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Back and Forth: The early home of Dr. Henry Plummer

Dr. Henry Plummer Home

Dr. Henry Stanley Plummer, the famed Mayo Clinic physician, was born March 3, 1874 to Dr. Albert and Isabelle Plummer in the little community of Hamilton. This little village lies a mile and a half east and a mile south of Racine on the Mower-Fillmore County road.

Sonja Hoag, a retired Mayo Clinic nurse, and her retired husband, many years a preacher, live in the home where Plummer was born.

"The 20-acre farm is surrounded by five springs, one right in our backyard," Hoag said. "The Mower County line road runs east-west in front of our home, where we've lived for 25 years."

My question to some folks who had "roots" in and around Racine and Hamilton was, when did Dr. Albert Plummer leave Hamilton and move to Racine to practice medicine?

Elinor Lamb, who's nearly 88 was not sure, but the move came as the result of the railroad bypassing Hamilton for Racine. Dr. Albert Plummer built a large home that stands close to the United Methodist Church in Racine.


Half of the home was residence and half was the doctor's office, said Joyce Johnson, 93, the former Racine creamery manager.

"There were 3 churches in Hamilton, a school, 2 stores, a feed mill down near Bear Creek, a fanning mill factory and the village was served by a stage coach line" he said.

Retired farmer Alden Marburger, 82, recalls going to that country school in the 1930s and 40s. The Hamilton cemetery lies nearby.

Elinor Lamb of Rochester tells the story of her grandfather, Charlie Stiles, who lived directly west of the Dr. Plummer home in Hamilton, calling out to Plummer: "Come — my wife is having a baby." That baby was her father, William Albert Stiles.

Elinor told me also that Dr. Plummer, after leaving the area for Rochester, where he joined the Mayo Clinic in 1901, used to fill his Ford Model T rumble seat with special rocks to surround his big mansion today, called the Plummer House in southwest Rochester. These were used for outside landscaping walls and patio stones around the garden. The home was built in the early 1920s.

One other contact I made on the Plummer home in Hamilton is Don Cooper, a retired farmer now living in Spring Valley. He was born in 1934 in the Plummer House in Hamilton.

He called those stones "cheese rock" from nearby Vin Chamberlain's pasture. They were surface-lime rock with little "pocks" in them, but they were not used in building his Rochester home. Dr. Plummer took peonies back as a thank you for each load of rock. Don believes the Hamilton home was built about 1854 when 200 lived in the town.

Don's story said Hamline University in St. Paul got its start from Bronson Institute in Hamilton where there were 34 students. There was a nearby bluff overlooking Bear Creek, ideal for the indians' encampment. Both Sonja Hoag and Don talked of the artesian springs in the area, one of which lies across the road from the Hamilton Plummer home.


Dr. Henry Plummer's life was filled with many accomplishments. He died of a stroke Dec. 31, 1936 which he had diagnosed himself at work. He drove home and rested in the garage for a short time. He then went into his home, sat down and lost consciousness and died at age 62. His funeral was held at Calvary Episcopal Church and he was buried in Oakwood cemetery.

Next week:Remembering "You and the Out-of-Doors" with Dr. M.M. Hargraves.

Harley Flathers is a longtime Rochester-area broadcaster and historian. Got a comment for Harley? Send it to news@postbulletin.com or to Harley at Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903. His column runs on Thursdays.


150th anniversary events

In this 150th anniversary year of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, A new book "The Nurses of Mayo Clinic: Caring Healers" will be coming out during National Nurses Week May 6-12. Also in May, carillon concerts are planned from the Plummer Building tower. And a new coffee table book "Art & Healing at Mayo Clinic" will be available. Watch for special floral displays on Mayo campuses.

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