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Chapter 20
Pages 146 ~ 148

From the book
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge and Others
Published Winona, MN by H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1920
Republished Currently by Higginson Books

Mount Pleasant occupies Congressional Township 111, Range 13, and is bounded on the north and west by Goodhue County, on the east and south by Lake and Gillford Townships. Its surface is an undulating prairie, sloping to the east and but comparatively little broken by cooleys. At a point a little south of the center begins a ridge which runs westward into the edge of Goodhue County, and in its vicinity are several natural mounds, one of these, the Lone Mound, being the highest point in the township. The name was suggested by the magnificent view presented to an observer from the tops of some of the elevations in the south central part. From the summit of Lone Mound the sight is especially impressive. For miles in all directions stretches the expanse of prairie, whose fertility is attested by the neat and commodious buildings everywhere present; while to the northeast the eye catches the river hills of the Wisconsin side, and a glimpse of the blue waters of Lake Pepin through the valley of Boodie Creek. The northern part is drained by Sugar-Loaf Creek, sometimes called Gilbert Valley Creek, and in the eastern part Boodie Creek begins its short course to the lake, amid wild and romantic surroundings. The underlying rocks here are Potsdam lime and sandstone, which appear as picturesque walls along the valleys, with an occasional outcrop on the prairie, and are covered with strata of till, sand, gravel, yellow and blue clay, and rich loam.

A few birch, shrub-oak and poplar grow along the cooleys, but no timber of consequence is found. Wild grapes and plums are abundant in their season.

On the prairie roads are good but in the cooleys much labor is required to keep them passable, owing to the rains which frequently work destruction by washing away or covering with debris from the hillsides. An Indian trail from Central Point formerly ran through Gilbert Valley, and one crossed the southern part of the township. The first road in the township was one from Central Point to Mazeppa, reaching the prairie at the head of Bull's Cooley. It was laid out by P. D. Martin and Robert Phillips, of Central Point, and used but a few years, the Mazeppa road, crossing the township diagonally, was early established, being the main artery through which Lake City receives its extensive trade from the southwest.

In June, 1854, the settlement was begun by the location of O. A. Warren on the northwest quarter of section 1. He came with his family from Jo Daviess County, Illinois, and was a native of the Empire State. The fall of the same year saw the arrival of Isaac Horton and William Bean, who settled on sections 12 and 1, respectively. In the spring of 1855 William Walters and Alfred Hannings settled in the northeastern part, and the next summer brought Milo Bull and Joel Clark. Mr. Clark purchased William Bean's "right of settlement" for $250.00. In the fall Sanford Gilbert settled here. These settlements were all made in the valley. In 1856 the prairie in the southeastern part was settled by William Mann, Benj. Taylor, E. P. C. Fowler, S. B. Clark, George Clark, E. H. Palmer, William Lewis, Jacob Rinus, Alfred Betterly, and perhaps others. The year 1857 saw quite an immigration, and the township rapidly filled up.

Those who came with a supply of money got along well enough, but many who lacked ready cash experienced considerable hardship. During the "winter of the deep snow" (1856-57) markets were often inaccessible, provisions rather scarce, and trust was not to be had by the moneyless. Stories are told of those who lived for weeks on potatoes and salt, or a similarly scant diet, and one family is said to have existed four weeks on frozen rutabagas. Here, as elsewhere, the monotony of life was broken by visiting with ox teams, merry gatherings, getting lost on the prairie, hunting and fishing, and as the settlement grew older, and the virgin soil bestowed successive bounties on the brave pioneers, population and prosperity rapidly increased, and this little spot, but yesterday the home of the buffalo and Indian, has become one of the most desirable places in the county.

Until the building of the narrow-gauge railroad through the central part of the county the Mazeppa road was the scene of a constant stream of travel, many of the farmers coming long distances. For the accommodation of this portion of the traveling public, in the temporal matters of eating, drinking and lodging, J. Kramer, in 1858, built a small log hotel on section 26. The Boston House, about a mile down the road, was erected in the fall of 1857 by Sidney Cross. For several years after it was built it enjoyed a good patronage until 1878, when the travel was materially lessened and the Boston House was closed to the public. With the introduction of the automobile traffic, the Mazeppa road has resumed some of its form importance.

In the summer of 1856 the residents of the northeastern part hired Laura Eldred to teach a term of three months. The only shelter available for the work was a little claim shanty which stood across the road on the edge of Goodhue County. These were the first educational advantages enjoyed by residents of this township. The first term taught in the township was probably in the summer of 1857, in the northern part, by Mrs. Alexander Graham. Among the other pioneer teachers of that day were Alfred Hannings, who taught the first term in district No. 7; Mary Smith, who began the work of education in No. 12; George Sexton, of No. 10; Mrs. P. C. Tabor in No. 67, and Mary Burleigh in No. 8. The first schools were nearly all taught before the organization of the districts by private subscription, and usually in some discarded claim or log shanty. In some instances schools were held in private houses for several years, and the facilities enjoyed were necessarily very crude. Books from different states, and of many kinds, was one of the difficulties presented to the teacher. In district No. 12 the third term was held in a little log house in which Sidney Cross had formerly "bached it," and he again found himself master in that shanty, this time in a different capacity. In this instance each family provided a seat for its young hopefuls, the size of the family bench being regulated by the number of children. In one district a school was held in a small granary about the time that very large hoops were the style, as the teacher dressed in fashion when she entered the temple of learning but little room was left for much else. So the hoops had to be dispensed with, making an odd and noticeable change in contrast with her usual appearance.

The first birth in this township was that of a daughter to Mrs. S. B. Clark. In the spring of 1857 death first visited the town, taking Mrs. Palmer from the little settlement. In March, 1859, the Rev. Silas Hazlett united in marriage Ephraim Selby and Adaline Clark, which was probably the first marriage in the township.

In the spring of 1858 a meeting was held at the residence of E. H. Palmer to determine the name of the township about to be organized. Several names were proposed, among them "Huntington," by Wm. Lewis, and "Greenfield," by Silas Gilbert, both seeking to honor places of former residence. After considerable debate the present name was adopted, as before mentioned, being suggested by the views the adjacent elevations commanded. May 11, 1858, the legal voters met at the house of Benj. Taylor, on section 32, twenty-three voters being present. The meeting was organized by choosing Stanton B. Clark, moderator; James M. Knapp, judge; and E. P. C. Fowler and Sidney Cross, clerks. The officers selected were: Supervisors, E. H. Palmer (chairman), J. W. Cross and Silliman Gilbert; clerk, E. P. C. Fowler; treasurer, O. A. Warren; assessor, Joel Clark; overseer of poor, Harvey Seymour; constables J. M. Knapp and Alfred Betterly; justices, S. B. Clark and Isaac C. Smith.

End of Chapter