Heritage of New Prague, Minnesota USA
The first settlers to come to the New Prague area ventured to America compelled by their desire to seek new homes provide a higher standard of living for their families and offer better opportunities to their children.
Anton Philipp, a Bavarian, was the first settler to come to New Prague in 1856. When he arrived in St. Paul, Philipp sought the counsel of Bishop Joseph Cretin who told him the best lands in the Minnesota Valley were occupied already, but the territory south of Shakopee held great promise.
During the summer of 1856, Philipp built the first log cabin on the south bank of Philipps Creek.
A few months later Albert Vrtis, a Bohemian settler also sought the advice of Bishop Cretin, when he was directed to a Catholic community to the north, near the present day city of St. Cloud. The group journeyed up the Mississippi, but at Fort Snelling they mistakenly turned up the Minnesota River, reaching Shakopee. There they were directed south, to Anton Phillip's settlement.
The first builders and developers in New Prague were Anton Philipp, Albert Vrtis, M.Hanzl, Joseph Stehlick, Thomas Suchomel, M. Stepka, M. Borak and Albert Janovsky. New Prague was established as a village in 1877.
Early settlers raised a cow or two for each family's use. Dairying advanced to a point where the need for a sound, business-like marketing system became apparent. Talk of forming a cooperative creamery was begun early in the 1900's. A meeting was called on September 2, 1911 for the purpose of discussing the feasibility of such a step. At this meeting an association was formed, a committee of five was formed to draft articles of incorporation and serve as a board of directors until the first annual election in December. A new building was erected and formally opened June 17, 1912. It remained The New Prague Creamery Association until the 1970's when it became part of A.M.P.I. (American Milk Producers, Inc.)
According to Dr. E.E. Novak, small grain had been the main crop. He saw the need for diversification of field crops and the improving of herds by use of purebred stock. He began raising corn, bought Duroc-Jersey hogs and Red Polled cows. In 1922 the Community Club decided to organize a livestock show to:
1) Develop greater interest in diversified farming,
2) Improve the quality of livestock in southern Minnesota,
3) Encourage 4-H club work,
4) Provide educational opportunities in the livestock field.
Known as the Southern Minnesota Livestock Show it evolved into a very successful, well-managed event. It included the counties of Le Sueur, Scott, Steele, Rice, Carver, Dakota, Nicollet, Wabasha, Blue Earth and McLeod. By 1930 there were 174 4-H club entries, especially in sheep and calves. Twelve schools were also represented in the stock-judging contest.
The first mill was built about 1875 beside the creek, west of the present mill. It was operated by steam and used millstones for grinding.
F.A. Bean, Sr., established the New Prague Flouring Mill in 1896. In it's early days, wheat was bought from farmers of the New Prague area. It evolved into an international business known as International Milling, currently part of the ConAgra conglomerate, which produces two well-known brands of flour, Seal of Minnesota and Robin Hood.
The New Prague Cooperative Oil Company was essentially a farmer's organization for dealing in petroleum products, wholesale and retail. Begun by a group of interested farmers on September 15, 1925, the first sale was made January 26, 1926. Over the years it has expanded from agricultural products into the wide variety of services known as Minnesota Valley Ag Co-op.
The Minnesota Valley Breeders Cooperative began as an artificial insemination business for purposes of improving herd production. It was an artificial insemination service and raised its own breeding stock. Also, the company was first in the area to build the sealed silos known as Harvestore, becoming the sale agency. Later the business became Midwest Breeders, and is currently called the 21st Century Genetics/CRI and 21st Century Farm Systems.