History of Janesville Township, Waseca County, Minnesota
From: Child's History of Waseca County, Minnesota
BY: James E. Child
The Press of The Owatonna Chronicle, Publisher.
Copyright 1905


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 propensities.

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.


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.

Return to [ Minnesota History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Minnesota Biographies ]

Minnesota Counties at this web site - Dakota - Fillmore - Houston - Waseca - Winona

Also see the local histories for [ CA ] [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ MN ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]

All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy