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Lincoln County, Minnesota 
Genealogy and History



Township and Village History

Organization of the Townships of Lincoln County
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

The townships of which Lincoln county is composed as they exist in its permanent organization are as follows: Beginning at the northeastern corner of the county and enumerating them downward, we have Alta Vista, Limestone, Lake Stay, Marshfield and Hope, forming the eastern tier; thence beginning again at the north we have Marble, Royal, Ash Lake, Diamond Lake and Lake Benton, forming the central tier, and again beginning at the north we have Hansonville, Hendricks, Shaokatan, Drammen and Verdi, forming the western tier, a total of fifteen townships in all.

Lincoln county lies within a territory known as Plateau du Prairies (plateau of prairie heights) and described by Nicollet as a vast plain, elevated 1916 feet above sea level, and 890 feet about Big Stone lake, lying between latitudes forty-three and forty-six, extending from north-west to southeast a distance of 200 miles, from a point a short distance northwest of Lake Traverse in a southeasterly direction into Iowa.

The data upon which the history of the organization of Marshfield, Hope, Lake Benton, Diamond Lake, Drammen, Verdi, Royal, Marble and Limestone is written was obtained from the original records compiled by the first township clerks of the respective townships. The organization of Hansonville township is related in the writings of Hon. John Hanson and that of Hendricks in the writings of Hon. Hiram B. Danielson. It is regrettable that the records of the organization of Ash Lake, Lake Stay, Shaokatan and Alta Vista are unobtainable, same doubtless having been misplaced by some of the early clerks of those townships and are evidently lost. However, as much of the history of the four latter townships as is available to the writer will be given.

If our information is correct the voting precincts of which Lincoln county was composed while it was still a portion of Lyon county were as follows: Lake Benton precinct consisted of two townships in central and southern, what is now, Lincoln county; Yellow Bluff (or Yellow Medicine), consisted of three northern townships, Hansonville, Marble and Alta Vista; Marshfield, ten townships in central and southern part of the county, supposedly Hendricks, Royal, Limestone, Shaokatan, Ash Lake, Lake Stay, Drammen, Diamond Lake, Marshfield and Verdi, or perhaps Hope.

At a meeting of the Commissioners of Lyon county dated October 8, 1870, among other resolutions the following was adopted: “That township 113, range 40-41-42-43 and 44 be formed into an election precinct to be called Upper Yellow Medicine. That Frank Nelson and ----- Morse be justices thereof. (other officers not named). Also that townships 109-110-111 and 113, range 45-46 and 47, be formed into an election district precinct to be called Lake Benton precinct. That George Ross and -----Bentley be justices thereof. That the election in said district be held at the house of William Taylor. That William Taylor, Daniel Williams and John Bingham (probably Bigham) be judges of election.”

At a meeting of the above board of county commissioners under date of March 15, 1871, William Ross was appointed assessor for the third district (Lake Benton election precinct). Under date of April 4, 1871, William Taylor was appointed assessor to fill the vacancy caused by the failure of William Ross to qualify. At a meeting of the board of county commissioners on September 19, 1871, H. A. Langley was appointed justice of the peace in and for Lake Benton precinct.


Alta Vista Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

There being no early official records pertaining to the organization of Alta Vista township, we are compelled to piece together the threads of data at hand, meager though they be, as best we can.

The origin of the township’s name is but a conjecture. However, as the word “Alta” is a version of the word “alto”, meaning a height, and the word “Vista” meaning a distant view or landscape, we link the two words together and venture the suggestion that the name means a high view. It is generally believed that the name was applied by that most picturesque and versatile pioneer resident, Colonel Samuel McPhail. Col. McPhail was a Mexican was veteran and mingled quite extensively amid Spanish environments while in that service, hence we conjecture he used the term “vista” as it was suggested by its extensive use among the Spanish people.

As to the date when the township was organized we have no data, but conclude that it was about the time the other Lincoln county townships became local political units, from 1878 to 1880.

Samuel McPhail was one of the first settlers in the township, coming in the year 1875. However, we have no data stating whether or not he occupied an official position in the political organization of same, but it is reasonably supposed that he was one of the prime movers in the township’s organization. He did, nevertheless, serve as county attorney and county surveyor for several terms.

Isaac Vanderwarker came in 1879 and was later chairman of the board of supervisors for several terms. Jacob Stringer came in 1878 and was afterwards town clerk and justice of the peace. Benjamin H. Sorensen came in 1870 and appears to have been the first settler in the township. At the time he settled on his claim the land was not surveyed and he was unable to prove up until the year 1872. John P. Boulton came to the township in 1880 and his son, William Boulton, still lives upon the land his father purchased at the time he came. Peter O. Vine came in 1880 and afterwards served as town clerk and assessor. Myron Mason is said to have been the first town clerk and postmaster in the township.

The following historical facts connected with the residence of Col. Samuel McPhail in the township are of considerable interest: Colonel McPhail was mustered out of military service in 1864, coming to Alta Vista township in 1875 where he located a tree claim, receiving his patent to the land in 1878. He did not take the land with the express purpose of making a home, but rather at the solicitation of Government officials for the purpose of establishing an experimental tree claim.

He made considerable success in the growing of trees. He succeeded in raising the first oranges in the state of Minnesota on his tree claim and also succeeded in raising a coffee tree as well as several other trees and plants not adapted to Minnesota climate.

The writer visited the old McPhail homestead in the summer of 1935 and saw no evidences of tress other than those which are native to this climate, which leads us to the belief that he reached but a brief success in his experiments with tree life.


Village of Arcola
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936); transcribed by Vicki Bryan

At a meeting on June 30, 1903, the County Commissioners of Lincoln County considered a petition from the citizens of Areola asking to have Areola incorporated as a village. The Board accordingly called ah election to be held on July 27th of that year, for the purpose of voting on the incorporation question. Citizens of Areola had been quite anxious to have the town incorporated and the action of the county commissioners in this matter met with general approval. For more than a year prior to instigation of the incorporation proceedings Areola had two county licensed saloons, and from all appearances that was an object of much dissatisfaction to her citizens. S. H. Oxholm, Chr. Larsen and Edward Blegen were appointed inspectors of the election of July 27th.

The streets of the village were graded up to the required level, the necessary crossings installed and a generous coating of gravel applied. The village was granted permission from the C. & N. W. railway to use all necessary gravel from the railroad pit east of the depot, the only requirement being the proper sloping and care of the pit after the required amount had been secured. Norman and Saxon streets, the most important business arteries in the village, were the first to be completed with the gravel surfacing.

Later on the name of the village was changed to Arco.

It is now a thriving village with grain elevators, Farmers Co-Operative creamery, stores, restaurants, and a fine, brick school building and consolidated school. It also has a private electric light and power plant.


Ash Lake Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

Ash Lake is one of the four townships within Lincoln county whereof the earliest official records are unavailable and the date from which this brief history is written was obtained from latter official records, biographies and various other sources.

John Nelson was the first settler in the township and gave the lake which is located within its boundary the name of Ash Lake from the fact that there were so many ash trees skirting the border. From the lake the township took its name. The township was organized in 1879. Hans P. Paulson was the second settler in the township and assisted in its organization, serving as chairman of the board of supervisors for one term. Jacob Wickersheim also participated in its organization and attended the first meeting which was held in a small building located in section 19 used as a frontier store. Mr. Wickersheim was elected the first treasurer. David L. Phipps also participated in the township’s organization and was one of the first supervisors. Hans Lavesson came to the township in 1878 and presumably took part in its organization, afterwards serving as a member of the board of supervisors and township clerk for several terms.

A meeting of the town board of Ash Lake was held on January 31, 1881 to consider a petition for the establishment of a public highway within the borders of the township. This petition was signed by D. L. Phipps, R. Kennen, J. Wickersheim, Fred Judd, F. N. Manchester, J. W. Ardell, Charles Lundberg, J. H. Jackling, Soloman Derby and William Evans. This seems to be the earliest public record available. The order designating the establishment of the highway was signed by J. H. Jackling, H. Lavesson and D. L. Phipps, supervisors.

Thorsten Johnson, a son of John Nelson, was the first overseer of road district No. 1 and Lars Johnson, a brother, was the first overseer of road district No. 2. John H. Cook came to the township in 1876 and also assisted in its organization.

Morse’s store was located in section 19, Ash Lake township, adjacent to Shaokatan lake. At the time of the establishment of this store it was thought there was a probability that the railroad from Tracy west would be built up to Marshfield, the county seat, and thence west through Ash Lake and Shaokatan townships and on to Brookings. These hopes were dashed on the road being built to Lake Benton and thence west.


Diamond Lake Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

The first town meeting in Diamond Lake township was held January 29th, 1880 pursuant to notice. A. E. Burdick was chosen moderator and H. D. Worden, clerk.

The following were declared elected to office and to serve until the first annual meeting to be held March 9th, following: J. N. Brightman, S. LeRicheoux and D. Chapman, supervisors; W. D. Bryan, clerk; Wm. Ramsey, treasurer; H. D. Worden and W. D. Bryan, justice of the peace; A. E. Burdick, assessor; James Stewart and A. Anderson, constables. The minutes were signed by H. D. Worden, clerk.

On the 4th of March, 1880 a public census was held at the clerk’s office and officers nominated to be voted upon at the first annual meeting to be held on March 9th, 1880. The meeting was called to order by S. LeRicheoux and G. H. Bradley chosen moderator. On the motion of Mr. Whipple, G. H. Bradley was nominated for chairman of board of supervisors. S. LeRicheoux and J. G. D. Whipple were nominated for supervisors; W. D. Bryan, clerk; W. H. Bradley, treasurer; A. E. Burdick, assessor; H. D. Worden and G. H. Hoyt, justices of the peace; William Newell and J. H. Stewart, constables.

The clerk was instructed to have 100 ballots printed. The caucus then adjourned and the minutes were signed by W. D. Bryan, clerk.

The first regular annual meeting was held at the home of A. E. Burdick, March 9, 1880. The meeting was called to order by W. D. Bryan, clerk, and J. N. Brightman was chosen moderator. A. M. Jellidor was elected overseer for road district No. 1; G. L. Marcellus, overseer of road district No. 2; A. Anderson, overseer of road district No. 3 and H. D. Worden, overseer of road district No. 4. The following three places were designated as points for posting public notices: Near the homes of H. D. Worden, G. H. Bradley and J. G. D. Whipple. It was voted to raise the sum of $12.00 to build bridge across the outlet on or near the section line between sections 14 and 23; $12.00 to build a bridge across Norwegian creek on or near the line between section 28 and 29, and $5.50 for a bridge on the line between sections 3 and 4. It was also voted to raise $50.00 by tax to defray the expenses of the township for the ensuing year. A motion was carried to hold the next annual meetship meeting at the school house in district No. 4.

The polls were closed at five o’clock p. m. and the votes canvassed. The following persons were declared elected to their respective offices: G. H. Bradley, chairman of board of supervisors by 19 votes; S. LeRicheoux and J. G. D. Whipple, supervisors by 19 votes each; W. D. Bryan, clerk; W. H. Bradley, treasurer; A. E. Burdick, assessor; H. D. Worden and G. H. Hoyt, justices of the peace; Wm. Newell and J. H. Stewart, constables, all by 19 votes each.

On motion the meeting was adjourned and the minutes signed by J. N. Brightman, G. H. Bradley, S. LeRicheoux, judges, and attested by W. D. Bryan, clerk.


Drammen Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

The first town meeting for Drammen township was held at the home of Jens Thompson, January 29, 1880. The meeting was called to order by Ole Myran. Jens Thompson was chosen moderator and Ole Myran, clerk. The following officers were then elected by ballot to fill the respective township offices:

S. O. Norvold, chairman; Christ Holt and Barney Anding, supervisors; O. H. Myran, clerk; Ed. Buck, treasurer; S. O. Nordvold and John Swanse, justices; H. I. Pierce and Simon Olson, constables; Ole Johnson, road master. On motion it was ordered that the township be divided into two road districts, the line running east and west through the center. The meeting was then adjourned without day. Minutes were signed by O. H. Myarn, clerk.

The first annual township meeting was held at the home of Jens Thompson on March 9th, 1880. The meeting was called to order by Ole Myran, clerk. M. A. Carver was chosen moderator. The following officers were then elected by ballot: S. O. Nordvold, N. B. Cark and Jens Thompson, supervisors; M. A. Carver, clerk; Ed. Buck, treasurer; S. O. Nordvold and Charles Vinley, justices; H. I. Pierce and A. Sindaas, constables; N. B. Clark and Simon Olson, road masters; Ole Johnson, pound master. The minutes were signed by M. A. Carver, chairman, and O. H. Myran, as clerk.

The following history and reminiscences of Drammen township was written by Martin West, one of the early pioneers, in the Norwegian language. We are indebted to Rev. O. J. Nesheim, pastor of the English Lutheran church at Lake Benton and Tyler at the present time and for several years past, for the English version:
Town of Drammen, in the Year of Our Lord, December 9, 1905
By Martinus West

Mr. G. I. Larson:

Your letter dated July 20, which should have been answered the first part of October, I received months ago. But writing is negative with me, and as excuses may be preferred: busy, impaired sight, carelessness. I shall, however, try to give the bit of information I can, trusting it is “better late than never”.

Ole Thompson and his brother, Jens, were the two first homsteaders in the town of Drammen in the spring of 1877. Our daughter, Clara, born May 13, 1879, was the first white child born here in the town of Drammen, and our son, Alfred, was the first Scandanavian child in Diamond Lake, born February 11, 1878. The first Scandanavian, Hans Gran, settled in the town of Lake Benton in the year 1867. His brother, Ole Gran, was the first Scandanavian who died and was buried in the town of Lake Benton, about the year 1870. An old wagon box was used for his coffin. He was buried under a large oak on what is now the Nordmeyer farm. Old man Taylor, who froze to death in the winter of 1875-75 and Bennett, who went to Oregon in 1874, possibly were the first settlers near Lake Benton, but J. Gilronan came about that time also. I came out here to the town of Drammen in the summer of 1878.

In the fall when the prairie fires had burned over sections 17 and 18, there were many circles of wood (stakes) but cut and brought there. The circles were 18 to 20 feet in diameter. I once asked Samuel McPhail what they were and he said they were tent stakes remaining since he, with his soldiers, camped on sections 17 and 18 against the Indians, in the summer of 1863, the year following the New Ulm outbreak. They had a battle in the ravines five or six miles northwest from here where Indian graves may be seen till this day. In the summer of 1878 as I was walking across from section 18 to Lake Benton—roads were not known to be mentioned in those days—I found many round stone settings in section 25, some as large as a man could carry, but imbedded in the ground, they very top only being visible. It was told that the Indians used the stones to hold their tents to the ground.

Of Indian relics I have only a few, yet I might mention for example arrow heads, a broken stone knife and a stone about 4 inches long by 3 ½ inches in diameter to which the Indians tied a handle to knock each other in the skull, of course, not in a friendly way. I also have a stone about 8 or 9 inches long by 5 or 6 inches in diameter. This is a mill-stone and likely one of the oldest in the Union. They used it to peel corn with, tying a rawhide strap around the stone with the other end tied to the branch of a tree they bounced it up and down like a mortar. The third stone, of which a part has been broken off, is smaller, about 3 inches long by 2 ½ inches thick. This is supposed to be an old spinning wheel and very likely one of the oldest in the Union. The Indian women woud hang them to a tree by a fine rawhide string, then twirl them till the string was round and sleek. This was the thread to sew dresses for the children and many other things.

My first and nearest neighbor was Ole H. Myran in the town of Drammen. He was born in Nummedal, Norway. In the fall of 1880 he went to Ada, Minn. and was state senator from that district for several years. He suffered greatly from asthma the later years and at the age of 52 he died in Los Angeles, California last October. He was our first town clerk and our first school clerk in the town of Drammen, then district No. 17—now we are in district No. 62. Ole H. Myran was a brave young man and well educated.


History of Hansonville Township
By John Hanson
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Richard Ramos

Introduction

At the annual meeting of the Old Settlers’ Association of Lincoln County, Minnesota, held at Ivanhoe in 1905, it was decided to have the history of the early settlement of Lincoln county written. For this purpose G. I. Larson was chosen as the main writer and compiler of the work, with instructions to appoint one assistant writer, or gatherer of date in each township, and for this purpose the undersigned was appointed for the township of Hansonville.

As no special plan or form for this work was recommended, I have written in accordance with the first year I was here (1873) and for each year in rotation down to 1890, according to my best knowledge and idea, entered the most important happenings, and in entering the organization of our township and the different school districts, I have secured abstracts from the official records. I have entered the names of all the persons who have held town or school district offices, also the names of the teachers who have taught school in the township, together with short biographies or remarks concerning those who have taken the most active part in our township and school district affairs, or have distinguished themselves more than others. These names and remarks have been entered for the purpose of designating to our descendents and the coming generations, who were the founders of civilization in this part of the country.

In this memorandum I have tried to give everybody fair credit, and to do my best in writing it, and hope that possible mistakes will be excusable.--JOHN HANSON.

NOTE: In compiling Mr. Hanson’s transcript we have taken the liberty to revise same to consider-able extent, partly to correct a certain unintentional ambiguity of language and partly for the sake of brevity of expression.--A. E. TASKER.

The First Settler in the Township of Hansonville and His Views as to the Country in its Wild State

The beginning of the white man’s inhabitation of Hansonville township (T. 113, R. 46) took place on July 4, 1873 when John Hanson selected his claim and commenced to establish his home on a strip of land lying between two small lakes, generally known as Twin Lakes, one of which lies mostly in section 28 and the other in section 29. Mr. Hanson was then a single man about twenty-four years of age and for four or five years previously had been employed on frontier railroads. He was enured to the rigors of adverse and changeable weather conditions, and later on fully qualified as a “bachelor” on the frontier prairies.

Twin Lakes and surroundings were then, especially at this time of the year, one of the most inviting places to the home seeker, as water in the lakes was up to high water mark and very clear owing to the late spring in this part of the country, heavy snow storms having occurred as late as the 13th of May. The dead grass was as a rule, burned off each year so that at this time the new grass had a very rich, green color, and the trees bordering the lakes and streams were at the height of their verdure. If a person ascended a knoll near the lakes on a still morning, a little after sunrise, when the dew was upon the grass, glittering like diamonds, the surface fo the lake a perfect mirror, he would enjoy a panorama as beautiful as one could wish to see.

The soil was rich, gently rolling and easy to break up and get under cultivation, and the climate and atmosphere very agreeable in the summer, but in the winter the weather was extremely severe. Almost all the lakes were well stocked with fish which proved an important item to the new settlers. Game birds, such as ducks, geese and prairie chickens, were plentiful, and when the settlers were supplied with guns and ammunition, were easy to obtain. Fur bearing animals, such as mink, muskrat and badger, were also plentiful. These furs found ready market at good prices and proved of great financial benefit to the pioneers.

Song birds were scarce during the pioneer days, but blackbirds were very plentiful and made sad inroads upon the pioneer farmer’s crops. Frogs, crickets and mosquitoes filled the summer nights with music, the latter affording much discomfort to the settlers.

1874--First Land Title in Hansonville

By this time the Federal government had partly recovered from the effects of the Civil War, subdued the Indian outbreak, surveyed the prairie lands in western Minnesota and through liberal emigration laws was admitting European colonists who eagerly sought the free lands so easily obtained at that particular time. Settlers were beginning to drift in and Mr. Hanson, having taken out his first naturalization papers at South Bend, Minnesota in 1866, took a trip, together with two other settlers as witnesses, went to Redwood Falls where the land office was located at the time, and completed his pre-emption upon his claim, paying therefore the sum of $2.50 per acre. Mr. Hanson made affidavit to the effect that he had resided upon the land continuously since July 4, 1873, that he had six acres in crop (corn and rutabagas), that it was his intention to become a citizen of the United States and had taken out his first papers to that end, and had fulfilled all other requirements thereto. This was the first piece of land deeded to a settler in Hansonville, as well as within the northern part of Lincoln county.

This same year Mr. Hanson met with a serious accident in having a portion of his left arm torn away with a charge of shot from a shotgun. Mr. Hanson afterwards recovered, but his arm was crippled for life. Although throughout the summer the weather was fine, a terrific hail storm swept that portion of the county in the fall, killing birds, split open pumpkins and left large dents in the ground. Frogs and lizards were very numerous during the season.

1875--The Grasshopper Scourge

The year 1875 was ushered in with very severe weather conditions, with heavy snows succeeding one another, the outstanding storm striking the country the latter part of March. This storm lasted for three days and was accompanied by intense cold and a high wind, causing the snow to sift through the nail holes, cracks and crevices and thus find its way inside of the houses, sheds and barns. Between Twin Lakes in the shelter of the groves, the snow piled up to a height of about twenty-five feet and did not entirely disappear until about the 8th of June following.

About this time grasshoppers had begun to hatch in counties to the north and east and the problem of ridding the county of this pest occupied the minds of many. Some of the counties offered a bounty of $1 per bushel as an inducement to the settlers to attempt to destroy the hoppers. The state legislature passed laws to provide means for their extermination. One legislative act provided that road overseers should direct their crews to spend five days out of the year in destroying hoppers. This law did not work very well as many of the overseers had no equipment with which to destroy the pests. Again, in other parts of the country there were no road overseers and no road crews.

These grasshoppers ravages created very hard times and many settlers became discouraged and left their claims to return east to their former homes. The scourge lasted for several years and greatly retarded the settlement and development of the country.

Up to and including this year Mr. Hanson was the only settler to remain in the township. In this year also Mr. Hanson purchased the first combined mower and reaper brought into the township. The purchase was made from Peter F. Wise of Marsall, Minnesota, the machine being manufactured by John P. Manny at Rockford, Illinois.

1876--First White Child Born in Township

In the winter of 1876 Mr. Hanson was married to Miss Karen N. Caulum of Canby from Nicollet county, Minnesota. The ceremony was performed at the farm home of Andrew Mortensen, two miles east of Canby, by Rev. K. Thorstenson, pastor of a Lutheran congregation of the community. The record for this marriage is filed in the books of the Clerk of Court’s office of Lyon county, Yellow Medicine county being a part of Lyon county at the time.

On the 13th day of October, following, a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Hanson, the first white child to be born within the township of Hansonville. The child was christened in the railroad depot at Canby by Rev. O. Hoel, and was given the name of Gina Syverine.

In the fall of 1873 a few families had settled west of the state line between Fish lake and Oak lake. In this year a few more families came along, most of them settling in the township to the south, but John Anderson Singsass and Bersvend Lokkesmoe established their homes in Hansonville township, Mr. Lokkesmoe on section 30 and Mr. Singsaas on section 32. Mr. Lokkesmore came direct from Norway and established his first home in this township. Mr. Singsaas came from Iowa. Both men were upright and honorable and well liked by everyone.

1877--First Sod House in Hansonville

At the beginning of this year Hansonville township had but two families residing within its borders, John Anderson (Singsaas) being a single man, having made his entry and some improvements upon his land and returned to Iowa. During the winter Mr. Anderson married and returned to his land in the spring, accompanied by his bride. Mr. Hanson and Mr. Anderson had erected small frame houses, but Mr. Lokkesmoe erected a sod house, the first one in the township.

1878--Prairie Fires do much Damage

By this time the grasshoppers had become somewhat thinned out and prospects for raising crops much improved. More settlers were gradually moving into the country, but notwithstanding, Hudsonville’s settlement was somewhat slow, owing perhaps to the fact that the land was somewhat rolling and that railroad land west of the state line was $1 per acre cheaper than on this side of the line.

During these times prairie fires were an annual occurrence. This year the fires were somewhat later than usual, although the grass was very dry. Along late in November, on a very warm day, the fire came, driven by a strong southwest wind, sweeping everything before it. Mr. Hanson had plowed the usual fire breaks, but they proved too narrow and the fire jumped across, burned his hay stacks, barn, three horses, one hog and a number of chickens, causing damage estimated at $500. This was a severe blow to Mr. Hanson, as well as to many another settler, especially in the neighborhood of Canby, where it also did much damage. Mr. Hanson jokingly remarked that though it was a severe loss, it also reduced his taxes, thus proving that “there is no great loss without some small gain”.

1879--Times Improved Gradually

The best of the government land was now taken by actual settlers and oxen and breaking plows were in full swing during the entire season, breaking up the raw prairie soil and small groves and fields of grain began to give evidence of the homesteaders’ determination to subdue the prairie wilderness and establish homes for their families. Grain cops up to this time had not yielded much of an income, but the settlers had raised a considerable number of cattle and some of them had a cow or two, or a pair of working steers to sell. Such cattle brought a fair price, as new settlers were coming in here and further west, and having some money and being in need of such cattle, the first setters realized an income from their sale. This made times somewhat better, although people in better circumstances and not accustomed to such hardships would doubtless have wondered how the settlers cold get along on so little.

As stated before, game birds and fish were plentiful, but flour and groceries were scarce. However, those staples could be procured in Marshall or Canby if one had the money or could establish credit. Mr. Hanson went to Redwood Falls for his first groceries, a distance of about seventy-five miles.

Mr. Hanson relates that to describe in detail the style of clothing worn by the early pioneers would be beyond his ability, but he considered it his duty to give a brief description of the clothing worn by the men in those days. At the close of the Civil War the government had a considerable number of soldiers’ cloaks left on hand and these were purchased and worn by the men of the early days. These were worn until they were more than threadbare. Many winter caps were home made out of muskrat and badger skins, as well as from other materials, and were of all shapes and designs. Cowhide boots were universally worn by the men.

Year of 1880 finds Diphtheria Epidemic Raging

The winter of 1880 will ever be memorable in southwestern Minnesota history owing to the severe epidemic of diphtheria that swept this section. Scarcely a family where there were children escaped the scurge, many families losing one or more child and some losing all of their children. In Mr. Hanson’s family the three only children died within a week. Twin boys, ten months old, died only two days apart on March 2 and 4, and the daughter, Gina Syverine, not quite three and one-half years of age and the first white child born in the township appeared perfectly well on the day of her brothers’ funeral, suddenly became ill during the night of March 8th and died the next after-noon. The attending physician was Dr. Billington of Canby, but the disease was of such a malignant type that medical skill seemed powerless to prevent its ravages. Such heart breaking occurrences throughout Lincoln county left many scars which time alone could heal.

On July 26th of this year the county commissioners established Hansonville township, known as T. 113, R. 46, as an election district, to be known as the North Western Election Precinct. The first general election held in the district was at the home of Christian Westby. This was not the first time the voters of the township had cast their votes, as several township had voted at the same place and previous elections had been held outside of the township.

On the same day the township was organized as an election district, July 26, 1880, the county commissioners also established school district No. 28 within the township. However, no school was held within the district until 1882.

On the 16th of October this year the county was visited by one of the worst early snow storms ever recorded. The storm blocked the railroads, made the prairies almost uncross able, snowed grain stacks and nearly everything else under, and did not entirely melt away until the following June.

During 1880 the United States census was taken, Mr. Hanson being appointed enumerator for the three northern townships of Lincoln county. The census disclosed that Hansonville had thirty-two families within its borders.

1881--County Seat moved by Petition

January of 1881 recorded a long spell of extremely cold weather, the thermometer registering from thirty to forty degrees below zero for several days.

In the first part of January a committee consisting of R. A. Dore and C. T. Mork of Lake Benton, and John Hanson canvassed Hansonville and one other northern township to obtain signers to a petition to the state legislature for the removal of the county seat from Marshfield to Lake Benton. A bill was later passed by the legislature granting an election, the result of which was a majority of the voters deciding for the removal. Mr. Hanson relates that Chris Mork wore a pair of felt boots upon the trip to secure signatures to the petition, the first boots of that style ever worn in that section of Lincoln county.

The deep snow during the winter made traveling very difficult and the principle method resorted to was by the use of Norwegian snow shoes and hand sleds. The cold spell continued into February when it commenced to snow, the snow continuing to fall for two or three weeks resulting in a fall of three feet on the level. These conditions made it hard to secure groceries and other needed household supplies and many settlers were forced to grind their flour with a coffee mill in order to obtain food. When the snow melted in the spring, lakes and ponds overflowed their banks and creeks appeared everywhere. Fields were very wet and muddy, making seeding difficult and resulting in a poor crop that year.

Two special school meetings were called by Mr. Hanson for district No. 28, but no quorum appearing at either meeting, no business was transacted. On Saturday, September 3rd, the first annual school meting was held at the home of Mr. Hanson and a board of trustees, consisting of Christian Johnson, director; Christian Christianson, treasurer and John Hanson, clerk, was elected. A six weeks’ term of school to begin on April 17th, 1882, was voted. This completed the organization of the school district. On December 30th the board of trustees met and made arrangements with Mr. Hanson to put to windows, benches and a table in his 14x16 frame granary, to be used as a school house during the spring term the next year.

1882--First Term of School in District 28

The first term of school in Hansonville township was held, in district 28, the first school established in the township. The term opened May 1st, 1882 and closed June 14, following. Mr. B. H. Lien was the teacher, there being twenty-four pupils enrolled. Among the pupils enrolled was a brother of the teacher, Jonas H. Lien, a lad about seven years of age. He was a very bright and industrious boy as was proven by his later career, although his life was but short. After completing his common studies he took a course at State College, Brookings, South Dakota. While at the college he was known as “the boy orator of South Dakota”.

He enlisted in the Spanish-American War, and served as Adjutant Lieutenant in the Philippine Islands, where he distinguished himself for service and bravery. He was killed on the battlefield in the winter of 1901, together with a score or more of his comrades. His remains were shipped back to the United States and buried at Sioux Falls, S. D.

1882--First Binder and Thresher Appear

The first school house in the township was built in the spring fo 1883, at a cost of $350, being 18 by 24 by 9 feet in dimensions. It was erected on the present school site, in section 28, between Twin Lakes.

The first twine grain binder was purchased and operated by Martin W. Olsen and Ole C. Olsen in 1883. It was manufactured by the Deering people and proved a great saving in the cost of producing grain. It worked quite satisfactorily, although it did not compare favorable with the present day self-binder.

The first threshing machine in the township was purchased the same year by Hans W. Ask. The machine was J. I. Caso Agitator, operated by horse power and proved to be a valuable asset to the farmers of the community.

1884--Organization of the Township

By this time the township was fairly well settled, there being some fifty voters in the precinct. All the government land was taken up and considerable railroad land purchased and under cultivation. And as the population was gradually increasing it was deemed necessary to organize the township into a separate political unit. Consequently, Mr. Chas. Edwards, residing on section 24, circulated a petition requesting the county commissioners for the organization of the township. The petition was granted and the organization effected on the 21st day of March, 1884, at the home of Christian Westby, section 14. The township was named “Hansonville: in honor of the first settler, John Hanson. At the organization meeting Phillip Langraff was chosen as chairman; Peter Jensen and H. P. Hanson, supervisors; N. A. Herrick, clerk; Anton Anderson, treasurer; H. P. Hanson, assessor; Joseph Schwartz and H. N. French, justices of the peace; Charles Edwards and John Moravetz, constables. The first taxes for township expenses were voted March 9th, 1886 and amounted to $70.00.

Mainly through the efforts of Mr. Joseph Schwartz, the formation of school district No. 36 was authorized by the board fo county commissioners. The organization was effected on March 22nd, 1884. The district is situated in the northeast part of the township of Hansonville, in the Bohemian settlement. The first school meeting was held at the home of Venzil Chech, and the first officers elected were as follows: Phillip Langraff, clerk; H. P. Hanson, director and Mathias Moravetz, treasurer. The school site was located upon the southwest corner of NW ¼, section 11, town 113, range 46, where the present school house still stands. The first term of school was held at the home of Joseph F. Schwartz and was taught by Mr. Nels N. Pearson.

The first grain threshed in the township by steam power was in the fall of 1884. The machine was of the J. I. Case manufacture, and Mr. Hans W. Ask who resided in the township, was part owner of same.

1885--Another School District Organized

After the organization of school district No. 28 all the children in the southern part of Hansonville township attended the school free of tuition. This caused a large attendance, the enrollment being forty-five pupils for this year, a rather large school attendance for a small school house and only one teacher. However, it worked out quite well as most of the pupils were beginners and could be grouped into comparatively few classes.

The education of our children had now become an important question land this year on the 27th of July, school district No. 42 was organized in the northwestern corner of the township. The organization was mainly accomplished through the efforts of N. A. Herrick. At this time but a few families resided in that community and the taxable property amounted to but little. However, the taxpayers, though but few, managed to build a school house and maintain a successful school. The first school meeting in the district was held September 16, 1885 and at this meeting the first board of trustees was elected, viz.: J. Tomlinson, clerk; N. A. Herrick, treasurer and D. J. Herrick, director. The school house was built the next summer near the east line of the SW ¼, section 8-113-46. The first term of school was taught by Miss M. A. Livermore, in 1886. This was the third school organized in the township and only six sections were left which were not organized for school purposes.

1886--Hanson named to Legislature

By this time the township of Hansonville was fully organized as a political unit and elections, town school and supervisor meetings were being regularly held. By these means the people were beginning to take an interest in political matters and have political aspirations. Politicians from other parts of the county were beginning to drift in on special occasions, especially just before general elections, with enticing allurements for the purpose of obtaining political favors. The voters of Hansonville township, being endowed with ordinary human ambitions, gradually became politically minded and longed for their portion of the political pie.

The preparations for the general election in 1886 started at the usual time and at a caucus in the township of Hansonville, John Hanson was chosen a delegate to the county convention. At this convention the majority of the delegates were dissatisfied with the candidates who haf offered their services as candidate for representative to the state legislature and urged Mr. Hanson to become a candidate for that position, resulting in the selection of a set fo delegates in his favor to attend a district convention at Tracy. At the district convention Mr. Hanson was nominated and at the general election received about three-fourths of all the votes in the district, thus being elected representative to the state legislature where he served very credibly.

1887--the “Farmers Alliance”

Deep snows and much cold weather marked the winter of 1887-87, but the snow did not stay on the ground very late in the spring.

The organization of the “Farmers Alliance” throughout this art of Lincoln county was very general in the year 1887, and Hansonville township took its part in the movement. The organization was later formed into a political party known as the “Peoples’ Party”. This party was not very success-ful and the leaders and their followers within the county, together with it followers in Hansonville, relinquished their efforts and the movement finally died down.

1888--Decrease in Republican Votes

Under the above heading Mr. Hanson relates his views as to the decrease in the Republican votes within Hansonville township, attributing the fact to disaffection within the party caused by the stand taken at the national convention in the platform, relative to the tariff and internal revenue.

1889--School District No. 52 Organized

By this time a great number of the sod housed had disappeared within the township and neat, frame houses and barns had taken their place.

By this means the appearance of the community was much improved, evidencing the fact that civilization was steadily advancing within its borders.

On the23rd of October, this year, the southeast corner of the township was organized into school district No. 52. By setting off three sections from district No. 20 and adding them to the six unorganized sections, the organization of district No. 52 was completed and the organization of the whole township into four school districts was thus accomplished. Some little disaffection was caused by setting off a portion of district No. 20 into the new district, but this unpleasantness soon disappeared.

The first school meeting in the district was held on the 27th day of December, 1889 at the home of Christ Christianson and the following first officers were elected: Peter Jensen, clerk; Andrew Jensen, director and Peter Christianson, treasurer. At a meeting held February 24th, 1890 in Peter Christianson’s home, it was decided that the school house in district No. 52 should be built on the north line of the NE¼ of the SW¼ of section 26--113-46. On this site a suitable school house was erected in the spring of 1890. The first term of school was taught by Frank E. Smith of Canby, in the summer of 1890.

The organization of Hansonville’s school districts was effected as early and effectively as was reasonable expedient, and the residents have ever reason to feel assured that the school system of the township has been from the very first, up to the standard established in other rural communities. The teachers employed have been qualified for the position of training the children of the township to become intelligent and useful citizens, as has been evidenced by the subsequent lives of their pupils.

The first public road laid out in Hansonville township was petitioned for by Jurgen Tollefson and others, filed in the town clerk’s office in February and the petition granted and the road established July 6, 1889.
1896--The Bohemian Brass Band

From 1890 to 1896 nothing of importance and special interest took place in Hansonville township and consequently we omit the events of that period.

In honor of our Bohemian friends who have proven such sturdy and progressive citizens, mention of the “Bohemian Band” is made. The band was organized under the leadership of the school teacher in school district No. 36, and was somewhat remarkable as an organization. Nearly one-half of its members were but school children less than sixteen years of age, and in short space of time they learned to play several musical numbers with much proficiency. The band numbered twenty-five members, aside from the leader. I will mention only the names of the families from which the members came, together with the number of members therefrom: Schwartz, six members, from ten to 21 years old; Moravetz, five members, from 13 to 21 years old; Chech, three members, form 10 to 20 years old; Juranek, three members, form 12 to 22 years old; Chirt, one member, 16 years ld; Duscheck, one member, 12 years old; Dlask, one member, 24 years old; Hanzlik, one member, 17 years old; Hasheck, one member, 15 years old; Veverka, one member, 16 years old; Shubert, one member, 15 years old and Olson, one member, sixteen years old. The leader was Harry A. Kestler. The band functioned for several years, but as time went on many members moved away and it became difficult to obtain trained musicians to fill the vacancies and thus the inevitable eventually happened and the band became defunct.

1900--New Railroad Village of Hendricks

In 1901 one of the greatest benefits to the northern part of Lincoln county was effected, and Hansonville towship derived its full share therefrom. The people of the northern and central section of the county had been for years longing for a railroad as it was a long ways to market in any direction. Finally in 1900 the North Western Railroad Co. had decided to build a branch from Tyler to Astoria in South Dakota and commenced operations in the spring of that year. The work proceeded rapidly and in the course of time the railroad was a reality.

The villages of Arco, Ivanhoe and Hendricks were platted within the county and a sale of lots at Hendricks was held on April 25, 1900. Mr. S. X. Ryder of Tyler, a well-known Lincoln county auctioneer, cried the sale. Lots sold from $500 to $1,000 for business locations, and in the fall grain elevators, stock yards, stores of all kinds and saloons were in full operation. This shortened the distance to market about one-half, and gave the farmers a better market for all kinds of farm products and gave them a chance to do their business within their own county and thereby leave the profits of trade among our own taxpayers. It also advanced the price of farm lands in the community from $10 to $40 per acre. These being the days before the advent of the automobile and the building of surface roads to all parts of the country, the railroad proved of untold benefits to the many who desired to attend the “Old Settlers’ Picnic”, which in those days was an annual and much appreciated event, as the North Western put on an excursion train for that special event.

1905--History of County to be written

At the annual meeting of the “Old Settlers’ Association” held at Ivanhoe in June, 1905, proper steps were taken for having the history of the early settlements of Lincoln county written, and as chief writer and compiler, our worthy clerk of court, G. I. Larson, was chosen, and by him Mr. John Hanson was appointed to write the history of Hansonville.

1906--Some Changes and Improvements

Up to the year 1906 about one-third of a century had passed since the white people had commenced establishing their homes in Hansonville township and great changes had taken place. When the settlers first came to the township, the raw prairie was broken up with an ox team and an old-fashioned breaking plow. The seed was sown by hand and harrowed into the soil with the crudest of tools, the only ones obtainable, in some cases home-made. Schools and divine worship were at first held in private homes, there were no roads and markets were far distant from most of the prairie homes. And yet, with all the inconveniences of the early days the frontier people were relatively happy. Everyone was on an equal plain, there were no cast. People were generous and hospitable, sharing with one another the common lot and possessions of all. There was no envy, all dwelling within the same strata of life and not coveting one another’s possessions. With advanced civilization came a decided change in conditions. The horse drawn gang plow, grain seeder, self binder, steam-operated threshing machine, and other newer farm machinery, the buggy and later the automobile, good roads, railroads, fine villages and markets close at hand, fine school houses, churches, amusement places, stores, grain elevators and many other modern conveniences not only brought about a great change in the conveniences of life, but also somewhat of a change in the attitude of humans one toward the other. The same sincerity of purpose and whole-hearted friendship that existed among the “old settlers” is lacking to a certain extent.

These changes and improvements have done away with lots of hard labor for men and have greatly increased production, and together with our present schools of all kinds, brought our present generation to a far more advanced standpoint in almost everything, but in “Golden Rule” principles, I believe the outgoing generation was somewhat ahead of the present. Their motto was, “I need you and you need me”. This rule, to a large extent, is being thrown to the discard at the present time.

At this point I must close my narrative and leave to others the chronicling of Hansonville’s future historical events. However, I believe it most proper to add a few short biographies of persons who have taken part in the public affairs of the township, also of the school teachers who have added so much to the building up of the characters of or boys and girls and aided in fitting them for useful and noble future citizenship. These names and biographies are intended to show to the future generations who the founders of Hansonville’s early civilization were.


History of Hendricks Township
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

The following history of Hendricks township, Lincoln county, Minnesota, was compiled from notes gathered by the Hon. Hiram B. Danielson, one of the early pioneers of the township and who took a leading part in the development of that rich and thriving community. Mr. Danielson passed away unexpectedly before the completion of his history which, regrettable though it is, is unavoidable. We have no doubt that had he lived longer he would have been enabled to add much to his manuscript that would have been of great value and interest from an historical point of view.

The township of Hendricks takes its name from the lake which is partly embraced within its boundaries.

In his “History of Lyon County”, Arthur P. Rose relates as follows relative to a visit of a party of explorers consisting of Joseph Nichols Nicollett, John C. Fremont, J. Eugene Flandin and James Renville to Pipestone and other points in 1838: “After spending three days at the Pipestone quarries, where is now situated the city of Pipestone, the Nicollet party visited and named Lake Benton (for Mr. Fremont’s father-in-law, Senator Thos. Benton), and then proceeded westward into Dakota, visiting and naming Lake Preston (for Senator Preston), Poinsett (for J. R. Poinsett, secretary of war), Albert, Thompson, Tetonkoha, Kampeska and Hendricks.” From this it is inferred that the party gave the lake its name.

The writer of these notes (Hiram B. Danielson) first saw Lincoln county in the early summer of 1879 at which time all the best government land was taken. However, settlement began in the township six years previous to this time, or to be exact, in the year 1873. On July 14th of that year a group of thirty-one persons in eleven covered wagons or prairie schooners as they were commonly called, came from Houston county, Minnesota, Winneshiek and Allemakee county, in Iowa, and located on the west shore of lake Hendricks in what was then Dakota Territory. (Note: For a detailed history of this colony read “The Immigrants’ Trek” written by Gustav O. Sandro). John Knutson, a member of the group, selected land on the Minnesota side of the state line and became the first settler of Hendricks township. His daughter, Julia, was the first white child born in the township. Mr. Knutson first concerned himself in providing shelter for his family, which consisted of a dug-out constructed on the shore of the lake. In the winter of 1873-4 he cut logs on the lake shore, shaped them with a Norwegian hand saw and in the summer of 1874 built a substantial log house, said to be the first house built in Hendricks township. John Crofoot claimed to have built the first house in the township, but was probably under the impression that Mr. Knutson resided on the Dakota side of the line and was thus mistaken in the matter. Mr. Knutson emigrated from Norway in 1867 and acquired a farm in Houston county, Minnesota, which he sold previous to coming to Lincoln county.

In 1874 John Trulock settled in section 30 on the south side of the lake. In the fall of 1875 three men from Iowa came to the colony, viz., L. I. Fjeseth, Ole O. Refseth and John H. Eggen. Mr. Fjeseth and Mr. Refseth selected land in section 18 and Mr. Eggen in section 6. After selecting their land the men returned to Iowa and then returned again to the township in the spring of 1876 with their families. Following is a further list of some of the earliest settlers of the township and their families: Hans Dybdahl came direct from Norway. Nels Thoresen and family, Johannes Thoresen and family, Lars Swenson and family, Ole O. Sommervold and family, Ole Peterson and family, Ole E. Larson, Arnt H. Peterson, Peter W. Berntson and Ole Johnson Reiten came in 1876. Christian Ramlo, John Ramlo, Sr., Peter Swenson and family, Knute Nelson Storer and family, H. A. Hezum and family, Sivert Erickson and family, Bore Christianson and family all came from Iowa in 1877. Three of the earliest settlers, John Knutson, John Trulock and John Crofoot, were often spoken of as “the three Johns”. The big rush of immigration into the township occurred in 1878 and by 1879 all but a few rough, stony pieces of government land were taken up as homesteads.

Included among the first Hendricks township homesteaders and the number of the section in which they located are Lars P. Staff, section 2; J. M. Farrington, Bore Christianson, Joseph West, sec. 4; John H. Eggen, B. M. Nygaard and M. B. Nygaard, sec. 6; Andrew Swenson, Ole Sommervold, Hans Hexum, sec. 8; Christian Ramlo, John Ramlo, Hans L. Ousdahl, Even P. Staff, sec. 10; Marshall Farrington held a tree claim in sec.12; John Robertson, John J. Eggen, Peter Mennie, sec. 14; Hans Dybdahl, Ole C. Refseth, Lars I. Fjeseth, sec. 18; Arny H. Peterson, Peter Berntson, Sivert Erickson, Lars Swenson, sec. 20; Peter L. Mennie, Knute Nelson Storer, Ole E. Larson, sec. 22; Peter Johnson, sec. 24; George Rischer, George Mennie, Johannes Olson, sec. 26; Nils Thoresen Ronning, John Thoresen, Peter Swenson, sec. 28; John Crofoot, Adrew Strong, John Trulock, sec. 30; Francis Selleck, John Gackstetter, William Stegner, sec. 32; L. S. Stegner, Phillip Gackstetter, John Stegner, Ole Johnson Reiten, sec. 34; John Knutson, sec. 12-112-47. Odd numbered sections were railroad land, none of which at that time had been sold.

The above-mentioned homesteaders numbered in all forty-five resident freeholders. Of these eleven were single men, ten of whom married in later years. These forty-five men were the real founders of Hendricks township. Almost to man they came to stay, to build homes for themselves and their families.

The first town meeting was held at the home of Peter Berntson on October 4th, 1879. L. S. Stegner called the meeting to order. Peter Mennie was chosen moderator; L. S. Stegner, clerk. The town was divided into two road districts. Fifty dollars was levied by vote to defray the expenses of the township. A ballot box was ordered for the next general election. Township officers were elected to hold office until the first regular annual meeting in March, 1880. The following township officers were elected: L. S. Stegner, clerk; L. I. Fjeseth, chairman; Peter Mennie and Francis Selleck, supervisors; John H. Eggen and Peter Swenson, road overseers; Peter Mennie and L. I. Fjeseth, justices of the peace. The home of Peter Berntson was selected as the place for holding the first township election. There being no funds on hand at this time, no further business could be transacted.

At the first town meeting in 1880 the township was divided into four road districts and four road overseers elected. A poll tax of one day’s labor or one dollar in cash was levied on every able-bodied man between the ages of 21 and 50 years of age, in the township. Section lines were declared open for highway purposes. An assessor was also elected and personal property listed for taxation at this first election.

The first road work done was on the line between sections 14 and 15. The writer (H. B. Danielson), the first man in the township to locate upon railroad land, having settled on the southwest quarter of section 15, began his career as a taxpayer on this first bid of road work done in the township. Thus at the direction of H. L. Ousdahl, road overseer for district No. 1, the writer reported at the northeast corner of section 15 at seven o’clock in the forenoon and put in ten hours of hard, honest labor for the magnificent sum of one dollar. The work performed was to mark a road four rods wide from section corner to section corner.

After staking out the road between sections 14 and 15, Peter Mennie was directed to break three furrows one mile long on either side. This he did with one yoke of oxen, making his furrows surprisingly straight with scarcely a kink in them. Other lines were then run from the northeast corner of section 15, one mile north, one mile east and one mile west. This concluded the first day’s road work accomplished in Hendricks township, and on observing the furrows Mr. Mennie had plowed, so straight and accurate, we actually swelled with pride at this our first day’s road work. Naturally, road building proceeded slowly this first year. There was no deeded land, no real property, a very small amount of personal property and a poll tax of only one dollar or one day’s work, which, however, was raised to two and finally three day’s labor later on. The first road money available, $20, was donated by the village of Canby for the purpose of building a bridge over a creek on the trail to that town, between section 3 to 10. In those days the pioneer men willingly put in overtime at road work without the least complaint. All was open prairie, no roads, no fences, no landmarks, but when one arrived at the furrows on a dark night it enabled that one to secure his bearings.

Having made a start at road building, the next step was the organization of school districts. The first school district, No. 5, was organized in the township in 1879, with L. I. Fjeseth, John Eggen and Hans Hexum as directors. Later a school building was erected and Jonas Vick was employed as the first teacher. Then followed organization of districts Nos. 32, 21 and 51. District No. 32 was organized in January, 1884. E. P. Staff was the first clerk and Peter Mennie and Christian Ramlo the first directors. A school house was built in the spring of 1884. Miss Minnie Moon was the first teacher. On May 18, 1885, school order No. 1 was issued to John Wigen in the amount of $50 for building the school house. District No. 21 was organized in 1880 and a school house built the same year. John Stegner was the first clerk and Knute Nelson and T. Mathison the first directors. District No. 51 was organized in 1889. Sivert Erickson was the first clerk and Lars Swenson and John Crofoot the first directors. A school house was built in the fall of 1889. Isabel Mennie was the first teacher employed and taught a six weeks’ term in the spring of 1890.

By this time the settlement had gotten into full swing. New land was broken every year. The sod houses and clam shanties had mostly disappeared and good frame houses, barns and granaries were taking their places. The men and women who had come to battle with the wilderness had won. It matters little whether one is a great general or a plain farmer, the conqueror feels the same satisfaction in either case. The people were happy and contented. They had come to stay, to build, not only for themselves, but for posterity. Some lived in sod houses, all had sod stables, one-half had ox teams, some no teams at all and non brought much money or worldly goods into the new country. The difference between the richest and the poorest man, measured in money, would probably not have exceeded $500.

First Religious Organization

A history of Hendricks township would not be complete without saying something about the religious life of the people. As early as in December, 1877, steps had been taken to organize a Lutheran congregation, which was completed April 24, 1878. Peter Swenson, Hans Hexum and Ole E. Larson were elected deacons and Rev. O. N. Berg called as pastor. The membership consisted of Peter Swenson, Jacob Johnson, Hans Swenson, Christian Ramlo, Hans Hexum, John H. Eggen, Ole Johnson Reiten, Mathias Nygaard, Ole E. Larson, Bore Anderson Nygaard, Peter Johnson, Bore Christianson and John Olson.

On June 23, 1888, a committee of seven was chosen to solicit funds and secure a site for a church and cemetery. The site chose was three acres in the northeast corner of the southeast quarter of section 17. This was deeded to the congregation by Edward O. Sommervold. In November, 1889 the work of hauling stone for a foundation began. On December 2nd, 1889 a new committee of four was chosen to solicit funds. The personnel of this committee consisted of Lars Swenson, T. O. Midtaune, John Thoreson and Christian Ramlo. There was a building committee of five members appointed, including M. B. Nygaard, Christ Christianson, Christopher Hinsverk, Hans Swenson and A. H. Hexum. The church was finished and dedicated in the summer of 1891.

First Postoffice; Railroad Established in 1900

A postoffice was established in 1884 with Sivert Erickson as postmaster. John Crofoot carried mail, ofttimes on foot.

From the earliest time our people talked and dreamed of a railroad to Lake Hendricks. Our market towns were Canby on the north, twenty miles away, and Lake Benton on the south, twenty-two miles distant. It did not seem reasonable that this fine country should be forever without a railroad, and Lake Hendricks was a beautiful location for a town, with a rich farming country all around. Our dream came true in 1900 when the Tyler-Astoria branch of the Chicago & North Western Railway was built and the village of Hendricks was established.

The pioneer settlers, almost to a man, took an interest in public affairs and the welfare of the community. They were always willing to serve on school boards without remuneration and boarded many of the school teachers at $1 per week. They also served on town board meetings at $1 per day and on county board meetings at $3 per day and mileage.

Peter Mennie was the first man from the township to serve as county commissioner. Then followed John Stegner and H. B. Danielson. L. S. Stegner, the first town clerk, was followed by E. P. Staff, L. I. Fjeseth and H. B. Danielson. Mr. Fjeseth resigned to take the office of county treasurer, to which he had been elected, and which office he held for eight consecutive years.

History of Hendricks Village
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936); transcribed by Vicki Bryan

Through the courtesy of K. E. Holian, editor and publisher of the Hendricks Pioneer, the following facts regarding the history of Hendricks village are gleaned, in most part, from the early files of the Pioneer:

The town site of Hendricks is in a prairie country par excellence and is on the immediate shore of Lake Hendricks, one of the finest spring fed lakes in southern Minnesota. It is a beautiful sheet of water and forms a very attractive feature of this location for a town. The lake is fringed with timber and the scene is unusually beautiful. The tributary country is extremely rich and will amply support a large town. The nationality of the community consists mostly of Norwegians, with Danes, Germans and Americans well represented. Wheat has been the staple crop, but it is now becoming a stock-raising country. The Northwestern line accommodates all with the best of railway facilities.

Bingham and Hinkel erected the first building on the town site of Hendricks. They located it on the street, as no buildings were permitted on the lots until disposed of by the railroad company. They opened a restaurant and hotel. The Southwestern Telephone Company erected a telephone line from Canby to Ivanhoe, thence to Hendricks in 1900. During the first year of its existence (1900) Hendricks had eleven well-constructed business houses, six foundations in the course of construction for business houses, one residence completed, four residences partially completed, ten temporary places of abode, and about a dozen tents scattered throughout the town.

Articles of incorporation of the Lincoln County State Bank appear in the June 21st, 1900, issue of the Pioneer. Stockholders were John Swenson, Samuel Lewison, Lewis M. Lerwick, Jeremias F. Fries and Christian Anderson. Capital stock was $15,000.00. John Swenson was president and L. M. Lerwick, cashier.

A petition for incorporation of Hendricks was first published in the Aug. 2, 1900 issue of the Pioneer. The number of persons actually residing in the territory, ascertained by a census of the resident population, was 240. The census was taken under and by direction of the said petitioners: M. A. Bemier, L. A. Larson, M. Ehstrom, Fred Joynt, R. M. Burlingame, Ole A. Larson, H. P. Petersen, William Warn, J. T. Hinkel, Gilbert Johnson, J. A. Bingham, J. P. Gilfillan, S. Erickson, Ole P. Larson, E. L. Fjeseth, Delar Larkins, L. I. Fjeseth, Andrew A. Larson, Ben Bruflat, O. T. Tunen, C. P. Sonnichsen, J. J. Hill, P. A. Sheppard, A. K. Tollefson, E. Warn, Oliver Moe, John P. Muhl, G. E. Corey, W. R. Corey, and Theodore Halverson.

A special election was called to be held at Miner & Valentine's livery barn on Sept. 1st, 1900, for the purpose of voting on the proposal of incorporating the village, including a territory of four square miles. The proposal was overwhelmingly defeated, the voters considering the territory included in same was too great. Consequently, a second special election was called to be held on October 22, 1900. This proposal called for a territory far less and carried unanimously. Thus Hendricks became an incorporated village on October 22nd, 1900. At the general election held November 8, 1900 the following first village officers were elected: G. A. Lindskog, mayor; C P. Sonnichsen, Gilbert Johnson and Ole T. Larson, aldermen; Ora H. Andrews, recorder; L. M. Lerwick, treasurer; Herman Fredrich and Oliver H. Moe, justices of the peace; David Whalen and E. J. Fjeseth, constables.

The newly elected council met for the first time on November 9th, 1900. The minutes of the first village council meeting were published in the Pioneer on Nov. 15, 1900. At this meeting Charles L. Berner, Ole Larson, Emil Rindal and John T. Hinkel applied for licenses to operate saloons within the village limits.

About this time, September, 1900, the State Bank of Hendricks was in existence with a capital stock of $10,000. O. W. Hagen was president; Hans Moe, vice president; and John A. White, cashier. At this time its individual responsibilities were $150,000, and at the close of business on November 10, 1900, it had deposits amounting to $6,000. B. E. Dalquist succeeded Mr. White as cashier not long after the bank's organization.

Railway mail service was established at Hendricks October 9th, 1900. On December 5, the same year, a cornet band was organized with a membership of twenty-five musicians.

During the first year of Hendrick's existence, the following business lines and professions were represented: L. A. Larson, general merchandise; J. J. Hill, general blacksmithing; Hanson & Hill, Deering machinery; Fjeseth & Erickson, McCormick machinery and twine; B. F. Raddte, meat market; Sivert Erickson, postmaster; Bingham & Hinkel, restaurant and hotel; E. B. Abbott, mason; Nels Nelson, contractor and builder; Mark Bell, masonry, stone work and plastering; S. E. Wood, contractor and builder; J. A. Ness & Co., dray line; Lincoln County State Bank; Laird, Norton & Co., lumber yard; Nelson Bros., lumber yard; Edward Jacobson, furniture store; Odd Fellows, first lodge; J. P. Johnson & Son, hardware and tin shop; Warn Bros., contractors; J. P. Gilfillan, contractor; Dave Whalen, barber; Gilbert Johnson, harness shop; John Muhl, hotel; C. C. Robinson, architect; Valentine & Minier, livery stable; Furey & Smoke, creamery; Henry Austin, stone mason; Dr. R. M. Burlingame, physician; Dawson Lumber Company; State Bank of Hendricks.


Hope Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

The first town meeting held in Hope township was at the home of John Moore on August 3, 1878. John E. Buell was chosen moderator and presided at the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to elect three supervisors, one as chairman, a town clerk, assessor, treasurer, two justices, and an overseer of highways. John E. Buell, John Moore and Thomas Robinson served as judges of the election, while John and Anthony Magandy served as clerks. The polls were opened and the election proceeded by ballot. At 12 o’clock adjournment was made for dinner and the meeting reconvened at one o’clock and the polls were reopened.

The polls were closed at five o’clock, the votes counted, the election resulting as follows: Lyman Turner was elected chairman of the board of supervisors; John E. Buell and John Magandy, supervisors; A. W. Magandy, clerk; William Magandy, assessor; John Moore, treasurer; John E. Buell and William Garrison, justices of the peace; Henry H. Damier and C. F. Buell, constables; George Garrison, overseer of highways, each officer being elected by a majority of eight votes. The result was declared and verified by the signatures of John E. Buell, John Moore and Thomas Robinson, judges, and attested to by A. W. Magandy, clerk.

The residences of Lyman Turner, John E. Buell and John Moore were declared to be the most public places in the township for posting of public notices, and the home of John Moore was chosen as the place for holding the next regular town meeting.

The regular annual town meeting was held March 11, 1879 at the home of John Moore. Lyman Turner was chosen moderator. At this meeting Lyman Turner was elected chairman of the board; John E. Buell and William Magandy, supervisors; John P. Clark, clerk; Fred Stricker, treasurer; Albert H. Hanchett and Lyman Turner, justices of the peace; John Magandy and A. W. Magandy, constables, and John E. Buell, assessor.


Village of Ivanhoe
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936); transcribed by Vicki Bryan

Ivanhoe, the county seat of Lincoln County, was first laid out by the Western Town Lot Company in 1899. In April, 1900, there was an auction sale, of town lots. The town site was what had been part, of the M. J. Pukrop farm. The present residence first south of the jail building, in what was the original farm home. What is known as the "new court house quarter" was originally the A. C. Derby homestead. Mr. Derby settled upon this quarter in 1878.

J. G. Lund of Canby bought the first lot sold which was where the Kotowski building now stands, occupied at present by the Felcyn Cafe on the ground floor and office rooms above.

The incorporators had evidently read or heard about Sir Walter Scott's great historic novel, "Ivanhoe", for they not only gave the new town, that name, but gave as street names, those of the prominent characters in that story, taking only the names of the noble men and women of the tale, the names being Rowena, Rebecca, Rotherwood, Norman, Saxon, Burth, etc.

The present residence of George Graff was the first residence built in the town. S. S. Olson opened the first hardware store, and a building now housing a garage and plumbing shop, and the Dawson lumber yard was where the Hoffman & Curtis implement shop is now located. The Goodmundson & Rainson livery barn and dwelling came soon after. Geo. W. Jarzyna took charge of what is now the Geo. P. Sexauer & Son elevator in 1900, right at the beginning. The Ivanhoe Mercantile Company, one of the first general stores, was conducted by Matz and Macknikowski. Very close to the first, if not the first little store, was established by a man named Kirkeeng, the building being located approximately on the spot where now stands Dr. Larson's offices. W. H. Nevin had one of the first stores. He bought lots at the sale and came in soon after. Gus Aronson was another of the town's first merchants.

S. H. Andrews was the first station agent. The first through train on the branch line was July 2nd, 1900.

P. S. Olson, one of the community's progressive farmers and a man of keen intellect and good education, conducted religious services for the Protestant faith on Sundays in the railway station house. Catholic services were held for the first eighteen months in the Geo. Graff residence.

The State Bank of Ivanhoe was opened in 1900 with Geo. Graff as cashier. The bank was changed to the First National in 1902. With time came also the Farmers & Merchants National Bank. Other enterprising men came in time and the town gradually grew to its present activity and solidity. Electric lights were eventually secured, the water works system was established, and the telephone company organized.

The history of the town is like that of all similar towns; strong men have to shape public sentiment to get the advances that have come. As the county capital, and the center of one of the greatest agricultural communities in the state, Ivanhoe has played an important part as the official head of this great county unit.


Lake Benton Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

On October 22, 1872 the board of commissioners of Lyon county granted a petition of a majority of the legal voters in township 109, range 44 and 45, also a part of township 110, range 45, lying south of Lake Benton, being fractional parts of sections 34-35 and 36, and issued a certificate designating such boundaries as a new township, naming same Lake Benton.

(On May 16, 1871 a petition was filed with the county commissioners of Lyon county, signed by G. E. Cummings and others, for a road running through the county up the Redwood river to Lake Benton. On July 7, 1873 the board of county commissioners of Lyon county established the first county road, running from Marshall to Lake Benton).

The following notice, signed by two Lyon county commissioners, the deputy county auditor, and countersigned by S. G. Jones, Town Clerk, was duly posted prior to November 2nd, 1872, relative to the organization of the township of Lake Benton, Lyon county (now Lincoln county):

“The legal voters of the town of Lake Benton in the county of Lyon in the state of Minnesota are hereby notified that the first town meeting for said town will be held at the house of John Snyder on Saturday, the 2nd day of November, A. D., 1872, for the purpose of electing the following town officers, viz.: Three supervisors, treasurer, town clerk, assessor, two justices of the peace, two constables.
Signed: T. S. Eastman, M. L. Wood, Commissioners.
Attest: O. G. Gregg, Deputy County Auditor.”
(Copied by S. G. Jones, Town Clerk)

Note: No record is available of the meeting held as above other than as given in the aforementioned notice.

The first available record of a township meeting held in the above mentioned township is of February 8, 1873. The meeting was held at the house of Wm. Ross. At this meeting the only business transacted was to agree to send for such record books as were needed and to pay for same by issuing an order to bear interest at ten per cent. until paid. Signed by C. H. Briffett, Town Clerk.

A meeting was also held at the house of Wm. Ross on March 11, 1873. N. F. Berry was appointed moderator and Wm. Ross, Wm. Taylor and Thomas Lemon, supervisors, were present and sworn in. Polls were declared open but no record of the election was given. A motion was made and carried to raise fifty dollars for town expenses. Motion made and carried that horses, mules and asses shall not be allowed to run at large. Motion was made and carried that the next annual meeting shall be held at the home of Wm. Ross. Signed by Wm. Ross, Thomas Lemon, Wm. Taylor, supervisors, and C. H. Briffett, Town Clerk.

At a meeting of the town board held March 22, 1873 at the home of Edgar Bentley an assessment of two days work was made upon each of those subject to poll tax. The township was dibided into two road districts. Signed by Wm. Ross, J. W. Cooley and E. Bentley, Supervisors, and S. G. Jones, Clerk.

The following notice is also recorded:

“Notices of Bylaws relative to stock running at large were posted at the following places, to-wit: One at John Moore’s, one at John Hutchin’s blacksmith shop, one on the hill near Mr. Taylor’s. Said notices were posted about the 20th of April, 1873. Signed: S. G. Jones, Town Clerk.”

At the annual township meeting held at the house of Wm. Ross on Tuesday, March 10th, 1874, N. F. Berry was elected moderator. The following were elected township officers for the ensuing year: Wm. Ross, chairman; S. G. Jones, clerk; C. H. Briffett, assessor; J. D. Briffett, treasurer; Edgar Bentley, justice of the peace; Frank Apfeld and Ira Scott, constables.

At a meeting of the town supervisors held at the office of the clerk March 21st, 1874, J. W. Cooley was appointed chairman of the board of supervisors in place of Wm. Ross, resigned.


Village of Lake Benton
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936); transcribed by Vicki Bryan

The village of Lake Benton had its official authorization as an independent political municipality by act of the State Legislature approved October 24, 1881. Following is a verified copy of the legislative act as published in the Lake Benton News on February 14, 1882:

"An act to incorporate the Village of Lake Benton:

"Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Minnesota;

"Sec. 1 – That the following described territory be and the same is hereby set apart for incorporation as a Village by the name of Lake Benton, to-wit: All of sections seven and eight, the west half of section nine, the south half of section five, the northwest quarter of section sixteen, the north half of section seventeen and the northeast quarter of section eighteen, all in town one hundred and nine, north of range forty-five west, all in the county of Lincoln and state of Minnesota.

"Sec. 2 – A. W. Morse, William Gile and John B. Russell are hereby designated as the persons who shall take steps by law required to secure the incorporation of the said village.

"Sec. 3 – This act shall take effect and be in force from its passage. Approved October 24th, 1881."

The first village ordinance records available were published in the Lake Benton News on January 10, 17, 24 and 31st, 1882. The ordinances were published in eight-point type, two columns in width, in installments, and were quite lengthy and specific. The instruments were under the hand of A. W. Morse, President, and attested by A. E. Woodford, Recorder. These ordinances were adopted December 31st, 1881.

The village of Lake Benton took its name from the lake which had been named before by John C. Fremont, on the occasion of his trip across the Minnesota and Dakota prairies, in honor of his father-in-law, Thomas H. Benton, United States Senator from Missouri. The village was planned by Marvin Hughitt, afterwards president of the C. &. N. W. Railway, A. W. Morse, Thos. H. Brown, J. G. Byran and John Snyder. A W. Morse and John Snyder were the owners of the land upon which now stands the principal part of the village, and J. G. Bryan, owner of that portion commonly referred to as Bryan's Addition. By appointment these men met on the lake shore the summer of 1879 and by mutual agreement laid the plans for the platting and building of the future village.

Henry Potter purchased the first lot, the corner on which now stands B. B. Marti's hardware store. At the urging of interested parties he relinquished the right to this lot to Woodford & Gile, Wisconsin men who had come in to establish a hardware store. Mr. Potter at once chose the lot on which stands the building occupied by Fred Briffett's hardware and immediately erected a building, which was the first general store in Lake Benton and the second business place in the town.

The first business place was a feed and flour store operated by Mr. J. W. Bush. Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Allen followed very soon with a boarding place, which was conducted in a building adjoining the store of Mr. Bush.

That summer, 1879, the railroad began building west from Tracy, headed for the Missouri River, reaching and passing Lake Benton in the months of October and November of that same year. "Commodore" Bill Ross, an early homesteader, had put a "navy" on the lake, consisting of a fleet of row boats and a sail boat.

K. G. Skartum and C. T. Mork, young men from Kasson, Minn., had come on, secured a lot (which Mr. Mork says was covered with weeds higher than his head and which was a veritable swamp) and commenced the building of a large, two-story building in which they opened a drug store and in which they conducted the business for a number of years. This lot is the same on which the splendid brick building housing the Stevens Bros., drug store now stands, the original building having been moved off the lot. This building was erected by Mr. Skartum, wherein he operated a drug store for many years.

The winter of 1879-80 and the spring of 1880 were lively times, new men coming in, more lots being sold and buildings being erected and other lines of merchandising opening constantly; and when the writer (unknown) reached Lake Benton in the first days of July, in 1880, the village presented an active, bustling appearance which at once captivated him, and he then and there became a part of the place and has never regretted "locating" in Lake Benton. A provision made by the town site proprietors in selling lots, which required that no less than a certain sum should be put into a business building erected on certain of the business lots, was rather unusual. The sum was sufficient to build a considerable building and resulted in all the buildings put up under that requirement being two stories high, and Lake Benton had the finest and largest lot of first buildings of any of the towns west of Tracy, and as far west as Huron.

The town grew and began to get ambitious to form a municipal government of its own, and accordingly it was decided to incorporate. An election was accordingly held and the following were elected as the first town board: A. W. Morse, chairman; William (Bill) Ross and S. G. Jones, supervisors; George D. Cole, clerk; C. T. Mork, treasurer; A. G. Leach, assessor; J. B. Russell and J. L. Cass, justices of the peace; and Rufus Ramsey, constable.

This was the beginning. In the following spring and after the proper steps were taken, the village was incorporated and an election of village officers was held, several of the same men being elected, among them being G. D. Cole as village recorder, who was the first recorder of the village, A. W. Morse being the first president of the council.

The first "big" Fourth of July celebration held at Lake Benton was in 1880, when E. St. Julian Cox, then district judge, was the orator of the day. Reports have it that that was "some celebration" and that it kept pace with the well known ideas and personalities of the Judge along certain lines. At least, it was generally said that the celebration lasted well into the next week and took on many and different forms.

The first bank in Lake Benton was opened in 1880 by George D. Cole, the institution being backed by Eastern interests of Chatfield and other points in southeastern Minnesota. This was succeeded later by the bank of Tucker, Weiser & Co., which was in turn succeeded by the First National Bank.

The first school was held in a little log school house at the foot of the hill in the west part of the village. The first religious services held in the town itself were conducted by L H. Snell in the saloon of Louis Lavake, which was in the room later occupied by the Farmers State Bank, and now C. H. Eddy's barber shop, and afterwards in the unfinished new depot being built at the time. Services had been held by Rev. Sutton, an itinerant preacher from near Pipestone, in the log school house, but in town the first services were held as stated above.

As time passed the roughness and wildness of a new western town passed and the village settled down to the usual every-day life of men and women making homes and a livelihood for themselves and their families.

Much space could be used in telling of the various sides of the early life of the community; the serious, the comical, the rough, the kindly events and acts, all in the making of a community in which we are all glad we live and have a home. – Anonymous.

Note: In the above article we are informed that the lake was named by John C. Fremont in honor of his father-in-law, Senator Thos. Benton of Missouri. However, the following extract from a letter under date of Jan. 6, 1902, written by the late J. W, Bush, a former merchant of Lake Benton, who resided for many years and until his death in Pasadena, California, to the editor of the Lake Benton News, leads to the supposition that Mr. Fremont named the lake in honor of Sen. Benton's daughter, whom he later married: "Mrs. Jessie Benton-Fremont, after whom Lake Benton's lake was named, was buried here last week. The compiler is inclined to believe that the lake was named in honor of the daughter rather than Senator Benton.

BENTON LAKE
(The Lake Benton Times, January 27, 1880)


Lake Stay Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

Lake Stay is another of the four townships in Lincoln county the original records of which, up to the present time are unavailable, and we are therefore compelled to resort to the information furnished us by the few old settlers now remaining and facts gleaned from the biographies of some who have passed on.

It is generally conceded that the township and the lake within its borders received their names from one Frank Stay who was besieged by hostile Indians in an early day and who saved his life by hiding in the timber and brush along the shores of the lake, a more detailed description of which appears elsewhere in this history.

As a majority of the townships of Lincoln county were officially organized in the years 1870 and 1880, it is very probable that Lake Stay township was organized in about the same period. As to whom were the prime movers in the township’s organization we are unable to state definitely, but it is well established that H. E. Dean was the first treasurer and that C. L. Sinks succeeded him as treasurer. The former was treasurer in 1880 and the latter in 1881. Alvin H. Carpenter came to the township in 1877 and afterwards occupied the official positions as assessor, justice of the peace, supervisor and treasurer. William Williams came in 1877 when there were but two other families in the township, those of H. E. Dean and ----Wells, and was chairman of the board of supervisors and treasurer several terms. James Francis Hosford came in 1881 and served the township as treasurer, supervisor and assessor respectively. Allen Fletcher came in 1879 and occupied the position of chairman of the board of supervisors for seven years and was also assessor, town clerk and justice of the peace. Edgar Orlando Jennings came in 1878 and was township assessor and county commissioner. Major Francis Woodard came in 1881 and was town clerk and justice of the peace. Amos Porter was also an early town clerk, treasurer and justice of the peace. Madison McCollum came in 1878 and was an early supervisor and assessor, as well as county commissioner.

It might also be related that Montreville Lafayette Dorwin came to the township in 1881 and purchased a farm on the north side of Dead Coon lake. His farm was located only about half mile from the former home of Houkak, a brother of the noted Indian Chief, Little Crow. Houkak’s log house stood in this position for years after the Sioux massacre. It is told that Little Crow often visited his brother at this home.


Limestone Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

The first town meeting in Limestone township was held at the house of G. H. Chapman on August 12, 1879. The meeting was called to order by G. H. Chapman. On motion Fred Meinzer was chosen as moderator. S. Peterson, E. Sigvaldson and G. Geiwitz were chosen as judges of election and G. H. Chapman, clerk. The judges and clerks were duly sworn in by the county auditor, G. I. Larson. The chairman then stated the purpose for which the meeting was called. K. K. Sebo was elected road overseer. Guide posts (for the purpose of posting public notices) were ordered to be erected, one on the north line of section 22, one on the center of section 10 and one on the northeast corner sec. 24. On motion it was ordered to hold the first annual town meeting at the house of G. H. Chapman on the northeast quarter of section 22.

The polls were closed at five o’clock p. m. and on the ballot being canvassed the following were declared elected to their respective offices: G. H. Chapman, chairman of board of supervisors by 8 votes; S. Peterson and E. Sigvaldson, supervisors by 8 votes each; Fred Meinzer, clerk by 9 votes; Jens J. Jerpbak, treasurer by 8 votes; G. Geiwitz, assessor, by 8 votes; W. H. Bahaman and J. B. Nelson, justices of the peace by eight votes each; J. C. Ahern and A. Johnson, constables by 8 votes each. The minutes were signed by S. Peterson, E. Sigvaldson and G. Geiwitz, and attested by G. H. Chapman, clerk.

On October 11, 1879 Geo. Geiwitz was appointed treasurer in place of Jens J. Jerpbak, who failed to qualify.

Annual Town Meeting

The first annual town meeting was held at the house of G. H. Chapman on March 9, 1880. The meeting was called to order by Fred Meinzer, clerk. On motion S. Peterson was chosen as moderator. The moderator then stated the purpose of the meeting. W. T. Sage was elected overseer of highways by an “aye” and “nay” vote. The sum of $60.00 was levied for past and current expenses. On motion the next annual meeting was ordered to be held at the house of G. H. Chapman.

On the polls being closed and ballots canvassed the following persons were declared elected to their respective offices: G. H. Chapman, chairman of board of supervisors by 15 votes; S. Peterson, supervisor by 16 votes and E. Sigvaldson, supervisor by 15 votes; Fred Meinzer, clerk by 15 votes; Jens J. Jerpbak, treasurer by 15 votes; G. Geiwitz, assessor by 15 votes; Ole Peterson, justice of the peace by 14 votes and L. Martin, justice of the peace by 16 votes; L. Klaith and A. Johnson, constables by 16 votes. The minutes were signed by G. H. Chapman and E. Sigvaldson, judge, and attested by Fred Meinzer, clerk.

On March 20, 1880 John J. Wambaker was appointed justice of the peace to hold office until the next annual town meeting, in place of Ole Peterson, who refused to qualify.

On March 6, 1880 at a meeting of the board of supervisors a bill of $10.80 was allowed to W. S. Booth of Rochester, Minnesota for books and blanks. This was, in all probability, the first bill allowed after the organization of the township.


Marble Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

According to the township records the first town meeting held in Marble township, called for the purpose of organizing same as a permanent political unit, was held at the home of Ole Severson on August 14, 1880. The meeting was called to order by William Parrott and F. L. Mennie was chosen clerk, and Wm. Parrott, moderator.

The moderator stated the business to be transacted was the election of three supervisors, one of the same to be designated upon the ballot as chairman; one town clerk, one treasurer, one justice of the peace, two constables and one road overseers for each road district within the township, and any other business that might properly come before the meeting.

On motion it was resolved that the compensation of the officers elected at the meeting should be one dollar for each day’s service. The polls were then opened and the election of officers proceeded.

The following points were designated as places for posting public notices: Ole Severson’s place on section 24, Wm. Parrott’s place on section 2 and Andrew Anderson’s place on section 8. The next town meeting (annual) was ordered to be held at Ole Severson’s place on section 24. The polls were closed at five o’clock p. m. and the following officers declared elected upon vote being canvassed:

Wm Parrott, chairman of board of supervisors; Ole Severson and Charles Ingebretson, supervisors by seven votes each; F. L. Mennie, clerk and Rasmus O. Moen, treasurer, each by seven votes; Sever O. Moen, assessor; Charles O. Tolsted, justice of the peace; Zeroy Cooper and Ole Fladland, constables, all by seven votes each.

The minutes were signed by Wm. Parrott and Ole Severson, judges, and attested by F. L. Mennie, clerk. The meeting then was adjourned. (Aside from the name Marble, the township was sometimes called Voge. There are no available records to show how the township received the permanent name of Marble).

The first regular annual town meeting in the township was held at the home of Ole Severson on March 8, 1881. The meeting was called to order by F. L. Mennie and Wm. Parrott chosen moderator. After the moderator stated the purpose of the meeting it was resolved that the compensation of the officers elected at the meeting should be one dollar for each day’s service. A motion was made and carried to raise one hundred dollars for current township expenses and fifty dollars for a bridge fund. The next annual town meeting was ordered to be held at the home of Sever Moen in section 22.

The polls were closed at five o’clock p. m., votes counted and the following officers declared elected:

Wm. Parrott, chairman of board of supervisors by 11 votes; Ole Severson and Isaac Peterson, supervisors by 11 votes each; F. L. Mennie, clerk by 11 votes; Samuel Gunderson, treasurer by 11 votes; William Parrott, assessor by 11 votes; Wm. Parrott and Charles Tolstad, justices of the peace by 11 votes each; Zeroy Cooper and Ole Fladland, constables by 11 votes each.

The minutes were signed by Wm. Parrott and Ole Severson, judges and attested by F. L. Mennie, clerk.

At a meeting of the board of supervisors held at a later date the township was divided into four road districts with the following persons appointed as overseers: George Smith, district No. 1; A. Anderson, district No. 2; Charles Edwards, district 3; Thomas Olson, district 4.

Ole Severson is said to have been one of the first settlers in the township and came in 1870. The land on which he settled not having been surveyed at the time, he was unable to file on same until 1873. It is also stated that Sever Moen took the election returns for the first two meetings held in the township to the county seat on foot, the round trip in each case being made in one day. We are also informed that Sever O. Moen’s shanty was the first house erected between the Severson and Andrew Anderson creeks.

Tom Daly and family came to the township by covered wagon in 1872 and took a soldier’s homestead in section 10.

The following data was furnished by A. J. Maserek, town clerk, in a letter to Gilbert I. Larson under date of September 23rd, 1905: After enumerating the list of the first township officers Mr. Maserek proceeds by stating that Samuel Lewison and Andrew Anderson were the first settlers in the township, arriving on June 15th, 1870, and settled in section 8. Ole Severson, accompanied by Jacob Dall, came to the township on September 30th, 1870, and settled in section 24.

Ole Swenson, John Dall and Ole Morton, in company, came to the township in an early day and were among the first settlers.


Marshfield Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

A petition, signed by a majority of the legal voters of township 110, range 44, praying for the organization of the township as a separate political unit under the name of Marshfield, was filed in the Auditor’s office at the village of Marshfield July 26, 1880 and granted by the Board of County Commissioners. The school house in District No. 3 was designated as the place for holding the first township election and the date set for August 14, 1880.

The first township meeting convened August 14, 1880 pursuant to the action of the Board of County Commissioners as stated above. Charles Marsh was chosen moderator and G. I. Larson, clerk of the meeting. S. Manchester, Charles Marsh and G. I. Larson were appointed tellers of the election. A canvass of the votes at the close of the election disclosed the following results: J. W. Lawton was declared elected chairman of the board of supervisors; Peter Kroll and S. Manchester, supervisors; Isaac Starr, clerk; R .H. Sisson, treasurer; W. L. Hughes, justice of the peace; F. W. Hughes and John Starr, constables; Theobald Kuehn, road overseer.

The first regular annual town meeting was held March 8, 1881 at S. Manchester’s store. The meeting was called to order by Isaac Starr, clerk. W. L. Hughes was chosen moderator. The moderator stated the purpose of the meeting was to elect three supervisors, one clerk, one treasurer, one assessor, two justices of the peace, two constables, one overseer of highways for each highway in the township, and any other business which was proper to be transacted.

At the close of the election the following were declared elected to their respective offices: S. Manchester, chairman of the board of supervisors by 17 votes; Peter Kroll and W. L. Hughes, supervisors; Isaac Starr, clerk; R. H. Sisson, treasurer; George Brownell, assessor; Isaac Starr and C. Riley, justices of the peace; Charles Clement and Theodore Kuehn, constables; J. W. Lawton, road overseer.

At this meeting a motion was made and passed to levy a tax of $50.00 for compensation of officers and contingencies, also to levy a tax of $25.00 to build a bridge near M. Dressen’s homestead.

A motion was also passed, to designate S. Manchester’s store, Lawton’s corner and Brownell’s corner as the three legal places for posting public notices. Also, a motion was carried that the clerk be instructed to correspond with the Chicago & North Western Railway with a view of securing flour acres of land in section 19 for a cemetery. The village of Marshfield was designated as the place for holding the next annual town meeting.

At a board meeting held April 2, 1881 a three-mill tax was levied. S. Manchester, W. L. Hughes, Peter Kroll and Isaac Starr was present at this meeting.


Royal Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

At a meeting of the county commissioners held at Marshfield on July 23, 1879, a petition signed by a majority of the legal voters of Congressional township number 112, north of range 45, west in Lincoln county, praying that the same be organized as a new town under the township organization law, to be named York, was considered and the commissioners fixed the boundaries of said new township and named the same York in accordance with said petition, and designated the house of Joel Orton on section 22 as the place for holding the first town meeting, to be held on Tuesday, the twelfth day of August, 1879. The record of the above action of the Board of County Commissioners was signed by C. H. Briffett and J. G. Field (Chairman), County Commissioners, and attested by G. I. Larson, county auditor.

On September 16, 1879 the County Board made and filed an order as follows: “It appearing that the name of York, given by the Commissioners to township 112, range 45, was the name of a town in Fillmore county, it was ordered on motion that the named of York be changed to Royal.” The order was signed by J. S. Field, Chairman of the County Board and attested by G. I. Larson, county auditor.

The name was supposedly changed from York to that of Royal in honor of LeRoy Royal, who took an active part in the organization of the township. We are informed by P. V. Peterson, one of the oldest settlers in the township, that there was considerable dissension among the settlers as a result of the change of name, some of the Scandanavian residents desiring very much that it should be named Swenson in honor of Jonas Swenson, who was supposed to have been the first settler in the township.

The first township meeting was held at the home of Joel Orton, on August 12th, 1879. Joel Orton was chosen moderator, Stephen LeRoy, Jonas Swenson and Henry Cooley, judges of election. The polls were closed at twelve o’clock noon, reopened at one o’clock p.m., and closed permanently at five o’clock. A canvass of the votes cast resulted in the following: Chairman—J. W. Orton, 11 votes and Hans Caspersen, 10; Supervisors—H. Cooley 11 votes, O. E. Alexander 11, Jacob Givett 10 and John Givett 10; Clerk—LeRoy Royal 11 votes, Gilbert Peterson 10; Treasurer—Stephen LeRoy 11 votes, Geo. Kile 10; Assessor—John Tainter 11 votes, Gilbert Oleson 10; Justices of the Peace—Joel A. Orton 11 votes, Edward Hutchinson 10, Wm. Mennie 10, Ole Peterson 10 (Wm. Mennie was chosen by lot as one of the Justices, three of the contestants having a tie vote); Constables—Alvin Derby 11 votes, Wm. Mennie 11, Luis Caspersen 10; Overseer of Highways—Wm. Mennie 11 votes; Overseer of Poor—Andrew Ryan 10 votes; Pound Master—Edward Hutchinson 10 votes. Signed: Joel A. Orton, Moderator; Henry C. Cooley, as Clerk; Jonas Swenson and Stephen LeRoy, as Judges.

The following excerpts are gleaned from the records as recorded from the original and certified to in March, 1883, by John Tainter as the Town Clerk: “March 13, 1880. Town board met and qualified before E. S. Hutchinson, and the following officers were appointed: Town Clerk, Henry C. Cooley; Constable, Alvin Derby”.

“At the town meeting held on the 9th day of March, 1880, Gilbert Peterson was elected constable for a term of two years and qualified. Signed by Henry C. Cooley, Town Clerk.”

“At the qualification of town officers March 15, 1880, Alvin Derby was appointed constable for the term of two years and qualified. Signed by Henry C. Cooley, Town Clerk.”

From the above records it appears that several of the officers elected at the first town meeting, held August 12, 1879, did not qualify.

At the first annual township meeting held March 9, 1880 at the home of Joel Orton, the meeting was called to order by John Orton and Louis Caspersen was chosen moderator.

The report of the Board of Supervisors was read and approved. The sum of $81.75 was levied to pay existing indebtedness and current expenses for the ensuing year. It was decided to hold the next annual town meeting at the home of John Swenson. It was voted that the vicinities of G. B. Olson’s farm, Andrew Erickson’s and the west ling of section 12 be the places for posting of public notices and that posts be erected at these places for that purpose. A Derby was elected chairman of the board of supervisors by 30 votes; O. Peterson and S. Swenson supervisors by 25 votes; H. C. Cooley clerk by 26 votes; G. B. Olson assessor by 33 votes; O. Kolsta treasurer by 34 votes; G. B. Olson justice by 26 votes and E. Hutchinson justice by 25 votes; A. Ryan constable by 34 votes and G. Peterson constable by 26 votes; H. Peterson was elected overseer of highways by 23 votes.

These minutes were recorded from the original papers by John Tainter, Clerk at a later date.


Shaokatan Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

Owing to the fact that the early records of Shaokatan township cannot be located and the few pioneers that are left are unable to furnish us with adequate data, it becomes difficult to write a full and complete history of the organization of the township.

We are unable to learn as to how the lake and township received the name of “Shaokatan”. The fact of this being an Indian name doubtless lends some significance thereto. We have also been informed that the name of “Shakotapee” has also been attached to the township and the lake in an early day. It is regrettable that we are unable to obtain data fully explaining these important historical facts.

That the township must have been organized in 1879 there is little doubt, as it was among the earliest and most important settlements within Lincoln county. The earliest authentic record available discloses that in the year 1884 L. H. Mack, John Selleck and J. E. Ellsworth were town supervisors and Andrew M. Olmem, town clerk.

David Jones came to the township in 1878 and was an early supervisor and first chairman of the town board. This fact is evidence that he took an active part in the organization of the township. Samuel D. Pumpelly came in 1876, Henry J. Kurth in 1878 and was an early constable and postmaster at Idlewild post office; Henry Kurth and Fred H. Kurth came in 1878, John H. Curtis came in 1879, Herbert Edwin Weeks came in 1878 and was an early-day supervisor. Mr. Weeks still resides in Shaokatan township and until recently resided upon his original homestead. Joseph K. Miller filed upon his homestead in 1875 and took up permanent residence in the township in 1878. There were but three other families in the township at the time Mr. Miller filed. John E. Ellsworth came in 1878 and was an early supervisor. Andrew Olmem came in 1879. Charles C. Hatchard settled in 1881 and became clerk of court for a four-year term. Mr. Hatchard filed upon his claim in 1878. Fred Hatchard came in 1879. Andrew Jackson Crain came in 1877 and if we are rightly informed, was the first county treasurer. Mr. Crain resigned his office as county treasurer October 1st, 1879 and afterwards served the county in the state legislature.

Mr. Crain, it is stated, built the first shanty in the township, located on the north side of the lake. When he arrived in the township there were three dugouts on the south side of the lake occupied by families by the names of Randall, Kidwell and Stone. At the east end of the lake was a cabin that had been occupied by a man by the name of Russell and who had departed during the winter of 1877. J. K. Miller built a log house on the north side of the lake. Anton Stransky came in 1878 and his son, Henry, was the first child born in the township, his birth occurring in the covered wagon in which the family migrated to their homestead. Henry still resides on the original family homestead. S. D. Pumpelly built the second shanty, located not far from the Crain homestead. In 1878 Mr. Crain erected a large farm residence, practically as its stands today, with the exception that a kitchen has since been added. This residence stands on land purchased of the railway company, in section 23. This farm is occupied at this time by Mr. Crain’s son, Virgil D. Crain. The house was easily seen from a distance and became the lodging place for many a pioneer family.

The first German Lutheran church in Shaokatan township was organized in 1880 by Rev. F. R. Plantiko, with a membership of thirty-seven. A neat church edifice was erected not long after its organization.

Note—An early road record book for the township of Shaokatan discloses that David Jones was chairman and Henry Kurth and A. D. Babbett, members of the board of supervisors for the year 1880 .This record, under date of May 1st of that year, is the earliest record obtainable. Whether or not the township was organized that same year is now known to the writer.


Early Settlement of Tyler and Vicinity
by Estella Gronlund-Stork
Source: Early History of Lincoln County, Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Bobby Dobbins Title

In the years 1877-78 settlement began more earnestly in the vicinity and neighborhood of Tyler. Anthony Magandy, wife and son Walter who was then about five years of age, came from Lynd, in Lyon county, and located on the west half of section 18 in Hope township. C. F. Buell and three sons were also located in the immediate neighborhood. John Sloan, Honchette, Clark, Lyman Turner and possibly a few others, were located in the township of Hope.

In the fall of 1877 Fred Stricker came to Lincoln county and selected a homestead on section 30, Hope township. Previously, his health not being very good, he was advised by his physician to make a change and try and spend more time in the open. Having filed on his claim he returned to Owatonna which was his home, to make plans and preparations for his trip to Lincoln county in the spring. As soon as spring came and the weather was settled enough to start, Mr. Stricker with his two oldest children, Ellen and Will, rigged their prairie schooner, gathered their few possessions and set out. The spring was extremely wet that year which caused considerable trouble, but the stream of emigration had started early so in time of trouble there were always willing and helpful hands from the passersby.

A matter of worldly goods was no hindrance to the traveling settlers. A coop of chickens, perhaps a few head of cattle, a scant collection of utensils and bedding, a lump sum of a few dollars was the usual amount of possessions the pioneer was blessed with. Mr. Stricker might have been classed as one of the more fortunate for he was the proud owner of a span of buckskin mules. Two weeks time was spent on the way from Owatonna to the claim that had been selected by Mr. Stricker. The greater share of the distance can truthfully be said to have been made on foot. The cattle had to be driven and this chore fell to the children.

When their destination was reached preparations were at once made to erect some sort of structure to shelter the family, who were to come later. Lumber for the shack was hauled from Mankato. Marshall and Tracy were about the same distance from Tyler, but Marshall seemed to be patronized by the people of the vicinity to a greater extent because of a marked road. There was the crossing of the Redwood river to consider in going to Tracy and due to lack of bridges it was necessary to ford the streams which was often dangerous.

A shack 14x20 was started and what time could be spared from field work was spent on its erection. When the four sides and one side of the roof were finished his small supply of money was exhausted, so the covering of the prairie schooner was used as a temporary covering for the roof for the remainder of the summer.

About two weeks after Mr. Stricker and the two children reached the homestead, Mrs. Stricker and the remaining five children came by train to Marshall where they were met by Mr. Stricker. Mrs. Stricker in preparing for the inconveniences of pioneer life, decided to bake an ample supply of bread before leaving Owatonna. A grain sack was the amount she had provided when she set out on her trip, but with so many hungry mouths to feed it was only a matter of a few days before the supply was exhausted.

Toiling to get some sod turned in preparation for a little grain sowing was no small matter. Seed of Yankee corn was secured from John Moore, the half-breed who lived in Indian Grove. His corn was planted by cutting the sod with an ax and dropping a few kernels in the aperture. Turnip seed was planted on the breaking and a good crop of enormous turnips was raised that year. He succeeded in raising enough crop to feed his cattle and team, and fatten a couple of hogs. Hay was cut by hand and with the aid of his children it was raked together and made into a long stack.

One of the essentials lacking in the Stricker household was a broom, but this difficulty was solved by Mrs. Moore, who attached a piece of buffalo skin, which was covered with hair about four inches long, to a stick. This proved to be a most durable and serviceable broom. Coffee was rather a luxury and most of the housewives roasted barley and ground it in a coffee mill. If care was taken in the roasting it proved to be a most excellent substitute for coffee.

Wishing to add to his homestead, Mr. Stricker "jumped" a tree claim adjoining his land. He had the privilege to claiming full ownership to his homestead after a period of one year for having served in the Civil War. This privilege was granted to all Civil War Veterans.

Schooling for the children in the neighborhood was indeed a problem. The lean-to or back kitchen of the Magandy home, which measured about 8x12 feet, was offered for the purpose of a school room. Each child was to furnish his own bench and desk. A small sum was charged for the tuition of each child which went to make up the teacher's salary. The term, however, was of only a few weeks duration. The Strickers lived about one and one-half miles from the Magandy home and the obliging mule team usually took the children to and from school. When they reached the school they tied the reins securely, turned the mules around and sent them home. When school was over with, Mr. Stricker hitched his dutiful team and sent them, driverless, to get the children.

In 1879 Mr. Stricker took a pre-emption of 26 acres in section six which was located near the Indian Grove. He paid the sum of $1.25 per acre for this and a little later bought 80 acres of railroad land for which he paid $5.00 per acre. The spring of 1879 was an extremely dry one and threatened to bring disaster to the crops. Wheat was sown in March but showed no signs of germination until the first part of May, when the first rain fell. The crop turned out favorably, however, averaging about 17 bushels to the acre. Mr. Stricker raised about 200 bushels that year, which brought about 80 cents a bushel. This helped considerably in supplying some of the bare necessities.

Pioneer days were not altogether without their gay days. Neighbors were neighbors whether living at a great or short distance. The neighbors would gather at a hospitable home for an evening of merriment. The scant supply of furniture would be pushed aside, the chairs oftimes placed upon the bed to allow more room. Philo Kendall, who usually furnished the music for the dances in the neighborhood, did so by harmoniously fiddling some of the old time airs. Whether the fiddle had four strings or one was of no consequence. Gay strains drawn from one string if the occasion demanded, with the addition of the regular tattoo of stamping feet to mark the beat, enlivened the mirth on every occasion. Should the string give an unexpected snap the spirit of fun was not daunted, for there was still the musical comb to resort to, or even the melodious tune of "With his tail cut short and his ears cut long, O, where is my little dog gone," poured forth from a pair of husky lungs to keep the happy feet stepping. Young and old enjoyed it alike.

There were two halfbreed Indian families located at Indian Grove at this time, John Moore at the southern end and Tom Robinson at the northern end. The Stricker farm lay in between the two. The children of the three families were great playmates. The two Indian families located here in 1868, about the same time that Wm. Taylor located his claim in Lake Benton township. These Indians had been scouts during the Indian massacre of 1862 and were very friendly with the white settlers. Their mode of dress and manner of living were very similar to those of the white people. John Moore's mother, however, refused to relinquish her native ideas and habits, so lived in a tepee placed just a short distance from the frame house of her son. She attained the ripe old age of 105 years at her death. She was buried in a sheltered place among the trees of Indian Grove, the place being surrounded by a wooden fence, crudely made. This place can still be located, unless within the past few years the fence has been moved.

Practically all of the Indians were of the Catholic faith. Church services were held regularly out at Indian Grove, and were attended by the Indians coming from some distance. These services were held in their own tongue and the Indians were very sincere in their worship. Occasionally the white people would attend worship and were made to feel very welcome. Some very splendid singers were found among the Indians.

Tuberculosis was prevalent among the Indians and caused a good many deaths. Most of the Indians were taken to Flandreau for burial. Fanny Moore, the rather attractive daughter of John Moore, was married eleven times. A son by one marriage, Oliver Shepherd by name, is still living at the time of writing, and, it is believed, is teaching in Montana. He occasionally comes back for a visit to the old place.

A story is told of the burial of one of Fanny Moore's husbands. Consumption was the cause of his death. He was prepared for burial, but before laid away he was placed upon an elevated platform for a number of days. Close watch was taken of the body by a number of Indians who were placed there for that purpose. Their ideas may have been similar to the hired mourners of ancient days. The wailing and mourning heard during the day was weird enough, but as night fell the wailing grew in volume until it became gruesome. It would surely frighten away any lurking, evil spirit that might make an attempt to capture the passing soul.

It is told that one night as a stranger was driving along the road which followed the east edge of the grove, during a lull in the mourning, when he was just about in line with the mourners they gave vent to all the ghostly noises known. His blood fairly curdled; jerking his horses around he made for the Stricker farm almost at lightning speed. Dashing into the house and after he had recovered his breath he asked what sort of demons inhabited that grove. Even after the mystery had been cleared he refused to go any further that night.

The trail used by the Indians in going from Redwood Falls to Flandreau forked at the northeast end of Benton lake, one fork following the Western shore of the lake, while the other branched off and led through the Indian Grove. The grove was a general camping and meeting place for the Indians.

Many a white settler was asked to partake of what was evidently a feast to the Indians, and it is certain that they all graciously declined the invitation when their eyes beheld the contents of the kettle. On a day when the Indian hunters were considered most fortunate boiled muskrat was on the bill of fare. Just what procedure was gone through in preparing the muskrat for the kettle cannot be said, but it must have been an added delicacy to leave the claws and ail on, for there they were, dangling over the side of the kettle. Potatoes were added to the stew to make it more savory.

Directly west of the grove, the low part through which highway No. 14 now runs, was a pretty little lake. Here ducks and mudhens abounded by the hundreds. The pleasurable task of gathering mudhen eggs usually fell to Charles Moore, the son of John Moore. They were gathered by the hundreds, in fact, a tub was put in a small boat and this was brought back full. The family was immensely fond of them. They would, as a rule, have their meal of mudhen eggs outside around a camp fire. After the meal the mound of egg shells was evidence enough of their fondness of them. The white settlers also ate them, but prepared them by dropping the contents in a shallow pan of milk and baking them. They were really palatable prepared in this manner.

ORGANIZATION OF THE VILLAGE OF TYLER
By Estella Granlund-Stork
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936); transcribed by Vicki Bryan

Extension of the railroad from Tracy to Brookings was on in earnest in the year 1879. Early in September of this year John Brandt with ten men, came to the present site of Tyler to place a box car to serve as a temporary depot. The road bed had been graded up and the placing of the rails was complete to a point about two miles west of Tyler. There was nothing to mark the site of Tyler outside of the depot, and the entire surrounding was a stretch of hay land.

In 1877 plans had been made for the organization of a village in Shaokatan Township. In 1878 Morse built a two-story building, the lower part being used as a store and post office and was kept by a man named Ward. The upper part was a hall where several county conventions were held. In its flourishing days the town of Morse boasted the store building just mentioned, a blacksmith shop, one residence and a school house. A man named Metcalf owned the residence and blacksmith shop, and one of his daughters, Lulu, taught the school. The town of Morse proved to be quite the social center for that part of the county.

Religious services as well as dances and other functions were held in the hall. When it became a settled fact that the Tracy branch was to be built so much to the south of the settlements of Morse and Marshfield, all thought of a town at either place was abandoned. The store building was dismantled and the lumber moved to Lake Benton where it was used in erecting some of the early buildings of that village.

Work on the permanent depot and section house at Tyler was begun about the 15th of September, 1879; the depot on the present site and the section house directly north of the present Farmers Lumber yard.

The first town (village) meeting, if such it may be called, was held in the fall of 1879. This meeting was held at the home of Mr. Lyman Turner, who was living on section 8, Hope Township, with two sons and a daughter. This meeting was called for the purpose of selecting a name for the town (village). The name "Tyler" was chosen in honor of a Government official in the United States land office at Winona.

The fall of this year was an unusually favorable one, making it possible for the crew to work and complete the road as far as Brookings before the severe winter weather set in. The first snow fell on December 12th. Mr. Brandt returned to Stockton, Minnesota, where his family was living, and brought them to Tyler on December 15th (1879) and occupied the section house.

Realizing that an inland town could never flourish the settlers of Marshfield and Morse at once planned to move their buildings either to Tyler or Lake Benton. J. C. Bigham moved his dwelling from Marshfield to Tyler, which, until a few years ago, was located just north of the old Journal office. The old part of the house is still in existence, but is moved to the lot north of S. M. Nielsen's residence. E. E. Hodgman moved his building from Marshfield to Tyler and placed it where the Farmers State Bank building is now located. He built an addition to it and converted it into a hotel. In later years it was divided, moved and converted into two dwelling houses that are still in good repair and livable condition.
During the winter of 1879-80 there were but three married women in Tyler, namely, Mrs. John Brandt, Mrs. J. C. Bigham and Mrs. E. E. Hodgman.

The village of Tyler was incorporated in the year 1887. Twenty-two votes were cast at the incorporation election, nineteen favoring the move and three opposed. At this time the village had a population of 178 inhabitants. Signers of the petition for the incorporation included H. E. Dean, Andrew Jensen, G. F. Stow, Alex P. Gray, W. E. Dean, Isaac Starr, G. H. Conkling, D. J. Blakesley, J. W. Kendall, Frank Apfeldt, J. D. Lyon, A. W. Magandy, E. H. Ellis, C. E. Pursis, C. E. Carlisle, Enos Warn, E. D. Bigham, F. D. Bigham, F. W. Nash, J. H. Starr, A. L. Bigham, G. L Larson, C. F. Buell, E. E. Hodgman, C. W. Bigham, A. J. Cox, A. J. Bigham, L. Turner, Ingabret Larson, J. C. Bigham, J. R. Ream, and E. Crane.

J. W. Kendall was the first village president and G. F. Stow, the first recorder. W. E. Dean and Ed. Bigham were the leading spirits in the drafting of the village laws. There were thirty votes cast at the first village election and one of the motions made and carried was that wooden sidewalks be laid on Main Street. This walk was to be made of two-inch planks, the width of the walk to be eight feet. The sum of $400.00 was raised by taxes for current expenses.

The question of providing a school house was one of the first presented. In the winter of 1880 a meeting was held in the store of Frank Nash, and here it was decided to purchase a lot and erect a one-room school building. There would be a total enrollment of seven or eight children so the school need not be large. As soon as possible in the spring work began and in the summer of that year the building was erected on the lot where the Peter Rasmussen residence is now located. The school, which offered education advantages to the children of Tyler for the next eight years, is now occupied by the tailor shop and beauty parlor.

Miss Margaret Brown was the first teacher. While teaching in Tyler she boarded on a farm in Coon Creek Township, Lyon County, making, the trip to and from the school every day. A few of the first teachers were Ed. Bigham, May Bigham and Nora Hodgman.

During the eight years in this little school building Tyler had grown to such an extent that the one room could no longer accommodate the number of children of school age. More room was needed so a new site was secured on which a four-room building was erected. This school was located on the lot where Dr. Golden's home now stands. Two rooms were finished and put. into use during that school year, and this proved sufficient to accommodate the number of children until 1895. That year a room up stairs was completed and three teachers employed. Two years passed and the fourth room was finished and a fourth teacher employed. Another two years passed and the school was cramped for room again. The old Dean's hall was pressed into service. The steady increase in the number of pupils in those past few years proved that it would be necessary to make some different arrangements. With scarcely any opposition plans were made and the present grade school was built.

During the period from 1888 to 1903, when the new school was built, the school work bad been under the supervision of the following principals: Sam P. Rank, G. I. Larson, N. W. Gray and G. R. Robinson. Some of the teachers who assisted were Hattie Carlisle, Lolah Ozias, William Huddleston, Nellie Cummings, and Bertha Bystrom.

Some of the early members to serve on the school board were John Brandt, Frank Nash, G. F. Stow, A. J. Cox, A. W. Magandy, and Ed. Bigham.


Verdi Township Organization
Source: Early History of Lincoln County; Compiled by A. E. Tasker; Lake Benton News Print (1936) transcribed by Susan Geist

A petition of the voters of township 109, range 46 for the right to organize said township under the name of “Verdi” being granted by the Board of County Commissioners of Lincoln county, the first meeting of Verdi township was held January 30th, 1880 at the home of Patrick McCaffrey for the purpose of electing a Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, together with two additional supervisors, one clerk, one treasurer, assessor, two justices of the peace and two constables, and to transact any other business that might legally come before the meeting .

The meeting was called to order and Edwin Dake was chosen chairman, J. A. Simons and George McCaffrey chosen as judges of the election and John C. Enke and Thomas Reynolds, clerks. The polls were opened and kept open until five o’clock p.m. when they were declared closed. Upon the votes being counted and canvassed the following were elected to serve as the first township officers: Z. Bailey, chairman of board of supervisors by 15 votes; Thomas Cummings, supervisor by 15 votes; Walter Stevens, supervisor by 14 votes; John C. Enke, clerk by 15 votes; Peter Reynolds, treasurer by 15 votes; Charles Harvey, assessor by 15 votes; Anthony Duffy, justice of the peace by 15 votes; Edwin Dake, justice of the peace by 14 votes; Patrick McCaffrey and James Were, constables, each by 15 votes. Meeting then adjourned on motion. Signed, Edwin Dake, J. A. Simons, George McCaffrey, judges; John C. Enke and Thomas Reynolds, clerk.

Note: It is stated that a cigar box was used as a ballot box at this meeting. Mrs. P. H. McCaffrey, widow of the late P. H. McCaffrey, who took an active part in the organization of the township, is the possessor of an original ballot used at the election upon which the following was transcribed in long hand:

For Supervisor—Z. Bailey, Chairman; Thomas Cummings, Walter Stevens. For Clerk—John C. Enke. For Treasurer—Peter Reynolds. For Assessor—Charles Harvey. For Justices of the Peace—J. H. Palmer (erased and E. Dake inserted instead), Anthony Duffy. For Constables, Patrick McCaffrey, James Were.

At a meeting of the town board held February 18, 1880, at the clerk’s office, all members being present, the town was divided into two road districts. It was also decided at this meeting that each voter subject to poll tax be assessed three days work upon the highway annually.

The annual town meeting and election was held at the depot in the village of Verdi on March 9, 1880. The meeting was called to order by the clerk and Z. Bailey was appointed moderator. O. S. Parker and A. H. Gleason were chosen judges of election. The polls were opened and kept open until 12 o’clock and reopened again at one o’clock. John Kruger was elected road overseer for road district No. 1 and Peter Reynolds overseer of road district No. 2. Three public places were chosen (for posting of public notices), viz.: the postoffice, the southeast corner of section 12 near the house of James W. Randall, and the southwest corner of section of 8 near the house of John C. Enke. Motions were made and carried to procure two road scrapers, one for each district, to raise by tax upon the taxable property of the township the sum of $118 for town purposes and $100 for bridge purposes, and that town officers receive $1.50 per day for services.

The polls were closed at five o’clock and the votes counted and canvassed with the result that Z. Bailey was elected chairman by 40 votes: Thomas J. Cummings and Walter Stevens each elected supervisor by 40 votes; John C. Enke, clerk by 40 votes; Peter Reynolds, treasurer by 26 votes; Charles Harvey, assessor by 40 votes. Meeting then adjourned. Signed by A. H. Gleason and O. S. Parker, as judges, and John C. Enke, clerk.

Note—It is presumed that the township was named in honor of Giuseppe Verdi, Italian musical composer, born in 1813, who died in 1901, at the behest of Mr. John C. Enke, one of the active organizers.




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