Goodhue County, Minnesota


 ~ Roscoe Township ~

Roscoe comprises township 109, range 16, and is bounded on the east by Pine Island, on the south by Dodge County, on the, west by Cherry Grove and on the north by Minneola. The southeastern part is cut up into lots and is practically a suburb of Pine Island village. In natural features Roscoe very closely resembles the Township of Pine Island. It has fine prairie lands, somewhat elevated in the north and descending in rolling undulations to the valley of one of the branches of the Zumbro in the south. The drainage is through the Zumbro and its branches in the south and a few creeks in the north. In the southern part of the township are tracts wooded with white and burr oak, sugar maple, elm and poplar. With running water, fine timber and deep prairie soil, it made a most desirable place for the location of the early settlers.

James Haggard and W. Wilson came in 1854. Their claims were on section 5, where they erected cabins and prepared for permanent settlement. Wilson, however, after some time, returned to his old home in the East, and Haggard, discouraged by the burning of his cabin, went to Brown County, where he became a prominent citizen. Shortly after the coming of Haggard and Wilson there arrived Simon Sackett, D. F. Stevens and H. D. Devoe. They were followed the next year by Fletcher Hagler, J. R. Good, David Coleman, J. Rutherford, William Farnam, Alexander Long, P. G. Wilson, William Fry, T. D. Hall and J. J. Hagler. Fletcher Hagler, above named, had his claim where the village of Roscoe now stands. He built the first frame dwelling in the township and served as postmaster, but afterward became one of the pioneers of Pine Island. Oliver Webb, a lineal descendant of the Pilgrims, came in 1856. John C. Hepner, for many years the village blacksmith, came the same year and built a blacksmith shop. Among others who came at about the same time were two brothers named Dickinson, B. W. Halliday, G. G. McCoy. H. B. Powers and Charles Dana. The latter named the town from the township of Roscoe, Illinois, where he had previously lived.

In 1856 Messrs. Hagler and Good built and stocked a store for general merchandise. This store was kept in operation about two years and then discontinued on account of the financial depression. In the spring of 1856 the same company had a village plat surveyed and the blocks and streets laid out. It never, however, reached the gigantic proportions of which the proprietors so fondly dreamed, although the proprietors helped all they could by getting a hotel built and a post office started. An early history says: "These pioneers experienced their full share of the hardships incident to the opening and settling of a new community. At once time Mrs. Stevens, the mother of D. F. Stevens, having sent her son to Dubuque for household supplies, relates that for two months she did not look upon the face of a white person except that of her young daughter; and the only bread they had to eat was made from corn given her by the Indians and ground by herself in a coffee mill."

The first religious services in the town were held at the home of Mrs. Stevens in the fall of 1854, the Rev. John Salmon officiating. The first church organization took place in the schoolhouse at Roscoe in the spring of 1857. The first Sunday school was organized in 1858, and Loren Webb, son of Oliver Webb, was the first superintendent. In the spring of 1855 Mrs. Haskell Burch, while living in a covered wagon, awaiting the completion of a better habitation, gave birth to twins, being the first white children to see the light of day in the township. H. C. Emery and Mrs. Mahala Sackett were the first couple united in matrimony, the ceremony being performed in July, 1856. The first death occurred the same year, that of William Fry. The first school, erected in 1857 was taught by Annette Leek the same year. J. T. Mitchell, who came in 1856, assisted in starting a pioneer school on the southeast corner of section 11, later known as McCoy's district. This school was first taught by Sophia Blanchard, in the spring of 1858. Miss Blanchard afterward became Mrs. John Gove.

The township settled up rapidly. The predominating people in the town are now Americans of Norwegian descent or birth. There are also many residents of Swedish and German birth or descent, and there still remain a few of the descendants of the old eastern families, but these latter for the most part have moved away. The town is pre-eminently one of prosperity, rich land, beautiful homes, and a progressive, contented people. The second generation is for the most part well educated, and the third generation is making rapid strides in the public schools.

Two calamities which occurred in the early days have fixed themselves firmly in the minds of the people. The first happened in 1860. Jeremiah Kay, one of the pioneers, had followed the rush of the gold seekers to Pike's Peak, leaving his wife and children. He prospered in his new location and was contemplating sending for his family, when occurred the sad accident which robbed him of his recently born twins. In the month of June the family residence was struck by lightning, and at once burst into flames. Mary Jane Shields, a girl living in the household, succeeded in getting Mrs. Ray and the two older children out of the house. Mrs. Ray, however, although still ill, saw that her twins had not been saved and rushed back into the house.

Blinded by smoke and weak as she was, she was unable to rescue the babies, and they perished in the flames. George Lantz, after escaping the murderous rain of shot and shell on the battlefields of the Civil War, perished in the following manner: In the winter of 1865-66 he went to Mantorville, Dodge County, about twelve miles from his home, on horseback, and returning in the evening a blizzard met him. While passing through a grove of timber he was warned of his danger and told that it was practically impossible for him to reach home. He persevered, however, and was found frozen to death the next morning within a few rods of his own home. He had reached a fence and in endeavoring to climb over made a misstep and fell back, to rise no more. The horse was found at a neighbor's barn. It is supposed that he let the horse go, hoping that by walking he might induce sufficient circulation to keep warmth and life in his body until he could reach his house.

The first town meeting was held May 11, 1858, with the result that officers were elected as follows: Supervisors, Oliver Webb (chairman), James Mann, N. S. Libby; clerk, William Sackett; justices of the peace, Fletcher Hagler, James Mann; collector, J. S. Wiekham; assessor, J. T. Mitchell; overseer of the poor, Horace Barber; constables, E. P. Penney, J. R. Good. Among the early supervisors were: Oliver Webb, G. G. McCoy, J. B. Dorman (two terms), Reuben Freeman, J. T. Mitchell, C. W. Libby, J. T. Mitchell (two terms), P. Hagler, B. W. Halliday. Among the early town clerks were William Sackett four terms), James Green, S. W. Rice, H. H. Rice (four terms), H. L. Holmes.

Roscoe's contribution to the Civil War ranks was as follows:

R. C. Barnes
E. H. Drake
Norman Dickinson
Jerry B. Getman
E. A. Hodge
H. L. Holmes
E. L. Ives
A. J. Johnson
E. P. Kincaid
John M. Lee
Josiah Lothrop
David N. Lake
Samuel Maine
Captain G. G. McCoy
Ormando Merrifield
Edmund Parker
Andrew N. Perkins
Elton C. Parker
Joseph Pickering
Silas W. Rice
Amos G. Scofield
George S. Scofield
David B. Scofield
Joseph Townsend
G. W. Van Sydle
M. L. Webb
Captain L. A. Webb
Richard Waterman
Lars Kesphel
D. W. Abbey
Orris Fox
James Shield
Alfred Collins
William Shield
John Peterson
Hermon Perkins
Lyman J. Ward
Marion Blacker
William H. Shadwell
Charles Cade
Orlando Freeman
Lewis Freeman
George Fox
William Hemenway
Amos B. Mitchell
Francis Sackett
Pythagoras Wilson
William Bleedon
John Buhler
Richard Dressel
John Doyle
Thomas Devine
John Dolehy
Frederick Hamman
John Kreubeng
Frank Kuntz
Swan P. Peterson
Jacob Rosen
John Schugg
Fred Schannberg
George Gortman
Benjamin Light

Roscoe Center was founded in 1858. At that time it was known as Sunapee, and Truman Parker was appointed postmaster. The name was changed to Roscoe Center in 1863. At this point is now a small settlement, and here also is the Norwegian Lutheran church, a. commodious structure capable of seating 500 people.

Roscoe village is also a hustling little settlement. The post office is now discontinued and mail is received by the Zumbrota, R. F. D. No. 4. The village is thirty-two miles southwest of Red "Wing and eight miles south west from Zumbrota.

  Goodhue County |Minnesota AHGP 

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


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