Goodhue County, Minnesota


 ~ Holden Township ~

Holden is one of the western tier of Goodhue County Townships, and like the others, is rich in agricultural possibilities. It is bounded on the north by Warsaw, on the east by Wanamingo, on the south by Kenyon and on the west by Rice County. This township has some of the highest land in the county and is mainly an undulating prairie, but is much diversified through the central part by the headwaters of the Little Cannon and its tributaries. There are patches of timber in several localities, especially in the northeastern portion and along the Zumbro in the southern part.

In the summer of 1854 there came to this township a young man named Hans Ovaldson, who broke about four acres on section 24. He was followed by Ole C. Oakland, who broke the same amount of land in section 23. The following year both these pioneers raised a crop of wheat. Neither of them, however, became permanent residents of the township. In the fall of 1854 Jens Ottun made a claim and built a sod hut on section 33, where he commenced breaking the land in May, 1855. On May 27 there arrived A. K. Finseth, K. K. Finseth, H. K. Finseth and Ole J. Bakke. The Finseths purchased Mr. Ottun's claim and that gentleman returned to Wanamingo, where he had previously made a claim. Mr. Bakke staked out a homestead on section 33 and Mrs. Bakke soon afterward joined him, she being doubtless the first white woman settler in the township. That she had her share of pioneer discomforts, not to say alarms, is shown by a story of the early clays that is still told in the township. It seems that in spite of the removal of the Indians, many red men were prowling through that portion of the county, and the squaws were particularly troublesome. One day while Mrs. Bakke had gone to draw a pail of water an Indian squaw entered her cabin, and evidently concluding that the white baby would make a valuable addition to her family, snatched Mrs. Bakke's infant and started to run. Mrs. Bakke, upon her return gave a cry of alarm and hastened into the woods after the fleeing squaw. The baby seriously impeded the progress of the red woman, who was more accustomed to carrying babies on her back than in her arms, and finally, in fright at the pursuit, she dropped the infant and continued her flight. Mrs. Bakke recovered her child and no harm was done except for the fright that the poor mother had fell at this attempted pioneer kidnaping.

In the month of June, 1855, Ole O. Houset set lied on section 23. Halvor Ennerson Vraalstad on section 27 and Thorbjorn Ennerson Vraalstad on section 35. In the same year Ole O. Naeset and Erik Anderson settled on section 9, Nels Mikkelson Dalsbotten on section 10 and Mikkel Johnson on section 15. Some of these pioneers erected cabins and roofed them over, others erected walls but did not take time to finish the roofs, some lived in their covered immigrant wagons, others had even less shelter, the main object being to raise a crop during the summer months, leaving the question of permanent and comfortable abode until the autumn time, when the harvest would be garnered in and there would be more time for home building. The supply of provisions which the settlers had brought with them was soon gone, and from time to time one of the colony was delegated to go to Red Wing or Hastings to procure the necessities of life. This journey of over thirty miles was long and tedious, and even dangerous, especially in winter, and even after trading points were reached the prices were so high as to be almost prohibitive. During the summer of 1855 many new claims were staked out. A few were occupied in the fall, but the majority of these claimants did not locate until the following spring. Among these settlers of 1855 are said to have been Nelson Sollefson, Thomas Anderson, Camite Thomas, John Thompson, Antin Anderson, G. K. Worsing and Ole Oleson. The first settlers of the township were Norwegians, and their sturdy character has since remained the predominating influence in the township. In the early days a number of German families settled in the western part of the township, and many of their descendants still remain there.

According to the authorities now available, the first white child born in the township was to Mr. and Mrs. T. E. Vraalstad, in September, 1855. The first marriage was that of K. K. Finseth and Bergitte Halvorson, the ceremony being performed by the Rev. H. A. Stub, at the residence of the bride's father in Rice County, September 13, 1856. The first death was that of Erik A. Elton, who died in the fall of 1855 and was buried near the north line of section 3. An old history gives some entirely different facts in regard to the first birth, marriage and death, but upon what authority is not known. According to this old history, Mr. and Mrs. Lars Nelson were blessed with twins shortly after their arrival in the township, these twins being the first births in the township. The first marriage, declares the same authority, was that of Kettle Erickson and Margaretta Flom, performed by Esquire Bowies, of Cannon Falls, and the first death that of a child of Ole Oleson. Another authority says that the first child was born to Thorbjorn Ennerson.

In 1856 a state road was surveyed through the southeast part of the township, and the following year Norway post office was established, with Ole O. Hauset as postmaster. Mr. Hauset served until his death in 1862. Sometime afterward, the office was removed a short distance, across the line into Wanamingo township. About the same time Holden post office was established in the north part of the township, with T. E. Thompson as postmaster. Eidsvold post office was established in 1875, on the daily mail route between Red Wing and Faribault, and Hans Christianson Westermo was named postmaster. In 1867 Lawrence Stagner opened a store in the western part of the town.

The first two winters the township was settled were very severe and much hardship was endured. The winter of 1857 was especially long, and sleighs were in use in the latter part of April. The crops that year, however, were good, and since that time the people of Holden have enjoyed almost uninterrupted prosperity.

In the early days the township was attached to several other townships for political purposes, and in 1858, after the township was organized, the citizens who met at the first election were practically strangers, the people in the different localities having" had their previous intercourse with towns to the north, east, south and west and not with each other. Therefore each group of electors wanted to vote for men in their own locality, with whom they were acquainted. After the first two or three elections friendly relations were established and the machinery of the town government has since moved harmoniously. The first officers were: Supervisors, K. K. Finseth (chairman). H. C. Klemer, Charles Nichols; town clerk. L. K. Aakers; assessor. C. Nichols: collector, Charles Fogelsang; justices of the peace, W. C. Crandall, Ole Oleson; constables, Peter N. Langemo and H. E. Vraalstad.

During the following four years the chairmen were K. K. Finseth, L. K. Aakers, Ira Babcock and L. Stagner, and the clerks were Lucius Oakes, A. H. Bjoraker, Peter Nelson and Peter Lengmoe.

During the Civil War the aggregate amount of $14,000 was raised to give as a bounty to volunteers, and consequently no drafting was needed to fill the required quota. Those who enlisted from Holden were:

Byron Aufinson
Lieutenant Lars K. Aakers
Henry Aspen
John Ericson
Henry Ericson
Filing Engberson
Joseph Fogleson
Arthur A. Flom
Andrew Hanson
Ole Halverson
Halver Halverson
Ole O. Huss
George Johnson
John K. Lysing.
Aslack Oleson
Ole Oleson
Ole Osker
Butler Oleson
Edward Oleson
Edward Oleson
Olans Oleson
Thurston Opdahl
Christopher Peterson
Peter J. Peterson
Peter Quam.
John J. Peterson
Ingvall Thorson
Holton O. Wing
Charles Zimmerman
Fred Zimmerman
German Anderson
Frederick Bowers
Louis Bratsell
Edward Boutsell
James Coburn
Andrew M. Crane
John Ellis
John Ferrin
Uriah Perrin
William A. Fendley
Robert Fairbanks
Andrew Hanson
William Harrison
Hans Hanson
Griffin Holmes
Ameal Hillig
James F. Hyland
James Isenhour
Richard M. Johnson
Norman Kinney
Thomas Kennedy
Joseph Lapaire
Samuel Murphy
H. W. McGowan
Charles H. Parish
Sebastian Paulley
Leonard S. Ricord
Riley Sturman
Edwin M. Snow
William Starkey
Champion Shilling
James Byrne
Charles Boatman
Sydney Brownson
John Weaver
Thomas Ward
Abraham Zimmerman
C. W. Zeraka
Fingal Fingalson
G. Grant
Thomas Walker

DeRuyter Buck
Edwin Cross
Charles Farrell
John E. Jelly
Evan Johnson
Kant Oleson
F. J. Ridgway
Nels Oleson
Knut Quam
Andrew Scott
Daniel Glenn
Michael Hayes
Eric Bergland
Michael Hartman
Captain Thomas Carney
Andrew Cahill
James A. Lesson
Hans H. Oleson
J. L. Amundson
Ole Jacobson Jr.
Fred Schmidt
G. W. Avery
Henry Knutz
Edward Kohler
James McDonough
James Melehoir
Andrew Orhlin
John Birber
Doctor G. Wilkes
Elling Engerbretson
Albert A. Thayer
Moses Haines

Holden is a discontinued post office thirty miles southwest of Red Wing and five miles north of Kenyon. Mail is now received via Nerstrand R. P. D. No. 2.

Nansen is a discontinued post office twenty-eight miles southwest of Red Wing and eight miles northeast of Kenyon. Mail is received via Kenyon R. F. D. No. 5.

Einseth Station is a flag station on the Chicago & Great Western railway.

  Goodhue County |Minnesota AHGP 

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


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