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Cottonwood County Minnesota 
Genealogy and History

Organization of Cottonwood County

Source: "History of Cottonwood and Watonwan Counties, Minnesota", 1916
by B.F. Bowen & Co. - BZ - Sub. by FoFG

Cottonwood county, Minnesota, was created, May 23, 1857, with the county seat at Windom, and is one of second tier of counties north of the Iowa state line, and the third county from the state of South Dakota. This county has a length of five townships, and a width from north to south of four, except that on the northeast corner, two of the townships which would be included in this county if it were a complete rectangle, belong to Brown county, Minnesota.

This leaves the county eighteen townships, each six miles square, an area of six hundred and fifty and thirty-nine one hundredths square miles, or equivalent to 416.250 acres, of which some eight thousand acres are covered with water. In 1914 the county had fifteen hundred and eighty farms. The villages of the county are: Windom, Mountain Lake, Bingham Lake, Delft, Jeffers, Storden and Westbrook. Windom, the county seat, is situated in Great Bend township on the banks of the Des Moines river.

The county has numerous lakes within its borders, the chief of which are: Bingham lake, one mile long; Bean lake, Augusta, Three, Swan, Clear, Long and Willow or Fish lakes, ranging from one-third of a mile to over one mile long, and, some more scattered over the county. The surface of the county is made up of really beautiful rolling prairie, diversified by the lakes and numerous streams, while health groves planted by the hands of the sturdy pioneers, enhance the beauty and value of the domain of the entire county. Some of these artificial groves now tower from twenty to fifty feet in height and afford a splendid, cooling shade for man and beast in summer-time and a perfect wind-break during the roaring blasts and occasional blizzards of the long severe winter months. These groves include soft maple, cottonwood, willow, ash, box elder, elm and other varieties common to this climate.

The soil of Cottonwood county has been treated in the chapter on geology and hence need not be here enlarged upon, more than to add that it is of a rich make-up and produces corn and grain, with all the common grasses of Minnesota. It withstands great drought as well as excessive rainfall. The grasses of the county make it an ideal location for the dairymen and stock growers.

The total assessed valuation of Cottonwood county in 1912 was $8,523,570, of which $1,215,274 was personal property. The county has, of late years, come to be known as among the "corn counties" of the commonwealth of Minnesota. The farmer now calls corn his staple crop.

Cottonwood county is bounded on the north by Redwood and Brown counties; on the east by Brown and Watonwan counties; on the south by Jackson county and on the west by Murray county.

Much has been said and written in times past concerning the two civil townships that should have been left as a part of Cottonwood county, but which, through trickery, were stolen and added to Brown county. The younger generation knows nothing of this, and in fact few know that township 108, ranges 34 and 35 ever belonged to Cottonwood county. To make this clear to the reader of this history the following able article from the pen of Attorney Emory Clark, the pioneer attorney of Windom and Cottonwood county, will be given, as copied from the Windom Reporter, in which paper it appeared in 1873:

At the request of the county auditor of this county I have investigated the matter of county lines between Cottonwood and Brown counties, and will gladly give to the public the facts as I have discovered them by this research.

The legislative assembly of the Territory of Minnesota, February 20, 1855, passed an act entitled "An act to define the boundaries of certain counties," and in and by section. 19 of said act provided "that so much of the territory as was formerly included within the county of Blue Earth, and has not been included within the boundaries of any other county, as herein established, shall be known as the county of Brown."

On February 11, 1856, the legislative assembly passed an act entitled, "An Act to organize the county of Brown, section 1, of which reads: That the county of Brown is declared to be an organized county, and is entitled to all the privileges and immunities, and subject to all liabilities of other organized counties of this territory."

Section 2 locates the county seat at New Ulm. On May 29, 1857, the legislative assembly passed an act entitled: "A bill to establish certain counties, and for other purposes."

Section 7 of this act reads: "That so much of the Territory of Minnesota as lies within the following boundaries be, and the same is hereby established as the county of Cottonwood; beginning at the southeast corner of township 105, north of range 34 west; thence due north to the north line of township 108, north of range 38, east; thence due south to the south-west corner of township 105, north of range 38, west; thence due east to place of beginning."

This description would embrace twenty townships, and include the two Congressional townships in township 108, ranges 34 and 35 which have heretofore been deemed a part of Brown county.

Previous to the year 1857, when our state Constitution was adopted, county lines were subject to change at the will of the Legislature, but section 1, article 2, of the Constitution requires that "all laws changing county lines already in counties already organized, shall before taking effect be submitted to the elections of the county or counties to be effected thereby, and be adopted by a majority vote of such electors."

In 1864 the Legislature passed an act entitled: "An act to change the boundary line of Brown county," by which those two congressional townships theretofore in the northeast corner of Cottonwood county, would become a part of Brown county, and in the same act changing the county line between Brown and Redwood counties.

The proposition was submitted to the electors of the three counties at the annual election of 1864, but as Cottonwood county was not yet organized no vote was cast by her, and Redwood only cast fourteen votes in all, that being her first election. Brown county cast two hundred and eighty-seven votes in favor of the change and none against it.

Now it is contended by some, that as the act provided for a vote of the three counties on the proposition and one of these counties was then unorganized, the result of the election in 1864 did not effect a change of the county lines; and moreover that the law itself was unconstitutional, as it endorsed more than one subject which was not expressed in the title. Be this as it may, we still find in the General Statutes of 1866, chapter 8, section 16, that the boundary line of Cottonwood county is the same as established on May 29, 1857.

The interests of Cottonwood county requires an early determination of this state of doubt as to the county line. The assessed valuation of the lands alone in these two townships amounted to $15,000, besides it embraces one-tenth of the whole territory of the county. The tax and benefit of. these townships are now being enjoyed by Brown county. The authorities of Cottonwood county should be as vigilant of the county lines as a farmer is of his farm boundary lines.

(Signed) E. Clark.

May, 1873.

It appears that the good advice given by the above writer was not properly heeded, for Brown county still retains the two townships in question. It will be remembered that the vote was taken cm this question in 1864—a time when Cottonwood county had been depopulated by the Indian uprising of 1862, and many of the settlers in Redwood and Cottonwood counties had not yet returned to their claims.

Counties, like states and nations, have their own peculiar form of government While each county has its own local laws and rules, and no other county can dictate as to the management of affairs, yet all county governments are in perfect harmony with the general state laws under one common constitution. Then, the townships in a county have still other rules that its people make and abide by, which may or may not be like any other township in the county; yet, in a general sense, all townships must be governed so as not to interfere with the laws of the county in which they may be situated.

In Cottonwood county the offices in both township and county government have been held generally by representative citizens who have sought only to do the will of the people in a lawful manner, as they have understood the laws. There have been a few exceptions to this rule, but not more so here than in any other township or county in Minnesota.

It has been the general policy of this county (and was so from the very beginning) to live within its means, and while bonds have at certain times been issued, it was in order that the small warrants against the county might be paid in full when presented. However, such bonds have usually been issued for the purpose of making internal improvements from which the succeeding generations, possibly, may reap the greatest benefits; hence, it is no more than right that they should pay a share of the amount called for in these bond issues, whether it be for county buildings, roads, drainage or other improvements which are demanded by a progressive people. All of the later improvements made in Cottonwood county have been made with a view to the future—the bridges and public buildings, etc., having all been constructed of the best materials and by skillful workmen, who have not been allowed to slight their contract in the least.

At first the seat of county government was at a point about four miles above present Windom, on the Des Moines river, and was known as Big Bend. There the first county business was transacted, but in November, 1872, the entire set of county officials were removed to quarters provided at the new village of Windom, which, being on a railroad, was the logical place for the county seat to be located. Here it has remained ever since, although there was a time when the people in and about the village of Jeffers thought they were entitled to the county seat They were very near the exact geographical center of the county and had secured a branch railroad, which made their argument all the stronger, but the seat of justice was not moved and the fine, expensive court house that stands in Windom today will no doubt house the county offices for many long years to come.

So sure were the good citizens of Jeffers that they could induce the voters to remove the county seat to their place, they donated what is known as the "court house square," but the ground has always stood unoccupied. Had the center of the county had a railroad at the date of its organization, it would doubtless have secured the county seat, but at that early day the settlements were far from the center of the county and the nearest railroad point was naturally taken.

The following article was taken from the Windom Reporter, June 12, 1884: "The tax collection of Cottonwood county at the settlement of the auditor and treasurer, June 1, 1884, amounted to $14,591.58, leaving a less amount of unpaid taxes on the books than ever shown before. The court house is paid for and Cottonwood county is entirely out of debt. We doubt if there is another county in the state with such a clean record.

"These are facts for the homeseekers and land buyers to consider. If you locate in Cottonwood county you have no old taxes to pay, no court house to build and you have the finest land the sun shines on and as low taxes as are to be found in any civilized country."

Cottonwood county was organized in 1870. The first meeting of the county commissioners was held on July 29, 1870, and the members of the board were Allen Gardner, J. W. Benjamin and I. L. Miner. They appointed the first set of county officials and their selection were as follows: Charles Chamberlain, auditor; H. M. McGaughey, treasurer; Ezra Winslow, register of deeds; E. B. Sheldon, sheriff; T. C. Imus, judge of probate; J. W. Shofer, county attorney; L. L. Miner, court commissioner; Orren Nason, surveyor; J. A. Harvey, coroner.

At the August meeting in 1870 Great Bend was organized, and the first election for township officers was held at the residence of Charles Chamberlain, August 27.

Originally the county offices were kept at Great Bend, but in 1872, by vote, it was decided to remove them to Windom

Cottonwood county was attached to Watonwan county for judicial purposes, June 15, 1871, but, by an act of the Legislature in 1873 it was detached from Watonwan county and Murray and Pipestone counties were attached for judicial purposes.

The first term of court was held in Windom, commencing November 11, 1873, with Hon. Franklin H. White, judge; J. G. Redding, clerk; Charles White, sheriff. Three criminal cases were docketed and there were twenty-four civil cases on the docket. The first legal clerk of the courts was H. M. McGaughey, though early in the organization of the county one was appointed, but without authority. Judge White appointed Mr. McGaughey in July, 1873, and he held the position until the fall election, that year, when he was succeeded by J. G. Redding.

The first representative from the county was Hon. Nelson H. Manning, who was seated in January, 1874.

The first Fourth of July celebration in Cottonwood county was held in 1869, in J. W. Benjamin's grove in Lakeside township. The orator on that occasion was George Gray.

The first birth in the county was probably a child born to E. B. Sheldon and wife, in an immigrant wagon, on the banks of Cottonwood lake, in either 1868 or 1869.

School district No. 1 was organized in 1870 in the southwest part of Big Bend township. The district was three miles square. A school house was erected in that district in 1871, the school being taught by Miss Nettie Sackett at Great Bend in 1871.

The earliest marriage in the county was that of George B. Walker to Sarah J. Greenfield, February 18, 1871.

The first store in Cottonwood county was in Big Bend, John T. Smith being the proprietor, and he was also postmaster.

In 1871 the assessed valuation of the county was $99,817; taxes assessed on the same that year amounted to $1,585.14. The number of acres of land assessed was $6,043I value of real estate was about $24,000, and of personal property, $75,550. The first tax was paid by George F. Robison in January, 1872.

In 1895 the county's assessed valuation was $3,380,000 in realty and personal property. The total taxes that year amounted to $73,847.88.

In 1878 the assessed valuation of lands in Cottonwood county was as follows: Dale township, $3.50 per acre; Amboy township, $3.50 per acre; Southbrook township, $3.50 per acre; Ann township, $3.50 per acre; Springfield township, $4.00 per acre; Amo and Delton townships, $3.50 per acre; Highwater and Germantown townships, $3.75 per acre; Carson township, $4.00 per acre; Selma township, $3.50 per acre.

In 1905 the total assessed valuation of all real estate in Cottonwood county was $6,171,632; of personal property, $863,684.

By townships and villages, the assessed valuation of Cottonwood county in 1916 was as follows, this representing about one-third of the actual value of the realty named and about forty per cent, of the personal property held in the county.

1916 Assessed Valuation
Township or Village -- Realty -- Personal.
Amboy township -- $ 514.190 -- $ 55,190
Amo township -- 528,969 -- 67,724.
Ann township -- 549,286 -- 61,452
Carson township -- 530,744 -- 83,189
Dale township -- 534,420 -- 68,257
Delton township -- 530,379 -- 52,914
Germantown township -- 534,967 -- 65,858
Great Bend township -- 518,945 -- 65,447
Lake side township -- 517,622 -- 61,532
Midway township -- 551,850 -- 60,264
Mountain Lake township -- 522, 869 -- 54,717
Highwater township -- 530,660 -- 70,675
Rose Hill township -- 524,838 -- 57,250
Selma township -- 522,043 -- 57, 677
Southbrook township -- 474,732 -- 48,614
Springfield township -- 523,197 -- 66,127
Storden township -- 567,507 -- 105,616
Westbrook township -- 537,388 -- 68,104
Bingham Lake village -- 33,954 -- 18,701
Jeffers village -- 77,937 -- 52,372
Mountain Lake village -- 248,189 -- 119.471
Westbrook village -- 112,710 -- 78,189
Windom village -- 471,534 -- 248,148
Totals $10,498,597 -- $1,687,388

The following is a transcript and general account of the more important and historic facts connected with Cottonwood county, as shown by the minute books kept by the commissioners in the county auditor's office at Windom:

The first meeting of the county commissioners was held on July 27, 1870, the commissioners being Allen Gardner, Jr., Joel W. Benjamin and Lewis C. Miner. Mr. Gardner was elected chairman of the board and Charles Chamberlin was appointed clerk.

The first regular act of this, the first law-making body of Cottonwood county, was to divide the county into commissioner districts as follow: District No. 1 was made up of ranges 34 and 35; district No. 2 consisted of range No. 36; district No. 3 consisted of ranges 37 and 38.

On motion of Commissioner Allen Gardner, Charles Chamberlin was appointed county auditor; on motion of Joel W. Benjamin, H. M. McGaughey was appointed county treasurer; on motion of Allen Gardner, Ezra Winslow was appointed register of deeds; on motion of Joel W. Benjamin, Ezekeil B. Sheldon was appointed sheriff; on motion of Lewis Miner, John W. Shafer was appointed county attorney; on motion of Joel W. Benjamin, Tabor Imus was appointed judge of probate; on motion of Allen Gardner, Lewis L. Miner was appointed court commissioner; on motion of Allen Gardner, Orrin Nason was appointed county surveyor; on motion of Joel W. Benjamin, John A. Harvey was appointed coroner; on motion of Allen Gardner, Charles Chamberlin was appointed clerk of the district court.

David Mooers and S. P. Stedman were appointed justice of the peace for district No. 2; John Wilford and Rev. John Cropsey, for district No. 3; Charles Robison and Frank Pones for district No. 1. The first constables appointed by the county commissioners were P. Thomas and O. B. Bryant, for district No. 2; R. A. Nichols and Mr. Oaks, for district No. 3; Kirk Sheldon and I. F. Grant, for district No. 1. David Mooers was appointed assessor for district No. 2; John Wilford, for district No. 3; Simeon Greenfield, for district No. 1. On motion of Allen Gardner, Hosea Eastgate was appointed overseer of the poor.

SECOND MEETING OF THE COMMISSIONERS. The second session of the county commissioners was held at Great Bend, August 15, 1870. The object of this meeting was to organize civil . townships in the county. A petition having been presented by the legal voters of township 105, range 35 west, asking that a township be organized, it was done. The board named the new township "Lakeside," and ordered that the first township meeting and election be held at the house of Joel W. Benjamin on Saturday, August 27, 1870. O. M. Benhaus, Tabor Imus and Simeon Greenfield were appointed judges of the election, and R. P. Mathews was appointed clerk. Several other townships were organized.

January 3, 1871, was the date for the next meeting of the county board, it also being held at the first county seat, Great Bend. The members present were S. B. Stedman and Hogan Anderson. H. M. McGaughey was appointed county school superintendent. The board resolved to levy a tax of three hundred dollars "for the purpose of defraying the expenses already incurred and to be incurred during the present year."

At the April 22, 1871, meeting, the county officers were ordered to hold their respective offices at the building of the auditor, "who will furnish ample room for the keeping of all books belonging to the county. The clerk is instructed to notify each officer of this order."

At the January 2, 1872, commissioners' meeting, the first held at Windom, seventy-two men were drawn for grand jurymen and seventy-two for trial jurymen. The district court was held at Madelia, Watonwan county, as this county was then attached to that for judicial purposes.

At the last-named meeting, it was resolved to lease the offices then being occupied by the county auditor for the next year at one hundred dollars per year, payable quarterly, the owner to light and heat the building. Emory Clark was declared elected county attorney and gave his official bonds to the commissioners. The board at that session decided to grant licenses to sell intoxicating liquors to any who might make out the proper application papers and the amount to be charged was seventy-five dollars.

On March 4, 1872, the commissioners met again and at that time they declared the office of county treasurer vacant, the sureties to be discharged from further obligations. On motion of member Hogan Anderson, Eli A. Stedman was appointed county treasurer to fill the agency, and he forthwith furnished bonds in the sum of five thousand dollars. L. L. Miner, previous county treasurer, was requested to pay over all the county money and the papers and books belonging to Cottonwood county.

On January 7, 1873, the members present at the board meeting were George A. Purdy, George F. Robison and Hogan Anderson, Mr. Purdy being chairman. Official bonds were furnished as follow.: Eli A. Stedman, treasurer; J. G. Redding, court commissioner; S. M. Espey, county auditor; Charles White, sheriff; A. D. Perkins, judge of probate.

At this session H. M. McGaughey was allowed fifty dollars for services as county superintendent of schools for that year. The liquor license was increased to ninety dollars per year.

On January 9, 1873, the county treasurer's bond for ten thousand dollars was furnished by the newly-elected county treasurer, M. E. Donohue. At this session of the board they accepted the donation from the St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad Company for block No. 23, in the village of Windom, to be used to erect a court house and county buildings upon, and that S. M. Espey be requested to notify the company to send on the deed for the same.

On January n, 1873, the commissioners first let a contract for publishing the proceedings of the county board to the Windom Reporter at fifty cents a folio.

On February 4, 1873, the following resolution was passed: "Be it resolved by the board of county commissioners of Cottonwood county that M. E. Donohue, of said county, having failed to furnish an additional bond as treasurer of said county and that the ten days having elapsed since he was notified; therefore, be it resolved, that the said Donohue is hereby removed from said office of county treasurer. Members George A. Purdy and George F. Robison voted in the affirmative and Hogan Anderson in the negative. Another resolution the same day was as follows: "Be is resolved by the board of county commissioners of Cottonwood county that Eli B. Stedman be declared appointed to fill the vacancy in the office of county treasurer caused by the removal of M. E. Donohue."

It appears of record that Treasurer Donohue furnished bonds, but the list of bondsmen contained three who were not considered .financially good, hence the commissioners demanded further security, which the treasurer failed to furnish and refused to do so.

The board of commissioners provided for the construction of the first wagon bridge over the Des Moines river at Windom during the year 1873; it was built by Contractor N. H. Manning and cost the county seven hundred dollars for the structure and about three hundred dollars for building approaches to it.

Nothing special transpired, as shown by the records, until the meeting held on June 6, 1874, when County Treasurer Stedman resigned and the commissioners appointed C. H. Smith to fill the vacancy.

In January, 1875, the county attorney had his salary fixed at two hundred dollars per year.

On July 26, 1875, the county commissioners requested His Honor, Judge Dickinson, if it was consistent with good business policy, not to call a special term of the district court in this county that summer or fall, on account of the total destruction of the crops and the inability of the county to secure the necessary expenses for the same.

In 1876 the county issued its first bond. Bond No. 1, for twelve hundred dollars, was issued to H. D. Winters, August 1, 1876, for five years at ten per cent, interest per annum. This bond was issued for the purpose of paying off the floating debt of the county.

In 1876 the commissioners allowed George F. Robison nine dollars premium, or bounty, on the three and sixty-eight hundredths acres of timber he had growing and also the one hundred and eighty rods of hedge about his farm premises. Aaron Schofield was allowed two dollars premium on his one acre of planted timber; W. T. Richardson, on his three and thirty-six hundredths acres of timber, received a credit of six dollars and seventy-two cents.

In 1877 the county commissioners had plenty of work trying to adjust the losses sustained by the farmers of Cottonwood county by reason of the seventeen-year locusts (commonly called grasshoppers). An agent was appointed in this county to measure and destroy all grasshoppers brought to his notice within the county. On motion, the commissioners ordered that the compensation for measuring and killing these pests and their eggs should be one and a half dollars a day for actual time employed in measuring, killing and making out proper reports and accounts of the same.

On March 28, 1877, S. B. Stedman was appointed superintendent of burning prairie grass for Cottonwood county for the year commencing April, 1877; his compensation was fixed at one dollar and fifty cents a day and ten cents a mile for use of team when necessary to use a team in his work. taxes in 1877.

In 1877 the county revenue was $3,507, and the taxes levied were to cover the following items of county expenses: Officers' salaries, $2,320; interest, $270; court house expenses, $500; incidental expenses, $250, with five per cent, for losses. Ordered that $500 be raised for caring for the poor and $250 for bridge purposes.

In 1879 the commissioners offered a bounty on gophers to the amount of five cents for each head or pelt brought to the court house and vouched for as being killed within Cottonwood county.

In 1881 the commissioners ordered constructed a new combination bridge of two spans crossing the Des Moines river at Windom. The King Bridge Company obtained the contract at $2,090.

On January 2, 1883, the commissioners ordered a bridge in Springfield township, over the waters of the Des Moines river in section 21, the same to cost not in excess of nine hundred dollars.

At the January, 1883, meeting of the board a committee was appointed to "arrange the office room now occupied by the register of deeds and auditor at an expense of not more than fifty dollars.

The first mention made in the records of the county of providing a court house was made at the March meeting in 1883, in a motion made by M. T. DeWolf. H. M. Goss and Joel Clark were appointed a committee, to report at the next meeting with plans and specifications for a court house not to exceed in cost three thousand dollars, and said committee was to also report on the feasibility of building at once. On March 16, 1883, on motion, it was resolved to build a court house as soon "as it can be practically done at a cost not in excess of three thousand dollars."

On another motion, the plans and specifications by J. Gark for the court house, which was to be thirty-six by fifty feet, were adopted. The building was to be two stories high. John Clark was appointed building committee, with full power to act in every particular, as his judgment might dictate, and that it should be erected as soon as it could be. The commissioners were at that time John Clark, C. Mead, T. Ellison, M. T. DeWolf and H. M. Goss. This court house really cost $2,916.62. It had been opposed by the farmers, who felt too poor to think of paying for a court house The county had long been renting of Mr. Klock his building, which was also used for school room purposes, and when court time came school had to be dismissed, for the teachers had no other room; however, their pay as teacher went on just the same as thought they were teaching.

County Commissioner Clark was appointed a committee to lease or rent the hall or court room for dances, shows and was to get seven dollars a night and three dollars for free lectures. It was resolved to tender the use of the court house to the county agricultural society for fair purposes free of charge. The village of Windom was given free use of an extra room in the court house by furnishing the same. The court house was insured for $2,500 at a $2.25 per hundred rate for five years. On motion, Windom village was granted the right to put their calaboose on the southwest corner of the court house square, where the park and jail now stand. The old court house now serves as a barn in Lakeside township.

[Source: "History of Cottonwood and Watonwan Counties, Minnesota" by B.F. Bowen & Co., 1916 - BZ - Sub. by FoFG]


Source: History Of Cottonwood And Watonwan Counties Minnesota Their People, Industries And Institutions
John A. Brown - Volume 1 1916 Editor-In-Chief

Transcribed and Contributed by Friends For Free Genealogy BZ

Cottonwood county is sub-divided into eighteen civil township, each having a local government of its own, but all working in harmony with the general county government plan.

Germantown comprises congressional township 108, range 36, west.
Highwater comprises congressional township 108, range 37, west.
Ann comprises congressional township 108, range 38, west,
Selma comprises congressional township 107, range 34, west.
Delton comprises congressional township 107, range 35, west
Amboy comprises congressional township 107, range 36, west.
Storden comprises congressional township 307, range 37, west.
Westbrook comprises congressional township 107, range 38, west.
Midway comprises congressional township 106, range 34, west.
Carson comprises congressional township 106, range 35, west.
Dale comprises congressional township 106, range 36, west.
Amo comprises congressional township 106, range 37, west.
Rose Hill comprises congressional township 106, range 38, west.
Mountain Lake comprises congressional township 105, range 34, west.
Lakeside comprises congressional township 105, range 35, west.
Great Bend comprises congressional township 105, range 36, west.
Springfield comprises congressional township 105, range 37, west.
Southbrook comprises congressional township 105, range 38, west.

Source: History Of Cottonwood And Watonwan Counties Minnesota Their People, Industries And Institutions
John A. Brown Volume 1 1916 Editor-In-Chief
Submitted by Friends for Free Genealogy BZ

The Cottonwood County Immigration Society was formed in Windom in May, 1882, with John Clark as president and the following men as vice presidents, chosen according to townships: Lakeside, S. O. Taggart; Mountain Lake, John Janzen; Selma, H. M. Goss; Delton, C. S. Narmoer; Carson, Fred Carpenter; Great Bend, C. Warren; Dale, J. Cutler; Amboy, Wilbur Potter; Germantown, Chris Brand; Highwater, Geo. Quale; Sorden, Chas. Reipka; Amo, Corlis Mead; Springfield, T. S. Brown; Southbrook, W. H. Jones; Rose Hill, Henry Trantfether; Ann, C. H. Anderson; secretary, E. C. Huntington; treasurer, J. N. McGregor; executive committee: A. D. Perkins, J. S. Redding, John Hutton, E. C. Huntington, Paul Seeger, S. M. Espy and A. Quevli. The object of the association was the dissemination and accumulation of information concerning Cottonwood county, its climate, its resources, its prospects, and the promotion of its settlement.

It was the duty of the vice-presidents to collect information and facts relating to the character and resources of townships represented by them; also to furnish the same to the executive committee and to cooperate with the officers of the association in securing a judicious distribution of such publications as may be issued by the organization and to perform such duties as may be assigned them by the president. The membership fee was one dollar.
The various census reports of this county show the following facts: In 1860 the county contained only twelve people—six men and six women;
in 1870 it had increased to 534;
in 1875 to 2,870;
in 1880 it had reached 5,553;
in 1885 it was 5,894;
in 1890 it was 7,412;
in 1900 it was 12,069;
in 1910 it was 12,651.















Great Bend








Mountain Lake


Mountain Lake Village


Rose Hill












Windom Village




CENSUS OF 1900 AND 1910.


Amboy 437 489
Amo 395 358
Ann 433 500
Bingham Lake Village 285 311
Carson 672 623
Dale 483 455
Delton 371 360
Germantown 522 512
Great Bend 444 435
Highwater 591 627
Jeffers Village 227
Lakeside 449 392
Midway 658 607
Mountain Lake 512 561
Mountain Lake Village 1,081 959
Rose Hill 510 535
Selma 530 427
Southbrook 303 50
Springfield 332 361
Storden 659 548
Westbrook 579 688
Westbrook Village. 429
Windom Village 1,749 1944
Total 12,651 12,069


According to the United States census in 1910 the following nationalities were here represented:
Native born Americans 9,787
Germans, 624;
Swedes, 185;
Norwegians, 723;
English and Irish , 61;
Danish, 207;
Austrians, 112;
Russians, 821;
other countries, 131.


The following are the village plats of Cottonwood county:

Bingham Lake, situated in section 9, township 105, range 35, west, was platted by the officers of the St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad Company, July 28, 1875.

Delft, in the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter and the south-west quarter of section 18, township 106, range 35, was platted by the Inter-State Land Company, June 18, 1902.

Jeffers was platted by the Inter-State Land Company, September 19, 1899, in section 20, township 107, range 36, west.

Mountain Lake was platted by the officers of the St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad Company, May 25, 1872, in section 33, township 106, range 34, west.

Westbrook was platted by the Inter-State Land Company, June 8, 1900, in section 29, township 107, range 38.

Windom was platted by the St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad Company, May 25, 1872, in the southwest quarter of section 25, and parts of sections 26 and 36, township 105, range 36 west. The president of the company was then Elias Drake.

Storden was platted by the Inter-State Land Company, July 8, 1903, comprising all of the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of section 29, township 107, range 37 west.

Besides several private or family burying grounds in this county, there are the following public cemeteries:

Amo cemetery, platted March 2, 1899, in the northeast corner of section 21, township 106, range 37, west. This was platted by the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal church of the township.

Delton cemetery, in the north half of the southeast quarter of section 22, township 107, range 35, west; filed on November 11, 1886.

Windom cemetery, platted by the Windom Cemetery Association, by W. B. Cook, president, E. L. Leonard, treasurer, July 20, 1890. This is situated on a part of the south half of the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 25, township 105, range 36, west.

St. Francis cemetery, platted, February 4, 1901, in the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 36, township 105, range 36.

Carson church and cemetery grounds, platted on December 8, 1900, by the trustees of the Mennonite church, in section 15, township 106, range 35, west.

Mountain Lake cemetery was platted by the Mountain Lake Cemetery Association, David Ewert, president; John Janzen, secretary, and Henry P. Goertz, treasurer, March 18, 1893, in section 33, township 106, range 34, west

Westbrook cemetery was platted in the northeast quarter of the north-east quarter of section 29, township 107, range 38, west, by the village authorities of Westbrook, February 19, 1913.

According to the government surveys made, several years since, the altitude above the sea at Windom was thirteen hundred and thirty-four feet and at Heron Lake it is fourteen hundred and six feet.
In 1872 these prices obtained in Cottonwood county:
Wheat, 90 cents; flour, per hundred weight, $3.10;
eggs, 12cents per dozen;
butter, per pound, 10 cents;
corn, per bushel, 40 cents;
oats, 20 cents; hay (wild), $5.00 per ton.
In 1880 the prices ranged as follows:
Wheat, 90 cents;
flour, $3.00;
oats, 20 cents;
corn, 20 cents;
barley, 25 cents;
potatoes, 25 cents;
butter, 12 cents;
eggs, 16 cents;
fresh pork, per hundred, $3.50.
In 1890 these prices are found in the Windom Reporter: Wheat, 75 cents; oats, 29 cents;. butter, 10 cents; eggs, 14 cents.
In the month of August, 1916, the following prices obtained in this locality and at Mankato:
Wheat, $1.50;
corn, 86 cents;
oats, 43 cents;
hogs, $9.63;
cattle, top prices, $10.95;
eggs 21 cents;
heavy hens, 14 cents a pound;
potatoes, $1.00;
dairy butter, 30 cents a pound;
hand separated butter, 33 cents per pound;
creamery butter, 35 cents per pound.

In 1873 all of southwestern Minnesota came under the devastating influences of the grasshoppers, which continued until 1878. In the way of relief to the destitute settlers may be mentioned the following:

Gen. J. W. Bishop, general manager of the Sioux City Railroad, issued an order donating all the timber owned by the road situated more than a mile from the track to destitute settlers. Besides, the eastern stockholders donated the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars each to those whose only dependence was in the hands of charity.

The state Legislature passed a seed wheat bill, to aid destitute settlers on the frontier, the substance of which is given as follows: "Section 1. That the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars or so much thereof as may be necessary is hereby appropriated out of any money in the state treasury, belonging to the general revenue funds, not otherwise appropriated, for the relief of destitute settlers on the frontier counties of the state, for the purchase of grain.

"Section 2. Provided, that no more than thirty dollars shall be paid to one family."

As a result of the above bill, Cottonwood county received about four thousand five hundred bushels of grain, which cost one dollar and eight cents a bushel.

In February, 1874, many of the settlers held a meeting for the purpose of asking an extension of time for the payment of personal taxes. The state came to their aid and passed a bill extending the time until the following November, provided no taxes were in arrears.
In May, 1874, a grasshopper convention was held in Windom, about two hundred attending. A general opinion prevailed that the destruction of crops for the year was inevitable and that aid was necessary. The convention passed a resolution requesting Governor Davis to appoint ex-Governor Miller as a commissioner to go to Washington and lay facts before Congress and ask relief. A motion also prevailed to grant settlers the right to leave their claims until the grasshopper raid was over and they were able to procure the necessary seed for another year. A committee of one from each county afflicted was appointed to canvass their respective counties and ascertain the amount of relief necessary and report to the governor at once.

In July, 1874, the county auditor received returns from the townships showing the per cent of grain destroyed.


Wheat. Oats. Corn . Flax.
Amboy 75 65 25 100
Southbrook 95 60 70 100
Springfield 100 100 75 95
German town 90 100 55
Carson 80 75 55 60
Amo 85 80 60 60
Ann 60 55 65 100
Clinton 90 70 43 100

STORM OF 1873.

On January 7, 1873, in that terrible storm mentioned elsewhere in this volume, William Norris lost his life in Springfield township within eighty rods of his own house. The farm is now owned by George Morley, in section 30. About half of (he men were in Windom that day trading and of course stayed all night there. This was the same storm Mr. Peterson writes about when the scholars all had to remain in the Big Bend school house for nearly two days.

The first severe cyclone to visit these parts after the county's settlement was the one which devastated things in general early in June, 1903. Eight persons were killed, as follow: Daniel Galligher and two daughters, Mrs. Joe Fritcher and baby, a daughter of Mrs. Joe Fritcher, the father of Mr. Fritcher and Joseph Mathias. Aside from two sons this wiped out the Gal-ligher family of this county.

The local papers said (Windom, July 1, 1903): "Leaving death and destruction in its pathway, a cyclone passed over this county four miles south of this city last evening. It was about seven o'clock when the storm was at its worst. Many houses, bams and outbuildings were torn asunder and in one of the houses three people were killed. The house of Daniel Galligher stood on the edge of an embankment overlooking String lake. The storm swept the building into the lake, killing Mr. Galligher and his two grown-up daughters. At a late hour this morning but one of the bodies—that of one of the two daughters—has been found. Her clothing was entirely torn away, the bones of the body were broken and she presented an awful appearance. Mr. Galligher's granary was blown away; his horses and cattle all killed and a vast amount of other damage done on the premises. The daughters of Mr. Galligher, Nettie and Ella, were well known in Windom.

"In Windom a fearful gale blew, but no damage resulted further than trees being torn up by the roots and signs dislocated."

On the Crowell farm a piece of a fork was found driven through the trunk of a tree. Spears of straw and hay were literally driven through the bark of growing trees. On E. H. Klock's farm a most wonderful thing occurred and which no one can account for. Within a grove and near his house stood a farm wagon with a heavy box hay rack on it. There was a grove of willows and other artificial trees, many of which were thirty feet high. These at the point named stood on the highway and after the storm had passed (Mr. Klock and family being in Windom at the time of the storm) the wagon was found headed as before, only it had been picked up and carried over these thirty-foot trees and set down in a direct line where it had stood in the yard the hour of the storm. The wagon and rack were not in the least broken and the tongue was pointed in the same direction as before, only out in the highway several rods from its former position and beyond these trees.

Just before the storm struck, all the cattle on D. U. Weld's farm seemed to divine what was coming and made a stampede for the stock barn. It was flying timbers of the destroyed Hager school house that killed Joseph Mathias.

D. A. Noble was returning from his farm near Windom and saw the storm. Not knowing which way it was going, he halted a moment, watched its course and acted accordingly. He was near its edge and easily saw the storm cross the Des Moines river and on up a slope to where Dr. Silas Allen's old landmark, the red granary, stood. The latter was picked up and carried high in the air, when, all of a sudden it seemed to explode and disappeared in splinters; no piece was ever found of this building except a door to it.

CYCLONE OF 1908. The presence of cellars probably saved many lives of Cottonwood county citizens on Monday evening, June 22, 1908, when a terrible cyclone swept through to the north and east of Windom. The loss of property amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the growing crops were practically uninjured.

The cyclone formed somewhere in the Des Moines river valley three or four miles from Windom, and first struck the home of Frank Shottle, on section 15, in Great Bend township, destroying his barn, killing several horses and other stock; then went nearly east to Paul Hooke's where some small buildings were destroyed, but no serious damage done. From there the storm swept over section 14, striking the home of Ross Nichols, the Mrs. Warren farm, where the bam was completely destroyed and the prairie for half a mile or more strewn with the debris. The house was partially unshingled, and within about fifteen feet some large silver maples, nearly thirty years old, were uprooted, while south of the house other trees were destroyed, but the house, otherwise than as mentioned, was uninjured. The family saw the storm coming and started for the cellar, but the storm had passed. Just east of this place about ten yards, the storm encountered the telephone wires of the Northwestern and the Tri-State and Windom ftjutual, tearing up poles and entangling the wires badly. The telephone lines for forty or fifty rods were entirely destroyed.

The storm continued over section 15, striking the barn of John Carlson, moving it several feet from its foundation, and unroofed the house. Five horses in the barn were unhurt. Also in the Nichols barn were three horses and a few cattle and all escaped injury. Mr. Carlson was standing near the house when he first saw the storm approaching. He said that there were two funnel-shaped clouds that came together, one from the southeast and one from the northeast and that they united just west of Shottle's grove, sweeping down upon it with utter destruction. From here it proceeded to the east side of section 12, where it demolished the barn belonging to a lady in Iowa and badly damaged the house. Proceeding to the east, it struck the wind-mill of M. F. Frickie, doing slight injury, but on the northeast quarter of section 6, in Lakeside township, just north of the Frickie home, it struck the home of Jacob Fast, tearing off chimneys, blowing in windows of the house and destroying several buildings. This was the third cyclone to hit Mr. Fast in recent years, causing him great losses.

George Potter's barn, on the southwest quarter of section 5 in Lakeside township, was next hit and was completely destroyed. Isaac Foth's home was next in the path on the southwest quarter of section 32. Here peculiar freaks of the cyclone were noticed. It is customary for the Mennonifes generally to build houses and barns in conjunction with each other and in this case Mr. Foth's house and barn cornered. The house was practically untouched while the barn was ruined. The beautiful grove was torn and twisted beyond recognition, great trees being uprooted, while others were peeled and twisted off at different distances from the ground. Isaac Foth said that when the storm struck him, there were two funnel shaped clouds in sight, one of which struck his house and the other he thought struck the Fast and Peter places, from which it would seem that the two cyclones which united at the Shottle place, separated between Carlson's and Foth's.

The next place in the path of destruction was that of A. L. Thompson, in Carson township, where the barn was moved. The barn contained five horses, none of which were injured. The machine shed and several out-buildings were destroyed and the grove twisted, uprooted and denuded of all foliage.

Continuing northward from the home of Mr. Thompson, the dwelling of Henry Loewen was completely wiped off the earth and nothing but a hole remained, together with some debris, to mark the spot. This was on the northeast half of section 33, Carson township. On the section south and eighty rods distant was the home of A. J. Wiebe, one of the most prosperous and wealthy of the Mennonite farmers, and the scene of the most terrible desolation. His grove was planted in 1868 by George Robinson and was one of the first planted on the prairies of Cottonwood county. The place was one of the most delightful in this part of Minnesota, embracing a splendid orchard and excellent buildings, all of which except a small part of the house were completely destroyed. One horse was killed and two buried in the debris of the barn, but taken out alive. On the prairie east of the house several cattle were killed. Here trees forty years old were uprooted, broken off and twisted into all shapes and the grove practically ruined. The farm was hedged with long rows of willows and these were twisted into an almost solid mass and interwoven with wire fencing. No one was at home except the children, who sought safety in the cellar, but they were so frightened that they were unable to give any definite account of what happened. When asked how long the storm lasted one replied, "long time," but in reality it was not longer than one minute. Mr. Wiebe's buildings were all new and modern. But after the storm had passed nothing remained except a few jars of fruit in the cellar and a yard covered with boards and building material. It was here that they were trying to get into the cellar. All but John Eitzen, a man of about seventy years, succeeded. He, together with a horse, was carried a quarter of a mile and dropped in a slough, where he was afterwards found, the old gentleman being somewhat dazed but otherwise uninjured. The slough was covered with debris from the ruins, while the prairie all the way to the pond was covered with kindling wood. On the northeast quarter of the same section were the homes of Henry and Peter Wiems. Henry's barn was completely destroyed, with a number of cattle, while the house escaped injury, Peter's home was a few rods east of the barn and outbuildings, which were completely destroyed, while the house was somewhat damaged. Two steel water tanks were carried away and no trace of them ever found. A team of horses was carried one half a mile and dropped and when found were grazing as if nothing of importance had happened.

The storm then jumped about two miles northeast and struck the home of Klaas Boltd, killing a horse and destroying all the buildings. On the northeast quarter of section 23 in Carson township, George Klaasin lost all of his buildings except the house, those destroyed including barns, granary and a number of small structures, such as machine sheds, etc. His stock were scattered over the prairie east of the buildings, three cows and one horse being among the dead.

P. G. Klaasen lived in section 12 of the same township. He lost all of his buildings, valued at from five to ten thousand dollars. He was not at home at the time, but his wife tried to save her children by going into the cellar. They were caught in the wreck and all barely escaped with their lives, except one child, who was killed.

David Hamm, on section 18, Midway township, lost all of his buildings. Jacob Quiring, a near neighbor, lost his home as well as a large amount of stock. The family sought safety in the cellar, in which there was about a foot of water. When the house left the foundation the suction was so great as to drench the people in the cellar by drawing water up and over them. This seems to have been the end of the storm, which was followed by a heavy rain. Jacob Epps was returning from Mountain Lake and was caught in the path of the cyclone in the neighborhood of Quirings, being badly injured by a wagon and hen coop being blown against him.

In the Quiring and Hamm pastures the stock presented a mauled appearance. A two-by-four timber was pulled from one of Dick's horses, as was a stick which had penetrated the neck of a heifer three inches. Chickens were found stripped as clean as though prepared for the stew pot.

Daniel C. Davis started the ball rolling for aid to the destitute, including the Henry Lavan family, who lost all they had by the fearful windstorm. They were renters living on an Iowa man's farm. Immediately a wagon load and more of provisions and clothes were collected and Mr. Davis took the same to the needy and destitute sufferers. Some gave money and others such provisions as they had handy. This was an act of kindness not soon to be forgotten.

On February 2, 1881, snow began flying from the southeast and continued with increasing severity until the following Monday. The snow was accompanied by a strong wind and the thermometer registered sixteen to twenty-six degrees below zero. This storm was termed a "fire in the rear," as never before had the people experienced a blizzard from the southeast. Snow drifted into the railroad cuts and train service was suspended indefinitely. On Monday, the 6th, the railroad began work trying to clear the right of way. On the 9th a homelike blizzard came on from the northwest and continued until after the 10th. A crew of three hundred men were put to work on the road between Mountain Lake and Windom, but not until the 16th were trains able to get through.

In April, 1881, a crew of men were working in the cut near Bingham Lake clearing the track of snow. The company had an engine and snow plow near at hand to aid in the work when necessary. It seems that the engineer had orders to make a run in an attempt to get through the drift. Anyway, the men working in the cut were wholly unconscious of any danger until the engine was almost upon them and then it was too late to escape. L. Ludke was caught by the snow plow and thrown quite a distance, breaking his neck and killing him instantly. August Burmeister was thrown under the tank and so wedged in the snow that it took nearly two hours to dig him out. Besides Burmeister, three other workmen were injured.
Many thousands of tons of prairie hay were burned annually by prairie fires for a number of years after the settlement of this county. In 1871 A. A. Soule lost forty tons of splendid hay and Mr. Peterson lost all he had stacked, also his grain and stabling. The "fire was seen approaching the village of Mountain Lake, but timely work prevented it from getting into the place.
Rev. Frank Peterson, D. D., so well known in Minnesota in church work, located in the neighborhood of Worthington in the early seventies, and here is his account of the great 1873 blizzard, so frequently referred to by Iowa-Minnesota pioneers. This storm was on January 7, 1873—forty-three years ago. Doctor Peterson says:

"The afternoon of that day was mild and clear. Many had taken advantage of this and had gone to neighbors visiting, or to town to do their trading, or possibly to the near-by lakes to fish. In the early afternoon, however, a sudden change was noticed in the atmosphere and in the sky. All who were away hurried to get home, and hence nearly all were caught by the storm that swept over Minnesota, including Jackson and Cottonwood counties.

"A frightening roar was heard in the northwest and, looking, one could see a great white wall reaching from the clouds to the earth, coming at the rate of forty miles an hour. It was a blizzard, filling the air with frozen snow and driving it forward with the fierceness of a gigantic sandblast. No man or beast can face it. One turns instinctively from it, and once turned and started there is no such thing as stopping. One is driven onward, while unmercifully whipped by the frozen snow until, in sheer exhaustion, the ill fated traveler sinks into the drift. Tired out, he becomes drowsy, then a numbness sets in, and then a sleep from which there is no waking this side of the resurrection morn. About seventy people perished who were in the path of this never-to-be-forgotten storm.

"A friend of mine, Mr. Blixt, had gone out on the lake to fish. He had built a small shanty on the ice for protection. The storm coming on, he did not start for home, but very prudently remained within his shelter. His wife, however, had for some reason felt constrained to venture out. No sooner had she gotten out of the door before she was snatched by the grip of the storm and forced onward and onward until she had gone seven miles away from home, when her strength failed her and she sank down into her last sleep. She was not found until spring, when the drifts of snow began to drift away. Her hand was seen sticking out of the snow and her gold ring glittered in the bright moonlight. It was discovered later, by tracing her tracks, that she had passed the box where her husband sat a prisoner in the grip of the cruel storm.

"When her husband returned, two days afterward, he found the door of his home blown open and his little boy, three years old, standing in the bed, where he had been alone two days and nights. The little fellow had cried so that he could now scarcely sob. That boy is now a man, a prosperous farmer, but the traces of that terrible experience of two seemingly endless days and nights of loneliness, of fear, of cold and of suffering are left with him. His long crying brought on stuttering.

"In the same storm a mail carrier, going from Worthington to Indian Lake, was driven out of his course to Okaboji, Iowa, twenty-five miles away, where later his body was found.

"The lessons learned from such storms were many: Better protection for man and beast, a goodly supply of fuel and fodder near at hand, and guide ropes from the house to the stable so that one could pass safely between the two without losing their way.

"The winter had passed, though never to be forgotten. The smiling spring, with its green verdure and lovely wild flowers, had again come to give cheer and hope for a better future."


The same minister who wrote the above on the 1873 blizzard also wrote graphically, as an eye witness, of the grasshopper days between 1873 and 1878, which years devastated all southern Minnesota and northwest Iowa. Dr. Peterson said:

"I had frequently read from Exodus, tenth chapter, the following: 'When it was morning the east wind brought the locusts, and the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and rested in all the coasts of Egypt Very grievous were they; for they covered the face of the earth so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left; and there remained not any green thing in the trees or in the herbs of the field.' But I never expected to see anything like it myself. Those who were in southwestern Minnesota during the grasshopper years find no difficulty in believing the story of Moses. Their invasion of Egypt was but for a season, but with us they remained five years.

"I remember quite distinctly the morning in June, 1873, when the advance troop arrived. I had Just started to go to Worthington and, crossing the cornfield, I was surprised at seeing what at first seemed snow fall. I looked up and saw millions of hoppers, with their outstretched wings, sailing down upon the field. As I stood and looked the air grew thicker. I returned to the house and asked my mother and sister, who were home, to come out and see what I jokingly called the 'snow-fall.' They were too astonished to speak. We could guess what this would mean. We went out to the cornfield, which only a few minutes ago looked so fine and gave promise of a good crop. It was now all bare. The succulent plants were eaten down to the ground. The garden had fared the same way. For a moment we stood dumb. The cloud of hoppers increased in density. They were now lighting down on the wheat field. We saw that the prospects of the year's crop had been snatched out of our hands in almost an hour. I looked at poor mother. She wiped away a tear with her apron, while she quoted the words of Job, The Lord gave; the Lord hath taken away.'

"This was but the beginning of a scourge which was to last five years. It was a blessing that we did not know what was ahead. Our hopes soon rose, and our courage was braced as we cheered ourselves with the thought that this was but for one year. Wre still had our stock and the hoppers had left the grass untouched. We soon discovered, however, that after they had finished the destruction of the crops they were busy depositing their eggs. This boded no good for the coming year.

"The following summer proved that our suspicions were correct. When the ground became sufficiently warm, millions of little hoppers made their appearance, until the ground was literally alive with them. This army of home-bred hoppers received tremendous accessions from the mountain regions of the west until they not only covered the ground, but lay in places several inches deep, and as you walked along they would fly up and you would find yourself moving along in a deafening buzz of a continuous swarm. Trains were even stopped by them. They would lie upon the track so thick that, when crushed, the wheels could not grip the surface of the rails.

"Their voracity was quite remarkable. Garden stuff and the growing grain were their choicest diet, but they would not spurn such things as clothes, tool-handles, tobacco, etc. We soon learned to know that it was not safe to lay aside a garment in the field exposed to their attack, for in an incredibly short time it would be perforated with holes.

"A Mr. Attick had, incautiously, left his tobacco and pipe in the field, while at work, and on his return for a smoke found to his surprise that the hoppers had devoured his tobacco, but had been gracious enough to leave the paper pouch for him. In his disgust he said, 'We have now reached the limit; it is high time we leave; if the hoppers will not stop at tobacco there is no telling what they will devour next'

"This state of things continued for five years. the settlers were driven to the last ditch. The governor of the state was concerned about the situation. He issued a proclamation setting aside April 26, 1877, as a day of prayer and fasting. Some scoffed, but many observed the day. The deliverance came the first week in June, when the grasshoppers arose in a body. The scourge was gone, let us hope never to return again."

The fuel question in those early grasshopper, poverty-stricken years in this section of the country was no small problem to solve. The use of wood and coal was out of the question. These were entirely beyond the reach of those living back from the small groves along the Des Moines river. At first, stalks of tall weeds that grew along the edges of the sloughs were gathered and used, but these did not last long. When the keen blasts of the prairie winter came out of the northwest, something more was needed. "Necessity being the mother of invention/' it was soon discovered that prairie hay could be burned in stoves, by taking a swab of it and twisting up in a stove-wood length and fastening its ends to securely hold the wad together until it was needed in the stove. Of course it was mussy and the housewife did not like it, as white ashes would puff out every time the stove lid was lifted to replenish the fire with more hay. This fuel also clogged up the stove-pipe and chimney, so that it would not "draw" and hence every few days the pipe had to be cleaned out, which in a cold winter day was anything but a pleasing task. But this was better than going cold, so many were forced to depend upon prairie hay for fuel in the heating of their claim shack or sod shanty.
About the 20th of September, 1899, occurred a terrible wreck on the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha railroad, at the bridge crossing the Des glomes river, at the edge of the town, coming from the southwest. Towards midnight a rear-end collision took place on the railroad bridge. A train of thirty-five heavily loaded cars, drawn by two powerful engines, crashed into the rear of another freight train standing on the bridge. Four men were killed: Engineer Carl Rasmussen; fireman T. M. Roberts; fireman Hugh Stratton; John Roberts, merchant, St. James. Many more were seriously injured in the wreck.

It was the same old story of wrong and not plainly understood orders. One engine was standing on the bridge and could not get out, after seeing the heavy train coming from the west. A red light was put out over the track by the engineer on the bridge, but too late—the speed of the train was too great and the awful crash very soon came. The double-header collided with the engine on the steel bridge, which could not withstand such a shock and went down, the three engines and thirty cars going to the bottom and into the Des Moines river. The cars were loaded mostly with grain and the" whole made a huge, unsightly pile, reaching nearly to the top of the bridge. The space was almost, if not quite, one hundred and fifty feet between the two north piers, this being the length of the span that went down; the other span of the railroad bridge remained in position.

To add to the horror of the midnight scene, the derailed, overturned locomotives set fire to the wreckage and it burned fiercely for a long time. Somewhere between eighteen and twenty-five thousand bushels of grain were wrecked, causing a loss to the company of sixty-five thousand dollars. The damaged grain was sold by the company to a St. Paul man' for four hundred and fifty dollars. The cars were smashed to fine kindling wood—the worst wreck ever seen by the superintendent, as he stated. It took days to clear away the wreckage. A huge derrick was sent from the Northwestern road at Baraboo, Wisconsin, its lifting power being fifty tons.

Who was guilty? Superintendent Spencer said "The accident was caused by the gross carelessness of Williams, who in backing onto the main line, disobeyed the first rule a conductor learns." At first Williams disappeared, but finally returned and went to his home in St. James. He was there arrested Friday following the wreck. He was placed on trial, at which County Attorney Annes and Wilson Borst appeared for the state and W. S. Hammond, of St. James, for Williams, who was acquitted.
On March 3, 1916, occurred a disastrous wreck at Mountain Lake, in which three were instantly killed and many injured. A special train, in which were a number of movables, was on the track. The engine was switching out a couple of cars for men who were to move on farms near Mountain Lake. The engine had just spotted the cars at the loading chute and was backing out to couple up the train, when the through train came on at a high rate of speed.
A. B. Irving wrote the following song and it was recited or sung at one
of the Old Settlers' Association meetings in Windom:

We're living today in a very fast age;
We go rushing along, to gain is the rage;
We hustle and harry and draw things by steam,
All forgetting the days when we drove an ox team.

We live at high pressure and cut a great dash.
Swell up like bubble and burst with a crash,
Never thinking of turning and pulling up stream,
As we did in the days we had an ox team.

We labored together in the days of "Lang Syne";
We stood by each other, we cleared up the land;
We fallowed the ground, 'twas as new as cream.
We dragged in the bright seed with the ox team.

How often we heard it. "Buck," "Haw Buck" and "Bright,"
The ox team has vanished; it's auto and bike;
It's a forty-mile gait, by trolley or steam,
The day has passed by for the old ox team.

We're nearing the border land, o'er the way;
But memory will linger 'round the days passed away.
When sleep drops the curtain, in many a dream.
We're hallowing once more to the old ox team.


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