On May 21, 2010, at 10:29 PM, Chad Ries wrote:
Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club – Preserving History, Making Memories.
The Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club of America was founded in 1976 to preserve the heritage of the Old Sleepy Eye Flour Mill and collectible advertising items that were created by the mill.
Where it all began, Sleepy Eye, Minnesota – Mill History
The first flour mill was built in 1883. While sources disagree on the ownership of the original mill, sources do agree that the second mill was built in 1902 under president A.C. VonHagen. The mill boasted many improvements that were considered advanced for its day. The well, which was dug in 1892, produced 20,000 gallons of water in 24 hours. In 1901 the mill enlarged its copper shop, added more railroad tracks, installed power machinery, and built a 125 foot high elevator. In 1902 a 175-foot high chimney was built using 350,000 bricks. Also in 1901-1902 the main drive shaft was installed using 562 hides to create a 200-foot belt. Vertical belts with steps took employees floor to floor.
In 1909 the mill went into receivership while VonHagen was president. He blamed the government for the failure; others blamed him for unwise investments. The mill once owned 27 elevators in 2 states, a vacation home in the country and a launch on Sleepy Eye Lake. In 1914 much of the machinery was moved out of Sleepy Eye, the mill did reopen with offices in Minneapolis. In 1915 the original mill building was torn down. In 1917 the bondholders sold the mill to Kansas Flour Mills. In 1921 the flour mill had its final closing. The remaining mill building has had several owners since then. The current owner of the mill building, Bob Pelzel, was generous enough to invite the 2008 Sleepy Eye Convention attendees on a tour and historical information seminar at the mill building.
Chief Sleepy Eye (Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba)
Chief Sleepy Eye lived from 1780 to 1860, and was nick-named “sleepy eye” because of his heavily lidded eyes. His people made their home by Sleepy Eye Lake in 1857, which was originally called Pretty Water By The Big Trees. He was Chief from about 1825 until his death in 1860. Urged by a priest, Mr. VonHagen promoted a search for Chief Sleepy Eye’s remains, which were found in 1890 and interned beneath the monument dedicated October 17, 1902, in Sleepy Eye. The monument bears a likeness of the chief from a painting of him made in 1824. Interestingly, the mills trademark is NOT his portrait.
Collectible Items
The mill produced several collectible items, which are listed in order of their release below.
-1900 – Letter Opener
-1901 – Pictoral pillow tops 22×22, and possibly Red Wing pottery mugs
-1902 – Calendars and possibly fans
-1903 – Gray and blue Flemish ware, two shipments of 500,000 pieces each from Weir Pottery of Monmouth (salt bowls, butter jars, vases and steins)
-1904 – Caps for men and boys, and 9 different post cards
-Other collectible items (dates unknown)
oColored silk flour sacks
oTwo kinds of cookbooks
oMatch holders
oTen advertising cards
oSilver plated spoons
o15 inch rulers
oBread board scrapers
oBusts of trademark heads
oWigwams (1909 or earlier, possibly sold)
-Other collectible items that were sold
oDamask linen tablecloths and napkins without trademark
oBolting silk used in refining flour (120 x 160 threads by square inch)
After the mill closed, Western Stoneware produced a line of Sleepy Eye pottery mugs and pitchers. This line is sometimes referred to as “blue & white”. Also produced were steins and vases in various colors, browns, greens and blues.
Club History
Amid the idyllic setting of the Martin farm near Monmouth Illinois, a small group of Old Sleepy Eye collectors met in January 1976 to discuss the formation of a club. By the end of the meeting The Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club of America, Incorporated was formed and soon after chartered as a non-profit organization. Monmouth is the home of the Western Stoneware Company, which had produced most of the Old Sleepy Eye pottery for the Sleepy Eye Milling Company.
On March 24, 1976, the newly formed OSECC published its first Newsletter, written and edited by founding member Dick Reed. Additionally on that day, the first official club membership was issued to Howard Cooper of Monmouth Illinois, followed shortly thereafter Jim and Patti Martin, and E.W. Kolbe of Sleepy Eye Minnesota. Since that humble beginning, the club has grown throughout the years, and currently the OSECC maintains several hundred members in 35 States.
Old Sleepy Eye Collector’s Lament
This song composed and sung by former member, the late Doc Nau, sums up collecting Old Sleepy Eye items:
One day at an auction, what did my wife spy?
But a broken old pitcher, called “Old Sleepy Eye”.
She brought it home, we use it as a vase,
And now we have Old Sleepy Eye all over the place.
Sleepy Eye flour is what started it all
And a droopy eyed Indian, about six feet tall
A town in Minnesota, an Indian by the same name
That’s when Western Pottery and Old Sleepy Eye started their fame.
Seventy years later, we started a club
For Old Sleepy Eye collectors, dealers and such.
Now we have a convention, where we buy and sell
Some pieces are cheap, some are higher than hell.
There’s pitchers, vases, bowls, steins and mugs
So come all you collectors with the Sleepy Eye bug.
You’ll meet wonderful people and have lots of fun
Bring the whole family and plenty of mon.
A droopy eyed Indian from the great northern plains
That’s were Old Sleepy Eye first got its name.
Old Sleepy Eye, Old Sleepy Eye, you are so hard to find
But we still go hunting you when we see an auction sign.
Convention Information
Currently, the Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club has several hundred active members across the United States. Every year the club holds a convention. The convention is an excellent place to see rare items, meet others who have similar collecting interests and buy or sell items at auction. The 2010 Convention is scheduled for August 5th, 6th& 7thin Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This year’s convention events will include the exhibition and trade of OSE items, seminars, tours, the annual club business meeting and banquet, the auction, and the 2010 Limited Edition Commemorative. Only registered convention attendees are entitled to receive a Commemorative, and all those attending the convention must be OSECC members.

____________________________________

Club Officers & Board of Directors

____________________________________

President / Dennis Netten - term: 2012 – 2013
2009 N. Park Ave / Oskaloosa, IA 52577-2490 / 641-676-1637

____________________________________

Vice-President / Chad Ries [Danielle] - term: 2012- 2013
2578 County RD CC  / 262-644-6454

____________________________________

Secretary-Treasurer / Jill Haala - term: 2012 – 2013
P.O. Box 103 / Morgan, MN 56266 / 507-249-4900

____________________________________

Board members / Gary & Niceene Connolly - term: 2011 – 2014
14435 Autumn Rd / Wapella, IL 61777 / 309-473-3273

____________________________________

Board members / Bill & Jean Engel - term: 2011 – 2014
4920 US 20 W / Freeport, IL 61032 / 815-233-2545

____________________________________

Board members / Alan & Gracille Gickler - term: 2012 – 2015
717 Surrey Court / Clinton, IA 52732 / 563-242-3177

____________________________________

Board members / James Marker & Mary Jane Pahos - term: 2012 – 2015
27949 County RD H / Webster, WI 54893 / 715-635-6688

____________________________________

Board members / Ron & Sue Disch - term: 2010 – 2013
1503 6th Street / Monroe, WI 53566 / 608-325-6440

____________________________________

Board member / Jame Mertens - term: 2012 – 2013
620 Chelsea Drive, Algonquin, IL  60612

____________________________________