Mason’s History of Otter Tail County, which was published in 1916, has this to say about the history of Dent: The town was surveyed in 1903, the population was 104 in 1904 and 214 in 1910. The Dent Bank came into being in 1908 with L. 0. Oberhauser as president, and E. J. Stoll and Charles Higley involved.
Information submitted for the 1994 edition of the East Otter Tail History Book has quite a bit more. Most of that information came from a copy of the Dent Messenger’s first edition, published on Aug. 4, 1905. This 8-page tabloid was published and edited by A.T. Mills. Only two of the pages were locally printed and oriented. The other six were preprinted elsewhere and contained state and national news.
This initial edition reveals that Dent was served by the Soo Line, which ran three trains each way daily except Sunday. Apparently one eastbound and one westbound were mixed trams – a freight with passenger cars at the rear. Editor Mills, who was also a notary public, wrote that Dent contained the following: Four general stores, one hotel, two restaurants, a livery barn, four saloons, a farm implement house, harness and shoe shop, a blacksmith and wagon repair shop, feed mill, planing mill, one large and several small lumber yards, a heading mill, furniture store, meat market, millinery shop, feed store, barber shop, a newspaper, one doctor, an elevator, several wood yards, a fire department with chemical engine, and a skimming station.
Advertisements reveal that Ray Gadway was the Dower Lumber Company manager, F. I. Miller, barber; Mrs. Millie Oleson, Millinery; Stender and Jonas hardware and furniture; bankers. N. J. Schafer, T. H. and H. S. Frazer, general merchandise, Robinson and son; butcher, Frank Ehrmanntraut; hotel-restaurant Engelman & Dalton; general dry goods and groceries, Schumaker and Bessler, and that Editor Mills was also in the real estate business.
Village officers were listed as Peter Schumaker, president; E. I. Miller, secretary George Patridge and Joe Besleri justices.
Information from City of Dent Messenger, 1905 submitted for the East Otter Tail County History Volume II 1994, now available at www.HistoryMuseumEOT.org