History of Becker County

Chapter I.
Becker County Created.

Becker County was established by an act of the Legislature, approved March 18th, 1858. That is to say, its exterior boundaries were designated and recorded; it was given a place on the map of Minnesota and named Becker County in honor of Gen. George L. Becker, of St. Paul. There were, however no white people living in the county for ten years afterwards.

The territory included within the boundaries of Becker County is as follows: All of Townships 138, 139, 140, 141 and 142 north, of Range 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 and 43 west of the Fifth Principal Meridian - forty townships in all.

There had been no county or township lines established in or around Becker County at the time it was created.

In 1860 the Fifth Guide Meridian was established between Ranges 38 and 39 as far north as the south boundary of the White Earth Reservation and the Tenth Correction line, which is the line between Townships 140 and 141, and which is also the south line of the reservation, was also established. These lines were run by J. W. Myers, Deputy U. S. Surveyor. There were no more government lines run until 1870, when government surveying was begun in ernest, and by the close of the year 1872 the county was about all surveyed.

The base line from which these townships are numbered runs east and west across the middle of the state of Arkansas, intersecting the Mississippi River near the city of Helena in Phelps County. The Fifth Principal Meridian, from which these Ranges are numbered, intersects this base line about twenty-eight miles west of the Mississippi, near the little village of Marvell. This point of intersection is called the initial point.

This Meridian line runs both north and south from this point, and in running north intersects the Mississippi River north of St. Louis where it is discontinued, all land east of that river in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota being surveyed from the third and fourth Principal Meridians.

The surveys from the Fifth Principal Meridian cover all of the State of Louisiana west of the Mississippi, all the States of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, North and South Dakota and all of Minnesota west of Range 24 and the Mississippi River, except a little corner of St. Paul.

The famous Hot Springs in Arkansas are in Township No. 2, south, the south tier of townships in Missouri is Township No. 22, north, the north tier of townships in Iowa is Township No. 100, north, and the north tier of townships in Minnesota is Township No. 164, north.

Before Becker County was created, it was a part of Stearns County. After Douglas County was organized a change was made, and it was attached to that county.

The plat of the old townsite of Detroit, that was laid out in the spring of 1857, were the village of Frazee now stands, was recorded as St. Cloud on the 17th day of June 1857, and Dr. David Pyles' certificate of appointment as notary public was recorded at Alexandria on the 19th day of January, 1869.

These are the only Becker County documents I know of being recorded in either county, but there are probably others.

Map of Becker County showing townships.

Becker County Townships.


ST. PAUL, March 17, 1894.

My Dear Madam:

I am in receipt of your esteemed favor of the 14th inst.

Your purpose to collect the material for a history of the county in which you live, is to be most highly commended. The early settlers of these new regions are too apt to neglect what is really one of the most important elements in historical studies, the preservation of the local happenings and traditions of the primitive days which constitute the formative period of distinct localities. I hope you may succeed in what you have undertaken and though I cannot add much to your stock of knowledge, I am glad to contribute what I can.

Becker County was established by act of the legislature of this state, March 18, 1858. (See Kelly Statutes, Vol I, Chap. 8, Sec. 734, page 216.)

At this date I was in Washington as one of the members of Congress elect, from Minnesota, awaiting the admission of the State into the Union. The State was admitted May 11, 1858.

While thus awaiting the action of Congress on the subject of admission, I received a letter from the Hon. J. D. Cruttenden, a member of the House of Representatives of Minnesota, and chairman of the Committee on Towns and Counties, which stated that in organizing the newer portions of the state into counties, the committee had decided to give my name to a county in the northwest; a region then almost unknown. Mr. Cruttenden represented what was known as the Twenty-first District, which embraced the counties of Morrison, Crow Wing and Mille Lacs. This honor was unsought by me, unexpected, and, as I thought then, and think now, undeserved.

Nevertheless, the legislature enacted the law, and ever since, Becker County has had a name and place on the map and in the world.

My business pursuits and engagements were such during these years that I had no occasion to visit that part of the state. My attention was called to the fact that there was a county in that region bearing my name, by the Rev. Dr. Noble, then pastor of the House of Hope in this city, and now pastor of one of the largest churches in Chicago.

Meeting him one day on the street here, probably in 1870, he informed me that he had just returned from an Indian payment in the northwest which he attended on behalf of the government as one of the witnesses.

He grew eloquent over the region he had traversed; mentioned the lakes and streams and groves and rolling prairies and ended by saying that it was in Becker County, and he thought it the finest county in the state.

I replied, jokingly, that there was a certain fitness in naming the finest county in the state after one of its best men. Don't think there was any vanity in this. Those who know me well, will bear witness that I am incapable of saying such a thing seriously.

I am very sorry I cannot say more to you about the early history of your county.

With reference to my title of "General," which I have carried for the last thirty years, I have to say, that the first governor of the state made me one of his aides, with the rank of brigadier general. I owe this title to Governor Sibley's appointment as one of his military family. The history of my military services, if written, would be as brief as the chapter on snakes in Ireland; there are none.

And now as the Apostle Paul says at the close of one of his Epistles to the Galatians, "Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand."

Very sincerely yours,