Henderson Halloween “Tricks” Tranquil Compared to

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

The Minnesota River is a ‘meandering’ stream. At the present time, there is little water to meander. The once flowing watercourse has become more of a series of lakes and ponds, with a mere trickle of water connecting one to the other. The river of years ago
is unrecognizable as to the river of 2022.Flooding has become so common, that the use or disuse of the floodplain has changed drastically. Much of what was once farm land has been replaced by trees/brush of many species. Farmers who own land in ‘the bottoms’ have been greatly affected over the years, as land which was once on the east side of the Minnesota River, is now on the west side, and vice-versa. Or, in many cases, the property which was once a whole parcel, has been split in the middle, with farm land on both sides of the river. That means one with land in Sibley County also may have property in LeSueur County. The river has affected numerous landowners in this way since early settlement.

‘Newbies’ in the area often ask the question, “Why is Pumpkin Hill, a major thoroughfare east of Henderson, called Pumpkin Hill?”
It’s like this. The family of farmer ‘X’, who lived on the east side of the river, planted pumpkins on his land on the west side of the river. Come harvest, he had to travel from his property east of the river to the west side to pick his pumpkins; taking them across an old bridge in Henderson, through East Henderson to his farm west of Henderson. Recall also that the transport at the time was a horse-drawn wagon up a very long and steep hill. Early settlers tell of the wagon, pulled by horses of course, almost reaching the top of said hill, when the tailgate of the wagon burst. The pumpkins went a-tumbling down, and a hill quickly gained the name, Pumpkin Hill. From time to time after that event, pranksters would roll pumpkins down the hill on Halloween. That is, until a car traversing UP the hill met pumpkins coming DOWN the hill. Today, names of roads from the past have been replaced by numbers.

Unless a major high-jinx was pulled off this Halloween in Henderson, tricks of the present ‘undershadow’ mischievousness of past times. Consider a farmer living near Brown cemetery who cut his cornstalks and as was the custom in those years, formed the stalks into teepees. Thus, the corn ears were protected from the elements until the farmer made a trip to the field and gathered the teepees. It was hard dirty, dusty work from beginning to end. On a particular post-Halloween day, imagine said farmer finding all of his shacks ‘unshalked.’
This meant either building new shalks or harvesting the corn then and there. Nasty trick to say the least.

But there were others. Town ‘cops’ were picked on. Consider the policeman who jumped into his vehicle, started the engine, and simply sat with the vehicle spinning its wheels. He discovered that his car was tethered to the car right behind his. In another case, the driver came out to find the tires of his auto removed, the car sitting up on blocks. (That policeman must have been a deep sleeper!) Another morning a homeowner awoke to find a trailer parked up against the back door of his home, denying his exit. However, the most painful incident occurred right on Main Street, and Church Hill, Henderson. It was the practice of an elderly gentleman to sit on a chair on the corner of Main watching sparse traffic pass by. Overnight, someone placed a large nail facing upward in the bottom of the gentleman’s chair.
When the gentleman plopped down on his chair…you can imagine the rest. Even the foxes in their dens heard his cries of grief!
Numerous nasty tricks were reported as occurring to the ‘tricksters’ themselves.

Readers reported stories of out-houses (privies) being overturned Halloween Eve. Sometimes muscular homeowners would move the portable bathroom a couple of feet off the foul hole. Tricksters would find themselves mired in the mess. How would you report the soiled pants to your moms? We were afraid to put these tales into print, thinking someone might replicate them. But then, all of our readers have good sense-- treats, not tricks.