St. Martin Wasn’t Always St. Martin; The Story of “Smartin”
St. Martin is a town in Central Stearns County along county roads 12 and 195. The town has a population of 343. St. Martin was planned in 1866 and has been an incorporated city since 1891. To tell the story of St. Martin I was joined by Mayor Tom Gray and longtime residents Mark Osendorf and Tom Ehresmann. Gray says he and many locals often refer to the town as "Smartin". He says that is just the community members shortening the town name.
St. Martin wasn't always called St. Martin. There was a time when it was called Ley. Osendorf isn't too sure of the origin but suspects it was named after a person in the area with that last name. The Catholic Church in town is called St. Martin Catholic Church and the town is named after Martin of Tours. The town team baseball team is named the Martins. The team has made many trips to the State Amateur Baseball Tournament in recent years and has lights on their ballpark, Ray Weber Field.
St. Martin is a bit different than many small towns in Minnesota. Their population may be 343 but because of the presence of the amount of businesses in town including RotoChopper the amount of people in town during the work day is much more than that. Mayor Tom Gray indicates the town does a great job supporting each other. He says when he was away with the military the town helped his wife and kids when they needed assistance. Mark Osendorf and Tom Ehresmann feel St. Martin been able to keep a grocery store, hardware store, implement dealership, multiple bars, a post office, gas station church and more because of the sense of community the town has. St. Martin has a new housing development on the north side of town. Osendorf says as soon as lots become available they sell and people move in. He says they'd like to grow but want to keep the small town feel St. Martin offers.
St. Martin isn't located on a major roadway, doesn't have a river, lake or stream going through it and there is no railroad going through town. St. Martin does have a wealth of dairy farms in the area and rural people who support the town. St. Martin is in the middle of many school districts. The town falls in the Albany school district but they are close to the Melrose, Paynesville and ROCORI school districts. Many area residents choose to open enroll.
The Catholic Church of St. Martin is a big draw to bring people to town. They have a bazaar, local bar Doochies holds a big motorcycle rally each July and the St. Martin baseball team's home games draw a crowd.
St. Martin may be small but the people feel prideful in their community and that shows in how well kept the residents keep their homes and the businesses continue to operate when many small towns don't see the same results.
If you'd like to listen to my conversations with Tom Gray, Mark Osendorf and Tom Ehresmann they are available below.
Mark Osendorf and Tom Ehresmann
Here is the lineup of The 2023 Minnesota State Fair Grandstand Concert Series