History of Elba Township, Winona County, Minnesota
From: The History of Winonia County, Minnesota
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge, Editor
H. C. Cooper Jr. & Co., Publisher
Chicago 1913


Elba embraces township 107, range 10. Its boundaries are, on the north Whitewater township, on the east Norton, on the south St. Charles, and on the west Olmsted county. The surface is very much broken, and is covered by three deep valleys, which in turn are traversed by three prominent streams. There are three branches of the Whitewater river, the north branch, the east branch and the middle branch. These unite at the village of Elba, on section 10, and form one principal stream, which flows north and leaves the township on section 2. Whitewater river is formed by numerous springs arising from the bluffs, and furnishes excellent waterpower for a number of mills along its course. The bluffs along the valley are from 350 to 400 feet in height, and form some of the most beautiful scenes in that section of the country.

First Settlers. Elba township was settled somewhat later than the neighboring townships. Robert Crooks is said to have arrived in 1854. F. McCarty and a man named Southwick came the same year. In 1855, quite a few settlers came in, and many of them proved up on their claims that year.

Land Office Records. The first claims to land in Elba township were filed in 1855. Those who filed that year were as follows, the section being given first, the name of the claimant next, and the date of filing last. In case the settler had land in more than one section, only one section is noted. Two, James W. Ireland, October 5; 3, James Southwick, October 17; 4, Andrew Burrier, November 13; 6, D. R. Holbrook, November 13; Addison E. Todd, November 23; A. R. Gleason, October 20; 8, Dexter J. Todd, October 22; Lorenzo U. Todd, October 22; 9, James H. Alcott, November 2; 10, W. Hemmehberg, October 24; O. M. Farrington, December 14; A. Philbrick, October 15; 15, Robert Crooks, November 14; Matthew Kelley, December 3; 17, Jonathan G. Ames, October 19; 19, Nelson Wilson, November 2; Lyman K. Lock, November 2; 23, Oscar Traver, November 13; John Bole, November 2; 24, F. W. Pitcher, November 13; Patrick Norton, November 13; Alex. Gilmore, November 13; 26, Henry Johnson, November 2; Duncan Clark, November 2; Hugh Barclay, October 24; 27, John H. Foster, November 2; Patrick Norton, November 2; A. Barclay, November 2; 29, Joseph Drake, November 2; Lyman Curtiss, November 2; 32, W. U. A. Crow, November 2; 33, Thomas Barnes, November 2; 35, Robert Clark, November 2. Others said to have selected claims this year are: W. Telugan, Peter Kiefer, Andrew Burger, A. D. Nichols, H. D. Bailey and Jeremiah Philbrick, Casper Kriedermacher.

Organization. The first meeting took place May 11, 1858, for the general organization. J. H. Dearborn was elected town clerk; J. W. Ireland, Jeremiah Philbrick, N. V. Crow, supervisors; John Bole, assessor; E. B. Barnes, collector; Thomas Barnes, G. E. Fisher, justices of the peace; David H. Duryee, overseer of poor; Hugh Barclay, Aaron Baker, constables.

Early Events. The first death in the township was that of Mrs. Casper Kreidermacher, who died of cholera in 1856, and was buried on section 3. The first school was held in a little log schoolhouse, built in 1855 by Alva Philbrick, on what is now section 10. The first sawmill was built on the north branch of the Whitewater, on section 8, by A. E. Todd, in the summer of 1856. It was washed out by a flood some time after, and was rebuilt on section 7. Fairwater flouring mill was built on section 7, on the north branch of the Whitewater, some time in 1866, by W. Parr and W. R. Ellis. The first laid out road in the township was the road running from Winona west to the county line. This road ran directly through the center of Elba township, and was laid out in 1857.

Elba village is situated on sections 9 and 10, at the junction of the three branches of the Whitewater. Although it was recorded as a village plat until 1878, there has been a settlement there since 1856. The first house was put up by C. Southwick. Among the early residents were D. R. Holbrook, Israel Messenger, Manoa Turner, D. J. W. Ireland, David Duryee, John Penson and A. D. Nichols. The first postoffice was established in 1857, with H. D. Bailey as postmaster. D. S. Loy kept the first store in 1862; John Bollen soon started another store. The first blacksmith shop was kept by Mr. Medcalf. The first school was held in a log house, built in 1858. Dr. J. W. Ireland practiced in the village and the surrounding country in the early days. A flouring mill in Elba was built in 1860, by John Rodgers. Elba has a population of 155 people. It is located twenty miles northwest of Winona and five miles west of Altura on the Chicago Great Western. It has a mill, five stores, a church, a blacksmith shop and a water works.

Fairwater is located twenty two miles northwest of Winona. It has a mill and a school.

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