Skip to main content

Full text of "Geographical and statistical history of Steele County from its earliest settlement to the present time. Embracing leading incidents of pioneer life, names of early settlers ... &c"

See other formats

Class L_4J £/ 






Ittilt fl^ttti 


Embracing Leading Incidents of Pioneer Life, Names \ 
of Early Settlers, Nature of Soil, Advantages to | 
Settlers, &c., &c. ! 





C. T. McNAMARA, Proprietor, 

©W4f ©llA:, - - MlHllii'f &. 

This house is located at the junctioir of the Milwaukee, St. 
Paul & Minneapolis, and Winona & St. Peter Rail- 
roads, and the trains on both roads stop half an 
hour in going each way. The house is supplied 
with all the conveniences for the accommo- 
dation of guests. 

Tables Sujjplied ivith the Best the Market Affords. 





From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. 

Embracing Leading Incidents of Pioneer Life, Names 

of Early Settlers, Nature of Soil, Adyan- 

tages to Settlers, &c., &c. 

BY "W. H. 2^ITOHE:r-.L,, 





An entirely correct history of any country or of any trair 
of events, would be "something new under the sun," as 
the memory of men differ according to the different stand 
points from which they view the events as they occur. 
And we have not the vanity to suppose that the followiug 
sketch of Steele county will be that rare thing in literatisif^' 
— a perfect history. Yet we have endeavored to gatlieT 
from the mass of events that cluster around the first settle- 
ment such items as would be of interest, to treasure up fox 
future reference. We have taken great pains to glean all 
the important incidents of pioneer life within the bounda- 
ries of the county, and to chronicle them in such manner a*? 
may be most useful and entertaining for the future enquirer? 
after ih.Q first things of this new country. Yet we canBot 
but apprehend that there are many matters of interest ih&t 
we have failed to produce, as we have been unable to &f^ 
all the early settlers in person, and consequently majiy 
items may have been left ungathered. 

The events we have here chronicled ma/ seem f)! 
little or no importance to the present actors, but havisg- 
been rescued from the deep pool of forgetfulness, we be- 
lieve that in future years they will not be looked upon ar 
wholly insignificant. We have endeavored to give a trutit- 
ful representation of the present and prospective conditiesH 
of the country, and to faithfully record such incidents of 
pioneer civilization as we have been able to gather frm^ 
the actors themselvee. 

4 HISTORY 01'' 

We have vi3ited most of the towns in person, and obtain- 
ed as far as possible, the kind and amount of business car- 
ried OR in each. Those towns we have not visited we have 
employed others to visit, who were acquainted with the 
locations, and from them learned the incidents recorded in 
these pages. We take this occasion to express our thanks 
to the many kind friends who have taken such interest in 
the success of this little volume, as to furnish us with 
items of information in regard to their respective localities. 



In the early days of American civilization, when the ' 
Pilgrim Fathers landed on Plymouth Rook, each and every 
event of actual life was treasured up in the memory of tha 
actors, and by them handed down to succeeding genera- 
tions, till the record of them at the present time seems like 
the rehearsal of some ancient tradition. History has not! 
gathered the most minute and interesting portions of the 
soul-stirring incidents of that period. Printing Presses 
were things heard of in those new colonies, but whose ad- 
vantages were not enjoyed, and newspapers were never seeis^ 
save now and then "when some good ship from the mother 
country brought the precious bundle of news from some kin# 
friend across the sea. The art of printing had not arrivec^ 
at that perfection that marks it at the present day, and no^ 
offices made their appearance in America for a long timer 
hereafter. As a consequence the adventures and incidents 
of those times are still unrescued from the oblivion of the^ 
past, many of which would be of deep and thrilling inter* 
est could they be accurately rehearsed to the present gen- 

Of no less interest are the occurrences of pioneer life ia- 
the west; the adventures among savage hordes, and the- 
trials and hardships and many privations incident to pio- 
neer life, than those which marked the footsteps of civili- 
zation on the eastern shores of the American continent. 
And the advantages of the present day enable the faithful^., 
worker to gather them together and wrap them in a bu© 


rlie that aiiall be indiaputablQ evidence of their identity and 

The broad and mighty river, on whose bosom float 
^hips and palatial steamers, burdened with active life and 
the wealth of nations, flows downward from some mountain 
spring in which it takes its source, and only by the aid of 
maaj another rivulet and stream does it become the river. 
The towering oak owes its origin to the tiny and insignifi- 
.caat acorn that ages before was trampled in the earth ; and 
<g!?eat and powerful nations spring from small beginnings 
a«id first settlements. Could we but trace their growth, 
ste^ by step, with each of the leading incidents presented 
as they occurred, the wealth of a nation would not be 
.sufficient to tell the value of the records. 

To remedy as far as possible these disadvantages of the 
pioneers of the western continent in the past century, and 
.;gr<jup together the incidents of the opening up and devel- 
-opment of civilization in the west, we have labored to col- 
lect such as we deemed of most interest to the future dwell- 
ers in this beautiful and fruitful country, which we present 
.'to those who may deem them worthy of their perusal, as 
.■our contribution to the History of Steele County, 



Minnesota, the land of "sky-tinted waters," is one of the 
youngest in the sisterhood of States; the thirty-second 
daughter of the hale matron Columbia, who was received 
at the baptismal font on the eleventh day of May, in the 
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty- 
eight. Immediately after her confirmation, she shook 
hands with her elder sisters, and, like the fabled Minerva, 
who leaped from the brain of Jupiter, clad in mail, she 
stepped forth proud of her wealth and beauty, and in full 
consciousness of her power, has brought each year thous- 
ands of pilgrims to her feet, to bask in her smiles and grow 
rich upon her bounties. 

Entering at once upon the duties of providing for her. 
household and her guests, her laborers turned up the sod 
of the prairie, and scattered seed upon the bosom of the 
earth, and the generous soil in return gave back bountiful 
harvests, which filled the granaries of the farmers to over- 
flowing, and furnished an abundance of sweet prairie hay 
for his horses, oxen and cows, and from a wild and unbro- 
ken wilderness, traversed only by savage hordes of Indians, 
the country became the home of the white man, and teemed 
with arts and civilization, and growing richer and more 
beautiful, year by year, till she has outstripped many of 
her older sisters who were the first born of their mother ; 
and her green and pleasant prairies are so running over 
with the elements of wealth and material prosperity, that 
they only need- to be tickled by the hand of the husband- 


man to smile in gladness and proclaim to the world the 
fullness of their fatness. 

Located midway between the two great oceans of the 
world, the Atlantic on the east and the Pacific on the west, 
Hudson's Bay on the north and the Gulf of Mexico on the 
south, its geographical position is the finest on the conti- 
nent. Here all the products of agriculture attain their 
most perfect development, and the farmer receives the lar- 
gest return for the labor bestowed. Bounded as it is on 
the north by Arctic frosts and ice glaciers, and on the 
south by arid sandy plains, its mean temperature is such 
as cannot fail to be productive, both of the fruits of the 
earth and of the elements of life to the physical system. 

In the northern part of Minnesota is a high table land, 
rising several thousand feet above the level of the sea, and 
here issues from a cleft rock, a tiny stream, that flows along 
among the mosses till it meets with other streams, and to- 
gether they find their way into and supply the waters of a 
little lake, from whence issues the Mississippi river. One 
could hardly imagine it to be so, as there it is but an insig- 
nificant stream ; but as it winds its way along towards the 
tropics, other streams without number pay tribute, and it 
grows broader and broader till it becomes, in truth, the 
patriarch of the rivers, and like Pharaoh's lean kine, swal- 
lows up all which pay it tribute, and the mighty Mississippi 
is the channel through which all the waters of the north- 
west find their way to the Gulf of Mexico. 

A short distance to the eastward the same process is 
enacted over again, and the rivers empty their waters into 
Lake Superior, from which they take their way, flowing 
through the chain of the great lakes, and leaving Lake 
Ontario, the noble St» Lawrence rolls on eastward to the 
Atlantic ocean. 

To the west of Lake Itasca rises the K^d River of the 


North, receiving the waters of all that section of the eoiin- 
try and discharging them into the Northern ocean. Doea 
it occur to you then, that Minnesota is the summit of the 
American continent ? the water- shed of all this vast terri- 
tory which is so rapidly becoming developed and will soon 
acknowledge one government all over the continent of 
North America. 

In 1860, Hon. W. H. Seward delivered a speech in St. 
Paul, in which he referred to this fact as follows : "Here 
spring up, nearly side by side, so that they may almost kiss 
each other, the two great rivers of the continent," the 
Mississippi and the St. Lawrence, as it were, within a 
stone's throw of each other,, yet running in opposite direc- 
tions — the one from its source across a mighty continent to 
the eastward, half way to Europe ; the other towards the 
tropics, bearing the products of our Northern climes to 
the Gulf of Mexico, and bringing in return the gathered 
cotton of southern plantations to feed the factories of the 
Upper Mississippi. 

Minnesota is likewise a State of truly magnificent pro- 
portions ; extending from 43° 30' to 49° north latitude, and 
from 91° to 97° 5' west longitude, making it one of the 
largest Btates in the Union. It has an area of 84,000 square 
miles ; or to bring it to acres, the sum total of 54,000,000 
of acres, nearly equal to the combined area of those old and 
populous states of Pennsylvania and Ohio. 

New England might be placed in Minnesota, and then 
leave room for a game of national base ball on each of the 
four corners. When looking over the vast territory of the 
west we do not wonder at the reply the Yankee gave John 
Bull, in response to the assertion that England was a 
mightier country than America, "Sho !" replied Jonathan, 
"you might roll England through the United States and 
never make a dent in the trround." The only avenue of 


commercial intercourse between the east and west coasts ia 
through Minnesota, and consequently the only practicable 
route for a northern Pacific railway. Lying across this 
commercial isthmus, it? is the only outlet of the vast arable 
area to the north and west of us, to the eastern and south- 
states, and is emphatically the gateway between the east- 
ern and western continents. 

From its commanding physical position, it holds the key 
of the outlet of all this vast commercial and productive in- 
terest on the northwestern portion of the continent. Mr. 
Seward, in the speech referred to, says : "Here is the place, 
the central place, where the richest agricultural region of 
North America must pour out its tribute to the whole 
world. On the east, all along the shores of Lake Superior, 
and west stretching in one broad plain in a belt quite 
across the continent, is a country where State after State is 
yet to arise, and where the productions tor the support of 
the old crowded States must be broughi forth." And at 
no distant day those districts, large and fertile as they are, 
shall swarm with the industry and enterprise that founds 
empires, and pour their wealth into the lap of Minnesota, 
giving her material prosperity and significance^ second to 
no state in the Union, and no country of equal extent in 
the world. In the same speech Mr. Seward prophesies a 
brilliant political destiny for Minnesota, and says: "I now 
believe that the ultimate last seat of government on this 
great continent will be founded somewhere within a circle 
or radius not very far from the spot on which I stand, at 
the head of navigation on the Mississippi river." Such is 
the opinion of the far-seeing and clear-headed statesman, 
Wm. H. Seward ; and if his prophetic eye saw the future 
as it is to be, glorious, indeed, am^ng the sisterhood of 
States, is to be her destiny ; and happy, yea ! thrice blessed 
are those who obtain a heritage within her borders, in the 
early years of her existence. 



The Agricultural capacities of Minnesota are not sur- 
passed by any State in the Union. Long ages of growth 
and decay of vegetable matter on the wide spread prairies 
of Minnesota, make up the organic ingredients of a soil 
abounding in all the most productive elements, the pre- 
vailing /eature of which is a dark calcareous, sandy loam, 
with a strong admixture of clay. The silica which consti- 
tutes a chief part of the sand, is one of the most important 
features in the soil for the production of the cereals, and is 
what makes Minnesota stand pre-eminent as a wheat-grow- 
ing State. The soil is of that soft, spongy condition, so 
much sought after by experienced farmers, and only obtain- 
ed in other soils by expensive underdraining. In order to 
give a fair showing of the natural productiveness of the 
soil without manuring or other fertilizing agents, we subjoin 
the following table, showing the staple agricultural pro- 
ducts of the State, and about the average yield per acre : 

No. of bushels No. of bushels 

Crops. per acre. 

Sweet potatoes 150.00 

Beans 15.00 

Hemp lint (lbs.) 1.140.00 

Flax lint " ' 750.00 

Sorghum (gals. syrup)100.00 
Hay (tons) 2,12 

Crops. per acre. 

Wheat 23.05 

Eye 21.56 

Barley 33.23 

Oats 42.39 

Buckwheat 20.00 

Corn..... 35.67 

Potatoes 208.00 

This table was compiled from ihe census reports of 1860, 
and gives the average yield for that year, and though the 
yield has been larger some years since, it has also been 
smaller other years, and taking the average of years it is^ 
perhaps, a very correct estimate. Yet with proper cultiva- 
tion, and having the land well fertilized in addition to be- 
ing well cultivated, it might be made to produce a much 
larger crop. Under favorable circumstances wheat is pro- 
duced at the rate of as high as thirty-five bushels to the 


acre. In 1865 there was harvested from a field of four 
hundred acres, 10,000 bushels of wheat, being at the rate 
of twenty-five bushels to the acre, and many ©ther fields 
were in proportion. Yet this was not considered as any- 
thing wonderful for Minnesota, nor was that year's crop 
considered as extraordinary. Wheat is considered the 
great staple of Minnesota, and has thus far been compara- 
tively exempt from the various dangers to which it has 
been exposed in other localities — such as rust, smut, insects, 
&c. This is really a fortunate circumstance for this State, 
as the country is yet new, and with such a rapidly increas- 
ing population, it must necessarily draw more heavily on the 
productive qualities of the soil than in older settled locali- 
ties with a less changing population. Thus far in the agri- 
cultural experience of the farmers of Minnesota the wheat 
crop has been considered a safe and Bure one, and the far- 
mer commits his seed to the earth with a feeling of almost 
certainty that he will reap a rich harvest of from twenty to 
thirty fold in return. There is probably no State in the Union 
where wheat is as safe and sure crop as in Minnesota, and 
not only is it a sure crop, but it averages a larger number 
of bushels per acre than the best of them. In 1850, the 
four States producing the largest average yield, were Mass- 
achusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida ; this did not 
exceed 15 bushels, while the other States averaged only 
from 5 to 12. The largest known yield of other States, 
as compared with the average of Minnesota, is as follows : 

Year. Ba. per acre. Year. Bu. per acre 

Minnesota 1860 22.5 Michigan 1848 19 

Ohio 1850 17.3 Mass ....1849 16 

While we claim for Minnesota a pre-eminence as a wheat 
growing State, we must as frankly admit that it is inferior 
to other sections in milder climates for raising corn. Yet 
the second report of the Commissioner of Statistics claims 
that Minnesota is inferior to none of the Stated as a corn 
producing region. 


Other grains grow with luxuriance and are generally a 
sure crop. Barley flourishes well on the same soil that 
produces wheat, as the principal ingredients that compose 
one enter into the other. Eye and buckwheat are generally 
considered a sure crop, yet very few farmers pay much at- 
tention to their cultivation. The average yield of these 
grains for the years 1860 and 1862 was as follows : 

I860. 1862. 

Rye 21.56 bushels 24.00 bushels. 

Barley 33.23 " 34.00 " 

Buckwheat 15.73 '' 26.00 " 

Potatoes, in this climate, attain their highest excellence, 
and in flavor and rich farinaceous qualities are superior to 
those of almost any other section, especially those regions 
that are exposed to the rays of a scorching and forcing sun, 
in more southern latitudes, where all tubers are brought to 
fructification before they have had time to attain to their 
proper size, or receive the essential qualities proper for 
nourishment. Already are the Minnesota potatoes becom- 
ing a considerable article of export to the States in the 
Mississippi valley, where they are held in much esteem as 
a table delicacy. Garden vegetables are produced in great 
abundance and well repay the labor bestowed upon them. 


has heretofore been considered as an experiment of very 
doubtful success, but the experiments of the past few years 
have decided in favor of fruit growing in Minnesota, and 
now the fact is well established that the hardier kinds of 
fruit can be cultivated with success. When we consider 
that many forms of wild fruit are indigenous to the soil, 
and are produced in great abundance in their wild state, 
it is not a great stretch of the imagination to see cultivated 
fruit upon our tables which are the products of our own 
farmjB and gardens. The country being yet in such an un- 
developed state, ani farmers generally turning all their at- 


tention to wheat raieitig, tlie advantages of fruit raising are 
not as generally known and appreciated as they will be 
when the country becomes older and its resources more 
thoroughly developed. There is no natural reason to sup- 
pose that fruit, such as apples, crab apples, plums, grapes, 
currants, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries 
and the like, cannot be raised in as great abundance and 
possessing as delicate a flavor, here in Minnesota, especially 
in the southern portion, as in Wisconsin, Canada and New 
England in the same latitude, or even farther north. We 
have no idea that fruits indigenous only to tropical climates 
will be produced here otherwise than in hot houses ; but 
we can conceive no reason why the hardier fruits and those 
produced in this latitude in any country should not be pro- 
duced with equal success in Minnesota. 
of Minnesota has long been a subject of comment and ad- 
miration, not only to the citizens of Minnesota but to the 
occasional visitor, the pleasure seeker, and the thousands 
of invalids who annually seek within her borders the health 
that has been denied them in less favored localities. The 
entire exemption of malaria and its attendant diseases, such 
as chills and fever, and all the train of bilious fevers, is an 
argument strongly in favor of the healthfulness of this cli- 
mate ; as a large proportion of the diseases which affect 
mankind are produced by the poisonous exhalations from 
the earth, and these are effectually destroyed by the low 
temperature of our winters that continue for a period of 
four months. But we do not propose to go into a scientific 
analysis of the atmosphere of Minnesota, though such an 
analysis would speak whole volumes in favor of^the State, 
yet our limited space will only allow a mention of the fact 
which is supported by indubitable testimony that the cli- 
mate of Minnesota is one of the healthiest in the world. 


It is sustained by the testimony of thousands who have re- 
ceived benefits from its bracing and invigorating atmos- 
phere, and recovered from diseases that had baffled the 
skill of the best physicians in other States, as well as by 
all the residents of the State for the past twenty years. 
The tables of mortality, when compared with those of other 
States, show a heavy balance in favor ©f Minnesota. As a 
beneficial resort for invalids it is probably not excelled by 
any in the Urion, or any country on the globe. It used 
to be customary for physicians to recommend consumptive 
patients to go south ; to some warmer climate — to Cuba, 
Florida, or some of the islands of the sea, but finding these 
changes attended with but poor success, they have changed 
their tactics, and now almost universally recommend a visit 
to Minnesota, which is generally attended with the most 
satisfactory results. As a 

we also claim a pre-eminence for Minnesota. Its scenery 
has attracted the marked attention ,of the most eminent 
tourists, poets and painters. Its noble rivers, brilliant 
lakes and sparkling rivulets have been immortalized in 
song, and transferred to canvass have found a place among 
the gems of art of the great masters in the galleries of the 
Old World. 

The tourist who seeks relaxation from the cares and per- 
plexities of business, and a retreat from the hot pavements, 
dusty streets and din and noise of the city, can find here 
that repose that recuperates the physical, and invigorates 
and restores the mateiial capacities to such a wonderful 
extent as makes it almost seem the most favored locality in 

the world. 

"If thou would'et find a favored land, 

By Nature's cbosen bounties bleet— 
A fertile soil, a climate bland, 

Seek thor the regions of the West 
Here is the farmer's paradise, 

16 HISTORY 01?' 

Rich harvcBtfl come with little care. 
While eprcading rivers brimminj^ rise, 
And to tbcjr marts these presents bear." 

Not leaal., by iwy means, among the natural advantages 
«f Minnesota, do we reckon its 

whicli it possesses in a degree not excelled by tlic most fa- 
vored locality of the known world. The immense water 
power of the Mississippi river at the Falls of St. Anthony 
is equal in extent to that of the whole water power of Eng- 
land and Scotland, and is said by experienced and compe- 
tent engineers to be equal to 120,000 horse power. We 
give the following extract from the second report of the 
Commissioner of Statistics, showing somewhat the extent 
and capacity of this power alone : 

"The available power created by this magnificent water- 
fall, is more than sufficient to drive all the 25,000,000 spin- 
dles and 4,000 mills of England and Scotland combined. 
The entire machinery of the English Manchester and the 
American Lowel, if they could be transplanted here, would 
scarcely press upon its immense hydraulio capabilities. 
But as compared with those great industrial centres, the 
Falls of St. Anthony possess one decisive advantage, which 
is to a great extent illustrative of the functions of the State 
a« a commercial and manufacturing emporium, this splen- 
did cataract forms the terminus of continuous navigation 
on the Mississippi ; and the same waters which lavish on 
the broken ledges of limestone a strength almost sufficient 
to weave the garments of the world, may gather the pro- 
ducts of its mills almost at their very doors, and di3tribute 
them to every part of the great valley of the Mississippi." 

The falls of the St. Louis river, twenty -five miles from 
where it empties into Lake Superior are only second, and 
ficarcely inferior to ^he Falls of St. Anthony in power and 
future availability. Situated aa they are in the direct route 


of the Superior Railroad from St. Paul, it cannot be long 
before they will be made to perform their share ©f the labor 
of the enterprising and go-ahead operatives of Minnesota. 
The St. Croix Falls are similarly, though somewhat less 
advantageously situated on one of the largest tributaries of 
the Upper Mississippi river. Besides these three great 
powers there are innumerable smaller rivers and streams^ 
affording sufficient power to operate mills and factories,. 
scattered all over the State. This is not leally to be won- 
dered at when we consider the fact which we at first men- 
tioned, that Minnesota is the highest land on the continent 
of America, and from her prominent position very naturally 
overlooks all her sister States and the infant territories. 

Not the least of the advantages possessed by Minnesota: 
is the great facilities she possesses for sending her products 
to market. The richness of her soil and the blandness of 
her climate, and her immense water power would be oom- 
paratively valueless in a commercial point of view, were 
she not connected with the gTeat commercial em])orium8 of 
the world by accessible and easy channels of trade. Lake 
Superior on the north; the great Pacific railroad connecting 
the Atlantic and Pacific ; and the broad Mississippi s^reep- 
ing downward to the Gulf of Mexico, bearing our exports 
of the products of the earth, and lumber from our forests, 
and in return bringing cotton to supply our factories, and 
the railroads to eastern cities, aflford commercial facilities 
seldom if ever equalled. 


is extensive for any State in so early a stage of its existence. 
Congress made a grant to Minnesota, in 1857, of four and 
a half millions of acres of land, to aid in the construction 
of railroads ; and in 1864 still another grant was made. By 
these grants ten sections, or 6,400 acres of land was given 


for each ten miles of road constructed and put in operation, 
and projected under the provisions of these grants, which 
projected roads were designed to benefit all parts of the 
State. Wo give bfrlow a synopsis of the different land 
grant roads in this State : 


^extends from Stillwater, on the St. Croix river, via St. Paul ' 
;and St. Anthony, to the western boundary of the State, to 
,a point at or near Big Stone Lake. This line runs nearly 
;r through the centre of the State from the eastern to the 
'^western boundary, about 220 miles. The road is now in 
^operation from St. Paul to Wayzatta, a point about fifteen 
.miles west of Minneapolis, and twenty-five miles from St, 
jPaui. A branch line of this road is in operation from St. 
(^aul, via St. Anthony and Minneapolis to St. Cloud, a dis- 
tance of seventy-six miles. A line is also laid out from 
some point between St. Cloud and Crow Wing, on the above 
road, to Lake Superior, a distance of about 120 miles. 


ii a line of road from St. Paul, up the valley of the Minne- 
sota river to Mankato, thence in a southwesterly directional 
fco the Iowa state line, to make connections at this point 
with a railroad from Sioux City, the terminus of the north- 
western branch of the Union Pacific Railroad. The road is 
completed and in operation from St. Paul to Le Sueur, a 
•distance of about 60 miles, and will probably be finished to 
Mankato the present season. 


extends from Winona on the Mississippi river to the west- 
ern boundary of the State, a distance of about 250 miles* 
and running through one of the most fertile regions of the 


far-famed Minnesota. The line is completed and in opera- 
tion to Waseca, 105 miles from Winona, and will probably 
be completed to the Minnesota river earlv the present sum- 
mer. This road runs through a country boasting of as fine 
scenery as one will find in a day's travel. Ascending 
from the lovely basin or valley where rests the beautiful 
city of Winona, by an inclined track placed on trestle-work, 
somet^imes ninety or a hundred feet above the level of the 
ground ; then winding around the edge of a bluff, with 
overhanging cliffs on one hand and a yawning chasm a 
hundred feet below on the other ; again plunging through 
"deep cuts," whose precipitous rocks on either side exclude 
the rays of the sun, when all at once the iron horse, puffing 
and blowing, emerges into the glorious sunlight, and rocky 
gorge and defile and pleasant valley are all left behind, and 
a scene of unrivalled magnificence and splendor lies spread 
out to the gaze of the enraptured beholder. Miles on miles 
away in the distance, in either direction, extend the broad 
and fertile prairies, and as far as the eye can reach, covered 
with fields of wheat. And here and there, dotted over the 
prairie, the farmhouses of the pioneers nestled among the 
growing wheat and corn ; while to the westward are thriv- 
ing villages and bustling cities, filled with commerce and 
the busy hum of industry and active life. 


is in operation as far as Rushford, in Fillmore county, 
about thirty miles from La Crescent, its point of starting. 
The line of the projected road extends from La Crescent 
through the southern tier of counties in Minnesota to the 
western boundary of the State. Its length is somewhat 
over 250 miles, extending as it does through the entire 
State. The 


is a projected line from Hastings through the counties of 


Dakota, Scott, Carver, and McLeod, to such point on the 
western boundary of the State as the legislature may de- 
termine. The road is in the hands of an active company, 
and the work will be prosecuted the present year, though 
there is none of the road in operation. 


is a line extending from St. Paul, on the Mississippi river, 
to the head of Lake Superior, with authority to connect 
with a branch to Superior City, Wisconsin. The head of 
Lake Superior is a distance of 150 miles from St, Paul, 
though the distance is only 133 miles to the navigable wa- 
ters of the lake. The work is in active progress and some 
fifty miles are already fitted for the ties and laying of the 
track, and will no doubt be supplied with rolling stock 
and fully equipped the present year. 


commences both at Minneapolis and St. Paul, with a junc- 
tion at Mendota, and runs through the towns of Farming- 
ton, Northfield, Faribault, Owatonna, Austin, &c. to the 
Iowa line, then through Iowa to McGregor, and through 
Wisconsin to Milwaukee. It is made up of the Minnesota 
Central in Minnesota, McGregor Western in Iowa, and the 
Milwaukee & Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin, all of which 
are consolidated and operated by one company under the 
name of the Milwaukee, St. Paul & Minneapolis Eailway. 
This is at present the only all rail route to the east from any 
part of Minnesota, and is a very popular line of travel. 
This company operates 215 miles of road. The passenger 
cars and rolling steck are of the mo^it approved styles in 
use, and we can feel pioud that we have so fine a railway 
under the control of such gentlemanly and efficient man- 



Though comparatively in her infancy Minnesota has ta- 
ken long strides in the right direction, in the educational 
department, and will even at this early stage of her exist- 
ence, compare favorably with many of the older States- 
Possessing as she does the most munificent endowment for 
educational purposes of any State in the Union ; two sec- 
tions of land to each township in the State are set apart, 
either for sale or lease, to aid in sustaining common schools 
— 1280 acres to each township in the whole State, amount- 
ing in the aggregate to over two and a half millions of 
acres. "We give below a few figures in relation to this de- 
partment, which we gather from the last annual report of 
the Superintendent of Public Instruction : 

Number of districts in the State in 1867 2,207 

" children between 5 and 25 114,421 

'' teachers employed in 1867 2,685 

Amount of money paid teachers $254,936 76 

Number of school houses in the State 1,406 

Amount received from State school fund $167,863,50 

" expended for school purposes $736,532,67 

" remaining in district treasuries — $50,556,09 

For a State that has been known as a State less than ten 
years, and has had hardly a recognizable white population 
for twenty years, we think that the expenditure of three 
fourths of a million of dollars per year for school purposes 
alone, indicates a high standard in the educational depart- 
ment. The State University, located at St, Anthony, is a 
fine stone edifice, capable of accommodating a large num- 
ber of pupils; is ably conducted and in a flourishing condi- 
tion, aflfording all the facilities for a first-class education. 

Private enterprise has also located many excellent 
schools, both classical and commercial, which add greatly 
to the educational facilities of the State. A Normal school 
is already in operation at Winona, and it is anticipated 


that another will be opened at Mankato the present season, 
A grant of 120,000 acres of land has been made to the 
State for the establishment and endowment of an agricul- 
tural college, which will probably soon be opened in con- 
nection with the State University. 

An institution for the education of the deaf, dumb and 
blind is in very successful operation at Faribault, and is 
fully meeting the wants of those for whom the State has 
made this very liberal provision. The State Superintend- 
ent of Public Instruction, in his last report says: "No civil 
institution more unmistakably exhibits the Christian char- 
acter of our civilization than this, which seeks to let the 
light of knowledge into the minds of such as never failed 
to touch the sympathy, or receive the healing word of the 
great Worker of Miracles. 

At St. Peter is the asylum for the insane, one of the no- 
ble and benevolent institutions of the age, and one that 
adds to the testimony that Minnesota is not behind any of 
her sister States, according to her age, in providing for the 
helpless and unfortunate of her citizens. 


of Minnesota is of course, an object of interest to all who 
may wish to locate in or even visit the State, and we can 
safely say that in point of education, refinement and mor- 
als, is scarcely inferior to that of the most refined and in- 
telligent New England communities. Some localities have 
a large foreign population, and in others the population is 
nearly all of New England origin, and we may safely chal- 
lenge New England or any other portion of the world, to 
produce a more healthy and industrious clasg of people 
than can be found in Minnesota. Everybody works, either 
with head or hands. The climate is so invigorating and 
exhilerating that all must have exercise in order to give 


vent to that spirit of western enterprise that is sure to per- 
vade all, even before they are aware of it. 

The population is increasing so rapidly that it is almost 
useless to try to keep any track of it. A census woul<2 
have to be taken as often as once in six months in order to^ 
form even an approximate of the population. Yet witb 
all this increase, year by year and month by month, there^ 
will be land enough for all for many years to come. 

Then come along, come along, don't he alarmed, 
For Minneeota's broad enougli for each to have a farm. 

The very wise and benevolent action of Congress, as ex- 
pressed in the passage of 


has done much to help in the development of the rich agf 
ricultural lands of Minnesota, as well as provide homes foi?^ 
many poor men who could ill afford the means to pay foB' 
the land that through this benifieence he is allowed to cul- 
tivate, and in time call his own, allowing all his means andi 
labor to support his family and improve his farm. Nearly 
40,000,000 acres of land are yet open to settlement by this^ 
class of settlers, should they choose to avail themselves of 
the privilege. According to this law each settler who shalli 
occupy land for five years shall be entitled to a patent ofv 
160 acres by paying the sum of $10 and the fees of the* 
land office ; and further provides that no land acquired un- 
der this law shall be liable for any debt contracted prior to» 
the issuance of the patent therefor. In view of all these* 
advantages offered to settlers, it is not strange that ehous- 
ands of emigrants from the old countries and the crowded! 
cities of the east are annually seeking homes in Minnesota,- 
and that the land is being rapidly taken up and convertedl 
from a wild and unbroken wilderness to fruitful fields audi. 
blooming gardens. The State is well watered by numer- 
ous rivers and beautiful lakes, that swarm with the best e-S ' 

24 HI3T0BY OF 

fish, which renders this region almost a sportsman's para- 
dise. The demand for labor is always great notwithstand- 
ing the great influx of people from all parts of the globe, 
and the over-worked and poorly fed laborers of the eastern 
cities will find that here they can procure much more pay 
for less work, as a general thing, than they can there. 

The vast pine forests in the northern part of the State 
afford an extensive field for winter labor, while the mills, 
factories and farms offer the best of wages in the summer 
season. The various railroads that are being put in oper- 
ation also give employment to thousands of men, as well 
as other branches of industry. None should stay away for 
fear of a lack of employment, for when there is no work to 
be done in Minnesota there will be a general stagnation 



The transformatiou of this section of country from the 
past wildness of an uninhabited prairie and timber land 
to its present condition of cultivated and fruitful fields, and 
the home of industry, wealth and refinement, has not been 
accomplished by any work of enchantment, though the 
rapidity of the change suggests to the dull plodders of the 
east the efiects of a fairy's wand, or that of some powerful 
magi, performed while people slept. Yet it is only the 
product of human muscle and energy, working out the 
problem of western life and the progressive spirit of the 
age ; the result of resistless and determined conflict with 
necessity and privation ; where persevering industry has, 
single-handed and alone, fed the hungry, sheltered the 
houseless and clothed the naked ; built roads and bridges ; 
established schools and churches ; built up towns and cities, 
and welded the markets of the east and west together by 
bands of iron ; has brought the trained lightning along the 
electric wire to talk with us at our own doors ; has opened 
up a highway of commerce with the markets of the world, 
and given to labor and its results the legitimate claim to 
wealth and aristocracy of position. 

Steele County lies somewhat centrally in Southern Min- 
nesota, with Rice county on the north, Dodge county ou 
the east, on the south is Freeborn county, and Waseca ou 
the west. Its present boundaries comprise only twelve 
townships, according to government survey, being three in 
width from east to west and four from north to south. Yet 


there are thirteen towns as organized, as the central town- 
ship of the northern tier is divided into the towns of Med- 
ford and Clinton Falls, each containing only eighteen sec- 
tions of land instead of thirty-six. The surface is some- 
what diversified with timber lands, openings, prairie and 
marshes. The timber and openings predominate, covering 
nearly or quite two-thirds of the county. The heaviest 
body of timber is found in the northern part on the eastern 
side of the Straight river, which flows through the entire 
length of the county from south to north, affording several 
fine water powers in its course. The towns of Medford, 
Clinton Falls, Owatonna and Deerfield are perhaps the 
most bountifully supplied with the heavy timber, while 
oak openings prevail more in the other towns. Crane 
creek runs through the towns of Meriden, Deerfield, Clin- 
ton Falls and Medford, emptying into the Straight river at 
the village of Medford. Maple Creek rises in Rice Lake, 
in the eastern part of the town of Dover, and runs in a wes- 
terly direction, and empties into the Straight river at Owa- 
tonna. Various other small streams help to make up the 
Straight river, and contribute to proper watering of the coun- 
try. Hay marshes abound more or less in all parts of the 
county, except the timber lands, affoi'ding special advanta- 
ges for procuring hay for stock. The county is well wa- 
tered. The soil is somewhat varied, in s®me parts being 
composed of deep, black loam with clay subsoil, while in 
other parts it is a lighter loam with an under strata of 
gravel, and yet other portions a sandy loam for a consider- 
able depth. Yet in all its varieties it is very generous in 
its supply of the productions of the earth, whose seeds are 
committed to its care, returning sometimes ten, sometimes 
fifty and sometimes an hundred fold. The year 1867, 
though considered by all as one of the poorest seasons ever 
known in Minnesota, marked the products of the soil in 
Steele county as follows : 


Wheat, average yield per acre 15 J bushels. 

Oats, " " *• 34 

GorD, " " " 38 

Potatoes, " " " 110 " 


Steele county was organized on the 1st of August, 1855, 
and divided into three election precincts, called Owatonna, 
Le Sueur and Swavesy precincts, and the county-seat loca- 
ted at Owatonna. Medford precinct was added to the trio 
at an extra session of the county commissioners, held on 
the 25th of the same month. The county officers for this 
year were all appointed by the county commissioners, who 
were themselves appointed by the Governor. The first 
meeting of the commissioners was held at the residence of 
A. B. Cornell, who was one of the commissioners, on the 
1st day of August, 1855, the day of the organization of the 

Owatonna Precinct was made up of the following terri- 
tory : Townships 105, 106, 107, 108, north of range 20 and 
21 east. Dexter Carlton, Obed Gaines and Leonard F. Case 
were appointed judges of elections. 

The Second or Swavesey precinct comprised Townships 
107 and 108 north, in ranges 22, 23 and 24 west, of which 
Messrs. A. J. Bell, — Wyman, and — Johnson were ap- 
pointed judges of elcetions. 

Le Sueur, the Third election precinct, consisted of Town- 
ships 105 and 106, of ranges 22, 23 and 24 west. The 
judges of election were A. B. Sutliff, Christopher Scott and 
a Mr. Plummer. 

Medford precinct was made up of Township 108, north 
of ranges 20 and 21 west, formerly a part of Owatonna 
precinct. F. F. Adams, William Allen and Orlanio Bar- 
tholomew were appointed to act as judges of elections. 


John Jenkins was appointed Justice of the Peace for 
Le Sueur precinct, and John Jenning, constable. Wm. P. 
Ide was appointed Justice for Swavesy precinct. 

The first election after the organization was held on the 
9th of October, 1856, at which time 0. A. Thomas was 
elected as member of the Territorial Legislature ; David 
Lindersmith was elected Sheriff; David Sanborn, Treasur- 
er, who had held the office by appointment since July, 
1855 ; John W. Park, Register of Deeds. The County At- 
torney was G. W. Green ; Basil Meek -vras chosen Judge of 
Probate ; H. W. Peck, County Surveyor ; Thomas Kinyon, 
Coroner ; Z. B. Morse, County Auditor, and Ezra Abbot, 
Superintendent of Schools. The Assessors this year were 
George Hankenson, P. Sanford and P Headley. S. B. 
Smith, Wm. Allen and Wm. P. Ide were elected County- 
Commissioners. The business of the Commissioners was 
mostly confined to laying out roads and preparing for the 
active life the county was about to enter upon, and sessions 
were held as often as the circumstances and the rapid de- 
velopment of the country seemed to demand them. 

At the spring session of the Board of Commissioners, 
1857, several other election precincts were organized, and 
judges of election appointed: yet the records are so im- 
perfect that we have been unable to give the names. Jas. 
E. Child, Benjamin Arnold and Wilbur Fisk were appoint- 
ed Assessors for the county. At the election in the fall of 
1857 Wm. F. Pettit was elected County Commissioner ; G. 
W. Danforth, Register of Deeds ; Joseph W. Morford, 
Treasurer, which office he held till January 1st, 1861 ;. Wal- 
ter Morris, County Auditor ; S. M. Yearley, County Attor- 
ney ; 0. W. Pollock, County Surveyor ; W. B. Evans, F. A. 
Stevens and A. B. Clark, Assessors ; and Seth H. Patter- 
son and Zachariah Scribner, Road Commissioners. 

The report of the Treasurer for January, 1858, showed 


that the whole amount received by him was $1,364 10 ; of 
which there had been paid out on vouchers, $733,46 ; on 
commissions of two per cent., $27,28 ; leaving a balance in 
the treasury of $598,36. The official report of the finances 
of the county showed there was an outstanding indebted- 
ness amounting to $2,129,68, and due on the tax rolls but 
not collected $4,148 04. 

Tho following named persons have served the county as 
State and county officers since its organization : 

Senators: — Wm, F. Pettit, Owatonna; M. A. Dailey, 
Owatonna ; F. J. Stevens, Meriden. 

Representatives : — 0. A. Thomas, Clinton Falls ; H. 
M. Sheltz, Owatonna; Smith Johnson, Medford ; George 
Pettie, Aurora ; G. W. Green, Clinton Falls ; Amos Coggs- 
^well, Aurora; Wm. F. Pettit, Owatonna; James C. Magoon, 
Merton ; J. B. Crooker, 2 yrs., Owatonna; W. H. Wiford, 
Somerset ; W. R. Kinyon, Owatonna. 

The county officers have been elected as follows : 

Register of Deeds : — J. W. Park, G. W. Danforth, M. 
A. Dailey, Walter Morris, C. S. Crandall. 

Treasurer: — David Sanborn, J. W. Morford, W. W. 
Finch, B. F. Melvin. 

Auditor: — Z. B. Morse, Walter Morris, A. N. Stoughton. 

Sheriff : — Wm. F. Pettit, David Lindersmith, Wm. H. 
Willsey, S. 0. Williamson, Seth H. Patterson, M. J. Toher. 

Judge of Probate : — Basil Meek, R. W. Lincoln, (8 
years), J. J. Aiken, A. A. Harwood. 

County Attorney. — G. W. Green, S. M. Yearley, A, 
A. Harwood, S. B. Searles. 

Clerk of Court : — W. F. Dunn, John N. Kelly, A. M. 

County Surteyor :— H. W. Peck, 0. W. Pollock, S. B. 
Beach, John H. Abbott, J., M. Finch. 

Court Commissioner: — B, F. Melvin, R. G.Lincoln, 
A. A. Harwood. 


Hickman. J. F. Stevens. 

Coroner : — Thomas Kinyon, Gordon Smith, John Aus- 
tin — each of the latter named being the present incumbent. 

Hon. N. M. Donaldson was elected Judge of the Fifth ' 
Judicial District in 1857, and re-elected in 1864, which po- 
sition he now occupies. 


of the county are abundant. In addition to the general 
agricultural products it has an immense supply of timber, 
sufficient to supply all the inhabitants of Steele and adjoin- 
ing tounties with fuel and fencing for a century to come. 
Large hay marshes or natural meadows abound in various 
parts, and beds of peat occupy quite a tract in the eastern 
portion of the county. 

When we reflect that the germs of the future, in latent 
embryo, lie hidden in the present, that to-day is giving col- 
or to the doings and shaping the destinies of to-morrow, 
we have only to examine the immense resources of wealth 
and prosperity that yet lie undeveloped in the garner of 
nature's great storehouse ; the raw material with which 
the country is supplied, and the aptitude of western men to 
lay held of all these advantages that lie spread out before 
them, and convert them into material for wealth and 
power, to form something of an idea of what is in store for 
Steele county when her entire resources have been devel- 
oped and brought into active use. 

Men of independent mind and effort, with a full realiza- 
tion of what lies before them ; men of strong nerve and iron 
muscle, willing to work out the great problem of life, de- 
termined to conquer and overcome any and all obstacles 
that lie in the way of progress, have looked out this beauti- 
ful country and built for themselves homes on the fertile 


prairies, beautiful openings and majestic timber, that diver- 
sifies and beautifies the landscape. With the light of sci- 
ence to illuminate and develop the progressive energies that 
tend to bring into action the vital principles, enduring 
strength and substantial wealth of the community, coupled 
with the material elements of prosperity which are so bound- 
less, it takes no prophet's eye to discern a glorious future 
in store for the young county that is now in its embryo 
state of civilization, wealth and greatness 

As yet but an insignificant fraction of the resources of 
the county are developed ; each and every avenue of com- 
munication that is opened to eastern markets, or western 
and northern grain fields and lumber regions, gives a fresh 
impetus to the tide of trade, commerce and prosperity. 


of Steele county was made in the fall of 1653, at Medford, 
by Smith and Orlando Johnson, Chauncey Lull, Lewis M. 
Howard and A. L. Wright, who built houses and moved 
into them. Wm. Colling also came into the town in the 
winter of 1753^, and David and John Sanborn in the 
spring of 1854, and a settlement soon sprang into existence 
on the banks of the Straight river, at the present site of 
the village of Medford. Other settlers soon followed and 
located in other parts of the county. Dr. Finch, Mr. Avery 
W. Adams, Messrs. Williamson, and others located at Clint- 
on Falls, and still further up the river at the break in the 
timber bordering the Straight river, where now stands the 
city of Owatonna, Wm. F. Pettit and A. B. Cornel had 
made claims, and Mr. Cornell had built a habitation of 
poles and sticks and covered it with the wild hay cut on 
the prairies, making on exceedingly primitive but very 
comfortable home during the summer season, as the long 
grass of the prairies affords an excellent protection from 


the Btorms. This served them till the fall following, when 
Mr. Cornell built a log house and moved his family into it, 
Mr. Pettit boarding with him. The house is still Ffp.nding, 
and is one of the most ancient landmarks of civilization in 
Steele county. 

At this point there was soon a rapid increase in the pop- 
ulation. Hon. G. W. Green, from Beaver Dam, in "Wiscon- 
sin, built a log house in the winter following, in the north- 
ern part of what is now the city, though he did not remove 
his family until the fall of 1854. Messrs. J. W. Park and 
S. W. Smith made a claim just north of Mr. Pettit's, and 
had also built a log house, so that there was quite a village 
in embryo. These houses are also still standing and occu- 
pied ; the former by Mr. Hanks and the latter by Mr. Mur- 
ray. Accessions to the settlements were constantly being 
made, not onlv at Owatonna but at Medford, Clinton Falls 
and other points in the county, so that the year 1854 was 
an important year in the opening up and settlement of the 
county. Yet it was also a year of hardship and privation 
to all or nearly all who had ventured upon the experiment 
of pioneering in this new and almost unexplored country. 
All provisions had to be brought Irom St. Paul, a distance 
of about seventy-five miles, and by a course that, at that 
time, teams must travel something more than a hundred. 
But sometime in the summer of 1854, Dr. "W. W. Finch, of 
Clinton Falls, who was appointed with two others to locate 
and mark out a road from St. Paul via Straight river valley 
to the Iowa line, entered upon the duties of that undertak- 
ing, and the course for immigrants to pursue was marked 
through the timber by blazed trees, and across the prairies 
by poles stuck in the ground. 

Adventures were but few, of a startling nature; the 
struggle was a hand to hand conflict with stern necessity, 
and the disadvantages that must be met before the means 


of subsistence and the necessaries of life conld be supplied - 
from the cultivation of the soil. Many a time was the meal'* 
to furnish the family with bread manufactured in a coffee 
mill, and oftener still was the wheat or corn boiled and eat- 
en without grinding in any manner. 

In the earlier days of the settlement, before any post 
routes were established in this section, it was only occa- 
sionally that the people received any mail matter, and when 
they did it was generally through the kindness of some of 
the settlers who would go to Faribault, which was the new- 
est post office, and bring the bundle for all the settlers. 
A. B. Cornell was usually the messenger, and at such times 
as the river was swollen so that teams could not ford it, 
he used to swim across the river and go on foot and procure 
the mail, and on returning, when he reached the river he 
would tie the letters and papers in a bundle and attaching 
a stone thereto, would throw the bundle across the river 
and thQn swim across and deliver the mail to those to 
whom it was directed. The news in those times was lul- 
ly appreciated by all who were so fortunate as to have let- 
ters from friends. 

In the summer of 1855 there was a still larger increase 
in population. All over the country immigrants were com- 
ing by scores and hundreds ; among these John H. Abbot,, 
a civil engineer, came in July, and purchased the claim. of 
Mr. Pettit, the latter soon after buying one-half of Cornell's 
claim, lying directly south of the one just sold to Abbot. 
Mr. Abbot having had considerable experience in railroads, 
very naturally began to look about to ascertain the prospect 
for a railroad to visit the new city which all had determin- 
ed to build. Upon examination of maps and charts that 
he had previously made, it seoi^ed evident that a railroad 
from St. Paul south, on the west side of the Mississippi,, 
must go far back into the interior in order to avoid the • 


-deep ravines and high ridges formed by tlie Zumbro and 
Boot rivers ; that in the interior were the Gannon and 
.Straight rivers flowing north, the latter interlocking with 
the Cedar river flowing south, and 'that manifestly in the 
valley of these streams there was not only a leading railroad 
route, but fine timber, excellent water power, and a good 
.agricultural district. Then, too, this place lay in a direct 
line from Winona to the south bend of the Minnesota river, 
which route was already looked out, and a charter granted 
to the Transit company. 

Eailroads they must have,, and strenuous eflbrts w^ere 
made to put the scheme in operation. Parties went to St. 
Paul to attend the session of the Territorial Legislature, of 
1856, and succeeded in getting a bill introduced incorpo- 
rating the Minneapolis & Cedar Valley Kailroad. Section 
first of this bill provided that "Franklin Steele, Isaac At- 
water, D. M. Hanson, James F. Bradley, Ezra Abbot, E. 
P. Russell, A. M. Fridley, H. H. Sibley, John W. North, 
James Shields, Alex. Faribault, John C. Ide, Chas. Jewett, 
F. W. Fisk, Benj. L. Arnold, Wm. F. Pettit, John H. Ab- 
bott, A. B. Cornell, A. Town, A. B. Vaughn, H. 0. Bil- 
lings, Orlando Wilder, and such other persons as may be- 
come associated with them," were created ''a body corpo- 
rate, by the name of the Minneapolis & Cedar Valley Rail- 
road Company." Secticm four appointed Henry H- Sibley, 
at Mendota, Franklin Steele, at Minneapolis, James Shields, 
at Faribault, Wm. F. Pettit, at Owatonna, and A. B. 
Vaughn, at Austin, commissionors to open books and re- 
>ceive subscriptions to the capital stock of the company. 
The charter also provided that when $50,000 of stock 
should be subscribed, the commissioners should meet at 
Faribault for the purpose of apportioning the stock among 
the subscribers, and also call a meeting of the stock-holders 
to choose directors. The stock was mostly subscribed for 


in Owatonna and Nortlifield, and was generally referred to 
as "Owatonna straw stock," the people having little or no 
faith in the success of the enterprise. The first meeting of 
stockholders was held at Mendota in February, 1S57, at 
which time the following named directors were elected: 
;Ezra Abhot, of St. Anthony ; Franklin Steele, Fort Snel- 
ling; H. H. Sibley, Mendota; J. W. North, Korthfield; 
James Shields, Faribault; Wm. F. Pettit, Owatonna; and 
A. B. Vaughn, Austin — Ezra Abbot, Treasurer ; Franklin 
Steele, Secretary, and J. H. Abbott, Chief Engineer. In 
June Mr. Abbott and Mr. L. Kellett commenced survey- 
ing the route, and by the close of September the location 
was made and the estimates for construction, &c., comple- 
ted. In May, at the extra seseion of the Legislature, that 
body made to this road a munifioent grant of lands, accor- 
ding to the act of Congress of that year, which was much 
more liberal than that heretofore granted to any State or 
Territory. But the great financial crash of 1857 followed, 
and men of reputed wealth, who had thought themselves 
wealthy, were reduced from affluence to poverty, and in 
this western country the pressure was very severe. In 
1858 all the companies in the State did a large amount of 
grading and other work, on the lines of the roads, stimula- 
ted thereto by the action of the Legislature in passing the 
''Five Million Loan Bill," and its ratification by the' people. 
Of the one hundred and ten miles of the Cedar Valley Rail- 
road to the State line, seventy-two were graded and a large 
amount on other portions of the road. 

In the fall of 1860 the election contest w^as an exciting 
one, the main question at issue being the location of the 
Transit, (Now AVinona &^t. Peter,) Kailroad. Hon. Wm. 
F. Pettit being the candieate of those who favored Owaton- 
na as a point, and Hon. G. W. Green of the opposing party. 
Mr. Pettit 'Was elected bv a handsome majority, and at the 


following session of the Legislature the land grants were 
disposed of to solid companies, upon conditions that a cer- 
tain number of miles of road should be completed, and the 
cais running thereon each year, under penalty of foifeiture 
of the whole grant to the State. But the rebellion break- 
ing out that spring, work was delayed on all the roads. 
Yet it was resumed again in 1863 and 1864, and in 1865 
the Central road was put in operation as far as Faribault, 
and the Winona & St. Peter as far as Kasson, about sixty- 
five miles west from Winona. In August, 1866, both roards 
were completed to Owatonna, and the struggle and anxiety 
of the people received their legitimate reward in the im- 
proved business and increased value of property. The 
Central, (now Milwaukee, St. Paul & Minneapolis,) com- 
pany have good depot buildings and a fine grain elevator, 
with a capacity of some 60,000 bushels ; and the Winona & 
St. Peter Eailroad Company have also good depot build- 
ings and an elevator with a capacity of about 75,000 bush- 
els. We understand that the two companies will build a 
Union hotel the present season, for the accommodation of 
the traveling public. 


The first newspaper published in Steele county follo'vlred 
so close upon the track of the pioneers that it seemed al- 
most to be cotemporary with the introduction of civiliza- 
tion. In 1854 was the first settlement, and in 1856 a 
newspaper was established. Few enterprises at the pre»« 
«nt day are undertaken and carried out to ^ suoce^ful 
completion without having invoked the all-powerful and 
magic influence of the press. No town or village is <miaf 
pl^e without its weekly journal, s^ in this busy, driykig 
West, people would a& soon think of establishing a, county 
seat, or carrying an ^ilection without the aid of voters and 


a population, as they would without the aid of a printing 
press and newspaper. 

The Watchman and Register was the first paper 
started fn the county, and was established in July, 1856, by- 
Messrs. J. H. Abbott and A. B. Cornell, who purchased 
the press, type and fixtures of Major W. A. Hotchkiss, at 
that time editor and publisher of the Northwestern Demo- 
crat at St. Anthony. Mr. Cornell acted as editor and busi- 
ness manager for a time, when the services of H. M. Sheetz, 
an experienced newspaper man was secured as editor. The 
word TFa^cAmayi was" dropped from the name sometime in 

1857, and the Oiuatonna Register was published till some- 
time in the winter of 1857-8 with Abbott & Cornell and 
Wm. F. Pettit as proprietors, and H. M. Sheetz as editor, 
when it was discontinued. It had been "a power in th© 
land" while it was published, and did its full share in 
moulding the public mind in the State. 

The Medford Valley Argus was the next journal to 
lay claim to public favor as a public retailer of the doings 
and sayings of Steele county. It was published at Medford, 
dating its first appearance about the middle of August, 

1858, and was under the control of Messrs, Francis & Sul- 
ley. It was printed with the same material which was 
used in the publication of the Megistcr, said material hav- 
ing been purchased of the company by Wm. F. Pettit and 
by him sold to Mr. Bartholomew, of Medford, afid by Mr. 
Bartholomew leased to Messrs. Francis & Sully. Mr. Sul- 
ley soon after sold his interest to Mr. J. R. Lucas, and the 
publicati®n was continued for a few weeks when the enter- 
prise was abandoned, and the material was rented to H. 
M. Sheets and by him removed back to Owatonna, and the 

OwATONNA Journal made its first bow in public under 
the guardianship of H. M. Sheetz as editor ami proprietor. 


It was a seven column sheet, neatly printed and ably edited, 
and was received with marked favor by its patrons. Re- 
publican in politics and the earnest and devoted advocate 
of all reforms. In October, 1859, Mr. Sheetz died, and the 
Jowrnal was carried on by his widow for some time there- 
after. Hon. Wm. F. Pettit, at that time State Senator 
from Steele county, had started a project to allow Mrs. 
Sheetz, who was a woman of considerable literary ability, 
to retain the office as a mark of esteem from the public, 
whom her husband had so faithfully served, and had al- 
ready received $150 from his fellow members of the Senate 
to aid in carrying out this benevolent project, when upon 
returning home he found that the ofEce had been sold to 
Mr. A, B. Cornell, which at once put a stop to the publi- 
cation of the Jonrnal, 

The News Letter embarked upon the sea of journalism 
soon after the suspension of the Journal, under the protect- 
ing care of A. B. Cornell, who kept up the enterprise till 
1862, when he took a sutler's position in the army, and 
Mrs. Cornell continued the publication of a small sheet, 
some three or four columns in width, till 1863, when Dr. 
Kelly, editor of the Flaindcalcr purchased the good will of 
her paper and job office, and the paper was discontinued. 

In the summer of 1860 Meeeers. Wm. F. Pettit and John 
H. Abbott assisted J. W. Crawford in the purchase of an 
office from Mantonville, in Dodge conuty, and the OwA- 
TONNA Repeesentative was launched upon its trial trip 
among the breakers of public opinion and literary criticism. 
The JReprcsentativG was an eight column sheet and was very 
ably conducted and well printed, reflecting miwh credit 
upon the enterprise and go-aheaditiveness of the citizens of 
the county who sustained it as well as those who conducted 
it. It was continued for about eighteen months, when Mr. 
Crawford entered the army, and Messrs. Pettit and Abbott 


sold the material to James E. Child, of Wilton, in Waseca 

The Owatonna Plaindealer was first published in 
April, 1863, by Dr. L. II. Kelly, and as the town was 
growing rapidly and business crowding in, the patronage 
kept increasing, till the Plaindealer was one of the best pay- 
ing offices in the State, Town, county and State patronage 
kept the driving wheels properly lubricated and the concern 
was running so easily that in the spring of 186G, the Dr. 
enlarged it to an eight column sheet, and in the following 
fall sold to Messrs. Tappan, Higbee & Hathaway, who 
thereupon commenced the publication of the 

Republican Journal, which is now published under 
the care of Messrs. ITigbee,^Spellman & Bickham, with the 
name of Owatonna Journal, a large eight column sheet and 
one of the leading papers in the State. It has swallowedl ^ 
up or "driven out" three other papers within the past two^ 

The Owatonna Register Vas started by A. B. Coraell- 
soon after his return from the army, which was publish^iii 
in an independent, neutral manner, consequently meeting; 
with poor success, yet continued to drag out an existence- 
for some little time, when its sun set in rather a thick dark- 
ness, and it died for the want of proper sustenance. 

The Owatonna Democrat was the next aspirant fo? 
public favor, and was received with considerable enthusi- , 
asm by the Democracy, as it was a purely demooratic pa- 
per. Capt. T. D. Woods was editor and proprietor ; yet it 
did not receive the support that would fill the treasury-j, 
and after trying the experiment for about a year it was-- 
discontinued. . 

The Vidette, a seven column paper, was started as an> 
independent Republican paper, by J. A. Spelman some- 


time in the spring of 1867, but was continued only for a 
short time, when it was merged with the Journal^ and Mr. 
"Spelman became one of the proprietors in connection with 
"Messrs. Higbee and Hathaway. In the winter of 1867-8. 
Mr. Hathaway sold his interest to Mr. Bickham, who still 
remains one of the proprietors. 

In 1867 another Democratic paper was started, which 
was called the Owatonna Register, nnder the controll of 
'Mx. 0. F. Gaorge, who continued its publication for about 
■one year, having one side printed in some other city and 
'iilling the remainder at heme. It proved to be a pecuniary 
loss and the office was removed to Faribault, after an exist* 
€nee of about one year. 

All of the papers published. in the county have been Ee* 
publican in politics except two, and the only one now pub- 
lished by either party i# the Oioatonna Journalyd^ldiXg^ 
height column sheet, that claims and exerts its share of in- 
"Euence in moulding the public sentiment of the country. 
T^iie present proprietors of the Journal are Messrs. Higbee, 
■^j^elman & Bickham. 


The Methodist Episcopal Church of Owatonna was 
organized in October, 1856, with the following persons as 
members on probation : Wm. B. Norman, Sarah J. Norman, 
Amelia Oliver, James M. Soper and Emily Soper, in all 
£ve pereons. On the 7th of August previous. Rev. Sok>- 
mon Wetzel had been appointed by the M. E. Conference, 
in session at Red Wing, to take charge of the Owatonna 
Circuit, which was at that time just organized. Mr. Wet- 
zel was a man of untiring energy and perseverance and 
who knew, no such word as fail, and when he put his hand 
to the plow did not look back repiningly, but with faith 
and confidence performed his duty, trusting in God. Find- 


ing that the amount likely to be received frem the CTiurch 
would not be sufficient for hig proper support, he labored 
with his hands to supply the temporal needs of himself and 
family, and with the active energies of his brap to meet 
tke spiritual demands of his congregation. 

The meetings were first held in the school house, the 
Methodists and Baptists alternating with each other in the 
use of the house. At the next session of the Conference 
Kev- A. Mattison was appointed to take charge of the in- 
terests of the Church on this circuit. Services were held 
for a time in the old log school house and afterwards in » 
part of a house owned by Mr. Stoughton, and still later 
their place of worship was a building afterwards used by 
Mr. E. McClure as a jewelry store, and which is still stand- 
ing on Broadway. 

The Church prospered rapidly under the labors of Mr,. 
Mattison, and many members were added to it, not only 
to the class at Owatonna but also to other points under his 
charge. John Odell was the first class leader of the Church 
in Owatonna. In 1859 Rev. John Rogers was appointed to 
the pastorate charge of the Church, and the meetings wer6 
held first in the school house, afterwards in Morford's Hall. 
Mr. Rogers was succeeded as pastor in 1860 by Rev. R,obt. 
Hoover who was in turn succeeded by Rev. Mr. Cornwell, 
who remained something less than a year, when he was 
appointed Chaplain of one of the Minnesota regiments, and 
went into the field to look after the spiritual welfare of 
those who were fighting for the preservation of the govern- 
ment, leaving the church without a pastor for the remain- 
der of the conference year. In 1862 E,ev. J. H. Richard- 
son was appointed by the Conference as pastor of ths 
Chureh, and remained for two years, when he was succeed*- 
ed by Rev. T. McClary, who also remained two years, af- 
ter which time Owatonna was made a station and Rev. E. 


K. Latlirop was selected for the pastorate charge. The 
present pastor is Eev, S. F. Sterrit. 

The society have held meetings in the school house, Mor- 
ford's Hall, the Baptist Church, and Dresser's Hall. In 
the summer of 1867 a neat chapel was erected on lots own- 
ed by the society, on the corner of Main and Elm Streets, 
at an expense of about §2,000. The first M. E. Sunday 
School wa.s organized in the spring of 1865, with the fol- 
lowing officers : ^ Superintendent, A. C. Hickman ; Assist- 
ant Superintendent, John Odell ; Secretary, C. F. Andrews ; 
Librarian, Orrin Greeley ; Treasurer, Wm. F. Pettit ; and 
soon grew in numbers until the officers and teachers were 
twenty with 218 scholars enrolled, and an average atten- 
dance of 128, with a well selected library of 370 volumes. 
The church has increased in numbers from five probation- 
ei3 in 1855 to 175 members in good standing in 1867. 

The Congregational Chuech of Owatonna was organ- 
ized on the 22d of October, 1857, by Eev. 0. A. Thomas, 
assisted by Rev. J. C. Strong, of Bradford, Iowa, with the 
following members who were admitted upon showing let- 
ters of recommendation from other churches to which they 
had formerly belonged: George "W. Danforth, A. N. 
Stoughton, Wait Stoughton, Malcolm C. Burr, George W. 
Hall, Mary J. Stoughton, Naomi L. Stoughton, Lydia H. 
Hall, Emeline Hall, and Charles A. Strong. Jesse B. Gay- 
lord and 0. E. Walden not having received their letters 
were each vouched for by those who had and were duljr 
admitted. A sermon was preached by Rev. 0. A. Thomas 
and the church w^as duly organized with twelve members- 

The first preliminary meeting was held in September 
previous, when resolutions were passed to invite the Fari- 
bault, Medford, and Clinton Falls churches to meet in 
council for the purpose of affecting a church organization, 
which was carried out on the 22d of October, with the fol- 


lowing constitution for the guidance and government of its 
members : 

Article. I. Tho church shall be called the First Con- 
gregational Church of Owatonna. 

Art. II. Its government shall be Congregational, ac- 
cording to the form and usage of Congregational Churches. 

Art. III. Such modification of the usages of Congrega- 
tional Churches as may be demanded by our circumstances 
or views, may be adopted by the Church and embodied in 
'•'Standing Kules," to be passed, amended or abolished at 
any regular meeting, three months' notice having been pre- 
viously given. 

Art. IV. The officers of this Church shall be a pastor 
and as many deacons as the Church may from time to time 
deem necessary. 

Art. V. The constitution shall only be 'amended or al- 
tered by a vote of three-fourths of the members present^ at 
a meeting regularly convened after three months notice for. 
that purpose. 

The following Articles of Faith being short and varying 
somewhat from those adopted by other Churches of the 
same denomination, will be of interest to those who care to 
know anything of the history of the Church. 

Article I. You believe that the Scriptures of the Old 
and New Testament are given by the inspiration of God, 
and are the only infallible rule of faith and. practice. 

Art. II. You believe in one God, the Creator and Ruler 
of the Universe, existing in a divine and incomprensible 
Trinity — the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, . and the Holy 
Ghost, each possessing all divine perfections. 

Art. III. You believe in the fall of our first parents, 
the consequent apostacy and entire depravity and lost 
condition of the human race. 

Art. IV. You believe in the incarnation, death and 


atonement of the Son of God, and that salvation is attain- 
ed only through repentance and faith in his blood. 

Art. V. You believe in the necessity of a radical change 
of heart, and that this is directed through the truth by the 
agency of the Holy Spirit. 

Art. VI. You believe that the moral law is binding on 
all as the rule of life, and that obedience to it is the proper 
evidence of a saving change. 

Art. VII. You believe that a credible evidence of a 
change o^ heart is an indispensible ground of admission to 
the privileges of the Christian Church. 

Art. VIII. You believe that the Ordinances of Baptism 
and the Lord's Supper, together with the Christian Sab- 
bathy are of perpetual obligation in the Church. 

Art. IX.— You believe in the future judgment, the gen- 
eral resurrection of the dead, and the endless ha])piness of 
tie righteous and the endless misery of the Tvicked. 

During the winter all the churches met in union meet'- 
ings and quite a number were added to the church. At 
this time A. N, Stoughton was chosen deacon, and C. A. 
Strong, clerk. A series of Church prayer meetings were 
tilso organized which have been kept up ever since. BeV. 
Ozro A. Thomas held service with this church on alternate 
Gundays till 1863. In the summer of 1858 A. N. Stough- 
ton fitted up a room in his house where meetings were held 
till the fall Of 1859. Wait Stoughton, A. N. Stoughton 
and E. Mills were chosen trustees of the church. In 1864 
Rev. C. T. Tappa* commenced preaching and remained 
with the church for two years. In August, 1866, Rev. L. 
L. Crigge was called to the pastorate and is still pastor of 
the church. One hundred and fifty-six persons have joined 
the church, forty-two have taken letters, leaving a mem- 
bership of one hundred and fourteen. In the summer of 
1867 the society commenced the erection of a house of 


worship, 38x60 feet, with a tower 12x12 and an extension 
in the rear 7x8 for a pulpdt, with height of side walls of 22 
feet. The building was enclosed and fitted for holding ser- 
vice, though not yet completed. The whole cost of the 
building when finished and furnished will probably be 
somewhere between $7,000 and $8,000. In 1865 a Sab- 
bath School was organized, and Dr. L. H. Kelly chosen su- 
perintendent, which has been successfully continued till 
the present time. The present average attendance is about 
150. There has not thus far in the history of the church, 
been a single instance of death of one of its members to 

Baptist Church. — The First Baptist Church of Owa- 
tonna was organized on the 27th of June, 1857, with the 
following members who were admitted upon letters from 
other churches to which they had previously belonged : 
Adolphus Town, Ann Town, Albert D. Low, M. 0. Low, 
J. M. Finch, E: J. Tousley, and Wm. H. Woods. Some 
time in the fall L. B. Town, Daniel Burch, and S. W. 
Breese were also admitted by letter. 

The first Baptist meeting held in Owatonna or Steele 
county, was on a Sabbath about the last of April, 1856, a,t 
the residence of A. B. Cornell, about fifteen persons being 
present, and Rev. Adolphus Town preaching the sermon. 
Meetings were held in the log school house during the yeas 
1,857. In January, 1858, a religious awakening took place 
,^id fifteen were added to the churcli. On the 23d of Jaa- 
uary Mr. Hiram Robinson received the rite of baptism ?it 
the hands of the pastor, Rev. A. Town, which was til® £tb% 
baptism of which any knowledge is had in this section of 
^ country. In 1858 preliminary steps were taken fot 
building a church. On the 11th of September of this year 
the djurehep of Aihland, Wasioja and Faribault, met with 
th» OvratouAa Church and organized the Minnesota Ceolral 


Baptist Association, said association reporting at the time 
of its organization 120 members, and in 1867, 566 mem- 
bers. In 1859 Elder Town resigned tlie pastorate, and 
Elder Edgar Cady, of Lake City, was chosen to supply the 
place, who was followed in 1860 by Eev. A. D. Low, who 
remained as pastor until February, 1861. In consequence 
of a difference of opinion among the members, a vote was 
taken in one of the church meetings to disband the organi- 
zation, and a portion of the members left. Those who re- 
mained chose Elder Town as their pastor, and regular meet- 
ings were held until October, 1863. During which time 
Elder Town supplied the pulpit once in two weeks, and 
succeeded in getting the church building completed which 
had been standing unfinished during the time of the church 
difficulty. The house of worship was dedicated on the 
loth of October, 1863. The dedication sermon was preach- 
ed- by Eev. D. S. Dean, of Illinois, who accepted the pas- 
torate of the church and remained until April, 1865, when 
by a mutual understanding the two churches united into 

The present Baptist Church of Owatonna was organized 
January 31st, with fifteen members; and recognized by a 
council of the Minnesota Central Baptist Association Feb- 
ruary 3d, 1863. The church met once in two weeks for 
worship, being supplied by Rev. J. F. Wilcox with preach- 
ing. On the 8th day of April, 1865, the two Baptist 
churches ifi the place consolidated with a united member- 
ship of sixty-four, and took the name as above. Rev. J. F. 
"Wilcox continued as pastor of the church till June, 1866, 
when his labors closed. In July, 1866, Rev. A. L. Cole 
came to Owatonna and commenced preaching, and in Octo- 
ber the church gave him a unanimous call to the pastorate, 
which he accepted and still holds. The church is self-sus- 
taining, paying a salary of $800. Baptisms have occurred 


every year except one ; in 1863, four, 1864, none, 1865, two, 
1866, three, 1867, forty and in 1868, forty three ; total bab- 
tisms, ninety-two. Whole number connected with the 
church since its organization, 216 ; number of deceased, 4 ; 
present membership, 167. They have a church edifice 32 
by 58 feet, with a tower in front in which hangs a bell 
weighing 1000 ^pounds — the^only one in the city. The house 
was built in the fall of 1867, costing $4,159.64, and was 
dedicated Dec. 22d, 1867. Preaching every Sunday morn- 
ing and evening ; prayer meeting every Thursday evening; 
church meetings on Saturday before the Urst Sunday in 
each month ; Lord's Supper first Sunday in each month. 
Church officers are J. B. Crooker and Walter Stebbins, dea- 
cons, and P. Bliss, clerk. 

St. Paul's Parish. — The first Episcopal services in Owa- 
tonna were held early in the summer of 1858 by the Rev. 
J. Lloyd Ereck, D. D., and the Rev. D. P. Sanford. Ser- 
vices were kept up every other Sunday by the latter of 
these clergymen imtil the following spring, when, after a 
short interruption, they were continued by Rev. Solon W^ 
Manney, D. D. At that time there was no Church edifice 
in the village. Our first service was held in the office of 
Maj. M. 4- Daily, on Mill skeet; subsequently services 
were held in the wing of the residence of Mr, Stoughton ; 
afterwards in the school house, and still later in Morford s 

St. Paul's Parish was organized the 19th of August, 1860; 
David Potwin, and John Crozier were chozen wardens, N. 
M. Donaldson, S. M. Yearly, John gdell, W. A. Ware, \f\ 
H. Kelly, and W. A. Dailey, vestrymen. 

Services continued to be carried on by the Rev. Dr. Man- 
ney, assisted by other clergymen of the Bishop Seabury 
Mission, established at Faribault. This had been consid- 
ered a station of the Faribault Mission from the first. The 


Ecv. Dr. Manney was eucceeded by the Rev. Geo. 0. Tan- 
ner for a short time, when the work was placed under the 
charge of the Rev. S. S. Burleson. In the fall of 186 1 the 
Rev. Mr. Burleson resigned the charge of the parish, and 
the Rev. J. A. Babcock, of New York, removed here and 
took charge of the parish. He continued to minister to 
the people till the fall of 1866, when the parish again be- 
came vacant; services were discontinued for winter, ex- 
cepting at the occasional vifiitations of the Bishop. In 
March, 1867, Rev. Geo. C. Tanner resumed services, and in 
June removed with his family to Owatonna. 

The chapel in which the congregation now worship is a 
neat church-like edifice at the corner of Cedar and Mill 
streets. Thi^ chapel ^yas built by the exertions of the 
present rector, amid many discouragements. The cost of 
the building was about $1,400. The lot had been purchas* 
ed by the Bishop Seabury Mission several years before at 
a cost of fifty dollars. This chapel was consecrated on Fri- 
day, Nov. 15, 1867, by the Rt. Rev. H. B. Whipple, Bishop 
of the Diocese of Minnesota, a large number of the clergy 
of the diocese being present, and assisting in the service!. 
The present number of communicants is thirty. 

Peesbyterian Church of Owatonna. — For the fol« 
lowing sketch of the Presbyterian Church, we are indebted 
to Ezra Abbott, Esq., of Owatonna: 

"The Presbyterian Church of Owatonna was organized 
by Rev. Harvey Chapin, who came here during the winter 
^f 1855-6, a hard-working pioneer minister of the Gospel. 
By a general invitation of its few citizens he was induced 
tQ settle in this place for "^he following year, dividing his 
lai)ors, however, between this village and several otbgt 
places. In Dodge City, East Prairieville sttd Ashland llf 
organiaed churches. For several years his place of prealh- 
ing in Owatonna was a log school house, until the year 


1863, when, principally throngh the indefatigable labors 
and influence of Mr. Chapin, a chmrch was commenced, and 
in 1864 was completed. In this small but neat church 
Mr. Chapin continued to preach until the spring of 1865, 
when he left for Tipton in the State of Missouri. In about 
a year, by a mournful Providence, his ministerial labors 
were suddenly brought to a close. His house caught fire, 
and in an efibrt, as was supposed, to save important papers, 
he perished in the flames. 

Mr. Chapin was succeeded in Owatonna by Mr. H. F, 
Nelson, who supplied the pulpit the ensuing nine months. 
In October, 1866. Rev. J. Faries, who had come to Minne- 
sota in search of health, was most earnestly solicited to be- 
come the stated supply of the church, so far as his health 
might permit. In the following May his failing health de- 
prived the church of ministrations which had been so ea- 
gerly sought and eminently useful. 

On th« 22d of July, 1867, Rev. R. H. Cunnigham accept- 
ed an invitation from the church and continued his very use- 
ful labors until the following May, when he accepted a call 
to Rushford, leaving in Owatonna a church of thirty- eight 
members, a Sunday School of an average number of fifty 
scholars, a fine organ and, generally, a good congregation. 

Universalist Society. — There is quite a large num- 
ber of believers in UniverBalism in this county, but there 
is no organised society except in Owatonna. In Novem- 
ber, 1866, Rev. S. Wakefield, then pastor of the Universal- 
ist Society in Rochester, visited Owatonna, and preached 
the first Universalist sermon ever preached in the county. 
In May, 1867, a society was organized; a society which, 
however, remained inactive till March, 1868, when, by in- 
vitation of the society, Rev. S. Wakefield became its pas- 
tor. In April he removed from Rochester to this place. 
The society now is quite large and m a very flourishing 


condition. As soon as meetings were permanently estab- 
lished, a Sabbath school was organized, which is now in a 
very flourishing condition. Its numbers are quite large 
and are rapidly increasing. Measures are now being taken 
to organize societies and support preaching in all the prin- 
cipal towns in the county. The society in Owatonna in- 
tend to build a church the coming year. 

The Catholic Church. — The first Catholics in the 
county were Thomas and John Bergan, Michael Bangs. 
Joseph Keisel, a German Tailor, at whose house house the 
first mass was celebrated in the county, James McLaughlin 
and James Lornegan. There are at the present time about 
fifty families living in the city. The town of Merton has 
probably thirty or forty families, some of whom have resi- 
ded there ten or twelve years. Mr. Francis McAndrew 
and Hugh Murray were among the first. The Rev. Father 
Keller has mass in the settlement about once a month ; he 
also has mass each month in the towns of Owatonna and 
Somerset, where there are some seventy- five catholic fami- 
lies of Germans and Bohemians. Every town in the coun- 
ty has some Catholic families, whose spiritual welfare is 
looked after by Father Keller, who speaks the difierent 
languages and can converse with all. 

A church committee has been organized to take steps 
for the election of a church edifice. M. J. Toher is presi- 
dent and treasurer ; the balance of the committee are as 
follows : James Lornegan, Joseph Kaplin, and Charles 
Schoen, of Owatonna, and Wm. Leary, of Merton. They 
have purchased a fine site of two and a half acres on Ce'dar 
street, for the location of a church building, and made a 
contract for the stone and sand for the foundation, which 
is to be completed immediately. It is the intention of the 
committee to complete the church for Divine service this 
fall. They have also purchased five acres of land in a very 


desirable location, tiiree-fourtlis of a mile south of the 
chttrch site, for a Catholic cemetery. 

"We are indebted to Sheriff Toher for the above informa- 
tion in regard to the Catnolic church and its members. 


Masonic. — Star in the East Lodge No. 33, A. F. & A. 
M., was organized in Owatonna, Steele county, Minn., De- 
cember 16th, A. D. 1859, by Bro. J. C. Whipple, G. J. W. 
of Faribault Lodge, No. 9. First stated communication 
held U. D. Jan. 23rd, 1860. 

Officers— J. C. Whipple, Faribault Lodge No. 9, W. M., 
E. M. Morehouse, S. W., Joel Wilson, J. W., Nelson More- 
house, Treas., John Kelso, Sec. First election of officers 
under charter Oct. 29, 1860. W. R. Kinyon, W. M., E, 
M. Morehouse, S. W., W. H. Wilsey, J. W., J. W. Mor- 
ford, Treas., John Kelso, Sec. 

Second election, Dec. 25, 1861. Eli M. Morehouse, W, 
M., W. H. Wilsey, S. W., L. B. Tanner, J. W., J. W. Mor- 
ford, Treas., J. N. Kelley, Sec. 

Third election, Dec. 24, 1862. W. R. Kinyon, W. M., 
J. W. Morford, S. W., J. N. K'elley, J. W., Eli M. More- 
house, Treas., W. H. Wadsworth, Sec. 

Fourth election, Dec. 23, 1863. J. W. Morford, W. M., 
Joel Wilson, S. W., W. H. Wilson, J. W., W. R. Kinyon, 
Treas., W. H. Wadsworth, Sec. 

Fifth election, Dec. 24, 1864. J. W. Morford, W. M., 
W. K. Kenycm, S. W., W. H. Wilsey. J. W., Jac. Oppliger, 
Treas., R. C. Ambler, Sec. 

Sixth election, Dec. 13, 1865. J. W. Morford, W. M., 
Wm. H. Kelley, S. W., H. C. Eldred, J. W., Jac. Oppligar, 
Treas., Jac. Newsalt, See. 

Seventh election, Dec. 26, 1866. J. W. Morford, W. M,, 


!H. J. Lewis, S. W., A. B. Webber, J. "W., Addison Phelps, 
' Treas., Smith H. Stowers, Sec. 

Eighth election, Dec. 27, 1867. J. W. Morford, W. M., 
^ H. J. Lewis, S. \V., Elias Scanel, J. W., A. M. Kenyon, 
'-.Treas., John A. Robey, Sec. 

.The number of members now belonging to the Lodge is 
" seventy-nine. 

Good Templars. — Owatonna Lodge, No. 31, I. 0. of G. 
"T. was organized on the 12th of October, 1865, by Rev. 
•Beuben Gregg, District Deputy from the Grand Lodge of 
the State. There were seventeen charter members as fol- 
lows : H. C. Eldred, E. Durham, L. S. Padgham, Frank 
Biekinson, Jas. D. Beers, T. E. Hughes, J. H. Donaldson, 
H. M. Brown, D. D. F. Brown, Daniel Thom, J. W. Smith,«rt A. Orandall, Mrs. Mary Durham, Mrs. L. A. El- 
^ed, Miss L. J. Kellogg, Miss Mary Blair, J. E. Bush. 

'The following list of officers were chosen for the first 
quarter : W. C. T., L. S. Padgham; W. V. T., Miss L. J. 
Sellogg; W. S., Frank Dickinson; W. F. S., J. H. Donald- 
son; W. T., Miss Mary Blair. 

During the first quarter there were six initiated, and a 

clearance card granted to one, leaving twenty -two members 

in the Lodge, The second quarter increased the number 

of members to fifty-four, and during the third quarter ten 

more were added. At the close of the year the number 

Iiad increased to one hundred and eight. Each quarter 

. added to the list of members, until at the close of the sec- 

^ ond year there one hundred and thirty in good standing in 

■ the Lodge, most of them good working members who join- 

. ed the order for the sake of the good they might do, and 

V consequently their numbers kept steadily increasing till at 

- ilie close of the third quarter of the third year, April 30th, 

1868, there stood on the rolls as true and tried ones, the 

names of two hundred and forty-nine. Officers and mem- 


bex8 have worked diligently to forward the temperaiice^ 
movement, and with markei success. The popular curreiii^ 
now runs in a temperance channel, and consequently th&v 
result is beneficial to society. The present officers of Owar- 
tonna Lodge are W. C. T., J. M. Sullivan; W. V. T., Mrs.. 
E. J. Wadsworth; W. S. M. A. Dailey, jr.; W. F. S., J. Q... 
Braden; W. T., Mrs. M. E. Hughs. 

Odd Fellows. — On the 9th day of August, 1864^ Jlv 
Newsalt, then a member of Prairie Lodge, No. 7, Winona^^. 
Minnesota, proceeded to Rochester, Minn., with Messrs, E.. 
K. Smith, P. J, Smith, and R. C. Ambler, who were ini- 
tiated by Rochester Lodge, No. 13, and received all ihs^: 
degrees appertaining to a subordinate lodge of Odd FelloTfS,,. 
Through the kindness of Rochester Lodge the regular fees^. 
were refunded, with which a charter was procured, DecerQ-?- 
ber 28th, 1864, and Star of the West Lodge, No. 14, I. O; . 
of 0. F. was duly instituted by M. W. G. M., C. D. Strong,^, 
assisted bv P. G. M., 0. J. Noble. The charter member^*- 
were J. Newsalt, Wm. Hamburg, E. K. Smith, P. J.'Smithj , 
EbenDur ham and W. H. Twiford. The first officers eleci-- 
ed and installed were J. Newsalt. N. G.; E. K. Smith, Y'. . 
G.; W. H. Twiford, Secretary,; "William Hamburg, Treas- 

On the evening of the organization of the Lodge, D. B„'- 
Marble, A. C. Hickman, and James Lee were admitted Bif - 
card; L. Bixby, G. W. Shaw, and R. Joos by initiatiOB; „ 
W. H. Twiford resigning his office of secretary, L. BixBjr 
was elected to fill the vacancy and duly installed. During:,- 
the first term of six months three members were admitted^ 
by card and twelve by initiation. The officers elected sm&'l 
installed for the second term commencing July 1st, 186"^^ ,. 
were : E. K. Smith, N. G.; L. Bixby, V. G.; A.C. Hickmaa,, 
Sec; D. B. Marble, Treas.; J. Newsalt, D. D. G. M. Bm-- 
ing the second term two were admitted by card and six hj^- 


The officers elected and installed for the third 
term commencing January Ist, 1866, were: L. Bixby, N. 
G.; D. B. Marble, V. G.; A. T. Mygatt, Secretary; G. W. 
Shaw, Treasurer. During the third term five members 
were admitted by initiation. 

The officers elected and installed for the fourth term 
•^commencing July 1st, 1866, were : D. B. Marble. N. G.; 
■G. W. Shaw, V. G.; P. T. Smith, Secretary; Wm. Pepper, 
Treasurer; E. K. Smith, D. D. G. M. During the above 
term four members were admitted by card and four were 
Admitted members by initiation. During this term the 
amount of fifty dollars were paid for the relief of brothers. 

The officers elected and installed for the fifth term com- 
mencing Jan. 1st, 1867, were: L. Bixby, N. G.; P. T.Smith, 
V. G.; G. H. Tyrrell, Secretary; P. McCrastie, Treasurer. 
During the term there were admitted to membership by 
oard, one; and by initiation five. Paid for the relief of 
l)rothers, ten dollars. 

The officers elected and installed for the sixth term, July 
1st, 1867, were: G. W. Shaw, N. G.; Wm. Scruby, V. G.; 
> J. J. Thomas, Secretary; E. T. Smith, Treasurer; L. Bixby, 
D. D. G. M. During the term, J. J. Thomas resigned, and 
''C. S. Crandall was elected secretary and served the bal- 
ance of the term. There were initiated during this term 
^ight members, and admitted *as an ancient Odd Fellow, 
'One. During the term Bro. Wm. H. Wadsworth died. 

The officers elected and installed for the seventh term, 
Jan. 1, 1868, were : G. H. Tyrrell, N. G.; W. H. Reynolds, 
V. G.; 0. S. Crandall, Secretary; Alson Sellick, Treasurer. 
During the early part of the term, G. H. Tyrrell resigned 
the office of N. G.; and L. Bixby was elected to fill the va- 
cancy. During the term three members were admitted by 
vinitiation and two by card. 

Total number of members, at present, is 55. The Lodge 



is in a fine, prosperous condition at the present time. We 
have labored under some difficulties in procuring a suitable 
hall, but are at present in a comfortable hall over Seaton's 
book store. We expect to start a- camp here this summer. 
During the first term there was organized a Rebecca 
Lodge, in which all scarlet degree members are entitled to 
membership, also the wives of Scarlet Degree members. 
The object of this degree is for the special benefit of the 
wives of members. The Rebecca Lodge meets on the first 
Friday evening of each month and is in & prosper- 
ous condition, and adds largely to the interests of the reg- 
ular Lodge. 


When the call "to arms" resounded over the country, 
the patriotic hearts of brave men in Steele county rose up 
to meet the demand, and not once was the call repeated 
but her quota was more than filled with men already in the 
field. We shall enter upon no eulogium of tho brave 
hearts who perilled their lives for their country's sake, as 
their memory is engraven upon the hearts of the nation 
too many of them, alas ! died to save. We simply give a 
list of the names of all who entered the service from .Steele 
county, as we found them recorded in the Adjutant Gen- 
eral's office in St. Paul. 


Annis Levi 
Berg Jacob 
Bixby J S 
Curtis Geo H 
Lopping Henry 
Green William 
Myers Felix 
Morin Patrick 
Morin Dennis 
P«ttie David 
Pettie C B 
Pettie G C 
Cook Albert T 
Fling Geo A 
Snyder Wm J 

McDaniele R C 
Thimson Nils P 
Roberts John L 
Johnson Wm J 
Howe Samuel 
Dickenson Christopher 
Olmsted Samuel B 
Roberts James L 
Weed Clark 
Siverson Halleck 
Richards Alonzo 
Danchy Arthur H 


Chase Levi 
Chase, Dudley 
Ckaae, Timothy 

Hanson, William 
Pitcher, Eli F 
Reese, Isaac 
Trow, Francis 
Roberts, Eugene W. 
Willson, Wiliam 


Oharabers, Frank 
Curtis, Manly M 
Dubois, James L 
Emery, Geo W 
Jones, Anthony 
Jones, Anthony W 
Jones, Isaac W 
Patterson, Martin 
Strotham, J E 



Tiffany, Oecar 
Warfield, John M 
Webeter, Joseph R 
Bunns, Wm H 
Elliott, Gilbert "W 
McCarelin, John 
Bailey, Richard S 
Bloomer, Henry 
Minthome, Henry F 
Hart, Allen 
Anderson, John 
HudBon, Charles 
Jones, Charles 
Willis, John 
GUe's, S F 


Baker, Ozias B 
Barnhard, William 
Bamhard, James 
Bortley, John H 
Cressey, R W 
Curtis, Thomas 
Green, Geo W 
Hunt, Andrew M 
Hays, Sandford E 
Morrison, Wm Bdgar 
McNitt, Truman E 
Pareons, Henry 
Sanborn, Beni O 
Williamson, Daniel W 
Ritchie, Joseph 
Mclntire, Sanford H 
Morrison, Samuel 
Warner, Martin 


Condon, Patrick 
Gyp89n, Benjamin 
Hodgson, William 
Lilly, Samuel 
Morse, Henry N 
Rosenthal, William 
Star, William 
Winchell, Demster L 
Williams, Charles H 
Carter, Henry G 
Arnold, Wm W 
Houston, Cyrus M 
Parker, Newton 
Fleury, Joseph 


Beach, Samuel B. 
Bagg, Aaron S 
Huston, Thomas 
Johnson, Nelson 
Kinney, Newcombe 
Kinney, Stillman W 
Tasker, Daniel 
Tatro, Joseph 
Tatro, John 
Gould, Samuel T 
Bragg, Henry W 
Davis, Edward 
Gibbons, James 
Sorenson, Ingbert 


Barney, John L 
Bliss, Calvin G 

Bisfiell, Warren P 
Davis, John L 
Davis, Thomas E 
Drake, Richard M 
Eastman, Adoniram 
Francis, Albert B 
Fowler, Francis W 
Fowler, Loren 
Freeman, Samuel M 
Guile, Samuel M 
HasksU, Augustus 
Heath, Isaac P 
Heath, John A 
Jeffrey, Charles 
Kendig, George 
King, John H 
Lincoln, Aug, A 
Moore, Ambrose 
McCrory, William 
McCrory, John 
McKinney, Albert 
Melvin, F L 
Miller, M D L 
Pike, Elias G 
Pomeroy, Charles 
Pasco, William 
Ring, Eugene P 
Shaw, Jotham 
Strong, M L 
Sawyer, George B 
Thurston, Geo H 
Thurston, H N 
Wentworth, John W 
Wheeler, Walter W 
Wilkins, Walter W 
Howard, Lewis M 
Stoddard, James S 
McClure, Nelson 
Wilkins, William W 
Hoit, Moses 
DeReimer, James H 


Bradley, Henry 
Bradley, William 
Fitzsimmons, Charles 
Fitzsimmons, Lewis 
Green, L J 
TuthUl, Wm S 
Williams, Byron J 
Mosher, Asa 
Baker, Samuel W 
Cooney, Thomas 
Ritchie, Henry 
McNitt, James B 
Teed, John A 
Kern, James W 
Ross, Cornelius P 
Carr, Francis H " 
McCabe, William 
Bradley, James 
Jordon, Anthony J 
Tuthill, JohnD 
Housa, Charles S 
Hawes, Philo 
Anderson, John L 
Kidney, William H 
Middaugh, Valentine "V 

Harris, William A . 
Lewis, Jacob 
Smith, Adelbert 


Adams, James H 
Bams, James J 
Bums, Alvin 
Baker, Chas B 
Carpenter, Joseph 
Curtis, Samuel J 
Condin, Patrick 
Carpenter, Thomas 
Eastman, AlphousIR 
Flake, Levi 
Henry, Michael W 
Henry, Miles 
Irvin, Fredrick J 
Jones, Henry B 
Jones, Oliver T 
Kendall, Frank L 
Lane, John 
Mosher, Norman 
Martin, Willard E 
McAndrews, Patrick 
Norton, Sewal P 
Naylor, George 
Naylor, James 
Reed, Andrew W 
Thompson, Franklin 
Taylor, Emmons P 
Williams, Theodore 
Willey, Geo H 
Welch, Melvin H 
MoUey, Lawrence W 
Barnard, Warren 
Dodge, Daniel, jr. 
Casler, Smith 
Curtis, John W 
Curtis, Henry L 
O'Toole, Terence 
Conlia, Thos J 
McAndrews, Michael 
Pennick, Wilmot H 
Thorn, Robert 


Ambler, R C 
Arnold, E M 
BUI, Fredolin 
Burr, John D 
Barnett, P D 
Barney, Michael 
Bums, Hugh 
Babcock, L F 
Burr, Murdock P 
Case, M B 
Crooker, Geo W 
Colyer, Andrew H 
Caverdale, D L 
Carter, J T 
Crawford, J W 
Crandall, O 8 
Case, Simeon 
Carlton, Dexter 
Conwell, F A 
Ernst, A W 
Elliott, Jeremiah 
Fillmore, E D 



Fletcher, Harvey 
Flinn, J N H 
Foster, Norman T 
Gordon, Walter 
Goodwin, James A 
Grear, John 
Hall, James F 
Hooker, J B 
Hadley, J A. 
Hess, Jacob W 
Haynes, Asa S 
Hartz, William 
Hammond, Chas F 
Kelley, Thomas 
Kerrott, E M 
Livingston, Frank 
Lindersmith, Oliver 
LaGro, Ebenezer 
Morford, S D 
Moessner, C F 
Mills. Geo M 
Morford, Joel G 
Moore, Orlando S 
MintJhome, TCS 
Miles, Richard 
Morris, John 
Northop, E W 
Nichols, Jacob 
Norman, John B 
Odell, Geo W 
Phillips, E P 
Phelps, Alvin 
Patten, M R 
Phelps, Addison 
Parsons, Fred 
Phillips, Horace H 
Pasco, Richard A 
Presley, William. 
Russell, W H 
Rideout, Andrew J 
Sawyer, James T 
Sehimek, Austin B 
Sherman, W H 
Stowers, Smith H 
Scott, Wm B 
Thom, George 
Towle, Daniel G 
Thompson, Hamilton R 
Thomas, James S 
Town, Julius A 
Wheaton, Willard 
Wood, Alanson B 
Winchell, Nathaniel 
Webster, Wm 

Winchell, Wm B 
Ware, Marcus 
Yearley, Zeus 8 
Thompson, Thomas 
Brigham, Henry D 
Epla, Samrel S 
Howard, C E 
Bettig, Samuel, jr. 
Crooker, Geo W 
Coon, John D 
Harsh, Hiram 
Hulett, Ebon 
Robinson, Hiram 
Thenig, Geo W 
Vail, Allen S 
Young, Josepk, 
Lipsey, John P 
Bradley, William 
■Lindersmith O 
Peebles, Jacob 
Siars, Benjamin 
Tasker, Daniel L 
Tiffany, Oscar 
Tyler, Ezra A 
Ameigh, Erin H 
Brooks, Geo W 
Clark, Wm H 
Giles, Charles 
Jones, Charles A 
Jepson, John 
Lyons, Wm B 
Marshall, David P 
Rock, John M 
Sweatt, Methia 
Walrod, Jacob W 
Wickham, John O 
Young:, John 
Hopkms, George N 
Chase, Russell 
Middaugh, Solomon 
Sherpy, James M 
Chambers, George 
Buck, Edwin P 
Andrews, Theodoras J 
Enny, Joseph 
Hickock, Franklin K 
McPelt, Michael 
Morrison, Daniel R 
Pitch, Wesley W 
Stevens, Lafayette 
Wilcox, John 
Ramsey, Nathaniel 
Wildrich, John 
Slocum. Melvin B 

Reece, Isaac 
Peggs, Joseph E E 
Gardner, Charles W 


Fredenburg, Jeremiah 
Farrell, John 
Smith, James A 
Winchell, George 
Wheeler, Benjamin S 
Benedict, Harvey, jr 
Davis, Hanson M 
Fredenburg, Alvin 
Austin, Preborn L 
Colanhour, Archibald 
Heath, Roswell P 
Smith, David V 
Scram, Wm T 
Barrett, Isaac S 
Ellis, Mortimer R 
Loomis, Daniel A 
Work, Adolphus C 
Warner, John M 


Borchat. Henry 
Borchat, Ferdinand 
Card, William N 
Curtis, Charles C 
Gross, Oscar 
Thompson, Arza B 
Breidenstein, Wm N 
James, Thos G 
Lunn, John 
Buckner, Joseph 
Bailey, Albert 
Ellison, Charles 
Gross, Gilbert 
Kenyon. Thos E 
Maynard, David L 
Saikora, Franta 
King, James S 
Smith, James B 
Sawyer, Philo 
Steele, Charles A 
Onficleson, Ole 
Powers, Byrum 
Pitcher, Henry A 
Carvey, Steven 
Johnson, Herman A 
Knowlton, Charles R 
Howe, Lafayette 
Anderson, Silas 
Hamson, Wm W 
Mitchell, George 
Walcott, Theodore 




The town of Medford is only three miles in extent from 
north to south and six from east to west, embracing only 
eighteen sections of land instead of thirty- six, about three 
fourths of which is covered with timber. Nearly all on 
the east side of the Straight river is covered witk a good 
growth of fine timber suitable for lumber or rails. The 
soil of the timber land is of a black sandy loam, very deep, 
with a clay subsoil, adapted to all kinds of cereals or veg- 
etables. On the west side of the river the soil is of a 
lighter loam and produces the best quality of wheat, though 
not always of the largest yield. The town is well watered 
by the Straight river running through it from south to 
north, as well as several smail streams that flow into it. — 
There is one fine water power on the river as yet unim- 
proved, and a steam saw mill in successful operation, own- 
ed by the Abbott Brothers. 

The first claims were made in the summer of 1853, by 
Smith and Orlando Johnson, A. L. "Wright, L. M. Howard 
Chauncey Lull, '?7ho staked ofi" their claims, and in Septem- 
ber Mr. Howard turned over the first prairie sod in what 
is now Steele County. The Messrs. Johnson commenced 
breaking on their claims that fall, but did not build their 
houses or remove their families to this place till the follow- 
ing spring. Messrs Wright and Lull built a log house in 
which they spent the winter, which was probably the first 
abode for civilization within the limits of the county. In 
the winter or .early spring of 1854 John Sanborn brought 


his family with him and located in the southern part of the 
town, Mrs. Sanborn being the first white woman to find a 
home in that vicinity. Mrs, Wm. K. Colling was the 
next white woman to take up her residence in the infant 
colony, which she did in the following spring. Soon after 
her arrival she gave birth to a son which was the first birth 
of a white child in either town or county. The first mar- 
riage that was solemnized in Medford was that of A. L. 
Wright and Miss Pheboe Ann Hays, Rev. 0. A. Thomas 
sealing the contract with the authority and sanction of the 
church. Mr. "William Woolford w^s the first to embark 
on the voyage ' 

"To that unknown and sileat shore 
Where all shall meet as heretofore 
Some summer morning.'" 

In the spring of 1856 Miss Flora Sawyer, now Mrs. 
Isaac Sanborn, opened a select school in one room of her 
father's house, which was the first public efibrt at teaching 
the youth of that town how to climb the hill of science. — 
Religious services were held as early as 1854, Mr. Wm. 
Colling, a man of real practical piety, though not an or- 
dained minister, frequently gathered his neighbors together 
and explained the scriptures, exhorting his audienee to live 
sober and useful lives. At a meeting of the settlers to con- 
sult upon a name wherewith to christen the town Mr. Col- 
ling said that he had a son who was born on board the ship 
Medford, and was named Medford in honor of the ship 
and proposed that the town should be named Medford in 
honor of the boy, which proposition was unanimously adopt- 

Medford was organized on the 11th of May, 1858, and 
commenced the exercise of her new powers by the election 
of the following town officers: 

Supervisors: F. B» Davis, J. D. Sanborn, 0. Bartholomew. 

Town. Cleric: A. 0. Francis. Assessor: W. P. Francis. 


Treasuerr: Edwin Drake. Overseer of Foot: E. Sanborn. 
Justices: K. Prescott, Joel L. Pound. 
Constables: D. T. Eastman, S. M. Freeman. 
Since that time the following named persons have served 
the town in the capacity of Chairman of Supervisors and 
Town Clerks: 

Chairman of Supervisors, Town Clerks: 

F. B. Davis, A. O. Francis, 

K. Prescott, W. P. Francis, 

B, F. Melvin, 0. Bartholomew, 

W. F. Lewis, B. F. Melvin, 

Orrin Lee, S. H. Stowers, 

W. P. Bissell, R. Miles, 

Wallace Wilkins, Charles Pomeroy, 

W. P. Bissell. 
In the fall of 1857 Smith Johnson wbs elected to the 
Territorial Legislature. B. F. Melvin was elected County 
Treasurer in 1862 which position he has held till the pres- 
ent time, having been twice re-elected. 0. Bartholomew 
has been County Commissioner^since 1865. 

In the spring of 1858 the town officers let a contract to 
B. F. Melvin and J. P. Eideout to build a bridge across the 
Straight river, for the sum of $900, the County to pay 
$600, on condition that the town of Medford should pay 
the other $300, 0. Bartholomew and others were sureties 
that the town would pay this sum, and on the 19th of 
June a special town meeting was called to take formal ac- 
tion for the town to assume the liablilaty. The vote stood 
42 for paying the debt to 38 against it. 

In 1862 the report of the Town Treasurer, as to the Lia- 
bilities of the town was as follows: " The Town owes not 
one dollar, that we know of and there remains in the hands 
of the Treasurer a ballance of $218,68," 

In 1863 a special Town Meeting was called to vote on 


the proposition to purchase the School house on the west 
side of the river for a Town House, but the project failed 
and in 1867 the building was bought by the Free Will 
Baptist Society and removed to the east side of the river 
and fitted up for a Church, which by an arrangement with 
other denominations is now used as a Union Church. 

In 1862, at the iinae of the Indian massacres on the fron- 
tier, the people of Medford became somewhat excited ia 
relation to their own safety, and the town appropriated $5 
to purchase powder to burn in their defence, and for some 
time pickets were stationed about the town. But as the 
Indians very wisely confined their operations to the more 
remote settlements, the powder was burned to celebrate 
the fall of Richmond or the capture of Jeff. Davis. 

In 1866 the spring floods carried away the bridge across 
the river, and in May a special town meeting was held to 
authorize an appropriation to build a new one. A majority 
decided in favor of the project, and a committee consisting 
of Smith Johnson, L. M. Howard, George Hankerson, W. 
Wilkins and Alfred Sanborn, were appointed to select a 
location that would be most favorable to the building, and 
the best accommodate the people of the town. The com- 
mittee selected a point about forty rods above the old one. 
The report of the committee was adopted, and an appropri- 
ation of $1,500 made to pay the cost ; the county appropri- 
ating $1,000, making $2,500 in all. Another special meet- 
ing was called and the vote on the report of the committee 
reconsidered, and it waa decided to build on the old loca- 
tion, and on motion of Smith Johnson, an appropriation 
of $500 additional was made to the fund. The contract 
was let to a Mr. Alden, who cominenced th » work but fail- 
ed to go through with it, and the town board finished it. 
Another ipccial meeting was called in July to add $650 
more to the bridge fund, and thia sum proving insufficient, 


a further appropriation of $500 was made in the November 
following, making a sum total of $4,150, which completed 
a fine structure that will probably withstand the efi'ects of 
any floods that will be likely to visit that region. In the 
summer of 1855 the Messrs. Abbott Brothers built a fine 
steam saw-mill, which furnished most of the lumber for the 
new town. The mill was removed after running a year or 
two. In 1866 Messrs. Melvin, Rideout and Hall built a 
fine saw-mill a short distance below the village site, which, 
after being run for two or three years, was burned. In 
1865 Messrs. Abbott and Merrill built another steam saw- 
mill which is still in successful operation. 

The first store was built in 1856 by Alfred McKinney, 
who put in a stock of goods the same season. The same 
year Smith Johnson built a hotel and furnished it for the 
accommodation of the traveling public. After the expira- 
tion of the Owatonna Begister the office was bought by 
Messrs. Sully & Francis and removed to Medford, where a 
paper was started, called the Medford Valley Argios, some- 
time in the fall of 1858. Mr. Sulley soon sold his half of 
the establishment to James R. Lucas, who, after continuing 
the publieation for a few months, sold his share to H. M. 
Sheetz, and Messrs. Sheetz & Francis removed the office to 
Owatonna. This is the only newspaper enterprise ever 
started in the town. 

The privations that attended this new settlement were 
much such as attended other towns. Hardships and in- 
conveniences in various ways were met with and overcome 
with such energy as is only begotten of pioneer life. At 
one time, soon after the arrival of Mr. Howard and his fam- 
ily, Mrs. Howard was taken sick, and as there was no 
physician near on that side of the river, Mr. Howard swam 
the river and went some distance and procured advice and 
medicine for his sick wife. At another time a man came 


to the usual fording place to cross, .but the river was so 
swollen by recent rains that it was impossible to ford it, 
and as the man could not swim the case seemed desperate, 
as there was no boat to be had. But westerners never 
stand idly by while any one is in need of assistance, and 
Smith Johnson, taking with him a rope, swam over the riv- 
er and attaching the rope to the stranger swam back again 
to the other side, towing him alongside. 

The village of Medford is located iu a beautiful little 
valley, through which flows the Straight river, and con- 
tains fifty- three dwelling houses, five stores, one hotel, two 
blacksmiths, two wagon shops, one shoe shop, one attorney 
and a post ofiice. 

Merchants — Jones & Bissell, D. C. Hemkins, L. Fowler, 
L. W. Sherman, Bailey & Bryant. 

Blacksmiths — E. Wood worth, Button. 

Wagon Shops — S. Hawkins, I. D. Beeman, 

Attorney — L. Haaen. 

Postmaster— D. C. Hempkins. 

The village also^contains a fine two story Union school 
house, erected at an expense of about $3,000; also two 
churches — the Union church and the Congregational — the 
latter of which was built and dedicated in 1864 and imme- 
diately furnished with a bell. The church w;as organized 
in 1856 with fourteen members, by Rev. Ozro A. Thomas, 
who remained as pastor till 1863. The present member- 
ship is 47, Rev. Edward Brown, poster. 

The culture of fruit trees has received considerable at- 
tention. Mr. A. A. Hubbard has a fine nursery, with 
choice native and imported trees and shrubs, that seem to 
indicate a maturity of fruitfulness. 


In the fall of 1854, Mr. Avery W. Adams made a claim 


near where is now the center of the town, and the follow- 
ing winter erected a house for his family, and soon had 
them domiciled with him, ready to try the pleasures of 
pioneering on the Minnesota prairies. The summer pre- 
vious Dr. Wm. W. Finch, as ore of the commissioners ap- 
pointed to survey and locate a road from St. Paul to the 
Iowa line, via the valley of the Straight river, had succeed- 
ed in getting the work so far accomplished as to have the 
ground explored and way-marks erected at intervals to 
guide the immigrants in their course. This was of vast 
benefit to those who were seeking homes in the interior, as 
they could then, by crossing the Mississippi at Prairie du 
Chien, proceed with teams and cattle directly through the 
country to their destination, where they had before been 
obliged to go up the river to St. Paul and from there into 
the interior. Soon after Mr. Adams settled Mr. David San- 
born, who had selected a claim sometime in the summer of 
1854, came and took possession and brought his family with 
him. They were soon followed by Dr. W. W. Finch, Jas. 
W. Finch, Isaac Sanborn, Francis Adams, James and San- 
ford Hays and others, making quite a settlement in the 
course of the year 1855. 

In 1856 Dr. Finch commenced building a dam across the 
Straight river, for the purpose of securing sufficient water 
power to operate mill machinery, but one half interest to 
two brothers, named Williamson, who were to build a grist 
mill, and Dr. Finch a saw mill ; the grist mill to be comple- 
ted within a year. But the Messrs. Williamson failing to 
get the grist mill completed, Dr. Finch sent to Chicago 
and procured a run of stone, or what is called "a portable 
mill,'' and put it in operation in his saw mill. This mill 
was truly a God-sead to the settlers, who had frequently 
been under the necessity of resorting to their coffee mills 
to manufacture their meal to make bread. Wheat thus 


ground was very appropriately called meal, as it could not 
be reduced fine enough to be called flour. In 1857, Hon. 
G. W. Green, from Beaver Dam, in Wisconsin, purchased 
an interest in the grist mill and it was pushed forward to 
completion, under the faithful superintendence of Moses 
Hutchinson, the only practical millwright this section of 
country then afforded. D. R. Morrison was established as 
miller, and the housewives of the vicinity soon began to 
manufacture their snowy wheaten loaves out of flour of 
home production. In a short time Judge Green purchased 
the remaining interest of the Messrs. Williamson, and still 
owns and operates the mill. The mill has two run of 
stone, with a capacity of about 500 bushels per day. In 
1863 the saw mill was purchased by Mr. Green who still 
owns it. 

The first birth that occurred in Clinton Falls was that of 
Frank Adams, a son of Avery W. Adams, on the 6th of 
April, 1855. In the spring of 1856, David Morrison, an 
old gentleman and father of D. R, Morrison, died ; this being 
the first death of a white person in the town. The mar- 
riage rites were first performed for the benefit of Mr, Wil- 
liam A. Williamson and Miss Lucretia Finch, daughter of 
James M. Finch. The first school was taught in the sum- 
mer of 1856, in a small house owned by Dr. Finch, by Miss 
Mary Morrison, now Mrs. Charles Williamson, The first 
religious service was held by Rev. T. R. Cressy at the house 
of David Sanborn, in the spring of 1856. The town was 
organized in 1858. The number of votes cast at the first 
election was thirty-five ; Geo. W. Green was elected Chair- 
man of Supervisors, and Geo. E. Rex, Clerk. The follow, 
ing named persons have served the town in the capacity 
of Chairman of Supervisors and Town Clerk since its or- 
ganization : 


Chairman of Supervisors, Town Clerk. 

G. W. Green, 4 years, D. S. Kimball, 

W. W. FiEch, 2 years, Jas. M. Finch, ap'd, 

D. Sanborn, 4 years, G. W. Green, 

J. W. Morrison, G. W. Knapp, 

Newton Parker, C. M. Williamson, 3 yre 

C. M. Huston, 
' David How, 

T. B. Chase, 3 years 
A. C. Finch. 
The town has been represented in the Territorial Legis- 
lature by 0. A. Thomas and G. W. Green, The first church 
bell in the county was purchased by the Ladies' Sewing 
Society of Clinton Falls, in June, 1863. In 1867, the peo- . 
pie voted to build a good and substantial bridge across the 
Straight river, and raised by tax $2,000, and the county 
giving $1,000 more, a covered bridge was erected, with 
solid abutments and spanning the entire width of the rivei . 
An extensive stone quarry lies on the west bank of the 
river, which is said to be superior for building or burning 
into lime to any other found in this section of country. 
The business of the place now consists of one store, own- 
ed by Dr. W. W. Finch ; one hotel, one grist mill and one 
saw mill, owned by Judge Green ; one blacksmith shop 
operated by Isaac Tuttle ; one lawyer, G. W. Green ; and 
one physician. W. W. Finch. The Methodists have built 
a neat and comfortable parsonage for the pastor's residence, 
the present of whom is Kev. W. P. Coffin. Rev. Mr. Wil- 
liams is pastor of the Baptist church. Both denominations 
hold service in the school hotise, there being no house of 
worship yet erected. 


For uxoBt 01 the following sketch of the town of Meriden 


we are indebted to Mr. F. J. Stevens, Suparintendent ol- 
Schools for Steele county, and an early settlk" in Meriden : 

The first settler in the town of Meriden ^ w^s Mr. A. M^ 
Fitzsimmons, who came into the town and settled in tha 
south-east corner of section thirty-six, in June, 1855. The 
first person bom in the town was a daughter of Mr. 0. H*, 
Wilker, in March, 1856. The first marriage was that of 
Mr. W- F. Dunn, (now Colonel in U. S. Army,) to Miss 
Roxie Henshaw, which took place at Mr. Austin Vinton's, 
on the 24th of September, 1856. Rev. H, Chapin, of Owa- 
tonna, performed the ceremony. There being no horses in 
the neighborhood, the guests were all conveyed in farm • 
wagons drawn by oxen. The first death was that of a Mr, 
Simmons, son-in-law of Mr. Fitzsimmons, the first settler 
of the the town. He was killed by lightning while sitting 
in' his house, in the summer of 1858. The first school, 
was taught in the summer of 1858 by Miss Leroy, daugh- 
ter of Henry Leroy, Esq. The first religious service was ■ 
held at the house of Mr. Wilker, in the summer of 1857 ; 
the preacher was a German Methodist. 

There are now five districts in the town in which schools > 
are taught, and several new districts which have- not yet' 
had a school". The only church is a German Lutheran, 
many of the inhabitants belonging to churches in Owaton- 
na and Waseca. 

Meriden is bounded on the north by Deerfield, east by 
Owatonna, south by Lemond, and west by Wilton, in Was- 
eca county. In the western part of the town is a slough or 
marsh, covering nearly two sections of land, and from 
which flovs a small stream c^led Crane creek, running in 
a north-east direction, through the soutk-east corner oi 
Deerfield and north-west corner of Clinton Falls, emptying 
into Straight river at Medford. The southern portion is 
covered to some extent with oak openings, while the north- 


ern and central portions are as fine prairies as can be found 
in tlie State. 

The town was organized in 1858, at which time A. F. 
Tracy was chosen Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, 
and W. T. Drown, Town Clerk ; since which time those offi- 
ces have been filled as follows : 

Chairman of Supervisors, Town Clerk. 

F. J. Stevens, Samuel Eeemsnyder, 

Saml. Reemsnyder, 3 yrs. Jos. Grandprey, 3 years, 
J. 0, Waumett, 3 years, Henry Leroy, 3 years, 

T. P. Jackson, 2 years, E. L. Crosby, 2 years, 

E. L. Scovill, Robert Stevenson. 

The last named are the present incumbents. 


The first settlement in the town of Lemond was in the 
spring of 1856, by Samuel Thomj^on, Sandford Kinney 
and Erasmus Teed, who were followed in the succeeding 
summer by Samuel Hastings. Kinney made his claim on 
section three, in the north-east part of the town ; Mr. 
Thompson located on section two. The settlement was not 
of rapid growth, but those who came were mostly perma- 
nent settlers, who had sought out this country to make a 
permanent home for themselves, and not to build up a 
home for others to occupy and enjoy. 

The first birth in the town of Lemond was in the family 
of a Mr. Hughes. The first matrimonial alliance made 
and executed was contracted between Daniel Tuscan and 
Miss Cornelia Davis, the acknowledgement of which was 
taken by Sandford Kinney, Esq., in May, 1859. No deaths 
occurred in this town till 1860, when Mr. Wm. Hanson 
died in November of that year. The first school was taught 
by Mr. Stillman Kinney, in the winter of 1858-9. The 
irst religious service was held in January, 1858, Rev. Mr. 


Moses was the officiating clergyman. There are no church 
buildings in the town, and the different denominations hold 
service in the school houses. Two good school houses have 
been built, in which schools are taught during the school 
terms of the year. 

The soil is about the same as characterizes the other por- 
tions of the county, and produces excellent crops. The 
town is well waiered though it has no manufacturing fa- 
cilities. Lawyers and doctors have never as yet found any 
inducements for settlement here. 

The organization of the town took place in April, 1858, 
and the following officers were chosen to administer the 
laws of the new town : 

Ghairman of Supervisors — S. M. Hastings, 
Supervisors — E. D. Teed, Sandford Kinney ; 
Town Cleric — E. Dampier ; Assessor — J. E. Hughes ; 
Collector — Jerome Coon ; Overseer of Poor — E. J. Coon ; 
Justices of the Peace — S. M. Hastings, Sandford Kinney. 
Since that time the following gentlemen have served as 
Chairman of Supervisors and Town Clerk : 

Chairman of Supervisors, Town Clerks: 

S. M. Hastings, 3 years, Edward Dampier, 

S. G. Townsend, S. F. Gould, 2 years, 

Hugh Murray, 3 years, S. M. Hastings, 2 yrs., 

C. G. Hersey, Sandford Kinney, jr. 

S. M. Hastings, S. M. Hastings, 

Charles Knowlton, S. F. Gould, 

S. M. Kinney, 

S. H. Stowers. 


Somerset, lying directly south of Owatcnna, was first 
settled in the year 1856, on the 27th of May, by three 
brothers, Levi, E.'W. and Albert Bailey, from Penn*ylva- 


aia, and a Mr. Savins, who located near the center of the 
town, on the west side of the Owatonna or Straight river, 
built their shanties and commenced breaking up the soil 
preparatory to putting in seed for a crop. They sowed 
buckwheat and planted potatoes that year, as the season 
was too far advanced to sow wheat and oats, before they 
could get their breaking done. The brothers Bailey broke 
up a considerable tract and fenced it, ready to put into wheat 
the following season. Within a few days after the Baileys 
made their claim. Dr. Thomas Kinyon, T. J. Clark, and Or- 
lando A. Barnes came and located in the same neighbor- 
hood. Dexter Smith, Ebenezer Lagro, David Barcfes, 0, 
"Fisher, Henry Catlin, John Catlin, Charles Ellison, Charles 
E. Knowlton, Warren Fisher, James E. Hughes, and sev- 
•eral others made claims the same summer. Nearly oil the 
-■settlers of that year in Somerset were natives of New York 
and Pennsylvania, and as all were from that section of 
country where science and culture had full sway, the 
jneighborhood was made up of a more choice society than 
*where the population is gathered from many different 
States and foreign countries. 

Nearly one half of the surface of the town is covered 
with timber or oak openings, furnishing a full supply for 
fuel and fencing. The town is considered well watered, 
with the Straight river running in a north-west*direction 
through it, and a large number of springs in various parts 
sending forth small streams which meander through the 
prairies, affording water to nearly all the farms in the 

The first death in the town was that of a Mr, Manna 
Oase, in July, 1856. The first birth was in the family of 
T, J. Clark, to whom was bom a daughter in the summer 
of 1856, who was duly christened Ellen. The first mar- 
riage was that of Miss Rachel Bill to Mr. Alexander His- 
isam in July, 1858. 


The northern part of the town is settled mostly by Bo- 
hemians and Germans, who are making good farms and 
cultivating the land, but not doing as much towards the 
educational progress of the town as in the central and 
southern portion. The low lands have a soil of black loam 
and sand, while the higher portion is a loam with clay sub- 
soil. The low lands are not as subject to injury by drouth 
or even wet weather as the uplands, where the subsoil is 
of clay. 

The number of school houses now is three in which 
schools are now taught through the usual school terms of 
each year, though there are seven organized districts. The 
first school was taught in the summer of 1856, in the attic 
of the residence of Dr. Thomas Kinyon, and by virtue of 
the elevated position of the room was denominated the 
"high school," Miss Phebe Kinyon officiated a^ precept- 
ress. The walls and roof made classic by association are 
now used as a stable for horses, and a neat and commodi- 
ous school house built at an expense of about $1,400, in- 
vites the young searcher after knowledge to mount the 
first rungs of the ladder of science. 

The first church service was had in the autumn of 1857, 
at the residence of Deacon Sibley, the name of the officia- 
ting clergyman was -Harney. 

The township of Somerset, according to government sur- 
vey, is 106 north of range 20 west, and bounded on the 
north by the township of Owatonna, east by Aurora, south 
by Summit, and west by Lemond. The surface is slightly 
undulatiDg, and about one third covered with timber and 
openings ; the other two-thirds is an open prairie. The 
soil in the timber and oak openings is of a rich clay loam, 
which is considered by the farmers to be the best quality 
for raising wheat and other cereals. The prairie land is 
mostly composed of a deep, rich, dark loam, of almost in- 


exhaustible fertility, while a narrow belt of land along the 
banks of the Straight river is -composed of sand loara. In 
many places the river is bordered by natural meadows of 
considerable extent, making it an easy matter to secure 
any desirable quantity of hay for wintering stock. 

The principal stream in this town is th& Straight river, 
which flows in a northerly course, affording in several pla- 
ces a fair water power, none of which are improved. Two 
small tributaries flow into it from the east, called Turtle 
Creek and Willow Run, with Wasecca Run from the west. 

The town was organized on the 11th of May, 1858, and 
T. C. Minthorn elected Chairman of Supervisors, and W. 
H, Sherman, Town Clerk. The names of those who have 
subsequently held the office of Chairman of Supervisors are 
as follows : Thomas Thompson, W, H. Sherman, J. W. Doo- 
little, Seth Hotchkiss, Thomas Kinyon, H. M. Bill, F. B. 
Doolittle, Augustus Theile, and Dexter Smith. While the 
office of Town Clerk has been filled as follows : W. H. 
Sherman, Phelps Case, Manley Curtis, Charles Ellison, and 
John Anderson. 

We are indebted for many of the items in relation to this 
town, to Dexter Smith, Esq., who says; "The prevailing 
characteristics of the inhabitants are industry, honesty and 
independence in thought and deed. The medical profess- 
ion was at one time represented by Drs. Thomas Kinyon 
and W. H. Twiford, but owing to the 'alarming healthfull- 
ness' of this locality their 'pill bags' were years ago con- 
signed to the cabinet of antedeluvian curiosities, and they 
have taken to farming as a more lucrative business. The 
legal profession has no representative, the people have too 
much sense to spend their substance in litigation for the 
benefit of that fraternity. 

"The pioneer settlers in this town were without exception 
poor men, and suffered all the privations incident to the 


Opening up of a new country. For several years our ward- 
robes and larders seldom contained anything but the abso- 
lute necessaries of life; and I might cite you to more than 
one case where to 'keep the wolf from the door,' we sub- 
sisted ourselves and our little ones on forage only suited to 
the cattle on the hills ; but in hope and faith, and trust in 
the promises, and the vigorous strokes of our good right 
arms, we struggled on, and the seasons as they came and 
went never wholly failed to leave some token for the en- 
couragement of renewed effort." 

There are no special business points in Somerset. The 
business of the inhabitants is entirely agricultural, and a 
host of finely cultivated farms are the surest signs of pros- 
perity and the best evidence that the people will not have 
to subsist themselves upon husks, but from their overflow- 
ing granaries and well filled cellars, will hereafter live up- 
on the fat of the land. 


In the north-west corner of Steele couny, with Rice 
countf on the north, and Waseca on the west, and bounded 
on the east by Medford and Clinton Falls, with Meriden on 
the south, lies the town of Deerfield. Its location is very 
favorable in an agricultural point of view, being ten miles 
from the city of Faribault and only seven from Owatonna, 
the real railroad center of Southern Minnesota, with the 
little village of Medford within three miles, which affords 
a market and freighting facilities for all who may desire to 
dispose of their wheat and other grains at this place, 
without carrying to a point more remote by teams. The 
south-west portion of the town finds an easy and conven- 
ient market at Waseca, on the Winona & St. Peter Rail- 
road, so that in almost any direction the people may find 
a market for all their grain and produce at a very short 
distance from their doors. 


The soil for the most part is a deep clay loam, rich and 
very fertile in the production of all the small grains, such 
as wheat, oats, rye, barley, &g. Grass grows more luxu- 
riantly than on most prairie land, as the soil is heavier and 
"the grass is not so easily injured by close grazing. 

The population of the town is made of Americans and 
•Germans about evenly divided as to numbers, and a few 
Irish, and are an industrious and temperate people, who 
are seeking for wealth by digging ib from the fruitful soil. 
There is a good supply of timber for fencing purposes and 
fuel, though this town, like all the others, is destitute of 
pine that furnishes the principal part in all buildings. In 
the south part of the town is a belt of timber bordering on 
Crane Creek, of about two miles in width, which extends 
along the west side of the town the whole length, with oc- 
casional small prairies intervening, while it is but a short 
distance to the large timber belt of the Cannon and Straight 
rivers on the east and north. 

There are no mills in this town, yet there are those of 
easy access at Clinton Falls, Medford, Warsaw, Morristown, 
and other places, so that the facilities for having grain 
ground, or procuring a supply of oak, maple or basswood 
lumber, are sufficient for all practical purposes. 

Deerfield was first settled about the 12th day of May, 
1855, by Edward McCartney, from Elgin, Ills., who with 
his family of wife and three children and a brother of his 
wife, located on the north-west quarter of section eight. 
He remained about two years, when he sold out and return- 
•ed to Illinois, but soon came back to Minnesota and located 
at Morristown in Rice county, but becoming discontented 
went to California, and after spending a time in the land 
of gold, returned to Minnesota, sold his property and emi- 
grated to Cass county, Nebraska, where he now resides. 
Other settlers followed Mr. McCartney into the town, 


and a neighborhood was soon established. 

The first birth in town was a daughter in the family of 
Mr. Hobaugh, residing on section twenty-six, in September, 
1856, who was duly christened Caroline Hobaugh. The 
first death was that of a Miss Austin, a young lady of some 
seventeen or eighteen years of age. The first couple to em- 
bark on the sea of matrimony from this port were Mr. Wil- 
liam B. Evans, formerly of Doylston, Pa., and Miss Fred- 
rica C. Williams, from Guilford, Conn., which embarkation 
was celebrated on the 16th of June, 1859, at the residence 
of the bride's mother — Washington Morse, a Justice of the 
Peace, tying the knot that no less a dignitary than a dis* 
trict judge could untie. The first school taught in town 
was in the summer of 1857, in what is now school district, 
No. 20. The teacher was Miss Elizabeth Hodgson, for- 
merly from Taunton, Mass. The first religious service was 
had in the town at the funeral of a Mrs. Anderson, and 
was conducted by Rev. Washington Morse, a minister o^ 
seventh- day advent creed, who took the occasion to en- 
lighten his audience as to the particular and distinctive 
tenete of his religious views. There are two church or- 
ganizations — the Adventists and the German Methodists — 
though neither of them have a church edifice, but hold 
their service in the school houses. 

The town was organized in the spring of 1858, 


The town of Merton was first settled in the year 1856 by 
Messrs. C. W. Curtis and L. E. Thompson, in the western 
part of the town. About the same time Mr. Magoon and' 
a family of the name of Naylor, arrived and locatisd in the 
south-east part of the town, where they still reside. Two 
young men by the name of Taylor and a Mr. Kendall made 
claims in the north part of the town. 


The first death was in the family of Mr, Oscar Searles, 
in February, 1862, when that dread scourge of children, 
diptheria, visited the place and took two of the loved ones 
God had given him ; little x^lice was the first to go, and 
soon after her sister Marion. During the months! of Feb- 
ruary and March the grim messenger made frequent visits 
to the neighborhood. His next call was at the happy home 
of Mr. Henry Maw, and a sweet child of nine summers. 
their darling Adelaide, and a little boy, Bertie, went away 
to make their home among the angels. Daniel McNitt's 
family was next called upon to be divided, and three of the 
children of their household band went to the other side of 
the dark river, there to await the coming of the mourning 
ones left on this side, and still waiting. 

The first school taught in the town was in the northern 
part in what is now known as the Rock School House. The 
house deriving its name from the fact that a very large 
rock, and the only one for miles around, rises high above 
the ground near the site of the school house. There are 
now four school houses in the town, in which schools are 
taught during the school season of each year. 

No church edifices have as yet been erected in the town, 
but the Methodists and Baptists hold service in the school 
houses. The Catholics are somewhat numerous and hold 
occasional service at the residence of some one or other of 
the members. 

The town was organized in 1858; L. E. Thompson was 
chosen Chairman of Supervisors, and a Mr. Miller, Town 

The soil is a rather light loam with clay sub-soil on the 
low lands, and on the higher or rolling prairie a gravel or 
sand sub-soil. The town is monily prairie, though there is 
a small patch of timber in the northern part, and in the 
southern portion a small amount of oak openings. Natu- 


ral meadows are scattered around on nearly every quarter 
section, though the principal part of the land u entirely 
suited to agriculture, and produces the best quality of crops 
of all kinds, and is not behind any of the other towns in the 
quantity produced. 

In the summer of 1859, sometime in June, considerable 
excitement was created in the settlement by the appear 
ance of a large brown bear in .their midst, which had made 
its way from the timber in the north-west part of the town, 
and was probably on an exploring expedition. The settlers 
turned out en masse to give him a cordial reception, and in 
lieu of a regular band of music greeted him with pitchforks 
and such other implements of warfare as could most readily 
be found, and after a weary march in which the people 
undertook to keep up with his bearship, one sturdy farmer 
poked his rifle through a fence within a short distance of 
Mr. Bruin, and gave him such a pressing invitation to tarry 
with them that he yielded to the importunity and "caved 

In 1856 a Mr. Colburn opened a store in the north-east 
"Corner of the town and christened the embryo city "Dodge 
City," but the country was so sparsely settled that he eon- 
eluded to sell out at once and not wait the slow process of 
retailing. A man by the name of 0. T. Jones was the 
purchaser, but kept the store but a short time, when he 
found that "the thing wouldn't pay," and as that is the mo- 
tive power of all westerners he concluded to close up. This 
•was the downfall of all the hopes of the enterprising citi- 
zens of Dodge City, some three or four families. 

The town of Merton is in the north-east corner of Steele 
county, comprises thirty-six full sections of land, of an av- 
erage quality, and is devoted especially to agricultural pur- 
suits. There are at the present time no stores, hotels, 
blacksmith shops, or carpenter shops, and thus far the peo- 

78 filSTOilY of 

pie have kept "wliisky shops out of their midst, and arie coil- 
sequently contented and happy, and growing rich upon the 
produce of their farms. 


Berlin is the south-west town of Steele eouniy. It was 
first settled in July. 1856, the first settlers being William 
Shay, 0. V. Brown, Hiram Pitcher, Levi Chase, Thomas 
McCormick, Robert Reynolds. H. S. Howen, Enfin Enfin- 
son, Joseph Gordon. D. T. Gordon, Marshall Wairen, and 
a Mr. Winchell, who all settled near the center of the town, 
and within a few weeks of each other. Berlin is consider- 
ed one of the finest agricultural towns in the State, and not 
excelled by any for the beauty of its natural scenery. 
Near the center of the town is Beaver Lake, a perfect jem 
of beauty, with water clear as crystal and clear sand bot- 
tom. It is the favorite resort of bathers for many miles 

The first birth in this town was that of Fred. Brown, a 
son of C. V. Brown, in January, 1857. In December, 1859, 
Mrs. Joseph Gordon died, which was the first death of a 
white person that occurred in the town. 

The first marriage was celebrated in the spring of 1857, 
the parties being Mr. J. 0. Culver and Miss Jane Gordon. 
The ceremony was performed by Hiram Pitcher, a Justice 
of the Peace. This being the first time the justice had 
performed the ceremony he varied a little from the usual 
form, and the groom was laade to promise to obey the bride 
instead of the bride obeying the groom. 

A post office, called Adamsville, was established in 1856, 
and Hiram Pitcher appointed postmaster. He also carried 
the mail from Owatonna, generally on foot, and in winter 
on snow shoes. 

The first school taught in Berlin was in the winter ol 


1857-8, in a deserted claim shanty, by Mr. Dwight T. Gor- 
don. The first religious service was held at the residence 
of Levi Chase, in the fall of 1856, when prayer meetings 
and a Sabbath school was established. In the fall of 1857 
Rev. Mr. Kirkpatrick and Rev. S. N. Phelps commenced 
preaching on alternate Sabbaths. The first ground*broken 
for a crop was done by Levi Chase, in the summer of 1856, 
and the second marriage in the town was in August, 1857, 
when Mr. Chase gave his daughter, Sarah A. Chase, to the 
keeping of Mr. Ashbel Ingerson, the Rev. Mr. Chapin rat- 
ifying the contract by performing the usual ceremony. 
There are now in the town three school houses, and one 
blacksmith shop, operated by Geo. Goodrich. 


In June, 1856, G. W. Knapp, with his family, located in 
the town of Summit, which is the center town of the 
southern tier, be;ng flanked on the east by Oak Glen, and 
on the west by Berlin, with Somerset on the north, and 
Freeborn county on the south. The northwest corner of 
the town has considerable timber ; suflScient to supply the 
balance of the town with all necessary fuel and fencing. 
A branch of the Straight river runs across the northwest 
corner, in a northeasterly direction, while another branch, 
taking its rise in a little lake lying partly in the town of 
Oak Glen, flows in a northwesterly course across the entire 
town, making an abundant supply of water for stock. The 
land is somewhat rolling, of a light but very productive 
soil, of about the same nature of that in other portions of 
the county. No watfer power in the town, that is available 
for the purpose of driving machinery. 

When Mr. Knapp made his claim, he immediately 
pitched his tent, which he carried with him, and Mrs. 
Knapp went at once to "housekeeping," two straw beds 


occupying nearly all the tent, but by putting one on top of 
the other in the daytime, a little room was left for standing 
or sitting down. The cooking and all other work was done 
in the open air in front of the tent. 

One stormy night, soon after their arrival, they had five 
guests to accommodate with lodgings, and of course only 
one bed for the five ; but necessity knows no law, and no 
bounds, and they all undertook to sleep in the tent, each 
pre-empting as much of the bed as would answer for a pil- 
low, and so much more as by dint of crowding he could 
obtain possession of. Yet all found themselves pretty thor- 
oughly wetted, before morning, in consequence of the nu- 
merous ejectments that each had received from under the 

Mr. Kndrpp lived in his tent only a few weeks, when he 
built a log house and removed his family to somewhat 
more ample accommodations. John Bennett built a house 
very soon after the completion of Mr. Knapp's. There 
were also several families moved into the southern part of 
the town that fall. 

The first birth in the town was that of Adelbert Heath, 
son of Roswell Heath, in 1857. The fir^ marriage took 
place in December, 1858, the parties being Benjamin 
Wheeler and Miss Delia Fredenburgh. The first death 
occurred in 1860, Mrs. Delora Fredenburgh, wife of Jere- 
miah Fredenburgh, being the first to pass from this to the 
thither shore of the dark river. 

The town was organized at the same time as nearly all 
the other towns of the county — the 11th of May, 1858. 


Dover is one of the eastern tier of towns ; bounded on 
the north by Mertou, on the east by Dodge county, south 
by Aurora, and west by Owatonna. 


The first settlement was made in 1855 by Chas. McCarty, 
Wm. Burns, Wm. Close, and Robert Adair, George Dennis, 
Newton Parker, and D. C. Tiffany came in 1856. All 
commenced farming operations and built tbem houses to 
shelter their families. 

The first birth that occurred in Dover was that of John 
Adair, a son to Robert Adair, in 1855, the same fall of the 
arrival of the family in town. The first death was that of 
Mrs. Newton Parker, in November, 1856. The funeral 
sermon was preached by Rev. Mr. Wetzel, which, it is be- 
lieved was the first religious service in the township. The 
first matrimonial venture was entered into by Mr. Frank 
Hickock and Miss Elizabeth McOaslin, in the fall of 1857 ; 
D. 0. Tiff'any, a Justice of the Peace, and took due ac- 
knowledgment of the contract. The first school was taught 
in the summer of 1857 by Miss Elizabeth McCaslin, now 
Mrs. Frank IJickock. 

Little of interest transpired within the limits of the town 
other than the usual round of seed time and harvest, and 
the labors consequent thereon. Hard times came to the 
pioneers occasionally, but with an unflinching determina 
tion to succeed they persevered and grasped each opportu- 
nity till success was the result. The Winona & St. Peter 
railroad runs thi'ough the town from east to west, the near- 
est station being Claremont on the east and Owatonna on 
the west. It is mostly a good agricultural district, though 
some portions are rather wet and swampy. There are no 
stores or shops in the town. 


The town of Aurora lies in the eastern tier of towns, and 
is bounded on the north by Dover, east by Dodge county, 
south by Oak Glen, and west by Owatonna. The first set- 
tlement dates back to June of 1856, at which time Oapt. J. 


M. Ball, now a resident of Winona, A. B. Clark, G. W. 
Grimsliaw, and Charles Adsit, made claims and commenced 
farming operations. Soon after their arrival Amos Coggs- 
weil, Steven A. Sargent, Harvey Eastman, Oscar King and 
a Mr. Perham put in an appearance and laid claim to a 
ehare of the soil of Steele county, and commenced at once 
preparing to receive a return for their investments and la- 
bor, and the ever generous soil repaid them without stint 
of measure for their care and trouble. 

About one fourth of the land in this township is marsh 
land which in dry seasons affords the best of hay for stock, 
yet is nearly unavailable in very wet seasons, as the county 
has not yet become so thickly settled up as to pay the ex- 
pense of draining. The soil of the marshes is of a deep 
and very rich alluvial deposit, which, when drained, will 
probably prove the most productive of any of the lands in 
the county. The other three-fourths of the town is com- 
posed chiefly of oak openings, with here and there fine 
patches of prairie land, with gently undulating surface, suf- 
ficiently so to make it of easy tillage. 

The Milwaukee, St. Paul & Minneapolis Railroad runs 
through the entire length of the town and has a depot near 
the centre, making it an easy and convenient point for the 
shipment of wheat and other products. The town contains 
no stores or hotels ; has two school houses and one black- 
smith shop, which latter has been put into operation the 
present season by H. H. Richards. This shop is near the 
depot and at present the only building in the vicinity. 

The first white child that was a native of this town was 
Miss Helen Coggswell, daughter of Hon. Amos Coggswell; 
who was born on the 6th day of March, 1857. Joseph 
Branning and Miss Laura Pettie were the first to start o^ 
a trial trip in the matrimonial life-boat. Mrs. Steven A. 
Sargent first passed through the dark valley and embarked 


upon the ever-flowing river of returnless tide, on the 1st ۤ 
September, 1856. The funeral services were conducted bj 
Rev. Harvey Chapin, which was the first religious service- 
in the town. 

The first school was taught in the summer of 1858, in & 
log school house, near Mr. Coggswell's, by Miss Jane Ar- 
nold, now Mrs. W. Odell, of Owatonna. Nearly all the 
religious denominations are more or less represented, thougb 
the Lutherans are the most numerous. There are no^^ 
church buildings and only occasional religious services. The. 
people are energetic and enterprising farmers who have- 
never yet allowed a whisky shop to be established within 
the limits of the town. 

The 11th day of May, 1858, it first had an existence as 
an organized town, when the people elected their to^VM of- 
ficers to run the official machinery. Aurora has been twice 
represented in the Minnesota Legislature, by George W. 
Pettie and Amos Coggswell, the latter of whom was chosen- 
speaker of the House of Kepseseniatives. 


The organization of Oak Glen as a town did not trans- 
pire until 1867, it having previous to this time been at- 
tached to the town of Aurora for all business purposes. 
At the time of the organization, Cyrenus Pettit was elected 
Chairman of Supervisors, and A. J. Snyder Town Clerk. 
There has been but one election since, at which time J. C. 
Carey was elected Chairman of Supervisors, and Mr. A. J. 
Snyder re-elected Town Clerk. The soil is about the same 
as found in other parts of the county, though there is con- 
siderabla marshfland in some parts of the town — probably • 
not more than two or three sections in all. 

The town derives its name from a deep glen, in which is 
a little lake surrounded by a heavy growth of oak. . There 


are three of these lakes, one covering somewhat over a sec- 
tion of land, and each of the other two about 100 acres. 
About one-third of the town, in the north-west portion, is 
covered with scattering oak, or oak openings, while the 
balance is rolling prairie or marsh. 

"Wheat is the staple production in this as in all the other 
towns, and in fact nearly all over Minnesota. Mr. Geo. 
M. Topliff has a hop garden of some five or six acres, on 
which he is trying the experiment of hop-raising. He has 
also discovered a valuable peat bed, some three miles west 
of the little village of Blooming Prairie, which is said to 
be of as good quality as any found in any country. Mr. 
Topliff has tested the quality to the depth of about eight 
feet, and finds it better at that depth than nearer the 

The town was first settled in 1857, by David Bagley, 
Thos. Bray, Levi Annis, J. J. Brackett, and Ira Foster, 
near what is called the Oak Glen station on the stage route 
from Owatonna to Austin. The first birth occurred in the 
year 1859, James Bray, a son of Thos. Bray. The first 
marriage was celebrated in 1860, between Mr. Ira Foster 
■and a widow lady named Scott. The first ^school was 
taught in 1861, by Miss Hattie Lay ton, now Mrs. Joseph 
Carey. In 1860, the United Brethren held religious ser- 
vice, which is supposed to have been the first in this town- 
•ship. The Methodists and Baptists have occasional services 
in the school houses, but no denomination has any church 

In 1867, when the Milwaukee, St. Paul and Minneapolis 
Tlailroad was put in operation, a station was made in the 
southern part of Oak Glen, called Blooming Prairie, which 
has attracted considerable business, and there are now 
some fifteen or twenty dwellings, and two stores, one kept 
by Charles Gardiner and the other by Sprout & Knudson. 


The first stock of goods brought into the place was by Capt. 
A. C. Hawley, who opened and exposed them for sale 
in a tent, but soon thereafter removed to a room in the 
railroad grain warehouse, and in January, 18G8, sold the 
entire stock to Mr. Charles Gardiner. Messrs. Sterling & 
Searles established a lumber yard in the fall of 1867. A 
blacksmith shop was also put in operation by Chas. Hart- 
ley. Mr. Jacob Noteman was established as station agent, 
by the Kailroad Company, and D.|Higley as telegraph oper- 
ator. A meat market and general provision store is just 
being established by Thos. O'Neil. Christopher Baldhardt 
opened the first hotel in the fall of 1867. 

The country about the station is being rapidly developed 
into farms. This year, Selah Chamberlain and D. C- Shep- 
ard are opening up an extensive farm, and having several 
hundred acres broken and fitted for wheat the next season. 
Others are breaking smaller tracts, and business is growing 


About the middle of May, 1854, Wm. F. Pettit, Geo. F. 
Pettit. A. B. Cornell, and F. Wilbur Fisk, left Sparta, in 
Wisconsin, for a visit to the far-famed prairies of Minneso- 
ta. Geo. F. Pettit had been at Faribault some time pre- 
vious, and made such a glowing report of the country that 
those who had families took them along, determined to 
make their homes on the sunset side of the Mississippi. 
Seven wagon loads of people, furniture, supplies, &c., set 
out and were four weeks in reaching Faribault. A long 
journey, attended with toil, discomfort and fatigue,- and one 
that none but strong, brave hearts would undertake and 
successfully accomplish. 

Geo. F. Pettit settled at Faribault, F. W. Fisk on East 
Prairie, and Wm. F. Pettit and A. B. Cornell located on. 


tlie present site of the city of Owatonna. Mr. Cornell 
made his claim on the east side of the river and Mr. Pettit 
on the west side, being the farm recently owned by Judge 
Donaldson. Mr. Cornell built a somewhat primitive dwell- 
ing, which was constructed of poles covered with prairie 
grass, but it was sufficient to protect them from the storm 
and the scorching rays of the sun, and they were all con- 
tented to wait patiently till a more commodious house 
could be erected. This was the first residence and|the first 
building in Owatonna. Mr. Cornell soon commenced the 
•erection of the log house, (now standing just north of the 
■bridge,) and had the logs raised ready to put on the roof 
when he sold his claim to Mr. Pettit, who had disposed of 
iiis own on the west side of the river to a Mr. Crehore, now 
■of Chicago. Sometime in August Mr. Pettit had contract- 
'■ed with Cornell to build a house for him, similar to the one 
iie was building for himself, but when he purchased of Cor- 
nell his claim, the contract was annulled and another made 
that he should finish the one already commenced. "We 
give the contract in full, as it is probably the first one ever 
made in the county, which is as follows : 

''It is agreed by and between William F. Pettit and A. 
B. Cornell that A. B. Cornell shall, previous to the 20th 
day of October next, build for said Pettit a log dwelling 
5iouse, on the foundation said Pettit has already commenc- 
ed ; said house to be twenty-two feet long and eighteen 
feet wide, puncheon floor below, two doors and five win- 
dows, shingled roof, logs hewn inside up to beams and 
ffliudded on the outside ; also, a cellar, fourteen feet by 
•eighteen, dug so as to be six feet from bottom to sleepers ; 
isaid house to be one and a half stories high and put up 
-similar to said Cornell's, and the said Pettit is to furnish 
all nails, glass, sash, putty, and lumber for doors and the 
upper floor so as not to delay said job, and to pay for said 
r. 'building seventy-five dollars. 

"W. F. Pettit, 
^'August 3d, 1854. A. B. Cornell." 


The first track made across the prairies is the pioneer of 
civilization and the fore-runner, generally, of a crowd of 
immigration, and this was no exception to the general rule. 
Others followed the lead of Messrs. Pettit and Cornell, and 
several houses were built that fall. Hon. G. W. Green, of 
Beaver Bam, in Wisconsin, built the house now occupied by- 
Mr. Hanks, the raising of wliich was accomplished on the 
2nd of October, all the settlers in the vicinity assisting. 
In the winter following the log house now owned by Mr. 
Murray, just south of the railroad bridge, was built by 
Messrs. S. W. Park and S. B. Smith. Judge Green had 
not yet removed his family to this place and his house was 
occupied by John Dickering. 

Immigration was rapid and quite a settlement soon 
sprang up in this locality. Addison Phelps, David Lin- 
dersmith, B. L. Arnold, Obed Gains, Basil Meek, John 
Wilcox, P. P. Carlton and Nelson Morehouse built houses, 
and cast their fortunes with those of the young settlement. 
Mr. N. Winship commenced hauling the logs for a hotel, 
which was soon erected and opened for the accommodation 
of the ''traveling public." This was the first hotel built 
here, and is still standing and doing good service as the 
kitchen of the present Winship House. The summer of 
1855 made large additions to their numbers. In addition 
to those already mentioned there came this year Charles 
and John Ellison, L. B. Town, James Cole, and James Cor- 
nell, Rev. A. Town, P. Sanford and J. Wilson made claims 
and returned for their families. During this summer Mr. 
Pettit built the first frame house in the county ; the one 
now owned by Mr. Wm. H. Kelly, on the hill in the east- 
ern part of the city. Mr. Pettit was obliged to haul part 
of the pine lumber from Red Wing with which to complete 
the house, which cost him $107 per thousand, and the 
wainy-edged roof boards, procured at Faribault, cost $60 


per thousand. Such were the disadvantages under which 
the, pioneers had to labor. Sometimes, too, a little fear of 
what the Indians might do crept into their minds to disturb 
their tranquility, yet the Indians were at peace with the 
whites, and at that time considered them their best friends. 
But at times circumstances would occur to arouse the sus- 
picions of the people to a high pitch. As an instance of 
this we give the following incident : 

The first year of the settlement all the provisions and 
supplies of all kinds were brought from St. Paul, and at 
one time Mr. Cornell went with his team to that town to 
bring in a load "of provisions, &c., and was absent about a 
week, leaving Mrs. Cornell with only her children and a 
boy to keep her company. During his absence a party of 
Indians, a hundred or more, encamped for a time near 
Mr. Cornell's shanty. Yet they were very respectful and 
civil to the "white squaw," and did not venture into her 
house. One evening they gathered material and lighted 
huge bonfires a little back from the shanty, and commenced 
an Indian dance with all its wild accompaniments of songs 
and shoutfi, making night hideous with their antics and 
bowlings. Just at this time Mr. Cornell with his load 
reached the hill about two miles north of the town, and as 
he gained the summit he saw the flames of the fires and 
the dusky redskins dancing in the lurid glare of light. 
His wife and children ! Had they become victims to the * 
savage thirst for blood ? The thought came crashing 
through his brain with the rapidity of lightning. He did 
not stop long to gaze, but unhitching his team he stripped 
the harness from the fleetest horse and mounting him rode 
at the top of his speed, resolved to know the worst, and 
save his loved ones or perish with them. On reaching the 
ford his eyes were made glad at seeing his wife on the op- 
posite bank awaiting his return, who assured him that all 


were well and glad to see him returned as safe as they 
were. Thankful that he was the only one victimized, Mr. 
Cornell returned and got his load of provisions. 

In the summer of 1855 Mr. Pettit sold his claim to John 
H. Abbott, and bought soon after an undivided half of Mr. 
Cornell's claim lying immediately south of the one just 
sold. It required but little argument to get all parties in- 
terested in building up a first-class town, and as usual 
among western men, when they had once decided to do it, 
they went directly to work to accomplish the object. Roads 
and bridges for the purpose of communication with other 
sections of the country, were the first things to be attended 
to, and with willing hearts and stout hands they Went to 
work and opened up the roads, bridged the sluices and wa- 
ter courses, and soon had the satisfaction of knowing that 
at least an important thoroughfare was opened through 
their town. Mr» Cornell, with true western energy and 
perseverance, built a bridge across the Straight river, and 
travel was seemingly nearly constant. Not unfrequently 
were there from twenty to thirty or forty emigrant teams 
in the streets at one and the same time. Business flour- 
ished, and the high road to prosperity was opened and all 
seemed determined to travel therein. Every settler whose 
house was large enough to accommodate more than his ewn 
family had all the spare room ox^cupied with strangers and 
those seeking homes. A village was platted, streets and 
lots marked out and speculation in city property was very 
active. A newspaper was established, and it was a live, 
energetic paper, just suited to the occasion, and one that 
did its full share in developing the resources of the coun- 
try. In the spring of 1^56 Mr. Ezra Abbott built a steam 
saw mill, which was put into operation, and the building 
interests were greatly accelerated by this addition to the 
power and material. The common lumber for most of the 


new buildings was manufactured at this mill. In 1857 
Messrs Wm. F. Pettit, John H, Abbott and A. B. Cornell 
built a mill just above the town, intended for a grist mill; 
but the demand for lumber was so great that machinery 
for sawing was soon put in operation, and the building in- 
terests were materially enhanced thereby. Immigration 
to Minnesota that year was literally immense, and every 
available space was occupied for hotel room. At one time 
the log house of Mr. Winship accommodated, or at least 
contained, some fifty persons. In the fall of 1855 a post- 
office was established by the name of Owatonnia, from the 
Indian name of the river Ouitunya^ which in the Sioux di- 
alect signifies straight, as the general course of the river is 
straight, though in its meanderings one of the most serpen- 
tine to be found on the maps. The same name was given 
the town and the spelling corrected as now used, '"Owaton- 
na." In the winter the mail route was extended via Aus- 
tin and West Union in Iowa to Dubuque, and the mail car- 
ried by J. J. Bracket, of Lakeville. Previous to the es- 
tablishment of this route Mr. Pettit had put a line of daily 
stages in operation between Owatonna and Faribault for 
the purpose of bringing in all parties who were looking for 
locations. In September, Mr. Cornell and Mr. John H. 
Abbott laid out the town site, comprising 120 acres, about 
sixty acres on each of their claims. In November they 
went to Winona and pre-empted the land, and on the 26th 
of December filed the town plats in the office of Charles 
Ellison, Register of Deeds. 

In October of this year, J. W. Park and A. B. Smith 
built the log house now standing just north of the Winship 
House, on Oak street, and filled it with a stock of goods, 
which proved of great convenience to the settlers. A very 
respectable log school house was also built this fall, though a 
school had been taught the previous summer by Miss Helen 


Holbrook, a sister-in-law of P. P. Carlton, in, or rather un- 
der, a sort of bower made of poles and boughs of trees. 
Here on pleasant days the youth of the embryo city gath- 
ered together to take the initiatory steps in climbing the 
hill of science and mount the first rung of the ladder of 
fame. The old log school house performed a somewhat 
important part in the history of the place. Schools were 
held in it during all school terms ; each of the denomina- 
tions used it in turn as a house of worship. All the polit- 
ical meetings and elections were held there ; singing schools, 
lyceums and prayer meetings occupied the evenings, so 
that it was kept in almost constant use until it was remov- 
ed and its place supplied by the present second ward school 
house. The town proprietors donated about forty lots to 
those who would erect substantial and useful buildings. 
In April 1856, Messrs. Pettit, Abbott and Cornell bought 
of Messrs. Park and Smith five hundred acres of land lying 
on the north side of the town for $8,000. This has since 
been known as the "Five Hundred Acre Tract," the pur- 
chasers being determined that no stone should be left un- 
turned that would help build up the town. In the winter 
of 1855-6, B. L. Arnold built the Eureka House, the first 
frame hotel in the county, Mr. Adolphus Town built a 
small building on Bridge street and put in a stock of goods. 
In the fall of 1856 Nelson Morehouse built a saw-mill on 
the water power on the west bank of the river. Business 
really took long strides forward. In July of this year J. 
W. Morford and John Odell opened a store on Bridge 
street and somewhat later in the season. Dr. Harsha and 
Judge Donaldson, a drug and general provision store in the 
building now occupied by Harsha & Donaldson as a drug 
store ; A. N. Stoughton and D. Potwin on Main street. 
Philo Sandford built the American House, and Mr. Win- 
ship built an addition to his hotel. People became elated 


and real estate took an upward tendency, and transfers 
were of more than daily occurrence. 

The first death in the town of Owatonna was that of a 
Mr. Presburg, who had lived about a mile north of the vil- 
lage in the timber. This death occurred in 1856, and a 
clergyman passing through the town officiated at the fune- 
ral. Mr. Morford made a claim about three miles east of 
town, and adjoining that of his partner, Mr. Odell. He 
lived on his claim yet attended to his business in town, gen- 
erally going home each night when not detained too late 
by business. Whenever he was detained in town, Mrs. 
Morford would spend the night at Mr. Odell's. On one of 
these occasions, the 20th of November, 1856, Mrs. Morford 
having waited till somewhat late for her husband's return, 
started for her friend's house, which was distant about half 
a mile. After walking, as she thought, far enough to reach 
the house, she began to look about her, but could perceive 
no signs of the shanty. She wandered about for some 
time searching for the house, and finally concluded that 
she was lost on the prairie. But she did not despond, as 
she knew that she had not gone so far but daylight would 
set her all right again, and coming to a thicket she very 
philosophically wrapped her shawl around her and laid 
down to sleep. The weather being quite mild she enjoyed 
a good rest and awoke in the morning very much refreshed 
and started for home. Seeing a shanty she approached it, 
thinking she would make some inquiry as to her where- 
abouts. No one answering her repeated knocks she raised 
the latch and stepped in. Things looked strangely famil- 
iar to her, and upon a closer scrutiny she found she was in 
her own home that she had left the night previous ; but so 
completely bewildered had she become on the prairie, that 
she did not recognize the place till she had got inside and 
saw the familiar furniture. 



In July, 1857, the census of the county was taken by J. 
N. Kelly, Assistant U. S. Marshal, which showed a result 
as follows : 

watonna, 614 

Medford 440 

Union Prairie, now Mer- 

ton 236 

Lafayette, now Dover... .222 

Somerset, 207 

Meriden, 193 

Berlin, 193 

Deerfield, 192 

Aurora, 138 

Lemond, 96 

Summit, 45 

Oak Glen,. 22 

Total in county, 2598 

The following named gentlemen have served as Chair- 
man of Supervisors and Town Clerks : 

Town Clei'Jc. 
L. B. Town, 
W. R. Kinyon, 4 yrs, 
L. F. Babcock, 
A. M. Kinyon, 
T. C. S. Minthorn, 
Alson Selleck, 3 yrs. 

Chairman of Supervisors^ 
W. F. Pettit, 2 years, 
Geo. B. Hall, 3 years, 
John Odell, 
George W. Shaw, 
Gurdon Watson, 2 years, 
Daniel H. Bliss, 
J. B. Smith. 
For the year 1867, after the death of Daniel H. Bliss, 
J. B. Smith was appointed Chairman of Supervisors. 

At the session of the Legislature in 1855, a city charter 
was granted, and at the charter election held on the 4th 
day of April, the following officers were elected: Mayor, 
Geo. B. Hall ; City Justice, A. N. Stoughton, City Record- 
er, A. M. Kinyon ; Assessor, James M. Dresser ; Aldermen, 
W, H. Wilsey, J. A. Oppligar, and "Wm. Scruby for two 
years, and W. R. Kinyon, J. B. Crooker, and John Donald- 
son for one year. 

School Commissioners at large : Dr. D. Harsha and C. 
L. Tappan. 

Ward Commissioners : Seth Hotchkiss, A. Town, and D. 
B. Burch. 
Justices of the Peace foe the Wards: A." Chambers, J* 


P. Requa, Philo Bliss,. 

Constables : James Connell, Wm. Curtis, and J. B. Hooker; 

The officers appointed by the Board were : J. B. Hooker, 
City Treasurer ; J. B. Searles, Attorney; L. Bixby, Survey- 
or ; W. Wheaton, Marshal ; L. H. Kelly, Printer. 

The following persons have since been elected to office : 
Mayor, A. N. Stoughton, S. B. Washburn, J. W. Morford. 

City Recorder, A. M. Kinyon, C S. Crandall, I. W. 

City Treasurer, George B. Hall, Seth Hotchkiss. 

City Attorney, J. B. Searles, 4 years. 

Surveyor, L. Bixby, J. H. Abbott. 

City Justice, M. A. Dailey, C. C. Cornell, H. H. Johnson. 

City Marshall, M. J. Toher, J. B. Hooker. 

Owatonna has frequently been represented in the Legis- 
lature of the State and in other public positions. The 
members of the Legislature from this town have been H. 
M. Sheetz, Wm. F. Pettit, J. B. Crooker, and W. R. Kin- 
yon. Wm. F. Pettit and M. A. Daily, have been elected 
to the State Senate. Hon. N. M. Donaldson has occupied 
the bench in that judicial district since its organization. 
Hon. M. H. Dunnell, the present State Superintendent of 
public schools, is also a resident of Qwatonna. 

The city contains at the present time a population of 
nearly 3,000 and a business represented as will be seen in 
the Business Directory. 


OTvatonna Business I>irectory. 


M A Dailey, Main street, 
J J Aiken, Bridge street, 
N. M, Donaldson, District Judge, east 
side public square. 

A A Harwood, Main street, 
Searles & Hickman, Central Block, 
Delos Higbee, Cedar street, 
Kinyon & Wheelock, Bridge street, 

Lowtb, Howe & Co.. Cedar street, I G W Payne & Co., Cedar street, 
Allen & Dearborn, Cedar street, J E Buxton, Broadway. 

Fisk & Medal, Cedar street. | 

Chase Brothers, Cedar street, I Q. F, Albertus, Bridge Street, 

Lord Bros. & Co , Cedar street, | J. Lornegan, Bridge street. 

Cooper Bros., Cedar eireet, I Frank Yaneck, Cedar street, 

Morford, Willsey & Co., Central Block | J E Griggs, Cedar street. 

C E Seaton, Bridge street. 

Eaeton & Kinyon, Bridge street, | S Mills, Jr. & Co., Main Street. 

Jerry Pope, Broadway, I Louis Teabean, Cedar street. 

J A Pierce, cor Broadway and cedar | 


Mrs J G Cochran, Broadway, I M J Whiteis, Main street. 

George Chapman, near depot, | 

P H Cooper, Oak street, I Hiram Cartwright, Cedar street,^ 

N S Quiggle, Oak street, I Sherman, Vine street, 

P Schuster. Bridge street, I King, Broadway. 

C Hanson, Bridge street, 
Mace & Co., Bridge street, 



J G A Denerline, Cedar street. 
Friend & Newsalt, Bridge street 
G F Albertus, Bridge street, 
SouleBros., Bridge street, 
Armstrong & Cotrell, Central Block, 

Peter Hanson, Bridge street. 


J E Griir^s, Cedar street. 
Marble ite Co., Cedar street, 
Lord Bros. & Co., Cedar street. 
Cooper Bros., Cedar street. 

Lord Bros. & Co., Cedar street. 
Cooper Bros., Cedar street. 
Arnston & Connell, Cedar street. 
Morford, Willsey & Co., Central Block 
Armstrong & Cottrell, Central Block. 

Siebold (feHortsman, Broadway, 
Soule Bros., Bridge street, 
L Andrews, Bridge street, 
G F Albertus, Bridge street, 
Jo. Wilson, Broadway. 


G H Cole, Bridge street. • 

Harsha & Donaldson, Bridge street, I Bennett & Hubbard, Central Block, 
L Bixby, Bridge street, | 

B R. Eating House, C F McNamara, I Mrs. Cochrane, Broadway, 
^epot, I W C Bosworth, near depot, 

Mitchell Bros., Cedar street, 1 George Chapman, near depot, 

Hiram Cartwright, Cedar street, | M Lont, near depot. 

C C Cornell, near the bridge, 

Merchant's Union and American, Main street. 

J F Hanna, Main street, I Charles Schoen, Bridge street. 

H «fc J Hickos, Cedar street, | 

Farmer Bros, Bridge street, I T J Clark, Cedar street, 

Kelly & Tyler, Main street, | Arnston & Connely, Cedar street. 

Marble & Co., Cedar street, | Newton & Gross. 

J. P. Requa, Cedar street, | 

Lowth, Howe & Co., Cedar street. 


Armstrong & Cottrell, Central Block 
Arnston & Connelly, Cedar street, 
Cooper Bros., Cedar street. 
Lord Bros. & Co., Cedar street. 
T J Clark, Cedar street, 
Wm. Cleator, Cedar street, 
J Chambers, Cedar street, 
H Cartwright, Cedar street. 

Kelley & Tyler, Bridge street, 

S S Russell, Bridge street, 

Soule Bros., Bridge street, 

G F Albertns, Bridge street, 

Joos & Boll, Bridge street, 

L Andrews, Bridge street. 

Siebold & Hortsman, Broadway, 

Morford, Willsey & Co., Central Block 

Cottrell & Ilunkins, Central Block, I Thomas & White, Cedar street, 
J E Buxton, Broadway, I E Y Hunniwell, Bridge street. 

O M Hammond, Cedar street, I A Bnrch, Main Street, 

O A Albee, Bridge street, [ 

Winship House, cor. Oak and Main, I Arnold House, Vine street. 
Barker's Exchange, north of Public | Scandinavian Hotel, Cedar street. 
Square, I Steele Centre House, Cedar street 

National Hotel, Elm st., near depot, Tilden House, near depot. 
American House, Broadway, | Owatonna llou.«e. Bridge street. 

W Holt, Nor;li Cedar street, 

Ezra Abbott, Central Block, I J Hough, Bridge street, 

J P Young, Bridge street, | 

Crooker, Bros. & Lamareaux, near de- 1 Backus Bros., Cedar street, 

pot, s^^terling & Searles, Cedar street, 

S B Washburn, Cedar street, | Dean & Co., Cedar street, 

Twist & Christie, Vine street, | V/ Hastings, Broadway. 


atrg. L H Kelly, north side Pub Square I Mrs. W Holt, Cedar street, 
Mrs. Magoon, Broadway, Mrs. M J. Myrick, Bridge street, 

Mrs. White, Bridge street, I 

J A Oppligar A Co., Bridge street, I Truax & Savage, cor. Pearl & Cedar, 
Kowietz & Riedon, Bridge street, | 

W W Ware, Cedar street, I L L Bennet, Central Block, 

B M Morehouse, Bridge street, | D Bodle, Vine street, 

L H Kelly, north side Public Square. I D S Harsha, Bridge street, 

Blood, School street, I J G Gilchrist, 

G W Chesley, Cedar street, I A F Simons, Bridge street, 

Mrs J P Briggg, Main street, | 


Hall.Beors & Co., Main street, | , Oak street. 

liamonte Gilbert, Elm street, | 

W H Kelley, Bridge street. I Ezra Abbott, Central Block, 

B F Melvin, Main street, Searles & Hickman, Central Bl(»ck, 

John H Abbott, Barker House, | Kinyon & Wheelock, Bridge street, 

J QA Dennerline, Cedar street, I Christopher Pahriess, Bridge street, 

John Cottier, Bridge Street, | D B Marble & Co., Cedar street, 

A H Lee, Operator at M. St. P. & M. Depot, 
G H Merrill, Operator at W. & St. P. Depot. 

P Schuster, Bridge street, I — - Brown, Oak street, 
Sherman & Brown, Oak street. | King, Broadway. .^ 



Bridge Street, - - Owatonna, Minnesota. 

Br. Cole having had many years' experience in the art 
and practice of Dentistry, feels confident that he can 
safely assure the public that his work will com- 
pare favorably with the work of other first- 
class dentists either east or west, and far 
superior to that of itenerant quacks 
who can only obtain business 
by traveling from place 
to place. 
A first claijs dentist seldom travels about the country seek- 
ing work, but remains and establishes himself 
where his work will speak for him. 

HardHuTDlDer or Vulcanite Used for Plates, 

which is much preferable to gold or platina, and closely 
resembles nature in appearance; 

Particiular Attention Given to Cleaning, Extracting and 
Filling Teeth. 

Irregularity of Teeth Treated with the Greatest Success. 

♦- »i ^ .» » 

Persons from a distance allowed $1 per day for board while 
being detained for the manufacture of artificial teeth. 

l>r. Cole Acknowledges no Superior in the Quality of 
His Workmanship, 



D. S. Harsha, D. B. Marble, N. Winship, 

A. B. Webber, SouleBros., Lord Bros. 



C L O T S: I IsT (3- , 



a. # i. mmmmm 

Are offering for sale and inspection, at their rooms on. 
Oeclar Street, 0>vatonna, 

a new stock of 

Chairs and Bedsteads, 

miM. Ill €OMliOI lOllGlS, 

Hair and Sea Grass Mattrasses, 



OofiiL Waiilomie & Wmiertakess. 

Our stock is new, and is not surpassed for finish or qual- 
ity in Owatonna, and we will sell as cheap as any establish- 


^ 7ft 





Q '^ til 

» ^ g 

Q B' I 








I — I 






Largest and Best Arranged Gallery in Minn, 

4 il&VlE M1B4^. 


Bm wmBT wmsmmmB 

weye awarded this Gallery at the laet State Fair. 

Tiie Largest Pictures in the West!: 

Steam Furniture Manufactory 

I. W. H4 



Manufacturer and Wholesale and Retail Dealer in 

of every description, including 

lounges, Bedsteads, Chairs, Tables, Bureaus, 

Parlor Setts, Picture Frames, 

Mouldings, Cabinet-Ware, Wash-Stands, 

We manufacture all our goods and can therefore war* 
rant them to be such as are recommended. We use 


In all our manufactures, and employ none but first-class 

workmen. Our facilities for obtaining material 

are such that, with the advantages of 

improved machinery, we can 

Sell at Yery Modeifate FxleesI 

Call on us for anything in the line of Furniture or Cabinet 
Ware, and we will fill your orders on short notice. 

Coffins of All Kinds on Hand or Furnished to Order. 

,ml Istatt Brtktr 


Office— ]Vo. 11, Bridge St„ O^vatonna. 


HOME, of New York, HARTFOED, of Hartford, Conn., 

HOME, of New Haven, UNDERWEITERS, of NEW York, 


T. H. Kelly. E. A. Tyker. 



Flotir, F'eed, Ace. 

"*'•*• 11 BRIDGE STREET, 


MBW ®©®BSt 


MRS. 1m. H. KELLiY 

has a large and very select stock of 



received direct from the eastern market, 


which will be sold 

Cheaper than Ever Before Sold in this Market. 

My stock has been selected with great care as to quality 
and neatness of styles. Hats 50 cents and up- 
wards, and other things in proportion. 

MEEiMiramg m wmm mommwrnw 

Will find it to their advantage to call and examine prioes 

whenever they wish to replenish their stocks, as a 

suitable deduction will be made to dealers. 


Bxess and Cloak Maklag 

done with exquieite taete. 

iM^ies in the city and country are solicited to C€iU 
and examine styles, quality and prices, 

Store on Broadway, North Side of Pohllc Square. 



®1¥ «##©§! 



Osoekesy and Oaiswaxe, 


and a general assortment and full stock of all goods in their 


D. B. MAEBLE & CO., 



Cloths, Cassimeres, Vestings, Hats, Caps, 

6«At8' fmzmlshlBg Soots, &e. 



N. B.-We will not be undersold. 

S. nMILLS, Jr. Ac Co., 


B A N K K R S . 

Corner Main St. and Public Squabe, 



Exchange, Specie and U. S. Securities. 

All Business Pertaining to Banking Promptly Transacted, 
calls the attention of the public to the advantages of the 

Pioneer Livery Stable ! 

over all others in this vicinity, and assures all that at hia 

ejitablishment can be found everything in the line of 

carriages that is convenient and comfortable, 

He always keeps the 

Best Horses and Carriages! 

and attentive and obliging ostlers and drivers. 

Persons wanting a "drive about town," or a trip into the 

country, either on pleasure or busiaess, will find it to 

their interest to call and procure one of the 

as he challenges the State to produce neater or more com- 
fortable "turnouts" than he does. 

Stable on Broadway, North Side of Public Square, 

Hoop Skirt Manufactory 

Millinery and Ladies' Furnishing Goods. 



has opened a store for the sale of 

Millinery, Ladies' and Children's Furnishing Goods, 


where the same will be made to order or repaired in the best manner, 


done in fine style and agreeable to the latest patterns. 


store in ConneU's new building, Cedar Street, 


Pbolofrapb fialleryl 




Cedar Street, OWATONNA, MINN.' 



Gloves, Mittens, and Gents' Hosiery. 


OEivxs' nnvE calf 

Sewed and Pegged Boots and Shoes! 

Also, Bepairiiig Neatly and Promptly Executed. 



The Boston Hatter, still keeps the best stock of 

to l>e found in S'outhern Minnesota, which he is willing to sell either at 


at prices which will discourage people from going further to buy goods. 

TbeOnly Genuine Hat Hanafaetarersin Southern Uinnesota 
All Kinds Made to Order on Short Notice, 

^ Send orders to THOMAS G ARROL, 





Higtoie'e Buildiixg, Cedar Street, 


Importers and Jobbers 




All Orders from Dealers Promptly Attended to. 




i^^" Prescriptions Carefully Compounded, "^a 
Xo. IT, Morehouse Block, Bridge Street, 


arniss, Collars, 


Livery and Exchange Stable. 


TWIST & CHRISTIE, Proprietors, 

The Best of Everything Inthejr Line Furnished at Short Notice 
and on Reasonable Terws. 

John S. Ricker. R. P. Ober. J. M. Crombie. 

EICKBE, OBER & Co., • 

itlisali feictrsl 

287, 289 and 291 East Water Street, 
J E R R "Y^ pId P^, 

. — .^^^ 

Will Attend to all Calls in His Profession in the Best Style of the 

Tonsorial Art. 

Particular attention given to shampooning and dressing ladies' hair. 

Dr. W. W. FINCH, Proprietor. 

A general assortment of 
and everything usually kept in a country store, 

Olinton IT" alls, IbdZinnesota. 


J. W. GREEN, Proprietor. 

Custom Grinding Done Promptly and Satisfactorilv, 
LUMBER, of Bssswood, Maple, Oak and Poplar, 

always on hand, cheap. 

Livery and Sale Stable! 

Washington Avenue, Minneapolis, Minn. 

Keep constantly on hand a First Class Stock of 

Strict Attention Given to Buying and Selling Stock, 





Spectacles, Violin Strings, (fcc, &c. 

Eepairing Promptly Done andWarranted-Engraving Neatly Executed 

No. 13, Morehouse Block, Bridge Street, 

arktr's licliigtl 

0. WALBRIDGE, Proprietor. 


Omnibus to and from the Cars. 

AUmm%j ami Otmniillti at law 



Office with Register of Deeds, 


f . We l¥iaRAiti, ~~. 


SpeechcB, Lectures, Sermons, &c., reported promptly and correctly. All 
orders promptly attended to, and satisfaction given. 

at the 0. K. Barber Shop. 

0, M. Anderson. W. W. Mayo. 

AlBEMi®! ^ ffi4¥@), 




S©®H®S®Bm» «.^ ■ MIirM®S@®<4, 


Physicians and Dealers from the country will 
find it to their interest to call and exam- 
ine our stock. 





Shingles, Flooring, Fencing, 


(rraia Warehouse in connection with the yard, and the 





DOORS, BLINDS, (\fce. 

Which Will be Sold as Reasonable as any in the Market. 


Office Near Depot. OWATONNA, MINN. 








Are daily receiving Goods of the latest and most fash- 
ionable patterns and styles, that will please the eye of the 
most fastidious, and at prices to suit the times. 






And a full assovtiuput of 

lllf^i fUllISHlSS iiiliv