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

UNION TOWNSHIP

Union is a township just northeast of the center of the county, having an irregular northern boundary line, which separates it politically from Mound Prairie and Hokah townships; a part of Mound Prairie and Sheldon lying to the west, Mayville to the south, and Brownsville and Hokah to the east. It embraces the greater part of a township of government survey, lacking only some of the northwestern sections, which were taken from it to increase the area of Mound Prairie Township. The surface of Union Township is very evenly divided between hills and valleys, the hills and bluffs rising several hundred feet above the water level.

Crystal Creek rises in the northwestern corner of the township and flows in a northwesterly direction.

Under the edge of a bluff near the highway in section 28 is a fine clear fountain bubbling, known as Indian Spring, which gives rise to the brook of the same name. In early days the place was a favorite one with the Indians, who used to camp here when on hunting and fishing expeditions. A more ideal spot for the purpose could hardly be found.

The first white settlers in the township were David House, with his wife and father, who in 1853 located a claim in Hokah Valley in section 14. After a while the father went on to Kansas, but Mr. House stayed quite a number of years on his farm, finally becoming a merchant in Hokah.

The claim taken by Mr. House in section 14 had been proviously selected by Edwin Butterfield, who, however, failed to make improvements, in accordance with the law; so on his return from a prospecting tour, finding Mr. House in possession, he had no recourse but to seek other land, and accordingly started a farm in section 13.

In the same year Frank J. Kitzinger took land in section 15, and opened a hotel or tavern. He subsequently became a resident of Hokah. Marcus Sammons selected five forties in the northeastern part of section 29. He died just before the war in the village of Hokah.

In the followinr year, 1854, Henry Snure, Sr., staked out a claim in section 29, and with him came William Henry Snure. In the fall of 1855, George Snure, a son of Henry Snure, Sr., Walter Krick, Jacob Becker, and Daniel Klein, came from Upper Canada, near Niagara Falls. George Snure lived with his father until he went out as a soldier in the Civil War. Walter Krick and Jacob Becker settled in section 31. Daniel Klein, who married Katherine Snure, daughter of Henry, located on section 30. Both Becker and Klein later went to reside in Hokah, which seemed about that time to have an attraction for the settlers, but Mr. Klein subsequently returned to his farm. Jacob Klein, who married Agnes Snure, developed a good farm in section 30. The Snure family seems to have done its part in the early settlement of the township, as another of its members, Simeon, took land in section 30, where he resided for many years, a thriving farmer. The Kleins were also active. Charles Klein, who resided in the township for awhile, finally moved to Mayville. John Klein, a pioneer of Hokah, took land in section 4, Union Township. Among the other early settlers were Hiram Griffin, a transient; James Franklin, Edward Null, W. H. Younglove and John Hurley. Some of the early arrivals were merely land speculators, who had no intention of making a permanent settlement, or even of making improvements, but hoped to enrich themselves by taking a middleman’s profit on land deals; but this class of people had little success here. The eligible locations were soon taken, and the occupants for the most part, proved industrious and useful citizens, many of them in process of tithe becoming well to do.

They were ready and prompt in their support of enterprises for the general, each man contributing what he had to give, according to his means, and when money was scarce, other things equally available were cheerfully furnished. Thus, when it was proposed to erect the schoolhouse of District No. 44, a subscription paper was passed around and materials donated as follows by the men whose names were subscribed: John Snure, one quarter of a.n acre of land on the northwest corner of the northeast quarter of section 29; Jacob Klein, four 20 foot logs, and 100 feet of boards; Edmund Null, six 18-foot logs and one square of shingles: Henry Snure, four 20-foot logs, one square of shingles, 100 feet of boards, 300 lath, and one window; James Franklin, four 20-foot logs, and eight beams; Martin Younglove, four 20-foot logs; Daniel Klein, four 20-foot logs; John Hurley, four 18-foot logs, and one square of shingles; John Roach, three 18-foot logs; John Hyke, four 18-foot logs, and one square of shingles; Jacob Baker, four 18-foot sleepers and 15 pounds of nails; Benjamin Franklin, three 18-foot sleepers; Thomas White, one 12-light window, 8 by 10; Walter Krick, two windows, 12 lights, 8 by 10; Henry Snure, Jr., one window of 12 lights; George M. Snure, eight pairs of rafters; William Younglove, 15 one-inch boards. All the material was to be on the ground by the first of March, 1859, and the building was to be 18 by 20 feet. The first trustees of this school were John Hurley, Henry Snure and J. H. Kuyck. Edward Null was the clerk.

No authentic record has been preserved with respect to the first death in the township, but it was probably that of Samuel Hall, grandfather of David House. There were two deaths in 1855, one of James Kyle, which occurred in July, and the other of a child of John Franklin.

The hotel built by Frank J. Kitzinger, as previously mentioned, was the first in the township, and was called the Union House. It burned down but was later rebuilt. Martin Neubury, who came about 1859, was another pioneer hotel man of Union, his place being known as the Valley House. He later removed to Sheldon.

A postoffice was established in 1857 in section 20, the first postmaster being Henry Snure. Later the office was moved to section 29, and was in charge of Edmund Null, but about 1875 it was discontinued.

During the Civil War 14 men were drafted from Union Township, namely: John Roach, Benjamin Franklin, Edwin Butterfield, Jesse Doers, Frank Kitzinger, James Franklin, David House, Daniel Klein, James McMillan, George Kyle, Timothy McKenney, Henry Snure, Thomas White, and Walter Krick. Some of them reported in person to the provost marshal, while others escaped service by paying the $300 commutation, or procured a substitute. Some of the younger men in the township voluntarily enlisted, and Joseph Phillips had five sons in the Union army.

The organization of the township was effective on April 5, 1859, when the first town meeting was held at the house of F. J. Kitzinger. Oliver Nelson was chairman and Edmund Null, clerk. Officers were elected as follows: Supervisors, Benjamin Franklin, chairman, John Hurley and Henry Snure; town clerk, Edmund Null; justices of the peace, David House and Simeon Snure; assessor, Edwin Butterfield, collector, John Culver; constables, Abner Seaman and James Franklin; overseer of the poor, Oliver Moran; pound masters, W. H. Younglove and David House.

A flour and feed mill, called the Union Valley Mill, was erected by Edwin Butterfield at an early day. It had the dimensions of 26 by 36 feet, and a capacity of 50 bushels a day, the power being transmitted by a 36-inch turbine wheel. There was a 12 foot fall of water, which was somewhat scant for the demands of the mill.

Union Township has no village, but the villages of Hokah, Caledonia, Brownsville and Houston are within easy reach, and afford convenient markets, especially to the people living on the outskirts.


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