History of Winona County, Minnesota

In presenting the history of the County of Winona to the public, the editors and publishers have had in view the preservation of certain valuable historical facts and a vast fund of information which without concentrated effort could never have been obtained, but, with the passing away of the old pioneers, the failure of memory, and the loss of public records and private diaries, would soon have been lost. This locality being comparatively new, we flatter ourselves that, with the zeal and industry displayed by our general and local historians, we have succeeded in rescuing from the fading years almost every scrap of history worthy of preservation. Doubtless the work is in some respects, imperfect; we do not present it as a model literary effort, but in that which goes to make up a valuable book of reference for the present reader and future historian, we assure our patrons that neither money nor time has been spared in the accomplishment of the work. Perhaps some errors will be found. With treacherous memories, personal, political and sectarian prejudices and preferences to contend against, it would be almost a miracle if no mistakes were made. We hope that even these defects, which may be found to exist, may be made available in so far as they may provoke discussion and call attention to corrections and additions necessary to perfect history. The main part of the work has been done by Messrs. Dr L H Bunnell, Dr. J.M. Cole, Hon. O.M. Lord, Prof C.A. Morey, Gen. C.H. Berry, Hon. W.H. Hill, P.G. Hubbell, Esq., and Rev W.S. Messmer, and we believe that no corps of writers could have been found who could have done the subject more ample justice. We are also largely indebted to Hon. Thomas Simpson for extensive criticism and correction of matter furnished by various persons, as well as to Elder E. Ely, for the use of notes covering the entire history of the county. All these gentlemen have put the citizens of Winona county under lasting obligations for rescuing this most valuable matter from oblivion, whither it was surely tending.

The biographical department contains the names and private sketches of nearly every person of importance in the county. A few persons, whose sketches we would be pleased to have presented, for various reasons refused or delayed furnishing us with the desired information, and in this matter only we feel that our work is incomplete. However, in most of such cases we have obtained, in regard to the most important persons, some items, and have woven them into the county or township sketches, so that, as we believe, we cannot be accused of negligence, partiality or prejudice.


Table of Contents

Chapter I.
Aboriginal History 17

Chapter II.
Explorations 22

Chapter III.
Among the Indians 28

Chapter IV.
Trouble with the Indians 38

Chapter V.
Personal Recollections 47

Chapter VI.
Winona City in Embryo 61

Chapter VII.
Interesting Incidents and Customs 77

Chapter VIII.
Prehistoric 89

Chapter IX.
Geographical 96

Chapter X.
Railroads 106

Chapter XI.
Navigation 117

Chapter XII.

Courts and Officers of Courts 119

Chapter XIII.
Banking in Winona County 127

Chapter XIV.
Early Settlers, Pioneers, etc. 131

Chapter XV.
Treaties with the Indians 137

Chapter XVI.
The Fur Traders 146

Chapter XVII.
Early Land Titles 157

Chapter XVIII.
The Pioneers 171

Chapter XIX.
First Improvements 180

Chapter XX.
Western Farm and Village Association 185

Chapter XXI.
The Association Crystallized 197

Chapter XXII.
Emigrants Coming 204

Chapter XXIII.
Other Settlements 215

Chapter XXIV.
First Settlements at Winona City 224

Chapter XXV.
Incidents of the Early Times 237

Chapter XXVI.
The Association at Rolling Stone 247

Chapter XXVII.
Crystallization 264

Chapter XXVIII.
Respectability 277

Chapter XXIX.
Looking Around 291

Chapter XXX.
Reflections 298

Chapter XXXI.
Personal Paragraphs 307

Chapter XXXII.
Postoffices 325

Chapter XXXIII.
Incidents 335

Chapter XXXIV.
A Bloody Conflict 343

Chapter XXXV.
A Celebration 359

Chapter XXXVI.
Chatfield Settled and Winona County Organized 366

Chapter XXXVII.
The District Schools of Winona County 370

Chapter XXXVIII.
The State Normal School 383

Chapter XXXIX.
Birds of Winona County 399

Chapter XL.
Winona Public Schools 405

Chapter XLI.
History of Winona City 423

Chapter XLII.
Roads 437

Chapter XLIII.
Societies 443

Chapter XLIV.
Churches 463

Chapter XLV.
Business Incorporations 487

Chapter XLVI.
Manufacturing Industries 499

Chapter XLVII.
St. Charles Township 528

Chapter XLVIII.
Rolling Stone Township 554

Chapter XLIX.
Dresbach Township 562

Chapter L.
New Hartford, Richmond, Homer and Pleasant Hill Townships 572

Chapter LI.
Wiscoy, Warren and Hillsdale Townships 585

Chapter LII.
Norton, Mount Vernon, Whitewater and Elba Townships 596

Chapter LIII.
Hart, Fremont and Saratoga Townships 606

Chapter LIV.
Biographical Pioneers 616

Chapter LV.
Pioneers Continued 656

Chapter LVI.
Utica Township 703

Chapter LVII.
Early Settlers 711

Chapter LVIII.
Early Settlers Continued 753

Chapter LIX.
Other Prominent Citizens 790

Chapter LX.
Winona as it is 839

Chapter LXI.
Military Record 910

Chapter LXII.
Miscellaneous 932


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From 1849 to 1853 the county of Winona was a part of Wabasha county. By act of the First Territorial Legislature, October 27, 1849, "all that portion of said territory lying east of a line running due south from a point on the Mississippi river known as Medicine Bottles Village, at Pine Bend, to the Iowa line, was erected into a county to be known by the name of Wabashaw."

The extent of territory included in the boundaries of Wabasha county by that act was what is now a part of the county of Dakota and the present counties of Goodhue, Wabasha, Olmsted, Dodge, Mower, Fillmore, Houston and Winona.