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


Sumner township is in the northwestern part of the county, with Olmsted county on the north, Mower county on the west, Jordan township on the east and Spring Valley township on the south. The township is noted for its excellent springs and for its fine groves of natural timber. The western part is made up of level prairie, interspersed with a few groves, while the western and southern parts, although now, as a rule, under a high state of cultivation, at the time of first settlement was covered with hazel brush and "oak openings." The soil is generally a rich, dark loam, varying from twelve to forty inches in depth, with a subsoil of blue clay, limestone sand, or gravel. In the extreme southwestern part Of the town the soil has an apparent tendency to sandiness, with a gravel subsoil, but this is confined to very few sections. The town is well watered by various brooks, creeks, and the Root river. The latter stream winds in and out along the southern line of the town, making its final exit through section thirty six into Jordan township. The Kedron brook derives its source in section eighteen, and flowing in a southeasterly direction mingles its waters with those of Root river. Various other small brooks, arising from the numerous springs, flow into the larger branches. The southern part of the town is rolling, and in places towering bluffs rear themselves to a height of 300 feet. All this region is well adapted to stock raising. The balance of the town is composed of prairie land and oak openings, the soil being very fertile and suitable for all kinds of grain raising and agriculture. The town's area constitutes the full thirty six sections of a government township, and in addition to this, one and one half sections cut from the northwest corner of Spring Valley, making thirty seven and one half sections.

Early Settlement. The first settlement in this township was made by the Hayes party in 1853, and arrived about the middle of May. The entire party who settled that month consisted of three persons, H. S. H. Hayes, David Allen, and D. D. Fraser. H. S. H. Hayes came from New Hampshire, and arrived in Sumner May 25, 1853. He took a claim in sections twenty seven and twenty eight. David Allen arrived at the same time from New York, and located on sections thirty three and thirty four. D. D. Fraser, another of the party to arrive at the same time, came from Ohio, and located a claim in section thirty two, where he lived for five or six years, and moved out of the township. Deacon Gulielmus Carter arrived later in the same year, landing in Sumner in October. Daniel Davis also made his appearance on the scene late in the same year, and secured himself an excellent farm on section twenty. The balance of the year was spent by t he hardy pioneers without interruption and almost in solitude.

1854 - Among those who arrived this year were J. O. Stout, C. O. Comstock, Philo Bradley, John E. King, Darius Comstock, S. C. Jolley and C. Millet.

1855 - Among those who came this year were S. G. Keck, W. W. Parkinson and many others.

Items of Interest. Kedron postoffice was established in 1869 in the southeastern corner of section seventeen. W. D. Bradford was appointed postmaster when the office was first established, and held the office for a number of years. Geo. Hood received the appointment in 1877, and retained the office for a few months, when H. S. Smith was appointed. It was discontinued soon after. It was again opened in section sixteen in the nineties. G. H. Cleveland was the last postmaster. A Good Templar lodge was instituted at Sumner Center in 1874, but finally disbanded from lack of interest. A Grange was also instituted in 1873, and failed, donating its funds, as did the Good Templars above mentioned, to a public library, which was organized in 1879. In 1857, Sumner was an election precinct, and the polls were open in Martin Ricker's house. A Friends' Society was partially organized about 1856, and the first services were held on section thirty three. In 1874, the Quakers erected their church edifice on section thirty four. Sumner cemetery is in the southern part of section twenty eight, and was set apart for a burial ground in 1862. The first burials here were the remains of Ernest Gove, a child of C. B. Gove, and the wife of W. W. Beers, who died in April, 1863. The ground was purchased of G. A. Hayes. Sumner was named by the earliest settlers in the town in honor of an act of Charles Sumner. H. S. H. Hayes was the first justice of the peace in Sumner, receiving his commission from the governor in 1854. The first marriage was performed by H. S. H. Hayes on February 4, 1855, the contracting parties being David Allen and Sepha Ann Carter. The first birth in Sumner was a son of the above named parties, David and Sepha Ann Allen, and took place November 18, 1855. The son was christened Frederick Tristram Allen. Another early marriage was that of Caleb O. Comstock to Miss C. E. Carter, at the residence of the bride's parents on section thirty two.

The first death was that of Mrs. Joshua Stears, who died in October, 1856.

Land Office Records. The first titles to land in Sumner 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. August. 4, Samuel Hayes, 28; September 14, Isaac Corkeeff, 21; September 14, William Jolly, 20; September 21, David Allen, 33-34; September 22, O. Comstock, 30.

Those who obtained land in 1855 were as follows: January 25, Jonathan Williams, 12; January 29, Moses E. Flint, 2; January 29, Major Flint, 1; April 26, James Williams, 12; April 26, Nicholas Williams, 9; May 5, Andrew Donaldson, 21; May 18, Samuel J. Harrison, 27; May 18, George Terrell, 35; May 25, William Baning, 25-26; May 28, Charles F. Hardy, 34; May 30, Martin Ricker, 21; June 6, Darius Comstock, 35; June 6, Hugh Moreland, 10; June 6, David Steel, 33; June 6, Greenberry P. Steere, 34; June 6, Isaac Steere, 28-33; June 6, Johnson A. Stout, 34; June 6, Joseph B, Stout, 33; June 7, Gulielmus Carter, 29; June 7, Gulielmus Carter, 32; June 30, Thomas J. Connelly,; July 16, Sally B. Gove, 32; July 26, Elnathan Welch, 12; August 21, Charles A. Loger, 32; October 1, Orson M. Annis, 11; October 1, Horace H. Bandle, 1; October 6, Isaac Besst, 22; October 6, Jackson Coggshall, 22; October 13, Richard Hawkins, 15; October 18, Henry Plummer, 27-34; October 18, Henry Shaw, 22; October 20; George W. Westover, 15; October 29, Hiram Sweet, 1; November 7, Wiliam H. Barlow, 17; November 8, George W. Bradley, 13; November 9, Horatio S. H. Hayes, 21-22; November 9, Mathew Mawer, 27-28; November 9, Ethan A. Tedman, 25; November 12, Thomas Mitchell, 13; November 14, Hiram Blakeslee, 13; November 15, Charles Myers, 11; November 29, Mathew Mawer, 27; December 11, Henry Startwell, 2; December 11, Ephraim Steffens, 30; December 11, John F. White, 31; December 11, Uriah Williams, 14-23; December 14, Robert Overand, 3-4.

Political. The organization of the town of Sumner was effected on May 11, 1858. The first town meeting was held on that day at the house of T. W. Cocorey, and the records show that William B. Melvin was made chairman, pro. team., of the meeting, and C. D. Sherwood, moderator. Walter S. Booth was then elected town clerk. Henry Plummer and H. P. Sleeper were made clerks of election, and William B. Melvin, I. M. Choate and William H. Doane were judges of election. The sum of $150 was appropriated for town purposes, and it was voted that horses and cows could run at large, but sheep and hogs were restricted of that freedom. The following officers were then elected, all of whom served, to-wit: Supervisors, C. D. Sherwood (chairman), C. W. Knight and James H. Tedman; town clerk, D. T. Booth; assessor, John Jolley; collector, W. T. Horton; overseer of the poor, L. Chamberlain; constables, D. C. Hendershott and W. H. Clarno; justices of the peace, C. Brownell and W. S. Booth. It was decided to hold the next town meeting at the house of Martin Richer. There were 140 votes polled. The town now has a hall in section 15.

Hamilton Village. This village, which is now only a memory, was situated in the southwestern part of Sumner township, its town plat extending to the boundary line of Mower county, occupying portions of sections six and thirty. Adjoining the old town site are the "Hamilton springs," that continue boiling up, fresh, clear and sparkling water, both summer and winter, at the rate of 1,500 gallons per minute. The first house erected was put up in 1853, by Adam Zedygar. In 1855, Daniel Booth, from the New England states, arrived, and had the village of Hamilton platted and recorded. Immediate steps were taken to secure a postoffice, in which they succeeded, and in 1856, an office was established under the name of "Elkhorn," and Jacob McQuillan was appointed to handle the mails. Charles Davis arrived in 1855. Booth & Randall made their appearance, and put in a $3,000 stock of goods. A blacksmith shop was started in 1856, and the town for a number of years "boomed." Several sawmills were erected and put in operation, besides a custom gristmill. The postoffice outlived the village, but has now been discontinued, W. J. Briggs being the last postmaster. The patrons receive their mail by rural route from Spring Valley.

Hamilton, in the year 1858, had a gang of organized thieves. They would steal anything that could be carried off, but made horses a specialty. The gang was made up almost entirely of home talent, and it was with the utmost difficulty that the honest members of the community ridded themselves of the pest, by organizing what was termed a "vigilance committee." Upon one occasion this last mentioned association turned out, and after collecting the population of the village together, made the announcement that as they had received sufficient evidence as to those who had been committing depredations, they are now prepared to "lynch" those who had been implicated. At this one hundred shooting arms were brought into view. Imagine their surprise when a number of the most influential citizens broke from among the crowd and made for the woods. But this matter, as it involved not only Hamilton and the town of Sumner, but also this entire portion of the country, is dealt with in the county article.

Washington Village, This is a locality in section 36, Sumner township. The early settlement of the hamlet was commenced in 1855, Rider & Wolfe, of Indiana, putting up the first building. The village was laid out and recorded in 1856, by John H. Maine. In 1858, the first store building was erected by Joseph Bongardner, and he placed a stock of goods on the shelves. A postoffice was established in 1859 with J. H. Tedman, as postmaster. The last postmaster was P. J. Palmer. The patrons now receive their mail from Spring Valley.

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