The Garretson Historians (The Blue Light)

I wanted to briefly introduce myself because I know not all of you will know me. My name is Jakob Etrheim. While I currently don’t live in Garretson, I spent the first 23 years of my life as a Garretson resident. I graduated from GHS in 2011, the third generation to do so. My parents are Mary and Todd Tilberg, and Keith Etrheim, my grandparents Dean and Joan Engebretson. I started getting involved with the Garretson Area Historical Society (GAHS) as a senior in high school in 2010 and I have remained involved with the GAHS ever since. I thought I would give a little history of the community’s historical society and what we do.

Firstly, I can’t tell the history of the GAHS without talking about the Johnson Drug Store and the First National Bank of Garretson, who were the original inhabitants of what is now the Garretson Heritage Museum building. If you have ever been to the museum, there are two sides to the building. The north side with the main entrance is the Drug Store side. The south side of the building is the Bank.

The First National Bank was originally built in August 1894 on the property that the city library sits at today under the name Garretson State Bank. In May 1895, they moved into south side of the present museum building with total assets of $10,000. This served as the bank’s home till August 1979 when it was moved into the Bank’s present location and renamed First Bank and Trust.

The drug store bought and moved into the original bank building I just mentioned on the corner where the library is today. It was founded by L.B. Farley around 1889 under the name of the Corner Drug. Ole Johnson, who was an apprentice to Mr. Farley, purchased the Corner Drug in 1904. The drug store was housed on the corner until the addition to the bank (north side of museum building) was built and Ole moved the business and renamed it Johnson Drug. Ole and his son-in-law Emmett owned the business until 1967 when Emmett’s son Bob Nelson purchased the drug store. In 1980, Bob and his wife Mary moved the building next door where Rainbow Delight is today. The building was essentially given to the newly formed Garretson Area Historical Society in 1988 after a sale of $1 and has remained our home ever since.

I would encourage you to like the Society and Museum’s Facebook page. We post society events and cool historic photos there. I would also invite you to become a member of the society. We think membership is a bargain at $15 for individual, or $25 for a family/business. A membership makes a great gift for anyone; young and old! Being a member entitles you to free newsletters (we strive to print three newsletters yearly), invitation to Museum events, and the satisfaction of helping a valuable cultural institution. Finally, I would encourage you to visit your community’s museum. Starting May 5, the museum will be open every Saturday from 1-4 until Fall. Can’t make it then? Make an appointment by calling 594-3522 or 594-3863.


We are always looking for people who would like to volunteer for The Blue Light by writing short articles about the community. If you are interested in contributing, send an e-mail to Tyler Ramsbey (