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Full text of "The advantages and resources of Houston County, Minnesota"

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F 612 
.H8 fl24 

HOUSTON COUNTY. 

I^'^IcQl-^v^ {yf^^€r^ Z^X^^tA^ 

That tli« late financial revulsion has turned gie attention of 
Eastern men to an examination of other fields of entei-priae and 
labor, where thejcan find new homes and seek new associations, 
and that tliese liomes will be scattered over the boundless prairies, 
and on the banks of the rivers of the West, and these associations 
formed among the people of the West, is a fact enforced bj the 
spirit of eager inquiry concerning the advantages and resources 
of new States and Tenitories everywhere prevailing in the 
Atlantic States. 

Many who expect to emigrate for the West the present Spring, 
come to join Mends whose glowing descriptions of the natural 
resources everywhere around them have decided such in the 
selection of a location, but there are many others still undecided 
who need only an acquaintance with the advantages offered by 
some pai-ticulai- section of country to determine to pay it a visit 
at least. To the latter class especially we hope to impart useful 
information. 

Southern Minnesota justly claims no small share of attention 
among the various points of interest which attract the notice of the 
emigrant, and we deem no portion of it more worthy of a pla«c 
h-'gh in the estimation of business men of all classes than that 
part of the south-eastern corner of the State, known as Houstox 
Cou.^xr. 



2 ^^ HOUSTON COUNTY. 

Being the first County in the State vrhich isTeaclied in a trip 
up tlie. Mississippi^ its. populatiQn, numbers representatives from 
all the Eagtern and Middle States, incUiced to settle within its 
limits because approached by less cost and time than any other, 
and because it contains all reasona1:^le requirements for the location 
of pleasant homes, fine fai-ms, and eligible sites for every branch 
of mani*facture. ^ 

Houston County is'twejity-foar miles square,^^bracing sixteen 
to-^nships of land taken froin"t)ld Fillmore" County. It is 
bounded on Hie north by Winona County, on the east by tlie 
Mississippi River, on the south by the Iowa liiie, and on the 
west by Fillmore County, and is contained within the limits of 
" Root River Land District." 

It was organized during the Legislature of 1853, the first 
county-seat being at Brownsville on the Mississippi ; but in 1856 
the county-seat was removed to Caledo3ua where it now remains. 
In 1854 the Land Office of the" Root River Land District " was 
located at Brownsville, but transferred to Chatfield, Fillmore 
County, in 1S56. 

The selectio;! of Houston County, as preferable for the location 
of the Land Olfice, drew the attention of prc-emptors to an 
examination of its resources, and soon neai-ly ail of its available 
lands were disposed of to actual settlers, and at once commenced 
the work of improvement wliich has since stc:adily progressed. 
Happily that fierce spirit of speculation which often materially 
retards the growth of new countries, because detrimental to the 
prosperity of the woi-king class, did not seize upon the earliest 
settlers of the County, who preferred rather to improve by art 
what nature so bountifully offered, and for this reason the growth 
of Houston County has been permanent and healthy. The first 
settlements made in the County were at Brownsville and Hokah, 
aft-er which followed Caledonia, Spring Grove, Sheldon, Houston, 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 3 

La CrcFceuf, Riccford, and other points of less impoilancc and 
note. Liks pioncv-^rs evevywheie, those tvIio made claims in thia 
County at an early peni)d, T^ere obliged to sutrer many privations 
and surmount nnuiy difticultics, but the liope of an early reward 
for their labors led thcra to persevere until that hope was realized 
and oti;ers began to second their efforts, the farmer by purchasirif^ 
and improving lands, the mechanic by selecting a spot and 
thereon erecting a mill, and the merchant by establishing a 
ti'ading point, both a convenience and a necessity fur all classes. 

To one accustomed to a level and even countiy, that part of 
Houston County lying along the Mississippi and Root Rivera 
may present a ^Tigged and forbidding appearance, as nothing 
appears to meet the eye, save high bluffs with rocky summits. 
This line of bluffs generally extend back into the country from 
tvsro to four miles^ and then is to be tound fine pr urie and timber 
land, gently rolling, while a few miles further west the surface of 
the country is often a plain, perfectly level. 

In the valleys between these 1:la/rs, tiie land is quite as good 
for farming purposes as the prairie;! and the conven ience of springs 
vastly better, as scai'ceiy a single valley in the County, but has 
an abundant supply of clear and wholesome water. About 
one-sixth of the County consists of these hills and bluffs, about 
one-fourtli of timber, and the ren-iaining portion well adapted to 
the growth of giain and advantageous for the raisirig of stuck of 
all kinds. 

It is between the ranges of bluffs that are to be fbund the large 
number of first cln<?3 water powers of which tliis County can 
boast, and wliich offer such fine oppoitiniities, for a number and 
class of manufactures, unsurpassed by any other in the Western 
States. 

Wo venture to assert, witliout fear of contradiction, that no 
part of Southern Minnesota offers a greater number of avaUabk 



4 HOUSTON COUNTY. 

I ites for mill seats than this, and we believe, too, that the day is 
not far distant when in no other portion of the State the same in 
extent of territory, will be more intimately blended the interests 
of manufacture and agriculture. ISTearly two-thirds of the 
County lies on the south side of Root River, from which flows 
into this stream, Thompson's Creek at Hokah, Lovesee's Creek 
at Lovesee's Mills, four miles above Hokah, the South Fork ol 
Root River at Houston, Beaver Cieek upon which Sheldon is 
situated. The Badger, and Crystal Creek at Riceford, empty 
into the South Fork of the Root. From the north side of the 
Root River, commencing at its mouth, are Beusch's, Looney's, 
and Money Creeks. Pine Creek, lising in Winona County, finds 
its way to the Mississippi through Target Lake, near La Cj-escent. 
The Wild Cat joins the Mississippi at Brownsville ; the Winne- 
bago and Crooked Creeks seek a similai' outlet still further down. 

All these streams are capable of being turned to milling 
pui-poses, and upon the majority of them one saw mill, at least, 
is erected, while on the Beaver three good saw mills and a grist 
mill are within a few miles of each other. 

Notwithstanding the enterprise akeady exhibited in the erec- 
tion of mills, they have not more than kept jDace with other 
improvements, nor in the least decreased the demand for their 
services, nor will their number cease to be multiplied, until 
every neighborhood shall be supplied with a mill for its own 
convenience. Root River itself must at some future day become 
of immense importance to manufacturers. At several places on 
the stream, the banks are so favorably formed that at an expense 
not large, in consideration of the value of the power obtained, the 
whole body of water may be dammed, and on the more level 
land racing will be nearly as effectual. With these facilities, 
Houston County cannot be deficient in either the variety or 
quality of its mechanical operations, and by those who Ihorougldy 



I 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 5 

understand tlie connecting advantages, and the relation of all 
to our future growth and pros]-)eritj, it is generally conceded that 
the investment of capital in mills in this County will eventually 
return handsome profits. Besides these principal streams men- 
tioned, springs and rivulets are scattered quite liberally through 
the County so that almost every person has a plentiful supply of 
of water, so necessary for grazing purposes. 

As regards timber, both in quantity and quality, Houston 
County is well supplied. The Root River bottom lands are 
mostly covered with the choicest kind of timber for twenty -five 
miles from its mouth, and its remarkable convenience for fur^ 
nishing the ship yards, and supplying th.e mills along this stream 
render it doubly valuable. The manufacture of wooden wares 
will, ere long, become one of the most lucrative branches of 
business in this portion of country, and tlic excellence and 
abundance of Houston County timber will materially facilitate 
the operations of this branch of industry in our vicinity. 

A lai'ge extent of country around us, now but imperfectly 
supplied by the laborers of older States, will soon peremptorily 
demand factories of this kind fiom which they can purchase 
before the accumulation of several dealers' profits, and the cost of 
transportation from a distance, and these demands Houston 
County is abundantly able and well situated to supply. 

The products of the cabinet shop are in greater demand in 
older and more settled countries, than in new and sparsely 
populated ones, as men at the commencement of any entei-prise 
prefer to construct for utility rather than ornament ; but when 
the first difficulties attending a pioneer life have been overcorao 
comfort is more readily consulted. Wc now need and must have 
the common chair, bedstead and table factory. 

The cheapness with which a shop can be stocked with material 
for tliis business, will decrease tlie actual cost of the manufactured 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 

article, leaving a large niargin for profits to the maker. Red, 
burr and white cafe, elm, "vs'alirat. bultc'rniit, bassvrood, cheny, 
ash, maple, hickory, birch, hackbeny, and coltonwood fill our 
forests, all of as good quality as can be found an yvrhej-e in the 
West. 

AlthoiTgh the lieaTiost timber in Houston CoiTnty. is found upon 
the bottom lands of Jioot liivci-, its south branch and tributaries, 
it is not confined to the:^? locations, but is fiequenlly scattered in 
patches upon the prairies, Tvhioh gives our farms a good chance- 
for fencing. 

Those ^iio have commenced improvements npon prairie farms, 
situati^d at a distance from any fencing material, can readily 
appreciate the advantages of this distjibution of timber, which 
avoids the frequent vexatious delay of hauling a lo^g distance. 

It is unnccc&sary to enumerate t'ne variety of tradesmen who 
can find permanent and profitable employment by becoming 
competitors in the broad fields of enterprise whicli the natural 
wealth of Houston County opens for all who may feel inclined to 
assist in the development of her resources, but it may bo remarked 
that " none " need "go av^ay dissatisfied " for v^ant of sufficient 
"light " to guide them in the path to wealth. 

Bat we come to speak of the soil — enough is said ia favor of 
its productiveness when we assert that it is the rich, quick, warm, 
sandy loam of Southern Minnesota, 

Eastern farmers are not unfi-equcntly led to d<ra].t the reports 
which come to them, setting forth the rapid and al;n.>st marvcloua 
gi-owth of Westei-n vegetables, and cereaLs, but this doubt arises 
from an attempt to compare the productive capacity of their own 
lands, even incicased to its utmost extent by artificial means, to 
tlie fii^.e soil of our Western praiiies, which for n:.any years at 
least will need no enriching to keep up tlie reputation it now 
pos3t«8es. Though iloListon County has no better soil than is to ba 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 7 

found in the interior and \ycsteni parts of tlic State, it will admit 
no inferiority wliatcver. 

TJie grass upon its still xmcuKivated lands shows a -strong, 
deep soil, and tlic use of tiio plow, the drill and the cultivator 
has never foiled to fm-nish abundant work for reaping, mowing 
and threshing machines. 

As it has been before rcmarlied, the most extensive body of 
farming lands in Ho'. slon County, lie in the interior. A country 
more attractive to tlic eye of the farmer will not often be mot 
than that whicli surrounds Ctil'^donia, Sheldon and Ricefoi-d, 
where near harvest time fine fields of vrLeat, rye, oats, corn and 
buckwheat are visible in any diroctiou to which the oyo is 
turned. 

But all the good farms, or choice lands yet to be made farm.s, 
are not to be found near the places dcsigiiatod. The valley and 
highlands of Money Creek comprises some of our roost fertile and 
beautiful faims, and enterprising farmers. The same is to be 
eaid cf the valley farming lands around Hokah, La Cresceat, 
Brownsville, Houston, San Jacinto, Yucatan and Looncyville. 

To convince any man that Houston County can raise tall corn, 
largo potatoes, mammoth squashes aiul turnips,, ^e has only to 
visit its next a'^'ricidtural fair, when the wealth of its farmers will 
Fpoak in glowing terms of its capacity to juoduce. Owing to its 
recent settlement, stock growing harj not as yet been extcnsivdy 
introduced in this County, thougli yeaiiy increasing as all- 
cxperimen<;s in tliis depai'tmcnt have been entirely satisfactory. 
There are many reasons wln'eli could be urged in favor of stock 
raising liere, and none a^-ainst it, and a fjw years will suffice to 
make this an important item in our column of exj^ortations. 

Good dairies are vanted here, and owing to tlio situation of 
the County with respect to a convenience of getting to a eui"« 
inaiket, their products wiD always bo in demand. Will not 



8 HOUSTON COUNTY. 

some of our Eastern friends anxious to emigi'ate, think cf this 
business and give us the benefit of their experience ? 

As to success in raising sheep, we are convinced by actual 
experiment that no section of country can be better adapted. 

This locality is not subject to those long, drizzling rains and 
cliilly damps, so prevalent in a more Eastern climate. Houston 
County as yet can claim but few fleeces, though these, it is said, 
are of excellent quality. 

It is an opinion held by many that the climate of Southei'n 
Minnesota is too cold for fruit, that it vould be killed by severe 
and protracted winters, and as a proof of the statement, the cold 
-winter of 1856 is urged. It must be recollected, however, that 
this country was not the only one which suffered from the extreme 
rigor of that winter. Throughout the Eastern and Middle States 
the destruction of fmit was almost nnparalleled, so great indeed 
that years will be required to regain what was lost at that time. 
Of course. Southern Minnesota could not be exempt from the 
general hardships of that winter, and what few new orchards and 
nurseries it then possessed were in no better condition to with- 
stand an extremely cold winter than those in places east and south 
of us. Indeed, the immaturity of our orchards made them more 
liable to'suffer from frosts, as they will be for a few years to come, 
but there is no reason to believe that this climate, with its 
remarkably even and moderate temperature, may not successfully 
compete with any place east of us, of the same latitude. 

The introduction of choice fruits is attracting the attention of 
Houston County farmers the present spring, and a few yeai's will 
find us producing a sui-plus. 

Senthern Minnesota cannot yet l)oast of her colleges and 
eminent seminaries of learning, but Houston County can show a 
good system of fi-ee schools, and contends, also, that it lias all the 
dements for starting and encoui-aging institutions of a high 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 9 

literary character. Every town in the coxmly has hccn providvcl 
■with good scliools the past -winter, and as a fact in favor of tlic 
estimation in "whicli education is held here, good teachers arc in 
demand, though none but good ones. Onr citizens are inclined 
to ignore the system of cheap teaching, and think tliat instmclion 
tlie cheapest -which is the best, though it cost the most money, 

Minnesota, "while yet in its infancy, has strenuously m'ged the 
speedy construction of RAILROADS, as the best means of 
developing its resources, by inducing emigration and capital to 
find its \vay into its borders. The munificent gi-ant of land.<= 
•which Congress has given to the State, and -which the Legislature 
in turn has donated to railroad companies, insured to its a good 
system of transportation, at least -within five years. This at fust 
-was considered a great achievement by the Teiritoiy, in conside- 
ration of its youth and limited population ; but the success of 
railroad enterprises in the "VVestera States particularly, and, in 
fact, their necessity to promote a rapid gro-wth of any country, 
led the peoj^le of Minnesota to believe that something must be 
done to aid our railroad companies, -who -were more or 108"^ 
cmbaiTassed by the late general financial revulsion. 

Minnesota had nothing to fear lest these imracnsc interests 
should be properly attended to in time, but the necessity ot 
securing a share of the emigration of the present spring and of 
making great efforts to bring our advantages and resources into 
general and extensive acquaintance among our eastern friend?;, 
and also to prove that -we were not un-willing to commence 
ourselves the -work of development, a loan of State credit to 
the amount of $5,000,000, to aid in the constniction of railroads, 
■was voted upon on the loth of April last, and approved by ati 
immense majority. This loan of State credit is amply securetl 
by a conveyance to the State by deed of trust of the lands 
belonging to the companies, excluding the probability of the 



10 HOUSTON COUNTY, 

Staic being obliged to pay oitlierthe interest or principal of tiie 
hoade. 

According to tlie coiidilionsof this measure, the corajjanies arc 
compelled to commence constniclioa witliii) oistj days after the 
Goyernor's proclamation that such Tote has been taken, and 
"vyithiu t?ro years tliercafter, construct ready for the sr.perstnic- 
tarc, at least fifty (50) rniles of their roads." The four companies 
are also obliged to complete not less tiian fifty miles of road each 
before the expii'ation of tEe year 1861, one hundred miles each 
before the year 18G4, and complete four-fifllis of the entire length 
of the roads before the year 1SS6, 

Y/iiat more eiSciejit measures than these can be taken to 
waiTant Ivlinncsota that attention which she deserves, and what 
."Tiore could its inhabitants do to convince those who wish to 
emigi'ate that the right spiiit of entei-prise exists to welcome and 
n.r,d reward their coming. To the advantages which Southern 
Minnesota, and Houston County in partic;;lar, is admitted ]>y 
1]i3so improveraeats, we wish to call atteijtion. The railroad 
iuterests of Southern Minnesota are represented by two corapaniea 
cdlcd the *' Southern Minnesota " and " Transit " Railroad 
Companies. 

The Southern Minnesota, formerly the Root River Yailey 
JlJl. Company, commences one line of their road at La Crescent 
5'! this county, on the Mississippi ; thence via Hokah and up the 
llooi River Valley, through the whole w^idih of the county, and 
on westward, making connection with other important roads. 

That this road -^'ill be first in importance to the interests of 
this portion of Southern Minnesota, tliere can exist no doubt, and 
it must become the great channel for the cxpoi-ts and imports of 
\)y(i country west of us, because it is the most natural one. The 
building of this road through the county will e:,tablish depots 
ajong tJiC line so that no part of the county can be at a great 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 1 I 

distance from a plac? for discliarging its Bui-plus raw or manufac- 
tured inatorial, and receiving in return that whicli cannot ba 
furnished at home. A few hours travel at least v. ill bring tlie 
farmer and tradesman to a place -Nvhoro will be found at all times 
bidders for his articles from poiTita cast and west, thi^.s affording 
the choice of a foreign market, a thing exceedingly desirable to 
the producing class. 

\Ve believe tliat over this Vu\9 of road through HoListon Count j 
a great proportion of the products of Southern Miimesota must 
find the Mississippi, because vre- have a direct connection with 
Milwaukee, by the La Crosse and Milwaukee Eailroad, which 
will be completed to La Crosse the present summer. With the 
completion of the last mGutioacd raih'oad, Houston County must 
become of great impor-ance, as situated along the Mississippi, 
and containing part of what must become one of the most 
NOTKD RAILROADS IN THE UNITED States. Then wc stand in tlic 
eame relation to Milwaukee that Dubuque does to Chicago, also 
having the same facilities by way of river transpo'rtation.and even 
better, because a navigable river, the Root, runs through thia 
county, and it certainly has as good a back country to support it. 
The city of Milwaukee is rapidly rising in wealth and import- 
ance, becoming a formidable rival of Chicago by railroad and 
shipping facilities, and is, if anytliing, a better grain market tl;ari 
Chicago, yeai'ly increasing hermcaT\B for drawing the trade of a 
larger extent of country, by means of lines of railroad m CTciy 
direction. AVilh such a m.arkot as Milwaukee aftbrde to Houston 
County, with aclieap, quick and reliable method oftransportatinn 
by a railroad connection both on the cast and the west, and the 
navigation of the Misaisj^ippi on the north and south, the farmer 
must find a good price for hia giain, our factories will not lie- idk 
because their fabrics caunot be sold, and here^ too, the mcrehaiit 



12 



HOUSTON COUNTt. 



mechanic, artist and professional man will find their labors 
propeilj appreciated and rewarded. 

In eyerj "way, then, is Houston County advantageously 
aituated to become "wealthy and populous. If it possessed no 
other recommendations than imrivalled water powers and the 
convenience of a situation upon the longest and most important 
liver in the world, these would be sufficient to build it up, and 
make it the centre of an immense manufacturing trade. 

To those wishing to engage in a manufacturing trade in the 
"West, we would earnestly recommend Houston County, There 
are still hundreds of good mill seats unimi^roved within its limits 
where a large and profitable business can be secured at once, and 
without any great amount of extraordinary efi'ort or an imreason- 
able expenditure of money. No other cou.nty in Southern 
Minnesota is yet manufacturing largely enough to inteifei-e with 
any business of this class carried on here, and we believe, too, that 
no other county can claim a superiority over this by way of a 
natural fitness, and certainly none nearer a good eastern market, 
V7hich will absorb all that does not go to supply the country still 
further west. As the number of mills are increased, foundries, 
machine shops and anvils will be in greater demand, and must 
follow to contribute their share to insure a harmony to other 
branches of business. 

In days gone past it has been customary for the steam engine to 
follow the plough, that no doubt might exist lest the products of 
the soil should fail to give support to the raikoad, but since the 
experiment has shown the utility of the iron track, the plough now 
follows the engine, and when the iron horse plunges into our 
forests or speeds over our prairies, the busy wheels of enterprise 
follow closely after, and, as if in the twinkling of an eye, the 
forests resound with the stroke of the axe, and disappear to make 
way for cities, and prairies yield golden fruits to reward tliose who 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 1 3 

toil. Now a country is pierced by the steam car, and immediately 
after come troops of men with brawny arms and willing hearts, to 
sow, to reap, to build and to overcome all difficulties, that the 
future may find them enjoying that reward of ease and content- 
ment wliich come closely behind every effort to progress. 

Now is the time to come and take an early advantage of tliese 
resources. Lands, both wild and cultivated, can be bought at 
much lower figures than were asked last fall, or will be asked a 
year hence, and what is said of land is also true with respect to 
any kind of property. With us now, provisions, labor and mate- 
rial are cheap, and the man who has a small cash capital can, at 
present prices, and the present call for money and moneyed men, 
make satisfactory progress in establishing any kind of business. 

Cirumstances could not be more propitious for Western emi- 
gration than just now, and let no one designing to settle in tlie 
West let this golden opportunity for making a choice selection 
pass away unheeded or unimproved. Unimproved prairie lauds 
are selling at from ^'2 to $5, and lands under cultivation from $4 
to $10 per acre, 

Houston County stands ready to welcome all who may feel 
inclined to come within its borders ; and can give profitable 
employment to millions of capital. We want men to come 
among us — men who act and men who think — men with large 
and comprehensive minds, who will know how to busy their 
hands at the plough, the workbench, the loom and the anvil, men 
■who will be j^roducers and not merely consumers — in other words 
we want wse/W men, and to such we will give encouragement. 
We are now neither rich nor populous enough to use all of the 
advantages which nature has scattered ai'ound us, nor ai"e we 
selfish enough to do so, if others will assist us in the great marcli. 
of improvement. We are satisfied that our choice here has been a 
good one, and we do not hesitate to invjtc our friends to join u«. 



14 HOUSTON COUNTY. 

The determination of our citizens is to adTance, and they loiU 
advance. Let those vrho come bring with them their ploughs, 
their hammers and shuttles, their school books and their Bibles; 
for all these are needed to encourage and prolong the spirit of 
eriterprise which "will determine our success. 

HOKAH 
Is situated on section 5 and 6, town 1 03, and section 39, town 
104, and is a plateau or bencli at the confiuence of Thompson's 
Creek with Root Hirer, and about 2.5 feet above the level of tho 
water of Root River. This bench is formed by the lower ends of 
valleys radiating from this point in almost every direction and 
each one atiordiug a good natural road back into the country and 
towards the Mississippi, a distance of five miles. This place is 
the first eligible pnint*^ for & town f^i te up the Root River, and 
occupies the g-ap between the blufis at the outlet of the Root 
River Valley. The bluffs from this point tall back from the 
river rapidly and give the mouth of the Valley a bell shape, 
witli low bottom larids between Kokah and the Mississippi 
River. The Root River Valley here is about 2 miles in width 
and supports a heavy growth of timber from the mouth 25 miles 
up the stream. Among the timber is to be found the finest 
quality of oak, black walnut, butterniu-,. hard and soft maple, 
white and black ash,basswood, cottouwcod, hackbeny and elm. 
The trees grow very tall, and large logs ai-e now lying h\ the mill 
yard, measuring 50 feet in le)iji,th, 4 feet through at the butt, and 
3 feet at the top. Its'prineipal use here is for ship plant. 

The cbief engineer of the ^outliern Minnesota (Land Grant) 
R. R. Company, D. J. Whittemore, Esq., in his report to the Board 
of Directors, on the 1st of January, 1858, mentions this tract of 
timber as follows: "The Root River line (of railroad) passes 
through twenty miles of dense timber land. In this vaUey all 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 15 

the varieties of oak witli maple, basswood a:id elm arc faund In 
abundance of l]ie largest growrtli and finest quality." This body 
lies princi] ally above Hokali and is easily rafted or ^mted dcven 
to this point to supply the yai'ious manufactories already in 
operation. 

Hokah is the Indian name of Root River, as also the name of ii 
chief, who formerly had his village located en the.se same grounuK 
-vrhere there arc still innumerable Indian graves and other tnicos 
of Indian remains. 

The first settlement at Hokah vras made by Ed^vavd Thon)p- 
Bon, Esq., as early as 1651. He was first induced to locate here 
by the fine opportunity offered to obtain a heavy water power 
upon a stream falling into Root River at tliis point, which 
subsequently received the name of Thompson's Creek. His first 
design was to raise the water 36 feet, but his dam pro'^^d insuffi- 
cient, and, about the time his saw mill was ready for operation, 
the dam broke out. There being scarcely a white family in 
Houston County at that time, it seemed like a reckless under- 
taking. The water power obtained would be much heavier than 
demanded, but eraigr;ition soon set in, and Edward Thompson 
persevered in his undertaking, rebuilt the dam, obtaining 25 
feet fall, and started his mill in the spring of l85i. In 1855 C. 
"W. Thompson bought into the water power, and erected a grint 
mill, and laid out the town. In 185(i about 30 buildings were 
erected ; in 1857 as many more. The water power was improved 
and a large shop erected, 44 by 80, four stories higli, with wattr 
wheels and line shaftijig, the design being to rent room and 
pov%-er for driving any kind of rcachinciy. The waJer power 
obtained by this dam is sufficfPnt to drive fifteen run cf stone. 
There is ako another and htavier water power in contemplation. 
By damming Root River three foet and racing across a short flat 
6^ feet fidi can be obtained, with the whole of the water of Root 



lis HOUSTON coujrrr. 

iiiver, thereby creating an enormous power and the only heavy 
one that can be obtained as near the Mississippi for a hundred 
miles abo^ or below this point. The proximity of Hokah to the 
great ra^road crossing, (La Crosse,) with timber above on Root 
Kiver to supply all kinds of manufactures, and navigation on the 
river below to La Crosse, (10 miles, by way of the river,) to 
facilitate the transjDortation of manufactiu-ed articles, certainly 
settles its claims as a manufacturing town. 

In 1855 a charter for a railroad fi'om Hokah, via the South 
Bead of the Minnesota, to the Great Bend of the Missouri River, 
with a branch from Hokah to La Crescent, and fifom Hokah t& 
Brawnsville, was obtained. In 1857 Congress granted lands to 
aid in the construction of several railroads in the territory among 
which was a grant for a road from La Crescent, via Target Lake, 
and Root River Valley, to some point of Jnnct'on east of range 
17 with the road from Winona to the Big Sioux River. This 
grant was given to the company already organized imder the 
charter obtained in 1855, and "in accordance with the act of 
'incorporation of said Root River Valley and Southern Minnesota 
Railroad Company, approved March 2nd, 1855, and all subse- 
q\ient amendments thereto." 

The La Crosse and Prairie du Chien Railroad is soon to be 
built, making a connection fi'om Brownsville to Prairie du Chien, 
and when it is completed it makes Hokah the junction of the 
two great lines of Western travel, i, e., from Milwaukee via La 
Crosse and up Root River Valley, and from Chicago via Prairie 
du Chien, Brownsville and the point of junction, at or neai' 
Hokah. 

There are several mail routes crossing each other at this place. 
The route from Brownsville to Maukato, from La Crosse to 
Decorah, and from La Crosse to Chatfield run through Hokali, 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 1 7 

aoeuiing good communication with all parts of tlie State and tho 
East. 

Hokah presents inducements for all kinds of business men. It 
has not at present a tithe of tlie capital or business men requii'ed 
by the surround Jng country, and especially wants manufacturers 
of farming utensils, furniture, castings and machinery, and any 
thing, in short, made of wood. Mechanics would find liere good 
water power, good timber, readily made available, with the whole 
of Southern Minnesota for a market, or, in case of a surplus, a 
direct communication with tlie North or South by the Mississippi 
or East by the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad, of wliich 
there is a certainty of being finislied to La Crosse by the coming 
fall. At the present time there is little manufactured in Minne- 
sota; the farmer imports his reapers, fanning mills, ploughs and 
oven rakes. Ail furniture,-doois, blinds and sash are imported, 
and all mill caslisigs and machinery, etc., are made abroad, that 
might as well be made here as anywliere, and thereby save 
transportation and two or three dealers' profits. 

Property in Hokah has always been low and the inflation 
usually considered to be in the West has never reached tin's place. 
There is scarcely any property held on speculation, no buildings 
put up by thus-i interested in the property for show simply, but 
on the contrary built up by actual settlers and from actual 
business necessities. The present inhabitants are generally from 
tlie East, and have brought with them Eastern ideas nf supporting 
school houses and churches, and have put those ideas in practice. 

If business men would find a place for profitable investment in 
the manufacturing line this is a desirable spot. 

A good many permanent improvements are going on at tho 
present time which invite attention. 

There is abundant room and materials for firs': class factoriitJ 
of all kinds, and k good demand for every species of labor. 



IS HOUSTON COUNTY. 

SHELDON. 

The town of Sheldon issitucated in town 103 of range 6 west, 
on the line heiwetn sections 31 and 32, and derives its name fi-om 
one of its p-opriotors, Mr. Julius C. Sheldon a resident of Suffield, 
Connecticut. The original town plat comprises forty acres of fine 
bottom land, to which an addition of twenty acres has been 
made, and though s.ifficiently ample for the present iraproveraentg 
and requirements of its citizens, enough of the same quality of 
land remains to increase its limits to almost any extent. 

The town site is that of a broad bench of laud, running back 
from Beaver Creek, upon which it is situated, to the extent of a 
7nile in width, ^-^nerally level, though sufficiently undulating to 
increase tiie beauty of the place, without subjecting it to any 
heavy grading. Tiiis bench contains some six or seven hundred 
acres, and though surrounded by bluffs, the entrances to it from 
the variolas roads which connect it with othei' towns and an 
excellent farming country, are generally most singularly pictur- 
esque and beautiful, at the same time rendering it easily 
accessible from almost any other point in the county. 

Mr, John Brown pre-empted tlie land in the yearl854, and tlie 
valuable water power was soon turned into a good purpose, by 
the erection of a saw mill, an improvement which is generally 
considered an essential starting point for a permanent growth to 
any new Western town. 

Beaver Creek which affords one of the most copious water 
powers in the West is formed from large springs, and lias a 
western and southern branch which unite and form a single 
Rtream at a distance of a mile from the town. Either of these 
branches is amply sufficient for supplying water for first class 
jnills^of any description and their banks ai'e well situated for tlie 
required buildings. 

The stream varies in width from twentv to twenty-five feet, a 



IWUSTON COUNTY. l^^ 

lui-an depth of eighteen inches, and empties into the south I'ork 
of Root River about two miles distant from the continence of its 
two branches. It has a fiill of ten feet to the mile, and is filled 
witii fine trout, affording endless sport to tbe angler, besides 
•"Ppljing the table witli a luxury ever envied by the epicure. 

A dam has been stretclied across the stream at the lower part 
of the town, giving a fiill of thirteen feet, and either above or 
below this dam any number of mills and factories may be erected 
and fully supjlied with water the whole year. Five or six large 
and beautiful springs are situated within a mile of the place and 
one or two in close proximity to the town plat. 

Tlie South Fork of Root River is also navigable for flat boat*?, 
to the moutli of Beaver Creek. 

This valuable water privilege which forms the principal featur«? 
of attraction to men who ai'e on the lookout for good business 
locations, at once stamps this place as being one eminently fitted 
for mechanical purposes, i:i which its principal wealth will 
consist. 

Nov have these advantages been overlooked or neglected, as 
extensive improvements are now in progress, under the direction 
of Mr, Josephus Seely, which, when completed will be highly 
complimentary to the energy and enterprise of this gentleman, 
besides a valuable acquisition to the real wealth of Houstoji 
County. 

Mr. Secly has recently removed from Connecticut and viewing 
witli the eye of a thorough business critic the natural giftH 
belonging to tlie place, he is fully determined that the improve- 
ments of ait shall not long be wanting to reiuler the town which 
he has selected for a residence, botli a permanent and increasing 
k'dvanJ^age to the surrounding country, and as it must become a 
source of large profit to himself and other citizens of the place. 
Alreadv he has the timber liewn and drawn to the spot for tli« 



20 HOUSTON COUNT!'. 

erection of a first class flouring miP having three run of burrs. 
He has purchased the saT7 mill built by Messrs. Brown & Swan, 
and twelve acres adjoining the mill lots, upon which to erect 
other large and comiaodioas buildings necessary to the con- 
venience and rapid completion of his designs and also upon which 
can be erected dwellings for those under iiis employ. 

With the saw mill is connected a machine siiop, for planing, 
tonguing and grooving planks and boards, lathes for turning 
iion and wood, circular saws and various other machines required 
for mechajiical purposes. A spot has been selected for the 
erection of a paper miJl, which, when in operation, will undoubt- 
edly receive a liberal support from all paits of the Territory, and 
Tjupply a deficiency whicli Minnesota especially demands among 
her factories. The land adjoining tlie mill site,, owned by Mr, 
Seely, is rendered doubly valuable from the fact that it has within 
its limits a large bed of clay from which a superior quality of 
brick may be easilv manufactured, and but a few rods distant, a 
a large bank of the best quality of sand for building purposes. 
Grey limestone is found in abundance, and of excellent quality, 
near the town, and soon a quarry will be opened to furnish stone 
for the foundation to several buildings designed to be erected in a 
short time. 

Excellent timber is found near the town, and is easily procured 
and converted into lumber. In the valleys are to be found 
jnincipally black walnut, elm and basswood, while on the higher 
^nounds and bluffs, wliite, red and burr oak and black walnut 
abound in very considera,ble quantities. 

The soil on the priiicipal beiich is a black, sandy loam of fin© 
quality for gardening purposes. 

The streets are laid out at right angles ; those encompassing 
the town, also tiie two principal streets through the place being 
eighty-two feet wide, the remaining streets having a width of 



HOUSTON COUXTY. 21 

pixly-two feet. The public square, in the centre of the tcAvn, i.s 
two hundred by four hundred feet in size, and will soon be 
properly fenced and ornamented with a view to the fiitiu'e 
adornment of the town. Each lot is one hmidred and twenty 
feet square, and between each an alley of twenty feet in width 
conveniently separates tlieir limits. 

Sheldon contains a population of over one liundrcd ; has oik- 
blacksmitli shop, a niacliine and wag:ou shop, three saw mills, one 
hotel and two dry goods and grocery stores. 

A church and school liouse will soon be numbej-ed among the 
permanent and useful ornameiits to tlie place, lots having been 
reserved for th.em. 

Seven important and well tra^eied roaHs lead fiora Sheldon, 
to diiferent points at a distance, most of them traversing the 
richest agricultural portions of the county and affording the 
place a splendid opportunity for beco'niiig a central raai-ktt for 
agricultural products in this portion of country. 

A perpetuation of that spirit of eutei-prise wliich now scen.s 
to characterize the citizens of Slieldon will certainly open tlie 
channels of a fine and natural commu!\ication between the town 
and farming interests, wliich cannot fail to become mutually 
beneficial, and evciitually it will be able to command what it 
now. seeks — to obtain the patronage of the farmers. 

That town must become a point of interest and attraction 
which is prepared to take the products of the fai'mer in excliange 
for goods of all descriptions, and turn tlicse products again into 
a cash market by means of mills and shops. 

Sheldon will be fully able to do tliis when her system of 
improvements sliall have been completed, and as her roads are 
improved, so mucli greater will be her cliances for attracting tlie 
products of the ricliest portion of Houston County. 

The rich abundance of the Norwegian Ridge may yet find a 



v2 HOUSTON COUNTY. 

market at SHeldon, ^hile the valley of the Soiitli Fork of Root 
River may contribute not a little to build up and sustain for licr 
a reputation for thrift and busy enterprise, a sure precursor of a 
growing and populous town. 

Upon the whole, we consider the town of Sheldon as one 
destined to be of no second or tliird rate importance in the history 
..f our progress. Her fine natural advantages must attract 
attention when they become generally known, and when tliorougli 
business men begin to improve these advantages her superiority 
as a good point for the interchange of all kinds of commodities, 
must and will place her in a prominent position among tlie towns 
of Southern Minnesota. 



LA CRBSGENT. 

La Crescent is situated on portions of sections three^ ten and 
eleven, in township 104 north of range 4 west, in' Houston 
County, Slate of Minnesota. It lies on the west bank of the 
JJississippi River, opposite Nortli La Crosse, and a little noitli 
of opposite the city of La Crosse. From the steamboat landing 
at the city of La Crosse to the La Crescent landing is somewhat 
less than two miles. 

Just above tlie nortliern limits of La Crescent, the higli bluffs 
vhich for miles above and below this point wall in the Missi^ippi 
River, diverge from its immediate banks, leaving at their base a 
beautiful table land containing over six luindred acres, whose 
mean elevation is about fifty feet above high water mark. In 
front of this table "is a triangular, piece of bottom land, wliose 
apex is at the northern limits of the town, and whose base is in 
the vicinity of Root River, which land is subject to overflow. 
The table lands are a mile and a half in length and about three- 
fourths of mile in width. On these the principal paii of the 
town is built ; and a more lovely location for a town cannot well 



irousTON couNir. 23 

tie imagined. Tl^e tables are level, with a ^navd and loam 
aubsoil of great depth, giving dry cellars wiliiout drainage; a 
dry and clean surface free from dust, sand and clay mud • pure 
water ; and tlie richest of garden land, which is easily cultiVatcil. 
Mature has dotted the plat with beautiful burr oak shade trees 
giving the town a cool, shady and inviting appearance La 
Orescent will vie with the banks of the Had^on .ui furnishing 
magnificent residence locations. There arc many elevated 
benches, easily accessible, whicli command extensive views of 
the river, bluff and valley, and the surrounding towns. In fact, 
a more lovely and more lovely and magnificent landscape tlian' 
is here spread oat to view, need not be wishod tor to satiate the 
most ardent admirer of the beauties of nature. 

La Crescent was laid out in June, ^185G ; and the town wa« 
iJicorporated by the Legislature in Februaiy, 1 857. The jTrtsen t 
population (May, 1858,) is about four liundred. About eighty 
buildings have been erected, most of which are of a substantial 
kind, and present rather a neat and tasty appearance. There 
are two good hotels, four dry goods and grocery stores, one drug 
store and one furniture store. There are al^o a good steam sa^ 
mill, a large warehouse which will soon be opened, a blacksmith's 
shop and a shoemaker's sliop. 

La Crescent can boast of a good brick school hoi-se, and of a 
set of inhabitants willing to be liberally taxed for the support of 
good schools. Provisions have been made for a nine months' 
freij school for the present year. 

The Baptist and Methodist denomination.s have regular services, 
conducted by able ministeis. There arc also a sabbath school 
and bible class held every Sabbath, and a prayer meeting eveij 
Thursday evening. 

Within half a mile of the limits of the to^n on the south Hows 
Pi'^c Creek, a lovely stream of watei-, formed and fed by numcro^^a 



2i HOUSTON COUNTY. 

springs and spring brooks. Its waters flo"^ deep and rapidly 
and are cleai- as crystal ; and the stream witli its tributaries are 
full of the finest trout. There is an ujiiinproved water power on 
tliis strcana, contiguous to town, which, with a coroparatively 
snjall outlay of capital, can be made to suppi ' ample power for 
ail the milling and manufacturing purposes which will ever be 
required, A dam can be raised any required height witliin 
thirty feet, not exceeding in mean length sixty leet. The bank.s 
ai'e firm, and there is abundant material for the construction of 
a dam, in the immediate vicinity. The supply of water is 
abundant and never failing. There are good facilities for 
carrying a large race a great distance, for the snpply of side races, 
thus supplying any required number of mills and factories from 
one dam. Here is a good opening for a fiouring mill, and one is 
very much needed. It is also a good location for a paper mill. 
The water is of the purest kind, the demand for paper lai'ge, and 
the supply limited. A good machine shop, turning lathes, chair 
and tub factories, tan and currier's establishment, and an oil rail] 
would all be paying investments. This wiUalbo soon be a good 
opening for a small woolen factory. 

The rich, fertile valleys of Pine Creek a?Kl Root River are 
naturally tributary to La Crescent. Tiiese valleys, within the 
last three years, have been settling up rapidly with enteiprising 
fai'mers, and already quite a large suj'^us of grain and provisions 
is raised, which will increase annually as new farms are opened 
up and improvements extended. Root River rises about one 
hundred miles inlaud and traverses a rich agricultural region, to 
a large extent prairie, but is itself skilled with good timber. In 
the valleys of Root River and Pine Creek fir:e farm lands can be 
bought second hand very cheap, which land must all rapidly 
increase in value on account of contemplated railroad improve- 
ments. 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 2o 

No town on tlie \rcst bank of tlic Mississippi river, between 
Head's Landing and McGregor's is as favorably situated as La 
Crescent in reference to an easy coraraiinicalion with tlie int<;rior. 
Through tlie valleys of Root Kiver and Pine Creek all portions 
of the country can be reached without the necessity of climbing 
steep hills, and good and permanent wagon roads can be easily 
built. Great improvements in the roads arc contemplated the 
present season. The same may be said of the approaches to the 
river on the east side at La Crosse. The La Crescent Company 
owns one of the finest ferry boats on the Mississippi Ri\cr, 
which boat plies regularly between La Crescent and La Crosse. 
Tliese advantages combined make this the most favorable point 
for land emigrants to cross the Mississi]^pi ; and the large number 
of emigrant teams which are now crossing here daily, shows that 
these advantages are understood and appreciated. There are 
already three main roads, whicli diverge into many otliei-rs, 
k^ading back into the country, making La Crescent accessible 
irom all points. 

In a commercial point of view. La Crescent is the gateway to 
to Southern Minnesota; and will be its commercial emporium. 
This is made so by the iraportrint railroad connections which 
liave a bearing upon the prosperity of the town, and by its 
situation on tlie west bank of tlie Mississippi River. TJie La 
Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad, which is being pushed wrward 
rapidly, will be completed this season . This will give La Crescent 
a direct railroad connection with Milwaukee, Chicago and the 
seaboai'd cities. By means of the Mississippi River the town has 
an extensive communication with the south and the north; and 
tlirough the land grant railroads of Minnesota it soon wiK havi; 
easy communication with the west. The Southcra Miiiucsota 
Railroad which leaves iht, Mississippi, and has its terminus ai 
La Crescent, is virtually an extension of the La Crosse amJ 



25 HOUSTON COUNT r. 

MiiwjAtkec Road. Tliis road will be fed hy the Cedar Valier 
Road wliicli it will intersect about eighty miles north-west of 
La Orescent, and through which road La Crescent will have a 
a direct railroad coreiraunicalion with St. Paul. At St. Peter 
tri3 Southevn Minnesota Road will tap the Minnesota Vallej 
Road, which is owned and controlled by the same company ; 
tlius completing the railroad connection between La Crescent 
on the Mississippi, and Sioux City, or some other point in that 
vicinity, on the Missouri. It will also connect at St. Peter 
oo'iiiect with tlie western extei-ssion of the Transit Road : thi^.s 
givi!-g La Crescent over one thousand miles of i-ailroad conaniu- 
nication within the Stt'te of Minnesota. By far the larger 
portion of the already large and growing traffic and travel of 
Minnesota will reach the Mississippi at this point, for here only 
will it bo able for soree jeajs to come, to find within the State 
an eastern outlet by railroad. 

Tlic jailroads of Minnesota liave a solid basis, possessing heavy 
grants of lands, and a loan of the State credit to the amount of 
$5,000,000. The conditions of the loan are such that in order to 
avail themselves of its provisions, the several railroad coraplinics 
mast commence tlie constrnction of their respective roads, by or 
before the first of August next. It is the design of the Soutliern 
ilinrjcsota Railroad Compajiy to comme?iC8 the construction of 
tlieir road, at La Crescent, some time in the month of June of 
tiic present year ; and the road will probably be completed to 
Kochcstcr by the fall of .1859. At no point within one hundred 
iniica of La Crescent can a railroad be built from the the river to 
the interior of the S»at«, with as easy grades and slight curves, 
and at as small expense as from this point. 

La Crescent and La Crosse being situated a short distai C3 
below the mouth of Black River, which traverses tl;e pine regions 
vf Wificonsii\they rat:st become large depots for th.e lumber trade... 



HOUSTON COUNT r. 27 

In the imrjculiatc vicinity of La Crescent are good stoiic for 
building material, llie best of material in abundance for grout 
or gravel wall, good clay for brick, the purest sand for raaniifac- 
turing glass in abundance, and any quantity of oak for fuel. 
Here is a good opening for a wagoii maker, a tinner, a tailor, a 
milliner and dressmaker, a blacksmith, a shoemaker and other 
tradesmen. Paying investments can be made here in town 
property, and good farm lands in the vicinity can be bought 
cheap. !N'ow is the time to purchase before work is commenced 
on the railroad. 



HOUSTOISr. ^ 

Tlic town ef Houston is situated in town iOl, section 3-1, range 
0, about fonrteeu miles fro ni the mouth of Root River, and uj-ou 
its western bank. 

The site is that of an extensive prairie plain, a mile in width 
perfectly level, and in the whole body, contiining thousands of 
of acres of land, most advantageously situated to avoid the labor 
of grading. The original town plat was staked out by Messrs, 
McSpadden and Stafford, in 1854. Since that time other addi- 
tions to the town have been I'ccordcd : one of eighty acres, owned 
by JMessi's. Crookson and Smart, of La Crosse ; also, another of om.' 
iiundred and twenty acres, formerly the jjroperty of Joel Marsli, 
but of late reverted into the hands of Ole Knudson. 

The bench of land is teu feet above the low water mark of 
Root River, having excellent banks for receiving and discliarging 
cargoes of the small vessels which may easily navigate the Root 
River to this poii:t. At tliis point the river is joined by the 
waters of the South Branch, a part of the town plat lying adjacent 
to both streanis, thus giving an advantage for tlie ira])rovemei:t 
of a water power scarcely to be equalled in the "West, v, hen th«' 
necessary 'Capital is brought forward to complete improvements- 
which are re^%ardtd favorably by I'ue citizens and propria lo'iy.. 



28 HOUSTON COUNTr. 

lioot Kiver at this point is one ijundred and sixty feet widcj 
lias a mean depth of six and a half feet, and a fall of five and a 
lialf feet per mile. The town plat is neaiij square in form, the 
principal streets being eighty feet in width, and the remainder 
sixty feet. Lots being 60 by 149, and alleys twenty feet in 
width, and all laid off at right angles, and with the most exact 
rcgnlarity and conrenience for biiildijig purposes. 

Considering the difficulty which attends our pioneers generally 
in starting towns, and the length of time it takes to get the 
advantages of good town sites knoAvn to to the world, the town of 
Houston has not been backward in the race for population, 
wealth and enterprise which has distinguished the growth of 
many points in the county. Isor is at all an unfavorable point 
f«)ra rapid and permanent growth. 

Although having been settled only three years, it now numbers 
among its permanent improvements in all about thirty-five or 
forty buildings, including three store houses, two shingle factories, 
turning out from three to fire thousand each daily, two carpenter 
shops, chair factory and cabinet shop, one cooper shop, one 
blacksmith shop, a steam saw mill, one corn mill, a turning lathe 
and broom factory. A good school house was also erected wheii 
the town was first started, as the citizens seem to regard tlie 
cause of education an important one, and are now enjoying the 
advantages of a first rate school. 

But other factories are called for, and contracts liave been made 
for the erection in the summer of a good grist and saw mill, a 
brewery, a commodious ferry, and about a dozen dwellings. 

Building stone in profuse aburdance and good cpiality are 
found in the bluffs, near the town, and a large brick yard will be 
opened near the town in a sliort time, 

• The soil is a rich loam, and very deep, which speaks well in 
favor of good wardens and mammoth vegetables, which will Jind 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 29 

a good market at home. The town of Houston is bountifully 
vsui3plied ^vith almost all kinds of timber, adjoining the town plat. 
Oak, walnut, butternut, elms of all kinds, and large quantities of 
sugar raaj^le are most conveniently situated to supply the increas- 
ing deiuands of a young and thrifty place. 

Houston is an excellent place for a boat yard, owing to the 
bountiful supply of the nectssary timber for this puj-]-)ose, and 
also a good opportunity for launching. Some six or eight good 
roads run directly through the place, giving it the trade of several 
rich and important valleys, which, when pouring their products 
into one town, must oei-tainly make it an advantagcou? and 
lucrative trading point. The rich valleys of the South Fork. 
Badger and Beaver Creeks must contribute to the growth of 
Houston from the south, while'Looney's Valley and the choice 
farming lauds of Money Creek on the north, will be valuable 
auxiliaries to its prosperity. These advantages alone would be 
sufficient to sustain an extensive mercantile trade. But another 
featuie of attraction for Houston is the good prospect afiorded td 
it by the Southern Minnesota and Root River Yalley Railroad, 
whicli will probably run directly tlirough the place according td 
the survey already made. The immediate construction of thi.<; 
railroad is a fixed fact, and there can be no doubt but tliat it 
will be built according to the original survey. 

TJiis road once built will give the town of Sheldon a convenient 
shipping point for its manufactures, being only six miles dista7)t, 
at the same time making Houston an important place for the 
accumulation of those productions which this region of country 
will supply for a foreign market. Farming lands within four or 
live miles of Houston range in price from five to twenty-live 
dollars per acre, and no one who is familiar with the rnagniticent 
crops of Houston County last year will consider the prices inflated 
to satisfy the demands of a speculative mania. 



30 HOUSTON COUNT-?. 

CALEDONIA. 

Tliis flourisliiiig little village situated at iiearljtlie geograpicai 
centre of the countj is now the county-seat. The town was 
platted by Samuel McPhail, Esq., in April, 1855, and in the 
same month the county seat was removed to tlie place. 

It is situated upon a beautiful undiJating prairie, interspersed 
with groves of timber, and constituting a portion of the finest 
farming lands within the limits of Houston County. 

The advantage which this town has enjoyed — that of being the 
county seat — has drawn attention to its superiority as an inland 
trading point, and has induced settlers to locate near it because 
the centre of the county business. Its improvement, therefore, 
])asbeen of no inferior character, but in exact proportion to the 
inducements it can offer to the settler, and the spii'it of liberality 
and enterprise which characterrzes its proprietor, Mr, McPhail. 

It now contains three dry goods and two grocery stores, three 
liotels, a good school and about two hundred inhabitants. An 
academy is to be erected here the present season, another import- 
ant and attractive feature in its growth. 

About two hundred lots have already been sold and tlie 
proprietor still retains a hundred more for sale on reasonable 
terms. Several buildings are Jiow in process of erection, among 
which might be mentioned a parsonage for the M. E. church, an 
Mr. McPliail agrees to donate for church purposes two eligible 
lots to any denomination who will build upon them. Though 
Caledoaia, by reason of htr situation off from the Root and 
Mississippi Rivers, may not be so well accommodated as regards 
facilities for transportation, yet her position is an important one 
to tin's county, as being the town most central for the business 
operations of the whole people, and must too become an important 
inland grain market upon which our towns of shipping more 
cji- less rely for supplies from the country ai'ound it. This trade 



HOUSTON COUNTY. 31 

rich as it will become from the iticivasing productivenegs of tii« 
farming lands aioujid tliis town would be ample in itself \<> 
sustain a flouiisliing village, and when added to this the busing sk 
whicli naturally accumulates at a county scat, tlie advantages of 
such a place are largely increased. 

Good inducenicnts are od'credby Mr. McPhail toallraechanics 
ov i^rofessional men who will settle in the town. Farmers will 
do well to take a look about Caledonia, as fine farm.s aro ofT-.t^d 
for sale at prices not too high for their situations. 



BROY7HSVILLE. 

The town of Browiisville is situated directly on the Missis.^ !])]■! 
Itiver, in town 103, range 4, and forms a natural shipping point 
for the products of Houston County. 

The town plat now contains some two hundred acres of land 
and was laid out by Charles and Jobe Brown in the year 1855. 
That Brownsville is most favorably sitr.ated for a town important 
to the agricultural interests of Houston County is a fact readily 
acknowledged by all who are familiar with the different grain 
growing portions throughout the county, and the channel through 
Tiiliich they seek a direct and natural outlet. 

Is or are tlie commercial advantages of Brownsville merely 
confined to its situation upon the great throroughfiire of the IS"orth- 
Western States — the Mississippi — but liberal provisions have been 
made for supplying i-t with an important railroad connection by 
way of a branch from the Southern Minnesota road, with a good 
prospect of its becoming an important thoroughfare by way of a 
direct connection with Prairie du Chien — a road being under 
contemplation from tiiat point to connect immediately at Browns- 
ville. 

.Surrounded then by such advantages, both by water and rail, 
it must become a point of export and import for a large and 



32 HOUSTON COUNTY. 

eultivated tract of country, and with tliis view must attract 
tlie attention of capitalists, mechanics and traders of all classes. 
Brownsville has also a fine oi^poi-tunity ot becoming a manufac- 
turing town. A scheme is on foot for cutting a canal fiora Eoot 
Jlivcr, a distance of six miles, having a fall of twelve feet and 
containing 1500 feet of water, which will pour an immense 
quantity of water into the place and afford a water po wcr capable 
of driving an immense amount of machinery, which will be 
doubly valuable, being at a place where a variety of markets are 
easily attainable. Another heavy water power can be obtained 
by damming Wild Cat Creek, where a fall of twenty-five feet can 
]>c obtained without serious inconvenience or a heavy expenditure 
of money. 

While many other places in Houston County will be able to 
realize less profit from the luanufacture of their wares, owing 
to their distance from an available point for exportation, Browns- 
ville will be able to save to her factories and mills the exi^ense of 
cartage, which is no inconsiderable inducement to those seeking 
a desirable location. Like any other prosperous country, the 
demand for lumber increases in proportion to its growth and 
as regards the manufacture of pine lumber, Brownsville is now 
j^repared to furnish any demand which is found necessary. 
Aside from being a place to which logs are rafted from the pine 
regions higher up the river, at the nor them limit oi the place there 
is a large bayou capable of holding and with a slight expense 
rifely retaining millions of logs and around which and con- 
venient to the proposed canal, a large number of saw mills may 
be erected which can immediately enter into a flourishing and 
l)rofitable business, not only lor supplying the demand at home 
but also a foreign market. 

A good stone quarry is convenient to the place and in fact all 
material r.ecessary for building purposes. 



nousToa couktt. 33 

A good steam Bavir mill is already in operation, cor.Btantlr 
turning out 5000 feet of luniLer per day. An excellent Blone 
warcliouse, three hotels, four floir.ishing mercantile estahlishmentA, 
and numerous shops, etc., are now among l.cr present improve- 
ments. The site of Brownsville, viewed from the river, is 
Boraewhat unfavoraLle, but hack from ths landing tlieie is a large, 
l«vel and beautiful tract of land finely adapted for desirable 
residences. Here is plenty ol space for any increase of j.^)pulatioa 
whicli the town may have for years. 

RICEFORD. 

The town of Riccford was platted tmd laid out as a town tits 
by Jobe Brov>^n, Esq., of Brownsville, in the spring of 1857, and 
from its situation has commanded the attention of -in enterprising 
And iudustiio'.:s class of citizens. This village is situated in the 
centre of a large and productive agriculliirdl district, and h;ia 
within itself the elements for becoming a tliriving place. 

Beautifiil and well cultivated farms lie around Iliceford in 
CYQYj direction and furnisb her mills v.ith a large amount of 
business yearly. 

Iticeford lias within her limits four first class water powcra, 
with sufficient fall to move any amount of machinery, and on the 
principal stream is now situated a laigc three stoiy sttme flouring 
mill, witli two run of burrs, daily grinding 250 bushels of wheat, 
and even at this rate unable to do tlie bnsiiMcss required by the 
country around. A good saw mill, well supplied with material, 
ia now in opera-ion at tliis place, and also anotlier in process of 
ei-cction with perpendicular and circular saws, turning Lithe, etc. 

Anotlier grist mill would do a flourishing business at this point. 
One of these water poweis, having a f;dl often feet, still reiiiairi« 
unimproved. 

In addition to her natural advantagOR, Riceford has a good black- 
eioitb sJiop, ou« three story hotel, two dry goods and g:x>ccr» 



34 nOUBTON OOaNTT. 

stores, with about a dozen dwellings, and a good BcLool-hoysc. 
Several superior stone quarries are advantageously situated nsar 
the tovyn — lime kilns neai* by — with an abundant qiiantity of th« 
best of sand for masons — and good clay for brick, so that building 
material is abundant. 

Springs of good water are numerous in tlie vicinity of Ricefbrd 
and the streams are filled with trout. Tlie country around is 
gently roiling, and the soil unsurpassed by any in the world. 
Laving no swamps or stagjiant water. The proprietor, Mr. 
Brown, offers lots o;i Tcyj reasonable terras to actual settlers, and 
the present ie a favorable time for iaTestaient either iuthe manu- 
fiietuiiDg or farming line. 



ADVERTISEMENTS. 



A. B. M U R C H, 

Dealer in and Manfuacturcr of Cabinet Ware, Hokah, Minn., 

Bureaus, Book-Cases, Secretaries, Tables, Bedsteads, Stands, 
Dressers, Lounges, etc., etc., constantly on hand, and manufac- 
tured to order. Shop on Main Street. Call and see. 

Also, Afjcntfor the " Forest City Scale Works," of Cleveland, 
Ohio, J. F. Keeler, Proprietor. Orders arc solicited for scales of 
allkinds, such as Railioad, Hay, Portable, Dormant, Wai-ehousc, 
Mill, Counter, etc., etc. \v'an"anted equal to any in use, and sold 
on the most reasonable terms, and at the lowest possible rates /or 
cash. 

Hokah, June 1st, 1858. 

AUGUSTA HOUSE, 

OPPOSITE THE STEAMBOAT LANDING, 

LA CKOSSE, WIS. 

B. BICKNELL A CO.,. . .; Peopbibtom. 



ADVSBTISEMEKTS. 

WESTERN WORKS, 

AT HOKAH, MINNESOTA. 

Two floora 44 by 80 f.Hit each will be for rent on and after the 
first day of August next, and may be used for any kind of marui- 
facturingpurposcs that does not endanger or injuie the building. 

The rooms ai-c furnished with power and line chafting, and will 
be divided to suit lessees. 

The large body of choice liard wood timber in the immediate 
vicinity of these Y\'orks, with Root River running through it, af- 
fording an easy rnodeof getting timber to the shop, and the small 
expense Y/ith which any manufactured article can be delivered on 
the Mississippi, and the largo scope of countjy lyiiig west for a 
market for manufactured articles, render this one of the most desi- 
rable locations for tliose wishing to engage in the manufacture of 
farming utensils, furniture or machinery. 

For further particulars apply to C. W. THOMPSON. 

JAMES. A. McCAN, ^ 

REAL ESTATE AND GENERAL AGENT, 
LAND AND TOWN PROPERTY BOUGHT AND SOLD, 

Money loaned, property and titlt's examined, investmenta and 
collections made. Taxes paid for non-residents. 
Caledonia, Hon stou Co., Minn., June 1st, 1858. 

W. H. LAPHAM, 

ATTORNEY AND COUNSELLOR AT LAW, 
LAND AGENT AND NOTARY PUBLIC, 
LA CRESCENT, MINN. 
Collections promptly made and proceeds remitted ; taxes paid 
f>oT sK>n -residents and titles examined. 



I 



JLDVKrlTlSEMENTS, 

REYNOLDS & WERTZ, 

DEAELRS IN REAL ESTATE, AND COiWEYANCERS. 

IIOKAII, HOUSTON CO., MINN. 

I>ands Bouorlit and Sold on Commission, Money Invested 

for Capitiili.its, Taxes Paid for Non-Rosido^its, 

Titles Investigated, Notes, Accounts 

and Bills Collected, and 

PROCEEDS PROMPTLY REI-IITTE^. 

ii^^ All business entrusted to tlieir care by Germans 
will receive prompt attention. 

JS^ Having <3ntire control of n good Printing Press, 
all property for which they reccivo the agency will bo 
thoroughly advertised. 

The superior inducements whicli we ofTor to the citizens 
of Houston County, by way of facilities for advertising 
cannot be surpassed in Southern Minnesota. 

Many valuable pieces of property may remain unknown 
by those who would gladly purchase, could a notice of 
such property find way to the world through the columns 
of the press. 

Wo now offer for sale many valuable farms in Houston 
County at low rates. 

Special attention will be given to correspondents, mak- 
ing inquiry concerning any real estate in Houston County, 

Pledging ourselves to afetend to a,ll business with the 
greatest possible despatch, v/c respectfully solicit patronage. 

^!^" Office, Thompson, GIpple & Pa Delford's Block, 
Up Stairs. 

OHARLES BEYN0LD3. JAMES L. WERTZ. 



ADVERTTSEMENTfl. 

FHOMPSON, GIPPLE & PaDELFORD, 

KEAL ESTATE AGEI^TS AND CONVEYANCERS, 
HOKAH, HOOSTON- COUNTY, MINNESOTA. 

We beg leaye to call jour attention to the above caid. The 
list of lands "we offer for sale is the largest in Houston Count.j 
Om prices range from $2.50 to ^15.00 per acre. 

The town of Holcali is advantageously situated at the head of 
T\ayigation on Root River, and commands the trade of its Valley 
and the suiTounding country. It is also the charter terminus of 
the Southern Minnesota R. R. As the first fifty miles of this 
raad will be completed as early as possible, speculators or others 
•^ill see that this summer is the best time to make paying in- 
■^e3tments. Ouracqaintance with the route contemplated wiH 
enable us to make the best selections for non-residents. Having 
laid out an addition to the town, we offer business or residence 
lots at the lowest prices and on the best terms. 

In connection with our agency, do a general collection business 
throughout Southern Minnesota — also, pay taxes for nou-resi- 
Jents, examine titles, loan money or invest in real eatate for 
capitalists. All money collected by us remitted on the day of 
collection. 

THOMPSON, GIPPLE & PaDELFORD. 

jr. M. THOMPSON, B. F. GIPPLE, G. W. PA DELFOED. 

Befsu to — Bank of the City, La Crosse ; Bank of Elgin, El- 
gin. 111.; Bank of Erie Co., N. Y.; O. Davidson. Banker, Elgin, 
III; Hon. Henry Atwood, Lancaster, N. Y.; T. C. Eillman, 
Lancaster, N. Y.; Be)ij. Sumney, Washington, D. C; Hon. J. F. 
F,arnsworth, Chicago, 111.; Hon. D. V- BeU, Chicago, 111.; Hon, 
0. W: "Shompson, Hokah, Miau. 



THOMPSON, WYKOFF & CO., 

BROWNSVILLE, MINNESOTA. 

The nndorsi^'nod will give their attention to the buying 
and sellino- of lands, tbe selection and location of town 
sites on the line of the Southern Minnesota Railroad, the 
loaning of money for capitalists, and to such other business 
as appertains to a Q'cneral laud agency. 

We would call the attention of emigrants from the East 
to the fact that wo will select and purchase for them lands, 
improved or unimproved, from twenty to thirty per cent. 
cheaper than they can themselves. 

To speculators and capitalists we would say that fjoxn 
our long and intimate acquaintance with this country, ive 
ivill select locations for town sites which in respect to water 
power and surrounding country possess every ad> antaL'c 

The portion of country in Avhich we have operated for 
(he past four years, and in which wo propose to c,ontin«ie 
to operate, is on the immediate line of the Southern Min- 
nesota Land Grant Railroad, to which the State has lately 
loaned its credit to ciie amount of ^1,260,000, to assist in 
the construction thereof. When the work shall have been 
commenced on said ror<d, which will be early in the summer 
of the present year, there is no portion of Minnesota which 
presents so many attractions to the farmer, the manufac- 
turer or the speculator as the Root River Valley. 

N. B. Persons having money to loan at moderate rates 
of interest, (say from 20 to 25 per cent, per annum,) on 
unquestionable real estate security will do well to give uf? 
a call. If desired, wo will furnish a full description of all 
land oliered as security, and its present market value. 
THOMPSON, "WYKOFF «fe CO, 



LlDKHrCT ur v^wMwixt-* 



ML-,, 

TO THE ADVERT ^16 096 802 3 ^ 



ADVERTISE 



THE HOKAH CHIEF, 

A WEEKLY NEWSPAPER, 

The advantages of advertising, especially hi a new and rapidly 
improving section cf country are too tvcU knovr and appreciated 
to need comment. 

The Hokah Chief is becomijig a valuable medium for advcrti- 
sans, as it has an extensive circulation througiiout Southern Min- 
nesota — a section of country rich in agricultural and mechanical 
rcgources. 

To thvosc who arc first in securir.g this flourishing and profitable 
trade will accrue the immense piofits of its increase — an item of 
no inferior importance to Eastern merchants. 

The Root River Valley will soon possess a line of railroad, 
connecting with the La Crosse and Milwaukee Road, and the 
products of the Valley will largely increase the value of the 
Eastern maiket into which tiicy are tlirown. The trade of Hous- 
ton County alone will he an important one and well worth the 
attention of business men. 

We are now prepared to do all kinds of 

JOB WORK AT KEDUCED RATES ! 

In a style unsurpassed by any establishment in the State. 

Orders from a distance respectfully solicited, and will meet 
with prompt attonlion. CHARLES REYNOLDS. 

Publialier. 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 



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016 096 802 3