Quest for Independence
In 1875, droves of families began to move out of Iceland in search of a better life in America. In 1888, the first settlers, from North Dakota, began to arrive in Tindastoll (Markerville). In 1889, a second group arrived which included Stephan G. Stephansson & his family.
The homesteaders worked hard to build a community from nothing. There were no roads, bridges or cleared land. With little equipment, they managed to build homes, farms & establish a community called Tindastoll. The Icelanders were very literate & built the library in town where they would read or debate topics & issues.
In 1895, Helgi Jonasson opened a cheese factory. He found it very expensive to buy the necessary equipment & the farmers were having difficulties travelling to the factory to sell their milk.
In 1897, Helgi went into partnership with Einar Johnson & the factory expanded to include buttermaking. A second factory opened in the district under the direction of Jon Benediktson. The factories struggled until 1899.
Original Creamery owned by Helgi Jonasson
Dan Morkeberg & C. Nairn standing at the doorway (1899)
The Department of Agriculture was in the process of establishing creameries throughout the Territories. They took notice of the 2 operations. The Dominion government approached the community & the Tindastoll Butter & Cheese Manufacturing Association was formed. Both creameries were sold to the Association.
The Association agreed to rent the operation to the government. In turn, the association would be responsible for building maintenance, bookkeeping, marketing the butter & hiring a buttermaker.
In 1901, the small factory became inadequate & with the guidance of the Dairy Commissioner, Dr. C.P. Marker, a new and larger creamery was built. In appreciation of his involvement, the town changed its name to Markerville. The new Creamery opened its doors in 1902, under the direction of Daniel Morkeberg. Daniel ran the creamery until his son, Carl Morkeberg, took the reins in 1932. Carl ran the creamery until its closure in 1972.
The creamery brought prosperity to the small town of 100 residents, and when the creamery was at its peak, the business sector of Markerville grew. When the Creamery closed, so did many of the businesses.
A Society is Formed
In 1974, a small group of Markerville residents gathered together to form the Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society. Their intention was to take back what time had taken. This newly formed society began the restoration of one of the landmarks in the Markerville area, Stephan G. Stephansson's homestead. The restoration took several years and upon completion in 1976, was established as a Provincial museum with visitors from all over the world.
They turned their attention to the creamery that was 'well worn' from the years of neglect . In 1986, the Markerville Creamery reopened its doors, restored to its 1932 appearance and now a valued museum and coffee shop.
They didn't stop there, though. The Fensala Hall, built in 1903 by the community and the local Ladies Aid (aka Vonin), was restored in 2006 with a modern addition boasting a commercial kitchen for special events.
Next, the Markerville Lutheran Church! Built in 1907, restored in 2009, is the backdrop to weddings, special events and the annual Christmas Eve service.
The Markerville Creamery before restoration
The next restoration project will be the Buttermaker's House, located across from the Markerville Creamery. Restoration is planned to begin in 2019/2020.
Today, there are 42 residents in Markerville and once again, the Markerville Creamery is the hub of the hamlet. Its residents enjoy the quiet, country lifestyle with adventures around every corner, kayaking the Medicine River, taking a stroll through the hamlet enjoying the gardens and wildlife or sitting with family and friends in the creamery courtyard is commonplace in Markerville.