The history of Renville County, Minnesota

VOLUME I

It is with a feeling of considerable satisfaction and pleasure that the publishers present this history for the approval of the people of Renville county. The undertaking has not been an easy one, the difficulties have been many, so many indeed that this publication would not have been possible without the liberal assistance of the citizens of the county. The chief contributors and editors have given freely of their time and talent; business men, church officers, municipal, township, fraternity, association and corporation officials, manufacturers, professional men and bankers, often at a great personal sacrifice, have laid aside their regular duties to tell of their communities and special interests; educators have written of their schools, and men and women in all walks of life have given the information at their command regarding themselves, their families, their activities and their localities. To all of these the readers of this work owe a lasting- debt of gratitude, and to each one the publishers extend their heartfelt thanks.

In handling the vast amount of material gathered for this work, it has been the aim of the entire staff to select such matter as is authentic, reliable and interesting. Doubtless facts have been included that many will deem of little moment, but these same facts to others may be of the deepest import. It may be also that some facts have been omitted that many readers would like to see included. To such readers we can only say that to publish every incident in the life of the county would be to issue a work of many volumes, and in choosing such material as would come within the limits of two volumes we believe that the matter selected is that which will prove of greatest interest to the greatest number of readers, and also that which is most worthy of being handed down to future generations, who in these volumes, in far distant years, may read of their large-souled, rugged-bodied ancestors and predecessors, who gave up their homes in older communities to brave the rigors of pioneer endeavor.

A few omissions may be due to some of the people of the county, themselves, as in man instances repeated requests for information have met with no response. In such cases information gathered from other sources, while authentic, may he lacking in copious detail.

Before passing hasty judgment on apparent errors, one should consider carefully, not relying on tradition or memory. In many cases we have found that persons' memories are faulty and tradition erroneous when measured by the standard of official records, even in the case of comparatively recent events, while in many instances families are under the impression that their forebears arrived in the county long before it was possible for them to do so. We have endeavored to follow a uniform system of the spelling of proper names, although various spellings of even the most familiar names appear in the newspapers and records.

The biographies have been gathered with care from those most interested, and with a few exceptions have been revised and corrected by the subject of the biography or by a relative or friend. As verification of all the details is impossible, the editors disclaim responsibility for any errors therein, the opportunity having been given the various families for making any corrections desired. This, however, refers to the dates, incidents and sequence of events; all personal estimates being the work of the editors and inserted in biographies only after consultation with the various members of the staff.

All available authorities have been consulted. Among such authorities whose works have been used and in many cases quoted copiously are: The History of the Minnesota Valley (1882); Minnesota in Three Centuries (1908); the histories of southern and central Minnesota counties, by the editor of the present work; the various publications of the state of Minnesota and the United States government; as well as the publications of the Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota historical societies, and many other biographical, historical, and archaeological works of reference. The files of the newspapers of this and neighboring comities have been carefully perused, as have the county, township, village, city and church records. Hundreds of minute-books have been scanned and thousands of letters and original manuscripts carefully examined. To all those who have extended us courtesies during our search of these records we extend our thanks.

In gathering material from so many sources, a paragraph from a newspaper in one place, a few lines from a pamphlet somewhere else, a half a chapter from some other work, it has not been possible in every case to give credit for authorship. It should be stated, however, that much of the Indian Massacre material contained in this work is from the pen of Major Return I. Holeombe, in Minnesota in Three Centuries, edited somewhat, however, to suit the present purpose.

 

Table of Contents

CHAPTER I.
NATURAL PHENOMENA 1

CHAPTER II.
PREHISTORIC INHABITANTS 20

CHAPTER III.
INDIAN OCCUPANCY AND TREATIES 25

CHAPTER IV.
CLAIM OF TITLE 52

CHAPTER V.
EXPLORATIONS AND SURVEYS 64

CHAPTER VI.
JOSEPH RENVILLE 82

CHAPTER VII.
RIVER NAVIGATION 88

CHAPTER VIII.
LAND OFFICE RECORDS 98

CHAPTER IX.
CAUSES OF THE OUTBREAK 114

CHAPTER X.
THE SIOUX OUTBREAK 139

CHAPTER XI.
REDWOOD FERRY AMBUSCADE 155

CHAPTER XII.
BATTLE OF BIRCH COOLEY 162

CHAPTER XIII.
CAPTURED BY THE INDIANS 169

CHAPTER XIV.
CAPTIVE AMONG THE SIOUX 195

CHAPTER XV.
EARLE'S REMINISCENCES 219

CHAPTER XVI.
COUNTY GOVERNMENT 246

CHAPTER XVII.
COUNTY REPRESENTATION 262

CHAPTER XVIII.
CREATION OF TOWNSHIPS 277

CHAPTER XIX.
PIONEER EXPERIENCES 283

CHAPTER XX.
BIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW 307

CHAPTER XXI.
HORTICULTURE 323

CHAPTER XXII.
PROGRESSIVE ENTERPRISES 533

CHAPTER XXIII.
EARLY SETTLEMENT 544

CHAPTER XXIV.
VILLAGES PLATTED AND INCORPORATED 561

CHAPTER XXV.
POST OFFICES 568

CHAPTER XXVI.
OFFICIAL TRANSACTIONS 578

CHAPTER XXVII.
FORT RIDGELY

CHAPTER XXVIII.
URBAN SCHOOLS 654

 

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VOLUME II

At a meeting of the Pioneer Association of Renville County, held at Hector, in June, 1915, the undersigned were appointed, by thai body, to aid and to assist the publishers of a HISTORY OF RENVILLE COUNTY, then in the course of preparation, to see that authentic history was written, that important events were not overlooked, thai the traditions of early Renville county be as fully recorded as possible in fact, to do any and all things within its power to the end that the history should he fully in keeping with the glorious and heroic deeds by which the county has attained its present prominence and prosperity, as well as to see thai the volumes he hound ill a substantial manner, guaranteeing their lasting qualities and comparing favorably with the bindings of other historical publications, and well-hound books generally.

This labor the "Old Settlers' Committee" has performed, we believe, to the best of its ability, though it has been at times decidedly strenuous. We have, to quite an extent, supervised, directed and assisted in the work; we have followed closely the gathering of the information and the laborious duty of selection and verification; we have read most of the manuscript and proofs of the entire work; we believe that it will be a valuable work of reference, one with which the subscribers will be pleased, and one that their children will thank them for. as the work becomes more valuable in years to come.

Messrs. H.C. Cooper Jr. & Co., publishers of the HISTORY OF RENVILLE COUNTY, and their editor, Franklyn Curtiss Wedge, have cheerfully taken up our suggestions and acted favorably in almost every instance.

This committee thought a lighter quality of paper would be better than that used in other histories issued by this company, and this committee selected the paper upon which the books are printed. The volumes are therefore thinner, but contain the same matter, less bulky and easier to handle.

This work was to have been completed nearly a year ago. At the request of this committee the time was extended and very much matter of historical interest secured and included in the work, making it more valuable in every way. We believe that few county histories have been gotten out with as much care as this HISTORY OF RENVILLE COUNTY.

The business end of the publication seems to be conducted in a straightforward way, the county has been canvassed in a gentlemanly manner by polite and courteous people.

To all the people of the county, especially to the old settlers, the patrons, and all seekers after historical information, we heartily recommend these volumes and urge their earnest and studious perusal.

 

Table of Contents

CHAPTER XXIX.
BANKS AND BANKING 675

CHAPTER XXX.
PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS 723

CHAPTER XXXI.
RURAL SCHOOLS 743

CHAPTER XXXII.
SWINE INDUSTRY IN RENVILLE COUNTY 761

CHAPTER XXXIII.
AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT 782

CHAPTER XXXIV.
DAIRYING AND CREAMERIES 808

CHAPTER XXXV.
GOOD ROADS 821

CHAPTER XXXVI.
CITIES AND VILLAGES 825

CHAPTER XXXVII.
EXPERIENCES DURING OUTBREAK 916

CHAPTER XXXVIII.
BIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW 932

CHAPTER XXXIX.
BENCH AND BAR 1239

CHAPTER XL.
RENVILLE COUNTY CHURCHES 1256

CHAPTER XLI.
TOWNSHIP HISTORIES 1290

CHAPTER XLII.
PIONEER ASSOCIATION 1339

CHAPTER XLIII.
MONUMENTS AND MARKERS 1342

CHAPTER XLII.
STORIES OF OLDEN DAYS 1350

CHAPTER XLV.
PIONEER DEVELOPMENT 1359

CHAPTER XLVI.
NEWSPAPERS 1368

 

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The full Congressional townships are: Wang, Erieson, Crooks, Winfield, Kingman, Osceola, Brookfield, Boon Lake, Preston Lake, Hector, Melville. Bird Island, Troy, Emmet, Henryville, Norfolk, Palmyra, Martinsburg, Wellington, Brandon and Cairo. The townships of Hawk Creek, Sacred Heart, Flora, Beaver Falls, Birch Cooley and Camp are made irregular by the course of the Minnesota river.