Lillian Hormel taught at Franklin School

Published 11:12 pm Saturday, March 1, 2014

Following my column last week I received a phone call asking more about Lillian Gleason Hormel, specifically about where she taught.

In looking for more information on Lillian, I also learned about a building with a rich history in Austin.

At the age of 24, Lillian was a teacher at Austin’s Franklin School. According to “Mill on the Willow, a History of Mower County, Minnesota,” construction on Franklin began in 1869. The three-story building cost $35,000 to erect and opened in 1870 on the site that is now occupied by the south half of Austin High School. The brick used in the construction of the building was manufactured in Austin and the stone came from Faribault. The original building burned on April 28, 1890.

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“The new Franklin school was built immediately on the same site and was opened in March of 1891.” This is where Lillian was teaching when she married George A. Hormel in 1892. The school was remodeled in 1907 and was considered one of the best ‘modern’ school buildings in Minnesota. It was used as a combined grade and high school building until 1921, when a new high school was ready for use on High Street [now 3rd Street NW]. At this time Franklin was converted for use as an elementary school. In 1940 a $1.7 million major addition was made to the high school on the site of Franklin school. For more information about the history of the school buildings in Austin “Mill on the Willow” is a great resource.

I also found some more praise for Lillian In “The Hormel Legacy: 100 Years of Quality.” It says of Lillian that she “brought to the marriage her ability to manage the household on the $35 allowance George gave her monthly. At the Hormel Provision Market, she, like everyone else, paid for the cuts of meat. In her spare time, Lillian also helped manage the business. She kept the packinghouse books, calculated the payrolls, wrote ads for the Austin papers, billed customers, addressed circulars and prepared price lists. But, in the fall of 1892, Lillian’s spare time disappeared. She gave birth to the couple’s only child, Jay Catherwood Hormel.”

Thank you for asking questions and encouraging me to dig deeper into the history of the Hormel family and of Austin. Feel free to contact me with your questions, and I will get my shovel out!

Social Concerns

10 to 11 a.m., March 18, free

The Grange in Mower County, presented by Dustin Heckman of the Mower County Historical Society

Heckman will describe how the Grange improved the agriculture industry as well as led to the implementation of rural mail delivery and other worthy causes. This grassroots movement began in Minnesota and Heckman will tell us how it affected our region.

Please call to register.  507-433-4243

 Foodie Throwdown-Taste the Spirits

6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, March 22

Six of Austin’s best food enthusiasts will compete for your vote. Samples of both main entrees and desserts will be served at 7 p.m. Music will be provided by JT Thompson. Tickets are available online at or by calling 507-433-4243.