Scott County, Minnesota

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Early History

[Source: "History of the Minnesota Valley: including the Explorers and Pioneers of Minnesota"
By Edward Duffield Neill, 1882]

[proofread by K.T.]


By act of territorial legislature at the session of 1853, the county of Scott was established and bounded as follows: beginning at the north-east corner of township 112 north, range 21 west of the fifth meridian; thence west on the township line between townships 112 and 113 to the middle of the main channel of the Minnesota river; thence down said channel to the mouth of Credit river; thence in a direct line to the place of beginning.

By an act of legislature passed May 23, 1857, describing the corporate limits of Shakopee, that part of section one lying north of the river was detached from Carver and became part of Scott county.

A subsequent change was made March 6th, 1871, when the present boundary between this and Dakota county was established. The proposition was submitted to the people at the next annual election, Him! ratified by vote, and a subsequent act empowered the registers in each county to transcribe the records pertaining to land affected, from the books of the other.

The first officers of the county, appointed by Governor Ramsey, were: Thomas S. Turner, chairman; Frank Wasson and Comfort Barnes, commissioners; Ai G. Apgar, sheriff; Daniel Apgar, justice of peace. The first regular meeting of the board was held July 4th, 1853, at Holmes' store, Shakopee. The board appointed Daniel Apgar judge of probate, and William H. Nobles county surveyor. The board also constituted the entire county one election precinct, and the Wasson house, the first hotel at Shakopee, the place of election, with Alviu Dorward, Samuel Apgar and H. D. J. Koons, judges of election.

The board at their several sessions considered petitions for roads, and took earnest measures for opening the county for settlement. The first of the numerous actions in regard to roads, was the appointing of H. H. Strunk, Henry D. J. Koons and Thomas A. Holmes road viewers, and the granting of the petition of Thomas S. Turner, asking for the laying out of a road from Shakopee to the western borders of the county. For the purpose of removing obstacles to settlement, they addressed a communication to the governor, requesting the removal of the Indians to lands provided for them by the recent treaty, urging prompt action in the matter.

The first election was held the third Monday in September, 1853, at the Wasson house: officers: Samuel Apgar, chairman; Frank Wesson and Comfort Barnes, commissioners; Ai G. Apgar, sheriff; H. H. Spencer, treasurer; William H. Nobles, register of deeds and county surveyor; Daniel Apgar, judge of probate; E. A. Greenleaf, clerk of court; L. M. Brown, district attorney. Joseph R. Brown, of Henderson, was elected to council, and Wm. H. Nobles to the house, from the sixth district, to which this county belonged, for the fifth territorial legislature. The register of deeds was ex-officio auditor. Mr. Nobles was therefore register, auditor and surveyor.

October 23d, 1853, E. A. Greenleaf appears by the records as register of deeds. January 2d, 1854, Benjamin F. Davis was appointed treasurer in place of Spencer resigned. February 6th, 1854, the board passed a vote of thanks to D. L. Fuller and Thomas A. Holmes, for the gift of a site for county buildings, and February 6th following, Comfort Barnes introduced a resolution, which was adopted by the board, by which Shakopee was established as the county seat, designating block fifty-six, received from Holmes and Fuller, as the site for county buildings. On the same day, the western part of the county was created a separate election precinct, called Chatfield; E. G. Covington, Nelson Roberts and Ambrose Wolker, judges of election.

January, 1855, the county was divided into three assessors districts; assessors, David Kinghorn, first district, Harrison Raynor, second, Thomas S. Turner, third.

April 7th, 1856, the election precincts were changed and the following created: Shakopee Eagle Creek, Belle Plaine, Credit River, Spring Lake, Jordan, Helena and Cedar Lake.

April 5th, 1858, at a meeting of the county board, the boundaries of the several towns were established, and July 5th, 1858, the system of representation in the county board of commissioners was changed, and at the same time the name commissioners was changed to supervisors. The chairman of each town board was ex-officio a member of the board of county supervisors, and each ward of a city was entitled to one representative as member. First board, 1858: B. Kennedy, Peter Yost and J. R. Hinds, city of Shakopee; Charles L. Sly, Belle Plaine; Charles Lord, Eagle Creek; John Dormau, Buchanan; M. Reagan. Credit River; P. Schreiner, Douglass; J. W. Sencerbox, Louisville; C. Brown, Helena; D. O. Fix, Spring Lake; S. B. Strait, St. Lawrence; Thomas Quill, Cedar Lake. It will be observed that New Market, or Jackson, as that town was first named, had no representative in the county board.

Officers 1881: Patrick H. Thornton, east district, John W. Callender, west district, representatives; Henry Hinds, senator; Otto Seifert, chairman, Peter C. Mattice, D. S. How, Michael McMahon, Peter J. Baltes, commissioners; Theodore Weiland, sheriff; Roderick O'Dowd, treasurer; Thos. Haas, auditor; Gerhard Hilgers, register; Nicholas Meyer, judge of probate; Michael K. Marrinan, clerk of court; James McHale, superintendent of schools; Eli South worth, county attorney; William A. Fuller, county surveyor; James McKown, coroner; F. J. Whittock, court commissioner.

Total area of county, 235,899 acres, of which 52,317 were cultivated in 1880. Number of school houses, 66, with 3,078 pupils enrolled. Population by census of 1880, 13,478. Twenty-eight church organizations exist in the county, thirteen of which are Catholic.

The settlement of Scott county must bear the date 1851 as the starting point, and begin with the advent of Thomas A. Holmes at Shakopee in the spring of that year. And yet Mr. Holmes found several families on the ground at the time of his arrival, to whom we refer before giving the details of his arrival and the history of the settlement that followed. Four families were here living among the Indians. These were Rev. S. W. Pond and family, the old missionary to the Sioux; Hazen Mooers and family, Indian farmer employed by the government; John Mooers, a son of Hazen Mooers by an Indian wife, who with his own wife lived in the same house with his father; Olivier Faribault, an Indian trader, and his family. These families or their descendants to a considerable number are still residents of the county, and demand special mention here.

Rev. Mr. Pond, whose advent to Minnesota in 1834 in company with his brother Gideon H., marks an era, was born in Washington, Litchfield county, Connecticut. Mr. Pond was employed as a teacher at Galena, Illinois, when by correspondence with his brother Gideon H., who was still living in the old Connecticut home, the plan for a private missionary enterprise was matured. The brothers after the arrival of Gideon H. came up to Fort Snelling, where, although at first suspected of mercenary motives, they were aided and encouraged by the officers in charge. They first located at Lake Calhoun and devoted their lives and talents to the missionary work. In 1837, after the arrival of the missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, they continued under the patronage of that society. Passing over the intervening years, we find S. W. Pond, in 1847, located as missionary to the Shakopee band of Dakotas, living where we find him to-day, a mile from Shakopee city, in the township of Eagle Creek. Here in his own house he preached to the Indians in their native language, and gathered the children in the missionary school. This school was established in 1848, with Miss Cunningham as teacher.

The school encountered opposition from the Indians, and in some instances from traders, who saw that if the Indians learned to compute, their future dealings with them would be placed on a different footing. The ignorant savage was at the mercy of the shrewd trader, whereas if educated they would be able to know their rights and assert them. One of these unscrupulous traders told Mr. Pond that he took one hundred dollars out of his profits every time he taught a child to read.

Hazen Mooers, who was Indian farmer, antedated Mr. Pond by more than twenty years' residence in the North-west. He came from the state of New York soon after the war of 1812, and had lived among the Indians ever since. He was first deputy collector on the Canada frontier, but afterward was appointed trader or clerk, as these traders were called, and under this company held manv responsible positions at Cheyenne and other points. He had lived at what is now Shakopee many years before the arrival of Rev. Mr. Pond with an Indian wife and a family of half-breeds. One of his sons was also married and lived with him in the same house.

Olivier Faribault was a quarter-breed, and was a trader, living at the Indian village near -where Bev. Mr. Pond and Mooers lived, now the outskirts of Shakopee. He had previously been Indian farmer as well as trader. The Faribaults had formerly had charge of the trading post at Chaska. He had been here some years before the arrival of Mr. Pond. About the time of Mr. Holmes' arrival, David Faribault, a brother of Olivier, arrived, and when the excitement of town building began he attempted a rival town, trying to divert the settlement to his location, which was the old Indian village.

With Holmes on his first voyage of discovery was only a guide; his May Flower, a canoe; his penates, the love of adventure; his only disease the town site mania, of which he was one of the earliest victims. When he came the second time, in the fall of 1851, he brought with him in his flat-boat, "Wild Paddy," besides the material for building his trading post, some men who belong to the early settlers of the county. Their names smack of the Canadian voyageurs or half-breeds along the Mississippi. There was Baptiste Le Beau, M. Sharnway, Tim Kanty and John McKenzie. They all made claims and became settlers. Their names will appear in the settlements of the towns following. Shamway and his entire family in after years were victims of the Mountain Meadow massacre.

Hazen Mooers, who was Indian farmer, antedated Mr. Pond by more than twenty years' residence in the North-west. He came from the state of New York soon after the war of 1812, and had lived among the Indians ever since. He was first deputy collector on the Canada frontier, but afterward was appointed trader or clerk, as these traders were called, and under this company held many responsible positions at Cheyenne and other points. He had lived at what is now Shakopee many years before the arrival of Rev. Mr. Pond with an Indian wife and a family of half-breeds. One of his sons was also married and lived with him in the same house.

Olivier Faribault was a quarter-breed, and was a trader, living at the Indian village near where Rev. Mr. Pond and Mooers lived, now the outskirts of Shakopee. He had previously been Indian farmer as well as trader. The Faribaults had formerly had charge of the trading post at Chaska. He had been here some years before the arrival of Mr. Pond. About the time of Mr. Holmes' arrival, David Faribault, a brother of Olivier, arrived, and when the excitement of town building began he attempted a rival town, trying to divert the settlement to his location, which was the old Indian village.

With Holmes on his first voyage of discovery was only a guide; his May Flower, a canoe; his penates, the love of adventure; his only disease the town site mania, of which he was one of the earliest victims. When he came the second time, in the fall of 1851, he brought with him in his flat-boat, "Wild Paddy," besides the material for building his trading post, some men who belong to the early settlers of the county. Their names smack of the Canadian voyageurs or half-breeds along the Mississippi. There was Baptiste Le Beau, M. Shawway, Tim Kanty and John McKenzie. They all made claims and became settlers. Their names will appear in the settlements of the towns following. Shamway and his entire family in after years were victims of the Mountain Meadow massacre.

The settlement of the county began according to the custom of the North-west, cities first and country afterward. Indeed, it can hardly be said that farms were cultivated at all until after the crash of 1857 had crushed the air-bubbles of town site speculation and brought people face to face with wants to be supplied and necessaries to be provided, with no money. Then, perforce, farms were opened and men worked to raise crops, who before had made and lost money by the thousand with reckless indifference. Shakopee was the hope of the county at first, and settlements and villages branched out from this as a center.

The river was in early times the highway of travel and the channel of transportation. The steamers "Clarion," "Time and Tide," and many others, brought at irregular intervals such passengers as came up to explore the country or make settlement.

The settlement of the county previous to 1855 can be found in the history of Shakopee, and an attempt to review the ground here would lead to a repetition there; we therefore refer to that chapter and the township histories for full information. All legitimate efforts were made to induce settlement, and passengers bound up the river were persuaded if possible to stop here. In 1854 the steamboat "Minnesota Belle" attempted to proceed up the river about the first of May, but was compelled to return to Shakopee and discharge her entire cargo, which was very large, because on account of low water she could not pass the rapids. This pleased the citizens, and they regarded Shakopee as the head of navigation.

In 1855 the stream of immigration set in, in earnest, and the county was rapidly settled, though mainly in villages and hamlets, and not yet as farms.


A prairie half a mile wide extended from Eagle Creek to Belle Plaine parallel with the river. Heavy timber extended through Credit River, Spring Lake, Sand Creek, Belle Plaine and Blakely. Patches of prairie and timber existed in Helena and St. Lawrence. Brush land openings, marshes, with patches of timber, characterized Cedar Lake, New Market and Credit River. Glendale and Eagle Creek embraced both timber and prairie.

Three Indian bands had permanent villages in the county, the Shakopee, Eagle Head and Sand Creek bands.

Two circumstances need to be taken into account as having an important influence on the settlement of Scott county, and to a greater or less extent, other counties in the valley of the Minnesota. First, the country was covered with timber which, besides the difficulty it caused in opening farms, intercepted the view in all directions and rendered the search for eligible sites for farms a difficult matter. The smoke from one claim cabin could not be seen from another, and neighbors could not so readily become acquainted, when separated by timber as if living on the prairie. Another fact was the existence of several Indian villages, and the fact that the valley was marked by their trails, which not only followed the river, serving as the great highway of travel between the Red River country of the north and Prairie du Chein, but by branching at various points in the country, furnished paths to the finest lakes and openings, thus conducting settlers to the most eligible points for locating farms.

Of coarse the river itself was the important and natural way of travel, but settlers found steamboats so irregular in making their trips, that after waiting several days for a boat which was advertised to leave St. Paul in a few hours, they would start on foot. By this travel the trails were kept open, and it was found that they were well directed by the instinct of the Indian, affording the most direct and feasible routes. The enlargement of these trails to roads was an easy matter, and the rude Bed River carts with one ox harnessed between the shafts passed up and down between the upper country and lower by these trails without difficulty. It should be added that these original trails have to a large measure become the highways of the county.

Starting from St. Paul, two routes or trails offered the traveler his option. He could cross the river to Mendota and follow the trail leading through Black Dog, an Indian village, to the trading post at the camp of the Kaposia band, Chief Eagle Head, sometimes called Eagle band, kept in 1852 by Louis Roberts and William Murry at Hamilton. At this point a branching trail followed up the creek, now dignified by the name of Credit river, through Scott county south and southwest to Cedar lake. By this branch the Irish settlers of Glendale, Credit River and parts of Cedar Lake and Spring Lake, found and located their claims.

Another principal trail was up the river, crossing at Bloomington ferry, proceeding by the village of the "Eagle Band," thence to Shakopee, continuing on up the river. A little east of Shakopee, a branching trail ran south about five miles when it forked, one trail leading south-east, between Spring and Long lakes, and the other continued south to the west end of Spring lake and Cedar Lake. Near Belle Plaine another branch from the principal trail led in a southerly direction.

At the time settlement in Scott county began the nearest railroad station was Warren, twenty-eight miles from Galena, Illinois.

A murder of a white woman named Mrs. Keener, by an Indian occurred in the fall of 1852 under the following circumstances: H. H. Spencer, who is now a respectable citizen of Louisville, made a claim in 1852 above Belle Plaine, in the "Big Woods," and employed Mr. Keener and his wife at St Paul to come with him to work and keep house while he was clearing up his claim. They came by team in the fall, the party consisting of Mr. Spencer, John Schroeder, Keener and his wife and baby. Their outfit consisted of the necessaries for housekeeping. They crossed the river by the Bloomington ferry and encamped there at night. During the night a drenching rain soaked everything through. They therefore spent part of the next day drying their clothes and spent the second night at the house of Samuel Apgar, in the embryo village of Shakopee. The following day they pursued their journey. They had proceeded about eight miles and were walking, some before and sone behind the wagon, when they were accosted by two Indians, of the Sand Creek band, who, with their usual freedom, entered into conversation and looked over their outfit including the guns which they saw to be useless from the soaking rain. They soon became bold and saucy, and while the men were before the wagon, punched the woman with their guns, saying that it was a shame for the man to carry papoose, for the husband was carrying the child.

Mr. Spencer then came back, and shaking the cane he carried in his hand at them, threatened them, perhaps showing a little of a southerner's temper. Whereupon one of the Indians, named Yu-ha-zee, loaded his gun to shoot him, but the other Indian attempted to dissuade him, holding up his blanket before him. He also diverted the aim by pushing the gun aside, and the bullet struck the woman in the back of the neck, passing clear through and killing her instantly. The Indians then hurried away, and the frightened party hastily unloaded on the ground the contents of the wagon, placed the dead body therein and returned as rapidly as possible to Shakopee. Mrs. Apgar tenderly cared for the body and prepared it for removal to St. Paul, where it was taken the same day in a skiff. Yu-ha-zee was arrested by a squad of troops from Fort Snelling, and after several trials, consuming a year, during which his tribe made strenuous efforts to secure his discharge, he was hung at Fort Snelling. This band harbored ill will against Mr. Spencer ever after, and the trader, Louis Le Croix, assured him of their purpose to kill him. At the time of the Indian massacre Mr. Spencer thought it safer to leave the country with his family for a short time.

Yu-ha-zee's companion, however, professed friendship for Mr. Spencer, and declared that he diverted the aim on purpose to have the woman shot because he knew Yu-ha-zee would shoot somebody, and he thought it not so bad to kill only squaw, but too bad to kill a man, the leader too. This was the first death of a white person in Scott county.

The first birth in the county was that of a son to Rev. Samuel V. Pond, April 20th, 1850, at Shakopee.

The first marriage was that of Peter Shamway, in 1852, to a hired girl of William Holmes, to whose tragic death we have elsewhere referred.

The second marriage was solemnized by Rev. S. W. Pond, between Henry D. Koons and Henrietta B. Allen, April 16th, 1854.

The first death was that of a woman shot by an Indian in 1852, the account of which has been given.

The second death was that of Lucy Jane Allen, September 16th, 1853, daughter of John B. Allen, who kept the hotel at Shakopee.

The first mortgage was given June 2d, 1853, by William H. Calkins to John W. Turner, on a water power between Spring lake and Long lake, called on records Minnetonka; this mortgage was unacknowledged.

The first mill in the county was built at Jordan in 1853.

The first post-office was established December 10th, 1853, at Shakopee.

October 19 and 20, 1853, the Sioux, in accordance with the treaty signed by their chiefs at Traverse des Sioux in July, 1851, and Mendota in August of the same year, confirmed at Washington about a year later, broke up their homes and bade farewell to the valley. The settlers describe it as a sad sight to see the long lines taking their departure. Several other bands had joined the Sakopee band and now the total number amounting to over 2,000 set out for their unknown home. They were silent, and by their actions showed the sadness that they felt and expressed at leaving their ancient haunts. A few days before their departure Governor Gorman came to Sakopee with $30,000 to pay the Indians on their lands according to the terms of the treaty, and exhibited to them the purpose of the government to fulfill all promises made, and at the same time made some advances to hasten and encourage their departure.

Sunday, October 16, the Indians gave a great medicine dance for the entertainment of the Governor. Their preparation being made they took their departure up the Minnesota river, followed soon by the Governor with the treasure to be paid over on their arrival at the reservation. Thus was accomplished the event so much desired by the settlers, the removal of the Indians from the county. Not long after the money was received, however, many reappeared, and to this day a remnant remain near the site of the old Indian village.

A similar scene appeared in Shakopee when the Winnebagos were removed from Watab, on the upper Mississippi, to the Blue Earth reservation. They came down the Mississippi and up the Minnesota rivers, braves, squaws, papooses, dogs and canoes, creating excitement wherever they stopped. Several days delay occurred at Shakopee for some reason, and trouble was apprehended by the citizens when it was learned that they were obtaining whisky. Although the Winnebagoes were known to be nearer civilization than the other tribes, there was great reason to fear the effects of whisky, because in numbers they far exceeded the whites, and the latter were nearly destitute of arms and at a distance from the fort.

It was ascertained that "Old Jenks" was dealing out the whisky, and the citizens rallied in a body to suppress the grievance. Nearly every white man in town joined the procession that marched down on the amazed Jenks. B. F. Davis headed the party with a hatchet, rolled out a barrel of whisky, knocked in the head and set it on fire. Bottles and demijohns were broken and the nuisance effectually abated.

In the spring of 1858 a tragedy occurred among the Indians encamped in the south-east of section 20, Sand Creek, in which love, jealousy and murder appear, reminding us of the sensational stories of the day. An Indian maiden named Winona Etocta, belonging to the band, is represented as very beautiful and of lovely disposition. Her kind acts and winning manners attracted all who met her.

A son of a well-known Indian, Helpessel, was struck with her charms and was determined to win her, but he was possessed of the most unamiable qualities and had a bad reputation. The maiden disdained Ms proffered love, and the parents, to whom an appeal was made, sustained their daughter in her refusal.

In retaliation the vindictive savage killed two of Winona's brothers and her father, and severely wounded his own father who attempted to restrain him from his acts of brutality.

It is some satisfaction to us to know that this villain was afterward hung at Mankato with thirty-seven others.

The first license for a ferry across the Minnesota river was granted to Thomas A. Holmes in 1853, and by him let to John Hare. The ferry crossed the river near the town site.

July 3, 1864, license for a ferry was granted to Richard Murphy at a point called Murphy's Landing, about a mile below the village of Shakopee.

January 1, 1855, license for a ferry was granted to Luther M. Brown at a point half a mile below Holmes street. This ferry was of short duration.

The first newspaper was the "Shakopee Independent," established December 1, 1855, by Allen Green, editor; probably this was the first paper in the valley. It is said to have been a very good local paper.

County buildings

The first measures were taken May 11, 1856, toward the erection of county buildings on the site donated by Holmes and Fuller, and accepted by the county board more than two years previous, plans for which were drawn by John M. Feeler. August 22d $2,000 was voted to commence building.

It was not until July 24th of the following year that the proposal of Comfort Barnes was accepted. Meantime an act of the legislature authorized the county to negotiate a loan for carrying on the work. Bonds to the amount of $10,000 were accordingly issued, and June 17, 1857, express charges thereon to Georgetown, District of Columbia, $26.25 paid. A contract was made with Comfort Barnes for the building, and Thomas J. Galbraith employed to draw up bonds and necessary papers.

July 29, 1857, a second set of ten county bonds was issued, each $1,000, in place of ten others previously issued but returned and cancelled because incorrect.

January 31, 1859, Comfort Barnes received $4,600 in bonds for work on the county buildings. These bonds were subsequently paid by the county, except one, which never came to light. After many years Comfort Barnes collected from the county the amount, $1,000 with interest, as due him for the lost bond.

Much difficulty was experienced in obtaining the means necessary for the completion of the county buildings, for discount and extras had made sad inroads on the appropriation. It was even suggested that the buildings in their incomplete state be sold and the avails be appropriated to discharge part of the heavy liabilities of the county, which was almost bankrupt.

At the session of the legislature in 1859 an act was passed to change the county seat to Jordan. Anticipating this measure, in the fall of 1858 strenuous measures were instituted by the citizens of Skakopee, and by means of private subscription the unfinished buildings were enclosed and the county officers located therein, although in small and inconvenient quarters. By these measures the change was overruled and Shakopee continued as the county seat.

Improvements were made in 1864, 1867 and 1873 in the county buildings, which developed them into their present convenient and commodious quarters, and the cells of the jail were made secure.

An attempt was again made about 1873 to remove the county seat to Jordan, and a vigorous contest ensued, decided in favor of Shakopee by a majority of ninety-two votes.

Previous to the erection of the county buildings the courts of the county were held at such places as could be secured. The records show that in 1856 rooms on the first and second floor of the new brick store of B. B. Griswold and J. C. Farewell were rented by the county for $50 for the next term of court.

The first term of the district court was held in Holmes' hall on the third Monday of September, 1853, by Hon. Andrew G. Chatfield, associate justice, who was identified with the political, social, as well as the business interests of the county from 1854 till his death, which occurred in 1875. Other officers at this term were: W. W. Irwin, marshal; A. G. Apgar, deputy marshal and sheriff; E. A. Greenleaf, clerk. Frank Wasson was foreman of grand jury.

The records show that the commissioners were unable to find in the county fifty persons qualified to serve as grand jurors; they therefore selected a less number-twenty-four. For the same reason thirty-two petit jurors were selected, instead of seventy-two, the full number. L. M. Brown was appointed district attorney by the court. An indictment against David Faribault for giving liquor to the Indians was the first. David Faribault also appears as the first defendant in a civil action. The case was Comfort Barnes against David Faribault for taking cattle wrongfully. The verdict of the jury gave Barnes $175 damages; Wilkinson and Babcock, attorneys, for plaintiff; Rice, Hollinshead and Becker, for defendant.

The following attorneys appear by records as practicing before the early courts of the county: Edmund Rice, M. S. Wilkinson, C. E. Flandrau, L. M. Brown, J. M. Holland, D. H. Dustin, district attorney, Babcock, Brisbin, Wakefield, Henry Hinds, D. Cooper, Frank Warner and Thomas J. Galbraith.

The first divorce was granted by Judge Chatfield, in the spring of 1856, to Larona D. Marvin from Edwin D. Marvin.

About the time of the organization of the county, lands lying east of Credit river were in dispute as to whether they belonged to Scott or Dakota county. They were at one time assessed in each county and trouble was experienced in collecting the taxes. It is said that political intrigue ultimately fixed the eastern boundary. As it was the purpose to make both democratic, the dividing line was made to conform to this principle, and Irish settlements, that can always be depended on, were attached to the weaker county.

Scott county has been unfortunate in the incumbents of responsible offices, owing, perhaps, to the fact that political bias controlled elections in preference to personal fitness for the positions. This has by no means been universal or even common, as the present incumbents of these offices will clearly demonstrate. J. R. Hinds, register of deeds, ex-officio auditor, absconded in September, 1838, guilty of issuing fraudulent county orders.

The defalcation of J. J. Ring, treasurer, was another glaring offense. Some other irregularities have occurred of less magnitude, attributable to the lack of a good business preparation for the responsible duties. Indeed, this cause led to the trouble in all cases.

A projected railroad, called the Ninninger and Dakota, was surveyed through this county in 1857-8. John Ninninger, G. B. Clitherall and Ignatius Donnelly were the prime movers. They formed a company and incorporated it in 1857, to build a road from Ninninger, Minnesota, directly west to Dakota territory. The land along the projected line had been purchased, and considerable money expended by the company and by private individuals in town site and land speculations. The death of one of the projectors and accidental causes nipped the project in the bud and disappointed the hopes of many citizens of Scott county.

Three railroads traverse the county. The Minneapolis & St. Louis crosses the Minnesota river at Carver, and runs south through Louisville, Sand Creek and Helena, making a junction at Merriam Junction in Louisville township with the St. Paul & Sioux City railway, having the following stations: Merriam, Jordan, New Prague in this county. The St. Paul & Sioux City railway enters the county in Glendale and follows the course of the Minnesota river throughout the county, making junctions with the Hastings & Dakota at Shakopee, and the Minneapolis & St. Louis at Merriam Junction. It has the following stations in this county: Hamilton, Bardon, Shakopee, Merriam Junction, Brentwood, Belle Plaine and Blakeley.

The Hastings & Dakota division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway enters the county in Credit River, making a junction at Shakopee with the St. Paul & Sioux City, having the following stations in the county: Prior Lake and Shakopee.

The Minneapolis & St. Louis was completed to Merriam Junction in 1871, and extended to Albert Lea in 1877. The Hastings & Dakota was built in 1871. The St. Paul & Sioux City was built in 1870.


The name of this city suggests the well-known fact that here was the site of the famous Indian village of the Dakota or Sioux band under Shakpa or Little Six. The village numbered about 600 souls, and traders as well as missionaries who came to live among them, the one to profit by shrewd bargains, and the other to labor for their souls, were here in advance of the early settlers. Ignoring these as irrelevant to the settlement and growth of this now prosperous little city, we begin at the year 1851, referring the reader to the chapters on the Minnesota valley and Scott county for the history of these earlier events.

Thomas A. Holmes was the first actual settler.

Thomas Andrew Holmes was born in Bergentown, Washington county, Pennsylvania, March 4th, 1804. When he was four years old, his parents William and Rachel Holmes moved to Newark, Licking county, Ohio, where the son received a common school education.

The first enterprise of his youth was dealing in cattle which he bought in Ohio and drove to Detroit. In 1829, he started west, spent two years in Michigan territory and in 1831 went to Michigan city, Indiana, where he bought a little property and remained a few years. In 1835, he sold and went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin territory, and there built the second house in what is now the most important city in the Northwest. The house built by Solomon Juno who was operating for the American Fur Company was then the only house and Holmes was the second settler. He operated therein real estate and at one time owned a large amount of the site of that great city. He also had an interest in some valuable property at Port Washington. In 1838, he bought, at auction of government land, 108 acres in Wisconsin, went to look it over and determined to plat it for a town site. This was the foundation of Janesville and Holmes was the founder. His land was the west side of the river embracing the best portion of that now beautiful city.

After the town was platted he sold out for $10,000, built two keel boats and came down the Rock river to the Mississippi, up that river to a point now known as Fountain City where he established a trading post in 1839 and traded for several years with the Indians.

In 1849, he went to Sank Rapids and spent a short time and the same year was elected a member of the first territorial legislature of Minnesota. After the adjournment of the legislature, in company with others he purchased the site of Itasca and laid out the town. This is in brief the record of the father of Shakopee before his visit to this valley.

In 1851, Mr. Holmes, still controlled by the town site mania applied to Major McLaine the Indian agent for the Madahwahkan tribes who was located at Mendota, for a license to trade with the Indians on the Minnesota river. The application was at first refused but at length granted. Employing Bill Quinn as a guide he set out in a canoe. This Quinn was a half-breed, a son of old Peter Quinn, whose history surpasses in tragic incidents all fiction.

Holmes landed in the hollow near Shakopee to cook something to eat. He liked the looks of the spot and going back on the hill he was even more favorably impressed but continued on up the river to Le Sueur. He returned, however, to his first landing deeming it the most favorable point on the river to locate. The water was high and the rapids at San Francisco did not appear an obstacle to the navigation of the river at this point, though Quinn affirmed that they could not be passed except at such a stage of water as then existed.

The present site of Shakopee was a prairie extending back from the river for about two miles. Holmes located the town site and about the same time that of Chaska across the river.

Later in the same year David L. Fuller, of St. Paul, came up, and being pleased with the location, made arrangements to come up again the following season, which he did, and purchased of Mr. Holmes the site of Chaska. Subsequently Mr. Holmes associated him as a partner in the town site of Shakopee by giving him a half interest. Holmes' reasons for so doing were that Rice, Steele and others were attempting to found a rival town at David Faribault's place, in which Franklin Steele was interested, a little below the Indian village and only one and a half miles below Shakopee.

An important part of Holmes' business was to trade with the Shakopee band of Indians. He built a small store, a block house, on the bank of the river immediately on his arrival, and put in a small stock of blankets, calicoes and goods adapted to the trade. The Indians paid him in money, furs, etc., but he was obliged to trust them to some extent, depending upon their annuities from the government. He received the last of his pay on such debts by an allowance from the government since 1865. The Indians, though removed in 1855, returned frequently to their old haunts, always remembering to be at their reservation when the annuities were to be paid over. To Mr. Holmes' credit be it said, that his trading stock never included whisky.

He named the town site from Shak-pa, the chief of the Indian band. The survey was made as soon as the Indian title was extinguished by the confirmation by congress in 1852 of the treaty signed by the Indians the previous year. Mr. Holmes brought the men and materials for his first buildings from St. Paul on the flat-boat "Wild Paddy," which was propelled by pikes and sails. Hr. Holmes' trading post was the first house in Shakopee and in the county, excepting the missionary and trading posts of early days, to which reference has been made. Mr. Holmes also built some time after, a frame structure near by, which was the second house.

The first comers were the hands employed by Holmes on the "Wild Paddy." They came in 1851, and were Baptiste Le Beau, M. Shamway, Tim Kanty and John McKenzie. They subsequently took claims back in the timber, except Shamway, who made a claim just above the town site in what is now Keeper's addition. He and McKenzie were with Holmes at Itasca, and started from that point with the "Wild Paddy." It may be added here of these first comers that Le Beau is still a resident of the valley, though he has removed to Sibley county. M. Shamway married a girl employed by William Holmes, a brother of Thomas A., who was an early settler in Jordan. This was probably the first marriage among the settlers of Scott county, but we are unable to give the date. In 1857 this family were among the victims of the famous Mountain Meadow massacre. Tim Kauty is still a resident of the county. John McKenzie was the man who drugged Little Six and Medicine Bottle after the Sioux massacre and brought them in this condition from Manitoba and delivered them to Major E. A. C. Hatch. Knowing the frailty of Little Six, who was a different man from the old chief Little Six, his father, McKenzie left a bottle of drugged whisky with a woman at the house which he was accustomed to visit, knowing that his greedy appetite would ferret it out. The artifice succeeded, and Little Six and Medicine Bottle were tried and hung at Fort Snelling for killing Philander Prescott.

Daniel Apgar came next, and in 1852 his father, Samuel, and his brother Ai, but as they took claims soon after their arrival in what is now Jackson, their history will be found in the chapter on that town.

Arnold Graffenstadt came in 1851, and took a claim and returned to St. Louis for his wife. He now lives in Alabama.

Moses S. Titus spent the winter at Shakopee, and John C. Somerville also came in 1851. Mr. Titus is now dead, and Somerville lives in Bismarck.

In 1852 we find Joseph Graffenstadt, who came in the spring and first built a brush shelter, then a log cabin, and is still a resident. Ai G. Apgar, previously mentioned, Alvan Dorward and family, Harrison Raynor and family, William Smothers, Frank Wasson, - Lewis, Edward Smith, Bodnaman and family. Of those last mentioned Dorward, Eaynor and Wasson are dead, but the others remain in the county. During the same year, 1852, came Benjamin F. Turner, William Holmes and family, David Kinghorn and family. Kinghorn is living in the county, the others are dead.

The settlers of 1853 are too numerous to mention. Uncle Peter Atwood, as he was called, built a frame house in the spring of 1853 on the town site, which he rented to Robert Kennedy, of St. Paul, for a boarding-house. Atwood then went to Jordan, and after this became identified with that town. Soon a large hotel called the Wasson House was built by Frank Wasson. Part of the house still remains, known as the American House. Mr. Coulton built the first brick house. This house is now the residence of D. L. How, one of the most prominent and valuable citizens of Shakopee. To Mr. How's historical research and politeness we are indebted for many points relating to the history of Scott county. D. L. Fuller and Holmes built brick buildings with a party wall on the levee. These were used for warehouses, stores and other purposes.

We have thus sketched the nucleus of Shakopee as seen in 1853. L. M. Brown, who arrived July 31st that year, and has since proved himself a lawyer of the first order, gives the names of sixty-seven men, many of whom had families, then residents of Shakopee, or at least found here with the purpose of settlement. Many of these men moved into adjoining towns to take up land, and the names will be found in the township histories. Many men prominent in the county organization arrived this year, such as Frank Wasson, Thomas Turner, William H. Nobles, Spier Spencer, Comfort Barnes, Thomas Kennedy, Rev. E. A. Greenleaf, Peter Atwood. D. M. Storer, who arrived August 11th, 1853, from Stillwater, contributed to the town the sterling qualities of citizenship, and to his diary, kept from the time of his arrival in the state, we are indebted for information not easily procurable from other sources. The diary begins with his arrival, and shows that John Allen kept boarding-house in what was called the Pennsylvania House. L. M. Brown describes this house as having two rooms, one above and one below. The lower room had a log fire-place, while the upper one had only the rafters above and one window with five lights of glass. Nevertheless this hotel could accommodate as it appears fifteen or more persons, regardless of sex. The diary mentions, under August 19th: The Sioux Indians received their annuity of provisions in front of Holmes' store. The writer was amused to see the chiefs divide the same with pieces of shingles among each of the Indian families. The authority of the chiefs in this matter was absolute and was acknowledged without question by the recipients. Many facts obtained from this diary will appear in this history; only one incident further derived from the diary will be inserted here. March 7th, 1853, an Indian was detected in stealing money from Fuller's store, and "the boys" determined to make an example of him. Knowing that it would be the greatest indignity that could be inflicted on an Indian brave, they shaved his head and let him go. The Indian was never seen from that time until his hair was grown, and the lesson proved a salutary one, and yet the settlers now wonder at their temerity in inflicting such an indignity, when surrounded by so many of the tribe, for at this time the settlers were few in number.

In 1853, Moses S. Titus, who has been mentioned as coming to Shakopee in 1851 was an Indian farmer and had been a trader at Black Dog village.

In 1853 he came to Shakopee bringing goods. He transported his goods by canoes over the Minnesota river and from thence to Shakopee by ox teams following the old Indian trail.

Some of the stores of these early days are said to hold stocks of goods that would compare favorably with the best of to-day. Squire Spencer's store was one of the important ones and contained 8 stock valued at $5,000. He was for a long time important factor in the business interests of the town. He is still living but now totally blind.

The first settlers though they in fact became such, came rather as speculators and many came who never made a permanent settlement, simply staking out a claim which they soon abandoned or making no claim at all The town site mania prevailed and within the small area of Scott county nearly twenty embryo cities were platted with joint owners.

The patent of the town site of Shakopee was raised to Judge Andrew G. Chatfield, dated May 23d, 1859, as trustee, according to, and under act of congress, dated May 23d, 1844, called an act for the relief of the citizens of towns upon the lands of the United States under certain circumstances.

The present limits of Shakopee include more than the limits covered by this patent.

D. M. Storer pre-empted the S. 1/2 of SW. 1/4 of section 1-115-23, in July 1855 and received the patent January 19th, 1856.

Henry D. J. Koons pre-empted about the same time the N. 1/2 of SW. 1/4 of section 6.

William's addition was pre-empted by Robert Kennedy, the S. 1/2 of SW. 1/4 of section 6-115-22.

Peter Shamway made a claim on Koeper's addition, which was entered in 1856 by John Koeper, being lots 7 and 8, of SE. of SE. of section 2, township 115, range 23.

Greenleaf & Overton's addition was pre-empted by Harrison Rainer, being the E. 1/2 of NE. 1/4 of section 12 and NE. of SE. section 12, township 115, range 23.

East Shakopee addition was pre-empted by Moses S. Titus and Mrs. Jane Titus, the latter with Dakota half-breed scrip or certificate.

Others who received patents of land from the government were Spier Spencer, Berry F. Davis, George Daly, Phoebe Burnham, John Burnhara, Harriette Faribault.

The first birth in Shakopee was that of Samuel W. Pond, Jr., April 20th, 1850. This was also the first birth of a white child in Scott county.

The first death was that of Lucy Jane Allen, daughter of John B. Allen, who died September 10th, 1853, while Mr. Allen kept the hotel.

The first marriage ceremony was performed by Rev. S. W. Pond, uniting Henry D. J. Koons and Henrietta B. Allen.

The first attorney was L. M. Brown. The first physician Dr. Frederic N. Ripley. Dr. Ripley's death occurred in 1856 by freezing. He had a town site on Crow river and had been camping there; starting to come out in March, he became bewildered and lost with a companion. The doctor was found dead and his companion was found at the camp after seventeen days, badly frozen and nearly starved. Both legs of this man were amputated.

The first stages began to run October 6th, 1853, between St. Paul and Shakopee.

The first singing school was taught by Rev. E. A. Greenleaf in the fall of 1853, and $15 raised by a dance paid the instructor.

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