Sandy Beach, a much beloved area of Ten Mile Lake, was for a long time undeveloped and enjoyed by many. Now that Sandy Beach is changing, I look back with happy memories to those times when it was uninhabited and left in its lovely and wild state although privately owned.
During the Civil War, President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862. This gave up to 160 acres of land free to a head of household who settled on it and farmed it. The original homesteader of Sandy Beach was Robert Thomas who claimed all of lots 1,2,3,and 4 of Section 1 in township 140N of Range 31W of the 5th principal meridian, which was a total of 122 acres. Robert applied for this claim to the Land Office in Duluth Nov 25, 1910, and it was filed Feb 13, 1911. With the certificate they gave him he then applied to the General Land Office and received a ‘patent’ for this land on April 27, 1911, which was filed May 19, 1911.
A land patent is an exclusive land grant made by a sovereign entity with respect to a particular tract of land. To make such a grant ‘patent’, a sovereign (proprietary landowner) must document the land grant, securely sign and seal the document (patent), and openly publish the documents for the public to see. Robert’s patent was signed by President Taft.
Lot 1 was on Long Bay near the beginning of the Boy River and on the west side of the bay. Lot 2 was to the west of that with no lakeshore. Lots 3 and 4 were on the main body of 10 Mile Lake and were what became known as Sandy Beach. Although Robert received his patent in 1911, he had been living on this land since 1902 according to his daughter, Hattie.
Robert had moved his family from Brainerd to Lothrop in 1898 to work as a top loader in the logging business. This was a highly skilled job stacking large timber in place on the RR cars. The top loader stood on top of the already loaded logs to direct the operation. It was the highest paid logging job after the cook and horsemen. At this time the train rails only went to Lothrop where there was a roundhouse and a small town. It was at what is today the junction of Highway 371 and County 50. There were very few buildings but there were 7 or 8 saloons and 2 hotels including the Hotel Lothrop owned and run by Fred D. Long. Later he was a state senator and I would guess he gave his name to Long’s Bay.
The town of Lothrop only existed from 1896 to 1901. “By 1901 the large timber was gone. People took down their houses to ship them by rail to a new location,” according to Hattie Thomas. The town vanished.
Robert had married Johanna (Hannah) Severina Carlson, who was born in Sweden March 29, 1869. When the logging was finished in this area, the Thomas family moved from Lothrop to their homestead on 10 Mile Lake. Robert and Hannah were the parents of Albert Thomas who had been born in Brainerd May 2, 1895. Many of us knew Albert as he lived on 10 Mile until near his death at age 90. He had several brothers and sisters including Hattie who was 3 years older than Albert and also lived in this area all her life. But it was Albert who stayed on the homestead and farmed it. He married Lydia Edna Morehouse Oct 13, 1939, and they had one child, Charles Thomas, born about 1941, who still owns the family place all except for Sandy Beach.
For more information on the Thomas family please see our book, TEN MILE LAKE HISTORY: TWO HUNDRED YEARS pages 370-2.
All of this homestead was passed to Helmar Sundby on May 19, 1911, from Robert and his wife and the same day passed to Hannah from Helmar with a quit claim. I have no idea why. But by these transactions the land ended up in Hannah’s name only and when Robert died March 30, 1933 of exposure and heart failure, the land was already hers.
Lot 4 was sold by Hannah Thomas to Charles W. and Henriette V. Loufek May 29, 1937, (filed June 9, 1937). In addition to a copy of the deed for this land, I have a letter from Charles W Loufek, Jr. to my father dated Sept. 1, 1999, stating that, “The south half of the beach on East Bay has been the ‘Loufek Beach’ for 62 years, since my parents bought the property in 1937”. He also complained about trespassers…as well he might!
From 1937 until into the 21st century, lot 4 was owned by Charles W. Loufek and his wife or their children; they also owned lot 5 which is to the south-west of Sandy Beach. They built a cabin on lot 5, out at the point, but never built on lot 4, Sandy Beach.
Hannah sold the rest of the homestead to Albert Thomas, her son, on Dec. 9, 1937, and filed Dec 7, 1938. He sold it to his sister, Hattie Thomas Dec 9, 1937, but it was not filed until Aug 9, 1940. The filing date is the most important and we have to wonder why there is such a long period between the sale and the filing in this case. And Albert sold lot 3 to George B. Leonard on July 3, 1939, filed the same day. Much later, Nov 4, 1952, there is a quit claim deed from Hattie Thomas to George B Leonard filed Nov 5, 1952, to clarify things.
George Leonard also owned lots 8 and 9 in Shingobee Township just to the north of lot 3, which is in Hiram Township. Part of this land is where I live now and Mr. Leonard owned on up much of the east shore of 10 Mile.
George Leonard was the original founder of the currently largest Minnesota law firm, Leonard, Street, and Deinert. His grand-daughter, Sandra Starr, wrote to me Jan 16, 2012 about her grandfather, “Ironically, he was an ardent Socialist and heavily into liberal causes, one of the early people involved in starting up the ACLU and the Farmer grange movement. He made his money inadvertently by helping Scandinavians secure their land rights and the word spread that he was the go-to guy and the rest is history.”
On Oct. 15, 1952, (filed Oct 22, 1952) George B. Leonard and his wife Elizabeth V. Leonard sold lot 3 to the owners of Camp Hillaway, Catherine Cram and Helen Dalton (AKA Kay and Dalty). It must have been at this time that they realized they needed the quit claim from Hattie!
The beach was used by the girls of Camp Hillaway as a place to camp out and was left undeveloped with no buildings. For more on Hillaway please see our history book pages 171-175.
Aug 25, 1977, Catherine Cram and Helen Dalton sold lot 3 to Robert J. Crabb and Catherine Crabb (husband and wife) along with all the main body of the camp on the south shore of Ten Mile Lake. Aug 26, 1977, Robert J. and Catherine Crabb incorporated the whole camp under the name Hillaway Corp. The whole camp was platted and Lot 3 became known as Hillaway East. At this point 5 partners (in addition to Bob and Catherine and their sons) were sold parts of the camp and also a share in the property held in common. Two partners bought in Hillaway East. My parents, Stuart H. and Virginia Lane bought Lot 1, Block 1…the northern part (Virginia passed away Nov. 28, 2012 and the land now belongs to her husband only) and Clifford and Margaret Anderson bought Outlot B. ...the southern part. On the death of Clifford and Margaret their land passed to their children, Margaret (Meg) and Mark Anderson in 2006. Between the Lane and the Anderson properties there are several hundred feet owned in common by the Hillaway partners who own number 12.
Lot 4 (and lot 5 which is to the south of the beach) remained with the Loufek family until they were sold to John Zacher and his partners on March 1, 2003. Zacher bought out his partners and put the land in a company called Shorequest, LLC. Unfortunately, John was killed when his helicopter crashed into Ten Mile near his cabin Nov. 24, 2011, Thanksgiving evening. Since then Shorequest has been run by Jason Zacher. A great deal of lot 4 (about 700 feet) has been sold and the rest was foreclosed Sept. 11, 2013, and bought by Bank Forward. The bank still owns the southernmost part of the beach, which is about 150 feet and the rocky shoreline to the west of it. The northern 500 feet of lot 4 was bought by Paul and Suzanne Larkin June 4, 2012. They previously had a cabin on the northwest shore of 10 Mile for many years and knew about Sandy Beach. It is their intent to help keep the shore low density, which will be very good for the lake. Next to Larkins, another 200 feet has been privately purchased.
Sandy Beach has always been privately owned ever since Robert Thomas included it in his homestead in 1911, but it is now mostly developed by its owners and only the far southern end held by Bank Forward is still undeveloped and for sale. Thus times have changed for our beloved Sandy Beach.
I thank Renee Geving, director of the Cass County Historical Society and Museum, and Paul Klinger for their help with the research for this article.