The History of Fairmont, Martin County, Minnesota
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Copied with permission from: 'Fairmont, City of Lakes, "Heart of the Midwest",
Visitors' Guide for the Martin County Area', published 1997 "The original citizens of the Fairmont area were the Winnebago
Indians, who lived by farming, hunting and fishing. The first recorded
white people to visit the area were John C. Fremont and his French
associate, Joseph N. Nicollet, in June, 1838. These men established Fort
Tchan Hassan near the headwaters of the Des Moines River.
"The first permanent settlers, in what is now the City of Fairmont,
were E. Banks Hall and William H. Budd. In June, 1857, these people built
their homes on the lakes that still bear their names. Mr. Budd recorded
that in January of 1857, twenty men, nine women and twenty-three children
lived in the Fairmont area.
"Fairmont was platted in October, 1857, by the Des Moines and
Watonwan Land Company, who also named the town for the rolling hills
surrounding the adjacent lakes. The original name was Fair Mount, but this
was later changed to Fairmont. Fairmont had the first post office in Martin
County, dedicated on October 9, 1858, with William Budd as the first
"Fort Fairmount was established in 1862, shortly after the start of
the Dakota (Sioux) Indian uprising which terrified settlers throughout
southern Minnesota. With the end of the Civil War and the subsiding of
Indian troubles, Fort Fairmount was abandoned. The site is now marked by a
plaque attached to a large native stone near the present courthouse.
"Closely following the inevitable hard times after the Civil War,
the "Grasshopper Plague" of 1873-1877 descended on the impoverished farmers
and many were forced to abandon their holdings and leave the country. This
gloomy picture was brightened by the arrival of English immigrants during
the period from 1873-1878. They came to develop new methods of growing
beans, spent their money lavishly, built a number of beautiful homes and
brightened the hillsides with their scarlet fox hunting attire.
"When railroads came, prosperity followed, and towns sprang up in
every direction. The first train came to Fairmont in July, 1878, when the
village was only twenty years old.
"As cities go, Fairmont was young, vigorous, alert and busy. It was
busy supplying the needs of a little empire right in the middle of North
America. Even in the lean years of the 1930's, when drought depleted most
sections of the Midwest, Fairmont enjoyed fair-to-good business conditions
while other communities were existing on government relief checks.
"With a vast trading area, both wholesale and retail, Fairmont has
remained stable. In fact, no economic nose-dive can be remembered by the
oldest inhabitant. Fairmont enjoys the enviable distinction of not having
had a bank failure during the memorable 1930's when bank failures were so
prevalent. The faith of the pioneers, who but three generations ago
selected this area as a home, has been justified. Nothing has ever been
lost through abiding faith in this area.
"Fairmont's future is as bright and exciting as her past..her
potential is unlimited."
page 13, "Local History"
The Minnesota GenWeb Project
- In March and April, 1996, a group of genealogists organized
the Kentucky Comprehensive Genealogy Database. The idea was to provide a
single entry point for all counties in Kentucky, where collected databases
would be stored. In addition, the databases would be indexed and cross-linked,
so that even if an individual were found in more than one county, they could
be located in the index. This lead to the US GENWEB of which Minnesota is
- Volunteers are needed who are willing to coordinate the collection
of databases and generally oversee the contents of the web page.
- My name is Mike Borchardt and
I am the person responsible for the Martin Co., Minnesota page. If you
would like to contribute your information (surnames/lookup sources) to
this page, please let me know. We would like to see lots of volunteers
available to do lookups. We'll list you on the lookup page if you own
resources and would be willing to help others via email or US mail. Or
if you would like to host a Minnesota county, contact
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Copyright 1998, 2009 by Mike Borchardt / Portland, OR /
This page last modified -- Friday, 13-Feb-2009 22:40:51 MST