Olmsted County, Minnesota


Eyota Township

 (Township 106 North, Range 12 West).

Benjamin Bear, a Pennsylvanian, made the first claim in this township in 1853 and brought his family from Iowa in 1854. A spring on the farm is the head of Bear creek, named for Mr. Bear. William Potter, who came from Pennsylvania, also located in 1854. His brothers, John and Oliver, came the next year. H. G. Freeman, John Hughes, John James, Charles Keyes, Clark Brown, John Campion and Elias Tottingham also came in 1854. Truman Matteson with eight children, came in 1855. He was killed by lightning in 1870. His son, Milo Matteson, became an extensive farmer. Jephtha Cline, Thomas Harris, Patrick Dougherty and William H. Pearson came the same year. Mr. Harris built the first frame house in the township.

The following were among the settlers in 1856: William Busian, James Williams, Thomas H. and George Eckles, Stickney Buck, John H. Bliss, Andrew J. Doty, Jeremiah Plank, George Plank and John Elliott.

The first births in the township were two in one day, November 6, 1854: Martin, son of H. G. Freeman, and Electa, daughter of William Potter, now Mrs. Merry, of Fairmont, Minnesota. The first death was of Hiram Smith, the same year. Anson Boyer and Miss Smith were the parties of the first marriage.

Charles Cutler taught the first school in 1856. The first town meeting was held at the residence of A. Smith, which was the first hotel, in 1858, and the following officers were elected:

B. Cutler, Clerk
A. J. Doty, Assessor
 Whitcomb, J. K. Randall, Justices, of Peace
J. H. Bliss, Collector
Stickney Bush, Overseer of the Poor
Nathan M. Smith, James L. Hodges, Constables
Richard Hull, Benjamin Bear, Truman Matteson, Supervisors

The township when first organized was called Springfield, but in 1859 the name was changed to Eyota, which is said to be an Indian word meaning superior. It is certainly a superior agricultural township.

The state census of 1905 gives the population of the township as 605.

An English Lutheran church was built in 1858 near the south line of the township, and is still standing, but has lapsed into disuse. When the Winona & Southwestern railroad was built a station was established in the southeast part of the township and named Laird for William A. Laird, a wealthy lumberman of Winona, a director in the company. An elevator was built, but was burned down about 1903 and now there is only the station and a couple of dwelling houses.

Plank's Crossing, where the Chatfield railroad crosses a wagon road near the southern boundary of the township has failed to become a village and has now only a box car as a depot. A station was also established on the same road on the farm of William Potter and named Horton, in honor of Charles Horton, a Winona lumberman of the same firm as Laird. It, too, has failed to grow into anything more than a neighborhood accommodation for the shipment of grain and stock.

Eyota Village

A station of the Winona & St. Peter railroad was established on Section 14, on the land of Milo Matteson in 1864 and a town was platted by Samuel E. Everett and Milo Matteson in November of that year. Everett was a speculator from the state of New York. A few years later he returned to that state and sold his Eyota interests to his brother. Charles P. Russell came from Winona and built the first store in 1865 and, later, formed a partnership with Orlo H. Jackson and built an elevator and bought grain. Mr. Jackson moved in a few years to Lake Benton, in this state, where he died about ten years ago. Mr. Russell and his son, Fred H., are still in the mercantile and banking business. A few years ago their store was burned down and was replaced by a handsome brick store and bank that would be creditable to a much larger place. Milo White, of Chatfield, built a store, which three years later, he sold to Charles R. Blair, who had been conducting it for him. Mr. Blair had his brother, Arthur B. Blair, as a partner from 1869 to 1893. He is now in business in Winona.

Charles R. Blair was born in Vermont in 1837. He enlisted in a Vermont regiment in 1861 and served three years in the Army of the Potomac, participating in twenty-one battles. At the close of his service he came to Chatfield and was employed in the store of Milo White. He kept the store in Eyota till 1907, thirty-nine years, when he sold to Frank J. Cramer, of St. Charles, and went to California for the benefit of his health, where he died in May. 1908. He had the highest respect of the community and held the offices of supervisor, member of the school board and village treasurer, and was postmaster sixteen years.

Clark & Wheelock opened a store in 1865 and sold to Walkinshaw & Ross, who went out of business in about a year. T. T. Stevens & Co. opened a store in 1866 and the next year sold to Wheelock & Cresap, who conducted the business a few years. Needham & Wheeler opened a store in 1866 and continued in business several years. Among the earliest business men were Walter Dixon, hardware dealer; Edwin Dunn, lumber dealer; Malcom Wright, wagon maker; Samuel E. Keeler, harness maker, and L. N. Smith and Arthur Brush, liverymen.

The village was incorporated by the legislature, and the first village election was held March 9, 1875, and the following officers were elected: Council, George W. Barto, O. H. Jackson, E. D. Dyar; recorder, C. S. Andrews; treasurer, C. P. Russell; justice, S. E. Keeler; assessor, Edwin Dunn; constable, H. B. Herrick. The vote for councilman between Milo Matteson and Charles Ells bury was a tie and at a second election Matteson won. There were 108 votes polled.

The Everett House, a large frame hotel, was built in 1866, and kept several years by George W. Barto.

A Presbyterian church was organized in June, 1866, and the next year built a good sized and pretty church building. The United Brethren church was afterwards started by Rev. M. L. Tibbetts, who came from Iowa. He was a very energetic and popular preacher and was a resident of Eyota and the vicinity a number of years, but a few years ago moved to California, where he is now living. In 1872 the Presbyterian Church was discontinued and their church building was sold to the United Brethren, who still occupy it. Rev. William C. Bacon came to the United Brethren church in 1877. After remaining three years, he left for another locality but came back to Eyota in 1890 and has ever since lived there and preached in the vicinity. He has now retired from active service. He is a native of the state of New York, born in 1834. Rev. William W. Vine is the present pastor of the United Brethren church. He is a son of William Vine, an early settler of Viola Township. The Methodists started a church and built a pretty edifice soon after the Presbyterian. Rev. C. H. Miller is their present pastor. Rev. Stephen Maddock, the priest at Chatfield, organized the Church of the Holy Redeemer about 1891, and built a neat place of worship. He officiates at both places.

The village had a rapid growth and became an important grain market while wheat growing was the fashion. The principal buyers were Jackson & Russell, C. R. Blair and Needham & Wheeler. It was estimated that 300,000 bushels were taken at the elevators in the year ending July 1, 1865. The receipts for September, 1867, were stated as 46,619 bushels and for October 135,000 bushels. Two thousand bushels were said to be bought in one day of September, 1872, and the four elevators are said to have taken in 800.000 bushels a year in 1868, 1869 and 1870.

Charles H. Alden came in 1868 and was engaged several years in grain buying. He is still a resident of the village. He was born in New Hampshire in 1832 and was engaged in the grain business in Winona before coming to Eyota, where he bought the first wheat shipped out of Minnesota, for V. Simpson and S. C. White, in 1858.

The Eyota Advertiser was first published in April, 1869, by T. G. Bolton, a druggist. It was a good advertising sheet and was kept alive while Mr. Bolton remained in Eyota. It was published more for the benefit of the village than for the profit of the publisher. It was sold to Dyar & Ingham, who published it five years. A. De Lacy Wood started the Eyota Enquirer in 1873, and ran it about a year. E. A. Rising started the Eyota Eagle in 1878 and ran it a few months. There is now no newspaper published there.

In 1875 a handsome, large two-story public school house, of cream colored brick, was built. It is the most conspicuous public building of the town. The schools comprise a high school, with two teachers, and eight graded schools with three teachers. A novelty in municipal reform was effected in the spring of 1893. No license having carried at the election it was claimed that the village board would be unable to have the streets lighted for lack of the money derived from saloon licenses, whereupon a temperance organization of young women raised the money by subscription, bought the lamps and oil and. with the consent of the board, assigned each lamp to one of the ladies who kept it burning regularly, till the village again, at the next election, voted for license.

Edson G. Hill, came from St. Charles to Eyota in 1893, was elected justice of the peace the next year and has served in that capacity thirteen years.

The Western Telephone Company was established about 1895, and a local company called the Viola Telephone Company was after wards established. It has sixty miles of lines. The Tri-State company has a long distance station.

The Eyota Creamery Company, a farmers' co-operation company, was organized in May, 1898. It has done a large business, increasing from $8,000 the first year to $40,000 in the year 1907. It is supplied by 1.200 cows.

The Eyota Hospital, established by Dr. R. C. Dugan, in October, 1900, has been very successful and is a benefactor to the surround ing country. It is a pretty frame building with a capacity of eight beds and devoted principally to surgical cases. Dr. Dugan has a high reputation as a skillful operator. In 1907 the number of major operations performed was sixty-three; minor operations forty-one and medical cases, eleven.

Dr. Rollo C. Dugan is a son, of Elisha S. Dugan, deceased, an early settler of Eyota Township. He was born on the farm in 1865, graduated in medicine at the Minnesota University in 1890, has since practiced at Eyota and is the only physician there. He is a member of the leading surgical and medical associations.

The village showed its enterprise by voting for a system of water works for protection against fire by seventy-eight votes in favor to only eighteen against the proposition, and the s stem was established in 1906. A well connected with a tank holding 19,000 gallons of water under air pressure is pumped by a gasoline engine and the water forced through mains extending along twelve blocks in the business and residence districts. A neat stone building en closes the machinery and there are two hose carts and a volunteer fire department of thirty-two men, under the direction of Herman E. Smith, the village marshal. It is a very complete and efficient system.

The Masonic Lodge is a large and flourishing organization. There are also of secret and fraternal organizations, lodges of the United Workman, Odd Fellows. Woodmen, Good Templars, Highland Nobles, Beavers and the Equitable Fraternal Union. The Masons, Odd Fellows and Good Templars own their halls. The state census of 1905 stated the population of the village as 400.

The first National Bank of Eyota was organized in June, 1900, with F. H. Russell as cashier. Farmers' Institutes have been held here. Recently a Red Cross Society was organized here with Mrs. Armstrong as president. In 1900 Brittenfelt brothers raised 500 acres of potatoes. Interesting stock shows have been held in this township. An old settlers' association was organized here in 1878, but did not survive long.

  Olmsted County |Minnesota AHGP 

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


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