This is the northwest corner township of the county, and boasts of the largest lake in the county - one which
abounds in pickerel, bass and croppies. It is a very fine body of water in the midst of a fertile country. Elsewhere
in this work is given a record of the first settlement which occurred in 1855. John Douglas and a man named Hughes
were the first settlers, and John Davis and Alfred Holstein, Indian traders, came next.
The early records of this township were lost years ago - forever lost no doubt.
The board of county commissioners, April 5, 1858, set off and organized the township under the name of Okaman,
with two polling places. The one at Okaman had, for judges of election, Alex. Johnston, C. H. Bishop, and W. N.
Buckhout, and the election was to be held at the house of A. Tuttle. The other polling place was at the house of
Caesar De Regan, with R. Brown, John Cunningham, and De Regan as judges. On the 17th of the next May, upon petition
filed, the name of the township was changed to Janesville. Under the township organization, adopted by the first
state legislature, N. E. Strong was the first chairman of the board of supervisors, and served as a member of the
board of county supervisors during the year. The next year he was followed by J. W. La Paul. Mr. La Paul, within
the year, moved to St. Mary, and was succeeded by W. W. Cowles. Both La Paul and Cowles were noted for their talking
The only town records to be found commence with the year 1868. The town meeting of that year was held at the house
of Amos Roberts, in Okaman village, on the 7th of April. Mr. Hiram Christman was chosen moderator ; the town clerk
and town treasurer each made a report, and both reports were adopted. From all that appears upon the record book,
these reports might have been verbal. As to their contents, the record book is altogether silent. The town then
had ten road districts and the following gentlemen were chosen overseers of highways: R. C. Wilkins, A. J. Patchen,
Richard Cahill, Thomas McHugo, John Cahill, J. R. Wright, Henry Lane, Hiram Fish, William Popham, Nelson Thwing.
The meeting voted a tax of $315 for town expenses, the sum of $400 for the payment of outstanding soldier bounties,
and one per cent. upon all taxable property for road expenses. The supervisors elected were Silas Waterbury (chairman),
William Patchin, and Hiram Fish; W. N. Buckhout, town clerk; J. H. Ricker, treasurer; A. N. Roberts, assessor;
C. P. Pratt and Hiram Christman, justices of the peace; C. Hover and C. Peaslee, constables. That year there was
paid from the road fund $83.91, and for ordinary expenses $104.60.
Caesar De Regan made a claim in 1856 and had surveyed and platted the old village of Janesville. The town site
subsequently fell into the hands of J. W. Hosmer and others, but when the present Janesville was platted the old
site was gradually abandoned.
The village of Okaman at the head of Lake Elysian was platted in May, 1857. The proprietors were W. P. Mathes,
B. S. Hall, S. M. Cooley, F. E. Roberts, and G. H. Bishop. Here was situated the famous Buckhout flouring mills,
which furnished flour to the early settlers as far south as the Iowa state line for years. Okaman was one of the
prettiest little villages in the state of Minnesota from 1857 to 1864, and was inhabited by an orderly, intelligent,
and cultured people who had great hopes that it would grow into a city. Alas, for human hopes and expectations!
Okaman now exists only in name.
The reader is referred to "biographical 'sketches" for particulars regarding early settlers in this township.
VILLAGE OF JANESVILLE.
Janesville, or "East Janesville," as it was platted, is one of the substantial and permanent towns
of Southern Minnesota. It is in the midst of a beautiful and rich farming country, inhabited by an industrious
and frugal people, who earn and command prosperity. It was platted in August, 1869, by Surveyor S. H. Mott for
J. W. Sprague, general manager of the W. & St. P. railroad at that time. Nine additions have been added since.
Buildings were constructed as if by magic. James Cummins hauled the first load of lumber for the first building,
Baldwin's hotel. J. O. Chandler, A. W. Jennison, F. H. Miner, D. J. Dodge & Co., J. D. Andrews, and others
erected buildings that fall. Dr. Craig was the first physician, and John Bradish, Esq., the first attorney, as
he was the first in Waseca county In the winter of 1869-70, several buildings from Old Janesville were moved to
the new town, and in the spring of 1870 the new town was full of life and vigor. James Cummins, born March 5, 1840,
in Kenosha county, Wis., came to Blue Earth county in 1857, lived in Old Janesville for a time, band soon took
a hand in the business of the new town. Joseph Davison, born in the state of New York, in 1834, came to Byron township
in 1862, enlisted in Oompany D, First Minnesota heavy artillery Oct. 20, 1864, served until Sept. 27, 1865, returned
to Minnesota the same year, and in 1869 went to Janesville and helped to build the town as a contractor and builder.
The Banner flouring mill, now owned by Jennison & Co., was built in 1873, by the firm of Stokes, Kimball &
Co. The Diadem flouring mill was erected in 1877, by Harn, Snyder & Co. They became financially involved and
the mill passed to Hillyer & Tillotson, then to J. S. Sutcliffe, and finally, in 1886, it became the property
of Jennison Bros. The W. & St. P. railroad company erected a grain elevator in 1869, which soon after passed
into other hands. Among the business houses, that of Byron & Barden is very popular.
The first school house was erected in 1871, at a cost of $2,800. Another school building was erected in 1877, and
a third in 1885. The latest is a brick building costing $7,000.
The Freewill Baptist society built the first church in 1870, at a cost of $3,000.
The Episcopalians next built in 1877, at a cost of $2,000. The Catholics erected their church building in 1876,
and expended thereon about $6,000.
The Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1880. It is a brick structure, costing $4,000.
The Lutheran Evangelical church building was erected in 1885 at a cost of $2,500.
The town and village together, in 1878, put up a building 45x 100 feet, which is used as a town hall and for public
meetings of all kinds It cost about $5,000, and is a credit to the place.
A lodge of A. F. and A. M., No. 124, was organized under dispensation, Aug. 10, 1875. Its present charter was issued
Feb. 11, 1877. The dispensation members were R. N. Sackett, Kelsey Curtis, Darling Welch, and J. O. Chandler, the
officers being: R. 0. Craig, W. M.; E. H. Gosper, S. W.; F. H. Miner, J. W.; R. M. Redfield, S. D.; J. W. Tefft,
J. D. ; S. C. L. Moore, S. S.; C. H. Younglove, J. S.; R. Heritage, Tyler. The lodge does good work, and is in
a prosperous condition.