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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • In the McPhail line: City founder’s descendants visit Redwood Falls

  • When Steve Hokanson was growing up, he heard stories about a great-times-three grandfather who founded a town named Redwood Falls; last year, Hokanson decided to find out about it....
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  • Last year Steve Hokanson decided to track down a family legend. Hokanson, who now lives in Arizona, was summering at Lake Minnetona. He had heard vague stories from his mother that his great-great-great-grandfather had founded a town in southwest Minnesota — someplace called “Redwood Falls” — so he went to check it out. “I stopped by a store and asked where I could find the Chamber of Commerce. I figured if anyone would know about the history of they town, that would be the place,” Hokanson said, taking a break during the Sesquicentennial celebrations on June 21. “The clerk at the store said, ‘Oh, you want to go talk to Scott’, and told me where to find Larson’s Home Furnishings. “When I got there, I asked if he knew who Sam McPhail was,” Hokanson said. “Scott said, ‘You mean Sammy?’ They were on a first name basis!” Hokanson introduced himself, and Larson rushed for the nearest phone. Hokanson said, “He called someone and said, ‘You’ll never guess who I have standing here — a direct descendant of Sam McPhail.’ “Gary Revier was there five minutes later. They gave me their undivided attention for the whole day, and gave me a tour of the town.” During that day, Hokanson got to see where McPhail built the original Redwood stockade in 1864, and other landmarks of the town’s early days. Hokanson, now 60, chose a good time to get to know the town; the 150th birthday was coming up. He was asked if he’d like to take part somehow. “This is all very new to me since last summer,” he said. “Scott sent me volumes of information about McPhail. I’ve been getting a real sense of pride to learn someone in my past was a real go-getter. He was smarter than the average guy, and not a scardy cat about taking new things on.” For the 150th anniversary weekend, Hokanson invited along his first-cousin, Becky Weinkauf, who had also grown up hearing stories about an ancestor who started a town. “Coming here has been kind of like deje vu, but not,” she laughed. “It’s been wonderful to go walking in areas Sam McPhail walked in. It’s been a joy meeting the wonderful people who live here.” Weinkauf also brought along the youngest two McPhail descendants: her grandchildren Jacob and Anna Larson — Sam’s great-times-five grandchildren. Hokanson laughed at how much he’s learned about his family in the past year. “I have about four boxes of old papers about my family at home,” he said. “I thought that was a lot — but Gary and Scott had about 10 times that much!”

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