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History of Goodhue County, Minnesota online

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HISTORY OF



Goodhue County

MINNESOTA



ILLUSTRATED



EDITOR IN CHIEF

FRANKLYN CURTISS-WEDGE

ASSISTED BY

W. M. Sweney, M. D.; Jens K. Grondahl; C. A. Rasmussen; Julius

Boraas, M. L.; F. W. Kalfahs; Edward W. Schmidt, M. A.;

Mrs. Julia B. Nelson; E. Norelius, D. D.; George C.

Wellner, M. D.; John C. Applegate; Ralph W.

Holmes; Dwight C. Pierce; Henry Hal-

vorson; Rev. James H. Gaughan;

Henry R. Cobb; Edgar F.

Davis and many others



CHICAGO
H. C. COOPER, JR., & CO.

1909



THE NEW YORK
PUBLIC LIBRARY

376354B

AOTOR, LENOX AND

TJLDBN rOL'NDATIONg

B 1946 L



TO THE

STUKDY PIONEEBS OF GOODHUE COUNTY

WHO, AMID INNUMEEABLE HAEDSHIPS, BLAZED THE WAY FOE

THE PRESENT GENERATIONS,

AND TO THEIE

DESCENDANTS AND SUCCESSOES

THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED

BY ALL WHO HAVE ASSISTED IN ITS CONSTEUCTION.



PREFACE



It is with a feeling of considerable pride and pleasure that the
publishers present this history for the approval of the people of
Goodhue county. The undertaking has not been an easy one and
the difficulties have been many, so many indeed that this work
would not have been possible without the liberal assistance of
the citizens of the county. The chief contributors have given
freely of their time and talent ; business men. church officials, fra-
ternity and association officers, manufacturers, professional men
and bankers, often at great personal sacrifice, have laid aside
their regular duties to write of their communities and special in-
terests; educators have written of the schools, and men and
women of all walks of life have willingly given all the information
at their command regarding themselves, their families, their inter-
ests and their localities. To all of these the readers of this work
owe a lasting debt of gratitude and to each and every one the
publishers extend their heartfelt thanks.

The principal contributors are mentioned on the title page. Of
these. W, M. Sweney, M. D.. Jens K. Grondahl, C. A. Rasmussen,
Julius Boraas, M. L., George C. Wellner, M. D., and others, aside
from contributing chapters have generously given assistance in
the general construction of the book. Many others have offered
suggestions and some contributions have been made by those to
whom credit is not given either in the body of the book or on
the title page. The writings left by Col. William Colvill, Col.
Hans Mattson, S. J. Willard, Dr. W. W. Sweney, Judge E. T.
"Wilder and others, have been freely drawn upon.

In planning for this work the publishers hoped to prepare a
narrative which should tell the story of this rich and prosperous
county from the time when it first became a geologic reality,
through the years when the first explorers pushed their way up
the river and into the wilderness, down to the present time when
cities and villages dot the landscape and comfortable homes and
fertile farms are seen on nearly every quarter section.

In handling the vast amount of material gathered for this
work it has been the aim of the entire staff to select such matter
as is authentic, reliable and interesting. Doubtless facts have
been included that many will deem of little moment, but these
same facts to others may be of the deepest import. It may be,
also, that some facts have been omitted that many of the readers
would like to see included. To such readers we can only say that
to publish every incident of the life of the county would be to
issue a work of many volumes, and in choosing such material as
would come within the limits of one volume, we believe that the

vii



viii PREFACE

matter selected is that which will prove of greatest interest to the
greatest number of readers, and also that which is most worthy
of being handed down to future generations, who in this volume,
in far distant years may read of their large-souled, rugged-bodied
ancestors and predecessors who gave up the settled peace of older
communities to brave the rigors of pioneer endeavor.

A few omissions may be due to the dereliction of some of the
people of this county themselves, as in some instances, fortunately
few, repeated requests for information has met with no response.
In such cases, information gathered from other sources, though
authentic, may have lacked copious detail.

In spelling, it has been the endeavor of the publishers to follow
the generally accepted forms, with the exception of the word
"Wacoota," in which case the publishers have chosen to follow
the English spelling rather than the French rendition of
" Wacouta."

Before passing hasty judgment on apparent errors, one should
consider carefully, not relying on tradition or memory. In
many cases we have found that persons' memories are faulty
and tradition erronious. when measured by the standard of of-
ficial records, even in the case of comparatively recent events,
while in many instances families are under the impression that
their forebears arrived in the county long before it was possible
for them to do so. In such cases, we have found it advisable to
follow the records. Ah instance of faulty tradition is the some-
what extensively accepted story that Barn Bluff is named from
a man named Barnes when as a matter of fact Barn is merely
the English form of La Grange, the cognomen applied to the
bluff by the earliest French explorers on account of its fancied
resemblance to the common type of small barn in the old coun-
try. The name Barn is used by Pike in 1806, long before any
man named Barnes could have settled at its base.

The publishers are indebted to the files of the Red Wing "Re-
publican," which have been carefully perused and liberally
copied; to the county, village and city, records, and to the min-
utes of various corporations and societies. In this connection it
is but just that thanks should be extended to those courteous
gentlemen who have these records, files and books in charge and
who have freely assisted the editors in their researches. Other
books consulted and in many instances quoted are : The History
of Goodhue County, published in 1879; J. W. Hancock's History
of Goodhue County: W. H. Mitchell's Geographical and Statis-
tical Sketch of the Past and Present of Goodhue County; His-
tory of St. Paul and Ramsay County by J. Fletcher Williams ; the
various publications of the Minnesota Historical Society; the
Legislative Manual of the State of Minnesota; The History of
Minnesota, by Edward W. Neill; Minnesota in Three Centuries,
by L. F. Hubbard. William P. Murray, James H. Baker and
Warren Upham; The History of Scandinavians in the United
States, by 0. N. Nelson; The Geological and Natural History
Survey of Minnesota, by N. H. Winchell, assisted by Warren
Upham; The Memoirs of Explorations in the Basin of the Mis-
sissippi, by J. V. Brower; The Norsemen in America, by Martin
Ulvestad; also various other standard historical, reference and
biographical works, as well as many original manuscripts. .



PREFACE ix

The biographies have all been gathered with care from those
most interested, and with a few exceptions have been revised and
corrected by the subject of the biography or by a relative or
friend. This, however, refers to the dates, and sequence of
events, all personal estimates being the work of the editors and
inserted in biographies only after consultation with other mem-
bers of the staff.

That this history is faultless we do not presume; it is prob-
ably not within the power of man to arrange a work of this
kind without mistakes of one sort or another; that it will meet
with the unqualified approval of all, we dare not expect, but we
trust that the merits of the history will overbalance any short-
comings that may be discovered.

. Our association with the people of Goodhue county has been
a most pleasant one. We have conscientiously performed our
task and in placing the history in the hands of those whom it
most concerns our hope is that we have done our work well.

H. C. COOPER, JR., & CO.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER I.

NATURAL PHENOMENA. pack

Location — Area — Water Courses — Surface Features — Ancient River Beds —
Elevations — Soil — Forest Trees — Artesian Wells — Sources of Wealth —
Native Animals 1



CHAPTER II.

GEOLOGIC AGES.

Formation of the Earth — Cooling of the Crust — The Various Periods as
Outlined by Scholars — Appearance of Vegetation — First Animal Life
— Geologic* Formations of Goodhue County — Influence of These Dis-
tance Periods on Modern Existence 11

CHAPTER III.

EVIDENCE OF THE MOUNDS.

The First Human Inhabitants of Goodhue County — Indications That They
Were Indians — Location and Shape of the Mounds — Their Purpose —
What Excavation Has Revealed — Fort Sweney — Stone Cairns — The
Lowland Mounds — Reign of the Sioux — By Edward W. Schmidt 18

CHAPTER IV.

EARLY DAYS.

Possession by Indians — The Dakota? — Traditions and Opinions — Col. Col-
vill's Views — Origin of Name '-Rd \\ ,'i ; — The Raidssjn-
Groseillers Allegations — No Proof That These Men Ever Saw Goodhue
County — Hennepin Lands at Red Wing's Village — Duluth Passes the
Village — LeSueur at Prairie Island — Fort Beauharnois and Its Suc-
cessors- — Carver Passes Through Wisconsin Channel — Pike and His
Narrative — Meets Red Wing and Calls Him by His English Name —
Leavenworth — First Steamers — Denton and Gavin — Aiton and Han-
cock — Tribute to Rev. Hancock — Early Schooling — The Pioneers
Arrive— By Dr. W. M. Sweney 33

CHAPTER V.

FORTS AT FRONTENAC.

Landing of Count Frontenac — Building of Fort Beauharnois by Du
Boucher in 1727 — Work of the Jesuits — Disastrous Freshets — Capture
of Father Guingas — Linctot's Stockade — St. Pierre and His Meeting
With Washington — Abandonment of Stockade — Marin's Fort in 1750
— Final Evacuation by the French — Modern Evidences 6S

CHAPTER VI.

UNDER EUROPEAN KINGS.

French and English Claims — Spanish Rule— The Louisiana Purchase — A
Part of Louisiana Territory — Under Successive Jurisdiction of Mis-
souri. Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa — No Man's Land — General
Sibley's Duties — Minnesota a Territory — In Statehood Days— A Full-
Fledged County

XI



o



xii CONTEXTS



CHAPTER VII.

INDIAN TEEATIES. page

Prairie du Chien in 1825— Second Treaty in 1830— Treaty of 1837— Doty
Treaty in 1841 — Treaty of Mendota in 1851 — Land Open to Settle-
ment — Prairie Island Indians 74

CHAPTER VIII.

INDIAN TROUBLES.

Half-Breed Tract — The Location and Purpose — Issue of Scrip — Difficulties
Which Ensued — Threats ami Recourse to Washington Finally Settle
the Matter — Spirit Lake Massacre — Investigation by Red Wing Men —
Uprising of 1862 90

CHAPTER IX.

BEGINNING OF THE COUNTY.

Boundary Lines Given — First Election — "Judge" Young and His Ballot
Box — Imported Yoters — County Officers Appointed — First Session of
Board — Court House Resolution — School Districts — A Few Early Ses-
sions — Court House Contract — 1849-1858 97

CHAPTER X

TOWNSHIP SYSTEM.

An Experiment in County Government — Members of First Board of Super-
visors — Two Chairmen — Party Feeling High — Sheriff Preserves Order
— Another Version — Court House Trouble — Meeting of Second Board
— Resumption of County Commissioner System — History of Court
House — ( lounty Poor Farm — Political History 110

CHAPTER XL

DR. SWEXEY s NARRATIVE.

Denton and Gavin — Aiton and Hancock — Bush, Bullard, Post, Snow and
Gould — Potter, Young and Day — Sweney, Freeborn and McGinnis —
Friendliness of the Indians — First Winter — Arrival of the Scandi-
navians — Digging Potatoes — Fishing in Stream and River — A Sporting
Clergyman — Some of the Indian Braves — Farming in the Old Indian
Cornfield — Squaws as Farmhands 120

CHAPTER XII.

TOWNSHIPS AND VILLAGES.

Organization ami Original Names — Belle Creek — Belvidere — Burnside —

Cherry Grove — Central Point — Early Settlement 142

CHAPTER XIII.

CANNON FALLS.

First Settlement — Platting the Yillage — Village and City Incorporated —
Water Power and Mills — Fraternities — Hotels — Newspaper — Modern
Cannon Falls— Industries — Business Houses — Schools — Commercial
Club — Banks — Cannon Falls Township — Early History — Veterans of
the War 159



CONTENTS xiii

CHAPTER XIV.

TOWNSHIPS AND VILLAGES. page

Featherstone — Florence — Frontenac — Goodhue Township and Village —
Advantages and Growth — Holden — Kenyon Township and Village —
Modern Progress — Leon — Minneola 169

CHAPTEB XV.

TOWNSHIPS AND VILLAGES.

Pine Island Township and Village — Progres^iv" and Prosperous — Roscoe —
Stanton — V a s a — Wacoota — Wanamingo — Wanamingo Village —
Warsaw — Dennisou Village — Welch 206

CHAPTER XVI.

ZUMBROTA.

Zumbrota Village — Its Situation and Advantages — Modern Zumbrota —
Water, Sewer and Public Halls — Fire Department — Industries — Banks
— Hotels- — Mills and Klevators — Creamery — Fraternities — Village His-
tory and Officers — T. P. Kellett 's Speech — Military Company — Village
Schools — Public Library — Zumbrota Township — Township Officers
Since Early Days — Soldiers from This Township 234

CHAPTER XVII.

COUNTY SCHOOLS.

First School Taught — First District Organized — Anecdotes of the Early
Days — Statistics — Summer Schools — Library Association — High
Schools — Church Schools — City Superintendents — County Superin-
tendents — Sunday School Work — Hamline University — Red Wing
Seminary- — Villa Marie — Lutheran Ladies' Seminary — Orphans' Home
— State Training School — Business Colleges — By Prof. Julius Boraas. 271

CHAPTER XVIII.

POSTAL HISTORY.

Red Wing — First Post Master — Stage Coach Days — Growth and Progress-
Other County Officers — Discontinued County Officers — New Federal
Building— Statistics 298

CHAPTER XIX.

THE PHYSICIAN.

His Proud Achievements — His Solemn Oath — His Ethics — The True Physi-
cian — His Reward — His Delicate Relation to the Human Family — His
Inventions and Discoveries Free Gifts — The Pioneer Doctor — His
Character — His Services — His Limitations — The March of Medicine —
Biographies — A Roll of Honor — The Goodhue County Medical Society
— The Twentieth Century — Preventive Medicine — The Physician as an
Educator— By George C. Wellner, M. D 315

CHAPTER XX.

SONS OF THE VIKINGS.

Discovery of America — Modern Norwegian Immigration — Mathias Peder-
sen Ringdahl — Early Settlers — Anecdotes — Officeholders — Newspapers
— Norwegians as Pioneers — Their Present Status 333



xiv CONTENTS



CHAPTER XXL

SWEDISH SETTLEMENT. page

Early Colonies — Coming to Minnesota — Mattson, Willard and Norelius —
Story of the Early Swedes Told by Dr. Norelius — The Churches at
Eed Wing and Yasa — Keminiscences by Early Settlers — Character-
istics of the Swedes 340

CHAPTER XXII.

THE GERMANS.

Origin of Race — Colonial Germans — Prominent Teutons — Germans in Good-
hue County — Early Settlers in Various Townships — German Soldiers —
German Officeholders — St. John's Hospital and Training School —
German Industries — German Churches — Written by Prof. P. W.
Kalf ahs 365

CHAPTER XXIII.

LAND OFFICE RECORDS.

Government Records of Those Who Took Claims in Goodhue County Be-
fore 1858 — A List of Hardy Pioneers, Nearly All of Whom Are Now
Dead — The Year and Month in Which They Came and the Section,
Township and Range in Which They Settled — Many of Their Claims
Still in the Possession of Their Families 384

CHAPTER XXIV.

GOODHUE COUNTY CHURCHES.

Religious Influence — Norwegian Lutheran — Norwegian Methodist —
Swedish Lutheran — English Lutheran — Swedish Mission — German
Churches — German Methodism — Swedish Methodists — Roman Catholic
— Congregational — Presbyterian — Episcopal Baptis; — Swedish Baptist. 404

CHAPTER XXV.

ANECDOTES AND ADVENTURES.

Address by Judge Wilder — Office Experiences — A New Setting to an Old
Tale— Pleasures of the Early Days— On Thin Ice— C. J. F. Smith's
Adventures — His Arrival — An Early Journey — Writings of the Rev.
J. W. Hancock — Indians and Whisky — Difficulties of Travel — A Canoe
Trip on Land — The Mysterious Wild Girl— Oil Wells in Red Wing —
Coal and Gold Also Found 458

CHAPTER XXVI.

OFFICERS AND POPULATION.

List of Men Who Have Represented Goodhue County at St. Paul Since
Territorial Days — List of County Officers — Men From This County
Who Have Occupied Positions, of Higher Trust and Honor — Popula-
tion of the County by Nationality and Occupation, With List of
Growth Since the Earliest Census 478

CHAPTER XXVII.

CALAMITIES.

Terrible Cyclone — Vnsa the Greatest Sufferer—" Sea Wing" Disaster —
Lis* of Those Who Perished — The Survivors — Terrible Blow to the
Whole Countv — ' ' Galena ' ' Burned at the Levee in Red Wing —
Shooting of Chief Daily and Officer Peterson — Red Wing Fires in By-
gone Days 490



CONTENTS xv

CHAPTEB XXVIII.

MILITARY HISTORY. page

First War Meeting — Colonel Colvil] 'First Man to Enlist — Mustering in of
First Companies- — First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh,
Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Volunteer Infantry — First, Second, Braekett's
and Independent Cavalry — Heavy Artillery — Light Artillery — Colonel
Hubbard's Bravery — Colonel Coivill's Charge — Spanish-American War
— History of Local Company — Complete Roster of Soldiers and Offi-
cers from Goodhue County in the Philippines 507

CHAPTER XXIX.

REW WING AS A HAMLET.

Origin of the Village — First Settlement — Rev. Hancock's Arrival — The
Early Settlers — Claim Hunters — Incidents of Village Life — Great
Events of Those Days — Burning the Indian Tepees — First Farming — -
First Stores — First Churches — Pioneer Politics — Principal Events from
1852 to 1859 — Business Directory Published in 1869 — Poem by Julia
B. Nelson 529

CHAPTER XXX.

THROUGH FIFTY-TWO YEARS.

Principal Events in the Government of Red Wing Since Its Incorpora-
tion — List of Mayors, Aldermen and Other Officers — Railroads, Tele-
graph, Street Car and Other Franchises — Sewerage System — Water
Works — Fire Department — Public Buildings — Bonds and Improve-
ments — Memorials — Red Wing Township — Veterans 550

CHAPTER XXXI.

"THE DESIRABLE CITY."

Its Many Advantages — Desirability as a Home City — The Carnegie-
Lawther Library — T. B. Sheldon Memorial Auditorium — Red Wing
Civic League — Fire Department — Water Works — Ferries — Wagon
Bridge — Associations and Clubs — Banks and Banking- — Business and
Professional — Red Wing Fraternities 579

CHAPTER XXXII.

RED WING INDUSTRIES.

Busy Manufacturing Plants That Furnish the Foundation for Red Wing's
Prosperity — Pottery and Sewer Pipe Making — Malting Houses — Shoes
and Shoe Pacs — Hats — Furniture — Iron Works — Advertising Novelties
— Lighting Facilities — Milling Concerns — Lime Burning — Linseed
Products — Sand — Telephones — Job Printing — Utilizing the Forests —
Brick Making — Other Concerns — Edited by Jens K. Grondahl 616

CHAPTER XXXIII.

MODERN RED WING.

4

Its Advantages, Opportunities and Wealth — Some of- the Things Which
Have Made It Famous — History of the Various Newspapers Which
Have Been Published Here — Associations and Societies — Miscel-
laneous 645

CHAPTER XXXIV .

LIVES OF LEADING MEN.

Principal Events in the Careers of Pioneers Who Have Now Passed
Aivmv — Biographies of Men Who Are Still Active in Business. Pro-
fessional and Commercial Interests — Gathered with Care from Various
Sources, Carefully Compiled and Submitted for Approval 666



rjin n










) k





HISTORY OF

GOODHUE COUNTY



CHAPTER I.

NATURAL PHENOMENA.

Location — Area — Water Courses — Surface Features — Ancient
River Beds — Elevations — Soil — Forest Trees — Artesian Wells
— Sources of Wealth — Native Animals.

On its splendid course from Itasca to the Gulf, the mighty
Mississippi passes no fairer land than that which it touches from
Prairie Island to Central Point, where, guarded on the north by
towering bluffs and broken here and there by picturesque valleys,
Goodhue county stretches to the southward in undulating prairies.
Unusually blessed by nature with deep soil and abundant natural
resources, and endowed with a wealth of prehistoric and historic
lore, it is a fitting home for the sturdy people who have here
made their dwelling place. Hard-working, progressive and pros-
perous, they have appreciated the gifts which nature has spread
for them, and have added their own toil to the work of the ele-
ments, making the county one of the garden spots of the earth.
On the hills graze cattle and sheep, while the level lands respond
to the efforts of the spring-time sower and planter with a wealth
of harvest in the summer and autumn. On nearly every quarter
section is reared a comfortable home and commodious barns,
while from every hill top are visable the churches and schools
wherein the people worship the Giver of all Gifts and educate
their children. The county seat city is known for its progres-
siveness in all parts of the world, and the busy villages and
hamlets have had their share in the growth of the county by
furnishing a shipping and trading point for the product of the
farms. Thus blessed by God and beloved by man, the county

1



2 HISTORY OF GOODHUE COUNTY

today stands for all that is ideal in American life, and. from year
to year is forging ahead to still wider influence and more extended
opportunity.

Goodhue county is situated on the Mississippi river and Lake
Pepin, and is bounded on the northwest by Dakota county, on the
west by Rice county, on the south by Dodge county and a small
portion of Olmsted county, and on the east and southeast by
Wabasha county. Its Wisconsin neighbor is Pierce county. The
population in 1905 was 31,628, and this has probably been
increased by several thousand since that date. It is a large and
important county, ranking among the first in the state in wealth.
size, population, education, progressive]! ess and prosperity. It
contains twenty-three townships and Red Wing, which is outside
of any township jurisdiction. Its total area is 784.79 square
miles, or 502,265.62 acres; the water area being only 20.21 square
miles, or 12,936.06 acres.

The surface waters of the county all reach the Mississippi
river in an easterly or northeasterly course, descending from the
height of 1,250 feel above the sea in Kenyon. to 665 feet in Lake
Pepin, a drop of nearly 600 feet. The chief of these tributary
streams are the Cannon, with its southern arm. the Little Cannon,
and the north and north-middle branches of the Zumbro. Belle
creek, another branch of the Cannon river, occupies an important
valley, running northward from near the center of the county.
Spring creel;. Hay creek and Wells creek, though not large
streams, are important agents in defining the topography of the
county, and have subterranean sources of supply which keep
thein at a nearly uniform stage of water and afford valuable
water powers. These water powers have in the past been utilized
to a greater or less extent, and at the present time afford the
motive power for many mills. Their use in generating electricity
has also been considered.

The county has no lakes. There are a great many large
springs issuing from the banks of the streams, giving clear, pure
water, which are dependent on the impervious nature of the rocky
strata. Some of the tributaries of Belle and of Wells creeks issue
from the rock Avails of the valley, having size sufficient, in some
instances, to afford available water power for machinery.

The topography of the county has from time to time been
made the subject of careful study. The high prairies in the cen-
tral and southwestern portions present a strong contrast with the
hilly tracts in the northern and eastern. The former are broad,
undulating, and somewhat monotonous. The winds find no nat-
ural obstacles, and the exposed traveler can retire to no sheltered
nooks for protection. The latter are broken by frequent and
abrupt hills, which rise, with some sheltering timber, from two to



lllsroUY OF G00DH1 I. COUNT'S 3



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