Olmsted County, Minnesota


Pleasant Grove Township

(Township 105 North, Range 1 3 West)

The first settlement in the county is believed to have been that of Jacob Goss, who made claim in this township in the spring of 1853, and lived on it till 1854, when he sold to Mrs. Pattridge, who, with her sons, was among the earliest settlers. There also came to this township in 1854 Philo S. Curtis, Y. P. Burgan, David and Robert Overend, Nathan S. Phelps, Joseph L. Parks, Jesse Bag ley, Robert Angus, John B. Hendricks, Barnard Denny and others.

In 1855 locations were made by:

M. Brittendall
O. H. Page
Robert Tait
Lindsley Flathers
Robert Overend
John Lambert
John Burch
William Burch
Joseph Prentice
J. D. Bunce
W. H. Mills
E. D. Barrow
Samuel Barrows
John Kinney
Martin Kinney
Frederick Sibeck
Thomas S. Harris
Erven H. Stuckman
David Bernard
Welcome A. Geer

In 1856 Richard Russell and Herbert G. McCaleb came.

The first child born in the township was Minnesota, daughter of John Collins. The first death was of an old man named Holmes. The first couple to wed were Marvin Harwood and a daughter of Benjamin Winans.

The first school was taught by Miss Susan Rucker. The first sermon was preached at the house of Y. P. Burgan, by Rev. Christ. a Methodist.

The township was organized in 1858, with the following officers: Supervisors, H. Hartenbower, chairman; E. H. Stuckman, F. L. Stevens; clerk, W. H. Mills: assessor, H. G. McCaleb; justices, Samuel Barrows, I. W. Norton; collector, William Kennedy; con stables, William Kennedy, J. S. Stevens; overseer of poor, John Collins.

St. Bridget's Catholic Church is located in the northwest corner of the township. It was established in 1859 by Rev. Pendergast, of Winona, and is the place of worship of numerous Catholic families in the vicinity, mostly the descendants of Irish early settlers. It is a large stone edifice of pleasing proportions and pretty interior finish, with a priest's house and a well-kept cemetery attached. It was at first under the charge of St. John church at Rochester, but has had an independent existence since about 1882, when Father Stack became the resident priest. It is now in charge of Rev. Condron. A hall has been built for the use of the societies connected with the church.

There is a large German Lutheran church, about the middle of the west line of the township, which was established at an early period in the settlement of the township. The population of the township is given in the state census of 1905 as 998.

Mathew Fugh built a grist mill on the Root River near the middle of the township in 1871, with a capacity of twenty-five barrels a day. It has changed millers several times, but has been kept running, and is now conducted by Leonard Chase.

A view that is perhaps the most picturesque in the county is from a portion of a road from Marion to Pleasant Grove that is known as the Hog Back. A ridge about a hundred feet high runs between the river and rocky cliffs overlooking wooded slopes of rare beauty.

Pleasant Grove Village

When the route of M. O. Walker's stages was established from Dubuque to St. Paul, through the unsettled country, in the spring of 1854, it ran through Pleasant Grove, and Philo S. Curtis built a hotel which was made the stage station, and Curtis was appointed postmaster. The location was in a beautiful piece of timber, and was given the appropriate name of Pleasant Grove.

The village was platted by Philo S. Curtis, Dudley Taylor and Samuel Barrows. W. H. Mills was the surveyor. A log store building was put up by E. B. Barrows and a large stock of goods brought in by F. A. Olds, who sold to Rumsey & Clough, by whom the store was conducted till 1862. Judge moved to Rochester, where he did much to build up the town.

Dr. Ira C. Bardwell, a native of the state of New York, located in Rochester in 1856 and in 1859 moved to Pleasant Grove and for a number of years was the only physician of the place. A tragic event in the history of the new community occurred in the year 1860. Jacob D. Bunce was a storekeeper in the village, having come there in 1855; John C. Chandler, who had been in the village about four years, was a blacksmith; Chandler's age was about forty-five years, and Bunce's thirty-six. On the afternoon of the 22d of May, Chandler went into Bunce's store, and an altercation followed about an account between the two. Each accused the other of lying, and Bunce ordered Chandler out of the store, and he refused to go, whereupon Bunce endeavored to put him out. The two men were pretty evenly matched, Chandler being rather tall and muscular, and Bunce shorter and stout. Bunce had picked up an iron weight. Bunce had succeeded in pushing Chandler out the door and, when he was about three feet away, threw the weight at him, striking him on the temple and breaking the skull. Chandler fell unconscious and was taken home. The skull was trephined by Dr. E. C. Cross, of Rochester, without success, and Chandler died the next morning. Bunce had a preliminary examination before Justice Samuel Barrows, at Pleasant Grove, and was tried in the district court the next May, on an indictment for murder. He was prosecuted by J. A. Leonard, county attorney, and William H. Yale, of Winona, and defended by E. A. McMahon and Stiles P. Jones, of Rochester, and Benjamin Franklin, of Winona. The trial was closely contested and resulted in a verdict of guilty of manslaughter in the fourth degree, and a sentence by Judge Thomas Wilson of one year's imprisonment in the county jail and a fine of $1,000. The next November he was pardoned by Governor Ramsey, after about six months' imprisonment. The petition for the pardon was signed, among others, by six of the jurymen who had convicted him. Mr. Bunce removed to Rochester, where he kept a grocery store till 1878, when he removed to Redwood Falls, Minnesota, where he died in 1882.

The first Masonic lodge in the county was organized in the village in 1856. It has had a prosperous existence and meets in a well-furnished hall of its own. The first officers were: Worshipful master, George P. Budling; senior warden, George W. Green; junior warden, Jacob Ginter.

There is also a lodge of the Modern Woodmen of America. The fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Christian church was celebrated in June, 1906. There was a very large attendance. The history of the church was read by W. W. Parkinson.

The organization of the public school of the village is peculiar. In 1892, when H. E. Wolf was teacher, the district included in the village was united with one adjoining it, and they are known as a consolidated district. It extends six miles from the school house, and the scholars are taken to and from the school by team, at the expense of the district. George Fordham, the driver, has only been tardy once in the five years of all kinds of weather that the system has been in operation. This plan is not followed as yet by any other district in the county, and by not more than half a dozen in the state, but is very satisfactory to the Pleasant Grove district. The school house is one of the best in the county, a commodious and handsome frame structure and finished throughout with all the latest appliances for teaching. There are two departments of the school, and eighty scholars, nearly all from outside the village. The school board has also the credit of paying the teachers higher salaries than are paid in other schools of the same grade in the county outside of Rochester. The principal is paid $60 a month. The village now comprises about twenty-five houses. with one store, kept by Nutting & Benson; two blacksmith shops, an hotel, kept by Mr. Decker, and two churches, the Christian church, a brick building erected in 1862, and the Methodist Episcopal church, built a few years later.


The Winona & Southwestern Railroad Company in 1890 established a railroad station near the northwest corner of the township and named it after Thomas Simpson, of Winona, who was secretary of the company.

J. C. Haire, from Rochester, built a wind feed mill there in 1890, before the railroad reached there. Its altitude being one of the highest points in the county made it and the village conspicuous from afar. The mill, after a useful existence of nine years, was torn down.

A depot, elevators and warehouses were built and a village grew up. It is the junction of the Great Western Railroad and its Winona branch, and has a store, hotel, two churches, Methodist and Christian, a successful creamery, conducted by Tyler & McCoy and a few residences.

  Olmsted County |Minnesota AHGP 

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


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