Goodhue County, Minnesota


 ~ Kenyon Township ~

Kenyon lies in the southeast corner of Goodhue County, and comprises township 112, range 18. It is the highest township in the county, and has an undulating surface which was originally almost wholly prairie. The north branch of the Zumbro flows through the northwestern part, and along this stream there are several groves of young trees. There are occasional small sloughs, with turf-peat, in the uplands, but in the summer seasons they are dry and furnish a coarse hay. Deep, fertile soil prevails generally throughout the township.

As the early settlement was all in the northern and northwestern part, the early history of the township and village is practically identical. In 1855 came a number of settlers, among them being L. A. Felt. Chris and Sever Halvorson, L. N. Bye, N. Hollenbeck and a man named Natice. These were soon followed by J. H. Day, Addison and E. B. Hilton. James Browley, S. A. Baker, Stephen Bullis, O. S. Gunhus, O. E. Erickson and AY. B. Burnham. Successive crops of untouched prairie grass had hardened the sward, and the early settlers had much difficulty in breaking the glebe. But they set to work with courage, and soon the wilderness was fruitful with the crops which the rich soil yielded.

In May, 1856, James H. Day and James M. LeDuc claimed the land on which the village now stands, and subsequently two men named Howe and Hilton became part owners of the land. By these four men, the village was laid out and plaited. James H. Day erected the first residence in June, 1856 and a store building was erected the same year. This was occupied by Crowley & Baker as a general store. Stephen Bullis built the first hotel in March, 1857, and during the same year a steam saw mill was constructed. Town and village are named from one of the early settlers.

The first death occurred in the summer of 1857, Lydia Gross being unable to withstand the rigors of pioneer life. The first birth was that of George, son of W. B. Burnham, born in the spring of 1857. The first marriage was that of Freeman Collamore and Mary Bullis, in January, 1858. The first school was taught in the winter of 1857 by W. S. Bill, who also conducted the first religious services.

According to the official lists, those who enlisted in the Civil War from Kenyon were:

John Bury
David Bury
Frederick Bury
John Bury Jr.
Freeman F. Collamore
Ole Engerbretson
Austin P. Felt
Lieut. Roscoe Hilton
Clark Harding
Thomas L. Johnson
Lars Neilson
Ole Otterson
Albert Otterson
Halvo Tolfson
Alvin H. Wiggins
Thomas Erickson
Claus Hoist
Joseph Hoist
Jacob Hoist
C. D. Harding
Frederick Lachner
Lewis Mohler
B. E. Olin
Thomas H. Britton
Knut Otterson
Carl Hanson
T. R. Bullis
Simeon Elcock
William A. Parry
William H. Hill
Henry C. Collins
Peter Rourk
Peter Johnson
John Lindquist
George Bossout
Andrew Some
John Muckenham
S. H. Bohannohn
William Stanchfield

The township was organized May 15, 1858, and the following officers were elected: Supervisors, A. Hilton (chairman), S. Bullis and W. B. Burnham: town clerk, S. A. linker; justices of the peace. J. H. Day and C. G. Averell; assessor, D. F. Harley; collector, L. A. Felt; constables, D. F. Harley and AY. F. Clapp; overseer of the poor, F. Day.

Four churches supplied the religious demands of the people in the early days. In 1870, the Norwegian Lutherans erected on section 5, a stone church capable of seating 600 people. It was one of the congregations of the Rev. B. J. Minis. On section 7, another Norwegian Lutheran church, a stone building with a seating capacity of 400 people, was erected in 1872. The first Baptist church was organized May 4, 1867, with seven members. In 1873 the Rev. Mr. Dubois of the Episcopal church held service at the village and in 1875 an organization was perfected, with the following officers: Wardens, Dr. A. W. Hewitt and E. R. Marshall; vestrymen, S. A. Bullis, B. D. Bullis. William Elcock and William Turner. A church capable of holding 200 people was erected in 1875 and dedicated July 25, 1876. Originally the population of the township was largely Norwegian, and that of the village American, but at the present time Americans of Norwegian descent or birth predominate throughout both town and village. Aside from the village of Kenyon, there are two stations in the township, both on the line of the Chicago and Great Western. They are Bakko and Skyberg.

Kenyon Village lies thirty-five miles southwest of Red Wing on the Zumbro River and the C. G. W. and C. M. & St. Paul rail ways. It is incorporated and has a population of 1,300. It has three hotels, two banks, a creamery, a flour mill, three grain elevators, a canning factory, an electric light plant, water works, an opera house, a well-equipped fire department, a good graded school. The churches are: The Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist, German Methodist, German Lutheran and Norwegian Lutheran. There are two weekly papers published, the Leader and the News. There are two telegraph companies, one express company, the Wells, Fargo & Co., and one telephone company.

  Goodhue County |Minnesota AHGP 

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


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