Olmsted County, Minnesota


Farmington Township

(Township 108 North. Range 13 West)

This township was not settled till 1855, when Z. Tumbleson, Junia Lathrop, Mr. Ball, Andrew Parsons, Conrad Schacht and Robert Moody made claims in the southeastern part of the town. The following winter Mr. Parsons died, his being the first death in the township.

In 1856 claims were made in the south part of the township by Henry Dresser, Thomas Brooks, Orrin Oakes, John Walker, William Searles, Chris Neimier and others. The same year claims were made in the northwest of the township by Archibald Baker, S. H. Baker, A. M. Baker, Adelbert Baker, Philip Hope and Christopher Hope.

In 1857 Asa Kidder, J. F. Hodge, Ethan Kimball, Robert Little, John V. Little, A. M. Hall, P. Russell, Osborn Earl, J. R. Haggerty, Dan McArthur and others settled in the same neighborhood and the village of Farm Hill was started with a church and a school. The Baptist church is still living, but a Methodist church, which was built in 1868, was torn down in 1880 as the result of dissension of the congregation. A store and the post office was kept by Ethan Kimball and afterwards by Asa Kidder, but the village failed to develop and there is now only the church and a school house.

In 1856 Haven Schacht, Fred Kohn, Martin Guhrt, William Kutzky and Peter Yonk, all Germans, settled in the northeast of the town. They were followed by others of German birth or descent, and many of the best farmers of the township have been of that origin.

The township was organized in 1858 and the following officers elected: Supervisors, Ethan Kimball, chairman; E. Evans, P. Russell; clerk, T. H. Rose.

Two miles west of Potsdam is the Emanuel German Methodist church, and Zion German Evangelical church, two miles south of Potsdam. They were built about forty years ago. The population of the township by the state census of 1905 was 741.

Stephen Greenwood, a native of Pennsylvania, came from Wisconsin in 1859 and became one of the most prosperous farmers of the township. The beautiful prairie, which includes nearly all of the township, was given his name and is known as Greenwood Prairie.

Near the south line of the township is the Ringe creamery, started about 1893 by Hans Hendrickson. It was made a co-operation company about five years ago and is doing a large business. The odd name Ringe was given when a post office, since discontinued, was located there and was named from the estate in Norway, on which Mr. Hendrickson was born.

On an afternoon in September, 1878. Herbert Barnhart, a young man, while hunting rabbits, near the residence of Amos Parks, dis covered the dead body of a man in a grove, with the skull fractured, apparently by a blunt instrument. At an inquest the remains were identified as those of John Schroeder, a harvest hand from Davenport, Iowa, who had been working for Carl Schultz and had left there a few days before with another harvest hand, a German named Fred Hittman. They had spent Sunday together at Pots dam and spent the night of the murder in the grove. Schroeder had $28 when they left Schultz', when the body was found the money was gone and Schroeder's pockets were turned inside out. Hittman had come to Rochester, eaten his dinner at the Union Hotel and gone east by railroad. Within a week he was found at Davenport and on information from the sheriff of that county, Sheriff White went there and brought him to Rochester. He was indicted for murder and tried at the December term of court, being prosecuted by County Attorney Eckholdt and C. M. Start and de fended by R. A. Jones. He pleaded guilty and was sent to the penitentiary for life. The death penalty was not in force at that time.

He became insane in the penitentiary and was transferred to the State Hospital at Rochester, and after spending two years there, was pardoned in 1901 on condition of being returned to Germany by his brother.


In the northeast portion of the township the village of Potsdam grew up about 1860; a village of German Americans. Louis Quentin established a harness shop and Mr. Goodert a black smith shop, and they were followed by John Ingleby, who built the first store and was for years the village merchant. He sold to Fred Patrick who sold to John Frahm, who was succeeded by Rufus R. Zander, and Herman Reiter Zander is still in the business. Ingleby moved to Rochester about 1885, and was an alderman two terms from 1892. He is now living in Montana. A hotel was kept by Theo. Tornow, who about 1878 sold to William Bemke and moved to Rochester, where he is now living.

The Emanuel German Evangelical Lutheran church was built in 1872 and is the most conspicuous building in the village. It has connected with it a parochial school. The village includes ten or fifteen families.

An ill-fated mill was built at Potsdam in 1874. It was a large wind flour and feed mill with two runs of stone, was on a rise of ground, and was conspicuous for miles around. It was built by a contribution of $6,000 by the neighboring farmers, and for a time did a good business, but was fated with two horrible accidents. During a strong wind in April 1875, the large wheel became un-manageable, and William A. McCarron, an athletic young blacksmith of about twenty years went with three others, to the top of the tower to stop it. He was knocked down and caught in the cogs of a large wheel and in spite of the efforts of the others to rescue him was drawn in and literally ground up between the wheel and a timber, his body passing through a space of less than two inches, crushing it into a pulp. The most of the body was gathered up in a grain sack.

In December, 1876, Emil Seeman, the miller, a German, was on the top of the tower oiling the machinery before starting the mill, when a check rod that held the mill from running, broke and the mill revolved with great velocity; a cast iron wheel of a ton and a half, burst and crushed the platform on which Mr. Seeman was standing, hurling him down thirty feet against the timbers of the mill and crushing him horribly and he died within a couple of days. The mill is now a feed mill, but the big wheel has disappeared and the mill is run by gasoline power, without such risk of human life.

  Olmsted County |Minnesota AHGP 

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


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