Olmsted County, Minnesota


Rock Dell Township

 (Township 105 North, Range 15 West)

The appropriate name of this township, Rock Dell, is taken from a rocky ravine, not far from its center, which winds a crooked and picturesque course for about a mile and a half, between banks that in places are ragged cliffs of limestone, and at its bottom a small stream, fed by a live spring of cold water. It is a little stretch of rare beauty, and quite a picnic resort for the surrounding country.

Several farmers of Norwegian birth or descent, living in Dane County, Wisconsin, looking for new homes, located with their families in the northwestern part of the township in 1854. Among them were Nels Nelson, Tollef Oleson, Ole Oleson, Ole Amundson, Guta Molson, I. Goldberg, Ole Tollefson and Tollef Goldberg. In 1855 Halvor Halvorson Stensond, Asle Erickson, Halver Oleson and Thomas Hennesy came, and in 1856 Amund Nelson Giere, Bottol Magneson and David S. Larson. Others followed, and most of the township was settled by Norwegians, whose descendants are today among the most substantial farmers of the county. There were but few of American descent among the earliest settlers.

In 1856 Rev. Leonard H. Humason, from Ohio, located as a farmer, near the center of the township, with his son, John S. Humason, and family, and Mr. Fredenburg. Rev. Humason was at that time more than sixty years old, having been born in Cincinnati in 1794, an old man for a new country, but not lacking in energy. He preached the first sermons in High Forest and Rock Dell, married the first couple, baptized the first person and preached the first funeral sermon. On his eightieth birthday, in November, 1874, he preached from the same text as that of his first sermon, and was presented by his neighbors with a library chair and cane, and his wife with a photograph album. He was one of the first farmers of the county to make a specialty of dairying. He died in November, 1885, aged ninety-one years, and was buried at the same time as his wife, who had died three days previously. John S. Humason was a miller and a dealer in agricultural machinery a number of years at Rochester.

The first birth was of Ole T. Oleson, son of Tollef Oleson, in September, 1854; the first death, that of Guta Molson. The first couple married were Lyman Connor and Miss Sarah Gifford.

A meeting for the organization of the township was held May 11, 1858. John A. Pierson was moderator and Jonas S. Cornish, clerk. The officers elected were: Supervisors, J. P. Powers, chairman: H. A. Fox and N. Nelson; clerk, J. S. Cornish; assessor, Knudt S. Larson; overseer of poor, Hill Gillett; justices, John S. Pierson, J. W. Adkinson; constables, W. Croghan, Z. Shiper; collector, W. Croghan.

East St. Olaf's Norwegian Lutheran church was organized in 1855 by Rev. C. L. Clausen, who was succeeded in 1861 by Rev. L. Steen. Rev. J. A. Thorson became the pastor in 1869, and is still filling that position. A large and handsome stone edifice, with a seating capacity of 600, was commenced in 1867, and finished in 1875. It was destroyed by lightning in September, 1906. The construction of a more modern church, built better than the other, is finished and a cut of it is shown herein.

The Zion Lutheran church was built about 1894. Rev. Karlson has been the pastor for the past five or six years.

Antoine Johnson established a store near the church in 1876. It has been kept by Nels Magneson and Sander O. Sanderson, part of the time in partnership. Mr. Sanderson is the present proprietor. A cheese factory in the same neighborhood was run successfully for a number of years, but suspended about five years ago, as a result of the greater convenience to farmers of dealing with creameries. Frank Graham, son of Joseph Graham, an early settler of Kalmar, and a graduate of the State Agricultural College, was the cheesemaker, and is now an inspector in the State Dairy and Food Department.

The Zumbro Creamery has been running successfully about nine teen years. Ole Benson has been the butter maker for the past seven years.

There is a cooper shop and a blacksmith shop and five residences in the village.

The Interurban Telephone Company, with its center at Rock Dell, is a co-operative company accommodating the farmers of the vicinity.

The state census of 1905 gives the population of the township as 825.

  Olmsted County |Minnesota AHGP 

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


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