(By O. W. Tibbetts).
Richmond township embraces fractional township 106, range 5. Homer lies on the west and New Hartford on the
south. The Mississippi river is the boundary on the northeast, and gives the town a triangular shape. The surface
of the township, like all the country immediately around, is very much broken; the soil is a clay loam. Richmond
township is traversed by two creeks, Little trout run and Richmond creek. Little trout run arises in section 32,
flows northwest and leaves the township on section 18. Richmond creek arises in sections 27 and 28, flows northwest,
and empties into the Mississippi river near the village of Richmond.
First Settlers. The activities of the assistants of La Bathe on the islands adjacent to Richmond, have been related.
In 1850, a Frenchman named Richmond, established a wood yard on the site of the landing where George Catlin the
noted artist, was forced by obstructing ice to winter his boat, when he was painting his celebrated Indian portraits,
and pursuing his voyage up the Mississippi in early days. For years, on a conspicuous sand rock in a cove where
his boat lay out of danger from running ice, the name of George Catlin could be seen in glaring red, and the landing
was well known to steamboat men and pioneers as "Catlin's Rocks." Finally, the name Catlin disappeared
by the action of frost and rain, and Richmond's name was given to the landing and perpetuated in village and township.
In 1852, M. Dunning located on the site that was afterward the village of Richmond. In 1855 he moved to section
28. Amos Shay came in 1854 and after living on the site of the village for a time moved to section 27. Edward Outhouse
(Huttenhouse), came in 1854 and settled in section 19. George Nicholson, Isaac Nichols, Hirk Carroll, Andrew Mitchell,
Owen Fox, and Jacob Donehower were among those who came in 1854. Jesse Connor and the Cram family came in 1856.
Some of the old settlers are left. Most of their land was sold for taxes. Among the few descendants of old settlers
still living in the neighborhood are: Edith Tibbetts Stanton, Luella Shay Holcomb, Isabel Donehower Stanton, Rufus
Donehower and Peter Lee.
Organization. The first town meeting was held May 11, 1858. The members of the first board were: Town clerk, J.
M. Dodge; chairman of supervisors, A. Gross; supervisors, Amos Shay, M. Dunning; assessor, J. M. Winn; collector,
A. C. Dunning; constables, C. C. Willy, C. R. Howe; justices of the peace, B. F. Davis, N. D. Gilbert. There were
forty votes cast at the first election. This. is as many voters as there are at present.
Land Office Records. The first claims to land in Richmond township were filed in 1855. Those who filed that year
were as follows, the section being given first, the name of the claimant second, and the date of filing last. In
case the settler had land in more than one section, only one is given.
Six, Alexander Johnson, August 27; 7, Robert McWider, October 25; Patrick Riley, October 27; William H. Walworth,
October 25; 8, Gilbert Burdick, July 18; Ira H. Hammond, January 4; 17, Timothy Davis, October 29; Barney Igo,
October 29; James L. Langworthy, November 15; 18, Patrick Griffen, November 13; 19, Edward Outhouse, November 13;
Daniel Waldin, October 29; 20, John Fortune, October 29; 21, Ozias B. Dodge, October 10; Henry F. Cushman, September
13; George Burdin, November 20; Daniel Clay, December 5; H. J. Hilbert, October 29; 22, H. W. Carroll, September
8; 26, Alonzo J. Ferris, December 4; Lewis Chaffin, November 19; 27, William W. Fortune, September 13; Amos Shay,
January 4; William H. Lathrop, October 29; 28, Austin S. Dunning, October 24; 29, John A. Mathews, November 19;
E. J. Gates, September 13; 33, Miles B. Moss, December 4; 35, Michael Kureses, November 24.
Present Prosperity. Richmond township is the roughest in the county. One great valley running north divides two
ridges extending in the same direction. Then there is the Mississippi slope also. Among the valleys may be mentioned
the Nicholson, the Shay, the Dunning and the Frenchtown valleys. The early settlers believed the land to be practically
worthless, but it is now considered as good as any in the county. The Germans have come in, have developed the
land into excellent farms, have drilled wells, and made the rough Country a garden spot. Grazing is important and
the creamery check is an important asset in the family fortunes. There are as yet no churches or cemeteries in
the township. At Richmond there is a good schoolhouse used for church, school and public meeting purposes. The
old settlers are buried in the Bush cemetery in Pleasant Hill township, the oldest cemetery in this vicinity.
Richmond Village. Richmond was surveyed in section 21, in January, 1856, for the proprietors, J. F. Martin;
Daniel Clay, R. Banks and O. B. Dodge. East Richmond was platted November 22, 1856, the proprietors being Adrian
H. Davenport, R. H. Rogers and. S. C. Dick. It was located south of the village of Richmond. The histories of these
two villages may be treated as one. Among the early settlers in the village may be mentioned: M. Dunning, Isaac
Nichols, H. Carroll, Thomas Gordon, Jacob Donehower, Andrew Mitchell, the Leach brothers and Amos Shay. John Fortune
built a house in 1854, and his house was, without doubt, the first in the village. O. B. Dodge built a store devoted
to general merchandise in 1855. He was soon followed by J. F. Martin, S. C. Dick and Jacob Donehower, each of whom
owned a store of the same description. Besides these, a Mrs. Jennings owned a small millinery establishment. In
1855 a blacksmith shop was operated by Huttenhows. J. M. Winn was the village physician. The first school building
was erected in 1857. J. M. Winn, a Baptist minister, had his residence in the old village of Richmond in 1857.
For a time Richmond was a flourishing village, but its trade was gradually withdrawn, the steamboat channel changed
its course, and now Richmond is but a garden and residence spot for the few that remain.
S. C. Dick, one of the proprietors of the village, was one of Winona's most prominent school teachers and church
workers. Those owning property in East Richmond are Lewis Stanton, Jacob Donehower, William Stanton, Thomas Biscopskie,
E. E. Smith, A. B. Leach and Amel Loedkie. Fortune's Landing is the only boat landing at Richmond today. John Nichols,
the section foreman at Dresbach, is a grandson of John Fortune; Mrs. Ed. Maynard is a great granddaughter of John
Fortune. A distinctive and most attractive feature is the beautiful "Queen Bluff," near the eastern border
of the township, the highest perpendicular wall of rock found on the Mississippi from its sources to its mouth.
"Queen Bluff," is the queen of the Mississippi, having been so crowned with evergreens by nature's handiwork
and by the United States engineers who have measured her symmetrical and lofty proportions. Like the "Maiden
Rock" and the old "Sugar Loaf," now badly disfigured in appearance, the "Queen Bluff"
is a nearly half dome in shape, colored red on its face by oxidation and lichens, and is fringed with arboral growths
and grass that make it very beautiful. The bluff is owned by the Leach estate.
Richmond village and East Richmond are today cow pastures and berry patches. At East Richmond there is a splendid
boat landing and a railroad station, but no stores or shops of any kinds. The landing at the foot of "Queen
Bluff" was known in the early days as the Catlin's rock landing. Later it became known as Fortune's landing,
from John Fortune, a woodchopper. Later it became East Richmond. S. C. Dick & Co. built a 4 story stone flouring
mill on the Richmond creek in 1855-56. The machinery was in the mill. The company failed. The machinery was taken
out and the stone structure remained for years a monument of anticipation. In 1855 Henry Cushman built a sawmill
on the Richmond creek just below the road. The flour mill was just above the road. Both mills were failures. The
rise and fall of Richmond was rapid. J. F. Martin moved his residence to Pleasant Hill township. S. C. Dick moved
his residence to New Hartford, four miles south. Cushman moved his residence six miles south into New Hartford.
The residences that remained were out of proportion to the means of their owners.
La Moille, a present day railway station, was platted in May, 1860, by Joseph F. Hamblin for the proprietors, Ira
H. Hammond and Wilson Davis. The place was long known as McGilvery's landing, McGilvery plying a ferry boat between
Trempealeau and this landing for the benefit of Pickwick and vicinity. Wilson Davis, owning a 6 story flour mill
at Pickwick and one at Galesville, Wis., was interested in this landing, as the flour from both mills was shipped
by river. Hammond built a large warehouse at this landing in 1864. He shot and killed a man about this time. Hammond
kept the hotel at La Moille; George Bisell kept the hotel at Richmond; Joseph Maynard kept the hotel at Dresbach;
for stage and freight haulers in winter and for loggers in summer.