Swift County, Minnesota
Established February 18, 1870, this county was named in honor of Henry Adoniram Swift, governor of Minnesota in 1863. He was born in Ravenna, Ohio, March 23, 1823; was graduated at Western Reserve College ; was admitted to the practice of law in 1845 ; came to Minnesota in 1853, first settling in St. Paul, but removing in 1856 to St. Peter; and was a member of the state senate, 1862 to 1865. For the latter half of the year 1863, -having been elected lieutenant governor in place of Hon. Ignatius Donnelly, who resigned in consequence of his election as a representative in Congress, Swift succeeded to the governorship when Governor Ramsey had resigned to take his seat in the U. S. Senate. In 1865, Governor Swift was appointed register of the U. S. land office in St. Peter, 'and held this office until his death, February 25, 1869. A memoir of Governor Swift, by John Fletcher Williams, secretary of the Minnesota Historical Society, is in its Volume III, pages 91-98, published in 1870. Gen. James H. Baker, in the "Lives of the Governors of Minnesota" (M. H. S. Collections, vo1. XIII, 1908), presented his biography in pages 109-127, with his portrait. In the closing pages of this sketch General Baker wrote : "The memory of Governor Swift will ever be held in the highest regard by the people of this state. The integrity of his character, his fidelity to public duty, his exemplary and spotless life as a citizen, and his devotion to family ties, made him a model worthy of the regard and admiration of the youth of Minnesota."
TOWNSHIPS AND VILLAGES.
Information of geographic names has been gathered in "History of the Minnesota Valley," 1882, having pages 955-972 for Swift county; and from J. N. Edwards, judge of probate, H. C. Odney, register of deeds, and the late Ernest R. Aldrich, each of Benson, the county seat, the two former being interviewed during a visit there in May, 1916, and the last at later visits by him in St. Pau1.
APPLETON township, organized in 1870, was at first called Phelps. in honor of its first settler, Addison Phelps, who came in the autumn of 1868. Appleton village, named for the city of Appleton in eastern Wisconsin, was founded in 1871-2; the railway was built there in 1879; and the village was incorporated in the spring of 1881. The township was renamed Appleton, on request of Mr. Phelps, who was one of the county commissioners, September 4, 1872. In Wisconsin this name commemorates Samuel Appleton, one of the founders of Lawrence University, located there.
BENSON, the county seat, platted for the railway company by Charles A. F. Morris, for whom Morris in Stevens county was named, in the spring of 1870, was incorporated as a village February 14, 1877, and as a city in 1908. Benson township, first settled in 1867, was organized in April, 1871. The name was adopted in honor of Ben. H. Benson, who was born in Norway in 1846, came to the United States in 1861, and settled in this township in 1869, engaging in mercantile business. After 1875 he owned a farm in Hantho, Lac qui Parle county. (History, Minnesota Valley, p. 950.) Later he removed to Duluth. Others have regarded this name as chosen in honor of Jared Benson, of Anoka, who at that time and during many years was a prominent citizen and a political leader. He was born in Mendon, Mass., November 8, 1821 ; came to Minnesota in 1856, settling at Anoka, and engaged in farming and cattle raising ; was a member and speaker of the House of Representatives in the state legislature in 1861-2 and 1864, and was again a representative in 1879 and 1889; and died in St. Paul, May 18, 1894.
CAMP LAKE township, first settled in 1866, was named from its lake, which was the site of the camp of government surveyors for this and adjoining townships.
CASHEL township, settled in 1873 and organized March 23, 1878, received its name from the ancient city of Cashel in Tipperary county, southern Ireland.
CLONTARF township, which received its first settler in June, 1876, was organized January 16, 1877. "The town was named by Bishop Ireland. The inhabitants are mostly Irish, a colony having settled here in 1878." ( History, Minnesota Valley, p. 969.) The village of Contarf was platted in 1876. This name is from the town and watering place in Ireland, a suburb of Dublin.
DANVERS, a railway village in the east edge of Maryland, bears the name of a township and villages in Massachusetts and of a village in Illinois.
DE GRAFF, a railway village in Kildare, founded in 1875, was incorporated February 18, 1881, being named in honor of Andrew De Graff, of St. Paul. He was born near Amsterdam, N. Y., October 21, 1811 ; came to Minnesota in 1857, and built many railroads in this state, including the Great Northern line through this county; died in St. Paul, November 7, 1894.
DUBLIN township, organized February 14, 1878, having chiefly Irish settlers, is named for the capital and largest city of Ireland.
EDISON township, settled in 1872 and organized March 23, 1878, was originally called New Posen, for a Polish city and province of Prussia, but was renamed in honor of Thomas Alva Edison, the great inventor. He was born in Milan, Ohio, February 11, 1847; was a newsboy, and afterward a telegraph operator; removed to New York city, 1871, to Menlo Park, N. J., 1876, and later to West Orange, N. J. Among his inventions are the duplex telegraph, the phonograph, and the incandescent electric lamp.
FAIRFIELD township, settled in 1867, organized April 16, 1872, has a name borne by counties in Connecticut, Ohio, and South Carolina, and by townships and villages or cities in twenty-nine states of the Union.
HAYES township, settled in 1868 and organized in 1877, was named in honor of Rutherford Birchard Hayes. nineteenth president of the United States. He was born in Delaware, Ohio, October 4, 1822; served in the Union army during the civil war, and was brevetted major general of volunteers in 1865; was a member of Congress, 1865-7; governor of Ohio, 1868-72 and 1876-7 ; was president, 1877-81 ; died at Fremont, Ohio, January 17, 1893.
HEGBERT township was first settled by Ole Hegstad, in 1869, and was organized in a meeting at his house, April 8, 1876.
HOLLOWAY is a railway village in Moyer, named by officers of the Great Northern railway in honor of an adjacent pioneer farmer.
KERKHOVEN township, first settled in 1865, and the railway village of this name, in Pillsbury township, platted in 1870 and incorporated in January, 1881, received this Scottish name in honor of a stockholder of the Great Northern railway company.
KILDARE township, settled in 1868 and organized April 20, 1875, was named for a county and a town in Ireland.
MARYSLAND township, organized March 11, 1879, was settled and named by Catholic immigrants from Ireland.
MOYER township was first settled in June, 1869, by William Moyer, in whose honor it received this name at its organization, January 25, 1879.
MURDOCK, a railway village in Dublin, was platted by S. S. Murdock in 1878 and was incorporated in 1881. He removed to Phoenix, Arizona.
PILLSBURY township, settled in 1869, organized January 29, 1876, was named in honor of John Sargent Pillsbury, who was born in Sutton, N. H., July 29, 1827, and died in Minneapolis, October 18, 1901. He came to Minnesota in 1855, settling in St. Anthony, now the east part of Minneapolis, engaged in the hardware business until 1875, and afterward in lumbering and flour milling; was a state senator, 1864-8, and 1871-5; and governor, 1876-82. He was greatly interested in upbuilding the state university; one of its chief buildings was donated by him, and is named in his honor ; and he was a member of the Board of Regents from 1863 until his death, being president of the board after 1891. His biography and portrait are in "Lives of the Governors of Minnesota," by General Baker (M. H. S. Collections, vo1. XIII, 1908, pages 225-250).
SHIBLE township, organized July 8, 1876, was named for Albert Shible, its earliest settler, who came here in August, 1869, but removed in 1870. Six MILE GROVE township, settled in April, 1866, and organized November 1, 1877, is named for its grove, six miles distant from Benson.
SWENODA township, first settled in the spring of 1869, organized April 7, 1873, has a composite name, in compliment to its Swede, Norwegian, and Dane settlers. The same name is borne by a lake about 25 miles distant northeastward, in Pope county.
SWIFT FALLS is a hamlet on the East branch of the Chippewa river, in Camp Lake township.
TARA township, settled in the spring of 1877, organized December 21, 1878, is named for a hill in County Meath, Ireland, about 20 miles northwest of Dublin. "It was in antiquity a chief seat of the Irish monarchs, and is regarded with patriotic veneration by the Irish people."
TORNING township, organized April 5, 1879, bearing the name of a village in central Denmark, had previously been the south part of Benson township. It has the city of Benson in its northwest corner.
WEST BANK township, settled in 1868 and organized March 11, 1879. lies at the west side of the Chippewa river.
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