Big Sandy Street Names and Why

 

September 16, 2020

Since I moved to Big Sandy, I have always called the road that runs through the middle of downtown "Main Street." I have heard quite a few other people refer to it by the same name. It wasn't until I had been here for a few years that I learned that the road that ran through the middle of town is actually named "Johannes Street." I have never heard a good explanation as to who the road is named after. It was one of many roads in Big Sandy that bears the names of folks I haven't heard of anywhere else. One such road sits one block southwest of Johannes Street: "Lehfeldt." Curious about the origin of the street name, I looked up "Johannes" in a book on the town's history, but found nothing. That is until I checked the origin of the next street over, where I discovered the name "Johannes Lehfeldt." The man who our main street and the next street over are named after was born in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany in 1853. In 1869, 16-year old Johannes and his family moved to Iowa where they took up farming. Later, in 1889, he moved to Chouteau County. He took up a 640-acre homestead claim 30 miles southeast of town in Judith, where he raised sheep and undertook land improvements. Eventually, Mr. Lehfeldt bought the M.F. Marsh farm, which included the town of Big Sandy. He and his family moved to the town itself, away from the ranch, in order to take advantage of the higher quality school in town. Most of his time was now devoted to managing the Spokane Hotel. In 1909, Mr. Lehfeldt sold the hotel, while retaining ownership of the townsite itself. He then moved his family to Washington. Mr. Lehfeldt is also important in the town's history because he donated the land the Catholic Church is built on. Johannes' son, Hans Henry Lehfeldt, opened the first real estate office in Big Sandy and worked to establish loans for local farmers through the Eastern Loan Company. Through this work, he became prominent in local development. When Big Sandy incorporated as a town, Hans served as the city's first town clerk and later as mayor. It seems appropriate that the main street in Big Sandy be named after Johannes, after he and his family invested so much of their lives to helping establish our little town.


 
 

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