History of Fountain Township, Fillmore County, Minnesota
From: History of Fillmore County, Minnesota
Compiled by Franklin Curtiss-Wedge
H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co.
Chicago 1912


Fountain is a flourishing village in Fountain township, on the Southern Minnesota division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul road. It has good schools, three churches, two hotels, two general stores, a drug store, a bank, a newspaper, street lights, water works, two restaurants and grocery stores, two blacksmith shops, a hardware store, an implement store, a lumber yard, two elevators, and the usual business and professional activities.

Early History. The land upon which the village of Fountain now stands was first taken by a company of speculators, who held it for a few months. The first actual settler upon the land was Patrick Mangan, who arrived early in the fifties and commenced improvements, building a log hut on section 10, south of the present site of the village. When the Southern Minnesota began pushing its line into Fillmore county, a townsite company was formed between H. W. Holley, D. J. Cameron, and Mr. Wykoff, and the interest in the land was purchased of Patrick Mangan. This was in 1870, and when the railroad passed through the place in November, the village was platted and recorded by the above mentioned firm. The name of the village was derived from the same source as that of the town—the Fountain spring in section 4.

The first building erected for business purposes was put up in the summer of 1869, when the railroad grading commenced, by John Dahl, who came from Lanesboro, and opened a saloon. The Arkle brothers were the first to go into general merchandise trade. They put up a building shortly after Dahl's was completed, and placed a stock of general merchandise upon the shelves. D. Wilson arrived shortly after and put up a restaurant, which he afterwards ran as a tavern. Patrick Ferris put up a hotel in the village.

In 1872, a fire destroyed the greater portion of the business part of the town, but it was rebuilt and the traces of the catastrophe obliterated. J. P. Tibbetts put in the first drug store. D. D. Farrell shipped in lumber on the first freight train, and put up a hotel opposite the Case House, but only conducted it as a hotel for one or two weeks. Mr. Farrell afterwards erected five buildings in Fountain.

Municipal History. The village of Fountain was incorporated by an act of the legislature passed in 1876, and Patrick Ferris, A. Ferguson and D. D. Farrell were appointed judges of the first election. The first village meeting was held upon the 14th of April, 1876, and the following officers elected: President, A. Ferguson; trustees, J. W. Reedy, H. Thompson, and A. Benson; treasurer, W. R. Ellsworth; recorder, A. W. Powers; marshal, D. J. Driscoll; justice of the peace, O. H. Case.

The early records of the village have been lost or mislaid. Since 1893, the presidents and clerks of the council have been as follows: 1893, D. D. Farrell, A. W. Powers; 1894, John Johnson, William A. Herniman; 1895, E. K. Blexrud, E. J. Keenan; 1896, E. K. Blexrud, E. J. Keenan;1897, A. W. Powers, G. E. McKeown; 1898, A. W. Powers, G. E. McKeown; 1899, J. H. Mooney, A. H. Norton: 1900, John Johnson, A. H. Norton; 1901, G. E. McKeown, C. H. Nehrhood; 1902, D. J. Danielson, J. A. Newman; 1903, M. McDermott, E. J. Keenan; 1904, D. D. Farrell, C. C. Pickering; 1905, A. W. Powers, C. C. Pickering; 1906, A. W. Powers, C. C. Pickering; 1907, Brady Olson, E. J. Keenan; 1908, A. W. Powers, C. C. Pickering; 1909, 1910 and 1911, the same. The village hall was built in 1894 at a cost of $2,000.

The officers for 1912 are: President, A. W. Powers; trustees, J. O. Sollie, C. E. Foss, E. A. Danielson; recorder, D. J. Danielson; treasurer, Hiram Johnson; justices, B. J. Bowers, L. E. Bostian; constables, T. G. Parker, James Daugherty.

Water Works. In 1906 and again in 1907 bonds were voted to install a water works system. The water was first turned into the mains January 7, 1907. The mains cover about one and a half miles, and power being obtained from a pressure tank into which the water is pumped by a twenty five horse power gasoline engine.


Fountain Township is bounded by Chatfield, Carrolton, Carimona, and Fillmore, on the north, east, south, and west respectively. The regular government thirty six sections make up its territorial area. Watson creek is the largest river, and this runs across the southern part of the town, and has numerous branches joining it from the right and left. Winslow creek rises in section 7 and leaves the town in a northeasterly course. Big Spring, the third or fourth with this name, rises in section 3, and sends a good sized rivulet into the last mentioned creek in section 4. The west half of the town may be called a rolling prairie, and was, when first entered upon by white settlers, covered with brush which has disappeared as the cultivation of the soil has been carried on. The soil is of a light clayey character and very productive.

Early Settlement. The first settlers in this town arrived in 1853. Abram Kalder was the first and he took the northwest quarter of section thirty, near a beautiful spring called afterwards "Kalder's Spring." He is a native of New York, remained a few years and moved to Preston. George Kalder was also owner of land in section thirty, but he died in Michigan soon after the war.

Hosmer H. Winslow, a native of Vermont, came here from Illinois in 1854, and his land was in section five. He died in 1874. Enoch Winslow took his farm in section four, but removed to Kansas in 1878. Henry Winslow located in section five, but removed to Olmstead county in 1859 and afterwards to Kansas. These men were brothers and came about the same time. S. T. Bagley, of New York, came from Wisconsin and went onto section five. In 1865 he went to Mower county. Edward Stevens came by the way of Wisconsin and located in section fifteen. Nicholas Wallrod, of New York, who had stopped a while in Illinois, secured a farm in section thirty. Abraham Finch, also of New York, came here and settled on section nineteen. Carl Boyer also came this year.

Some of the arrivals in 1855 are mentioned in the following paragraph:

James Scott, a native of Indiana, who came from Iowa, bought a place in section four. He died in 1875. J. W. Hagerty, of Pennsylvania, came from Illinois in May and procured a farm in section eight. J. L. Bolles was here the year before and selected land which he occupied this year. George Kenney had land in section seven. He died the next year. Thomas Shipton had a place in section seventeen. William Stevens, from Ireland, came here from New York after tarrying a while in Illinois and Wisconsin. James and Martin Mulroy located their farms in section nine. Robert Splainer came from Massachusetts and in about ten year returned. William Maus, of Indiana, came in October and took a claim in section thirty one. D. D. Farrell and father arrived in 1855 and pre-empted a claim upon section three.

In 1856 there were quite a number of newcomers, and a dozen or so will be mentioned. Walter Staplin, of New York state, arrived here in June. He first held a claim in section seventeen, but moved to section seven. Patrick McCardle settled in section eighteen. Joseph Means had a place in section twenty eight.

Martin Newcomb, of Ireland, came here from Illinois and bought a farm in section nine. Gibson Essington, of Ohio, came here from Indiana. His land was in section thirty one. Whitney Jewell, of New York, came from Jefferson county, Wisconsin, and got a place in section thirty one, where he remained about eighteen months and sold out and moved to Pine Island. Valentine Woodburn, of Pennsylvania, came and secured a home in section nineteen. In 1861 he enlisted in the Third Minnesota regiment, Company C, and was killed at the battle of Murfreesboro, October 4, 1863. William H. Shipton came here from Pennsylvania and settled in section twenty nine. James Earley, from Virginia, came from Ohio, where he had been living, and planted himself in section nineteen.

Another among the earliest settlers was J. T. Mulvihill, who came at an early day and located in the northeastern part of the town. P. J. O'Shaughnessy came about the same time and preempted a claim adjoining Mulvihill's. Patrick Mangan was among the first to put in an appearance, and located in section ten. He afterwards sold out his claim there and secured another on section twenty four.

Land Office Records. The first titles to land in Fountain 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: September 5, William Chalfant, 33; September 8, Hiram Johnson, 33; September 8, James Watson, 28; September 8, Thomas Watson, 28; October 11, Hosmer H. Winslow, 5; November 20, Henry H. Winslow, 6.

Those who obtained land in 1855 were as follows: April 9, Jacob Hostetter, 6; May 23, Herman Pederson, 3; July 19, William B. Norman, 28; July 19, William Wimmer, 34; July 27, Alexander Wight, 34; August 8, Patrick Egan, 34; August 17, Jacob Annis, 27-34; December 17, John Johnson, 10-14-15; December 29, Martin Mulroy, 35.

Early Events. Susan C., daughter of Gibson and Sarah A. Essington, was born November 15, 1857. She married Cassius Wilson. Euphemia, daughter of William and Sarah Norman, was born in February, 1857. John Hagerty and Malvina Winslow were married on November 7, 1855. James Watson and Sarah A. Maus were united in marriage December 7, 1856. Caroline, daughter of Henry and Louise Winslow, died in January, 1855, at the age of fifteen years. Avery Kinney was born in April, 1855, and died three days later.

Political. As with other subdivisions of the county, this town was organized in 1858, the first town meeting being held at the house of Edward Cummings on May 11. The judges of the first election were Thomas Watson, J. L. Bolles and Hiram Johnson; clerks, J. W. Hagerty and Martin Mulroy. The following were declared elected by the judges, and all served, to-wit: Supervisors, Thomas C. Watson (chairman), H. T. Trumbull and James Healy; clerk, Hiram Johnson; collector, S. F. Stilson; assessor, P. McCabe; overseer of the poor, Jacob Hostetler; constables, James Watson and R. W. Staplin. The board then proceeded to dispose of such business as should come before it, dividing the township into four road districts and appointing road masters. They also passed a resolution to the effect that the next meeting of the board would be held at the residence of James Healy.

On August 29, 1864, a special town meeting was held for the purpose of raising a bounty for volunteers to fill the town quota, and after some discussion a bounty of three hundred dollars was voted to every man who should volunteer and serve.

Postoffice. A postoffice was established in the last half of the sixties. A petition for an office was circulated by G. Essington, which was favorably considered, and J. V. Sharpe received the commission. The office was opened at his house and kept until he moved away in 1871, then Chester Clark took it. T. Wallrod was the next in charge. The Watson Creek office, as it was called, was discontinued about 1890.

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