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Arthur P. Rose.

An illustrated history of Nobles County, Minnesota online

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AN



ILLUSTRATED HISTORY



OF



NOBLES COUNTY



MINNESOTA



BY

ARTHUR P. ROSE



NORTHERN HISTORY PUBLISHING COMPANY

WORTHINGTON, MINNESOTA

PUBLISHERS

1908



;h>\



PUBLIC LIBRARY

« 1912 I.






DEDICATED TO THE
PIONEERS OF NOBLES COUNTY

TO THOSE WHO HAVE GONE, AND TO THOSE WHO REMAIN TO RECITE

THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF I'HE PAST,

THESE PACES ARE RESPECTFl'I.I.V INSCRIBELl.



.;• 11 ic vy o {{



Probably uo historical work was ever put to jh-cfs whicli entirely satisfied
its author. There are so many pitfalls in the path of him who seeks to record
tiie events of the past; the human mind is so prone to err in recalling dates and
names of a former day. So it happens tiiat the writer of local history, compiling
his story from data of which only a part can be verified, knows that there must
be errors in his work, albeit he may have exercised the greatest care. With no
apologies, but with this brief explanation, and the realization tliat the work is
not perfect, the History of Nobles County is put forth.

With this volume is presented the first Nobles county liistory, and the ma-
terial for its compilation is obtained from original sources. Friendly coadjutors
have assisted materially in its preparation. To the editorial fraternity of Nobles
county the author is under many obligations. The files of their publications
have been of inestimable value in furnishing autlient'c data. Especially valuable
were those of that pioneer journal, the Worthingtnn Advance, of wliich liberal
use has been made, and without which much of historical importance must have
remained unrecorded. Due acknowledgment is made to county* and village of-
ficers, who assisted in the hunt for early day records, and to scores of citizens
in private life, who interested themselves in the work to the extent of devoting
time to the detailing of early day events. Special mention is due the assistance
given by the late Judge B. W. Woolstencroft, who was one of the very first
settlers of Nobles county, and who died at his home in Slayton, Minnesota, after
this volume had been put to press. A large part of the history of the county's
early settlement, of its organization and early political history was written from
data furnished by Judge Woolstencroft.

To Dr. George 0. Moore, of Worthington; Senator S. B. Bedford, of
liushmore, and Mr. A. J. Kice, of Adrian, the committee of pioneer residents
selected to review and revise the work, great credit is due. After the manuscript
had been prepared these gentlemen devoted considerable time to the work of
revision. Errors were discovered and corrected and suggestions for additions
were made that resulted in a better Iiistory. In the work of gathering the data
the author has been ably assisted bj Mr. P. D. Moore.

The biographical sketches, forming the second part of the volume, were
written, in nearly all instances, from facts obtained by personal interviews.
Typewritten copies of the sketches were submitted to the subjects for correction,
and nearly all made the necessary corrections and returned the manuscript to
the publishers. This has resulted in reducing to a minimum the possibility of
error in that part of the volume.

AETHUR P. ROSE.

Worthington, Minnesota, September, 1908.



ENDORSEMENT



Worthington, Minn., Sept. 14, 1908.

We, the undersigned, chosen as a committee to review the History of Nobles
County written by ;\li-. A. P. Eose and to be published by the Northern History
Publishing Company, of Worthing, jn, have read the historical part of the work
in manusei'ipt. We bear testimony that the history gives evidence of extensive
reading and careful research and tJiat it presents — to our best knowledge — an
accurate, comprehensive and impintial record of events. As such we endorse and
ccmmend it.

S. P.. PKDKdlMi.
A. ,1. RICE,
GEO. 0. MOOKE,
Committee of Citizens.



TABLE OF CONTENTS



CHAPTER I.

ABORIGINAL DAYS— 1834-1866.

In Primeval State — An Imagery — Inhabited by Wild Beasts — And Wilder Red Men —
A Contrast — The Sioux — Tribal Divisions — The M'daywakantons — The Lower Sis-
setons Claimed Nobles County — Early Explorers — Nicollet Visits Nobles County —
His Map — The Coteaus Des Prairies — '"Okebene" Lake — Ocheyedan Hillock, or
Mourning Ground — "Karanzi" River — Surveyors Run Minnesota-Iowa Boundary
Line — Nearby Settlements — Operations of Trappers — Jude Phillips and Brother —
Effect of the Panic of 18.57 — Spirit Lake Massacre — Hostiles Retreat to Indian
Lake — Southwestern Minnesota Depopulated — Incident of 1857 — Boom Days — Paper
Railroads — Original County Divisions — Nobles a <y*art of Dakota, Blue Earth and
Brown — Creation of Nobles County — Colonel W. H. Nobles — The Boundaries — Pro-
visions for Organizaiion — Gretehtown Named County Seat — Organization Post-
poned — Boundary Lines Surveyed — Settlers Return to Southwestern Minnesota —
Census of 1860 — Names of Inhabitants — Their Conditions — The Sioux War — The
County Deserted — Soldiers Established on the Frontier — The Military Road — Its
Course — Trappers Appear — Evidence of Early Occujiation Disappear — Judge Wool-
stencroft's Letter — First Railroad Survey — The Land Grant — Close of an Era S3

CHAPTER II.
EARLY SETTLEMENT— 1867-1871.

Obstacles Overcome — Frontier Line Recedes — ^First Settlers Arrive— The Graham Lakes
Country — Stephen and Joseph Muck — Planting Corn — Messrs. Woolstencroft, Drury,
Rice and Barnett Arrive— Stake Claims — Build Shanties— Other Settlers of 1867 —
Conditions Prevent Farming — Farmers Turn Trappers — Plentiful Small Game — Big
Game — Bison — Elk— Deer— Township Lines Run — Mail Route Established— The
First Postoffice— Settlers of 1868— First Birth — Andy Dillman Comes to Okabena —
County Survey Completed — Indians Arrive — And Create Stir — A Scared Boy —
Settlers on Indian Lake — Their Romantic Surroundings — Adventures in Blizzards —
Three Perish — Indian Scare — Exciting Times — Company Formed — The Island For-
tified — Cottonwood County Settlers Notified — No Indians — First Sunday School —
Census of 1870 — Arrivals of That Year — Talk of County Organization — Decision
Reached- — Governor Austin Appoints Commissioners — First Meeting — First Official
Acts — Wandering County Seat — Organization Legalized — Court House Talk — Sad
Death of Mrs. Palmer — Another Sunday School — Public Schools — Creation of Gra-
ham I^kes Township — Its Organization — The Name — Indian Lake Settlers Peti-
tion — Their Township Created — And Named — Settlers of 1871 — First Financial
Statement 45



xii TAP.T.K Ol- CONTENTS.

CHAPTER III.
UNDER COI.ONV RULE— 1872.

A Remarkable Year— Birth of the Colony Idea— Miller, Humiston & Company— Visit
Xobles County— Secure Control of Railroad Lands— Elaborate Plans — Thorough
Advertising Carapaigu— Its Results — Hundreds Floek to Worthington- Their Char-
acter — The Temperance Feature — Fate of the Colony Company — An Appreciatinii
of Professor Humiston — Hard Winter — State Relief — First Jurors— Railroad Begins
Operations — A\orthiiigton-.Siou.\ Falls Mail and Stage Route— Posloiriocs Esiali-
lished — Dettald — llebbard — Westside — Mail Route Operated by Daniel Shell — A
Beautiful Country — Kxperiences of Colonists— Roseate Prospects- Land Values -
Worthington Township Organized — Petitioners — Bigelow Township— llersey — CranI
— Name Changed to Ransom — Its History — Fairview— Renamed Lorain— Dewald —
Early Settlers There — Little Rock — Elk — Conferring the Name — Seward — First
Assessment — Real Estate— Personal Property — l^ivestock — Townships Compared — Li-
cense Voted Down — Proposed Change in Boundaries — Xobles Votes to Add Four
Townships — But Rejects Proposition to Cive Away Four — Vote by Precincts (il

CIIAPTEK IV.
CALAMITOUS DAYS— 1873.

Days of Adversity — Professor Humiston's Charities — A Severe Winter — The Terrible
Blizzard of January 7 — Samuel Small, Mrs. Jolin Blixt, John Weston and Taylor
Perish — Weston's Ghost — School Cliildren Imprisoned — Joe Poots' Experience —
Other Adventures — District Court Established — Jurors — First Grasshopper In-
vasion — Relief Work — Wilson Township Organized — Petitioners — Name Changed
to Akin — To Summit Lake — Hebbard Township Created — Petitioners — Name
Changed to New Haven — Later to Olney — Grand Prairie Organized — Petitioners —
Selection of Name — Wandering Life of County Seat— Located at Worthingfon -
Stephen Miller Fathers tlie Bill — The Act — Provision fur Permanent I-oeation —
llersey Becomes a Candidate — Second Bill Provides for Vote on Question -County
Offices Moved to Worthington — Buildings Rented — Railroad Company Donates
Court House Square — Contest Between Worthington and Hersey — Former Wins
Easily — Vote by Townships — Tax Levy — School Conditions -Social Conditions 71

CHAPTEK V.

THE GRASSHOPPER SCOURGE- 1874 1875.

Large Acreage Sown — Fine Growing Weather — Ravages of Young Hoppers First In-
vasion — Commissioners Appropriate Monej' for Relief - County Paper Sold — Flour
and Pork Apportioned — Distributing Agents — Second Invasion — Fields Swept Bare —
Discouraging Sight — Grasshopper Stories — Third Invasion-The Harvest — Average
Y'ields — Auditor Bear's Estimate — Losses — A Prophesy — Rigid Economy — Hay for
Fuel — Potatoes for Food— Preparing for Winter— Soliciting Aid— J. C. Clark Raises
$1,800 — Solicitation for Private Account — Mass Meeting — Adopts Resolution Stat-
ing Conditions — Three Hundred Destitute Families — Appeal to Governor — "No
More Bonds" — Formal Ajipeal for Help — Clothing \\'orn to Rags — Bed Clothes of
Prairie Hay — No Improvidence — Must Have Hell) — State Aid Received — Tax Paying
Time Extended — Statement by Treasurer— Why Not Desert County?— Tax Levy —
Reduced — Assessment— Schools in 1874 — New Mail Route— Posloffices — Matter of
Taxes — State Furnishes Seed Wheat — Its Distribution - Anxious Days— Grasshop-
l)ers on the Wing — Again Attack the Crops— Hersey, Graham Lakes and Seward
Suffer Most — A Degenerate Breed— Census of 1875 —Assessed Valuation — First Dis-
trict Court — Cases Tried — Jurors 81



TABI,E OF CONTENTS. xiii

CHAPTER VI.

THE GRASSHOPPER SCOURGE (Continued)— 187G-1879.

Kailroii'l Rumors — Soutliern Minnesota to Extend — Settlers Enthusiastic — $40,000 Sub-
sidy Voted — ^Vote by Precincts — Project Fails — Sioux Falls Wants Railroad — Presi-
dent Diake Favors \Yorthington for Terminus — So Does Sioux Falls — Nol)le<;
Asked to Aid — Company Incorporated — Survey Made — Construction — Lively Times —
First Train — Founding of Adrian — Miller Station — Grasshoppers Again — Myriads
Appear — Crops Disajipear — Partial Wheat Crop — Damaging Setback — Relief Meas-
ures — "The Indians Are Coming^' — Refugees Flock to Woriiiington — Cam]) on
Public Square — Great Excitement — No Indians — Origin of the Scare — Scouting
Party — Its Members — Lieutenant Plotts' Report — Settlement in West End — West-
side Township Organized — Petitioners — First Town Meeting — Court House Elected
— Thurber & Chandler, Builders — Hoppers Scarce in 1877 — Small Acreage — Weed-
Grown Fields — Seed Grain Appropriation — Adrian Catliolie Colony — Bishop Ireland
Visits Adrian Country — Decides to Locate Colony — Contract With Railroad C0711-
pany — Father Knauf Arrives — Coming of First Colonists — Lands Sold — Rush in
Spring of 1878 — Land, Land, Land — Grasshoppers — Partial Crop Failure — Organi-
zation \^'illmont Township — Derivation of Name — Southern Minnesota Extends —
Heron Lake-Pipestone Branch — Railroad War — Kinbrae and Dundee Founded —
Last of the Grasshoppers — Organization Afton Township — Squabble Over Name —
Plethora of Petitions — Name Changed to Bloom — Leota Organized — Petitioners —
Named for Indian Maiden — Seney's Operations — Rushmore Founded — Activity in
West End — Railroad Lands Bought — Improvements by Adrian Colony — Good Times
Coming 91

CHAPTER VII.

ERA OF PROSPERITV— 1880-189.'!.

Rcconstructidu- Dawn of a Brighter Day — Adrian Colony Active — The 1880 Crop —
Census of 1880 Lismore Township Organized — The Name — Signers to Petition —
The Long Winter — An October Blizzard — Railroads Blockaded — Snow Boats — Out
of Fuel — Schools Close — Burning Grain — First Train in Six Weeks — Blockaded
Again — April 13, Thermometer Zero — Roads Opened — First Freight Train in Eleven
Week.s — Floods Stop Traffic — Burlington Road Makes Proposition — Subsidy Voted —
Road Built — Last Spike Driven — Round Lake Founded — A Bumper Crop — The
"Park Proposition" — Plan to Sell Part of Court House Block — Strong Opposition —
Scheme Defeated — County Seat Contest — Adrian to the Front — Exciting Days —
Legislature Petitioned -But Fails to Respond — Larkin Township Organized —
Petitioners — Selecting the Name — Fraud Charged — Tornado — Cora Graf Killed —
Pioperty Destroyed — Burlington Extends — And Founds Ellsworth — A Year of Jubi-
lee — Diversified Farming Begim — Exports of 1884 — Real Estate Values Soar — Census
of 1885 — County Seat Removal Talk — Big Crops — Another Railroad — Blizzard of
1888— Three Perish— Hail Storm— Census of 1890— Plan to Divide the County—
Rushmore Sees a Conspiracy — And Protests — Plan Defeated 105

CHAPTER VIII.

CLTRRENT EVENTS— 1893-1908.

Panic of 1893 — Dull Times^Plans for New Court House— And Jail — Work Begim —
Opposition — Temporary Injunction — Commissioners \\'in in Supreme Court — 476
Residents Remonstrate — Contract Let — Corner Stone Laid — Building Accepted —
County Seat Removal Again an Issue — Census of 1895 — Prosperous Period — Land
Values Increase — Spanish-American War — Nobles County Furnishes Company^



xiv TABLE OF CONTENTS.

Jklustcrcd In — Typhoid Fever Kpideinic — Three Deaths — Camps Ramsey, Siielling,
Meade, MeKenzic — Mustered Out — Roster of Company — Ixjsses — Burlington Road
Extends — Wilmont and Reading Founded — l.ismore Started— Census of 1900 —
Disastrous Year 1903 — Destructive Hail Storm — Big Losses — Stories of the Storm —
The Floods — Okabena Overflows — Streets Traveled in Boats — Kanaranzi on a
Rampage — Sweeps Everything Before It — Fury of the Little Rock — Freight Wreck
— Record of Precipitation — All Records Broken — Crop Failure -Dull Times — Census
of 1905^ — By Precincts — Native and Minnesota Born — Foreign Born — Countries of
Birth— Good Crops of 1906 and 1007— Prosperous Times— In 1908 115

CHAPTER IX.

POLITICAL— 1870- 1 874.

Coveiiior .Viistin Ajiijoints First County Commissioners — The Missing Records— Other
OtTicers Named — First County Convention — The Bolt — Violence Narrowly Averted
at First Election — The Result — Auditor Harris Refuses to Canvass the Vote —
Early Day Members of the Legislature- Difficulty Getting Officers to Serve —
Election of 1871 — One Democrat in the County — List of Voters — Changed Condi-
tions in 1872 — Voters of That Year — Polling Places — F^lection Officers — County
Overwhelmingly Republican — Legislative History — Opposition to Republican Party
in 187.'} — Republican Ticket ^^■ins — Politics Dull in 1874 -Democrats Put L'p a
Ticket— It Meets Defeat : 123

CHAPTER X.

POLITICVL— 1875-1887.

Passing of Pioneer Ways — Prohibitionists Enter Politics — Election of 1875— Big Vote
in 1876 — Hayes Carries County — Republican Split in 1877 — Peculiar Conditions That
Year — Result in Giving Democrats a Few Offices — Only One Ticket in 1878 —
E.\citing Contests of 1879 — Republicans Bolt and Fuse With Democrats — Republi-
can Ticket Defeated— Spectacular Contests for Sheriff, Auditor and Treasurer —
Tie for Sheriff — Diumatic Scene When Lots are Drawn — Court Decides Two
Contests — Garfield Gets Majority in 1880- Republican County Ticket Elected —
Democrats and "Anti-Ring" Republicans Combine in 1881 — Crushing Defeat of
Republican Ticket — Little Interest in 1882 — Fusion Forces Name Part of Ticket
in 1883— Anrl l<;iect It— Blaine Carries County in 1884— New Element Enters Poli-
tics — -Antagonism Between East and West Ends — Big Vote of 1886 Hepuljllcans
Elect Majority of Ticket 131

CHAPTER XT.

POLiriCAL— 1888-1908.

Vote Increases — Passing of the Indepeiulents — Election of 1888 — Alliance Party Com-
plicates Matters in 1890 — Democrats and Republicans Break Even — Birth of Peoples
Party — Its Part in. Polities — Australian Ballot Employed in 1892 — Harrison Car-
ries County — Result Locally — Fusion in 1894 — Republicans Win — Fusion Forces
Take Three OITices in ISOO .McKinley Gets Majority — Death of Peoples Party —
John Lind Carries the County in 1898 — Republican County Ticket Elected —
Kccoril Breaking Vote of 1900 McKinley Again Carries County — Three Offices
for Democrats — Primary Election Law — Revolutionizes County Politics — Primary
of 1902 — Nearly Clean Sweep for Republicans — Interesting Primary of 1904 —
Roosevelt's Record Breaking Majority — Republicans \\in in County — Primary of
1906- Democrats Carry County for Governor and Congressman — Primary of 1908 —
Summary 141



TABLE OF CONTENTS. xv

CHAPTEE XII.
WORXmXGTON— 1S7 1 - 1872.

Location — Elevation— Population — A Bower of Beauty— First White Men Visit the
Site— Infrequent Visits by Trappers— Andy Dillnmn's Sod Shanty— G. J. Hoff-
man's Dug-Out— First Building of Wood — Railroad Construction— Original Town-
site Abandoned — The Town Platted— Original Owners— Additions— National Colony
Assumes Control — Professor Humiston and Doctor Miller Visit the Site — The
Town Named — Incidents Connected with the Selection of the Name — The Historic
Worthington Family— Kegrets that. "Okabena" Was Not Selected — A Hoax-
Start of the First Building— Ceremonies When the First Nail is Driven — Business
Houses Opened in 1871 — The 'Worthington Hotel — Postoffice Established — Post-
masters—Winter of 1S71-72— Rush in the S])ring — Impressions Upon Early Day
Visitors — The Town in August, 1872 — Building Improvements That Year — ililler
Hall — ^Worthington Township Organized— The Temperance Feature — Petitions— Li-
cense Refused 153

CHAPTER XITI.
WORTHINGTON— 1 873- 1889.

Promises Fulfilled — Worthington Becomes Important Trading Point — 1873 Opens Aus-
piciously — Okabena Flouring Mills — Their Importance — Incorporation — Provisions of
Charter — Liquor Selling Prohibited — First Election — Those Who Voted — Charter
Adopted — First Officers — First Acts of Council — Worthington Becomes County
Seat — Grasshopper Days — In lS7-t — The Land Office— Election of 1874 — Voters Tliat
Year — Census of 1875 — Big Business — Election of 1875 — Building Record for 1876 —
Election That Year — Big Vote in 1877 — Immigiation in 1878 — The Town Lively —
First Brick Block- Miller Hall Burns— Elections of 1878 and 1879— Census of
1880 — A Comparison — Election of 1880 — Wrangling Over Temperance Question —
Two Parties Born— Exciting Election of 1S81— Prosperous Times in 1882— A New
Railroad — "The Elgin of Minnesota" — .\nnual Election — Boom Times in 1883 —
Board of Trade — New Buildings — Repeal of Temperance Clause in Charter — Under
Local Option — License Carries in 1883-^And .Again Next Year — Population in
1885 — License Carries — Improvements in 1886 — Exports and Imports — Elections of
188G and 1887— "Dry" in 1888— Likewise in 1889 165

CHAPTER XIV.

WORTHINGTON— 1890-1908.

Steady Growth — Census of 1890 — License Again in Vogue — Water Works Plant In-
stalled — Election of 1891 — Prosperous Days — Building Record — License Wins Again
in 1892— The Panic— Its Effect— Election of 1893- Two Fires— Officers Elected in
1894 — Big Gain in Population — Electric Lighting System — Temperance \\ave in
1895— A Cyclone— Return to License in 1896— Elections of 1897, 1898 and 1899—
A Prosperous Decadc-^Census of 1900 — Big Vote of 1901 — The Citizens' Movement —
Three Years of DuUness^The Flood — Worthington "Dry" at tlio Time — Goes
"Wet" in 1904— Census of 1905— Clean Sweep for License in 1905 and 1906—
"Dry" in 1907— "Wet" by One Vote in 1908— The Contest 177

CHAPTER XV.
WORTHINGTON'S ENTERPRISES.

I'liblic School — The First School — Early Day Teachers — The Attendance— Worthington
Seminary — Its Promoters — Its Failure — Petition for Independent District — Formed



xvi TABLE OF CONTENTS.

— First Directors — First School Building — Bonds Issued — Robinson Gets Contract —
The Hexagonal Building — Railroad Company Donates Land — High School Or-
ganized — Alumni Association — List of Graduates — New School House — Present
Condition of Schools — Fire Department — Early Day Protection — Cisterns — Bucket
Brigades — Fire House — Department Organized — Chaitcr Members — The Tourna-
ments — Xew Fire Station— Officers — Militia Company — Recruited — Mustered In —
OlTicors — Knlistcd Men — State Bank of Wortliinston— Elilui Smith Starts First
Bank — Thomas Parsons — George D. Dayton — Becomes State Bank — Later History —
Worthiiigton Xational Bank — As Nobles County Bank — Founded by Thompson &
Day — Evans &, Lynd Secure Control — Reorganised as National Bank — Citizens Na-
tional Bank — Founded by C. T. Tupper — Changes in Management — First National
Bank — Farmers and Citizens Bank — First County Fair — Association Organized —
"Bull and Pumpkin" Story — (hounds Leased — Officers — W'orthington District Fair
Association — Its Operations — Chautauqua Association — Organization- Officers — The
Chautauquas — Commercial Club — Carnegie Library — The Directors — Bath House As-
sociation — Bands — Gun Club — W'orthington Hospital 187

CHAPTER XVI.
WdKlIllNGTON'S CHURCHES AND LODGES.

"City of Churches" — Ten Organizations — Colony Christian Union — Union Plan Adopted
— First Religious Service — Church Organized — Born in a Saloon Building — Union
Plan Fails — Three Churches Founded — L'nion Congregational — Charter Members —
House of Worship Erected — Destroyed by Fire — The New Church — Pastors —
Sunday School Superintendents — Methodist Church — Rev. Crever — First Trustees — ■
Many Places of Worship — Early Struggles — First Church Edifice — The New One —
Later Church History — Pastors — Presbyterian Cliurch — Charter Members — Elders —
Trustees — First Church Building — Pastors — The New Edifice — Sunday School Su-
perintendents — Swedish Lutheran Church^First Members — Incorporated — Church
Building — Pastors — ^^Parsonagc — Episcopal Church — Rev. Gunn — Church Building —
Di/Vh-ulties Overcome — Catholic Cliurch — First Steps — Building Erected — Incorpor-
ated -Evangelical Association — Members —Trustees — Church and Manse — Pastors — -
Baptist Church — Initial Steps — Organization— .Members — Council of Recognition —
Incorporaleil -'I'rustces — Building — Pastors — Swedish Mission Church — Members
Church ;iii(l Parsonage — Pastors — Christian Church — Lodges — Grand Army Post —
Mustered ln - First Officers — Later Officers — largest in Minnesota — Disbiinded—
Reorganization — Charter Members — Relief Corps — First in Minnesota — Charier Mem-
bers — First Officers — The Masons — Blue Lodge Organized — Certificate — f barter
Members — First Officers — Chapter Organized — Its Prosperous Condition -Eastern
Star — Workmen — Degree of Honor — Knights of Pythias .Modern Woodmen Royal



Online LibraryArthur P. RoseAn illustrated history of Nobles County, Minnesota → online text (page 1 of 100)