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Dakota County Minnesota 
Genealogy and History

Empire Township Dakota County, Minnesota

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NOTE: The following history is from an 1882 publication, the term "town" is sometimes used when referring to the township.


As early in the history of the county as 1854, Alidon Amidon, N. Amidon and C. R. Rollins made claims on the Vermillion river, on sections 29 and 30, on the line of the St. Paul and Northfield road. The same year on section 24, on the St. Paul and Cannon Falls road, near the Vermillion river, L. Fish, Thomas Laird and E. P. Whittier made claims. Two hotels were opened at this point in 1855, one on each side of the river. This point was called Empire City, though no plat was made of the land. A post-office was established here. The Amidon settlement bade fair to become quite a village. A store was opened by N. Amidon in 1857, near what is now the entrance of the fair grounds, who afterwards transferred his interest to N. E. Slack. Mr. James Tuttle opened the next store in what was known as the Barkaloe house, which had been used as a hotel. Mr. Alidon Amidon erected his house on the north side of the river, which he opened as all hotel in 1860, and did a rushing business prior the building of the railroads. The early settlers began to gather in and make claims near this point, and the prospect bid fair of its becoming quite a settlement, which induced Messrs. K. N. Guiteau and Co., to lay out and plat the south-west quarter of section 29, and name it Dakota city. It is said this was finely platted on paper and several lots were disposed of to eastern parties, which make it uncertain as to who holds the best titles.


Among the early settlers we find the names of Ephraim Fish who located in section twenty-two in 1855. S. B. Spearin, who made his claim in sections twenty-two and twenty-three about the same year. In 1856 Rev. J. O. Rich made a claim of eighty acres in the south-west quarter of section thirty-one, and has labored for the spiritual interests of the people in the town and different parts of the county as a member of the M. E. Minnesota Conference. G. H. Whittier settled on the north-east quarter of section twenty-six in 1856. A. J. Irving came to Empire town from Illinois in 1855, and made a claim of the south-west quarter of section twenty-four, on which he now lives. On the list of early settlers that settled in this town and in Farmington prior to 1860, which according to the constitution of the Dakota County Old Settlers' Association constitutes an old settler, are H. N. Hosmer, C. H. Bradley, H. C. Wing, C. H. Watson, G. H. Whittier, S. V. R. Hendryx, Jr., T. N. Berlin, Harriet M. Judson, Caleb Smith, Asa Fletcher, J. A. Elston, Albert Record, George W. Porter, Albert Whittier, A. S. Bradley, Ara Wellman, L. Wellman, Jessie Ives and others.

In the early day when the first settlers came, Indians were very plenty, and were passing backwards and forward from one point to another. A band of five hundred camped on Mr. Amidon's claim. The first white child born in the town was a child of Mr. and Mrs. A. Amidon, 1856. It was also the first death, as it did not live but a short time. The first marriage in the town was that of a German to Miss Laird, same year. The first school taught in the town, was in Dakota city, 1855, by Mrs. Leverett Wellman.

The town organized as a full congressional township of thirty-six sections, situated in the central part of the county. Bounded on the north by Rosemount, on the east by Vermillion, south by Castle Rock, west by Lakeville. The surface is quite level, being a prairie town with scarcely a grove of native timber in the town.


The soil is of a rich sandy loam, very productive, and is considered a fair average with the balance of the county. The drainage is somewhat limited and confined to the Vermillion river, which passes through the town from west to east. The two small branches enter from the west on sections 30 and 31, passing through sections 29, 21, 22, 23 and 24. The south branch passes across the south-east corner of section 36. This, together with several small lakes comprises the drainage of the town.

The Minnesota Central railroad, since changed the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railway was built to this place in 1864, when the location for the town was made, and settlers began to gather. The first hotel was built by George Record, on the present site of the Niskern house same year. The Hastings and Dakota railroad was completed to this point, in 1869. This station was called Farmington, as it was wholly a farming country, which seemed appropriate. The Empire post-office was transferred to this point, and a full pledged city is the result.


The meeting for the election of officers and the organization of the town of Empire was held on May 11th, 1858, and the following officers elected:

* 1858 - G. N. Mudy, C. Porter, and J. Ives, supervisors; C. R. Rollins, clerk; E. P. Whittier, assessor; G. W. Porter, treasurer; A. J. Irving and C. Smith, justices; D. Felton and A. Amidon, constables.
* 1859 - J. O. Rich, A. Amidon and J. Felton, supervisors; C. R. Rollins, clerk.
* 1860 - N. Amidon. W. W. Cummings, C. Porter, supervisors; J. Tuttle, clerk.
* 1861 - W. W. Cummings, A. Amidon and D. Felton, supervisors; J. Tuttle, clerk.
* 1862 - C. Adams, C. Porter and A. Amidon, supervisors; J. Tuttle, clerk.
* 1863 - C. Porter, C. Adams and J. E. Rinehart, supervisors; J. Tuttle, clerk.
* 1864 - A. S. Bradford, H. Lillie and J. E. Rinehart, supervisors; N. E. Slack, clerk.
* 1865 - A. S. Bradford, H. Lillie and A. Whittier, supervisors; N. E. Slack, clerk.
* 1866 - A. Whittier, G. H. Donaldson and M. Johnson, supervisors; H. N. Hosmer, clerk.
* 1867 - C. L. Hosmer, A. Whittier and A. Amidon, supervisors; H. C. Wing, clerk.
* 1868 - H. Lam, J. J. Brooks and J. Sullivan, supervisors; H. C. Wing, clerk.
* 1869 - K. N. Guiteau, H. W. Barkulo, H. N. Day, supervisors; H. C. Wing, clerk.
* 1870 - E. Woodard, A. Whittier and B. S. Kelley, supervisors; L. P. Fluke, clerk.
* 1871 - P. Woodard, William Harrington and A. M. Whittier, supervisors; L. P. Fluke, clerk.
* 1872 - A. M. Whittier, W. Harrington and E. L. Needham, supervisors; L. P. Fluke, clerk.
* 1873 - W. Harrington, .J. Eagle and M. M. Verrill, supervisors; C. Adams, clerk.
* 1874 - A. Bradford, S. Headley and J. Eagle, supervisors; C. Adams, clerk.
* 1875 - M. Costello, J. Eagle and C. L. Holmes, supervisors; H. Lam, clerk.
* 1876 - M. Costello, C. L. Holmes and D. Pitcher, supervisors; T. McCarthy, clerk.
* 1877 - M. Costello, D. S. Pitcher and C. L. Holmes, supervisors; H. C. Wing, clerk.
* 1878 - D. Pitcher, P. Haynes and W. Gibbons, supervisors; F. Vaughan, clerk.
* 1879 - I. W. Gibbons, P. Haynes and M. M. Verrill, supervisors; E. A. Rice, clerk.
* 1880 - A. S. Bradford, T. McCarthy and A. C. Headley, supervisors; W. L. Knowles, clerk.
* 1881 - A. S. Bradford, T. McCarthy and T. Mangan, supervisors; P. Ballard, clerk; E. A. Rice, treasurer; H. N. Hosmer, assessor; I. W. Gibbons and C. L. Homer, justices of the peace; H. C. Wing and W. H. Brownell, constables.

The name of the town was taken from the post-office which was established at Empire City. The name of the village was given by the railroad company at the time when it was decided to build a station at this point. The first house built in the village was by Mrs. O'Blennis. The next was a saloon, just opposite where the hotel now stands.


A meeting was held on the 29th of December, 1856, at the Empire house, Empire City, for the purpose of organizing a school district. This was accordingly done, and the district was known as No. 21, but was afterwards changed to No. 39. The first school was held in the Empire house with William Cummings as teacher until 1859, when he taught in E. P. Whitier's house, located in the south-west quarter of section 24. In the winter of 1860-61 the school was held in the house now occupied by William Callaghan on the line of the east half of section 25, and was taught by Charles Porter. Soon after a shanty was built on the south-west quarter of section 24, at a cost of fifty dollars, A. S. Bradford being the teacher. In 1866, a cabin standing on the same quarter section was occupied by the district and used until 1868, when a new school-house was built on the north-west quarter of section 25. The building is a frame structure twenty by thirty feet, furnished with patent desks, and costing $750. The school is now taught by Miss Nellie Whittier, with an attendance in winter of about thirty-eight scholars.

About 1863, the people of the north part of the town, whose children had been attending school in the Farmington district, petitioned the commissioners to form them into a new district. Therefore, a meeting was called and district No. 79 was formed. A dwelling house was purchased of Mr. Comer of Rosemont, which was moved to the south-east quarter of section 5, and school was opened by Miss Ada Trait with about fifteen scholars. This house has since been remodeled into a school-house, sixteen by thirty feet. The attendance varies from a small number in summer to as many as forty in winter, making the average about twenty.

District No. 61 was formerly a part of district No. 39, but was organized as a separate district in 1864. A shanty was first built and occupied by the school about two years. The district then erected the present school-house in the south-west quarter of section 2. It is a frame building twenty by thirty feet, plainly furnished, and cost $800. Tile first teacher was Alice Brooks, who had about thirty scholars on the roll, but an average of eighteen. The present average is not above ten.

In the spring of 1877, school district No. 98 was set off from No. 79, and organized as a district by electing the usual officers. A special meeting was held, at which the citizens voted to issue bonds to the amount of $400 for the purpose of erecting a school-house. Land was donated by Mr. Keeler and wife, and a school-house was built on the south-west quarter of section 20, a frame building eighteen by twenty-four, but plainly furnished, at a cost of $400. The first teacher was Miss Annie Sullivan, with an attendance of twelve scholars. The school has since prospered and now registers in winter about thirty pupils.


The citizens of Farmington desiring the advantages of an incorporated village, sent to the legislature a petition to that effect. Accordingly in March, 1872, a bill was passed by that body, giving them a village charter, including all the territory divided into lots and blocks in section 31, town 114, range 19 west. On the 1st day of April following, the first election of officers was held, and the following persons were elected: T. C. Davis, B. F. Miller, E. L. Brackett, trustees; Charles B. Smith, treasurer; I. W. Gibbons, justice; J. F. Dilley, constable; S. Webster, assessor; J. W. Emery, clerk.

For more of the history of Farmington, its early businesses, schools, churches and more, see our Farmington page.
[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 Empire Township. (Published Earlier)

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