History of Woodville 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


Township No. 107 north, of range 22 west, was named after one of its earliest settlers (Mr. Eri G. Wood) by resolution of the county commissioners, April 5, 1858. Long before any white man ever viewed the rich hunting grounds of this county the native Indians must have made the town of Woodville one of their principal villages. There can be no doubt, in view of the Indian mounds and other relics which have been found upon the shores and in the vicinity of Watkins lake, that the Sioux Indians, for many generations, lived in large numbers in this township. Geographically it held a commanding position for the red man. From Clear lake he could, with his canoe, descend Crane creek to Straight river, thence to the Cannon river, and on to the Mississippi; or he could drag his light boat across the narrow strip of land that divides Clear lake from Gaiter lake, and there launch it for a journey down McDougall creek, thence down the Le Sueur river to the Blue Earth and the Minnesota rivers, and thus easily traverse vast sections of country abounding in fish and game. Later residents may doubt this view of the primitive situation, on account of late dry seasons, but the older settlers of this region remember well when small boats were run and could be run as here stated.

The splendid forests which then existed in portions of Woodville, Blooming Grove, Deerfield, and Meriden, not only afforded comfortable shelter from the freezing blasts of winter, but they furnished plenty of fuel and material for Indian wigwams. The woods abounded in game and the lakes were filled with the very choicest fish. Barring the sometimes intense cold of winter, it was the ideal land of milk and honey for the native tribes. It is no less a land of plenty for the white men that now possess it.

The surface is beautifully diversified - gently undulating, as a rule rich prairies interspersed with timber, lovely lakes, bordered with groves of heavy timber - the groves being adorned in spring with blossoming plum trees, cherry trees, thorn and crab apple trees, and other flowering shrubs and trees in great profusion. Of the 23,040 acres of land in the township, over 2,000 are embraced in its lakes. The principal of these is Clear lake, which occupies portions of sections 8, 9, 16, and 17, and is a trifle over a mile and a half in length and nearly a mile wide.

In addition to this beautiful body of water, there is Loon lake, a beautiful gem of water within the limits of the city of Waseca, half in section 7 and half in section 18. There is a wooded island in the center of the lake, which, in summer, with its dark green foliage, gives the lake' a picturesque and very beautiful appearance, especially during the months of June and July. With very little expense Loon lake could be made to rival in beauty and picturesqueness Lake Como, at St. Paul, and many other noted places of resort. May we not hope that in the near future it may be so improved as to be a "thing of beauty and a joy forever?"

The surface soil is a rich, black loam, resting upon a gray clay and gravel, mixed, which, in turn, rests upon a heavy, blue clay subsoil, many feet in depth, and almost impervious to water. The surface soil is as productive and lasting in quality as any in the known world. Experience has demonstrated that it is capable of withstanding extreme moisture and extreme drouth; for in the past fifty years there has never been a failure of crops. At the time of the first'settlement and for years thereafter, until pastured and fed down, the native grasses, blue joint and "crowfoot," grew to be from five to six feet in height, and were fully equal to cultivated grasses as food for animals.

The first settler in Woodville was Mr. A. C. Smith, deceased. Mr. Smith died Jan. 29, 1892, and his worthy wife died June 29, 1894. O. Powell, Eri G. and Loren C. Wood, Henry Watkins, E. K. Carlton, Jacob Myers, William Dunn, and Austin Vinton settled here in 1856. A part of this township was at first a portion of the precinct of Swavesey, which at that time embraced all of Blooming Grove, Tosco, Janesville, and the north halves of St. Mary and Woodville.

March 16, 1857, the county commissioners divided Swavesey precinct, making the precinct of Empire out of the two west townships. They appointed for Swavesey, W. H. Young, of Woodville, and Lewis McKune, of Blooming Grove, as justices; and Loren Clark Wood, of Woodville, and S. F. Wyman, of Blooming Grove, as constables.

At the fourteenth meeting of the county commissioners, held at Wilton, April 5, 1858, Woodville was set off by metes and bounds, and J. K. Myers, William M. Green, and E. G. Wood were appointed judges of the first election.

On the fly leaf of the first town record book, in the handwriting of Loren C. Wood, is the following: "Township 107 north, Range 22 west, was organized on the 11th day of May, A. D. 1858, and named Woodville."

The record continues:
"The town of Woodville held its first town meeting on the 11th day of May, 1858." (At the house of E. G. Wood.) Mr. J. K, Myers was chosen to serve as moderator, and L. C. Wood, as clerk. On motion of Nathaniel Wood, the meeting adjourned one hour for dinner. At 1 o'clock the meeting was again called to order. Obadiah Powell, J. K. Myers, and F. Glover were elected supervisors. L. C. Wood was elected clerk; Eri G. Wood, assessor; W. H. Young, collector and treasurer; Nathaniel Wood, overseer of the poor; Lewis C. Kate and W. H. Young, constables; Amzi Schaffer and Austin Vinton, justices; and Garret Houck, overseer of roads."

Aug. 25, 1864, the town held a special meeting and voted to issue soldiers' bonds in the sum of $1,200. Following this record there are three certificates recorded showing that William R. Brisbane, Francis Lincoln, and George Nock - all residents of Wilton - were duly mustered into the United States service for one year, and credited to the town of Woodville. Dec. 19 came the last call of President Lincoln for 300,000 men. Woodville promptly called a special meeting Jan. 14, 1865, and voted soldiers' bonds in the sum of $1,600. Of this amount only $633.30 were afterwards issued. The records also show that Wilfred Vinton and W. H. Young, Jr., were mustered into the service to the credit of this town, March 25, 1865. Another special town meeting was held March 11, 1865, which ratified and sanctioned the action of the board in issuing bounty bonds. As the Rebellion soon after was subdued, there is no further record of the matter.

Loren G. Wood, son of Eri G., was the first white boy, and Lovica Smith, daughter of A. C., was the first white girl, born in the township.

The first school building was a log school house, a short distance east of the present Woodville cemetery. Miss Emma Cook, afterwards the wife of Major W. T. Kittredge, was the first teacher away back in the summer of 1859:

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