Dotson Iron Castings donates 145 years of historical documentation to MNSU

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 10:43 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - As the oldest manufacturer in Mankato, Dotson Iron Castings has a long and vibrant history in the community.

There’s a lot to learn from all that history, that’s why the company decided to donate 145 years worth of documentation to Minnesota State University, Mankato.

According to Dotson Iron Castings chairman Denny Dotson, the company’s history started back in 1876.

“It was a father that immigrated from Germany and his three sons. The father started a blacksmith shop that was near this (Riverfront Dr.) location,” said Dotson.

For 40 years, original founder Laurentius Mayer and his sons built a business producing about 500 tractors and tens of thousands of power forging hammers.

Eventually, Dotson’s grandfather ran the company and purchased it.

Over the years Dotson’s history was carefully documented and preserved. Knowing the importance of the rich history, Dotson decided to donate 120 boxes of company and family records to the Southern Minnesota Historical Center at Minnesota State University Mankato.

“It’s just a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, we’ve never had a donation of this size,” said MNSU Archivist Daardi Mixon.

The collection contains everything from blueprints, newsletters to old photographs.

“There’s even a telegram written to my grandfather when he came in the early 1920s. It said there’s a position that should be opening up and that he should apply but should be very modest in his salary expectations,” said Dotson.

But the archives show more than just the company’s past, but also the communities.

“So the collection contains information about Old Town and Riverfront, the redevelopment down there,” said Mixon.

The university says the archives will be beneficial for students’ education.

“To help business students understand how companies can change over time, they’re opportunities for history students, students in engineering, a variety of things that I would be of interest to graphic designers,” said Mixon.

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