Freeborn County, MN

Cities and their Histories

Transcribed and Submitted by Michael Nelson

Clarks Grove Named for Settlement Near Woods
Albert Lea Tribune
Sunday, July 4, 1976, Pg 18
Submitted by Michael Nelson

Clarks Grove, as may be expected, received its title from a man named Clark who settled in a wooded grove.

J. Mead Clark made his home east of the present town site. Because the trees were so conspicuous, a territory of about two square miles near his residence came to be called the Clarks Grove neighborhood.

Before the founding of the village, a Baptist church was organized in 1863. The church, which became the First Danish Baptist Church, came about after two small groups of Danish people moved to the area from Raymond, Wis., and met other persons of the same nationality who had recently settled.

The village was formed in 1890 when the Clarks Grove Creamery opened on the northwest corner of the P. C. Christianson farm. It was the first cooperative creamery organized in Minnesota. The first milk was received on May 5 that year with W. C. Larson as butter maker.

Pleased with the success of the creamery, the next year area residents organized a cooperative mercantile company and a store was erected near the creamery. In 1900 the Rock Island Railroad laid tracks through Clarks Grove.

Among the businesses in Clarks Grove around 1910 were: a bank, creamery, two general stores, a hardware and implement store, elevator, lumber and fuel firm, confectionary store, hotel, barber shop, jewelry store, meat market, livery, ice cream parlor, feed mill, blacksmith shops, and insurance association.

Hayward Named For First Settler
Albert Lea Tribune
Sunday, July 4, 1976, Pg 18
Submitted by Michael Nelson

The village of Hayward was named after David Hayward, who came to the township from Postville, Iowa in the summer of 1856. He was followed by Peter Lund and B. Gulbrandson from Wisconsin.

The village was platted by H. C. Lacy in 1869, the same year that tracks were laid through Hayward by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. It was reported that when the railroad was built, laborers boarded at local farmhouses.

In 1870, William Morin and Augustus Armstrong built a warehouse near the rail tracks and Oliver Nelson opened a store and a dwelling. A railroad depot was built the same year.

The local post office was established in 1863 in another section of the township with M. W. Campbell as postmaster. The office was transferred to Hayward Village in 1870.

A grange was organized in 1874. A 20 by 40 foot hall was built in 1876. The Grange had about 70 members at one time but gave up its charter about three years after it started.

A cemetery association was formed in Hayward in 1874 and the first person to be buried there was Arne Overby during the winter of 1874.

The first school session in the village was held in the Grange Hall in 1875.

Hayward was incorporated in 1924. According to a newspaper from that year it was sometimes called “The White Town” because a church and parsonage, schoolhouse and many homes were painted that color and kept in good condition.

The newspaper added that Hayward was clean in appearance because weeds and rubbish were not permitted to accumulate and clean in morals because there was no dance hall, pool hall or moonshiner. The citizens were described as law-abiding and industrious.

Geneva Started With Store, Hotel
Albert Lea Tribune
Sunday, July 4, 1976, Pg 18
Submitted by Michael Nelson

The village of Geneva was platted during the winter of 1856 – 57 by James F. Jones and James Robson. In the spring of 1857, the pair opened a store and a hotel.

The same year, a blacksmith and wagon shop was opened by Berhard Shad and George Drommerhausen and a saloon also went into business.

The store and hotel burned and two Swedes named Loyhed and Matison put up a store and sold general merchandise.

The first religious meetings were in held in the town in 1857 in the Loyhed and Matison store by a traveling Methodist minister. The first Mass was said in May 1959 by a Father Oendergast at the Thomas Cushman residence.

Judge E. C. Stacy, later an Albert Lea resident, was one of the first settlers of Geneva Township, coming in 1854. He became the Geneva area’s first postmaster in 1856. His son, Door K. Stacy, who later became the city justice of Albert Lea, is said to have carried the first mail to Geneva village on his back while a boy.

The Geneva Creamery Association was formed in 1891 after a series of meetings at the Monarch schoolhouse east of the village. The creamery opened that year with T. F. Linehan as butter maker.

Oakland Named by Railroad
Albert Lea Tribune
Sunday, July 4, 1976, Pg 18
Submitted by Michael Nelson

The village of Oakland in eastern Freeborn County was founded on the original S. N. Frisbie claim.

Early records tend to show the first settlement was made by a party from Illinois consisting of the Carpenter and Bullock families. Later settlers were a part of Irishmen, who arrived in 1856,
and two Norwegian brothers, who settled in 1857.

Oakland received its name in 1869 when the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad laid tracks. Previously the village had been known as Guilford.

Around 1910, Oakland was a hamlet with two general stores, two elevators, two churches, a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and other buildings.

Conger's Name Selected by A Commercial Company
Albert Lea Tribune
Sunday, July 4, 1976, Pg 21
Submitted by Michael Nelson

The village of Conger was founded on farmland owned by Fred Miller and Albert Krueger. The name Conger derived from the Chinese language, was given by a town site company.

The village began after the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad laid tracks in 1900 and made a division between Miller and Krueger Farms. Miller decided a town should be built and gave a town site company an option on four acres of land.

The north side of the tracks became the first business district. During the winter of 1900 and 1901 a depot and stockyards were built. About the same time a deserted granary was remodeled into a general store by Pete Flesch.

The first elevator was built by E. A. Brown and was replace after it burned. The second elevator was also destroyed and rebuilt. In 1903 the creamery was erected and began operating with Henry Sprenger as butter maker. The present Conger Co-op Creamery building was constructed in 1941 of brick, replacing the old frame creamery

In the early 1900’s a heavy rain flooded the business district and it was decided the present site was too low. Fred Miller then sold the Lahr brothers two acres of property on higher ground for building.

Conger received its first electric lights during the winter of 1921, receiving energy from a plant in a garage. About the same time Conger got running water and a sewer. In earlier years the residents received water from a well west of the depot.

The village was incorporated in 1934.


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