History Column: Dells' auto history fading with time
October 01. 2013 1:36PM
Herman Mohrman was born July 15, 1884, to Henrich and Wilhelminea Mohrman in Tama County, Iowa. Little did he know, in 1903, when he moved to Dell Rapids, he became a part of our history.
He in all probability didn’t set out to make history, it just happened.
Herman became the first car dealer in Dell Rapids. By 1909 he became a member of the Dell Rapids Auto and Supply Co. in partnership with his brother August Mohrman. His career in the automobile business continued for many years to come.
Herman married Louisa Kenna on March 18, 1912, in Sioux Falls. Together they raised their two children here in Dell Rapids.
Some of the first car owners in Dell Rapids were Dr. Ora Sawyer, Dick Richardson and W.G. Lund. By 1913 there were 73 licensed cars in Dell Rapids. It wasn’t till 1929 that Main Street was paved with concrete. Just imagine what it was like before that!
In 1918 Herman built a garage on 4th Street and sold Buicks. Sadly Herman lost the building during the depression; however, he continued to work on cars. It was a part of who Herman was.
Inevitably, it was only natural that Herman’s son, LeRoy would follow his father’s footsteps and become an experienced mechanic. In 1940 LeRoy built a garage of his own, “Mohrman Pontiac”, on Garfield Ave.
While LeRoy served in the army as WWII raged on, Herman was there, not yet ready for retirement, to fill in and run the garage till his sons returned. Business continued and prospered for many years.
On March 10, 1961, Herman Roy Mohrman died and with him a small part of our history faded as well. Many can still reminisce of the old days with Herman, the laughs, the jokes and his warm congenial spirit.
In 1976, LeRoy and his family decided to move to Florida, ending the business of Mohrman garage in Dell Rapids. It is written “Thus ends the era of Mohrman garages in Dell Rapids 1909 – 1976 – 67 years.”
Slowing, the early days of Dell Rapids history is continuing to be lost. For some they still have the memories, for many we can still read about it, or maybe share a photo or two. We are left with only a few fragments of automobile history in Dell Rapids.
It was just recently Herman’s garaged was torn down, leaving only a vacant lot, a vacancy in history. Some might even say it was the end of an era.
As Herman’s family and descendants pass on, the buildings are torn down, the photos fade, and the sound of his voice escapes our memories, will that be the end of the era?
Recently, the Dell Rapids City Council has been discussing the selling of City-owned property, including, the old fire station on Garfield Ave. that was once owned and built by LeRoy “Tubby” Mohrman. Will the building be torn down, permanently erasing the visual history of another generation of Mohrman Garages?
It is a history yet to be written.