McLeod County, Minnesota

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McLeod County History (1920)
Minnesota Historical Society Collections, Vol. 17, Minnesota State Historical Society (1920) Submitted by Brenda Wiesner

Established March 1, 1856, this county was named in honor of Martin McLeod, a pioneer fur trader of Minnesota, who was born in Montreal, August 30, 1813, of Scotch parentage, and there received a good education. In 1836 he came to the Northwest, voyaging in an open boat on Lake Superior from its mouth to La Pointe, Wisconsin, and thence walking more than six hundred miles to the Pembina settlement on the Red river, where he arrived in December. The next March, having set out with two companions, young British officers, and Pierre Bottineau as guide, he came to the trading post of Joseph R. Brown at Lake Traverse, arriving March 21, after a journey of nineteen days and a most perilous experience of hunger and cold due to successive blizzards, by one of which the two officers perished. Coming forward to Fort Snelling in April, 1837, he was afterward during many years engaged as a fur trader for Chouteau and Company, under the direction of General Sibley, being in charge of trading posts successively on the St. Croix river, at Traverse des Sioux, Big Stone lake, Lac qui Parle, and Yellow Medicine.

McLeod was a member of the Council in the Territorial legislature, 1849-53, being president of the Council in 1853. With Colonel John H. Stevens and others, he was one of the founders of Glencoe in 1855. He died November 20, 1860, on his farm to which he had removed his family in 1849, at Oak Grove, in Bloomington, Hennepin county. He was a charter member of the Minnesota Historical Society, and was one of its two vice presidents elected at the time of its organization, November 15, 1849. (The name is pronounced as if spelled McLoud, with English sound of the diphthong.)

Townships And Villages.

Information of the origins of geographic names has been received from an address by R. H. McClelland at the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Hutchinson, October 4, 1905; "History of McLeod County," 862 pages, 1917, edited by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge and Return I. Holcombe; and interviews with Captain Axel H. Reed, Henry L. Simons, and Henry Wadsworth, each of Glencoe, the county seat, during a visit there in July, 1916.

Acoma township was named by Dr. Vincent P. Kennedy, for the Indian pueblo village of Acoma in western New Mexico, about fifty miles west of Albuquerque.

Bergen township was named by its Norwegian settlers, for the large city and seaport of Bergen in southwestern Norway.

Biscay, a railway village in Hassan Valley township, received its name from the large Bay of Biscay adjoining Spain and France.

Brownton, a railway village in Sumter, platted October 15, 1877, incorporated February 12, 1886, was named in honor of Alonzo L. Brown, whose farm included this townsite. He was born in Auburn, N. Y., November 8, 1838; and died at his home in Brownton, October 11, 1904. He came to Minnesota in 1857, settling here; served in the Fourth Minnesota regiment in the civil war, and became captain in a colored regiment; was author of the History of the Fourth Regiment, Minnesota, 594 pages, published in 1892.

Collins township was named in honor of one of its early settlers. This name is borne by a township in New York, and by villages in ten other states.

Glencoe township received the name of its village, founded in June 11, 1855. It was chosen by Martin McLeod, for whom this county was named, and who was a member of the townsite company, in commemoration of the historic valley called Glencoe in Scotland, where the MacDonalds were massacred in February, 1692. This village was incorporated in 1873 and adopted its charter as a city March 4, 1909. From the beginning of the county, it has been continuously the county seat.

Hale township "was named either for an early settler or for John P. Hale, of New Hampshire, a distinguished American statesman and the Free Soil candidate for president in 1852. It is said that the Hutchinsons and other anti-slavery men of the county induced the county board to name the township for the eminent New England Free Soiler." (History of this county, page 264.) John Parker Hale was born in Rochester, N. H., March 31, 1806; and died in Dover, N. H., November 19, 1873. He was a member of Congress from New Hampshire, 1843-45; United States senator, 1847-53 and 1855-65; and was minister to Spain in 1865-69.

Hassan Valley township, the last organized in this county, is crossed by the Hassan river, as it was named on maps of Minnesota in 1860 and 1869, but on later maps called the South fork of Crow river. This Sioux word, hassan, is derived from haza or hah-zah, the huckleberry or blueberry. With another Sioux word, chan, tree, it supplied the name of the sugar maple, chanhassan, "the tree of sweet juice," whence came the name of Chanhassen township in Carver county, and Hassan township in Hennepin county.

Helen township was named in honor of Mrs. Helen Armstrong, its first white woman resident, whose husband, J. R. Armstrong, was sheriff of the county.

Hutchinson township took the name of its village, founded November 19, 1855, by the brothers, Asa, Judson, and John Hutchinson, with others. These brothers were members of the famous family of many singers, born in Milford, N. H., who gave concerts of popular and patriotic songs throughout the United States after 1841 until the close of the civil war. Hutchinson was incorporated as a village February 9, 1881, and as a city in 1904.

Asa Burnham Hutchinson, youngest of the brothers founding Hutchinson, where he afterward lived, was born March 14, 1823, and died at his home here November 25, 1884. Adoniram Judson Joseph Hutchinson, commemorated by the name of Judson lake, recently drained, about a mile north of this city, was born March 14, 1817, and died in Lynn, Mass., January 10, 1859. John Wallace Hutchinson, born January 4, 1821, resided many years in Lynn, Mass., and was author of the "Story of the Hutchinsons," two volumes, 495 and 416 pages, published in 1896. Koniska, a village platted in 1856 on the South fork of Crow river, for utilization of its water-power, has been mainly superseded by the villages and cities on railways.

Lester Prairie, a railway village in Bergen, platted in 1886 and incorporated in 1888, was named in honor of John N. Lester and his wife, Maria Lester, whose homestead farm included a part of its site.

Lynn township was named probably by recommendation of the Hutchinson brothers, for the city of Lynn in Massachusetts.

Penn township, settled largely by Germans from Pennsylvania, was named for William Penn, the founder of that state.

Plato, a railway village of Helen township, bears the name of a renowned Greek philosopher (d. 347 B. C.), who was a disciple of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle. This is also the name of small villages in New York, Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri.

Rich Valley was named on the suggestion of A. B. White, an early settler at its village of Koniska, for the fertility of its soil and for the South fork of Crow river flowing through this township.

Round Grove township was named for the large grove in the northwest quarter of its section 6, adjoining the east side of Round Grove lake, less than a mile southwest from Stewart village.

St. George is a hamlet on the South fork of Crow river in the east edge of Rich Valley.

Silver Lake, a village platted in 1881 and incorporated in 1889, is situated at the north side of Silver lake, in sections 33 and 34, Hale, about a mile north of its Great Northern railway station.

Stewart, a village on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railway in section 31, Collins, platted in 1878 and incorporated in 1888, was named in honor of its founder, Dr. D. A. Stewart, of Winona.

Sumter township was named for Fort Sumter, built on a small artificial island three miles southeast of Charleston, S. C, as a defence of its harbor. The bombardment of this fort by the Confederates, April 12 and 13, 1861, with its evacuation by Major Anderson on April 14, began the civil war.

Winsted township, its village, and the adjoining Winsted lake, received their name from Winsted in Connecticut, one of the county seats of Litchfield county, the native place of Eli F. Lewis, founder of this village. The lake was originally named by him Lake Eleanor, in honor of his wife.

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