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


York was an original government township, and is second from the western line of the county on the southern tier, with Forestville on the north, Bristol on the east, Iowa on the south and Beaver on the west. It may be said to be a prairie town, although in some parts it is quite hilly, particularly in the northeastern and southeastern portions, where there are some quite abrupt bluffs. The soil is loam, varying from a light sandy to a dark clayey variety, with a large amount of moisture and usually a porous limestone foundation. Some of it, however, has a clay subsoil. There are no large water courses in town and the streams that do exist are peculiar, sometimes being a raging torrent and then coming down to be a little rivulet, to disappear altogether. There are numerous springs in various parts of the town. Unlike many other towns in the county, wells are easily sunk from ten to fifty feet, and an abundance of water procured. There is a stream that starts from a spring in section 35 and flows in an easterly direction, to leave the town near the southwest corner. Other streams come front toward the west, to be lost near the central portion. Another little creek cuts across the southwest corner, making for the Iowa river, and one also starts from section 15, to be joined by a branch or two in its course toward the Root river. In the western part of the town the land is inclined to be flat and to secure the best results the natural drainage should be stimulated by artificial methods. When the pioneers arrived there were some groves of fine timber, consisting of burr, red and white oak, which have disappeared, but there is a vigorous growth of wood now where was formerly scattering brush. The town has a good soil so situated as to be most valuable for agricultural purposes, including tillage and stock raising.

Early Settlement. This town is reported as having been first settled in 1854. Knud Olson and Even Knudson, natives of Norway, came here from Iowa in that year in the month of August. Mr. Olson took his land in sections 24 and 25 and Mr. Knudson in sections 23 and 26. The same month Ole Kettleson, who had been stopping in Bristol, settled in section 3. Mr. Knudson lived on his farm until 1867, when he sold out and removed to Redwood county. Mr. Olson moved to section 14 and Mr. Kettleson to section 15.

In 1855 there were several arrivals, among them Peter McCracken, a native of Scotland, who came here from New York State, and placed his sign manual on some land in sections 3 and 10. He was a very prominent man, identified with the interests of the county and held various public offices. Ira Henderson, who was born in Erie county, New York, made a claim on section 4 June 4, the same day that Mr. McCracken did. A. S. Adams had a place in section 9. Osman Olson came here from Wisconsin and claimed a farm in sections 15 and 16. Knud Anderson came in November and claimed the southeast quarter of section 11. Frank Olson, who had made a brief stay in Wisconsin, took a place in section 15. Joseph Betts came from Wisconsin and occupied the northeast quarter of section 15. Ole Tistleson, who afterwards moved to Iowa, located in section 25. Henry Shadwell, a native of England, settled on section 3, but moved to Otter Tail county. Halver Burgess, from Norway, came by way of Wisconsin and secured a farm in section 11. In 1861 he went to Dakota. Torge Torgeson, a Norwegian, came here from Iowa and was on section 34, and in 1859 went to California, dying there in 1863. John Thorson, of Norway, came here from Iowa and took a farm in section 24.

In 1856 there was quite a list of arrivals, among them should be recorded: David Ingalls, from Vermont, who had stopped a while in New York state as a pioneer there, surrounded a claim in section 4. William Boland, from Holland, found a home embracing the northeast corner of the town. L. Aslackson came here from Carimona and went on section 2, but moved to section 14. K. 0. Wilson had lived a while in Wisconsin on his way from Norway and found a place that filled his idea of a farm in section 28. James Hipes, a native of Virginia, had a farm in section 35. In 1866 he sold his place and went to Carimona. Thomas Armstrong, of England, came in the spring from Granger and lived on section 35, but in 1869 sold out and went to Mitchell county. His brother, E. Armstrong, came from Canada and bought the north half of his brother's claim. Orville F. Mann, a native of New York state, came from Michigan and settled on section 5. Robert Love, a Scotchman, came from Iowa and staked out a farm in section 14. He died in 1876 His son, now Mayor George A. Love, M. D., came with him. Oel Bacon, a native of Massachusetts, who had been sojourning in Wisconsin, secured a home in section 21.

During 1857 there was a large list of people coming to fill up this town, and many of them will be mentioned: Reuben Wells, one of the prominent men of the county, came here this year. He was born in Washington county, New York, November 17, 1802 His early life was spent in farming in Luzerne county in that state. He took 160 acres of land here, and at an early day; with a pocket compass, and by pacing off the distance, he would help the settler in finding the corner stakes. In 1863 he moved to Preston. John Boland, a Hollander, came from Wisconsin and established a home in section 1. Moses D. Gue, of New York, had his first place in section 33, but moved to section 32. Austin Tostenson, who came by the way of Wisconsin, located in section 26. Joseph Brown, who was from New York, coming by way of Wisconsin, found a home in section 17, and died in 1882 in Iowa. Widow Espy secured a place, which she soon sold, in section 31 Samuel Louden, a native of New York, located in section 29. Ole Arneson settled in section 34, coming here from Harmony. Simeon Hamblin, of New England, came here and died one week afterwards. His widow located in section 8. She died in 1874. A son, Samuel Hamblin, was also in section 8, but he lost his life in the service of his country. Lewis Conklin, of New York, came from Wisconsin to section 20. S. G. Canfield, also of New York, took a place in section 21. After 1857 the immigrants were more of a scattering character, but some of the most prominent men and valued citizens were among these later comers.

In 1858 there were a few settlers: Joseph Richards, of England, came from Canada and bought land in section 10. John Ellingson, who came by way of Wisconsin, settled in section 22. In 1860 J. R. Williams, from Wales, who had lived a while in Wisconsin, found a place in section 36. Owen D. Owens, of the same nationality, bought land in Bristol and lived with his sister, Mrs. J. J. Jones, who had secured a place in section 36.

Land Office Records. The first titles to land in York township were issued by the government in 1855. 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: June 23, Dirk Alirk, 1.

Those who obtained land in 1856 were as follows: January 11, Tistle Oleson, 23; January 22, Ole Kittelson, 3; January 22, Kanute Oleson, 24-25; January 22, Ole Tistle, 23; April 2, Evend Knutson, 26; April 12, Torger Torgerson, 34; June 23, William Boland, 1; June 23, Sjur Tevarsen, 26; July 3, Ole Tarrechen, 25; July 9, Ole Tarrechen, 24; July 8, Ira Henderson, 4; July 9. Abner S. Adams, 9; July 9, David Ingalls, 4; July 14, John N. Eulette, 21; July 23, Ole Tustison, 25; August 28, Philip F. McAuillian, 12; August 29, Julius N. Burton, 21; August 30, George Wightman, 21; September 18, Andrew Knudson, 11; September 19, George L. Butler, 10; September 19, Roger M. Butler, 10; October 8, Holivar Burgess, 2-10-11; October 10, John M. Reas, 4-5; October 10, Addison C. Sheldon, 5; October 10, Rolland F. Sheldon, 6; October 24, Ola Anderson, 27; October 24; James Hipes, 35; October 29, John Oteson, 35; November 17, Isaac W. Lucas, 12; November 20, Ole Bacon, 21; November 20, William F. Cate, 17-20-21; November 20, Andrew Weaver, 20; November 24, John W. Campbell, 22-28; November 24, Sayles R. Green, 22-27-28.

Political. The organization of the town was effected on May 11, 1858. The primal town meeting was at the house of Ole Bacon, in section 21. The first officers were: Supervisors, Reuben Wells (chairman), Halver Burgess and Benjamin Palmer; assessor, David Ingalls; collector, Abner S. Adams; clerk, S. G. Canfield; overseer of the poor, James Hipes; justices of the peace, Peter McCracken and Thomas Armstrong; constables, Henry Yarnes and Willard Lester; surveyor of roads, Andrew Weaver. The moderator of the meeting was Abner S. Adams and the clerk Reuben Wells. The administration of town affairs has left no opportunity for unfavorable comment, as the leading men have been entrusted with town matters, and the management has been devoid of extravagance on the one hand or parsimony on the other.

Postoffices. The first to be established in the town of York was in the fall of 1857. S. G. Canfield was the postmaster and the office was in his house on the southwest quarter of section 21. In about one month it was removed. In March, 1882, Mrs. S. G. Canfield was appointed postmistress. William Plummer, who followed John Lund, was the last postmaster. The people now receive their mail from Lime Springs, Ia.

Various Events. An early marriage was that of Thomas Lewis and Elizabeth Brown, on December 24, 1857. The ceremony was performed by Peter McCracken, justice of the peace. Willard Lester and Mary Ingalls were united by the same magistrate on April 24, 1858. Rasmus Erickson and Ann Oleson, according to the record, were married on August 10, 1858. Charles Hanson and Letitia R. Ingalls were married on November 15, 1858. On June 6, 1857, Ira Henderson and Sarah P. Ingalls made an excursion from York to Forestville, and were married by Robert Foster. Tilda, daughter of Knudt and Julia Olson, was born March 2, 1855. The first blacksmith shop was opened by Osman Olson in 1855, on section 16. It was conducted for about eight years and closed up. An early death was Almond, son of Joseph Betts, in 1856 or 1857. He was buried on the farm on section 15, where the cemetery now is. Ole Sampson's wife died in July, 1857. On May 21, 1857, Simeon Hamblin died, and was buried in section 4, but his remains were afterwards removed to Forestville.

Greenleafton. This hamlet nestling down in the northeast corner of the town, was named in honor of Mary Greenleaf, of Philadelphia, who generously gave $3,500 to build the Dutch Reformed Church edifice.

The postoffice at Greenleafton was established in June, 1874. J. Huetink was postmaster. The three most recent postmasters at the village have been G. A. Nagel, Bennie Benson and Benjamin F Allink, the latter being in charge when the office was discontinued. The people now receive their mail by rural route from Preston.

Canfield. This is another embryonic village also known as York, on the line between sections 21 and 22. S. G. Canfield opened a store here in 1876, under the auspices of the local grange, and G. II. Sherwood joined him in 1878.

Cherry Grove. This is another of those villages made up of hopes unrealized, and expectations unfulfilled. Its location may be found in section 4. Its designation as a village was on account of its postoffice, which being gone the location continues as a remembrance, and the name will remain on the maps long after what usually distinguishes a village from the country has been obliterated.

The Cherry Grove postoffice was located here in 1869, having been moved from Forestville township, a mile distant, and D. J. Ingalls was selected as postmaster. It was at his house, on section 4, until February, 1882, when it was returned to Forestville. This was not satisfactory to the people and the office was again established. C. Petenpole succeeded John Riddle as postmaster and was the last in charge, the people now receiving their mail by rural route from Ostrander.

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