The History of and Why People Settled in Duelm
Our small town series brings us to Duelm in St. George township in Benton County. Duelm is an unincorporated community located along Duelm Road near 110th Avenue. Stoney Brook flows through the community. Duelm was originally settled by Germans from the town of Dülmen The spelling is different with the two community names but the pronunciation is close to the same.
I talked with Mary Ostby from the Benton County Historical Society and longtime owner of Jack and Jim's, Jim Chmielewski. Mary says people settled in Duelm due to transportation and luck. She says the highway from St. Cloud to Princeton known as the "Princeton Road", which we now know as Highway 95, went through Duelm. Duelm has one of the first established Catholic parishes in Benton County, the church of St. Lawrence. Ostby says the parish has a strong following and once had a 1st thru 8th grade school in the community called the St. Lawrence School.
Jim Chmielewski explains that Duelm once had a creamery, for 4 different places to purchase gas. He says that included a Mobile station, the general store and two service garages. Chmielewski says the general store was the location to buy some groceries in town. He says at the height of Duelm's settlement the population was around 60 people.
The history of Jack and Jim's restaurant in Duelm goes back to 1936 when Jim's Chmielewski's parents Jack and Marion came to Duelm from Clear Lake and opened a bar there called the Silver Pheasant. Jim says he and his Dad, Jack were in business together for a couple of years with the place known as Jack and Jim's. Jim says he and his wife, Sue bought the bar from his parents and decided to keep the name Jack and Jim's and it still is today. Jim and Sue owned and operated Jack and Jim's for 42 years before selling to their sons Orson and Justin. Orson and Justin have owned and operated Jack and Jim's for the past 22 years after Jim retired. Jim is 79 years old and is living in Sauk Rapids. Jack and Jim's in the early days was more of bar but has since become about 80% food and often hosts wedding receptions in their event center.
Well known professional fisherman Babe Winkleman is from rural Duelm. Jim Chmielewski says as a young person Babe would come into Jack and Jim's almost daily. Mary Ostby says Duelm has many large farms and a large amount of farmers in the area that have supported Duelm over the years. She says they have 2 unique round barns as well near Duelm. Ostby explained that round barns aren't used as much any more because the height of the building, roof styles and convenience to get farm equipment inside. She said that type of barn was commonly built in the 1920s and 1930s.
If you'd like to listen to my conversations with Mary Ostby and Jim Chmielewski they are available below.