History of Stearns County, Minnesota
While the lives of men and women who undertake the work of opening up a new country for the peaceful uses of husbandry may contain nothing that is thrilling and be devoid of romance, yet they contain lessons of fortitude and self-denial which are fruitful for those who come after them and profit by their early endeavors. It is no small sacrifice to leave homes of comfort in well-settled localities to live the lives of the pioneer on the far frontier, where comparative isolation is added to the hardships and discomforts due to a lack of even the mere necessities of life, all for the hope of what the future may have in store as a recompense. The changes in conditions have been so great during the years which have passed since Stearns county knew only the tread of the Indian that it is difficult to realize what a settler's life in those earlier days really meant. It can be only appreciably understood when the facts of pioneers settlement are presented from the experience of those who took part in it. Unfortunately too often the gathering of these experiences is postponed to too late a date, until those who were first on the ground have passed away, their lips closed forever. Such is the case which we present undertaking Could the work have been done ten or even half a dozen years earlier, the results would have been much more satisfactory. During this interval many of the early settlers have gone to their last rest — to mention only Capt. J.E. West, H.C. Waite, J.L. Wilson, Judge L.W. Collins, John Schaefer and Casper Capsermen who had been the real pioneers in the county, having an intimate personal knowledge of the very beginning of things, and were themselves the makers of history.
The aim of this work has been to gather facts, as full and as reliable in their nature as possible, for permanent preservation. To this end the public records have been carefully examined, the files of local papers searched for matters of interest, a wide correspondence carried on and individual interviews sought where general information or personal experiences could be obtained. I have made free use of such books and publications as contained suitable material for use in these pages, including the History of the Upper Mississippi Valley, Minnesota in Three Centuries, Flandrau's History of Minnesota, Folsom's Fifty Years in the Northwest, Geological and Natural History Survey of Minnesota, Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, the Minnesota Historical Society's Collections, and the Papers and Proceedings of the Old Settlers' Association of Stearns and adjoining counties.
Acknowledgments are due to many persons who have rendered valuable assistance and to whom I feel indebted for much of whatever may be of interest in this History. I will first name Mr. Arthur M. Gorman, secretary to the Hon. C.A. Lindbergh, member of congress from the Sixth district, to whose persevering efforts are due the securing from the Post Office department the statistics from which the full and accurate history of the post offices of the county has been prepared. To the Commissioner of the General Land Office; to the Hon. J.A.O. Preus, state auditor; the Hon. W.J. Smith, state treasurer; the Hon. C.G. Schulz, superintendent of public instruction; Mr. Warren Upham, secretary of the Minnesota Historical Society; Dr. H.M. Bracken, secretary of the state board of health; Capt. J.R. Howard, superintendent of the Indian agency at White Earth; the officials at the general offices of the Great Northern, Northern Pacific and Soo railway companies; C.H. Barnes, superintendent of schools at St. Cloud; and the various county officers of Stearns county — and this by no means completes the list — I would express my indebtedness for courtesies shown and favors granted during the progress of this work.
Especial thanks are due the men who have prepared the general chapters. They have given to the gathering and preparation of the material much valuable time, in many instances at the sacrifice of their personal and business affairs. The results are of exceeding value, representing a wealth of information and details which are of present as they will be of still greater future interest.
Acknowledgments are also due the writers of the history of their respective townships and villages, most of which are full, complete and credit- able. It is to be regretted, however, that in several of the townships and villages it was impossible, notwithstanding the most persistent efforts, to secure from prominent residents of the localities, of supposed public spirit and intelligence, the necessary information for satisfactory sketches, which will account for the meager character of those published.
Whatever shortcomings there may be in this History of Stearns county — and I am fully aware that there are many — may be charged at least in part to the difficulty of obtaining reliable first-hand information and in part to the local indifference referred to. I hope, however, that it will not wholly fail in preserving for years to come the memories of the good and true men and women who laid the foundation stones upon which Stearns county grew to be one of the best, most populous and most prosperous counties in the great state of Minnesota.
Table of Contents.
NATURAL PHENOMENA... 1-18
BEFORE THE WHITES CAME... 18-26
COMING OF THE WHITES... 26-31
CHANGES IN SOVEREIGNTY... 31-35
INDIAN TREATIES... 35-38
DAWN OF CIVILIZATION... 38-39
TERRITORIAL ORGANIZATION 39-48
COUNTY REPRESENTATION... 48-59
BIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW... 59-90
COUNTY GOVERNMENT... 90-158
COURT HOUSE AND JAIL... 158-166
PLATS, SITES AND NAMES... 166-171
POLITICAL HISTORY... 171-181
IN THE EARLY DAYS... 181-195
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN STEARNS COUNTY... 195-217
CATHOLIC CHURCHES IN STEARNS COUNTY... 217-252
ST. JOHN'S ABBEY... 252-268
COLLEGIATE INSTITUTIONS... 268-280
ST. BENEDICT'S CONVENT... 280-283
CATHOLIC PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS... 283-288
BIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW... 288-333
BANKS AND BANKING... 333-378
PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS... 378-400
DENTISTS AND DENTISTRY... 400-406
OLD SETTLERS' ASSOCIATION... 406-437
TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION... 437-452
RAILROAD DEVELOPMENT... 452-478
THE GRANITE INDUSTRY... 453-494
BENCH AND BAR... 494-540
TRAGIC EVENTS... 540-575
FIRE LOSSES... 575-599
CYCLONE DISASTERS.... 599-605
SIOUX UPRISING... 605-628
STEARNS COUNTY SOLDIERS... 628-635
MINNESOTA STATE REFORMATORY... 635-642
ASSESSED VALUATIONS... 642-645
BIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW... 645-704
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Table of Contents.
THE COUNTY'S STANDING... 705-724
ST. CLOUD STATE NORMAL SCHOOL... 725-737
OFFICERS AND COUNTY SEAT REMOVAL... 756-760
FAIRS AND DRIVING PARK... 760-766
GOVERNMENT LAND OFFICE... 766-770
WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS... 770-780
BIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW... 780-1086
TOWNSHIP AND VILLAGE... 1250-1343
STEARNS COUNTY SCHOOLS... 1343-1403
INCIDENTS AND EVENTS... 1404-1421
THE NEWSPAPER PRESS... 1421-1426
POSTAL HISTORY... 1427-1434
EARLY ST. CLOUD... 1434-1446
ST. CLOUD SCHOOLS... 1446-1450
ST. CLOUD CHURCHES... 1451-1461
ST. CLOUD ORGANIZATIONS... 1462-1491
MUNICIPAL ST. CLOUD... 1492-1536
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Stearns county, surpassed by few lands in the state for the fertility of its soil; its bountiful supply of timber and pure water; its numerous water powers; its diversified surface of hills, valleys and rolling prairies; and its adaptation to every variety of agricultural product has furnished to the citizens material wisely improved by them for substantial wealth, good homes and sound public institutions, economically and prudently administered; where law and good order, industry and sobriety have always been upheld and observed; where the comforts and provisions for the enjoyment of life are evenly distributed, and where, in the future, as in the past, "peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, will be established throughout all generations."