Olmsted County, Minnesota


 Elmira Township

 (Township 105 North, Range 11 West)

The first settlement in this township was made in the spring of 1854 by James McClellan, who pre-empted a claim on Section 31, which now constitutes North Chatfield. The business portion of Chatfield is in Fillmore County, there being only residences in that part of the city which is in Olmsted County. Mr. McClellan built the first frame house and is said to have kept the first store. The house, which is claimed to be the first frame house built in the county, is still in good preservation. McClelland died in 1856, his being the first death in the township. Other settlers in 1854 were F. A. Coffin, Thomas Holmes, Joseph Tatro, Charles Redfield, T. B. Twiford. G. Willis, Franklin Blodget, A. C. Jennings, Mr. Huntley, J. Trumbull, E. Prindle, Allen A. Cady and Samuel M. Herrick. John Clarkson, a native of Scotland, who came from Wisconsin in 1854, died in 1903, aged ninety-two years.

In 1856 there were settlements by Mathew Srachan, Albert Bolin, L. K. Cravath, A. Dempsey, John Maguire, and Thomas Waters. Timothy Halloran who came to Chatfield in 1856, located in Elmira in 1862. E. W. Rossman began the practice of law in Chatfield in 1877, moved to Minneapolis and in 1891 returned to Chatfield, residing in the Elmira section of that city.

The first birth in the township was that of Charles Pembroke Tatro, son of Joseph Tatro, in September, 1854. The first marriage was of Chester Wood and Martha Grant in August, 1854.

 At the organization of the township. May 11, 1858, the following officers were elected:

 Supervisors, Milo White
Chairman; E. Prindle, H. E. Potter
Assessor, W. Postin
Collector, A. D. Putnam
Justice, C. H. Stearns
Constables, W. R. Freeman. S. Cole, R. B. Kellam

A church of the United Brethren was built at an early day near the north line of the township.

A terrible accident happened on the farm of Chauncey G. B. Jones, in September, 1876. A steam thresher was operating with the usual crew of men. The boiler exploded and William Lawton, the engineer, was thrown through the top of a poplar tree about twenty feet from the ground and about eight rods from where he stood, killing him instantly. Charles Arnold, the band cutter, and William Bennett, the measurer, were instantly killed by the boiler, which was carried past the end of the separator, and Everett Jones, son of Chauncey Jones, who was feeding, was scalded and had a leg and arm broken.

A storm of rain and wind, on June 10, 1880, caused great damage to farms and crops. It was nearly a mile wide and lasted twenty minutes. A fine stone barn on the farm of Alonzo Foster was demolished and two horses killed.

A brutal murder was perpetrated in this township in 1880. Terrence Desmond, a native of Ireland, who had lived on his farm on Section 6, since 1857, left his house on the afternoon of June 23 to cut weeds. He did not return and the next day his son notified A. A. Cady, a neighbor, of the disappearance. Mr. Cady and others made search and found the body of Desmond in the afternoon, near a spring, where, it is believed, he had been for a drink. His throat was cut from ear to ear, severing the jugular vein; there were cuts near the ear and the skull was crushed with a club that was found nearby, on which there was hair and blood. His scythe was found hanging in a tree. There had been a quarrel between Desmond and his brother-in-law. Edwin Reynolds, a neighbor and in a fight a few weeks before. Desmond had whipped Reynolds. The latter had frequently threatened to make way with Desmond. A coroner's jury failed to charge any individual with the murder, but Charles Van Allen, a boy of eighteen years, working for Desmond, was arrested and examined before Justice Laird, of Chatfield, but was discharged for lack of evidence. Reynolds was then arrested, examined before Justice S. W. Eaton, at Rochester, committed to jail and indicted at the December term of the district court. He was prosecuted by County Attorney Eckholdt and Attorney General Start and defended by C. Kingsley of Chatfield and R. A. Jones, of Rochester. The jury disagreed, standing one for conviction to eleven for acquittal. Reynolds was held to bail, but not retried and the indictment against him was dismissed. Nothing further was found out and the case remains a repetition of the old saying that "murder will out."

The state census of 1905 states the population of the township as 577.

  Olmsted County |Minnesota AHGP 

Source: History of Olmsted County Minnesota, by Hon. Joseph A. Leonard, Chicago, Goodspeed Historical Association, 1910.


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