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when it was given the name of Lyon; this, however, was almost
immediately changed to Merton, which it still bears.

DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP.

Deerfield Township forms the northwest corner of Steele
county, with Rice county on the north and Waseca on the west,
while on the east it is bounded by the townships of Medford and
Clinton Falls, and on the south by Meriden. It embraces all
of congressional township 108, range 21, west, a total acreage
of about 23,040 acres. Its location is very favorable in an agri-
cultural point of view, being ten miles from the city of Faribault
and only seven from Owatonna, with the village of Medford
within three miles, which affords a market and freighting facili-
ties. The southwest portion of the town finds an easy and con-
venient market at Waseca, 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. There is a good supply of timber for fuel
and fencing purposes. In the south part of the town is a belt
of timber, bordering on Crane creek, of about two miles in
width, while it is but a short distance to the large timber belt
of the Cannon and Straight rivers on the east and north.

The first settlement in Deerfield township was made about
May 12, 1855, by Edward McCartney, who came from Elgin,
111., with his family of wife and three children and a brother of
his wife. He located on the northwest quarter of section 8
and remained for about two years, when he sold out and returned
to Illinois. He 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 emigrated to Cass county,
Nebraska. Other settlers soon followed Mr. McCartney into the
town and a neighborhood was soon established. Within a year
or so later, the following named all came and selected homes:
Andrew Wertzler, Nicholas Stearns, Conrad Reineke, E. Cran-



702 HISTORY OF RICE AND STEELE COUNTIES

dall, John and James Condoh, E. J. Lilly, H. Hodgson, Arthur
McMillen, John H. Morse, Washington Morse, Charles Birch,
Mr. Austin, L. Anderson, E. I. Stocker, Shephard Moses and
others.

During the Indian outbreak in 1862 nearly all the citizens
left the township for safety, but returned within a few days.

The first birth in the township was a daughter in the family
of Mr. Hobaugh, who lived on section 26. This occurred in
September. 1856. She was 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 marriage in Deer-
field township was that of Stephen Birch to Precilla Coe. The
ceremony was performed in June, 1858, at the residence of the
bride's father, by Washington Morse, a justice of the peace.
Another early marriage was that of W. B. Evans to Frederica
C. Williams, June 16, 1859, by 'Squire Morse.

The first school in the town was taught in the summer of
1857 by Elizabeth Hodgson. The first religious service in the
township was held at the funeral of Mrs. Anderson and was
conducted by Rev. Washington Morse, a minister of the Seventh-
Day Advent creed.

The territory which now comprises Deerfield, when first as-
sociated with an organized township, became a part of Owatonna
township, which was created August 1, 1855, embracing all of
the west two-thirds of Steele county as it is now formed. August
25, 1855, a change was made, creating Medford township, which
included all of the present townships of Deerfield, Clinton Falls
and Medford. Thus it remained, so far as Deerfield was con-
cerned, until April 6, 1857, when Deerfield township was created
of township 108, range 21. It was reorganized, however, in the
spring of 1858, and the organization has since been maintained.

MERIDEN TOWNSHIP.

Meriden Township is composed of township 107, range 21,
forming one of the western tier of townships. It is bounded on
the north by Deerfield township, on the south by Lemond town
ship, nn the east by Owatonna township, and on the west by
Waseca county. The surface of this township is wholly made
up of a rolling prairie, interspersed with oak openings. Crane
creek Hows through the northern part, on its way to Straight
river. The southern portion of the township was originally
covered to some extent with oak openings, while the north and
central portions are made up of as fine prairie land as can he
found in the state.

The first settlement in this township, it is claimed, was made



HISTORY OF RICE AND STEELE COUNTIES 703

in June, 1855, by A. M. Fitzsimmons, who located on section
36. A. C. Harris also came during the same year and settled in
the northeastern part of the township, where he still lives.
Among others who came during that year and the year or two
immediately following were : C. H. Wilker and family, including
his sons, John H. and Conrad H. Wilker; Lysander House,
Anton Shultz, William Shultz, Henry Abbe, William Mundt,
John Drinking, F. J. Stevens, John Wuamett, Thomas Andrews,
David House, A. F. Tracy and others. The settlement pro-
gressed rapidly until all of the government land in the township
was taken, and the early settlers here, as in other portions of
the county, underwent many hardships and disadvantages.

The first birth in the township was that of a daughter of
C. H. Wilker and wife, which occurred in March, 1856. The
child grew up to womanhood, and is now Mrs. John Scholl-
jerdes, of Lemond township. The first marriage in this neigh-
borhood was that of W. T. Drum to Roxie Henshaw, which took
place at the residence of Austin Vinton, just across the line in
Waseca county, September 24, 1856, Rev. H. Chapin, of Owa-
tonna, performing the ceremony. Oxen were used in conveying
the guests to and from the party. Another early marriage, and
probably the first within the limits of the township, was that of
Daniel Root to Rebecca Williams.

The first death was that of Edwin House, which occurred
May 3, 1858. It is thought that the next was that of Mr. Sim-
mons, a son-in-law of Mr. Fitzsimmons, the first settler of the
township. He was killed by lightning while sitting in his house,
in the summer of 1858. Another early death was that of Andrew
Cook. The first school in the township was taught in the sum-
mer of 1857, by Miss Leroy, a daughter of Henry Leroy. One
of the first schoolhouses in the township was erected in 1857 by
the citizens on the northeast corner of section 10. At about the
same time a log schoolhouse was built on section 30. The first
religious service was held at the house of Mr. Wilker, in the sum-
mer of 1857, by a German Methodist preacher.

When Steele county was organized in August, 1855, the terri-
tory of which Meriden is now formed became a part of Owa-
tonna township. It remained thus until April 6, 1857, when the
board of county commissioners set off and authorized the organi-
zation of township 107, range 21, as Meriden. The organiza-
tion, however, was not fully perfected until the spring of 1858.
Among those who were prominent in official matters in early
days and who filled the most important of the township offices
were: F. J. Stevens, A. F. Tracy, Samuel Reemsnyder, J. O.
Waumett, T. P. Jackson. E. L. Scoville, W. F. Drum, W. T.



704 HISTORY OF RICE AND STEELE COUNTIES

Drown, Joseph Grandprey, Henry Leroy, E. L. Crosby, Robert
Stevenson, L. G. Green.

LEMOND TOWNSHIP.

Lemond township is composed of township 106, range 21. It
forms one of the western tier of Steele county's townships, being
bounded on the west by Waseca county ; on the north by Meriden
township; on the east by Somerset, and on the south by Berlin.
The soil here is about the same as characterizes the balance of
the county — rich and fertile, and produces excellent crops. The
surface of the township is well watered by numerous creeks and
runs, and there are many fine farms here.

The first settlement in this township was made in 1856.
During this year Samuel Thompson, John Thompson, W. F.
Manson, Sandford Kinney, E. Teed and E. J., J. B. and E. B.
Coon all selected homes. Messrs. Kinney and Coon sowed the
first wheat in the township, in the spring of this year, on section
2. In 1857 a number of pioneers arrived and located in this
township, among the number being Martin Hanson. Cornelius
Moran, Henry Ludkins, Henry Mondt, Alvin Bragg, Neils John-
son, Oscar Murphy, Samuel Hastings, James Reynolds, Peter
Nelson, Mr. Brandenburg, E. Dampier, Mortimer Gould. Mr.
Ketchum, J. M. Gibbons, Thomas Hughes, Mr. Hobbs, William
Manson (who died here), Ruel Wilcox, William Parcher and
Thomas Houston. In 1858 among those who came were Aaron
S. Bragg, William Stover, Mr. Deffenbacher, Ira Richardson,
Benjamin Wollet and others.

A man named Kipp came at about this time and bought one
of the Coon claims on section 1 and remained a short time. In
the year 1859 a few more came, but about all the government
land had been taken, and the settlement from this time on pro-
gressed slowly until after the close of the civil war. In 1857
Thomas Twiford put up a log building on section 12. put a dam
across the river and set a sawmill to operating. He ran it about
a year, when Mr. Hughes operated it for some time. Finally it
ran down and the machincrv was sold and moved away. A his-
tory of Elmira village, which was laid out in this neighborhood,
will he found elsewhere.

The first school in the township was taught by Stillman Kin-
ney, in 1858, on section 2. H. G. Mosher, who then lived in
Waseca county, was one of the next teachers. The first marriage
in the township was that of Daniel Tasker and Cornelia Davis.
The ceremony was performed in May, 1859, by Sanford Kinney,
a justice of the peace. The first birth occurred in the family of
Thomas Hughes, The first death in the township of which we



HISTORY OF RICE AND STEELE COUNTIES 705

can learn occurred in November, 1860, when William Manson
died. The first religious services were held in January, 1858,
Rev. Mr. Moses being the officiating clergyman.

When Steele county was organized, in the summer of 1855,
the territory which now forms Lemond became a portion of Owa-
tonna township. In April, 1857, the board of county commis-
sioners set off township 106, range 21, and authorized its organi-
zation as a civil township, naming it Lemond. The organization,
however, was not fully perfected until April, 1858, when the fol-
lowing officers were elected : Supervisors, S. M. Hastings, chair-
man ; E. D. Tweed and Sanford Kinney ; clerk, E. Dampier ;
assessor, J. E. Hughes ; collector, Jerome Coon ; overseer of the
poor, E. J. Coon; justices of the peace, S. M. Hastings and San-
ford Kinney. The following named were all prominent in town-
ship matters in early days and filled the most important offices :
S. M. Hastings, S. G. Townsend, S. M. Kinney, Hugh Murray,
C. G. Hersey, Charles Knowlton, Oscar Murphy, E. Dumpier,
S. F. Gould and Sanford Kinney, Jr. The first town meeting was
held at Twiford's Mills.



BERLIN TOWNSHIP.

Berlin township is in the southwest corner of Steele county,
composed of township 105, range 21. It is bounded on the north
by Lemond township; on the east by Summit; on the west by
Waseca county, and on the south by Freeborn county. It is one
of the finest agricultural townships in the state, and is not
excelled by any for the beauty of its natural scenery. Near the
center of the township is Beaver lake, a perfect gem of beauty,
with a sandy beach and bottom and water clear as crystal. The
soil here is a dark loam, rich in the production of the cereals and
indigenous grasses. Many fine farms are located here, and, as
a whole, the citizens are today, and have been in the past, as
prosperous as any community in this part of the state.

The first settlement within the present limits of Berlin town-
ship was made in 1856. In this connection we make brief men-
tion of most of the early settlers. Hiram Pitcher came in 1856
and located on section 15. He remained about nine years, when
he removed to Fond du Lac, Wis. He was a prominent man in
early days, and was the first justice of the peace in the township.
Nathan Cheeney, another settler of 1856, located on section 2,
where he remained until the war broke out, when he enlisted and
went into the service. Upon his return he located on section 9,
and lived there until about 1880, when he moved to the then
Dakota territory.

Charles W. Gardner came in 1856 and settled upon section 13.



706 HISTORY OF RICE AND STEELE COUNTIES

In 1863 he went into the army and after the close of the war
settled in Blooming Prairie. He later went to the western
states. James S. King came here in 1856 and located on section
13. He remained here until 1880, when he left for Dakota.
Mr. Warren also came to this township in 1856 and settled on
section 12. After remaining here for two or three years he
removed to California.

S. Hull came in 1856 and located on section 11. He left here
about 1865 for the northern part of the state. Joseph Gordon
came in the spring of 1856 and located on section 28, where he
lived until his death in 1868. His wife died November 30, 1859.
John Dock came in the fall of the same year and settled on
section 21. About three years later he removed to California.
Barney Banks was another of the settlers of 1856. He located
on section 21. He was frozen to death in a terrible blizzard
while on his way from Geneva to his home. His oxen returned
home without him, and his body was soon afterward discovered.
William Shea came the same year and located on section 30. He
was in his one hundred and fifth year at the time of his death.
Thomas Brick was a son-in-law of Mr. Shea. He located on the
same section and remained there until 1877, when he removed
to section 14.

Halver Howen came in 1856 and located on section 23. In
1868 he was frozen to death while on his way home from Fari-
bault. Enfin Enfinson came in 1856 and settled on section 27.
M. Wright came during the same year and located on section 32.
E. Johnson came in 1856. Philo Sawyer, in company with M.
Warren and J. O. Colver, came to Steele county. Minnesota, and
took up government land in Berlin township in 1856.

John Culver settled on section 11. in 1856. He remained there
until 1877, when he removed to New Richland. In 1885 lie went
to Nebraska. J. Winchell came in 18S6 and selected a claim on
section 24. This continued to be his home until 187''. when he
"pulled up stakes" and removed to Wisconsin. Levi Chase was
another of the arrivals in 1856. The tract which hi' chose for a
home was on section 21, and he remained here until 1866, when
he removed to Owatonna and in 1880 went to Madison. Wis. A.
Inj^erson came in 1857 and settled on section 27. lie held the
office of county surveyor while living here. Morris O. Sullivan
came either in 1856 or 1857 and located on section 30. William
Lonergan, Sr., came in 1857, settled on section 17. and remained
there until the time of his death in 1877. A. Miller came in 1857
and located on section 18. J. B. Smith settled on section 11 in
1857. In 1864 he enlisted in the Eleventh Minnesota Volunteer
Infantry and went into the service. After the close of the
war he settled in Owatonna. In 1877 he removed to the north-



HISTORY OF RICE AND STEELE COUNTIES 707

western part of the state. George W. Goodrich also came in
1857. In 1872 he removed to Dakota, where he died in 1885.

When Steele county was organized in August, 1855, the ter-
ritory which now comprises Berlin township (and, for that
matter, the whole of the county) became a part of Owatonna
township. It remained in this shape until April 6, 1857, when
the board of county commissioners set off township 105, range 21,
and authorized its organization as a civil township, to be called
Berlin. The name was derived from the town of that name in
Wisconsin. The proper spelling of the name is "Berlin," as it is
commonly used at this day, although in the earlier countv records
the name appears Burlin.

The organization of the township was not fully perfected until
the spring of 1858, when, on May 11, a full set of township
officers was elected, as follows: Supervisors, C. V. Brown,
Thomas McCormick and M. Warren ; assessor, Otis Bathrick ;
clerk, H. Lawson ; justices of the peace, Michael Wright and
George Goodrich ; collector, John O. Shea.

The first marriage in the township was that of John O.
Culver to Miss Gordon. The ceremony was performed by
Hiram Pitcher, Esq., a justice of the peace in 1857. This being
the first time the justice had performed the ceremony, he varied
a little from the usual form, and the groom was made to promise
to obey the bride instead of the bride obeying the groom. The
first birth was that of Fred Brown, who now lives in Waseca
county. It occurred in January, 1857. The first death was that
of Mrs. J. V. Gordon, which occurred November 30, 1859. The
remains were buried in Berlin cemetery.

The first ground broken for a crop was done by Levi Chase
in the summer of 1856. The second marriage in the township was
that of Ashbel Ingerson to Sarah A. Chase. The ceremony was
performed by Rev. H. Chapin in August, 1875. About the first
fatal accident which occurred in the township was the drowning
of John Brown, a lad of eighteen or nineteen years of age, in
Beaver lake. His body was secured a few hours after death had
claimed him.

The first religious services in the township were held at the
residence of Levi Chase in the fall of 1856, when prayer meetings
and a Sabbath school were established. In the fall of 1857 Rev.
Mr. Kirkpatrick and Rev. S. N. Phelps commenced preaching on
alternate Sabbaths. A Methodist organization was effected in
1858 by Elder Phelps. August 27, 185'), a Baptist church was
organized by Elder Town, of Owatonna.

The first school in the township was taught in the winter of
1857-58 by D. T. Gordon, in an old log blacksmith shop, which
stood on the edge of Beaver lake, on section 16. The following



708 HISTORY OF RICE AND STEELE COUNTIES

year a log schoolhouse was erected by the citizens. The same
party taught the first school in the house. That was the only
school building in the township at that time.

The first postoffice in the township was established in 1856,
under the name of Adamsville, with Hiram Pitcher as post-
master. He also carried the mail from Owatonna, many times
going on foot, and in the winter using snow-shoes. In 1857 the
name of the office was changed to Berlin.

In 1871 a cheese factory was started on section 12, at a cost
of some $5,000, by a company formed for that purpose, composed
of citizens of the township. After being in operation for a time
the plant was sold to Mr. Sloan, and later Mr. Miller became
interested. After a few years the enterprise was abandoned, as it
had not proved a profitable investment. About 1875 a store was
started by Miller & Sloan in a part of the cheese factory building,
and the postoffice was also kept there. L. Barrett also started
a store on section 13, but both concerns were closed out by their
creditors after running a few years. W. R. Ellis started a black-
smith shop on section 22 in April, 1875.

SUMMIT TOWNSHIP.

Summit township forms the center of the southern tier of
townships, embracing congressional township 105. range 20. On
the north it is bounded by Somerset township ; on the east by
Blooming Prairie township; on the west by Berlin township, and
on the south by Freeborn county. The northwest corner of the
township has some timber. 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 Blooming Prairie, flows in a northwesterly course across
the entire township, furnishing an abundant supply of water.
The surface here is somewhat rolling and the prairie is diversified
by the many groves which have been set out by the settlers. The
soil here is of a light but productive nature— of about the same
character as is found in the other portions of the county.

The first settlement within the limits now comprising Summit
township was made in the summer of 1856 by John Bennett and
a man named Dribilius, both single men. Bennett selected a
claim on section 9 and his companion on section 4. The former
remained for several years, then removed to Dakota. Dribilibus,
after a year or two, sold out and left.

Later in the same season (1856) Hiram Fredenburg, II. W.
Rulili'son and 1 >. A. Loomis came with their families and also a
man named Heath, and all selected claims. Mr. Fredenburg was
a native < i New York and a man of prominence in early days.



HISTORY OF RICE AND STEELE COUNTIES 709

He selected a claim on section 20 and remained in the township
until 1880, when he removed to Owatonna. Mr. Ruliffson located
on section 30, where he lived until 1880, when he removed to
Dakota. Mr. Loomis settled on the same section and remained
until late in the seventies, when he removed to Dakota territory.
G. W. Knapp located here in June, 1856. William Cooley came
in 1856. C. A. Colquhoun came here in 1S56 and located on sec-
tion 24, where he remained until the death of his wife, which
occurred three or four years later. After this he spent some time
in Wisconsin, and then returned to his old home. A few years
later he removed to Blooming Prairie township, where he still
lives. Mr. Dunlavey came in 1857 and settled on section 14.
After a few years he sold out his interests here and left. John
W. Smith was also among the pioneers of 1857. William Goolsby
settled in Summit township in 1858, selecting his share of govern-
ment land on section 14. He remained here until a few years ago,
when he removed to Dakota territory.

The first birth in the township was that of Adelbert Heath,
son of Roswell Heath, who was born in 1857. The first marriage
took place in December, 1858, the parties being Benjamin
Wheeler and Delia Fredenburg. The first death was that of Mrs.
Delora Fredenburg, wife of Jeremiah Fredenburg, which occurred
in 1860. A postoffice called Cooleyville was established in 1858.
Williaw Cooley was the first postmaster.

Like all other townships in the two western tiers, the territory
which now forms Summit became a part of Owatonna township
when the county was organized in 1855. It remained in this
shape until April 6, 1857, when the board of commissioners set
off township 105, range 20, and authorized its organization, under
the name of Summit township. The organization, however, was
not perfected until May 10, 1858, when a town meeting was held
at the house of Hiram Fredenburg, and the following township
officers were elected: Supervisors, Hiram Fredenburg, chair-
man; H. M. Davis and G. W. Knapp; clerk, N. S. Kingsley ;
assessor, William Cooley ; constables, Daniel Loomis and
George Mitchell ; justices of the peace, Hiram Fredenburg and
G W. Knapp.

BLOOMING PRAIRIE TOWNSHIP.

Blooming Prairie township forms the southeastern corner
of Steele county and embraces township 105, range 19. The
township was originally called Oak Glen, a name derived from a
glen in the northern part, in which is a little lake, surrounded
by a heavy growth of oak. There are three of these lakes, one
covering somewhat over a section of land, and each of the other



710 HISTORY OF RICE AND STEELE COUNTIES

two about 100 acres. The soil here is about the same as is found
in other portions of the county, rich and productive.

The first settlement within the limits now comprising Bloom-
ing Prairie township was made in July, 1856, by John Blythe,
who selected 160 acres of government land on sections 19 and 30
and put up a log cabin. In October of the same year Dennis
Moran arrived with his family, consisting of wife and two sons
and a sister-in-law. Mr. Moran located on section 29. He died
on the same section. Thomas Bray came in January, 1857, and
it is thought that Mr. Whaley and his son-in-law, Mr. Ewers,
settled in the northern part of the township at about the same
time. These were the only families who settled in the township
that winter, although many passed through.

After this the township settled up very slowly. The financial
panic of 1857 coming, as it did, checked travel very much, and
times became very hard. Early in the sixties the number of
settlers became more numerous, although the outbreak of the
rebellion prevented the town from filling up very rapidly. Among



Online LibraryFranklyn Curtiss-WedgeHistory of Rice and Steele counties, Minnesota (Volume 1) → online text (page 77 of 88)