Olmsted County, Minnesota

 

Marion Township

 (Township 106 North, Range 13 West).

A colony consisting of Alfred Kinney, Levi M. Phelps. Nathan S. Phelps, Eleazer Phelps. George Mills and a few others located, in April 1854, in the neighborhood of what afterward became the village of Marion. They arrived on Saturday and on Sunday held an outdoor religious service (there was no indoors yet), with a sermon by Rev. Predmore, from Iowa, which is claimed to have been the first sermon preached in the county. J. W. Predmore, William Marquardt, Jacob Bonham, Lewis W. Wright, Philip H. Kavanaugh, Timothy Twohey, George Allen, J. D. Campion and John Dooley settled the same year. Mr. Allen was town treasurer eleven years.

James W. Livingston and John and William Hyslop located in the neighborhood of the now village of Chester in 1855. The same year locations were made in the township by Thomas McCoy, James Campion. W. Fulkerson, George Herber, Domnick Kennedy and John O'Neil.

In 1856 there came Michael St. George, Fred Demmett, Robert B. Hotchkiss, Thomas J. Hudson, William Le Van, Legrand W. Lull, Roger Mulvihill, Thomas W. Phelps and Thomas N. Porter. The first death was of a child of David Baumgartner, in 1856, and the first marriage was of Jacob Bonham to Letitia Phelps, the same year. Mr. Bonham moved to Rochester and was a merchant there.

In the winter of 1856-57 a daughter of Benjamin Roberts, in going from a neighboring farm in a severe blizzard, was lost and her body was found frozen to death against a fence a couple of days afterward.

The township was organized in 1858. John Case was the first chairman of supervisors, and E. F. Fry the first clerk. The population of the township, according to the state census of 1905, was 672.

The pioneers of Marion were quiet and orderly people and there was not the frontier roughness there that is imagined to accompany the opening of a new country, but in 1860 some of them allowed their zeal for law and order to lead them into lawlessness. A valuable watch belonging to a Mr. Rutan was reported stolen, and a German laborer was suspected of the crime, but denied it. Half a dozen of the most respectable citizens, to extort a confession, strung him up to the limb of a tree and almost executed him, but without securing the confession. The executioners were bound over to the grand jury, but that body failed to indict them. It was reported that they got the main witness against them, the laborer, so drunk that he was useless as a witness. Later public opinion was that the watch had not been stolen.

The death of John A. Howard, a veteran of the War of the Rebellion, occurred in October, 1876, under peculiar circumstances. There had been horse stealing in the neighborhood and some colts of John Mayhew, a neighbor, had been put into the barn with Mr. Howard's horses; for greater safety. A son of Mr. Mayhew and a son of Mr. Howard secreted themselves in the barn, with firearms, to guard the horses. Near midnight Mr. Howard, thinking he heard a noise in the barn, went there, and, opening the door, was shot in the neck by young Mayhew, and died the second day after.

Marion Village

In the fall of 1854 Alfred Kinney opened a store about a mile east of where the village now is and in a year moved it to the village, going into partnership with James D. Graff, who came from Freeport, Illinois. Stores were also started by Ansel C. Rodgers, Curtis & Dudley and Clark & Moulton, Charles H. Morrill, a native of New York state, came from Winona, and, buying out A. P. Moulton, became a partner with Gardner Clark in 1856, and afterward bought out Clark, and later sold to John H. Fawcett, a farmer of Marion Township, and moved to Rochester, where he became a leading grocer. Mr. Fawcett was the village merchant for years, and was postmaster thirty-five years in succession. George W. Root, later a Rochester grocery man, was his partner for a time. Mr. Fawcett sold to Horace Willis in 1900 and moved to Stewartville, where he is now living. Dr. C. E. Fawcett, of Stewartville, and Dr. A. C. Fawcett, a dentist of Rochester, are his sons.

The first blacksmith was Leonard Chase, and the first wagon maker John Strangeway. Aaron Hill, a blacksmith, came in 1856. Dr. J. C. Cole was the first physician.

The Marion post office was established at the village in 1856, and L. G. Dudley was appointed postmaster. He moved to Rochester. The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1855 by Rev. Benjamin Criss, whose circuit extended from Brownsville, on the Mississippi, to the northern part of Olmsted County; and he traveled it on foot through the timber and wading streams. A church building was erected in 1859. It was burned down in 1868, but was at once rebuilt.

The Church of Christ was organized in the village in 1866 by Rev. Levan, who preached there and at Pleasant Grove several years, making his home much of the time in Rochester. The Baptist and Disciples' churches built a place of worship together in 1872. It cost $1,000 and was all paid for. There are now two churches in the village, the Methodist and Christian.

The village grew and bade fair to become one of the largest towns in the county till, in 1857, the election contest between it and Rochester, for the county seat, resulted in favor of the latter. The two places are only eight miles apart, and the advantage thus gained by Rochester, and the fact that Marion has no railroad, has retarded its growth. The railroad station of Predmore is only a mile and a half from Marion village, just far enough away to kill the old village, but has not yet done so. The railroad did not go to the village; it remains to be seen whether the village will go to the railroad.

Predmore

A station on the Winona & Southwestern Railroad, built through the county in 1891, was located in the southeast corner of Marion Township and called Predmore, the name of a family of original settlers in the neighborhood. It is a small village of only one store, a blacksmith shop and a few buildings. A creamery was established a couple of years after the station was located, and is still in successful operation.

Chester

About 1868 Chester station was established on the Winona & St. Peter Railroad, in the northeast part of the township. An elevator was built and Ezra La Claire was appointed the first postmaster. Till about 1885 it was a thriving village, and had at one time 125 or 130 inhabitants. A great deal of grain was bought there; one day in September, 1872, 1,450 bushels of wheat were taken in at the elevator. Loren B. Parker kept the elevator and a store several years. He moved away about 1880, and is now in Colorado. O. T. Caswell, from Winona, was the station agent, grain buyer and storekeeper about ten years. The business has dwindled and it is now a village of seven or eight houses, with a post office, school house and store.

There has always been rivalry between Chester and Marion villages as to which should be the political capital of the township, and the town elections have been held sometimes at one place and sometimes at the other. They are only about four miles apart.

  Olmsted County |Minnesota AHGP 

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

 

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