Shakespeare was responsible in a round about way, for starting Minnewawa lodge on Clark Lake.
Minnewawa is one of the oldest resorts in Crow Wing County. It is said to have started before the turn of the century by Benjamin Heald, Sr., Shakespearean actor from New York.
Each year Heald's following, of other actors joined him at the Minnewawa property. Most, said Fred (Fritz) Potthoff, the present owner of Minnewawa were out of work and followed Heald for a few free meals, a place to bunk and to retreat where they could practice their lines and generally enjoy themselves.
Heald built the original lodge, a large white structure with front porch pillars, several cabins and operated Minnewawa as a summer retreat.
The present Cabin Number 9 was at that time down by the lake. It's now set back a ways, was used as a pavilion where the actors nightly acted out plays and conducted practice sessions.
This 1899 farm of Webb Hill was located where the lumber- yard now is in Nisswa. The summer theatre building there was part of the farm. The only cabins on Nisswa Lake at that time were those of Casper Mills and Judd LaMore across from this farm. On the north side of the lake was a homestead owned by Silas Hall, father of Brainerd's Ray Hall, who ran an early delivery service in Brainerd.
According to Fritz Potthoff Heald bought the land originally from Col, Clark Thorp who homesteaded on an island just off from Minnewawa Lodge. Some of the land where the lodge is situated was obtained by Heald as a grant from the railroad.
Besides the land on Clark Lake, Thorp owned a big portion of land around Hubert and Rice lakes.
Potthoff said that before there were roads, guests of the lodge came by train to the Lake Hubert railroad station and store. Here they were met by two boats from Minnewawa, one for passengers and the other to carry luggage. The passenger boat pulled the luggage boat behind.
Fritz said Benjamin Heald was also a Justice of the Peace and weddings were performed in one of the cabins at Minnewawa.
He said most of the early resorts of the area had their own launch services for transporting guests from the Hubert station to their destination on Clark, Hubert; Round and North Long lakes.
Before 1903 some people took a rather indirect route over the Long Lake narrows in early cars and horse-drawn carriages. This was a shallow area, a much easier route than going along what is now Highway 371 which at that time was extremely boggy.
Also, he said, guests to Minnewawa have told about another route that led around North Long. In certain times of the year, traveling along the south beach was fairly good, or at least better than trying to take early Fords along Highway 371.
The Minnewawa property, about 40 acres, was in the Heald family until 1931 when it was sold to Fred Potthoff, Sr., a former semi-professional football player who played for railroad camps in Illinois. He also played college football for Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1916 and 1917 Fritz Potthoff took over the ownership and management of Minnewawa Lodge in 1953.
Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).