History of Hillsdale 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

(By W. K. Bates.)

Hillsdale township occupies the south half of township' 107, range 8. It is bounded on the north by Rollingstone, on the east by Winona, on the south by Warren and on the west by Norton. It is six miles long and three miles wide. On the north, east and south portions the surface is broken, while to the northwest there is prairie land. It has a limestone soil composed of a rich dark loam. Timber was plentiful at first, especially along the streams. There were several kinds of oak besides hickory and butternut. Among the animals were deer, red fox, prairie wolf, badgers, woodchucks and beavers. Hillsdale is traversed by Rollingstone creek, which enters the township on section 34, flows north through sections 27 and 26, and leaves the township on section 23.

Hillsdale consists of sections 19 to 36 inclusive, 18 sections in all, and is beautifully situated in the valleys and on the ridges of the south Rollingstone creek; centered at the village of Stockton and lying to the east and the west of the village in about equal parts. Formerly in an early day sections 1 to 12 of the north tier of sections in the town of Warren were to belong to Hillsdale, but Warren succeeded in retaining them.

Early Settlers. The first settlers in Hillsdale township were members of the Minnesota City Colony who found their way down the valley in 1852. The story has already been told An detail. Robert Taylor took a claim in what is now the village of Stockton, on the east side of the valley. D. Q. Burley took a claim adjoining Taylor's, on the west side of the valley. Taylor moved away in 1853, and Burley absorbed it by moving to the center of the valley. Burley disposed of his claim to S. A. Houck, who sold out to J. B. Stockton, one of the original proprietors of the village.

In 1852, Mr. Hunt made a claim above Stockton on the south fork of the Rollingstone. He left in the fall. S. D. Putnam selected a claim a mile below Stockton, in 1852, and in the spring of 1853 built a comfortable house. O. H. Houck selected a claim in 1852 a mile below Putnam's. Charles Bannon selected a claim in about the same locality. He moved onto the claim in 1853. Lawrence Dilworth made a claim below Bannon's, in 1852 and moved onto it in the spring of 1853. Alexander McClintock came into the county in 1853 and settled on a claim in the south Rollingstone valley, above Putnams. He built a log house, and preempted a homestead.

Land Office Records. The first claims to land in Hillsdale 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 given.

19 - James Stoope, October 27. 20 - Geo. W. Roth, December 31. 22 - Oscar H. Houck, October 6. 23 - Levi S. Grouser, September 11; William A. Singer, October 20; Lawrence Dillsworth (Dilworth), July 17; Chas Bannon, July 17. Hawkins Wickersham, November 1; Isaac W. Bowens, November 1. 26 - S. D. Putnam, September 29. 27 - Alexander McClintock, October 18; Jabez Churchill, October 23; Albert Thomas, November 20. 29 - William H. Bond, November 15. 31 - James Gwinn, November 1. 32 - Henry Breidert, November 27. 35 - Jacob Shock, October 17; James H. Swindler, July 12. J. J. Matteson, John Hart, C. Hertzberg, Wm. Stevens, John McClintock, and C. C. Bartlett were also early settlers. The last named kept a hotel for several years. Chas. Bannon is probably the only one in the township who owns the original lands he pre-empted in 1855. Mr. Bannon lives at Minnesota city, three miles below his farm. He rents the farm to H. D. Woodward, who lives on the same and Mr. Bannon enjoys a retired life, with his wife at the neighboring village.

Organization Hillsdale was organized May 11, 1858, as appears in the first book of official records, now known as "Book A." The officers elected were: Supervisors, L. R. King (chairman), James Gwinn, M. Collins; clerk, J. B. Alexander; assessor, J. B. Morehead; collector, O. D. Hicks; overseer of the poor, Henry Wiseman; justices of the peace, T. Q. Gage, John P. Beach; constables, S. T. Gwinn, J. Schmettyer; road overseers, William Gordon, J. H. Swindler, J. J. Matteson, A. M. Davis and James Gwinn. Seventy five votes were cast at this election, and the returns were certified to by L. R. King, H. A. Putnam and A. McClintock as judges and John B. Alexander and A. S. Gregory as clerks of the meeting.

Political History. As already stated, the town was organized May 11, 1858. In 1859 the following officers were elected: Supervisors, A. C. Smith (chairman), James Gwinn, Jabez Churchill; Clerk, J. B. Alexander; assessor, E. L. Ward; collector, G. Gregory; overseer of the poor, Jabez Churchill. The election of 1861 resulted as follows: Supervisors, S. B. Sheardown (chairman), Jabez Churchill, A. S. Grear; clerk, J. B. Alexander; treasurer and assessor, George Gregory. The town was alive to its share in the war for the Union, as the citizens held special meetings September 26, 1864, and February 6, 1865, to raise money to pay volunteers. The sum of $1,300 was raised at each meeting. February 10, 1865, the town sent three men to fill its final quota. They were: Darius Martin, John Manfull and Harvey Borgus. The town has been well served by its officers. Among those who have been chairmen of the board of supervisors may be mentioned: S. B. Sheardown, A. Thomas, J. N. Byington, James H. Swindler, J. P. W. Ellinghuysen, H. M. Mowbray, W. K. Bates, John Monk, A. H. Smith, E. B. King, Peter Adams, Otto Tews, Henry Stutzrim. George McNutt was town treasurer some twenty five consecutive years. James King was town clerk, assessor and justice of the peace for some twenty or more years. W. K. Bates was justice of the peace for some twenty six years. A. T. Swindler has held the office of treasurer some twenty five years since the resignation of George McNutt. The town officers for 1913 are: Supervisors, Henry Stutzrim (chairman), Otto Tews, Albert Entirle; clerk, W. K. Bates; treasurer, Albert F. Swindler; assessor, C. F. W. Benicke. The several justices of the peace failed to qualify this year. C. E. Cmoke is notary public.

The town at its special meeting, March 22, 1884, voted to erect a town hall, and appropriated $700 to pay for a lot and building, the motion being passed by a vote of 45 to 15. The hall was duly erected during the summer of 1884, on Main street in the village of Stockton, and is free to those who desire to hold religious or political meetings.

Schools. The town is well supplied with school houses, in districts 17, 31, 87, 97 and 110. The old school house in number 31 was erected by gifts of money, lumber and work by the early settlers. It stood some eight feet from the track of the Winona St. Peter railroad. In 1864 this building was moved above and across the road to the site of the present brick building which was erected in the fall, 1871. All the districts have good schools and suitable buildings for their use.

Cemetery. Through the efforts of Jabez Churchill, Henry Wiseman, J. McClintock and others a cemetery was laid out and named "Oakland" on the lands of Mr. McClintock. The cemetery has since been enlarged by lands given to the association by Frank Zoheeler and Jacob Stin. Here many of the old settlers repose, although some are in St. Marys, and Woodlawn, at Winona.

Milling. The milling interests are represented in the mill of R. Seemen, two miles below the village of Stockton, in a good custom mill and the A. Madsman mill in the village of Stockton, both mills enjoy a good run of custom during the year. In the early days, John P. Beach had a mill some three miles below Stockton on the creek. This and the J. B. Downer distillery adjoining were both burnt down in 1862 or 63 and never rebuilt. The Madsman mill was built on the site of the old mill owned by A. Mowbray & Sons, which was burnt down in the seventies. It had a large milling trade in those early days.

Stockton village was laid out as a village plat in the year 1854 and covers one half of section 34. The village is a beauty spot nestled in the large cordon of beautiful hills that surround the place, and tower to the heights of several hundred feet. Stockton was surveyed in April, 1855, by H. J. Hilbert for the proprietor, James B. Stockton. In July, 1855, an alteration of the plat was filed by M. Wheeler Sargeant, S. W. Lombard, E. L. King, James B. Stockton and William Sanborn. William Davidson and William Springer, pioneers of St.Charles, also had an interest in the plat of Stockton.

Early Events. The story of the first claim taken near the site of the village is related in the township history. In the summer of 1855, H. A. Putnam built a frame building, 24 by 18 feet, which was used both as a dwelling and as a store for general merchandise. This was probably the first frame building erected on the village plat. It occupied the present site of the Krenzke Brothers store J. B. Stockton was the proprietor of the first hotel in 1856. Wm. Dodge was the first postmaster in Stockton. The office was kept in 1856 just south of the town line. A saw mill was built in 1855, by Wm. Dodge. In 1857 it was sold to Starbuck & Jones, who converted it into a gristmill. The second hotel, the Eagle Hotel, was opened by A. F. Gregory, who conducted it several years and also served as postmaster. Soon after the Putnam establishment was opened. J. H. Lock operated a general store in the present Kuhnert building; and L. D. Smith & Brother had a store on the east side in 1856-57. John Dagon and Robt. Curtis were the first blacksmiths to open shops here. Henry Wiseman and John Alexander conducted a wagon and furniture shop for several years and J. B. Morehead and Geo. McNutt had a large trade in wagons and general blacksmith work in 1857 and on for several years. Wm. King did some blacksmith work at the Barclay spring in 1855, as well. Alice Swindler was the first child born in the village; July 22, 1855. Albert F. Swindler, postmaster, born in May, 1858, is probably the oldest person living in the town who was born here. The first minister to preach was Rev. A. J. Nelson, followed by a regular pastor of the Methodist church, Rev. Wm. Poling. So religion was not forgotten. The first school was kept by Saral Churchill in a little log house one half a mile below the village above the first spring on the hillside and was a pay school with some six or ten scholars. The first public school house 20 by 28 feet in size was erected in 1857 and the school taught for several terms by Albert Thomas. The first school house in district 31, 16 by 16 feet square was built by subscriptions and free work and the first teacher was Elizabeth Sweet, who lived near Bethany at this time, in 1856-57. This shows the value the old settlers put in education.

Present Activities. The stores of A. F. Swindler and Krenzke Brothers, opposite each other do a large business each year. A F. Swindler has been postmaster several years and two Rural routes go out of Stockton. The one south and west is served by R. M. Barclay, and is known as Route No. 1. The one east and south is served by A. H. Smith, and is known as Route No. 2. The routes cover about twenty five miles each. J. F. Veraguth and Albert Kulawski both operate large blacksmith shops and Mr. Veraguth does an increasing trade in new wagon work. On the corner of Sixth and F streets is situated the large cresent creamery Co.'s plant operated by C. E. Smoke as manager. The buildings are owned by the farmers of the vicinity. A large trade is enjoyed. This plant has brought more money to the farms than any other farms activity. Large amounts of cream are sent here from other places. Adjoining the creamery on the same block is the plant of the Stockton Broom Company, which was put up in 1912 and is operated to its capacity. A large amount of brooms are shipped. The Western Elevator Co., has a plant here and buys all kinds of grains for shipment, and sells all grades of coal and coke. The Methodist E. church and the Missouri Lutherans, both have church buildings here. J. Martin Rose is pastor of the Methodist church. E. Geiser of the Silo church holds services at the Lutheran church, Sunday afternoons, every two weeks. There are two halls in the village - the Town hall and the Woodmen ball. The Town hall was erected in 1884, and the Woodmen hall in 1913. In the village and vicinity a large acreage is devoted to sugar beets each year and the beets do well and are sent to Chippewa Falls, Wis., each fall. Stockton is getting to be quite a shipping point for butter, honey, fruit, poultry, cattle, cabbage, brooms and the like, each year.

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