The Commercial Hotel (on the National Register of Historic Places, now repurposed as the Commercial Apartments), is a three-story Queen Anne Style, late Victorian brick building on South Jefferson St. in Wadena, Minnesota, that served as an anchor for the Askew family, especially the women of the Askew family, for decades. I’m still trying to understand this aspect of the Askew family, so this post will serve as a place to gather my notes and sources about the Askews at the Commercial Hotel. I have a lot to learn about this subject, so please do leave comments if you can further illuminate the subject.
In the Spring of 1901, Joseph Askew and his wife Jane leased a three-story brick hotel called the Wadena Hotel. They soon renamed the hotel the Commercial Hotel, as their target customers were travelling salesmen who came by train and needed a place to eat, sleep, and display their goods. After a time, Joseph purchased the Hotel for an estimated $10,000 (the equivalent of about $275,000 in today’s dollars).
Among the items that document our family history is this autograph album that belonged—at least at one time—to Clyde L. Askew (1896–1967). The author(s)/owner(s) of the album are not easy to determine, as entries appear to have been made during at least three different time periods. The first period is probably around the turn of the century, perhaps 1897–1900. At this time, a young child drew in the album.
The second period of the album’s life is comes in 1907, when Clyde gives the book to his aunt Fanny, doing so with an inscription. A possible third period is in 1927, when Ed Young added his name to the album. The fourth period comes decades later (possibly in 1955), after the book had been stored away for some time and then was rediscovered. The (presumed) wife of the finder then writes a letter to Clyde across two of the pages of the book, and another letter across eight additional pages of the book.
In this post, I’ve tried to see what I could learn about the author(s) and the recipient(s) of the notes contained within this wonderful album, but several questions were left unanswered because I don’t have all the facts. I’m hoping that one/some of you will be able to help me with some of these unknowns, so at the end of this post I’ve posed a list of questions that I’m hoping you can help me answer. Continue reading →