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Pope County - History
This county, established February 20, 1862, and organized September 4, 1866, was named in honor of General John Pope, who was born in Louisville, Ky., March 16, 1822, and died in Sandusky, Ohio, September 23, 1892. He was graduated at West Point in 1842, and served as a lieutenant in the Mexican war. In the summer of 1849 he was a member of an exploring expedition, under the command of Maj or Samuel Woods, which went from Fort Snelling up the Mississippi and Sauk rivers and past White Bear lake (since named Lake Minnewaska) , in the present Pope county, to the Red river, and thence northward by a route at a considerable distance west of the river to Pembina. On the return, in order to make a thorough examination of the Red river, Pope and a small number of the party embarked in canoes and ascended this river to Otter Tail lake, made the portage to Leaf lakes, and thence descended the Leaf, Crow Wing, and Mississippi rivers. He wrote in his report: "On the 27th of September we arrived at Fort Snelling, and completed a voyage of nearly one thousand miles, never before made by any one with a like object.”
At the time of this expedition, Pope was a captain. He was afterward, in 1853 to 1859, commander of the expedition making surveys for a Pacific railroad near the 32d parallel. In the civil war he was a most energetic defender of the Union, and early in 1862 was commissioned major general of volunteers. September 6, 1862, shortly after the outbreak of the Sioux war in Minnesota, General Pope was appointed commander of the Department of the Northwest, with headquarters at St. Paul, and he continued in charge of this department until January, 1865. To his efficient direction and cooperation was due, in a large degree, the success of Generals Sibley and Sully in their campaigns of 1863 and 1864 against the Sioux.
“Builders of Pope County”
by Daisy Ellen Huhest

The Towns Glenwood, Starbuck, Long Beach, Villard, Lowry, Cyrus, West Port, Farwell, Sedan, Grove Lake, and Terrace
The Townships of Nora, Benwade, Reno, Leven, West Port, New Prairie, White Bear Lake, Minnewaska, Glenwood, Grove Lake, Walden, Blue Mound, Barsness, Chippewa Falls, Bangor, Hoff, Langhei, Rolling Forks, Gilchrist, and Lake Johanna.
Other features Chippewa river ,Blue mounds ,Bibliography


Information of the origins and meanings of names was received from the "Illustrated Album of Biography of Pope and Stevens Counties," 1888, having pages 145-364 for Pope county; and from Ole Irgens, county auditor, Casper T. Wollan, a pioneer merchant, and his brother, M. A. Wollan, president of the Pope County State Bank, each of Glenwood, the county seat, interviewed during a visit there in May, 1916.
BANGOR township bears the name of a city in Maine, and of villages and townships in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and several other states.
BARSNESS township was named in honor of three brothers, Nels N., Erik N., and Ole N. Barsness, born in Norway respectively in 1835, 1842, and 1844, who settled in this township in 1865-66.
BEN WADE township was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin Wade, who was born near Springfield, Mass., October 27, 1800, and died in Jefferson, Ohio, March 2, 1878. He removed to Ohio, with his parents, about 1820; began law practice in 1827; was a district judge, 1847 51; and was a United States senator, 1851-69. He was an anti-slavery leader, and favored the Homestead bill.
BLUE MOUNDS township is crossed by a belt of low morainic drift hills, to which this name was given by settlers from Blue Mounds village in Dane county, Wisconsin. The hills thus named in each of these states appear bluish when seen from a distance.
CHIPPEWA FALLS township was named for its falls in Terrace village, descending 16 feet, on the East branch of the Chippewa river, supplying water power for a flour mill. This village and its post office at first were called Chippewa Falls, but were renamed by request of the settlers to prevent their mail from going to the City of Chippewa Falls in Wisconsin.
CYRUS is the railway village of New Prairie township, platted in the spring of 1882.
FARWELL, a railway village in the northwest corner of Ben Wade township, platted in April, 1887, has a name that is borne also by villages in Michigan and Nebraska.
GILCHRIST township was probably named in honor of a pioneer settler beside its Lake Gilchrist, which lies mainly in section 7.
GLENWOOD township, on the southeast side of Lake Minnewaska, was named for the great glen or valley occupied by this lake and for the woods around its shores, contrasted with the prairies that form the far greater part of this county. The city of Glenwood, the county seat at the northeast end of the lake, in Glenwood and Minnewaska townships, first platted in part on September 26, 1866, was incorporated as a village February 23, 1881, and as a city in 1912. This name is borne also by cities in Wisconsin and Iowa, and by villages and townships in twenty other states.
GROVE LAKE township has Grove lake and McCloud lake near its south side, which are more fully noticed in the later part of this chapter.
HOFF township was named for the village of Hof in Norway, about 50 miles north of Christiania.
LAKE JOHANNA township bears the name given to its large lake on the map of Minnesota in 1860, probably in honor of the wife or daughter of an early settler, but her surname remains to be learned.
LANGHEI township has a Norwegian name, meaning "a long highland.,, Its northeastern part gradually rises to an elevation about 300 feet above Lake Minnewaska, being the highest land in the south half of the county, with a very extensive prospect on all sides.
LEVEN township was named for a loch or lake in eastern Scotland, the Leven river outflowing from it, and the seaport at its mouth, on the north side of the Firth of Forth.
LOWRY, a Soo railway village in the east edge of Ben Wade township, platted in March, 1887, was named in honor of Thomas Lowry, who was born in Logan county, Illinois, February 27, 1843, and died in Minneapolis, February 4, 1909. He was admitted to the bar in 1867, and in the same year came to Minnesota, settling in Minneapolis, where he practiced law and dealt in real estate; was president and principal stockowner of the company operating the street railways of Minneapolis and St. Paul, called the Twin City Rapid Transit Company.
MINNEWASKA township, adjoining the northern shore of the largest lake in this county, bears the name given to the lake by the white settlers made from two Dakota or Sioux words, mini or minne, water, and washta or waska, good. Prof. N. H. Winchell wrote of the lake and its successive names, as follows: "This lake, according to statements of citizens of Glenwood, was originally designated by an Indian name, meaning Dish lake, because of its being in a low basin. After that, when the chief, White Bear, was buried in a high hill on the north shore, it was called White Bear lake. After a time it was changed to Lake Whipple, from Bishop Whipple, of Faribault, and by act of the state legislature in 1883 it was again changed to Minnewaska, or Good-water. It is said to be 85 feet deep in its deepest part and averages about 40 feet, and there is no known evidence of its having ever stood at a higher level." (Geological Survey of Minnesota, Thirteenth Annual Report, for 1884, p. 14.)
Nicollet's map, published in 1843, has no delineation nor name for this lake, which, with its grandly picturesque basin and inclosing bluffs, is the most noteworthy topographic feature of the county. Major Woods and Captain Pope, in their exploration in 1849, first mapped it as White Bear lake. The name Lake Whipple, in honor of Henry Benjamin Whipple (b. 1822, d. 1901), the revered and beloved Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, was applied to it during several years, when it was confidently expected that an Episcopal school would be founded at Glenwood.
NEW PRAIRIE township was named by its settlers, as their new home in the great prairie area of western Minnesota.
NORA township is reputed to have been named for Norway, the native country of many of its people.
RENO township received the name of its large lake, commemorating Jesse Lee Reno, major general of United States volunteers, who was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, June 20, 1823, and was killed in the battle of South Mountain, Md., September 14, 1862. He was graduated at West Point in 1846; served in both the Mexican and civil wars; and made a survey in 1853 for a military road from Mendota, Minn., to the mouth of the Big Sioux river.
ROLLING FORKS township was named for its contour as an undulating and rolling prairie, crossed by the East branch or fork of the Chippewa river, which here receives a considerable tributary from the north.
SEDAN, a Soo railway village in the northwest corner of Bangor township, is named for a city of France, famous for the battle fought on September 1, 1870, between the Germans and the French, which resulted in the surrender of the French army, leading directly to the establishment of France as a republic.
STARBUCK, platted in the spring of 1882, is a village of the Northern Pacific railway, adjoining the western end of Lake Minnewaska.
TERRACE Is a village formerly called Chippewa Falls, in the township of that name, platted in June, 1871. The village is built on a terrace plain of the valley drift bordering both sides of the Chippewa river.
VILLARD, a village of the Northern Pacific railway in the east edge of Leven, platted in August, 1882, was named in honor of Henry Villard, who was born in Bavaria, April 11, 1835, and died at Dobbs Ferry, N. Y., November 12, 1900. He came to the United States in 1853; engaged in journalism, and in the management of railroads; and was president of the Northern Pacific railroad company in 1881-83, when the construction of its transcontinental line was completed. E. V. Smalley, in his History of this railroad, devoted two chapters (pages 245 276) to the very remarkable career of Villard, up to the time of its publication in 1883.
WALDEN township has the name of a township and village in Vermont, and of villages in New York, Georgia, and Colorado. Henry D. Thoreau lived alone in 1845-47 beside Walden pond, near Concord, Mass., as narrated in his book, "Walden, or Life in the Woods," published in 1854.
WESTPORT township and its railway village, which was platted in October, 1882, have a name that is borne by townships and villages in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Wisconsin, and ten other states.
WHITE BEAR LAKE township includes the western end of this lake, which has been known by several names, before mentioned for Minnewaska township. The grave of the Ojibway chief, White Bear, is an elongated mound on a knoll in the south edge of section 3, Minnewaska, about 90 feet above the lake, as described by Prof. N. H. Winchell (Aborigines of Minnesota, 1911, p. 298).
“Waube-Mokwa (the White Bear), who was a chief among the Ojibways and dwelt by these waters" is represented to have lived here more than two centuries ago by "The Tribe of Pezhekee, a Legend of Minnesota" (1901, 232 pages), written by Alice Otillia Thorson, of Glenwood. It is known in history, however, that the warfare of the Ojibways against the Dakotas, acquiring the region of northern Minnesota by conquest, took place much later.


Excepting its eastern border, this county is drained by the Chippewa river, which is fully noticed, for the origin of its name, in the chapter of Chippewa county. Its tributaries in Pope county are the Little Chippewa river, Outlet creek, which flows from Lake Minnewaska and through Lake Emily, and the East branch, from which Chippewa Falls and Rolling Forks townships are named, flowing into Swift county.
Signalness creek, tributary to Outlet creek from the north side of the Blue mounds, and a small lake crossed by the south line of section 14 in Blue Mounds township, were named in honor of Olaus Signalness, a pioneer farmer in the northwest quarter of that section. He was born in Norway, November 12, 1851; came to the United States in 1864, with his parents, who settled in Wisconsin; and in 1869 they removed to this county, being the first settlers in this township.
Mud creek flows from Lake Johanna township southwestward to the East branch.
Grove lake, having a grove beside it, which gives its name to a township, and McCloud lake, closely adjoining its west end, are at the head of the North fork of Crow river, flowing east into Stearns county. These lakes were on the route of Woods and Pope, for the latter of whom this county is named, in the expedition to the Red river in 1849, and their party camped here during a week, from June 27 to July 3; but they were then named Lightning lakes, referring to a severe thunderstorm, with "a stroke of lightning, which tore in pieces one of the tents, and prostrated nearly all the persons who were in the camp.,, The name of the Lightning lakes, however, although clearly shown by Pope's journal to belong to the Grove and McCloud lakes, has been transferred to two other lakes much farther west on their course, in Grant county and southwestern Otter Tail county.
Westport lake, in the township of this name, is the source of Ashley creek, which flows into Stearns county and is a tributary of Sauk river.
The other lakes of Pope county, including many named for pioneer settlers, are noted as follows, in the order of the townships from south to north, and of the ranges from east to west.
Lake Johanna township, with the large lake of this name, has several of small size not yet named on published maps.
Gilchrist township has Lakes Gilchrist, Linka, Nilson, and Johnson, Scandinavian lake, and Goose and Simon lakes. Lake Linka was named in honor of the wife of Rev. Peter S. Reque, a Lutheran pastor.
Rolling Forks township has Lakes Hanson, Helge, Anderson and Rasmusson. The first named, which is the largest, was formerly called Woodpecker lake.
Langhei has Lake Benson and Swan lake.
Hoff, the most southwestern township, and Bangor, the most eastern of the townships numbered 124, have no lakes.
Chippewa Falls township has Round lake and Lakes Swenoda and Anderson. The second is a composite name, for its adjoining Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish settlers; and Swenoda township, 25 miles distant to the southwest, in Swift county, was named in the same way.
Barsness has Lakes Stenerson, Gilbertson, Ben, Mary, Celia, Nelson, and Edwards.
Lake Emily, on Outlet creek in Blue Mounds and Walden townships, quite surely commemorates the wife or daughter of a pioneer; but her surname, as for other feminine names of lakes in this county, remains to be ascertained for a more definite historical record.
Grove Lake township, beginning the tier numbered 125, has Lake Lincoln and Mud lake, with Grove and McCloud lakes, which earlier had been named Lightning lakes, as before noted.
Lake Alice is mainly in section 12, Glenwood, and Camp lake is crossed by the west line of its sections 30 and 31.
Minnewaska township, with its large and beautiful lake of this name, has also Pelican lake.
White Bear Lake township has Lake Malmedard, crossed by its north line, named for Christian Malmedard, a pioneer Norwegian farmer there; and several smaller lakes are mapped without names.
On the west line of New Prairie township are Lakes Charlotte and Cyrus, the latter being close southwest of Cyrus village.
In Westport, the most northeastern township, Westport lake, as before mentioned, is connected southward by a strait with the wider Swan lake.
Leven has a series of four lakes, the most southern being Lake Amelia, the source of the East branch of the Chippewa river; Lake Villard, next northward, adjoining the village of this name; and Lakes Leven and Ellen. Rice lake, close west of Lake Villard, is named for its wild rice.
In Reno township, with its lake so named, are Lakes Ann and John, Mud lake, crossed by its north boundary, and a dozen unnamed lakelets.
Ben Wade township has Lake Jorgenson, but its six other small lakes are nameless on maps.
Nora, the most northwestern township, has Pike lake, named by Woods and Pope in 1849 for many pike fish caught there; and in this township are also ten lakelets that have no names.


The Blue mounds, before mentioned for the township named for them, are overtopped by the great highland of Langhei, also before noted in the list of townships. The very massive Langhei hill and the deep basin and high bluffs of Lake Minnewaska are undoubtedly due to the contour of the bedrocks, though no outcrop of them is seen because of their concealment under the glacial drift.

Their Origin and Historic Significance
With an Introduction by
Reprint Edition
Copyright @ 1969, by the
Second Printing, reprint editions l979
This work was first published by the Minnesota Historical
Society in 1920 as Volume 17 of the
Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society.
Library of Congress Card Number: 71 -95570
ISBN: 0-87351-144-1