FILLMORE TOWNSHIP AND VILLAGE.
Fillmore township has Jordan on the north, Fountain on the east, Forestville on the south, and Spring Valley
on the west. Bear creek, Deer creek, and Spring Valley creek, or, as it is commonly known, Middle Branch or Root
river, and their tributaries are in the northwestern part of the town.
Early Settlement. The early settlement and initiatory steps which led to the founding and subsequent development
of this thriving township, in common with the majority of Fillmore county's subdivisions, date back well into the
fifties. Its early pioneers and hardy backwoodsmen were not men who came for speculation, nor were they men who
expected or even hoped to accumulate a fortune in a day; but men who knew there would be hardships and trials to
endure, and they were not mistaken. One without the experience cannot realize the tribulations incident to such
In the year 1853, Walker & Foote, the renowned stage men, were operating an extensive stage line through Fillmore
county, and this township lay directly in its path. As early as 1853 the site of the village of Fillmore was one
of the points made by the stages, and it is claimed by a few that as early as that time there was a little hewn
log hut on that site, in which was kept a limited stock of dried meats, bacon, crackers and provisions, and a stock
of whisky to cheer the weary traveler. But this is uncertain, as the time of its coming and the date of its departure
are a mystery. During this year, while a few passed through the town on the stage line, there were no settlers,
and none who examined the surrounding country with a view to settlement.
In the year 1854, while the autumn leaves were falling, in the month of August, a party of three pushed their way
into this township with a view to establishing a home. They were John Crain, his son, Charles W. Crain, and Jacob
Ham, all having made their way from McHenry county, Illinois, by way of Iowa. They settled near one spot on section
thirty three in the southern part of the town, and commenced putting up huts. The first year was spent by them
in almost entire solitude, it only being interrupted by the arrival of John K. Ells, who came in the same year
and settled in section twenty five. In the meantime the northern part of the town was making evolutions toward
civilization. Paul Jones and son and son-in-law, Beverstock, had arrived early that year and located and platted
the village of Fillmore on section three. With this scanty settlement the progress of the town remained at a standstill
until the following spring.
In 1855 many acquisitions were made to the settlements, which began to embrace all parts of the town. P. M. Mosher
and father arrived in the spring and planted their stakes in section three. Isaac Decou put in an appearance and
located in the northern part of the town, but he remained only a few years. E. S. Smith came and located near Fillmore
village and commenced the erection of a sawmill. A number of others also put in an appearance, some to file on
land for homes, but mostly transients who remained at the village. This was a very trying period for the settlers.
Their nearest market was Winona, and supplies were brought from Iowa. In getting provisions it became customary
among the settlers to club together and hire a man to ride down into Iowa and obtain supplies for the entire settlement.
The year 1855 opened the era of immigration to this town, and the following are among those who came to prepare
those already here for the rush of the following year. O. O. Wallace arrived and settled on section twenty six.
E. D. Kellogg, from New York, put in an appearance and located on section one. M. Garry brought his family, consisting
of his wife and twelve children, and commenced calling, section two his home.
In 1856, F. H. Bartlett, from New York, accompanied by his wife and two children, arrived and laid claim to one
hundred and sixty acres in section twenty two. With Bartlett came A. Clifford and William Odell, both of Wisconsin.
Clifford located in section twenty one and remained until late in the sixties. Odell became disheartened and returned
to Wisconsin, where he died. W. H.
Prosser arrived in June and made himself at home on section thirty three. Thomas Pulford arrived in the summer
and now occupies a farm on section sixteen. Daniel S. Hoff, a native of New York state, arrived in the fall and
commenced managing a hotel in Fillmore village. J. A. Pulford arrived and located on section fifteen. George Sheppard,
formerly of Germany, put in an appearance and, after drifting around a time, located on sections nine and ten.
The year 1857 dawned upon the settlers and during the first few months subjected them to the most severe hardships
yet experienced. The month of January opened with a very heavy snowstorm, which continued, with renewed fury and
violence, for about a week, filling the ravines, crevices and roads, and leaving the level prairie covered with
a heavy bed of snow. This was followed by a slight thaw, which immediately froze very solid, making a crust that
would bear the weight of a man. Most of the settlers were left without hay, as their supply was out on the prairie,
and it was impossible to drive a team over the crust. Thus few of the settlers who had stock escaped loss of part
of their herds, and today there are many settlers who tell of how they had dug for three and four days through
this heavy crust and deep snow, hunting for hay. But as the season moved on the snow disappeared, and in the fall
an abundant harvest rejoiced and made hopeful the heart of the pioneer. Among others who had arrived ere this time
may be mentioned the following: George and James Stewart, Michael Lewis, Robert Crowell, James Kelly, James Bowers,
H. Hall, James Sheppard, Thomas Davis and others.
Land Office Records. The first titles to land in Fillmore township were issued by the government in 1854. Those
who obtained land that year were as follows, the date of the issuance of the warrant being given first, then the
name of the owner, and then the section in which the land was largely located: November 20, Jason L. Bolles, 5;
November 20, John Oleson, 6.
Those who secured land in 1855 were as follows: April 23, Levi R. Allen, 8; April 23, Robert Rea, 7; April 24,
Albert S. Tedman, 8; April 30, Constant B. Beverstock, 3; April 30, Elijah B. Jones, 9; April 30, Harrold H. Jones,
10; April 30, John Mawer, 5; April 19, James Tabor, 6; April 30, Thomas Tabor, 5; May 3, Francis Miller, 8; May
12, Joseph Bowers, 8; May 17, William W. Porter, 4; May 19, William Cook, 8; June 1, Victor M. Demick, 7; June
18, Asher Turner, 6; June 18, Sherman M. Turner, 6; June 26, William Triggs, 19; June 27, Francis B. Simons, 3-4;
July 4, Ernst Brandt, 18; July 22, Elisha H. Shaw, 10; July 24, William P. Odell, 6; August 31, Simeon S. Odell,
19; September 15, Leonard Anderson, 18; October 5, Michael Freese, 2-3; October 12, Leomon W. Bisbey, 17; October
12, John Crain, 33; October 18, Oliver Whaler, 7; October 19, John Bateman, 20; October 19, David Tobler, 17; October
30, Pascal P. Pines, 11-14; November 3, John G. Bawldin, 19; November 8, Thomas Masteller, 33-32-28-29; November
10, George R. Albro, 28; November 10, Jacob Ham, 28-33; November 15, George S. Masters, 17; November 16, William
Olver, 18; November 17, William H. Clarns, 6; November 20, John C. Anderson, 18; November 26, Abram Kalder, 18;
December 12, Ebeneser Brown, 4; December 21, Robert C. McCord, 20; December 21, Arlow L. How, 18.
Murder. A murder occurred in this town as early as 1856. A man named John Branski, living on section four, was
murdered in a quarrel with a neighbor over his claim line. The murderer was arrested and tried, but finally got
away. His name was Walker, and he was seen once since the crime was committed, getting on a vessel in San Francisco,
to sail for a foreign port.
Political. The first town meeting was held May 11, 1858, at Fillmore village. The records of the meetings and proceedings
of the board in Fillmore township for the first few years have unfortunately been lost or misplaced. The first
meeting was held in Decou's "Log Hotel," Geo. Decor being the moderator. T. G. Pond was the first chairman
of the board, O. T. Blood and S. Otis the first justices of the peace, and Chas. W. Crain and George Fisk, constables.
On February 26, 1864, a special meeting was held by the board of supervisors to see about voting a bounty to the
volunteers, but the proposition was tabled, and at a subsequent meeting it was defeated.
Fillmore Village. The land where the hamlet stands was preempted in the spring of 1854, in section three, by Doctor
Paul Jones. The year following, Isaac Decou came and built and opened the first store, and remained about three
years. He was a prominent man and a member of the legislature, but after a time went to Michigan, and finally to
Kansas. Robert Ray built a log cabin in the village in 1856, and opened a stock of general merchandise which he
kept two or three years. The third store was built by Lee & Kimball and this firm also built a grist mill and
had it running in 1858. William Kimball came from Decorah, and Mr. Lee from McGregor. At the time Mr. Jones came,
his wife was also along, and his son and a son-in-law, Mr. Beverstock. Isaac Brinker came here from Clayton county,
Iowa, and remained until 1878, when he went to Dakota. In 1856, Isaac Decou and D. J. Mosher came from New York,
and thus the village was started. The first hotel was built and kept by Paul Jones and Mr. Beverstock. The postoffice
was established in 1856, with Robert Ray as postmaster. 'William Mosher was appointed in May, 1877. D. R. Farrington,
who succeeded R. C. Farrington, was the last postmaster. Mail is now received by rural route from Wykoff.