Stewartville was founded in 1857 as a small prairie village. There were three streets off of Main Street – Lake, Center, and Church. Lot 2 of the original plat of the “Village of Stewartville” was at the corner of Lake and Main. Nicholas Kaskagan was the original owner of the plat and sold the plat to Charles Stewart in 1857. The lot was home to John Herrick’s Tin Shop starting in the 1860’s. Truman and Luella Horton owned the property from 1887 until William S. Davis and his wife Harriet purchased the property 1895.
During this period the cornerstone of Stewartville was the mill built on the banks of the river. When the railroad come through town, Stewartville grew as a regional farming and industrial center. Lake Street became the premier residential address. “Silk Stocking Row” was the home of doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs.
William Davis was a successful businessman whose primary residence was in Walworth, Wisconsin – a small town between Chicago and Milwaukee. According to the 1910 census, he sold “crockery” while maintaining a grocery business in Wisconsin. He began building his Stewartville home in 1898. Three years later, he moved into his Victorian-styled home with his wife Harriett and a 60 year-old widowed housemaid, Mary Brumbaugh. Over the next ten years, William and Harriett had five children - Madeline, Allen, Rollin, Isabel, and Jasmine – who were all were born in Wisconsin. It is presumed William used his Stewartville home as a remote “office” for his extended sales operations and his Stewartville-based general store. In the late 1900’s, Van’s great-grandfather, John, was building his barn on the Beach farm. The nails and other metalwork were provided by W.S. Davis, as evidenced by a plaque attached to the interior of the building.
In 1910, a well-documented fire struck the Davis’s general store. With his business decimated, he cut ties with Stewartville. William and Harriett sold the home to Tobias Hogenson, at the time, a clerk at First National Bank. Tobias and his wife Thora moved in with their 5 children, Selma, Alma, Palmer, Helen, and Esther. Tobias and Thora were immigrants from Norway who had made their home in Stewartville. Over the next ten years, Tobias and Thora would raise their children at the Lake Street home. By 1920, Selma and Alma had moved back to their childhood home and were teachers at the Stewartville school. Tobias was now a banker at First National Bank. Helen would also become a teacher at the Stewartville school. By 1930, Tobias was President of the First National Bank. He died in 1932.