Goodhue County, Minnesota

 

 ~ Burnside Township ~

Burnside lies along the Mississippi River, with Red Wing on the east, Featherstone on the south and Weleh on the west. It has undergone several changes of area since its organization; all of its territory in range 16 having been set off as Grant later Welch in 1864. During the same year it was increased by the addition of sections 13 and 14, in township 113, range 15, previously a part of Red Wing. The surface is much broken by hill and valley, and there is a wide belt of bottomland and terraced flats along the Cannon River and the Mississippi, some of which is timbered. One of the most beautiful landscapes in the county is visible from the high point in sections 16, 17 and 18. The timbered region in sections 7, 8, 17 and 18 is one uniform flat surface of loam-covered drift. Burnside includes a large portion of an island, known as Prairie Island, on its northern border. The soil of the township, notwithstanding the irregular surface, is for the most part, rich, deep and fertile. Cannon River flows from west to east, and Spring creek through the southeastern part, both emptying into the Mississippi. Numerous springs of clear water gush forth from the base of the bluffs, affording abundant water for stock and dairy purposes.

In the early days the town was known as Spring Creek, but Union was the name given by the committee which, in 1858, had charge of designating the townships. This, at the request of the state authorities, was changed to Milton, by reason of the fact that there was another Union in the state. The same objection was urged against the name of Milton, and in 1862 the name became Burnside the name of the general who at that time was winning fame in the early campaigns of the Civil War.

In the fall of 1853 there came to this township a clergyman, who looked over the land and decided upon a suitable location for a claim. Authorities differ as to whether this clergyman was the Rev. David Wright or the Rev. Resin Spates. At any rate, the three brothers, John. Resin and Charles Spates, settled here the following summer, and during the same year Andrew Cottar, John Leason, Matthew Streetor, James Shaw, John Bronson, and with the widow of the Rev. David Wright and her family. In 1855 came John E. Eggleston, Joseph Eggleston, Willard Wood, Kingsley Wood, Rev. J. C. Johnson, Marshall Cutter, and probably Leland Jones, Rev. Norris Hobart and several others. These settlers were scattered over the township, but in those early days were considered near neighbors.

The wife of David Bronson died in the spring of 1855. In July of the same year Flora Cutter (or Cora Cutler) was born, also John H. Spates. The first marriage ceremony performed was that of J. P. Enz to Mary F. Wright, in October, 1855. Another early marriage was that of William H. Wright and Mary Chamberlain, in 1859, the ceremony being performed by Justin Chamberlain, a justice of the peace. The first school in the town was taught by J. E. Eggleston during the winter of 1756-57. The first sermon was preached by the Rev. Resin Spates at the house of John Leason, in 1854.

The Rev. Hancock relates an interesting incident of the early days: "The widow of Rev. David Wright, with six children, had removed from Illinois and settled on the place that, previous to his death, her husband had selected on Spring creek, near where John Leason located his claim. They occupied a log house which was divided into suitable rooms for sleeping and family use; the four boys sleeping in the two rooms of the upper floor, while the two girls and the mother occupied the lower floor. They were comfortably arranged for the night of June 11. 1855, when a storm of lightning and rain came on with such terrific peals of thunder as to awaken the family. One of the older boys was so much frightened that he left the bed and went downstairs. While he was being told that there was no more danger in one place than another by his sister. Susan, a sudden crash came, which frightened everyone in the house. Mrs. Wright, the mother, was the first to regain consciousness. She saw the flames devouring the bed where lay her two daughters, still unconscious. Presently the water came down through the floor above in such profusion as to quench the fire. Soon one of the boys came downstairs drenched with rain, bringing in his arms the youngest boy, Wilson, dead. The same stroke of lightning had killed one of the girls, who were in the bed on the lower floor, immediately under that of the boys in the chamber. The boys in time had become conscious, and these three-William, Beverly and James-with their mother, laid the boy, Wilson, by the side of his two sisters, Mary and Susan, and began chafing them, in order to restore them, if possible, to consciousness. After some time, Mary, who later became Mrs. Enz, of Red Wing, was restored to health, but Wilson, aged six years, and Susan, a young lady of twenty-one years, had been instantly summoned to the world above during that terrible storm."

In the month of June, 1856, a terrific storm of wind passed over the town, doing great damage to the growing crops and destroying buildings. One or two lives were lost. Matthew Streetor was at Justin Chamberlain's when the storm came up.

Mrs. Chamberlain, seeing the storm approaching, ran to the cellar, and called to Streetor to follow her, but being old and feeble, he failed to reach safety, and was taken up with the house, being so badly injured that he died a day or two after. The same storm overtook Sheriff Chandler, who was on his way home with his horse and carriage, but seeing its approach, he sprang from the carriage and threw himself flat on the ground, and the storm passed over without doing him injury. After the tornado had passed Mr. Chandler looked for his horse, but could not find him. However, after diligent search in the direction the storm had taken, the horse and carriage was found about a mile from where he left them, lodged among the tops of some small trees.

A flouring mill was built in the south part of the town, on Spring creek, by Stearns & Hobart, in the year 1856. This mill was carried away by a freshet in June, the following year. It was rebuilt soon after by the Hon. W. W. Phelps, with three run of stone and a capacity for grinding 65,000 bushels annually. Mr. Phelps operated this mill with success for a time, and afterward sold it to William Featherstone, who in turn sold it to M. Herschler.

An early history says: "The first Methodist service held in the township was by the Rev. G. W. T. Wright, at the house of his mother, Mrs. Amelia Wright, in May, 1855. The persons that formed the class at that time were Resin Spates, Margaret Spates, Justin Chamberlain, Maria Chamberlain, John Leason, Mary Leason, Amelia Wright, Mary F. Wright, James A. Wright, William H. Wright, Beverly M. Wright. Samuel F. Hardy and Mary Hardy."

At the first election, held in 1858, there were fifteen voters: John Thomas, Justin Chamberlain, J. G. Johnson, John Leason, B. H. Munroe, S. B. Harding, W. S. Grow, John Sterns, M. Streetor, Charles Spates, A. O. Moore, J. Eggleston, Thomas Leason, William Thompson, Seth Barber and John Quinnell. Among the early supervisors were W. S. Grow, Timothy Jewett, Leland Jones (four terms), J. G. Johnson, A. Coons, R. H. Knox, Q. Bunch (two terms), L. Jones. Among the early town clerks were J. G. Johnson, Leland Jones, Norris Hobart, S. Barber, T. J. Leason (two terms), Leland Jones (two terms), William H. Bennett, Leland Jones, John Leason, J. G. Johnson.

The contribution of Burnside, including what is now Welch, to the Civil War was as follows:

Joseph S. Abels
William Brown
Lewis Cannon
Harlan P. Eggleston
Ira Eggleston
John S. Hobart
Robert W. Leason
James A. Leason
Thomas J. Leason
John P. Leason
Charles B. Noble
Lewis Quinnell
Thomas Quinnell
John .Richards
James Shaw
Ira Tillotson
James A. Wright
William H. Wright
John Williams
Edward Coller
Nathaniel Brown
Augustus C. Baker
Dennis O'Loughlin
Orrin A. Phelps

To Rev. J. C. Johnson is accredited the following narrative: "I built a claim house, 16 x 20, in the town now called Burnside, commencing it in January, 1855, and moving into it in the following August. I found out that naked nature needed more clothing than a newborn child, first a hen-roost, then a pigsty, a stable, stock-yard, corn-yard, a forty-acre pasture, one hundred acres encircled with a wooden fence, breaking costing five dollars per acre; school houses to be built, cemeteries laid out and enclosed, bridges everywhere to be built, highways surveyed and worked.

The winter of 1855-56 was a rough one. As a member of the Minnesota Methodist Episcopal conference, I was trying to supply the work of preaching at a point five miles above Hastings in the forenoon, at Hastings at 2 P. M., and at Ravenna, seven miles below, at 'candle light.' Late in the fall, one of the darkest and most stormy nights known to men, overtook me on the open prairie below Hastings. The only way to find the path and keep it was to feel it out with the feet. After a while a distant light appeared in view, and, thoroughly drenched, I soon found shelter in a small house occupied by two families. But the poor pony had no shelter and scant food.

"One Monday morning of that winter, in trying to get home from my appointment, a blizzard commenced raging. Scarcely any travel on the road except one stage through. About forty degrees below zero of cold came on. The wife and two little children at home alone, neighbors few and far between, stem necessity says, 'You must get home,' but that open, bleak prairie, in the town of Welch, then unoccupied, was a precarious place for night to close in upon a wayfaring man with a dubious track to follow. Yet, at about 9 o'clock in the evening, we were all made unusually glad that the storm had been weathered and the harbor safely reached.

''In the summer of 1856 I raised two acres of wheat. Thirty miles away, at Northfield, there was a mill. With a one-horse load I reached it at sundown, to find the mill full of grists and the water too low to run on full time. The only chance was to exchange a few bushels of my wheat for flour, receiving thirty pounds for each bushel. The rest of my grist I brought back as far as Cannon Falls and left to be ground without bolting. Winter soon came on and no roads opened on my route hither. I found my wheat, which was Left there, the next spring, musty. My next milling was done at Kinnickinnic, eight miles beyond Prescott. Wis., a four days' journey, going around through Cannon Falls and Hastings.

"The early settlers wanted church privileges. A meeting was held at the house of Mr. Moore, near Cannon River Bridge, at Burnside. Moore had an awful poor house. He had also the inflammatory rheumatism. He lay flat on his back on the loose hoards of the only floor except bare ground. The people had brought all their youngsters to the meeting. In the midst of the services the dogs became unseemly unceremonious. Moore evidently fell his responsibility for better order, and, rising with difficulty, in apparent wrath, he took his own dog by the neck, dragged him to the door and with a loss and a kick, sent him yelping out. At that all the dogs rushed out in sympathy, and the man took his lowly place again. All reverence and devotion fled, and appointment was not renewed at that place.

"We had frequent visits from the Sioux Indians, who often killed deer in the neighbored. On one occasion three of these animals were shot by an Indian without moving from his secluded position. This occurred near where T. J. Bryan's house now stands. Our women, although alone generally through the day, were not disturbed in those early days by the visits of the redmen."

The poor farm, an institution of which the county has reason to be proud, is located in this township, under the charge of a superintendent appointed by the county commissioners. The farm is about three miles from Red Wing on the road to Hastings, and contains 183 acres of land. The buildings were erected in 1867 at a cost of about $6,000. The furnace, heating system and furniture cost about $1,000. The main building was accidentally destroyed by fire in the fall of 1889, and soon after rebuilt. At this farm the worthy poor of the county, mostly the very aged and a few young children, are given shelter and food, care and attention, as wards of the county.

On Prairie Island there are located a number of Indians. They have a small church of the Episcopal denomination, and have, in a measure, learned the arts of civilization. Eggleston, a small village, is located on the edge of this township.

Goodhue County | Minnesota AHGP 

Source: History of Goodhue County Minnesota, Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge, H. C. Cooper Jr, & Company, Chicago, 1909.

 

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