Dakota County Minnesota
NOTE: The following history is from an 1882 publication, the term "town" is sometimes used when referring to the township.
TOWNSHIP OF BURNSVILLE.
Burnsville as originally established, included within its boundaries, all of township 115, range 20, and all in county of 115, 21, 5, and all in county of 27, range 24, 4; subsequently Lebanon was formed by taking off from said township, all of township 115, range 20 east of a line drawn north and south through the centre of sections 8, 17, 20, 29 and 32. This first boundary was established at a session of the county board held April 6th, 1858. The regular organization of the town was effected May 11th, 1858. Its present geographical boundaries are as follows: On the north by the Minnesota river, east by Eagan and Lebanon. south by Lakeville, west by Scott county.
The surface of the town from the river on the north, extending through the town from eighty to one hundred and sixty rods in width, the land is very level, and in some places marshy. The dryer portions make fine meadows and pasture lands, to the south of this tract. It becomes more rolling, and the north-eastern part quite bluffy. Extending to the south through the town we find hills, dales and valleys.
Upon the arrival of the first settlers, the surface was covered with timber, mostly what was known as oak openings, but as the country has grown older, a large portion of what was not improved and placed under cultivation, has sprung up with a thick covering of second growth. Many first-class farms with fine improvements are the result of the persevering industry of the pioneers of the town.
The drainage of the town is fine, with the Minnesota river on the north, with a long slough extending from near the center of section 13, parallel with the river through portions of sections 24, 23, 26, 22, 27, reaching to the centre of section 28. On the east, between Burnsville and Lebanon, we find the irregularly formed lake of Alimagnet, located in sections 20 and 29. In the south-east corner of the town lays the large and beautiful Crystal lake, located in sections 31, 32 and 36, a small portion extending into Lakeville. The primitive name given to this lake by the Indian was "Minne Elk." At the time when the government survey was made, its clear shining surface led to the adoption of its present name.
This lake occupies about six hundred acres of ground. Located in the southwestern part, it has a line island of over twenty acres called "Maple Isle," covered with dense undergrowth. The shores of the lake are dry, sandy and pebbly. It abounds with the best of fish. Some very large pike and pickerel are taken from its shining waters. About four years ago the lake was stocked with trout and salmon, though it is thought that the larger fish have used them for food, as but few have been seen since.
During the early days when this country was the home of the "red man," this lake was a great resort for deer as well as the Indian, and within the recollection of the earliest settlers of the county, large, bands pitched their tepees on its shores. At the west end of the lake is a high hill, which rises over 300 feet, called by the early settlers "Buck Hill." From the top of this high eminence the Indians would watch the deer as they came to drink from the cool waters of the lake. By common consent, the name has been changed to "School Hill," being located in school section 36. At the north of this lake, in sections 25 and 30, we find a small lake called Middle lake, occupying about fifty acres. To the west of this is sections 25 and 26 we find "Lake Earley," a long narrow lake nestled among the hills, so named from one of the first settlers, William Earley, who settled on its western shore in 1854. These with some small streams and springs, make up the drainage of the town.
The soil is mainly of a loamy nature, with a white and red clay sub-soil, well adapted to the cultivation of wheat, in fact all grains and grasses do well under a good state of cultivation.
The first settlers in the town were John McCoy Martin. Patrick and Thomas Burns, David Nixon and John Woodruff, in 1852. The following year came William Burns and family from Canada, and settled in the north-western part of the town. In 1854, Francis Newell and family, from Chicago, came and settled near Crystal lake. Patrick Harkins and W. Earley settled near what is known as Lake Earley. Other settlers gathered in from time to time, making their claims, and with the enterprise that characterized those early settlers soon made that wild, rough country present a far different appearance.
With the early settlers came the desire for religious services, the first of which was held in the house of Wm. Burns, in 1853, by Father Ravoux, then parish priest of Mendota. The first birth was that of Kate Kearney, daughter of James Kearney, in 1854. The first marriage was James Lynn to Miss Ellen Ronan in 1856. The ceremony was performed by Father Ravoux. The first death was that of Mr. O'Hare, father of Mrs. McCoy, in 1854. The year following, Francis Newell. Both were buried in a little grove on the top of what was known as Tepee hill, a spot of ground which had been used by the Sioux as a burial ground. The first school was taught in the house of John McCoy by John McMullen, in 1856. In the meantime, a log school-house was erected on a corner of Mr. McCoy's land, and in 1857, a school was taught in it by Andrew Carberry. The district was organized the same year, and comprised the whole town of Burnsville. The first clerk was Patrick Lynch, with John McCoy for director and treasurer. This building served its purpose until 1867, when their present house was erected in section 23, on the farm of C. O'Neil, at an expense of about $250. The district was numbered 16 in 1862, when by an act of the legislature all the districts of the state were renumbered. The present officers are: P. Moran, director; Mr. Welch, treasurer, and P. Foley, clerk.
The date of organization of school district No. 15, does not appear, as the records were not preserved. The first house was erected on land donated to the district by Thomas Hogan, who was a warm friend to masters of education. The first school-house was a small frame house, built about 1862, but was replaced in 1879 by a fine, large house, 28x22. The present officers are John H. Delaney, director; T. O'Ragan, treasurer; Michael Coffey, clerk.
The "St. John's Catholic Society" was organized in 1854, with ten families, under the ministration of Rev. Father Thomas McMannis. The first house of worship was built of logs, near the site of the new one, was commenced in 1854, but not completed until 1855.
Following Father McMannis came Father D. J. Fisher; during his ministry in 1862, their fine parsonage was built, the main part 20x24, with wing 16x24. Their present beautiful church, situated in a fine grove of maples, was erected during the ministry of Father Stevens, built of wood, 40x75 ft., with tower and steeple reaching upward one hundred feet. They have a fine large bell of seven hundred pounds weight, mounted in the belfry, which calls the humble worshiper to his seat in the house of prayer. Rev. P. F. Glennan is the priest in charge.
The records of the town from the date of organization until 1860, were destroyed, if kept at all. The first officers of the town do not appear. At the date of its organization it was named in honor of William Burns, the father of the several sons, located in and adjoining the town. The first meeting of which we have record, was held April 3d, 1860, at the house of James Kearney, when the following town officers were elected, viz: Thomas Burns, chairman; Thomas Hogan and Patrick Harkins, supervisors; Michael Connelly, clerk.
A special town meeting was called June 20th, 1860, and a tax of $100 was voted for the current expenses of the town. At the same meeting S. Newell was elected poor-master and Patrick Hynes, assessor. At a special election called soon after to vote on the subject of erecting the county buildings at Hastings, the vote of Burnsville was as follows: Thirty-four against and none for. At the state election in the fall, 1860, the election of Burnsville was called November 6th, at the house of James Kearney, and the following presidential electors were voted for: C. C. Andrews, W. A. Gorman, Joseph Weiman and B. Branklin, representatives; Stephen Miller and W. Pfeonder; clerk, W. Thompson and Charles McClure; state auditor, A. C. McIllrath; clerk of supreme court, J. J. Noha. The whole number of votes cast was forty-seven. For the amendment to the constitution, forty votes were cast. For senator, S. E. Eaton, received forty-six; for representative, George Chamberlain, received forty-six; for county auditor, J. C. Meloy, received forty-six votes; for county commissioner, W. B. Leach, and G. F. Ackley, of the fifth district received forty-six votes. On the subject of locating county buildings at Pine Bend, the-vote was seventeen for, and twenty-seven against. On the subject of changing the boundary lines between Dakota and Scott, the vote was forty-three against. The next annual meeting was called April 2d, 1861; a tax of $230 was voted for current expenses, and the following officers were elected; Thomas Hogan, chairman; Jerry Sweeney and Jerry Dillon, supervisors.
In 1862, a tax of two mills was voted for current expenses; Thomas Hogan, chairman, Patrick Hynes and Peter Fahey, supervisors. At the annual election of 1863, a tax of two mills was voted for current expenses; the officers were Thomas Hogan, chairman, with Patrick Hynes and Peter Fahey, supervisors.
In 1864, a tax of two mills was voted for current expenses; Thomas Hogan was elected chairman; Charles O'Neil and Terrence McGovern, supervisors.
In 1865, a tax of $100 for current expenses was voted. A special tax of $100 was voted for extra work done on roads in 1864; also a tax of fifty cents on each $100, for roads and bridges; Thomas Hogan was elected chairman; Jerry Dillon and J. Connelly, supervisors.
In 1866, a tax of $100 was voted for current expenses, and fifty cents on each $100 for roads. Officers elected were, Thomas Hogan, chairman; Peter Foley and Lawrence Thornton, supervisors. For 1867, a tax was voted of $200 for current expenses, and fifty cents on each $100 for roads. Officers elected were, Thomas Hogan, chairman, Charles McDevitt and Patrick Foley, supervisors, and Michael Connally, clerk and justice.
In 1868, a tax of three mills was voted for the current expenses of the town and fifty cents on each $100 for roads and bridges. Officers elected were, Thomas Hogan, chairman; Peter Foley and Charles McDevitt, supervisors.
For 1869, a tax of two mills was voted for current expenses, fifty cents on each $100 for roads and bridges. Officers elected were, Thomas Hogan, chairman; Peter Foley and James Connelly, supervisors.
In 1870, a tax of one mill was voted for current expenses and fifty cents on each $100 for roads and bridges. Officers elected were: Patrick Moran, chairman; Charles McDevitt and John Sheridan, supervisors. For 1871, a tax was voted of two mills, for town purposes and fifty cents for roads. Officers elected were: Patrick Moran, chairman; Peter Foley and Thomas Butler, supervisors. In 1872, a tax of two mills was voted for current expenses, and fifty cents on each $100 for roads. Officers elected were: Patrick Moran, chairman; Peter Foley and Thomas Butler, supervisors. In 1873, a tax of two mills was voted for town purposes and fifty cents for each $100 for roads. Officers elected were: Peter Foley, chairman; P. Harkins and W. Kennelly, supervisors. For 1874, a tax of two mills was voted for current expenses and fifty cents on each $100 for roads. Officers elected were Peter Foley, chairman; P. Harkins and W. Kennelly, supervisors. For 1875, a tax of two mills was voted for current expenses and fifty cents for each $100 for roads. Officers elected were Jerry Sweeney, chairman; P. Harkins and John O'Brien, supervisors. For 1876, a tax of two mills was voted for current expenses and one mill for roads and bridges. Officers elected were Peter Foley, chairman; P. Harkins and Jerry Dillon, supervisors. For 1877, a tax of one mill was voted for town purposes and one mill for roads. Officers elected: Patrick Gallagher, chairman; Timothy O'Regan and Michael Welch, supervisors. For 1878, a tax was voted of one mill for current expenses and one-half mills for roads and bridges, also a land road tax of twenty-five cents on each $100. Officers elected were: Patrick Gallagher, chairman; M. Welch and Patrick Harkins, supervisors. For 1879, a tax of one and one half mils for current expenses and one mill for roads and bridges. Officers elected were: Patrick Moran, chairman; Charles McDevitt and M. Welch, supervisors. For 1880, a tax was voted of one and one half mils for current expenses, and one mill for roads and bridges. Officers elected were: Patrick Moran, chairman; Charles McDevitt and M. Welch, supervisors; John H. Delaney, clerk. At the annual meeting held 1881, a tax was voted of one and one half mils for current expenses and two mils for roads and bridges. Officers elected were: Patrick Moran, chairman; Charles McDevitt and M. Welch, supervisors: J. H. Delaney, clerk.
The first road established in the town was the old territorial road known as the St. Paul and Shakopee road, opened about 1853. The first town road opened south from the center of section 15, bearing south-east to Crystal lake, and leaving the town from section 32, known as the Lakeville and Shakopee road.
What is now known as the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha railroad runs through the town. This road was first chartered as the Minnesota Valley railroad company, March 4th, 1864. The road was constructed and put into operation from St. Paul to St. James in November, 1870. The different branches of this road were consolidated October 1st, 1879, under the title of the St. Paul and Sioux City railroad. In the summer of 1880, the road passed into the hands of the present corporation.
The mercantile interests of the town are represented by John Berrisford, a native of England. He first embarked in the mercantile business in "Credit River" township, Scott county, where he remained for a time, when he conceived the idea that this point would be a good position for a store. In 1872 he came to this point and erected his store, 20x32 feet, with a wing 24x24 feet, at the junction of the St. Paul and Shakopee and Lakeville and Shakopee roads. He keeps a general stock of goods, and in connection he deals largely in cattle, and during the summer months supplies the surrounding country with fresh meats.
The only hotel of which the town can boast is kept by Lewis Judd at Crystal lake, on the north shore of the lake, on what was known as the Newell estate. The estate was purchased by Mr. Judd in 1872, since which time he has improved it very much, making it, together, with its natural attractions, one of the finest points for a summer resort in the state. He was induced by parties from the south during the summer of 1880, to open his home to excursionists, which he did, and found the experiment a success. He is still making other improvements by the erection of cottages and additions to his house to accommodate those who are expecting to make a home with him during the coming heated term.
An incident in the history of the town is related, which merits more than a passing notice. In 1863, a sad event occurred, by which a life was lost and the community was filled with sadness. A dispute arose between some of the settlers in relation to a piece of meadow land located in the northern part of the town. James O'Hare claimed the land by right of a tax title. James Norman and Thomas Kearney claimed it on the same grounds, and were engaged in mowing the grass. Mr. O'Hare had ordered them off from the land, but they refused to go. Mr. O'Hare armed himself with a gun, and still continued his demand for them to leave. They still refusing, many hard words passed, and they undertook to drive him away with their forks, when he, O'Hare, shot at them and killed Kearney on the spot. He reloaded his gun to shoot Newman, but he escaped. O'Hare fled the country, and remained for some time, but finally returned and delivered himself up and stood his trial and was acquitted on the ground of self-defense.
Mount Calvary cemetery, located in section fifteen, was first consecrated to its use in 1859. It is a beautiful, shady spot of two and one-half acres, owned and controlled by the St. John's church.
The inhabitants of the town have, up to this time, never allowed a saloon within its limits. Several years ago parties undertook to establish one, but the ladies took the matter in hand and soon obliged them to seek other quarters.
[History of Dakota County and the City of Hastings, by Edward D. Neill, North Star Publishing Co. Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1882, transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman] Return to top of page
Read another history of Burnsville Township. (Published Earlier)
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