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Dakota County Minnesota 
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Inver Grove 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.

INVER GROVE TOWNSHIP

This town as originally formed by the board of county commissioners at a meeting held at Hastings, April 6th, 1858, embraced all of township 27, north, of range 22, west of the fourth principal meridian. At a meeting held April 20th, 1858, the west half of township 115, north, of range 18, west, was detached from the town of Nininger and attached to Inver Grove. The boundaries remained unchanged until February, 1871, when by special act of legislature, the portion taken from Nininger was made a part of Rosemount, leaving the town of Inver Grove with boundaries as originally established.

It is situated in the northern part of Dakota county, and is bounded on the north by the town of West St. Paul, on the east by the Mississippi river, on the south, by the town of Rosemount, and on the west, by the town of Eagan. The surface of Inver Grove is rough and broken. No bottom lands appear along the river, excepting in the north-east, and a small tract on the east above Pine Bend. The latter tract is marshy, with a fringe of timber along the river, consisting of elm, ash, and soft maple.

The town was named by John McGroarty, the name Inver Grove being given in recollection of a place in Ireland from which many of the settlers came. River lake, located on the bottom land in sections 23 and 26, covers about 160 acres, and is a shallow, marshy lake. Several small lakes appear in different parts of the town, none of them with visible inlets or outlets. The largest of these, Fish lake, in sections 17 and 20, is a long, narrow lake with gravelly shores and bottom. It is surrounded by high knolls. Its greatest depth is over sixty feet, and its waters were once well stocked with fish of large size; only the smaller varieties are now found.

On section 3 is a small prairie, the southern extremity of the prairie in West St. Paul. The soil is sandy, and produces good crops of corn. Plymouth prairie extends into the southern part of the town to section 20. It forms a beautiful and fertile valley. The soil is a mixture of clay, with sand enough to make it easily worked and productive. The remainder of the town is rough and has gravelly hills. A growth of brush and small trees covered this portion of the town when first settled. Occasionally, trees of larger growth appeared. Wheat was formerly the principal crop raised, and is still produced in large quantities. Of late years, owing to the proximity of St. Paul, many have engaged in market gardening, which has proved profitable.

SETTLEMENT

This town was settled in its different portions at about the same time. The American element settled along the river, the Germans in the northern central part, the Irish and French in the western.

William Finch made a claim on sections 2 and 3, in the summer of 1852, but did not move in until later. He occupied the claim until 1858, when he sold and removed to Kansas. The land is now owned by S. E. Goodrich. Lafayette Finch, his son, made a claim joining his father's on the south, but not being of age he could not hold it. Harris Thompson, however, paid him something for it in 1853, and shortly after he moved to it, was drowned in a slough near his home. His wife and family now reside in Hennepin county. A Mr. Bitley made a claim on the southern part of sections 2 and 3, which he subsequently sold to Elias Cope, and moved farther south, where he married a Mrs. Tucker and pre-empted the claim she had made on section 14.

Rev. John Benson came in the summer of 1852 and located on sections 10 and 11. Five years later, he sold to town site speculators, and removed to Red Wing. Subsequently he returned and bought land on section 9. During his sojourn he preached to his neighbors occasionally, afterwards became a member of the conference and is now located at Blue Earth City, Faribault county. After making his claim, he returned for his family, and on his return found his claim in the possession of John Greer. He was induced to vacate and made a claim about one mile farther south, on section 11, where he still lives. Mr. Greer was undoubtedly the first actual settler in the town. The claim of Mr. Benson became the property of Dr. Percival Barton who came into the town in 1854 and is still a resident.

Late in the summer of 1852, David Cope arrived and bought out a claimant adjoining Mr. Benson on the south. About one and one-half years later he sold to Parker Paine of St. Paul, who pre-empted it, and afterwards sold to townsite speculators.

The next claim south was taken by Andrew Cook in the fall of 1852, who kept it until 1857, then sold to speculators and removed to Waseca county where he was killed by accident, his horses running away.

Those who settled in the western part of the town in 1852 were John McGroarty and brother, Edward Meloy, Dennis Fee, Jerry McCarthy and Fred Rohrick. Several Frenchmen squatted on lands in this part of the town, but did not remain long. John McGroarty made his claim on section 29, in August, and moved out his family the following spring. He has since resided here. His brother William, who accompanied him, did not make a claim, but returned to St. Paul. Edward Meloy made his claim in the south-east quarter of section 29, held it a short time, then sold it to a Mr. Parker who never located, and it was "jumped" by John Eagan in the spring of 1854. He lived on the land until his death, which occurred a few years ago. His family still reside on the homestead. Jerry McCarthy located in the south part of section 6 where he still resides. Fred Rohrick made his claim in section 6 of Inver Grove and section 1 of Eagan. In the spring of 1855 he sold out and settled near New Trier. The claim of Dennis Fee also lay in both towns, one eighty lying in section 7 and the other in section 12, Eagan. He now lives with his son James in section 7.

Of the French settlers, Mr. LeClair made his claim on section 18. He was a blacksmith, and started a shop on his farm in 1854. The next year, he sold the stock to Mathew Cuchret, who opened a shop on his land on section 19, and operated it until about three years ago. Benjamin Le Bret located on sections 7 and 18, held the claim a short time, then sold out. Jean Le Bret made his claim in the spring of 1853, and sold to Paul Duleon in the spring of 1856. Mr. Duleon opened a small store which he kept for a few years and disposed of the stock. The claim is now owned by Gottlieb Keller. Mr. Le Bret lives north of St. Paul. Edward Le Bret located in 1853, on section 20, and shortly after, sold to Thomas Corrigan, who still lives on the place.

Others of 1853, were William Korfhage, a Mr. Huttelmeyer, the two Schaffers, Carl Bester, John Schrader, Mr. Davis, Patrick Leeman, Patrick Grace, Michael Barrett, and James McNelis. Korfhage came from St. Paul, in the spring and made his claim on section 4, and moved out in the fall. He lived there until his death, which took place January 4th, 1877, and was buried in the cemetery belonging to the German Methodists in West St. Paul. His son William still occupies the homestead. Some of it has been sold and additions have been made, the farm now containing one hundred and twelve acres. The same spring, Mr. Huttelmeyer made claim of the north central part of section 6, which he held about a year, then sold to John Busch, who, with his son still lives on it. The two Schaffer's were no relation to each other. One of them made a claim on section 6, which he kept until 1856, then sold to Jacob Schindeldecker, who still owns it. Schaffer removed to the southern part of the county. The other Schaffer made a claim on section 5, which he turned over to his son a few years later, who sold to R. Schindeldecker. Carl Bester came with Korfhage and settled on his claim the following fall, on the south-west quarter of section 4, where he still resides.

John Schrader, located on section 4, remained about two years, disposed of his claim to William Korfhage, and moved to Michigan. In the spring, a Mr. Davis, with the assistance of Edward Patton, made two claims, on sections 32 and 33. He held them long enough to prove up, raised some money on them, and went to California. The land afterwards came into the possession of Mr. Willoughby, who sent Josiah Burwell down from St. Paul to build him a log house. This house was located on the west side of the St. Paul and Cannon Falls road, near the section line between 32 and 33. It was about 18x30 feet, and two stories high, and here started what afterwards became the noted Willoughby's hotel. Willoughby had a livery stable in St. Paul, and hired Burwell to run the hotel. He put up a large frame building, occupied it himself and for a number of years carried on a lucrative hotel business. He sold out to L. C. McKnight, who still owns the property. The hotel business ceased with Willoughby, and the place is now occupied by tenants.

Patrick Lennon made his claim in the spring on section 19, and after living on it a few years, sold to J. Klerunde, who still holds it. About the same time, Patrick Grace located on section 30, and in the fall moved out his parents, and made his home with them during the winter. He was a mason and worked at his trade in St. Paul for about two years, then settled permanently on his place, and now resides there.

Michael Barrett located the claim on section 32, now owned by Patrick McCue, and held it a few years. After selling, he moved to McLeod county, where he now resides. James McNelis came in May of the same year, and made his claim on the north-west quarter of section 33, which he still owns, but resides on the land in section 28, claimed by his father, George McNelis, in the spring of 1853. The old gentleman died in March, 1880, and was buried in the Catholic cemetery near by.

A Mr. Lockwood also came in the spring of 1853, and claimed two eighty acre tracts, one in section 32 the other in 33, making his claim one mile in length on the town line. He held it but a short time then sold to Jacob Whittemore, who now lives on the place. James Mehan came in May, 1853, and located on the southern part of section 28. He occupied it until his death in 1862. Thomas, his son, now resides on the original claim.

During 1854 the town became well settled. Among those who came that year and are still residents of the town, we find the names of: Henry Gruschus, John Jagoe, Michael Lynch, Patrick Brennan, William Pfanstel, John H Rolfing, L. Marcott, Lawrence O'Neill, Isaac Gibbs and Horace Dresser. J. D. Smith came in the fall of 1854 and located on section 22, where he lived until he was killed near Kaposia, while on his way home from St. Paul, several years ago. Smith jumped the claim of one Scott, who had placed him in charge and hired him to build a house. When Scott came out with his family the following spring, Smith refused to give him possession of the claim and Scott was obliged to seek another location. Smith was supposed to have been killed by a hired man with whom he had had trouble in settling; but as no substantial proof was attainable, the man was allowed to go free.

ORGANIZATION.

The first meeting for the election of officers and organization of this town, was held May 11th, 1858, at the house of Josiah Burwell, located on land now owned by Anthony McNelis, in section 29, on the west side of the St. Paul and Cannon Falls road. This house was part frame and part log, containing two rooms. Albert Webster was chosen moderator, and W. B. Terry clerk. The officers elected for the ensuing year were: J. Burwell, George Bohrer, Patrick McKenny, supervisors; Thomas Walsh, clerk; Felix Dolan, assessor; John Rolfing, collector; William Weir, overseer of poor; William Watson, William Senescal, justices of the peace; Reuben Freeman, Michael Moore, constables; John McGroarty, T. M. Finch, Patrick Brennan, R. Foster, E. Brown, Lawrence O'Neill, road overseers. At a meeting of the board held July 31st, 1858, R. Schindeldecker was added to the list of road overseers.

List of supervisors for ensuing years:


1859 - - H. G. 0. Morrison, George Bohrer, Patrick Brennan; Thomas Walsh, clerk. On account of the resignation of Mr. Morrison, the board, at a meeting held December 31st, elected Robert Foster for the remainder of the term.
1860 - - J. D. Smith, George Bohrer, Patrick Brennan; Thomas Walsh, clerk.
1861 - - J. D. Smith, George Bohrer, Michael Murnane; Thomas Walsh, clerk. Mr. Murmane failing to qualify, Patrick Brennan was chosen by the board to fill his place.
1862 - - J. D. Smith, John Rolfing, Charles McGroarty; W. H. Jarvis, clerk.
1863-4 - - J. D. Smith, John Rolfing, John Eagan; Thomas Walsh, clerk.
1865 - - James Corrigan, John Lemke, Patrick Furlong; Thomas Walsh, clerk.
1866 - - James Corrigan, Reuben Freeman, Charles McGroarty; Thomas Walsh, clerk.
1867 - - J. D. Smith, Charles McGroarty, Patrick Brennan; Thomas Walsh, clerk.
1868 - - J. D. Smith, Patrick Brennan, John Rolfing; Thomas Walsh, clerk.
1869 - - M. H. Manson, Jacob Whittemore, John Rolfing; Thomas Walsh, clerk.
1870 - - M. H. Manson, Jacob Whittemore, George Bohrer; Thomas Walsh, clerk.
1871-2 - - M. H. Manson, George Bohrer, James McNelis; Thomas Walsh, clerk. In the year 1872, Mr. Walsh died, and Reuben Freeman was appointed by the board July 10th, to fill the unexpired term.
1873 - - John D. Smith, George Bohrer, James McNelis; Reuben Finton, clerk.
1874-5 - - James Corrigan, George Bohrer, James McNelis; Reuben Freeman, clerk, 1874; P. J. Brennan, clerk, 1875.
1876 Michael Lynch, George Bohrer, John Maher; P. J. Brennan, clerk.
1877 - - Percival Barton, John Maher, Fred Ohman; John Busch, Jr. clerk.
1878 - - Percival Barton, Fred Ohman, Patrick Brennan; John Busch, Jr., clerk.
1879 - - Percival Barton, Fred Ohman, George Bohrer; John Busch, Jr., clerk.
1880 - - Percival Barton, George Bohrer, Patrick Brennan; John Busch, Jr., clerk. On account of removal from the town, Mr. Bohrer resigned, and at a meeting of the board held October 10th, 1880, his son F. W. Bohrer was appointed to fill the expired term.
1881 - - John Maher, Patrick Brennan, F. W. Bohrer; John Busch, Jr., clerk. Thomas Eagan, assessor; Mathew Krech, treasurer; James Friel, justice; James Welsh, F. W. Bohrer, constables.

A town hall was built during the summer of 1878, on the west side of the road, in the south-west quarter of section 16, the land being donated by Patrick Brennan. It is 20x40 feet, with ten foot posts, and was built at a cost of $280.

SCHOOLS.

The first school taught within the present limits of the town, was held in the winter of 1864- 5 in the house of William Bissell, near the river, in section 35. Miss Rosetta Harris was the teacher. The house was a log structure, and was occupied by the family at the same time. The teacher boarded at the house of Horace Dressser. The number of pupils was less than a dozen, and no school was held the following year.

In the summer of 1856, a school was taught in a shop on Mr. Bissell's land. The following year, the Methodist society built a church in the village of Pine Bend, which was also used for a school-house. The church was sold to the district in 1868, and moved into the town of Rosemount, about one quarter of a mile south of the town line, and located on section 18. The building is the property of joint district number 21.

The first school-house built in the town, was in what is now district number 7. It was located on the river road, in section 2, and was a frame building, erected at a cost of $300. Work on the building was commenced in the fall of 1855, and this was one of the first school-houses in the county. At that time it belonged to district number 1. The first school was taught in the summer of 1855, with about twenty scholars in attendance. This building was used until April, 1872; when it was destroyed by fire. Insurance amounted to $200, and this money was used for the erection of a new building, which was located on land owned by James Manning, about one mile south of the old site. It is a frame structure, capable of seating fifty scholars, and cost to build, $325. This district contained, at one time, about sixty scholars, but owing to a division, and the formation of a new district to the west, now numbers but thirty-five.

The first school taught in what is now district number 9, was in 1856, occupying the Catholic church. The teacher was Mary Conley, whose home was in Rosemount. She taught but one term, and soon after was married to Maurice Murphy, and lived on a farm near Sunfish lake. She died a number of years ago and was buried at Mendota. The next school was taught by Maggie Cannon, in the church. After this, school was held in a building moved out from Hastings, by Michael Phelan, who was the teacher, and used the building for a dwelling. This was in use until a school-house was built, which subsequently burned. The present house was built about ten years ago at a cost of $800. It is located on section 29, on the St. Paul and Cannon Falls road.

In what is now district number 8, the first school was taught by August Hierzog, in a small frame building erected in the spring of 1857, on land owned by William Korfhage. It was a summer school, and numbered about one dozen scholars. The house now in use is in the north-east quarter of section 8, and was built in 1872. It is a good country school-house, furnished with patent seats, and has a capacity for sixty scholars.

District number 10, was not organized until later. The school-house has a seating capacity for about twenty, although as many as forty have been in attendance. On account of removals from the district, the school has lost; only eleven scholars being enrolled the past winter.

District number 93, was organized at the house of William Mollenkamp, March 30th, 1872. The school-house Was built the following fall on F. Neumann's land in section 7. It is a frame building 18x26 feet.

The town has five entire and two joint districts, with five school-houses, all frame structures, and but one of them furnished with patent desks. A new district was organized the present year, but as yet has no school-house.

CHURCHES.

The first religious services held in the town were in the fall of 1854, by Rev. Father Ravoux, at the house of John McGrath, on section 19, the land now owned by M. Cuchret. There were about twelve persons present. Services were held at different houses in the neighborhood until the church was built the following spring. This church was of logs and one high story; located on land donated by John Eagan, on section 29. At the same time, land adjoining was donated for a cemetery by Charles and Michael Dunn. Later, five acres more were added, and the church has now over twenty-two acres in one tract. The log church was used until the present fine structure was built about fifteen years ago. It is a frame, 40x85 feet, with twenty foot posts; the spire is seventy-five feet in height. It is nicely finished, and seats 275 people in the auditorium, and has a gallery with room for about fifty. The cost of the church was upwards of $6,000. In 1879, the society purchased a fine organ at a cost of $200. The parsonage, situated just south of the church, was built in 1874, and cost $2,000. The church lot contains ten acres, and the remainder of the land is used for a cemetery. The first person buried in it was a daughter of Elisha Brown, who lived in the town of Rosemount when it was a part of Inver Grove. She was buried about the year 1856. The cemetery now contains many fine monuments erected to the memory of deceased friends. During the earlier part of its existence, the church belonged to the parish of Hastings, and was in charge of Rev. Father McMahon. Later, it was attached to Mendota, and is now an independent parish called Inver Grove. The priests in charge have been Rev. Fathers McMahon, Hartz, Murray and Coffee from Hastings; Genis, Glennon, Piott and Carufel from Mendota; Andria and Herman, local pastors.

The German Lutheran church. The first services by this society were held at the house of Jacob Schindeldecker in the spring of 1856, by Rev. William Wier. Services were held at private houses in the vicinity until the fall of 1859, when their church was completed, and dedicated by Rev. Wier soon after. The church is on section 8. Additions have been made, and the building is now a long narrow structure without a spire. At the time of the first meetings there were nine members. This has increased to a large number scattered over this and adjoining towns. A church is now being built in Eagan to accommodate that settlement. A Sunday-school has been sustained at different times, but owing to the distance the members had to come, was irregular. For the past few years a Sunday-school of about forty scholars has been kept up, with the pastor as superintendent. A parochial school is sustained in connection with the church, and numbers about forty scholars. The school is in charge of the resident pastor. The society is contemplating the erection of a new church on the site of the present structure, which will furnish more adequate accommodations for the large membership. A parsonage stands just south of the church, and the cemetery adjoins it on the north. The following have been pastors since Rev. Wier; Revs. G. Fachtman, A. Kuhn, Phillip Schmidt and E. N. Volgert, the present incumbent.

The Methodist society in the vicinity of Pine Bend built a church in the village in 1857. Previous to that time, services had been held at private houses in what is now the town of Rosemount. Services were held regularly every two weeks in the church until its sale to the school district. It was then removed to section 18, Rosemount, and used as a school-house, the society retaining the privilege of using it for church services whenever needed. It was so used for a number of years, but lately, irregularly on account of the removal of many of the members. A Sunday-school has been kept up since the organization of the society and holds regular services at the Rich Valley school-house.

VILLAGES.

Early in 1852, W. A. Bissell, Albert Webster, H. P. Sweet, and D. C. Murray, located in the south-eastern part of Inver Grove and the northeastern part of Rosemount, and started a town called Centralia. A post-office was established, with H. P. Sweet as postmaster. Early in 1857, H. G. O. Morrison, now residing in Minneapolis, came from Maine, and with W. H. Bissell and Robert Foster, had a town laid out in April and named it Pine Bend. The plat embraced the south half of the south-east quarter of section 4 and the south-west of the south-west quarter of section 35, in township 27 north, of range 22 west of the fourth principal meridian. Also the north-east of the north-west quarter of section 18, and that part of section 7 lying immediately north, in township 115 north, of range 18, west of the fifth principal meridian. Morrison invested a large amount of money. In company with others, he put up a flouring mill, a saw-mill, shingle mill, store, and several dwelling houses. The village had fair prospects of reaching considerable size. A number of settlers came in, but the financial reverses which began in 1857, crippled the resources of the proprietors to such an extent that rival towns gained the lead and retained it. The financial motive power being withdrawn, the village declined, and now only a few houses remain to remind one of what "might have been.

There are now three nice houses, one still owned by Mr. Morrison, one by George W. Coates, a grain buyer, and the other by M. C. Maltby; a store and post-office, and a warehouse. The place was named from the locality, known as Pine Bend on account of the existence of pine trees along the river at this great bend.

Merrimack was the name of a town laid out in the spring of 1857, on lot 8, and the north-west of the north-west quarter of section 11, and the north half of the north-east quarter of section 10, the land owned by Messrs. Mumford, Hall, Dames and Cook. A few lots were sold, but no improvements were made as a town and the plat was partially vacated in 1865. Previous to the laying out of this plat, which was in fact an addition, another tract on the south extending along the river one and a quarter miles, was laid out, but never recorded. Theophilus Cushing, of Frankfort, Maine, purchased the machinery and placed it in a mill which he had erected here. It was a gang saw-mill with a capacity for sawing twenty thousand feet per day, and was called the Merrimack mill. Operations were begun in August, 1857, and ceased when winter came. It was started again the next spring, but ran only about two months. It was afterwards sold to W. L. Ames, of St. Paul, who removed the machinery and abandoned the building.

A building was erected during the summer of 1857, designed for a store, but no stock was ever brought in, and it was used as a boarding house for the mill hands. When the mill suspended operations, the boarding house was also abandoned. It is now occupied as a residence on land owned by C. Bohrer. A road was opened and preparations for a levee commenced, but all came to naught. The land is now owned by different parties and used for farming purposes.

A steam saw-mill waits operated by Dr. Barton, about a mile up the river from Merrimack, until a few years ago, but is now abandoned.

POST OFFICES.

In 1856, a post-office was established, called Pine Bend. Jacob Whittemore was appointed postmaster and kept the office at the house on the west side of the St. Paul and Cannon Falls road, in section 33. He kept it but a year or so when it was transferred to the village of Pine Bend, the name Centralia having been abolished. The present postmaster is Fred Maltby, who keeps the office at his store in the village.

The town has no railroad communication, except on the west, where a curve of the Iowa and Minnesota division of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railway crosses the town line, and re-crosses into Eagan. Westcott is the station and is located in Eagan township near the line.

A store was opened by Michael Dunn and James Harkins, in the spring of 1880, on land owned by P. E. McGroarty on the west side of the St. Paul and Cannon Falls road near the center of section 29. They carry a stock of groceries and notions, suited to the wants of the surrounding inhabitants. On the opposite side of the road is a blacksmith shop belonging to George Clarke, which he started in October, 1879, and has since done a good business. There is another shop in section 18, run by Joseph Holtz, established by him in the fall of 1876.

The first marriage ceremony performed in Inver Grove, was that of William Bitley and Mrs. Tucker and took place at the Kaposia mission in the fall of 1853, John Aiton officiating. Bitley was a bachelor and Mrs. Tucker a widow; both had made claims and Bitley sold his and preempted hers. They only lived in the town about two years after they were married, then removed to Texas. Alice J. Dresser, daughter of Horace and Elizabeth Dresser, was born January 2d, 1855. She was born at their house on section 34, and lived with her parents until her death, which occurred March 31st, 1873. She was buried in the cemetery about a half mile south of her home, in Rosemount. A child was also born to Mr. and Mrs. Bitley, shortly before their removal to Texas. These were probably the first births within the present limits of the town.

The population of Inver Grove, as shown by the census of 1880, is 791.
[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


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