Meet the Men Behind White Bear’s Newly Formed Village Council

On April 11, 1881, the council of the newly formed Village of White Bear met for the first time. That initial meeting was held at the office of local shopkeeper Daniel Getty, “to organize said council,” which had been elected the previous week.

James C. Murray was appointed temporary chairperson of the council, which consisted of Getty, Phil Long, Luke H. Bacon and F.W. Benson. Once sworn in, the group immediately took up the business of appointing permanent committees on “roads and streets, health, and finance,” as well as discussing ordinances to enact.

These men were not new to the area, or community service. Murray was a leader in White Bear from its earliest days. Not only did he serve as the first chairperson of the Village Council, but was also on the first school board for the White Bear area, served as postmaster and was an agent for the railroad.

Getty was the proprietor of the first general store in what would become downtown White Bear, conveniently located adjacent to the railroad station. By 1890, the establishment would move down the way to Getty’s new brick building at the corner of Third and Clark. The Getty Block, as it was known, still stands today.
Long, along with Murray and Getty, was a distinguished veteran of the Civil War who served on the White Bear Fire Department. Bacon was a member of the community’s first library board. Benson was a hotelkeeper on the shore of Bald Eagle Lake.

With the assorted backgrounds held by the members of the young council, it is not surprising the first issues to come before them involved the regulating of businesses—particularly saloons, billiards and other activities intertwined with the booming resort industry around the lake area.

Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society.