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


Town Histories

Mound Prairie township is the second from the Mississippi River, on the northern line of Houston county. It has Winona county on the north, La Crescent on the east, Union on the south and Houston on the west. The town was named because of a remarkable rounded bluff in section 4.

The town is eight and one half miles from north to south and five miles wide, and includes a part of two government townships. The Root River bisects the town a little south of the center in an irregular course from the west, with a tendency toward the south. Several branches join it in this township, both from the north and from the south. Crystal Creek cuts across the southwestern corner, and Pine Creek, from Winona county, runs through section 4.

The general topography is in harmony with the other towns in the county, and along Root River there are valleys, bluffs, and ridges, the latter in quite an extensive plateau north of the center.

The railroad runs in the valley of the Root River, and there is a station, a store and a post office on section 28, which in the case of this town, is near the geographical center. There is little unproductive land, except the sharp sides of the bluffs, and if land was scarce even these could be utilized.

There are conflicting claims as to the date of the first settlement of Mound Prairie. There was a heavy growth of black walnut timber along the Root River, which could be cut and rafted down the Mississippi, and several parties availed themselves of this opening. They built temporary cabins, squatted on desirable claims, and then sold such rights as they claimed to possess to men seeking homes. This part of the county was thus captured by the supplementary land office operators early in the fifties.

So far as can be learned, the first man to make a claim within the present limits of the township, was John Crypts. His first business was getting out black walnut logs, and he is said to have employed the Indians in this work. His claim, or one of them, was south of the river, on section 34. He did considerable land speculation for those early days.

Thomas Van Sickle, originally from Pennsylvania, came, it is quite likely; in 1852, and engaged in running off black walnut timber, and in the claim business. He located on section 4, a mile or so south of the river, but subsequently sold out there and went across the river to section 2L This latter claim he soon sold to James C. Day, and removed to Iowa, but later returned to Houston county, and resided near Brownsville until his death in the late seventies.

James C. Day, who, also, was a Pennsylvanian, after cultivating a farm for a few years, sold it to P. Eberhard, and removed to La Crescent, where he operated a ferry boat.

Jacob Bush, who came from Hokah in 1853 or 1854, secured a claim on section 26, in what became known as Bush Valley. In 1855 he began the erection of a sawmill and a dam, and had them nearly completed when a flood swept away the constructions and he abandoned the enterprise and soon afterwards left for the Pacific coast, finally locating with his family in Oregon.

Henry P. Eberhard, a native of Prussia, came to Mound Prairie in the spring of 1854 and secured eighty acres on section 21. His son, J. A. Eberhard, became proprietor of the only store in town, and was also station and express agent. Another son, Philip, settled on section 21 on the Van Sickle claim.

In 1856 Dr. J. G. Sheldon located on section 33.

Abraham Milhauser located on sections 21, 22 and 27, and the next year built a dam, but subsequently moved to La Crosse, where he built a steam sawmill that was later owned by Mr. PauL After a year or so he returned, but did little more as he died in 1858. His son, A. A. Milhauser, however, born in Pennsylvania in 1851, became a prominent citizen of the township. In 1878 he married Elizabeth Krohler and soon after bought a farm on section 8. In the early eighties he was chairman of the town board.

Philip G. Vix, a native of France, came from Wisconsin in 1854, locating on section 29, where he was still living twenty-five or thirty years later.

Edward S. Lore arrived in the spring of 1855 and located on the North Ridge, his father, Seth, subsequently joining him. Edward S. removed to Jackson county, taking a claim on the Des Moines River. At the time of the Inkpadoota Sioux massacre he was the only man who effected an escape from his immediate settlement. He finally made his way back to Mound Prairie, and died while on a visit to friends in the East in 1877. The father, Seth Lore, who was a native of New Jersey, at one time lost heavily by the wreck of a merchant vessel in which his means were invested. He was one of the founders of Ironton, Ala., where he did a large business in connection with John Forsyth, formerly Spanish minister, and Hon. Alfred Iverson, a senator from Georgia. His daughter, Mrs. C. B. Carpenter, came soon after him. She was the first clerk of the district and first woman in the State to hold that position. James Stowe, of Augusta, Me., who came about the same time, took a claim on section 8. He died about 1864.

In 1855 the proclivity to lay out cities and villages struck this locality, and Dr. Sheldon, having become impressed with the necessity, had a village surveyed and platted, and bestowed upon it the name of "San Jacinto." It was on William Hunter's land.

The first marriage celebrated in Mound Prairie township is supposed to have been that of Christian Zeigler and Sophia Eberhard, in 1856. The first death, it is said, was that of a child of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Heffner, and the mother soon followed the little one.

A post office was secured about the year 1855, and it was named San Jacinto, in honor of the decisive battle for Texan independence, of which General Sam Houston was the hero.

In 1856 a post office was located at the Lorette House, and E. S. Lore held the postal keys. Mrs. Anna M. Price, a sister of the postmaster, was appointed deputy in the following spring and had charge until it was discontinued, except a single year, when David Davis was postmaster. In 1869 both these offices were discontinued, and the Mound Prairie office established, with J. A. Eberhard in charge.

The first town meeting of which there is a record was at the house of James Hewitt in April, 1860. There were sixty-two votes cast. Isaac Holmes was moderator: and the officers chosen were: Supervisors, George Cannon, chairman, Jacob Bush and George LarsoD; assessor, Jacob Krohler; town clerk, William Connington; treasurer, Seth Lore, and superintendent of schools, Andrew Orr.

In 1853 or 1854 Jacob Bush built a dam across the creek in section 26, and nearly completed a sawmill 24 by 40 feet, of very heavy timber 18 inches square. A wheel was ready to be placed in position, when a sudden freshet proved too much for the dam to resist. The mill stood for years as a monument of the dismal failure, and its timbers finally lay scattered about the place.

In 1856 a second attempt was made to build a mill to saw lumber and grind grain. Abraham Milhauser was the moving spirit in the enterprise. A dam was thrown across the Dayville or Hanson Creek, in section 22, but the first rise in the stream carried it away, and so this attempt to utilize the water power of the town proved likewise a failure.

At a later date a feed mill was established by James McLaughlin, who called horses into requisition, having a contrivance not unlike that employed in running a threshing machine of the olden type. Four horses were used, and he had a feed mill of his own invention so constructed that corn in the ear was ground in one operation, without preparatory crushing. The stones had a diameter of three feet, four inches, and were taken from the sandstone bluff nearby. They had a capacity for grinding 150 bushels of corn a day, and a larger amount of small grain.

At quite an early day a store was opened by Charles Chase on the Sheldon farm, and the firm afterwards became Chase & Andrew Orr. While the railroad was building, D. J. Cameron had a small stock of goods near the station. In 1868 J. A. Eberhard opened a store at the station in a small building. A store has since been maintained at this point.

The Lorette House was a well known landmark in the early days. It was on the old territorial road from La Crosse to St. Paul, and was the first principal stopping place after leaving La Crosse. It was constructed by Seth Lore and kept by him until 1861. After that his daughter, Mrs. C. B. Carpenter, became the hostess. It was a log house, 18 by 20 feet, with three rooms on the ground floor and a chamber above, and an extension back of the building as a cook room. In early times this was a stopping place for three lines of stages, and not unfrequently seventy people would be accommodated with dinners. On the old register may be found the names of General Sibley, Governor Ramsey, Judge Goodrich, Major MeCullom, Captain Rollins, Colonel Allyn, Lords Cavendish and Groesnor, Sir William Ashley, with numerous Indian Chiefs, including Hole-in-the-Day, Bastie, and others. The house was noted for its immense 'fireplace, which took up one half of a side of the building. In 1859 a frame addition was built, 20 by 30 feet, and two stories in height. When the railroads began operations this old hostelry, around which clustered so many associations, was discontinued and left as a solitary landmark of an age gone never to return.

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