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Dakota County Minnesota 
Genealogy and History

Rosemount 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.


The town of Rosemount is situated in the northern central portion of Dakota county, bounded on the north by the towns of Eagan and Inver Grove, on the east by Nininger, on the south by the towns of Vermillion and Empire, and on the west by the town of Lebanon. It is a fraction of over four miles from north to south, and nine miles east and west, embracing 22,201 acres of land. The board of county commissioners, in accordance with an act passed by the first state legislature, designated congressional township 115 north, of range 19 west, of the fifth principal meridian, by the name of Rosemount, at a meeting held April 6th, 1858. In February, 1871, by act of legislature, the west half of township 115 north, of range 18 west, was annexed to Rosemount. This tract was at that time a part of Inver Grove, it having been detached from the town of Nininger by the county board, September 18th, 1858, and attached to Inver Grove. The north-western portion of Rosemount was covered with a growth of small timber, when first settled. The clearing made for farming purposes has changed the appearance, so that at the present time, only occasional groves are seen. In the north-eastern part of the town the timber was of a heavier growth, consisting of elm, ash, soft maple and other varieties. The remainder of the town is prairie, slightly rolling in the north and more level in the south.

The soil is principally a black loam, with clay sub-soil, and on the knolls is rather sandy. In the north-eastern part, along the river, the soil is a gravelly loam.

The only lake of importance, is Keegan's lake, in sections 21 and 20, township 115, range 19. It covers about eighty acres, and has sandy shores and bottom; the depth is about twenty feet in the deepest place. Spring lake, on section 16, township 115, range 18, covers about one hundred acres and is a shallow, grassy lake. Several smaller lakes similar in character to Spring lake are found in different parts of the town.

The Iowa and Minnesota division of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railway crosses the western part of the town nearly north and south. The only station in the town is Rosemount, which furnishes the surrounding country with a market.


In the spring of 1863, William and Walter Strathern and C. H. Carr left the state of New York in search of western homes. They landed in St. Paul, April 17th, 1853. About a week later, the Strathern brothers started out, and finally decided to locate claims within the present town of Rosemount. William made his claim on the north-east quarter of section 13, township 115, range 19, and resided there until 1861, when he moved to the place he now occupies on section 24. He is, without doubt, the first actual settler in the town. His brother, Walter, then a single man, made his home with him, but did not locate a claim until about one year later, when he settled on the north-east quarter of section 25, where he still lives.

C. H. Carr remained in St. Paul until the following fall, then came out, and made a claim in different sections, but settled in the north-east quarter of section 26. He opened a public house and kept a stage station. This was probably the first attempt at hotel-keeping in the town. His "hotel" was a mere shanty, and many nights the number of travelers was so great that they had to find beds on the floor. In 1864, he disposed of the property and removed to Iowa, where he now resides. John Johnson came in the fall of 1853, and made a claim on section 17, township 115, range 18, where he lived until he died in July, 1880.

Early in the spring of 1854, Solomon Sears, Thomas Hamp, E. Brawn and Patrick McKinney came. Sears made his claim on section 19, township 115, range 18, and Hamp near the river, in the timber. They both lived on the claim near the river, and worked land on the claim in section 19. Claims were frequently occupied in this way in order to secure the advantages of both timber and prairie land. Sears sold out after a few years, and moved to the town of Hampton, where he remained until about two years ago, when he removed to Lac-qui-Parle county. Hamp afterward bought land in the south-west quarter of section 19, where he now resides.

Brawn and McKinney made claims on section 21, the former still living on the original claim. McKinney moved away, after a few years, and is now living in Hastings. James Diffley made a claim early in 1854, on section 21, township 115, range 19, but did not remain. He returned to St. Paul, and in the spring of 1855, came out to settle, and lived on the original claim until his death a few years since. The family still resides there. About May 20th, 1854, Andrew Keegan arrived, and located on the north-west quarter of section 21 on the east shore of the lake, now known as Keegan's lake. Being unmarried he did not remain on the claim regularly for some time. In 1864, he sold out, and removed to the town of Burnsville, and remained until July, 1866, then returned and settled in the present village of Rosemount, which was not platted at that time. He has always been a prominent man in the town and county, having been continually in some office of trust since his advent into the town. Daniel Keegan came in November, 1854, made a claim on the south-west quarter of section 21, and brought his family. Daniel remained only about two years, then removed to Rice county, and after a residence there of two years, settled in the town of Lakeville, where he now resides. Patrick Moran came with his family in November, 1854, and located on the north side of section 20, on the west side of Keegan's lake. He lived there a number of years, then moved to the town of Empire, and still lives there; he still owns the original claim. Others who settled in the fall of 1854, were, W. H. Van Kleeck, William and Michael Murnane, William Burke, Michael Moore, Ira Harris, William and Thomas Baker, Terrence Gallagher, James and William Murphy, Edward Ryan and Patrick King.

Van Kleeck settled on section 24, but remained only one year, and returned East. He now has a claim near Ortonville, where his family resides, he being employed in the Harvester works at St. Paul. The two Murnanes made claims in section 21, township 115, range 18. Michael lived on his a number of years, then moved to the town of Vermillion, where he now lives. William occupied his claim until the spring of 1880, since which time he has been a resident of Minneapolis. Burke also located on section 21. Michael Moore on section 20. He lived there a number of years, then sold, and now lives in the town of Vermillion. Harris settled on section 26, township 115, range 19, and resided there until his death, about ten years ago.

William Baker pre-empted the south-east quarter of section 26, and after several removals, now lives on section 23. His brother, Thomas, made his claim on section 24, and lived there until 1871. He is now in Kansas. Gallagher located in the central part of section 18, and remained there until a few years ago. Is now a resident of Empire township. James Murphy settled on the south side of section 17, where he still lives. Upon the organization of the township in the spring of 1858, he was elected town clerk, and has since filled a number of offices of trust. William Murphy made his claim in the northern part of the town; lived in St. Paul a few years, and now lives on section 33, where he has a fine farm of 320 acres, besides land he owns elsewhere.

Edward Ryan also made his claim in the north part of the town, and lived on it a number of years, then moved to Olmsted county. Patrick King located on the east side of section 17, subsequently sold, and removed to Rice county, where he died.

During the year 1855, settlers came in rapidly and the town attracted a fair proportion of those coming to Dakota county. Among the earlier settlers of that year were, Daniel Turpin, W. C. Morrison, Reuben Bronson, J. W. Reed and Jas. Duffy. They came in February. Turpin settled on section 29, and after a few years moved to Pine Bend, and is now in Montana. Reed, in company with his brother-in-law, made a claim on section 30, and one on section 13, in the town of Lebanon. They lived on the latter claim, but built a cabin on the claim in Rosemount, and Mr. Reed moved to this claim a few years later. Reuben Bronson made his claim on section 30, and shortly after sold to A. A. Atherton, who had previously located on section 19. James Duffy settled on the north-west quarter of section 30, and lived there until 1869. He died at Hastings in the winter of 1878. Morrison selected the north-east quarter of section 30. In May, his brother, R. P. Morrison, came out and to induce him to remain, W. C. Morrison surrendered his claim to him and made another in the town of Empire. He lived on it long enough to prove up, then made his home in St. Paul, where he now resides. R. P. Morrison returned east for his family, and started with them for Minnesota. When about eighteen miles west of McGregor, Iowa, he died of congestive chills after an illness of several days. His family arrived in St. Paul, October 15th following, and on the 17th, moved out to the claim. A log house had been built by the brothers during their first visit, which the family occupied. Mrs. Morrison began keeping people who were hunting claims, and soon concluded to make a business of hotel keeping. A board was put up bearing the legend "'Prairie house" printed upon it with a lead pencil. A friend of Mrs. Morrison soon after brought on his back from St. Paul, a painted sign. The log building was used about two years, then replaced by a more commodious structure, and to this an addition was made about three years later, making the house 30x46 feet, and two-stories high, containing sixteen rooms. This house has proved a haven for many a weary traveler, and is still conducted as a hotel by Mrs. Morrison.

Another hotel was opened by W. S. Hardwick, diagonally across the road from Mrs. Morrison's, about 1859. It was called the Rosemount house, and was run by Mr. Hardwick several years, then sold to Daniel Underwood. About 1866, it was closed as a public house, for lack of patronage.

John Murphy came early in 1855, and made a claim on section 29, where he lived until he died, April 23d, 1873. His family still occupy the place. Among the settlers of 1855, Hugh Derham holds a prominent place. He located his claim in the southern part of the town and has since added largely to it by purchase. He has been a very successful farmer, as the present appearance of his farm with its fine residence and out buildings testifies. Of late years he has given his attention largely to fine stock, and his place is ranked among the finest stock farms in the county.

Among the settlers of 1855, we find the names of Patrick Mulrey, James McDonough, Michael Cunniff, O. B. Velie, John Davis, Orville Woodworth, Elisha and Edwin Blew, Thomas Kane, J. H. and William Flannegan, and Martin Knarsboro. From this time on, settlers came in rapidly, and it is not possible to mention individually those who came in and the order in which they came.

The first birth in the town was that of James, son of William Strathern and wife. He was born January 24th, 1855, and lived with his parents until the fall of 1874, when he went to Farmington and learned the blacksmith's trade. In the spring of 1879, he located at Appleton, Swift county, where, in company with a brother-in-law, he owns a blacksmith shop. The next birth was Margaret, daughter of Michael and Margaret Cunniff, born October 13th, 1855. She is still living in the town, on the old claim of her parents, who are both dead.

The first death which occurred in the town, was that of Eliza Keegan, daughter of Daniel and Catherine Keegan, in January, 1855. She was buried at Mendota.

The first marriage was that of James R. Wallace and Martha Strathern, which occurred March 7th, 1856, the ceremony being performed by Rev. John Benson, at the house of William Strathern. They located on section 18, township 115, range 18. Six children were born to them, five boys and one girl; the girl is dead. Mr. Wallace died June 11th, 1874, and was buried in the Pine Bend cemetery. Mrs. Wallace, with her family, resides on the homestead in section 18.

ORGANIZATION. The first meeting for the organization of Rosemount township was held May 11th, 1858, at the house of Thomas Dowd. J. H. Flannegan was chosen moderator of the meeting and James Murphy, clerk. Considerable discussion took place as to whether they should adopt the name of Rosemount or Saratoga. The name of Rosemount was finally adopted. The officers elected were: J. H. Flannegan, chairman of the board; James Murphy, clerk; William Strathern, assessor, and Andrew Keegan, justice of the peace. Under the territorial law, Thomas Clark was elected justice at the precinct election in the fall of 1856, the term being for two years, he held until the fall of 1858. The following spring he was elected town clerk, and held the office continuously, with the exception of 1865, until 1875. Andrew Keegan was elected that year and has since held the office. Following is a list of chairmen of the town board of supervisors and the years in which they served:

James Murphy, 1859-60-69-70-71-2;
Edward Ryan, 1861-2;
C. H. Carr, 1863;
Orville Woodworth, 1864;
Hugh Denham, 1865-75-6-7;
Elisha Blew, 1866-7-8-73;
J. H. Flannegan, 1874.
Dennis Mulrooney, 1878;
Thomas O'Rourke, 1879-80-1.

The officers for 1881 are: Thomas O'Rourke, James McDonough and D. G. Harrington, supervisors; Andrew Keegan, clerk; William Strathern, treasurer; Thomas Clark, assessor; William Strathern and Andrew Keegan, justices of the peace; Fremont Washburn, constable.

The first justice to qualify in the town was Andrew Keegan, who took the oath of office at Mendota, then the county seat, on January 8th, 1856. He has remained in office continuously since. From 1864 to 1869 he was out of this town, but served in the place where he was located, and on his return resumed the office here.

In 1860, the total value of real and personal property in the town, as returned by the assessor, was $33,779. In 1870, the valuation was $121,324, and in 1880 it had increased to $335,457. The population of the township, as shown by the census of 1880, is 964; this includes a population of 116 in the village of Rosemount. (See the town of Rosemount for a history of the village).


The first religious services held in the town of Rosemount were by Rev. Kidder at the house of William Senescall on section 17, near the Mississippi river, during the summer of 1854. The house of worship was a small shanty and the congregation numbered about a dozen people, sufficient however, to fill the room. Meetings were held at this house several times during the summer.

The next spring they began to hold meetings at the house of William Strathern on section 13, township 115, range 19, where meetings were held for about two years. Then at other houses until a church was built at Pine Bend. During the summer of 1855, a Sunday-school was organized in connection with the church, at the house of William Strathern, with Thomas Pemberton as superintendent. The school numbered about fifteen scholars and removed to Pine Bend with the church.

Early in 1856, the Rev. Father Tissot, a Roman Catholic priest and missionary, began holding services at the house of John Murphy, on section 29, township 115, range 19. Services were continued at this house by different priests from time to time, until the erection of the Catholic church at Lakeville. Their first local priest was Rev. A. Oster, followed by Rev. Fathers Glennon and Quinn. The latter is the present local priest of Lakeville parish, of which this portion of the town is a part. In 1880, the church at Lakeville was blown down by a tornado, since which time services have been held in a hall in the village of Rosemount. The contract has been let for the building of a fine church in the village, which they hope to complete the present year. The people of the parish have built a fine residence for the priest in the village of Rosemount, just north of the hall of the Total Abstinence society.

The Rosemount Methodist church. Protestant church services in the western part of the town were instituted by Rev. Eaton, in the spring of 1856. The first meeting was held in J. W. Reed's claim shanty on section 30. Services were held there during the summer and after that at different houses until the school-house was built in the town of Lebanon, one mile west. In 1867, the protestant people of Lebanon and Rosemount united and built by subscription, the church located on section 30, Rosemount just east of the line dividing the town. It was dedicated in December, 1867, by Elder Chaffee, of Minneapolis. The first local pastor was Rev. H. J. Shafner. He was succeeded by Revs. Chase, Hobart, Teter, Day, Learned, Sterritt and Rich. The latter is the present pastor, and resides in Farmington. At the time the first services were held, in 1856, a Sunday-school was organized, with Ephriam Knight as superintendent, and numbered about a dozen scholars. For a time, both church and school prospered finely, but owing to the removal of many of the members, they declined, and at the present time services are held once in two weeks. J. B. Gilbert is the present superintendent of the Sunday-school.

The German Methodist church, in the village of Rosemount, was built in the summer of 1874 at a cost of $1,900. It is 24x36 feet, and seats with comfort 200 people. Previous to the building of the church, meetings were held at private houses. These meetings began in 1867, and were conducted by Rev. William Rotert. He was succeeded by Revs. Boetcher, Schute, Henry Dietz, George Hartung, and Philip Funk. The latter is the present incumbent, Rev. Rotert having been pastor for the second time, just previous to Rev. Mr. Funk. Services are held every Sabbath. A Sabbath school in connection with the church was organized in 1874, with Frederick Sprute as superintendent and about forty scholars. The school has been prosperous from the outset, and has about the same number in attendance as at the beginning. The present superintendent is John Kurz.


In 1855, a post-office was established and the name of Rosemount given to it. Andrew Keegan was first postmaster, and held the office for about two years. He was succeeded by James Duffy, and he, in turn, by W. S. Hardwick, who held the office, with the exception of a few months, until Frederick Kloepping, the present postmaster, was appointed in 1877.

Rich Valley post-office was established about 1857, with C. H. Carr as postmaster. He kept the office at his house, on section 26, until 1864, when Thomas Abraham was appointed, and the office removed about a half mile further south, to the place now occupied by D. G. Harrington. Thomas Clark was the next postmaster, and kept the office in his house, on section 23. In August, 1867, Mark Hole was appointed, and has since held the office at his home.


In the fall of 1861, a store was opened in a room in the Prairie house, about a half mile west of the village of Rosemount, by Mrs. O'Donnell. In 1862 her son erected a building for her just west of the hotel, into which she moved and kept the store until 1865, when it was sold to Lester and Hardwick. In 1870 they sold their stock to James Thompson, who sold the stock two years later. The building was moved into the village and used as a hotel.

The American house was formerly in use as a store and dwelling house, about a half mile west of Rosemount village, but about 1873 the building was moved into the village and used as a private house until 1878, when C. W. Stoddard fitted it up for a hotel. In January, 1881, it came into the possession of George Lester and Fremont Washburn. The hotel is 30x40 feet, two stories high and contains nine rooms besides the dancing halls.

The Rosemount house was first opened as a hotel by Henry Keeffe, in October, 1876. The main part of the building was put up by Michael Hynes in 1874, and occupied as a harness shop, then as a saloon. In 1877, Mr. Keeffe built an addition to the rear and the next year another on the east. It is a two story building, containing thirteen rooms, and accommodates twenty-five guests.


The first school-house built in the town of Rosemount was located on the north side of section 20, township 115, range 19, on the Dodd road to Mendota. It was built during the spring of 1858, and was a log structure about 14x18 feet. Miss Margaret Cumming taught the first school that summer. This building was used until the present one belonging to district number 19, was erected in the north-east corner of the north-west quarter of section 29.

The first school taught in the eastern part of the town was at the house of Walter Strathern, on section 25. He was living in the house at the time and his wife taught the school. A granary was afterwards fitted up and used as a schoolroom for a couple of years, then a small house was erected and used until the present fine building was put up on the south-west quarter of section 24. It is 28x34 feet and seats eighty scholars. It cost the district $1,450 and belongs to district number 20. The town now has six schoolhouses, all frame buildings and furnished with patent seats and desks, excepting district number 88, which still uses plain seats. There are four entire and three joint districts in the township.


The St. Joseph’s Total Abstinence society was organized by Rev. A. Oster, February 16th, 1873, at the village of Rosemount, with twenty charter members. The first officers were: Michael Johnston, president; Bartholomew McCarthy, vice-president; J. C. Geraghty, recorder and corresponding secretary; Thomas Devitt, treasurer. The membership numbered at one time 150. At the state conventions of the order, this society has on three occasions received a gold medal for increase in membership in proportion to the number of Catholics in the parish. The present membership is ninety. In 1876 the society erected a hall in the village of Rosemount at an expense of $500. It is a fine building, and is well adapted to the uses of the society, which meets on the first and third Sundays of each month. Improvements on the building have been made, making the total cost about $800. The present officers of the society are: James McDonough, president; Timothy McCarthy, vice-president; Michael Mulrey, recording secretary; John O'Rourke, corresponding secretary; and Martin Lynch, treasurer. At the present time the hall is used by the Catholic church, on account of the parish church having been destroyed by a hurricane.

Rich Valley Grange Number 130. This society was organized January 25th, 1873, with twenty-five charter members and the following officers: Thomas Clark, master; William Strathern, overseer; D. G. Harrington, lecturer; Thos. Hole, secretary; J. R. Wallace, treasurer; Walter Strathern, steward; Orville Woodworth, assistant steward; Mrs. Mark Hole, Ceres; Mrs. J. R. Wallace, Pomona; Mrs. Juliette Hole, Flora; Mrs. Thomas Clark, lady assistant steward.

In November, 1875, the grange bought the old school-house owned by district number 20, on the south-east quarter of section 24, and fitted it up for a hall. The present officers are: F. C. Maltby, and Drury Hildred, masters; D. G. Harrington, overseer; Thomas Clark, secretary; Thomas Wallace, treasurer; Thomas Clark, chaplain; Walter Strathern, steward; O. B. Velie, assistant steward; Mrs. William Strathern, Ceres; Mrs. D. G. Harrington; Pomona; Mrs. J. R. Wallace, Flora; Mrs. Thomas Clark, lady assistant steward.

Hope Grange was organized at the school-house in district number 92, a half mile west of the village of Rosemount, in the fall of 1873, with about eighteen charter members. The officers were: M. A. Sullivan, master; S. C. Headley, overseer; J. B. Gilman, lecturer; John Gilman, secretary; E. A. Rice, treasurer; J. W. Reed, chaplain; W. H. Hardick, steward: Ira Sauger, assistant steward; Miss Belle Reed, Ceres; Mrs. W. H. Hardick, Pomona; Mrs. S. C. Headley, Flora; Mrs. John Gilman, lady assistant steward. Although this grange never reached a large number of members, it was strong and influential while in existence. In 1877, meetings ceased to be held.

The number of horses in the town, as shown by the returns of 1880, is 381; mules, 11; cows, 400; sheep, 266. The products in 1879 amounted to: wheat, 58,572 bushels; Oats, 51,507 bushels; corn 26,357 bushels; barley 9,262 bushels; potatoes, 13,135 bushels; hay, 1,215 tons; butter, 34,200 pounds.


In 1863, a Mr. Arnold of Cannon Falls, at that time a member of a cavalry company stationed at Fort Snelling, received information that there was sickness in his family at home. In order to visit them he obtained a furlough, and in company with two others, S. W. Mattison, and another, whose name does not appear, started out on foot. At noon they stopped for dinner at the Willoughby house, on the St. Paul and Cannon Falls road, in the town of Inver Grove, about half a mile north of the line between that town and Rosemount. A number of farmers from the neighborhood were collected at the hotel and considerable drinking was going on. It was not long before a quarrel arose as the result of a political discussion and a general row ensued, the crowd against the three soldiers, or rather two, for Arnold took the part of peacemaker, and the two soldiers were soon worsted. They succeeded in getting away and concealing themselves. While the excited crowd were looking for them Arnold started down the road on his way home. The crowd failing to discover the other two, started after him in a wagon, driving at full speed. He jumped the fence and endeavored to escape through the field, but they overtook him and sprang upon him, beating and stamping him until life was extinct. About an hour later, Mr. Whittemore and others living near, went to him and found him terribly mangled. Although it was "town meeting" day, but a few were aware of the crime committed in their midst until the next day.

Great excitement prevailed, and the three most active participants in the crime were forced to hide for a time. Patrick Mehan fled to Iowa and escaped altogether. Thomas Eagan and Michael McHugh were arrested and taken to Hastings. Eagan was tried first and by the aid of a packed jury was acquitted. The prosecution seeing it was useless to try the cases in the vicinity, secured a change of venue to Stillwater, and there McHugh was tried, convicted, and sentenced to the state prison for a term of years.

Mrs. Arnold, the widow of the murdered man, brought suit against Eagan for damages, and secured a verdict for a large sum. Eagan being apprised of the result in advance, was enabled to dispose of his property. He soon after left the country and so far as known has not been seen in the county since.
[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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