.

Mr. and Mrs. Carlson have a fine family of seven children who are: Mrs. Fred Olson, Amelia, stenographer at Pillsbury Mills, Minneapolis, Clara, also of Minneapolis, Alfred, Leonard, George and Donald, at home.


Notes by Annandale History Club Secretary