The Bergquist Cabin is the oldest house in Moorhead on its original frontier site. The home was constructed in the early spring of 1871 by Swedish immigrant John Gustav Bergquist. He cut the trees on the other side of the Red River, in what's now Fargo's Oak Grove Park, and skidded the logs across the frozen water with rented oxen. The Swedish homesteader moved into the space by April and supplemented his farm income working on the railroad and selling milk door-to-door.
John's brother Peter moved in by 1875 and the two added a second story to the cabin. By 1880 Peter had moved out to work in a local grocery, and John continued to farm his homestead with hired hands. In 1881 he started Bergquist Brickyards and found boom-and-bust prosperity building Moorhead with the Red River Valley's yellow, Lake Agassiz clay. In 1882 there were five brickmaking companies in Moorhead employing 135 men and producing 8.5 million bricks a year. Their kilns glowed on the outskirts of town.
In 1883 John built a new frame house near his brickyard in north Moorhead. He sold the cabin and 15 acres of his homesite to Elijah and Betsy Houck, New York transplants who started a vegetable farm on the site. In 1895 their household included their daughter, a housekeeper, and a 26-year-old farmhand named Charles Peterson. Following Elijah's death in 1904, Peterson purchased the cabin and farm. He and his family found success growing vegetables on the site and eventually built a large truck garden operation. His sons Robert and Hank continued the operation as Peterson Brothers Truck Farm. Longtime employee Edward Schamberger rented the house until his retirement in 1970.
The house remained empty for some time, but in 1976 Hank Peterson received a letter about the property from local WDAY weatherman Dewey Bergquist. Bergquist was the grandson of John Bergquist, and he and his wife Tess were especially interested in preserving the cabin's history. After hearing their pitch, so was Hank Peterson. In 1978 Peterson turned the homesite over to the newly-formed Bergquist Pioneer Cabin Society, who restored the cabin to its 1870s structure. In 1979 the organization entered an agreement with the Clay County Historical Society to later transfer ownership. In a September 25, 1989, vote, the Bergquist Pioneer Cabin Society completed that task.
Today the Bergquist Cabin is located at 1008 7th Street North in Moorhead, MN. The building is owned and maintained by the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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The Bergquist Cabin has been supported in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Culture Heritage Fund through a Minnesota state appropriation.
The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County would also like to thank the Swedish Council of America and individual donors for their support of Bergquist Cabin preservation.