The first settlers in Lake Park Township were George Osborne and Daniel McKay, who came into the township in April, 1870. They located on Section 36, and what has since been called the Jonas Errickson farm was one of their claims. They were both single men and left the country soon after they had proved up on their land.
The next settler was John Cromb, who came into the township on the 20th of May, 1870, and took up land on Section 26, 34 and 35. The same farm is now the home of John O'Day.
Mrs. John Cromb came with him, and was the first white woman who settled in the township.
John Cromb was born in Perthshire, Scotland, on the 27th day of February, 1843, and came to the United States in June, 1869. He came directly to Balmoral, Otter Tail County, Minn., where he remained until the next spring when he came to Becker County, locating in Lake Park Township on the 20th day of May, 1870.
Mr. Cromb was a member of the first board of county commissioners of Becker County, being appointed to that office by Governor Horace Austin at the time of the organization of the county in March, 1871.
He was the first county audior elected by the people, which office he held until the fall of 1881 when he resigned to accept the appointment of register of the United States Land Office at Crookston, Minn., which office he held until after the election of President Cleveland in 1884.
Since that time he has been president of the Merchants' National Bank of Crookston, where he resided since the fall of 1881.
Mrs. F. M. Higley, now of Spokane Falls, Wash., who came to Lake Park Township early in June, 1870, says:
We came to Becker County on the 10th day of June, 1870. We had four children. There were ten others in the party; Harry Chamerlain, wife and one child; John Higley, wife and three children; James N. Chamerlain and Charlie Morgan. Abner and John Chamberlain did not come at that time.
I think Wash. Dixon came a little later than we. He was not with our party. We came a few days after John Cromb, George Osborne and Dan McKay.
We left St. Charles, Minn., on the 10th day of May, with ox teams and covered wagons, arriving in what is now Lake Park Township just one month from the time we started, the 10th of June. The weather was very rainy, and as we had to cook by camp-fires it was rather unpleasant at time, but on the whole we had rather an enjoyable time. Flora Moore taught the first school in Lake Park Township.
Christen E. Bjorge is one of the old settlers of this county. He is a native of Norway, and was born in Ringibu, Gudbransdalen, on the 6th day of October, 1850. He is the son of Erick and Mary Bjorge. Mr. Bjorge, the subject of this sketch, remained in his native land attending school until 1867, and at the age of seventeen he emigrated to the United States and settled in Vernon County, Wisconsin, where he remained for three years. To get a somewhat connected idea of Mr. Bjorge's history, I will in his own words give the following taken from the Becker County Journal:
To get a somewhat connected idea of what I am about to relate it will be better to begin at the time I left Coon Prarie, Wisconsin, and started on my romantic search for land. The day dawned on which I decided to start; the second day of May, 1870. Many friends were present to bid us good-by and wish us good luck on our journey. It was hard to bid these friends good-by, but our decision could not be changed; we must look for a home but where we knew not. Still we would follow Greeley's advice and "Go West." The oxen bought for the occasion were hitched up and off we started sometimes at a gallop, somtimes in the road and sometime out as they were unbroken and would mind nothing. Thus we journe4yed until about to ascend a steep hill which leads from Coon Prairie to what was known as Dutch Ridge. Before we reached the top, the oxen lost all patience and made a manoeuver which overturned the wagon and broke the tongue and finally got loose. We lashed the broken tongue and continued our journey, arriving at La Crosse late that night, tired and discouraged by our first day's trip. We partook of a meager supper, crept into our wagon, and soon fell into a refreshing sleep.
The next day we left La Crosse, crossing the Mississippi on a ferry. On the Minnesota side the bank of the river was very steep and we came near having an accident. Our untrained oxen again showed their contrariness by backing up instead of going forward and another step backward would have plunged the whole outfit into the Mississipp, which here with majestic strength and splendor rushes by on its way to the gulf, ready to swallow and carry along whatever came in its way. But good fortune assisted us. The wagon was stopped by a projecting rock. We unhitched the oxen in a hurry, and drove them to the top of the hill. We had to unload and carry everything up the hill by hand. A passerby with a team of horses pulled he wagon up for us, and we again proceed on our journey. We cast a last look back to bid our dear Wisconsin good-by. La Crosse lay calmly smiling in the rays of the rising sun, but a treacherous enemy, the Mississippi, stretched out between us.
This early in the spring the pasturage for our oxen was poor, and consequently we had to proceed very slowly the first week so as not to tire our animals. To mention all the daily occurrences would take up too much space. But I thought it would interest both old and young to hear someting about the "redskins" at this time when they were a constant menace to those breaking up the prairie or clearing the forest to get a home for themselves and their families. The young people of to-day can hardly imagine what the pioneers had to experience, suffer and overcome.
We moved slowly onward and arrived at Otter Tail City about the middle of June, and met several land seekers who I will mention individually.
Martin Olson was just back from a trip to Becker County, where he had found a home and was to return with his family. Mr. Olson described the country with brightest colors, and all the company agreed to go look it over. From Otter Tail City (at that time an insignificant Indian village) to Becker County, there were no roads, only Indian trails. To go over these roads with heavy loads was next to impossible in many places. In the southern part of Becker County we had to cross a swamp which caused us much trouble and hardship; but cross it we must as we could discover no way around it. Consequently we had to bridge the swamp which took both time and strength, as the necessary materials had to be carried in. At last the bridge was finished, bu it was not the best. Then seven or eight yoke of oxen were hitched to each wagon, and off we started across the swamp. Here it was necessary to hurry along the rear teams, and when these fell through the leaders were hurried on to pull out thse which fell through the bridge. In this way we finally got everything across.
The caravan proceeded slowly until we arrived at Detroit Lake. Here we drove along the beach until we came to a place where a stream flowed into the lake. To cross this stream was next to impossible. In the first place it was very deep and there were high banks on the other side which we could not climb. In order to cross we would either have to build a bridge or drive into the lake around the mouth of the stream. We decided to do the latter. We raised the wagon boxes so as to save our provisions tf possible. The water, however, was deeper than we had anticipated, and several got their baggage soaked. When in the stream, a yoke of our oxen lost all patience and seemingly thought it better to end their miserable existence by committing suicide. Where the water was deepest and only the oxen's horns were visible, they lay down and disappeared from sight. At this time good advice was appreciated. Chains were brought in a hurry, and with the aid of two yoke of cattle we saved both the oxen and the wagon. The poor animals that again saw daylight against their wills made a few grimaces, but otherwise seemed no worse off for their plunge bath.
June 24th, 1870, we passed the site on which Detroit, our county seat, now stands; the plains looked lonely and desolate. Who would at that time have thought that this would have been our county metropolis, and from its county halls justice would be dealt out to our people. We proceeded steadily though slowly further and further west, nearer and nearer to our goal. Four or five miles west of Detroit the country became more open, being mostly prairie with groves here and there, with lakes, full of fish, scattered in all directions.
We soon arrived at the place where Lake Park is now situated. We halted and pitched camp, were satisfied with our surroundings and the beautiful Goshen we had taken possession of. Not least did the women enjoy the assurance that now their trials and sufferings were at an end, and they could view the future with hopeful eyes. The trip had lasted nearly two months, and you need not wonder that we felt the need of a rest, a chance for a general cleaning up. The next morning we were all early on our feet, driven by "the blood-thirsty, long-legged mosquitoes which seemed to have no pity for the pale-faces who now made their conquest here. The day dawned clear and bright, and when the sun's rays caressed the tops of the trees, the numerous birds struck up a beautiful morning song, expressing their happiness and satisfaction at being able to live and build their homes in this part of nature's domain. The land seekers breakfasted, and were soon .ready to strike out for the choice of a home. Each started in his own direction, while the cattle were left at the camp to be cared for by the women and children. By nightfall most of the land seekers were back, and had found what they had sought, a home for themselves and theirs.
All took up land near the timber. The party among the first settlers of this township, scattered as one after the other got ready and moved his family and belongings to the place chosen for their future home. We arrived at the place in Section 8 which became our home on June 28th, 1870.
The first thing we did was to build a claim shanty, its size was ten by twelve feet, seven feet high at the ridge. I had half a window facing the south. The roof was composed of poplar poles and hay, with clay on top. It soon showed that we were not master builders, as all the rain that fell on the roof streamed through into what we called a bed. The bed ws made from a couple of oak logs three feet long, laid six feet apart and covered with poles. There was no floor in the cabin, and when it rained there was little comfort within. Table we had none, but used a box which we had brought with us. We made stools out of oak logs, leaving a part of a limb on for a handle. There was little said about the necessary housefurnishing, as lumber and the necessary tools were not to be had. All we had was an old ax, and with such a tool it was hard to manufacture furniture. In the summer of 1870 we broke a few acres which were seeded in 1871, but the greasshoppers came and took it all; the same happened in 1872. In 1873, we had no grasshoppers but then we had a very small area seeded. The reason for this was that so many were of the opinion that we would again be visited by the grasshoppers, and also that so many were too poor to buy seed wheat. In 1874-5, the grasshoppers again ravaged the country so that there was nothing left for bread for the poor farmers. When I say that the grasshoppers were so numerous that they stopped railroad trains you will perhaps dout it, but it is a fact that the insects would alight on the rails in such numbers that the rails would become slippery, and the trains could not move.
These continuous failures, together with other obstacles and disappointments, caused many to loose heart. This must be said of the Norwegian; he is tough and determined to hold out; at least that was the case here. During thses year of prvation few moved away to other localities, but most of the first settlers remained. Many will perhaps wonder how so many could hold out for such a length of time without getting any crops. It must be said taht the railroad, the Northern Pacific, which runs through here was built to Lake Park in the fall of 1871, and this gave the farmers a chance to earn a little, both by their own work and the work of their ox teams. If the Northern Pacific had not been built at that time I dare say everybody woudl have been starved out of Becker County.
Even when we first settled here we lived in constant fear of the many Indians we had to mingle with. They had their homes on the White Earth Reservation, in Becker County. It soon became apparent that the Indians were not friendly to the whites, who were overrunning their hunting grounds.
In the fall of 1870 the Indians set fire to a stack of hay belonging to a farmer named Gunder Carlson, and when he went out to invesitgate he was shot from behind by an Indian. Mr. Carlson received six buckshot in the back and died two years later from the effects of the wounds. In the fall of 1871 a family by the name of Johnson were killed by the Indians, and in the spring of 1872 another family consisting of five persons were killed. These atrocities put fear and unrest in our minds, and made the situation very grave.
In May, 1872, a message was sent out that the Indians were gathering on the White Earth Reservation for a council. Their war spirit gathered strength as their meeting progressed. The Indians had even donned their war paint, and were dancing the war dance. There was at that time a minister on the reservation, who sent the settlers word about the doings of the Indians. When war-like rumors came out, the settlers of Lake Park Township gathered at Lake Park to discuss what had best be done. The most careful were chosen as leaders, and it was decided to build a fort on a little hill south of where our peaceful little village, Lake Park, now stands, with extensions on each corner so that firing could be done along the side of the fort from the inside, railroad ties were set upright in these ditches, and the dirt tramped in again. Port-holes were arranged here and there around the fort. Women and children were brought inside the stockade. Some of the men were placed as sentinels while others were stationed at the port-holes to receive the expected enemy. The settlers remained here for several days. Meanwhile there was nobody at home to care for the stock, so these animals were obliged to shift for themselved as best they could. The warlike Indians did not come. The reason was that the above mentioned minister had brought his influence to bear upon them. Their minister was a steadfast friend of the white settler and he, next to God, must be thanked for our deliverance. When the settlers received the good news that all danger was over for the time being, each one proceeded to his own home. In 1896 there was another fear of Indian uprising, but then, as before, it was frustrated by the peaceful ones who were more friendly to the whites.
Thirty-five years ago nobody would have thought that at this time Becker County would become such an important county in the state. It is not only one of the handsomest counties in the state, but the farmers and the inhabitants are as a whole well-to-do, not to say rich. Especially in the western part we see on every hand well cultivate farms and substantial buildings.
Large herds of cattle now grazing where not many years ago herds of buffalo were found.
Mr. C. E. Bjorge was united in marriage to Miss Dian Hamre on the 28th day of October, 1875. Miss Hamre was born in Goodhue County, Minnesota, and was the daughter of John and Emily Hamre, both natives of Norway. Mr. and Mrs. Bjorge have been blessed with six children, Edwin, Julia, Annie, Oscar, Rhoda, and Leona.
Mr. Bjorge was appointed postmaster at Lake Park under Cleveland's first administration. He conducted the office with credit and satisfaction both to himself and all concerned. He was president of the village for a few years, then assessor of the township, and was census enumerator in 1880 and 1890, and clerk and member of the board of education.
Mr. Bjorge is a man of good business abilities and qualifications, and has been successful in whatever business he has been engaged.
The Scandinavian peninsula has been conspicuous for the production of a strong, honest, energetic type of men, and has furnished some of the most progressive and enterprising of the settlers of the Northwest.
They have helped to bring this region into a high state of development and civilization. They have proved themselves to be progressive, intelligent, and worthy citizens. The early settlers of Lake Park Township were mostly Scandinavians, and no more thrifty agricultural locality can be found in the Northwest. Ole E. Bjorge, the subject of this biographical sketch, was the first settler in the western part of Lake Park Township and has aided materially in its progress and development. Ole J. Bjorge was born in Ringibu, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway, September 10th, 1845, and was raised on a farm in his native land. His father, Eric O. Bjorge, was born in Norway, March 25th, 1821, and died at Lake Park, Minnesota, December 20th, 1902. His mother, whose maiden name was Mary Christenson Losness, was born in Norway, and died at Coon Prairie, Wisconsin, November 20th, 1869. The parents of Ole E. Bjorge were not people of wealth, and when only a young boy he was put to heavy work. On April 6th, 1866, he bade adieu to his home, parents and friends and set sail for America. The journey across the sea was made in a sail ship, and it took seven weeks to reach America. Mr. Bjorge was the first of the family 'to come to America, and was the means of the family settling in this country. In 1868, Mr. Bjorge was married to Mary H. Sandsness. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Halvor Sandsness, were both born in Norway. She was born in Sandsness, Bjorsogton, Norway, November 14th, 1845, and came to America in 1866. Her parents are both dead; her father having died in Norway and her mother at Rushford, Minnesota.
Three children have been born of this marriage, namely: Henry, born March 7th, 1871; Edwin, born May 17, 1878; and Minnie, now Mrs. H. Himrum, born December 8th, 1882. Ole E. Bjorge and his brother, Christen, arrived in Becker County, Minnesota, in June, 1870, coming all the way across the country from Wisconsin with an ox team and a covered wagon. Detroit then consisted of a few Indian tents, and the country was entirely without roans. Ole E. Bjorge and his brother, Christen Bjorge, both took claims in Lake Park Township. Ole built a house in Section 8, which was the first log cabin in the western part of Lake Park township. The first years were full of hardship, and all the farming was done with oxen, and supplies had to be hauled a distance of over one hundred miles; besides the grasshoppers destroyed the crops for several years. The Indians were a source of dread and caused a great deal of trouble and anxiety to the early settlers. The country was then filled with wild game, and the Indians looked with suspicion upon the invasion of the white man which would eventually decrease the size of the territory over which he could roam and hunt. Several families were massacred by the Indians in the adjoining townships, and the report helped to spread consternation among the settlers. It became customary for the settlers in the evenings to take a look around the country to ascertain if there were any suspicious Indians gathered around. One evening in the fall of 1871, as Ole Bjorge was spying around from the top of a hill to see if there were any Indians in view, he saw a large prairie fire in the north and against the flames he could plainly see a crowd of men coming towards his farm. In a moment, he heard several shots discharged in the same direction and Ole felt certain it meant an Indian outbreak, and he ran to the house and told the family that the Indians were coming and that they should run to the home of G. T. Johnson, which was only a few rods away. He then warned his father, Erick, and family, and they all rushed to the home of Mr. Johnson. Here they made preparations for selfdefense. Johnson was stationed at the door with a gun and Erick held the powder horn and the bullet bag and Ole held an ax. The women and children were in the cellar. The house was surrounded with heavy timber on all sides and at a short distance below the house was a large slough filled with heavy grass. Ed. Bjorge, who was then a boy, crawled down the hill and hid himself in the heavy grass of the slough and in case of an attack by the Indians, Ed. would probably have been the only one to survive. There during that long and strenuous night stood the brave and fearless men, ready ta sacrifice their lives, in a new and unsettled country, for the protection of themselves and families. Early in the morning, while it was still dark, an object was discerned crawling up the hill toward the house. “There is one of the Indians,” whispered Johnson, "and in a second he will be dead." He raised the hammer, put the gun to his shoulder, took aim to be sure of the object, and was ready to fire. "Wait," whispered Ole, "it looks like Ed." Johnson hesitated a minute and in the meantime it was discovered that it was actually "Ed." The night was cold and being chilled to the bones Ed. was unable to hold out in the slough any longer, and made up his mind to seek shelter in the house. It was a narrow escape from meeting a tragic death. Morning at last dawned and no Indians had been seen. Later it was learned that the men who had been seen an the prairie in the evening were not Indians at all but a number of railway men who had gone to attend a dance and on their way discharged their revolvers.
Mr. Bjorge was a hard and efficient worker, and as the result of many years of labor he had converted the farm into one of the finest and most productive in Becker County. Additional land was acquired by purchase so that the farm now includes three hundred and sixty acres.
A complete set of good and substantial buildings have been erected which have converted the farm into a home of more than usual comfort.
In July, 1899, Mr. Bjorge was stricken with paralysis and died on the 9th of July of that year. He was buried in the cemetery of the Norwegian Synod at Lake Park. Mr. Bjorge was highly esteemed and respected by all those with whom he was acquainted, and the funeral was one of the largest ever held in the western part of Becker County. It must be said to his credit that he always intended that justice should be observed among men, and all his dealings were marked with the highest degree of honesty and integrity. He stood for a "square deal" Politically he was a Democrat and attended numerous conventions of his party. He was a member of the Lutheran church, as was olso his family, and by his death the community lost a most worthy citizen and one of the pioneers of Becker County.
Jonas Erickson was born August 16th, 1848, in Modelford, Sweden. His parents were farmers. He came to America in 1857 and settled in Iowa. He was married to Olava Aas, a native of Sweden. Their marriage has been blessed with six children, of which Lewis, Annie and Christian are still living. Three are dead.
On the 11th day of June, 1870, he settled on his farm on Sections 2 and 3 in Lake Park Township.
On the 19th day of September, 1871, he was elected chairman of the board of supervisors. On the 21st day of December, 1871, he was elected the first treasurer of School District No.2, and on the 12th day of March, 1872, he was elected assessor in this township.
Gustav Jacobson is one of the early settlers of this township. There are perhaps few who occupy a more prominent place than the gentleman whose name heads this sketch.
Mr. Jacobson is a native of Norway. He was born in 1848. Came to America in the year 1866. In 1876 Jacobson was united in marriage to Miss Inga Olson, a native of Norway. Their marriage has been blessed with two children-Julius and Caroline. In the summer of 1870, he came to this township, and settled on Section 30, where he has carried on agricultural operations and has been one of the most successful farmers in this township.
One of the first settlers in the western part of Becker County was Oliver Taylor. Mr. Taylor was a native of the state of Ohio, being born there in the year 1828. While a boy he accompanied his parents to Indiana and in the early "fifties" went to Minnesota and settled in Kandiyohi County. In 1862, however, just before the Indian outbreak, he returned to Indiana. After a few years' stay he again went to Minnesota and arrived in Becker County in the summer of 1870. He in company with two other gentlemen by the name of Clark and Haney first stopped at Richwood, where Mr. Haney located on the Buffalo River with a view of building a mill. Mr. Taylor left Richwood and took up a claim on Section 2 of the township of Lake Park, where he remained during the following winter with nothing but his dog and horses for his companions. In the summer of 1871, he brought up his family to live on the claim where they together endured the various trials of frontier life. In 1876 he sold his farm to Thomas H. Canfield and with his family moved to Tennessee, thence to Missouri, where his wife died in 1878. With his two daughters, he returned to Lake Park where they remained a short time, and then settled in Marshall County, Minn., and where he was elected the first auditor of that county.
O. I. BERG. GUS. JACOBSON.
Mr. Taylor died in Lake Park Township on the fourth of November, 1899.
George Goodrich came here in the summer of 1870 and settled on Section 14.
Mr. Gudm F. Johnson was born in Norway, June 11th, 1844. His parents were both Norwegians. He came to the United States in August, 1866, stayed a few years in Wisconsin and then moved to Minnesota. Mr. Johnson was married to Miss Anne E. Bjorge, May 23rd, 1869. He arrived at Oak Lake, Becker County, June 28th, 1871, and later in the same year purchased some railroad land in the western part of Lake Park Township. At the first town meeting held in the township of Lake Park, at that time called the town of Liberty, Mr. Johnson was elected on the board of township supervisors. He stayed in Becker County a short time, and went to Minneapolis in 1872. At Minneapolis he became associated with Mr. Jedde in editing and publishing a Norwegian weekly newspaper by the name of Budstekken. This was a Democratic organ, and for many years was the leading Norwegian newspaper in the state.
Even Nelson was born in Lillejord, Telemarken, Norway, June 23rd, 1842. In 1859, Mr. Nelson, for the purpose of obtaining an education, entered a seminary and graduated from the same in the spring of 1861. In the fall following he was given a position as school teacher, and followed this profession for a period of six years.
In 1867, he was married to Birget Overson, who was also a native of Norway. She is a relative of Halvor Steenerson, the present congressman from this district. Mr. Nelson made up his mind to try his fortune across the sea, and shortly after his marriage, he and his wife started on their voyage to the United States, coming to Kashkenomghe Prairie, Dane County, Wisconsin. He remained there for three years. During this time he was engaged in teaching the Norwegian language in the adjoining Scandinavian districts. The homesteads in this district were all taken up, and as Mr. Nelson did not possess sufficient means to purchase land he made up his mind to go where he could obtain a free farm of his own. Consequently on the 17th day of May, 1870, he and his wife, in company with several others, left Madison, Wisconsin, and on the 3d day of July arrived in the western part of Becker County. It will be observed that the trip consumed one month and a half. This was due to the fact that the jaurney had ta be made by the use of oxen, same of which were old and slaw. And also to the fact that a long distance had to be traveled without any roads whatever. Mr. Nelson took up a homestead an Section 30 of Lake Park Township, an which he still resides. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson have been blessed with a family of nine children, nearly all of wham are full grown and all are living. Four of them are married. Mr. Nelson has not been lacking in energy and thrift in the building up of a comfortable home. His farm, by successful cultivation, has been brought to a high degree of fertility, and the well-constructed buildings bear evidence of success and prosperity.
Johannes Bjornstad was barn in Norway in August, 1814, came to America in 1869, and in July, 1870, located an Section 24 of Lake Park Township, where he continued to reside until the time of his death, which occurred at the home of his daughter, Mrs. George Goodrich, an the 22d day of October, 1899. He was the father of Olof, Michael and John Bjornstad.
Mr. M. Bjornstad is the owner of a fine farm in the eastern part of Lake Park Township. He is a Norwegian, barn in Roken, Norway, September 29th, 1849. In his youth he decided to leave his native country and emigrate to the United States and in June, 1868, he arrived in America. Inspired with the hope of finding a home of his awn he proceeded to Minnesota and an the 4th day of July, 1870, arrived in Becker County. He took up a homestead in Section 13 of Lake Park Township, where he still resides. On July 29th, 1873, Mr. Bjornstad was married to Miss Josephine Halverson, and at the present time Mr. and Mrs. Bjornstad are the proud parents of twelve children, six bays and six girls, George, Joseph, Bendike, Wilhelm, Gabriel, Ferdinand; and Cornelia, Helena, Marie, Nara, Julia and Alma. Mr. Bjornstad has held several township offices such as supervisor, road overseer, and school director. In politics, Mr. Borstad has been associated with the republican party. He is also a member of the Norwegian Lutheran church. By active work and industry he has constructed on his farm large and comfortable buildings in which he and his .family now enjoy the comfort and blessings of modern farm life.
Olaus Bjornstad resides on Section 13 in Lake Park Township; he has made farming his vocation, and is one of the most prominent farmers in the eastern part of the township. Mr. Bjornstad is a native of Norway, being born in Roken, Norway, February 21st, 1847. At the age of twenty-four, full of vigor and strength with the hope of finding a place where he could use his energy to better advantage than in his native land, he made up his mind to go to America and after a successful voyage arrived in the United States in June, 1869. Having heard of the fertile land in Minnesota, Mr. Bjornstad proceeded westward in search of a home. He finally arrived in Becker County and on the 8th day of November, 1870, took up a homestead in the eastern part of Lake Park Township. He worked on the road bed of the Northern Pacific Railway during the summer of 1871, and during the fall and summer of 1872 served as watchman on the fencing train of the Northern Pacific. Mr. Bjornstad was also engaged as clerk in the store of Holmes & Phinney in Detroit, and after serving in this capacity for one year and a half he moved out to his homestead.
May 20th, 1875, he was married to Marie Beaver. As a result of this marriage nine children were born, most of whom are now full grown. Of these there are six girls, Clara, Thea, Selma, Olga, Inga and Holda; also three boys, John, Oscar and Adolph.
He has held many positions of honor and trust. In the fall of 1871 he was present at a meeting at which the organization of the township was affected and was elected one of its first officers. He served as county commissioner at the time of the building of the Becker County court-house and for many years he has served as a member of the board of supervisors, and also as a member of the school board. At the present time he is chairman of the board of town supervisors. He is a member of the Norwegian Lutheran church.
Mr. Bjornstad has put up many fine and substantial buildings on his farm which show evidence of the general prosperity, so characteristic among the farmers in the western part of Becker County.
Andrew A. Houglum was born at Arnefjord, Sogn, Norway, August 27th, 1855. His parents were of Norwegian birth and lived on a farm, but were in poor circumstances. In those days the people made their own clothing; the men wore knee pants and long stockings. Wooden shoes were of universal use. The children, as soon as they became of sufficient age, learned to make their own wooden shoes, and at the age of twelve Mr. Houglum made his first pair. In 1869, at the age of fourteen he in company with his parents left his home on his journey for America. Before they reached Bergen the steamer on which they were passengers struck on a rock, but fortunately the ship was not seriously damaged. At Bergen they boarded a sailing ship, and at the end of three weeks landed safely in Quebec, Canada. From there they proceeded to Goodhue County, Minnesota, arriving on the 15th day of June. Mr. Houglum heard of the fertile soil in the great Red River country, and in 1871 in company with his brother started for Becker County. He took up a homestead in the western part of Lake Park Township. His brother Ole also took up a homestead nearby; he died some years ago.
When Mr. Houglum left Goodhue County, all he possessed was fifty dollars. The journey to Becker County was made with oxen and was necessarily slow and tedious. He was married in 1883, and as the result of his marriage eight children have been born.
Mr. Houglum has always taken an active interest in the development of the western part of Becker County, and for many years has been a member of the board of supervisors for Lake Park Township. In politics he has been associated with the principles of the republican party. He is also a member of the Norwegian Lutheran church.
Nels Nelson is a prosperous farmer residing on Section 6 of Lake Park Township. Mr. Nelson was born in Appelbo, Dalarne, Sweden, April 5th, 1837. He was married in Sweden when he was twenty-two years old, and at the age of thirty three set sail for America with his wife and three children, arriving at New York, July 3d, 1870. From New York he proceeded westward as far as Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he remained until the following spring. Early in the spring he purchased a pair of horses and a bob-sleigh and with his family proceeded toward the West. Arriving at Sauk Center, he left his family behind in a small log shanty and proceeded on the journey until he finally arrived at the place of John O. Johnson near Audubon. Being informed by Mr. Johnson that there were homesteads to be had, Mr. Nelson hurried back after his family and on the 4th day of April, 1871, they arrived sound and healthy in the northwestern part of Lake Park Township, where he decided to take a homestead. One month and four days were consumed in journeying from Wisconsin to this place, because of snow-storms and the bad condition of the roads. The family had to walk nearly the entire distance.
After a few years Mr. Nelson acquired more land by purchase from the railroad company, so that his farm now comprises three hundred acres of the finest agricultural land.Mr. Nelson is a member of the Lutheran church, and has assisted in building one of the finest Lutheran churches in this part of the state. This church is situated in the northwestern part of Lake Park Township, and has been constructed of brick and stone at the cost of twelve thousand dollars. This magnificent edifice for religious worship stands as a living monument to the untiring energy and the industry of the sturdy pioneers, who by the sacrifice of their labor and money have contributed to its construction. As has been related in the beginning of this sketch Mr. Nelson has been eminently successful in following the pursuits of agriculture. The numerous and well constructed buildings on his farm bear evidence of a successful and prosperous life.
John G. Norby, one of the most successful and prosperous farmers of Becker County, resides on his farm in Section 5 of Lake Park Township. Mr. Norby was born on the farm Ekern in Berum, Askers, Norway, November 17th, 1837. In 1851, his father died and the following year Mr. Norby with his mother and five sisters and one brother removed to his grandfather's farm, Norby, where he lived until 1867. On June 21st, 1858, he was married to Thorena Larson. She was born on the 12th day of November, 1835, on a farm Okeri-Berum, Norway. On April 12th, 1867, Mr. Norby with his entire family consisting of his wife and five children, Gustav, Dorthea, Lousie, now Mrs. C. K. Ekren, Lars, Ludvig and Adolph, and also his mother and four sisters, took passage by steamship to the United States ands arrived at Lansing, Allamakee County, Iowa, May 12th. He moved out to east Pain Creek Prarie to live with his brother-in-law Jens Okeri. During the summer he worked on the nearby farms, and was paid at the rate of one dollar per day. On May 14th, 1871, Mr. Norby, with his wife and six children, Henry Edward having been born in Fillmore County, started out with two yoke of oxen hitched to a prarie schooner, and one hundred and thirty-five dollars in his pocket to seek a home in the Northwest, and on the evening of June 16th arrived at the place of Ole E. Bjorge in the western part of Becker County. After looking over the land in various directions, Mr. Norby finally decided to locate on Section 5 in Lake Park Township and commenced at once the errection of a log cabin. In the fall he worked with his two yoke of oxen, in the cut of the Northern Pacific Railway, west of where the village of Lake Park is now located. The Winter of 1871-2 was cold and stormy and exceptionally hard, but the people, being all in the prime of life and full of strength and courage withstood the hardships remarkably well during these early years, which were filled with many hardships. The settlers were very sociable. During Christmas and other holidays several families were gathered together in the newly built log cabins, and spent the time singing, story telling and various other amusements. During these years money was extremely scarce, but the people were full of energy, hope and happiness.
Mr. Norby at various time has added by purchase to the size of his farm, so that it now comprises an area of four hundred and twenty-five acres of as good agricultural land as can be found anywhere in the Northwest. Large and comfortable buildings have been erected, and on the farm may also be seen a fine herd of Red Polled cattle headed by thoroughbred sires.
In politics Mr. Norby has always adhered to the doctrines of the republican party; he is a member of the Norwegian Lutheran church, and is also one of the directors of the Becker County State Bank.
Ingel Ukkestad was born in Nannestad, Norway, February 7th, 1821. He came to the United States, July 12th, 1862, and after looking over the country in several localities he finally arrived in Becker County. He took up a homestead an Section 4 in the township of Lake Park on the 6th day of July, 1871. Mr. Ukkestad was married to Marie Thoreson, April 27th, 1862. Three children have been born, John, Ludvig, and Albert. The eldest san John owns and operates a farm in the township of Cuba while Ludvig and Albert are attending to the management of the farm at home.
Far many years Mr. Ukkestad has been in feeble health and for that reason has been closely confined to his home. He is a member of the United Lutheran church.
L. W. Pederson was born in Inderoen, Trondhjem, Norway, January 23d, 1847. He left his native home in Norway, April 25th, 1866, to seek his fortune in America. The ocean was crossed in a sailing vessel, and after a successful voyage he landed at Quebec, June 12th. He proceeded westward to Fillmore County, Minnesota. In the winter of 1871 he proceeded northward in quest 'Of a home, and arrived in the western part of Becker County on the 14th day of February that same year and took a homestead on Section 4 in the township of Lake Park. Mr. Pederson was married to Bergitha J. Engelstad on the 13th day of May, 1873. Mrs. Pederson died April 30th, 1901, and was buried at the Lutheran church cemetery at Lake Park. Mr. Pederson has held several positions of trust and honor. He served as the first clerk in school district No. 16, served in the capacity of assessor for the township of Lake Park during several terms, and was also elected for many years as chairman of the board of supervisors. He acted as president of the Lake Park and Cuba Farmers' Insurance Company from the time it was organized until 1902. From 1875 to 1879 he served as county commissioner of Becker County.
Mr. Pederson is a member of the Norwegian Lutheran church, and always took an active interest in religion. In politics he has always been a staunch supporter of Republican principles. On the 22d day of January, 1902, Mr. Pederson was married to Anna J. Skovdahl As a result of this marriage two children have been born, Ingeborg Malena and Lydia Bergithe.
Mr. Pederson conceived the idea of founding an orphans' home on his farm. With this idea in view additional. buildings were constructed, and the Orphans' Home became an established fact. This institution is known as the Lake Park Orphans' Home. Mr. Pederson donated a portion of his farm to the support of this institution, additional land has been acquired by purchase, so that the property belonging to the institution comprises three hundred and sixty acres. At the present time in the neighborhood of one hundred children are cared for at the institution. The property is now owned by the United Lutheran Church. In 1902, Mr. Pederson moved to Halstad, Minnesota, where he purchased a farm and has since made his residence.
Mr. Quam was born in Hafslo, Norway, July 20th, 1834. His parents were farmers by occupation. In 1862, Mr. Quam was married to Christie Stokkenoo, of Lyster, Norway. They emigrated to America, and arrived at Albert Lea, Minnesota, in the summer of 1870. After having lived in Albert Lea one year they set out to seek their fortune in a new country and in August, 1871, they located on Section 30 where they still live.
Mr. Quam purchased the improved claim of Gulbrand Erickson, and later filed on a homestead. The first few years were full of hardships. The grasshoppers destroyed the crops for several years, and in 1875 a terrific hail storm ravaged the country. In 1872, the story was circulated that the Indians intended to kill the settlers, and in anticipation of this Mr. Quam took most of his personal effects with him and moved to Lake Park, where he and some of the other settlers commenced the construction of a fort to be used for the protection of themselves and families. Fortunately the Indian scare did not materialize. Mr. Quam is a member of the Lutheran church in which he has always been an earnest and conscientious worker. Mr. Quam is now the owner of a large and well cultivated farm on which have been erected costly and substantial buildings making a home where he may enjoy the quiet and comfort of life in his declining years.
Mr. Jens P. Foss, of whom I have no history, came here in the spring of 1872, and settled on the southwest quarter of Section 16 (school land).
O. I. Berg came here in the spring of 1872.
The first township election was held at the house of M. L. Devereaux on Section 10, September 19th, 1871. John Cromb was elected moderator, M. L. Devereaux, clerk; and Martin Olson, and Louis Johnson, judges of election. At this meeting the organization of the township was affected and it was named the township of Liberty. The following named persons were elected as the first officials of the new township. Supervisors, Jonas Erickson, chairman; W."H. Chamberlain and G. F. Johnson. M. L. Devereaux was elected town clerk; Charles Smith treasurer; John Cromb and Jonas Erickson, justices of the peace and Frank Higley and Louis Johnson, constables.
At a meeting held on the 21st day of October, 1871, the township was organized into a school district called No.2, with the following officers: M. L. Devereaux, clerk; John Cromb, director and Jonas Erickson, treasurer. This district was set aside as illegally established.
At this time there was no railway, and the nearest market place was over one hundred miles away. This was a long distance to drive with oxen over poor roads to obtain the necessities of life. In the summer of 1871, however, work was commenced on the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. A railroad station was established in the northern part of the township, and the name given to it was Lakeside. The building of the railroad put new life into the country. The settlers were given employment, money was put into circulation, stations were built, markets were opened, and they were enabled to sell their products to obtain the necessities of life and to procure the machinery so essential to successful cultivation and subjugatian of the soil. The early years were full of hardships, the grasshoppers destroyed the crops and the settlers were in constant dread of the Indians.
By reason of this many became discouraged, abandoned their homesteads and returned to older settlements. But neither the ravages of the grasshoppers nor the danger of being exterminated by the Indians could scare away the majority of the early and sturdy pioneers, who had crossed untrodden prairies, and unbridged streams, and penetrated wild forests far the purpose of providing homes for themselves and their families.
In 1876, at the suggestion of the Rev. Dr. Hawley, the post office known as Loring, the railway station, and the township were all merged into one name to be known as Lake Park. This was indeed a most fitting name, for to one who in summer time beholds the striking landscape consisting of undulating prairies, green groves, blossoming fields and picturesque lakes, it presents the scenic beauty of a park. In fertility of sail this township is not surpassed by any in Becker County, nor perhaps in the entire Northwest. The land is not only adapted to the growing of grain such as wheat, oats, barley, and flax, but during recent years, clover and corn have been raised with success. The country is therefore adapted to diversified farming; stock-raising and dairying have in recent years become important industries. In the village of Lake Park are two creameries that are running with full capacity the year around.
The stock farm of Thomas Canfield which is situated near the village of Lake Park is one of the finest and most up-to-date stock farms in the Northwest. On this farm Mr. Canfield has bred up from imported and domestic stock a fine herd of Shorthorns that have captured many prizes at many fairs where they have been exhibited. On the farm may be seen also the finest Yorkshire hogs in America, if not in the world. His Yorkshires took the championship at the World's Exposition at St. Louis, and at every other place where they have been exhibited they have carried off the highest honors.
Many of the farmers in the vicinity have availed themselves of the opportunity of improving their stock by purchasing fullblooded sires at the Canfield farm. Lake Park is noted for its fine stock, and for this the farmers are indebted, to a large extent, to the energy and untiring efforts of Mr. Canfield, who has made it possible for them to obtain full-blooded sires of the highest bred type.
An orphan home has also been built in the northwestern part of the township where dependent children can be cared for and educated.
The village of Lake Park, with a population of 800, is a thrifty and prosperous town, and as an evidence of its thrift and prosperity may be cited the fact that there is not a single shanty in the village.
Already some of the early pioneers have been laid to rest, and the time is not far distant when all of them will have ceased to count their homes among the living. They have done their duty and have done it well; they have been faithful and true. For their unswerving loyalty to those by whom they are survived, and devotion to country, the rising generation is deeply indebted. They strove to make us and our country what we are and their efforts have not been in vain. The substantial roads, the fine school houses, and the towering churches bear the strongest testimony to their industry, their undying devotion to family, and their loyalty to country and to God.
The first minister to visit us was the Rev. T. Watleson. He conducted services on November 6th, 1870, and this as far as I know was the first religious service in this county.
On the 16th day of May, 1871, a congregation was organized and named The Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Becker County. The trustees elected were Lars A. Larson, T. S. Hande and John Beaver. November 19th, 1872, a meeting was held in Lake Park and the name of the congregation was changed to the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Hay Creek Congregation of Becker and Clay Counties. At this meeting a call for a minister was issued, but the choice was left to the church council of the Norwegian Synod.
Rev. K. Bjorge was called and held his first service the first Sunday after Trinity. He worked with several congregations in this and neighboring counties until 1888, when he accepted a call from Red Wing and Zumbrota. Rev. Bjorge had to put up with many hardships during his first years here. His congregations were so scattered that in order to reach them he had to cross the prairies where roads and bridges were few at that time. But under these conditions be it said in Mr. Bjorge's favor that he was a faithful servant of the Lord. There are many who yet remember him with love and thankfulness, for his was always well meant counsel which he always sought to make impressive during the time he worked and suffered, during these pioneer days. As is often the case, we seldom understand when a person wishes his fellow men well, and this will also apply here. His reward will not be missing on the Great Day when it will be said. "Good and faithful servant thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
The first child born in Lake Park Township was Henry O. Bjorge, who was born on the 7th day of March, 1871. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ole Bjorge.
The first people to get married in Lake Park Township were Ole L. Berland and Betsy Olson, who were married on the 3rd of January, 1872, by L. G. Stevenson, justice of the peace.
A child, Jens K. Sorenson, died in this township, September 13th, 1871. This was the first death in the township.
John Delaney died May 22d, 1872. Mons Johnson died November 15th, 1872.
With reference to the early deaths in the township John Cromb has this to say:I think that old John Delaney, who lived on what is now the John Horan farm was one of the first to die. He died of strangulated hernia. I remember his death well, being with him when it occurred, and afterwards made his coffin, as we had no undertakers in those days. We had funeral services at the house, however, Father Gurley officiating. We buried the old man in a grove facing the lake on my farm, where the body still remains.
R. H. Abraham was appointed postmaster in the spring of 1872.
There were two families by the name of Small and Cook, who had formerly been employed by the government at White Earth, who had moved into the vicinity of Audubon and taken up claims. Sometime after the shooting of Mr. Carlson, the Cook family were all murdered in the night, their bodies thrown into the cellar, the house set on fire and all consumed. The intention was to have killed both families, as was afterwards learned, but for some reason the plan miscarried, to the intense satisfaction of Mr. Small and family. Although there were no horses in the country, the settlers having mostly arrived here in the old time prairie schooner with an ox team attached, the news spread like wild fire and the excitement and alarm which had been aroused by the crime became intense. The blood curdling deeds of those human wretches who butchered our people in 1862, at Lake Shetek, and other places were fresh in the minds of all, and there were some here who had actually passed through that awful ordeal and of course those scenes were revived in their minds with all of their attendent horrors. Some were in favor of immediate flight leaving everthing behind, while others who had spent all they had in getting here and getting a little home established disliked the idea of being driven out like a flock of sheep and losing all they possessed. In the neighborhood where I lived, four miles south of Lake Park, we got together, talked the thing over and decided to build a fort and undertake the protection of our families. All hands turned out and began its immediate erection. John Cromb sent to the governor for arms and ammunition, securing for the county forty stands- of arms, "Springfield muskets," and 1600 rounds of cartridges which were distributed through the country, our neighborhood receiving ten guns.
While we were busily engaged in our preparations of defense people of other sections of the country were not idle. Similar preparations were going on in Lake Park Village. The citizens of the village and surrounding country turned out and built a fort on the hill south of the depot made of railroad ties of which there were luckily plenty in town. Large numbers of the country people flocked to the new fort from far and near, it being on the railroad offered greater inducements than our little country affair, and for a week or ten days, I suppose things were pretty lively. The material for ours had to be cut in the woods and hauled half a mile; we cut logs twelve feet long, dug a trench three feet deep, putting them in on end and fitting them together close enough so a bullet would not pass between. We built quite a large log house inside for our Women and children, for we did not wish to be left up here in this new country, where such commodities were scarce, without our women. I remember one afternoon while we were working away leisurely a young man came riding up at break neck speed (and right here I must modify my statement in regard to the horses, for this young man did have a horse which was quite a curiosity at the time). He said the Indians were on their way to the settlements in full war dress scalping everything in their path, and he was going to leave the country. He advised us to fly for our lives. We had a good sized gap in the last wall of our little fort to fill in, rather more than we expected to get done that afternoon, but I tell you all joking was then laid aside and the men went to work at a lively rate. I remember distinctly with what earnestness I tried to persuade this man to give up his notion to skip the country and turn in with us and help finish the gap in the wall, but to no purpose. His mind was made up; he had seen enough Indian picnics in "62" to satisfy him and away he went, but he didn't go far, I guess, for he was back on his claim again all O. K., and afterwards secured a little body to go in partnership with him and help him improve it, .and is now a prosperous farmer not a thousand miles from Lake Park. I must tell you that the report that he brought was a false alarm, not gotten up by him however, which his actions clearly indicated. We finished our fort that night and moved in pretty much the whole neighborhood. There were a few, however, who had come in from the East, and were not familiar with the redman's ingenuity in stirring things up and making it lively at short notice, who remained at home waiting for the cloud to burst, and if a raid had been made would have gone the way of the Cook family, but of course as they never came the laugh was on us. We slept in the fort one night and men, women and children piled in there as though they had been fired in with a shotgun. The next morning my wife said to me "let us go home. I had about as soon take my chances with the Indians." She had taken a terrible cold sleeping on the ground and felt as though if she stayed there she would die anyway. Our house was only about eighty rods from the stockade so we went. Some that lived farthest from the fort stayed a week or ten days. By that time we learned that the danger was over, although there was more or less apprehension for a long time, but we never had any more trouble.
F. M. H.
Miss Flora Moore, now Mrs. Cyrus Curtiss, of Des Moines, Iowa, taught the first school in the township. Mrs. Sylvester Moore, her mother, writing from the home of Mrs. Curtiss, Nov. 7th, 1906, says:I saw Flora to-day and she gave me some data with reference to her school in Lake Park Township.
In January, 1872, Ole J. Weston, who was then section foreman built the first shanty in Lake Park for his section crew. The next building was R. H. Abraham's basswood store building which he hauled up from Oak Lake with oxen in February, 1872. This was the first store in the village.
Elling Carlson and Peter Ebe1toft erected a building and started a store in the spring. This was the second store in the village.
S. B. Pinney and Charles B. Plummer built a store in the summer of 1872 which was the third one in the village.
The first framed residence building was built by O. I. Berg in the fall of 1872. The place was then called Hay Siding.
Hans Hanson started the first blacksmith shop, in the spring of 1873. Charles B. Plummer opened a hotel in 1874. Eight blocks of the original townsite were surveyed in 1873 by Joseph E. Turner by order of L. P. White, agent for the Townsite Company. The remainder of the village was surveyed by A. H. Wilcox in May, 1882, by order of Thomas H. Canfield, proprietor.
R. H. Abraham was the first postmaster.
The village was incorporated in March, 1881. The judges of the first election were appointed by the Secretary of State, Fred Von Bombach, and were, O. I. Berg, R. H. Abraham and Dr. J. O. Froshaug. The first election was held March 15th, 1881. Thirty-five votes were cast and the following village officers were elected: .President, Thomas C. Hawley; trustees, O. I. Berg, M. Mark, J. E. Chase; recorder, A. C. Dean; constable, L. E. Norby; justice, J. A. Bemis.
The first railroad ticket agent was ______ Thompson.
The first small church was built by the Lutheran Conference in 1879. The Synod church was built in 1884.
The first schoolhouse was built in 1875. The first school teacher in the village was Miss Delia Hawley.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 1882.
"According to the eternal fitness of things" every booming town in this most booming country has its advantages sounded through the medium of its newspaper. We have looked over the. ground and have decided that it is time for Lake Park to show its hand, as it were, and take its place among other towns of its size, able and ready to support its own newspaper. We do not take this step hastily, for we have watched the steady and solid growth of the village for four years and know, therefore, what we do. Possessing the finest agricultural district in the state, already thickly settled by thrifty farmers, it is destined to advance by a rapid and substantial growth.
It has been intimated that the Times has been established as a campaign paper in the present fight in progress in the fifth district. This assertion we wish to contradict at the outset and assure our patrons that we have come to stay and mean business. We may have our personal preferences on the subject, but the Times will take no part in the matter. It will always be in the interest of the growth and prosperity of, first the village of Lake Park; second the country surrounding. In short, the Times is to be a local paper in the full sense of the word. It is not owned or controlled by any political party or faction and all fears on this point may be put to rest at the outset.
Lake Park, situated in the western part of Becker County, has the finest country tributary to it of any town in northwestern Minnesota. To the north the country is thickly settled for twenty miles and it includes the garden spot of Becker County. The famous Wild Rice Region, twenty miles northwest of Lake Park, finds its outlet here. No town in this part of the state has so large an area to depend upon for support and the quantity of grain which finds a market here is enormous and fully half of what Becker County produces. We have a gently rolling prairie with just enough timber to supply the farmers for years to come. Splendidly watered by the Buffalo River and its tributaries, which furnish the pure water free from alkali, the Buffalo valley, in point of excellence far surpasses the Red and James River valleys. And that the town is alive to all these facts is shown in the marked improvements which are going on in every direction. Buildings are going up in every direction and it is safe to say that Lake Park is destined to become, in the near future, one of the largest and most flourishing cities in northwestern Minnesota. This year there will be harvested one of the finest crops ever secured in the county and the fact of Becker being the champion wheat growing county in the state will no doubt be demonstrated. as has heretofore been the case.
Francis Marion Higley was born in Coudersport, Pa., Dec. 17, 1843. At nine years of age he, with his parents, moved to Warren, Ill., and in 1856 removed from that place to Olmstead County, Minnesota, where he spent his early manhood. November 5, 1861, at the age of eighteen years, he enlisted in the service of his country in company C, Brackett's battalion of cavalry, and was mustered out May 24, 1866, making a service of over five years. February 12, 1867, he was joined in marriage to Mrs. Elvira Bogue and in 1870 moved with his family to Becker County, arriving here June 10, and has since made his home here. He died November 4, 1899, of heart failure, at the age of 55 years, 10 months and 17 days.
Thomas Hawley Canfield was born March 2nd, 1822, in the city of Arlington, Vermont. He was a descendant of Nathan Canfield, one of the pioneers of that state. A history of Mr. Canfield's life is to a large extent a history of the inception, inaugurartion and completion of that great enterprise, the Northern Pacific Railway. Educated in his native state he early attracted the attention of prominent financiers and business men, and after a few years of successful business life in the town of Williston, he became manager of 1he large manufacturing and shipping firm of Follett & Bradley in Burlington, Vt. This firm was at that time changed to Follett & Canfield. About this time he also built the Rutland and Washington Railway, of which he became president and lessee. Early in the fifties the idea of a continental railroad occurred to Mr. E. F. Johnson, then the foremost railway engineer in America. Mr. Canfield, then about thirty years of age, was so convinced by Mr. Johnson of the practicability of such a road to the western coast, that he resolved to make it the business of his life and to devote his time, energies and talents towards the accomplishment of that object. The first active steps were taken in '52 when he, with Mr. Johnson, built the Chicago, St. Paul and Fond du Lac Railway, known now as the Chicago and Northwestern. The feasibility of continuing the road to the coast became more apparent as time went on. On account of opposition which was encountered chiefly from Hon. Jefferson Davis, then secretary of war, nothing could be accomplished at that time towards extending the road. War breaking out about this time everything was at a standstill. In 1865, however, a charter was granted to a Mr. Perham of Maine, who transferred it to a company of Eastern men, who appointed Mr. Canfield director and general agent of the company. Of the twelve original directors of the company two only were Minnesotans---William Windom and William S. King. And so it happened that fifteen years after its inception the plans were laid for the building and organization of the Northern Pacific Railway. But almost untold difficulties were thrown in the way of those interested by those who desired a southern or middle route to the coast, and but for the courage, faith and determination of those twelve directors there would have been no Northern Pacific road to-day. The project was ridiculed as impossible; its advocates called it crazy and visionary; but they persevered in their efforts. Twice was the charter on the point of being lost, and the second time the bill amending it in some points was signed by the president one day only before the charter expired. The history of the actual building of the road would form a thrilling and exciting story of adventure and difficulty. Several expeditions conducted personally by Mr. Canfield, sometimes on horseback, sometimes on buckboards and wagons, traversed the country from St. Paul and Duluth across the Rocky Mountains to the very ends of the route. Through tracts of land inhabited by hostile Indian tribes; across almost unsurmountable obstacles the surveys were made, until finally in 1869 the route was finally determined upon, and the construction of the road commenced. At this time a company was also formed; having Mr. Canfield as president, called the Lake Superior and Puget Sound Townsite Company, which was empowered to buy lands, build boats and do most any kind of business to further the interests of the railroad company. This company under Mr. Canfield's direction located, platted and laid out along the line of the railroad the towns of Aitkin, Brainerd, Motley, Aldrich, Wadena, Perham. Audubon, Lake Park, Hawley, Glyndon and Moorhead, and later Fargo and Tacoma. In 1870 two expeditions were made on horseback by Mr. Canfield, accompanied by Gov. Smith from St. Paul to Dakota, passing through most of these towns. There was at this time only one house in Detroit, and that a log one built by Mr. Tyler. For the next three or four years numerous expeditions were successfully made under the personal guidance of Mr. Canfield, for the purpose of perfecting the plans and efficiency of the undertaking. For twenty years he labored in the interests of the road until in '73, when the bankruptcy of the road occurred, he resigned from the directorship and also from the presidency of the Puget Sound Land Co. During this same year he purchased about 3,000 acres of farming land in the neighborhood of Lake Park, where he spent for the remainder of his life most of his time. During the last twenty-five years, in fact ever since he resigned from the railroad, he was ever closely identified with the growth and development of the Northwest. His name is associated with the history of the state and nation. In the words of his biographer: "He was a man of broad ideas, wonderful vitality and energy, unconquerable will and indefatigable determination, and the history of the gigantic enterprises in which he was concerned demonstrate the characteristics of the man; of strictest integrity, kind and courteous, of extensive reading and observation, endowed with the keenest foresight and executive ability, he has indelibly impressed himself upon the history of the great undertakings with which he had been connected. Mr. Canfield was a member of the Episcopal church, holding the important position of the secretary of the diocese for over thirty years. He was delegate to the General Convention on five different occasions.
Mr. Canfield died at Lake Park, on the 18th day of January, 1897.
He was twice married. His first wife was Elizabeth A. Chittenden, great granddaughter of Thomas Chittenden, first governor of Vermont. She died in 1848, and he subsequently married Caroline A. (daughter of Rt. Rev. Bishop Hopkins of Vermont,) who, with three daughters, Emily, Marion, and Flora, and one son, Thomas H., still survive him.
(A large part of the information contained in this notice is taken
from a Life of Mr. Canfield published some years ago in Burlington, Vt.