History of Norton 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


Norton township embraces township 107, range 9. It is bounded on the north by Mt. Vernon, on the east by Rollingstone and Hillsdale, on the south by Utica and on the west by Elba. The surface in the central and southern parts is what is known as rolling, open land, and contains some of the best land in the county, while in the eastern portion the land is very much broken. Rollingstone valley, traversed by a branch of Rollingstone creek, is in this locality. This valley is said to be from 400 to 500 feet deep. The scenery is wild and romantic. The wagon road winds around, in and out along the edges of precipices and under immense overhanging rocks hundreds of feet overhead. A great attraction in this valley or ravine is a large cave which reaches over a quarter of a mile underground, and is filled with stalactites and curious stones. Elm, ash, basswood, oak, hickory and some maple are found along this valley. When the early pioneers made their appearance in 1855 wolves were numerous, and black bears were seen occasionally. Deer have been known to come up and eat along with the cattle, and one early settler had a large flock of quail that he fed regularly near his cabin. The town formerly bore the names of Jefferson and Sumner.

Early Settlers. Norton was settled by members of the colony at Minnesota City. In May, 1852, O. M. Lord, Rev. William Sweet and Jonathan Williams made a journey to Sweet's prairie. Williams made a claim for H. H. Hull. Sweet built a cabin in 1852, and Hull spent the winter of 1852-53 in it. Sweet's twelve year old son was left with the Hull family and was frozen to death in the Whitewater valley while looking for cows in the coldest weather of the winter. In the spring Hull sold the claim which Williams had taken for him, and moved south, to a claim lying in. Utica and St. Charles. Egbert Chapman made a claim on Sweet's prairie and built a cabin in which he lived with his family through the winter. Henry Stradling also selected a location on Sweet's prairie near Chapman's. In June, 1853, he married Anna Chapman, daughter of Egbert Chapman. Stradling afterward located in the valley above Minnesota City in Rollingstone township. It is said that John F. Van Hook took a claim in section 30, Norton township, in 1854.

Land Office Records. The first claims to land in Norton 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 the filing last. In case the settler had land in more than one section, only one section is given.

1, Geo. W. Harris, November 13; 2, Philip T. Perry, November 17; 3, Robert K. Whitely, December 17; Christian Dencer, October 26; 4, William C. Pike, November 1; 5, Addison B. Cushing, November 19; 6, Peter Kiefer, October 24; 8, N. F. Hulbert, November 15; Robt. Pike, Jr., November 20; Louisa Lockwood, December 19; Oliver H. Phillips, November 19; 9, H. Wickersham, November 20; Henry N. Hilbert, November 1; 11, Geo. Austin, November 13; 12, Thomas Davitt, August 4; Valentine Dencer, October 27; 13, Nicholas Meyers, October 22; Nicholas Kimmel, October 16; 15, Nicholas Congdon, October 25; 17, Lucien Hayden. and P. F. Perry, November 22; Edward Ely, November 24; Jno. Weltner, November 24; 19, Samuel Moore, November 1; 21, Joseph D. Kennedy, November 1; 22, Jairus R. Warner, November 14; 24, Nicholas Grinwald, October 24; Peter Epelding, October 16; 25, William Rupprecht, October 25; 27, Joshua W. Carr, November 22; 28, William Chaffey, October 27; Elisha M. Hagan, November 1; Samuel Cole, November 1; Thos. Van Hook, November 1; James Rouney, September 25; 29, Jno. T. Van Hook, October 8; George Patton, November 1; 30, Chas. W. Gliddons, October 18; 31, Eugene M. Wilson, November 1; Simon Turner, October 11; William Sweet, August 14; Leon Turner, October 11; William Savage, October 26; 33, John Curtiss, November 1; Manoah Turner, October 11; 35, James Remore, October 23; D. L. Miller, December 22. Others said to have selected claims that year are: Allos Schwager, Adam Hick, John Monk, Pardon Spooner, Michael Moore and J. P. Hilbert.

Early Events. A postoffice was kept as early as 1864 by Frederick Gensmer. Ely Turner succeeded him in 1866. The postoffice was abandoned some time in 1868. Wm. Ruprecht built a sawmill in 1860, on section 25, on Rollingstone creek. The waterpower at that point was found to be excellent, so in 1875 it was turned into a gristmill with two run of burrs. This was a frame building, 34 by 20 feet, and two stories high.

Bethany has a population of twenty five people. It is located on the Chicago Great Western Railway, sixteen miles west of Winona and five miles west of Lewiston. It has a creamery, two stores, a school, a church and a blacksmith shop.

Altura has a population of 200 people. It is located on the Chicago Great Western Railway, twenty miles west of Winona. It has a school, five stores, a creamery, a bank, a hotel and two blacksmiths.

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