History of Money Creek, MN
From: The History of Houston County, Minnesota
Edited by: Franklyn Curtis-Wedge.
H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co.
Winona, Minn. 1919


Town Histories

The township of Money Creek is located in the northwest corner of the county, with Winona County on the north, Houston Township on the east, Houston and Yucatan on the south, and Yucatan Township on the south, and Yucatan Township and Fillmore County on the west. It is eight miles long in its greatest length from east to west, and five miles wide, and contains about 35 square miles.

The Root River meanders along its southern border, which approximately follows the river. The creek from which it takes its name comes into the township by several branches from the north, in the eastern part, which, uniting, flow south into Root River. There is more valley than ridge land in the township, particularly in the eastern and southern parts. It is well settled and has many fine farms. The Southern Minnesota Division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway passes through the southern part of the township at several points as it follows the Root River Valley.

Money Creek was settled in 1853. Early in that year came John Campbell and Nathan Vance who had previously been here several times looking for a mill site. Campbell took 320 acres, including the site of the mill and hamlet of Money Creek. Vance took a claim adjoining. In the same year, Willis Thompson settled in section 19 and James Campbell in section 26.

Captain Baths, a river captain, came in the spring of 1854 and settled on section 8, at the same time, Charles Williams, a millwright, took land in section 5, and Russell Thurber, a claim adjoining the town site, each remaining a number of years.

Another settler in the spring of 1854 was Cyrus B. Sinclair, a native of Maine, who came here from La Crosse, and entered a claim in section 7. An enterprising man, he helped in the development of the town, was the first postmaster, and did the first blacksmithing. He was a member of the Territorial legislature. After eight or ten years he moved to Winona County, and was subsequently a member of the state legislature. His son, William, in 1857, opened the first regular blacksmith shop in Money Creek, and operated it for many years subsequently.

Stephen Robinson, who came here with Mr. Sinclair, bought the improved claim on section 19 from Willis Thompson. He had previously taken a claim in Goodhue County, but remained here instead. Mr. Thompson took another claim on section 30, which had a waterpower that was afterwards transferred to John Stewart, who improved the property by building a saw-mill, and subsequently a grist-mill. Mr. Thompson, with hopeful anticipations, platted a city, which he named Christiana, but which never got beyond the parchment stage of existence. Other settlers in the eastern part of the township about the same time were Noah F. Berry, with his father and brothers, Noah taking a claim in section 1.

While the above mentioned pioneers were taking possession of their claims, other colonists, were arriving and taking lands in the Root River Valley, most of them being Norwegians. Prominent among these were Martin Christianson and Ole Omodt, who located on section 26, the latter buying out James Spaulding. In the following year, 1855, Samuel Nichols, his son, S. A. Nichols, Phil. Mohan, J. McLeod, and others, settled on the ridge toward the northwest corner of the township.

John Campbell erected the first mill in town, starting in 1854. It was much like other pioneer mills, with no bolting arrangements, and but a single run of stones. But when the settlers succeeded in raising grain, they resorted to this mill, and as the number of pioneers increased, they came in ever augmented numbers. Sometimes, the people bringing their grist to be ground had to wait several days for their flour, and those who could not find accommodations in his small log house had to sleep in the mill itself, or sometimes out of doors, in or under their carts. Soon after putting the grist mill in operation he erected a sawmill. The latter, which contained a single sash saw, rimained in operation for fifteen years. In 1859, Mr. Campbell put up a flouring mill, with one run of stones, a smutter and a bolter.

John Stewart, who about 1857, as mentioned, built a sawmill on section 30, some two years later built a grist mill with a single run of stones, and with bolting facilities. It later became quite an important flour mill.

Many years ago Stephen Robinson commenced the manufacture of brick on his farm, which proved to be of good quality. At first they were moulded by hand in the old fashioned way, but about 1870 he procured a machine, and since that time the manufacture has been extensive. The brick used in the construction of the county jail in Caledonia were from this yard, and numerous other buildings in Caledonia and other towns in the county were thus supplied.

A tannery was established by John Emery, near Money Creek, in 1866. In about two years the business was closed out.

The hamlet of Money Creek, at first called Clinton, was platted in the fall of 1856 by John Campbell, the pioneer. He sold the first lot to Mr. Stolls, who erected a tavern, which he kept for several years. Soon after the hamlet was surveyed a half was sold to Mr. Goodrich, of the firm of Draper & Goodrich, who built a store, the beginning of the mercantile business here. Other early merchants here were G. Bissell, Wood & Vance, Corey & Emery, and A. W. Wheeler.

The first town meeting was held May 11, 1858, at the house of Enoch Gould, E. D. Northrop was chairman and C. B. Sinclair, clerk. The following officers were unanimously elected, each having received 37 votes. Supervisors, O. P. Gates, chairman, Charles Gyle and. C. Anderson; clerk, C. G. Berry; assessor, N. Whittemore; collector, H. Mills; overseer of the poor, Enoch Gould; constables, H. Mills and Stephen Van Horn; justices of the peace, Charles Smith and E. D. Northrup.

The township of Money Creek was originally called Hamilton, but when the act was passed by the legislature forbidding the use of the same name for more than one town or city in the state, and it was found that the name of Hamilton had been previously appropriated, this township was obliged to take a new name, and chose one that was not likely to have a duplicate. Some man, having got his pocketbook and its contents wet in the Creek, and spreading out the bank notes on a bush to dry, a sudden gust of wind blew them into the water again, and some of the money was never recovered; so this circumstance suggested the name of the stream, after which the town was named.

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