Golden Valley Historical Building

The Village of Golden Valley was incorporated December 16, 1886. During its early years, Golden Valley was an agricultural community of only a few hundred residents, full of farms, mills, and dairies. Residential development began after the Electric Luce Line Railroad was cut through the village in 1912.

Between 1910 and 1940, Golden Valley's population increased from 692 to 2,040. More residential development followed industry's discovery of Golden Valley after World War II, and the village continued to grow. It became a city in 1972.

A video history of Golden Valley ("Celebrate Golden Valley"), produced in 2003 by Curtis Laine of Studio 23, is available for purchase through the Golden Valley Historical Society.

  1. How Golden Valley Got Its Name
  2. Our Town's Story Video

Was it daffodils or wheat? The story of how Golden Valley got its name has several variations; however, references to grain outnumber those to wildflowers.

The most recent explanation, published in 1986, cites daffodils as the inspiration. According to Golden Valley: A History of a Minnesota City, 1886-1986, the city was named by William Varner, one of the area's first settlers. Upon arriving at St Anthony Falls in 1854, Varner headed west to find a home site and eventually came upon "a hill so high that he thought it was a mountain. He climbed the hill and looking down he could see the whole valley lush and green dotted with golden daffodils. In the distance, he could see a lake shining in the sunlight and he said, 'This is my valley, my Golden Valley.' " That hill, now much eroded by nature and humans, is currently home to the Golden Valley Country Club.

Backtrack to May 29, 1958. An unattributed article in the Suburban Press claimed the name Golden Valley "came about because of the yellow of the cowslips, goldenrod, and sunflowers which covered the hills in 1852 when the first pioneers settled in the valley." As soon as he read that article, 75-year-old Robert Moser, lifelong resident and son of early homesteader Carl Moser, called the paper to set the record straight. He said "it was wheat, acres of it glimmering in a summer sun, that put the word 'golden' in Golden Valley."

Moser's family arrived in the area in 1853, followed a year later by the Varners. Within a few years, other settlers arrived and turned the prairie land into wheat fields. Moser says that William Varner, looking out over those fields from his hilltop homestead, observed: "this is truly a golden valley," and the name stuck.

Fast forward to June 1970, and another variation. Midwest Planning and Research, a consulting firm that used to do most of the City's big planning reports, prepared a document entitled "Historical Background and Statistics of Golden Valley." According to that report, the origin of the name Golden Valley is somewhat obscure. "Various stories concerning the naming of the Village do not bear close scrutiny in view of the physical situation of the Village in the 1880s. The most plausible account of the naming of the Village holds that the name came from Irish immigrants who settled in the area. Wishing to retain some reminder of Ireland, they named the Village 'Golden Valley' after the Golden Vale of Shannon, a portion of the Shannon River Valley in western Ireland."

Golden Valley Hall Of Fame

The Golden Valley Hall of Fame is intended to honor those who have been affiliated with Golden Valley and have become renown. It is a singular recognition of attained fame, distinct from awards for community service and tenure.

Anyone can make a nomination for the Golden Valley Hall of Fame, but nominees must have lived or worked in Golden Valley at some point. The application period will be announced through local media, including the City and Historical Society websites.

The Hall of Fame selectors are community volunteers associated with the Golden Valley Historical Society who will recognize a broad, diverse, and inclusive spectrum of the historic contributors. Applications will be solicited periodically and will be researched and considered by the selection group. A permanent Hall of Fame plaque is maintained designating each inductee.

  1. 2013 Inductees
  2. 2011 Inductees

Chester Bird

Chester D. Ptaszek (pronounced pea-ot-zig) was one of thousands of Americans who sacrificed his life for his country in World War II. He was known by his nickname, Chester Bird, as Ptaszek is a Polish derivation of bird.

Chester served in the U.S. Army 29th Infantry, 115th Regiment, which was part of the first wave of more than 32,450 soldiers to storm Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944.

This was the very beach depicted in the now famous movie "Saving Private Ryan." More than 2,000 soldiers were killed the first day alone, but 35-year-old Chester was not one of them.

His regiment proceeded to northern France, where its first objective was an important submarine base at Brest. A fierce battle took place from July 27-29, and Chester was reported missing in action from July 29 until reported killed in action in France on August 1, 1944. It is believed he was laid to rest in southern France among thousands of other soldiers who gave their lives in this campaign.

Chester's 115th Regiment continued into Belgium and later culminated its service in the capture of Germany.

The American Legion chartered Post 523 in February 1946 and dedicated it to Private Chester D. Ptaszek, or Chester Bird, who served with honor and dedication and paid the ultimate price for the freedom of our nation. Golden Valley thanks Chester Bird for his service and sacrifice to his country.

Larry Brown

Lawrence A. (Larry/Bubba) Brown spent his life working to improve and enrich his community and the world beyond.

While growing up in North Minneapolis, Larry spent considerable time at the Phyllis Wheatley Settlement House, which he credited with much of his later success. After graduating from North High School in 1937, he attended Mankato State College on a football scholarship. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 and spent World War II serving in a segregated unit in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy until he was wounded.

Throughout his working career and afterwards, Larry used the experience he gained to help others. For example, his a stint as a tax auditor with the Minnesota Department of Revenue helped him set up an income tax withholding system in Uganda, East Africa under a contract with U.S. Agency for International Development.

Over the years, Larry coached football and baseball in Brooklyn Park, youth baseball in Golden Valley, and was an assistant football coach at North High for seven years. He also volunteered as a coach and mentor at Phyllis Wheatley, tutored in the Minneapolis Public Schools well into his 80s, and helped promote the RedTail Project, which educates people about the service of World War IIs Tuskegee Airmen.

He is perhaps most well known as one of the three original founders of the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis, which opened its first facility in 1979. Larry recognized the need for housing for parents of hospitalized children in the early 1960s, when his daughter was being treated for leukemia at the University of Minnesota Hospital. Once again he chose to act.

Larry and his wife, Jo, lived in Golden Valley for nearly 43 years and raised three children here. Golden Valley is grateful to Larry Brown for his many contributions to our society.

Christopher Ewald

Christopher Ewald was just 16 years old and fairly new to America when he bought the milk route that marked the beginning of Ewald Bros. Dairy, a business that was to serve Golden Valley and the surrounding area for nearly 100 years.

In 1884 Chris, his mother, and four siblings left Denmark for America, where his mother felt sure there would be opportunities. Chris was 14 and unable to speak English. Being the eldest of the boys, he secured a job on a milk delivery route in Minneapolis to help provide for his family. Two years later he purchased the route and began delivering milk with his younger brother John. At the time, the Ewalds herded their cattle around Lake Hiawatha and what is now known as the Hiawatha Golf Course.

Chris and his family moved to the McNair farm in 1911 and leased 700 acres that included most of North Minneapolis. In 1920, Chris and his four sons Ray, Dewey, Don, and Bob built their first creamery at 2919 Golden Valley Road. Chris was also appointed constable of Golden Valley, helping maintain law and order within the city.

The Ewald brothers continued to grow their business by promoting high service and quality, never merging with other dairies to expand. Competing with more than 200 other local creameries, the Ewald family delivered milk to one out of three customers taking home delivery. At their peak, they produced more than 50,000 gallons of milk per day.

In his later years, Chris enjoyed sitting atop Golden Valley Road near Xerxes Avenue to watch his drivers return from the routes in a thriving business he had built from a single wagon and horse. He died in 1938, leaving the future of the business in the hands of his four sons. Golden Valley thanks Christopher Ewald for benefitting the community with his pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit.

Clayton Moore

Clayton Moore, spent much of his life entertaining the public, gaining fame and earning hero status with generations of American youngsters as the star of the pioneering television series, "The Lone Ranger."

Born Jack Carlton Moore in 1914, Clayton started as a circus acrobat at a young age and eventually performed with a trapeze act at the Chicago World's Fair in 1934. He worked as a model in Chicago and New York before leaving for Hollywood in 1937. He appeared in more than 70 motion pictures as well as serving in the Army Air Force during World War II.

When "The Lone Ranger" began its television run in 1949, Clayton played the lead role for 221 episodes until the show ended in 1957. General Mills was a sponsor of both the original radio series and the television program. Clayton also starred in two Lone Ranger movies with his television co-star, Jay Silverheels.

In 1964 Clayton moved to Golden Valley with his wife and daughter to be closer to his wife's family in Minneapolis. He obtained a Minnesota real estate license and planned to establish Ranger Realty with a relative. The Moores moved into a new house on Rhode Island Avenue in the Ewald Terrace subdivision. Residents recall Clayton as a kind, considerate man who particularly enjoyed entertaining children. He often handed out replica silver bullets, the Lone Ranger's signature calling card.

Clayton continued to portray the Lone Ranger in promotional appearances nationwide, and the family eventually moved back to California. His autobiography, "I Was That Masked Man," recounts his successful challenge of efforts by a movie producer to bar him from portraying the Lone Ranger.

Public and private accounts agree that Clayton truly transcended the fictional character and strived to live according to the virtues of the "Lone Ranger Creed." Golden Valley acknowledges Clayton Moore for enriching many lives with his performances.