Belle River Township

Compiled and written by Ginny Swartz


On 8 March 1870, the Board of County Commissioners received a petition to establish congressional Township 129, Range 36 as a separate civil township. This petition was granted and the township was named Riverdale, with instructions that the first meeting should be held at the home of Mathias Klien on 22 March 1870. The 1870 Federal Census lists the township as Riverdale. On 4 January 1871, the Board received a communication saying that the attendees at the township meeting had adopted the name of Belle River instead of Riverdale; the action was approved by the commissioners.

George B. Craig, who arrived in 1865, is referred to as probably the first settler in Belle River. Several others soon settled in that same neighborhood, among these being John Anderson and his brother-in-law M.A. Anderson. The country in general thereabouts was very marshy at times. At that particular time, the closest mill was Melrose, a good five-day round trip journey. The closest store was Mr. Johnsonís at Osakis.

For about two years during the most trying period, a band of two hundred Indians camped on the other side of the river on the land presently referred to as the Reuter farm. The Indians were friends and often visited with the new settlers. The Indians had plenty of meat and fish and would give liberally of these in exchange for potatoes, salt, rye, and other white man products.

The only village located in the township had the same name, Belle River. It was located at the cross road of two county roads where land was donated for the St. Nicholas Catholic Church. Eventually there was also a general store and coop creamery.

School districts located in Belle River Township were District #92 in Section 5; District #62 just east of the village in Section 15; District #41 in Section 14; District #39 in Section 19; District #40 in Section 29; and District #85 in District 36.

The land for St. Nicholas Catholic Church was donated in February 1872 by John Clousen and Francis Quinn. Each donated 10 acres along the south line of SW1/4 of Sec. 9 on the north side of the highway. It is the only church in the township and has the only cemetery in the township.

According to records located in the Recorderís Office at the Douglas County courthouse, the following individuals were the first owners who received a patent from the U.S. Goverment on land in Belle River Township. The year noted is the year the patent was recorded; often the individuals had been on the land one or two years prior to recording the patent.

John Moriarty - Section 1, 1865
John Moriarty - Section 2, 1865
Annie Horn - Section 3, 1888
Martin Crowson - Section 4, 1876
Mary, Sarah, Caroline Edwards - Section 5, 1868
Michael Fitzgerald - Section 6, 1868
Francis B. Van Housen - Section 7, 1869
John Clousen - Section 8, 1871
John Clousen - Section 9, 1871
Henry Cook - Section 10, 1870
Johnston W. Lowry - Section 11, 1868
John Moriarty - Sections 12 & 13, 1868
John Dunn - Section 14, 1875
John Petruick - Section 15, 1876
Henry Botzet - Section 16, 1887
Charles Baumers - Section 17, 1867
Stephen Miller - Sections 18 & 1866
Nicholas Botzet - Section 20, 1876
St. Vincent, St. Paul & Pacific RR - Section 21, 1877
Gustof Anderson - Section 22, 1878
Clarissa A. Griffen - Section 23, 1874
Andrew Ellsworth - Section 24, 1873
Luther Dearborn - Section 25, 1867
Ole Anderson - Section 26, 1880
Erik Ersson - Section 27, 1878
Haymond W. Clark - Sections 28 & 29, 1867
Anders Anderson - Section 30, 1880
John B. Gilfillian - Section 31, 1868
August Forsgren - Section 32, 1876
John A. Nelson - Section 33, 1871
Joseph Van Epps - Section 34, 1868
Isaac Shartle - Section 35, 1867

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