Charles Hallock

Charles Hallock

A Man Named Hallock

by Gloria Swanson

April 4, 1979

  The City of Hallock, County Seat of Kittson  County, was not named after an influential farmer or businessman who had come to the city to settle. It was named after Charles Hallock, a man from New York City who for many years came to the Northwest corner of Minnesota to hunt.

Charles Hallock was a descendant of Peter Hallock, one of the pilgrims who came to the new land of America from England in 1640. Peter was one of the first settlers to homestead on the Long Island Sound near what is new the city of Southold. Families of Hallocks still live in that area. A bay, a beach and a section of town of Long Island, New York has been named “Hallock”, after that family.

Charles Hallock, for whom Hallock is named, was born in New York City on March 13, 1843, the son of Gerard and Elizabeth Hallock. Charles received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Amherst college in Massachusetts. He was married in 1855. He serviced as editor for several newspapers in Connecticut and in New York. In 1868, he became the financial editor of “Harpers Weekly.” In 1873, he founded the sportsmen’s magazine, “Forest and Stream.” It was during this time, before railroads had come to Northwest Minnesota, that Charles Hallock first visited what was to become the city of Hallock. As a journalist and as a hunter, Hallock came looking for a “sportsmen’s paradise.”

He thought he had found this paradise, for in his autobiography, AN ANGLER’S REMINISCENCE, he wrote of this area, “bands of elk came within a few miles to town; once a moose ran directly through the village, past the post office; a black bear came up out of the bottoms to play with the school children at recess; a couple of pet bears were always kept on hand for the Swedes to practice boxing on; wolves would tree settlers in zero days when food was scarce, one winter I had an empty store building full of pelts of timber wolves and coyotes; prairie chickens nested on the edge of town.”

A few years after Mr. Hallock had first come to hunt, James J. Hill built his railroad along the Minnesota-North Dakota border. From then on, when Hallock came to hunt, he brought friends from the Eastern states with him. The Roseau River was a favorite spot for these hunter. Mr Hallock wrote, “Out on the Roseau there was a famous nesting place among the reeds for wild geese, mallards and teal. The party from Pennsylvania went out and at the end of two weeks they brought in seven moose, two elk, five deer and seven wolves.”

When the city’s namesake came to Hallock in about 1875, he came to
a new townsite named “Alice,” which was located in the section of the present Hallock High School. A few stores, a saloon, a post office and other offices had been built there. Then in the late fall of 1878, the railroad went through a few blocks west of Alice. To be closer to the railroad, it was decided to move the town south, to land part of which was owned by Charles Hallock. The new site, in the area of the present business district, was named Hallock. It was on the block of the present junction of Highways 75 and 175, that Charles Hallock built hi Hotel Hallock with money furnished by wealthy Easter sportsmen friends.

Hallock wrote, “Judge John Swainson, of Upsala, Sweden, (who worked for the railroad and whose wife or daughter, Alice, has been the namesake for the first site,) and I laid out a stock company for a sportsmen’s hotel and game preserve and got a few thousand dollars subscribed, chiefly from St Louis people and a hunter from Michigan. Also A.W. Hubbard of Philadelphia who came up and shot over the ground and so did Jim Hill several times. Andrew Carnegie made me call in his private car. But the prospective millionaire declined to help.”

In 1880, Hallock hired Bengt Sundberg, a building contractor from Red Wing, Minnesota, to build his hotel. The wooden structure, built in an “L” shape, was 85 feet long with an addition 25 by 25 feet on the north end. It was three stories high with wide double verandas and enclosed promenade on the roof. Four stores were located on the lower floor. Advertising, which Charles Hallock sent out for hotel business, stated “The hotel had water on every floor, bathroom, set water sinks, speaking tubes, barber shop, kennel rooms, gun room, and is replete with every needed convenience for sportsmen and the traveling public.” It is remembered that the hotel was cold, drafty and not as splendid as the ads claimed.

“Hotel Hallock had its ups and downs and was so expensive to operate that none of the hotel keepers lasted long. At 4:00 am Christmas morning of 1892, fire was discovered in the hotel cellar. The blaze was put out, but at 11:00 am, another alarm was sounded. The flames reached the attic and although the fire was put under control, the hotel was seriously damaged and it was razed the following summer,” Alex Lindegard wrote.

Continuing from his autobiography, Hallock wrote, “The hotel had a precarious record for 12 years and was destroyed by fire one Christmas eve. I had no insurance.

Apparently the end of the hotel was also the end of Charles Hallock’s coming to Hallock to hunt regularly each fall. But during the 16 or more years that he did make Hallock his second home, he was a vital force in helping the new town established itself. On August 18, 1880, the firs town meeting to formally organize the township of Hallock, was held in Hotel Hallock. Charles Hallock was elected as one of the town officers.

On June 11, 1887, the village of Hallock was incorporated while Charles Hallock was still coming to the town. His influence in the East and his writing and publications brought sportsmen from all over the country to Hotel Hallock to headquarter during hunting trips. Many of Mr. Hallock’s literary friends vacationed in the new town.

When Hallock hired Bengt Sundberg to build his hotel, he brought to the county a man who stayed on to become a successful farmer and to eventually serve as a senator in the Minnesota State Legislature.

Charles Hallock was a pioneer in opening up frontier northern Minnesota from Lake Superior to the North Dakota border as a place to hunt and to live. He collected for the Smithsonian Institute and was a member of many historical organizations, including the Minnesota Historical Society. Along with his autobiography, he wrote books, pamphlets and articles dealing with hunting and fishing in the wilderness areas of the United States.

As Peter Hallock’s Pilgrimage from England in 1640, helped to establish Long Island, New York, Charles Hallock’s pilgrimage from New York to Northwest Minnesota in the late 1800’s, helped to establish the city of Hallock. Charles Hallock, writer, explorer, hunter, naturalist, and businessman, died in 1919, in New York.