"HISTORY OF WABASHA COUNTY"
Compiled by Dr. L. H. Bunnell
Published Chicago by H. H. Hill, Publishers, 1884
Republished Currently by Higginson Books
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The credit of the first settlement within the limits of this township is unanimously ascribed to Ira O. Seeley, now a prominent citizen of Appleton, this state. It is said that Mr. Seeley visited the locality in the fall of 1854, and being pleased with the valley where Mazeppa village now stands, decided to squat upon a claim there, and to that end erected a bark shanty on the west side of the river, not far from the present site of the milldam. Returning to Wabasha for his family, he became convinced, on reflection, that the valley of Trout Brook afforded greater advantages for general farming purposes; so when he came on with his family next spring he located on section 5, where Daniel Mack now resides. Immediately after Mr. Seeley came Enoch Young, Joseph Fuller and G. C. Sleeper, all making claims on sections 4 and 5. In April of the same year came Joseph Ford and his son, Orville D., and George Maxwell; the last two named are still residents of the village, where O. D. Ford located at that time. During the same season the following located within the township: Anson L. Carrier, Nelson B. Smith, Turner Preble, Francis A. T. Stowell, John E. Hyde, Elijah Lont, J. B. Miller, James H. Sandford, Lewis Blunt, George Duncan, Charles Fox, Isaac Nicholls, George Bailey, and possibly others.
The advantages of the water-power and town site were at once perceived by the Fords, who made their claims thereon. All of the west half of section 6 lying east and north of the river was by them platted for a village. They offered the water-power to Mr. Nicholls if he would build a mill thereon. The offer was at once accepted, and preparations were immediately made for the erection of a sawmill. This was set in operation during the winter, and timbers were at the same time prepared for a gristmill. William Amsbry became associated with Nicholls in the construction of the gristmill, and subsequently bought out the latter. Amsbry & Barber completed it and began business in the fall of 1856. They were succeeded by Augustus Ambler, and the latter by the Forest Mills and Mazeppa Mill companies.
A sawmill was built in the fall of 1856 on the main river, half a mile above the mouth of the north branch, by Alexander Somers and Rhoderick Drinkwalter, and set in operation the next spring. It was kept busy night and day cutting lumber for settlers' shanties. In December, 1857, Somers' body was found in the river. The verdict of the coroner's jury was that he did not come to his death by drowning. Foul play was suspected, but there was no evidence fastened to any one and the matter was dropped. From that time the mill was neglected, and the dam subsequently washed away.
In the spring of 1857 a sawmill was built on Trout brook by Ralph Frasier on Sleeper's claim, section 9. After the settlers began to seek for pine lumber, the dam was neglected and washed away. The mill was purchased by A. H. Bright with the land on which it stands, and is now used by Bright's sons for the manufacture of beekeepers' supplies. They use steam to drive their machinery.
In 1858 a distillery was built about halfway between the present upper and lower bridges in the village by Loyd, Robi & Franklin, and the manufacture of whisky was carried on there till 1862. I. T. Nicholls then built farther up the stream and removed the machinery thither, and the first distillery was torn down. Nicholls shortly built a mill on Trout brook. Augustus Ambler bought the distillery and tore out its machinery, which he removed to his mill. He paid eight hundred dollars for the property in order to stop the manufacture of whisky here, and refused to sell it, lest it be turned to the same use again. Beside being an ardent temperance advocate, Mr. Ambler was a firm observer of the Sabbath, and would not permit the operation of his mill on that day. The Trout brook mill changed hands several times, and has long since been swept away by flood. There are but two mills now in the town, both within the village, and described below.
In June, 1855, J. E. Hyde began the erection of a log building for a store and residence. This was completed in September, and he returned to Galena for his family and a stock of goods. These arrived on October 1, and from that time supplies were kept here for the convenience of settlers. Hyde's original building still stands, on the corner of First and Walnut streets, but has been clapboarded and finished inside, and none would suspect it is built of logs.
The need of postal facilities was soon felt among so large a colony, and steps were taken to secure a post-office. John E. Hyde was appointed postmaster, his commission bearing date January 2, 1856, and the Dubuque and St. Paul stages were made to pass through Mazeppa and take and supply mail.
Schools and churches were also very early provided for.
In the summer of 1856 a school was maintained in the claim shanty of Mr. Hyde, on the south side of the river, with Mrs. Sidney Munson as teacher. Here the first religious service was conducted in July, 1856, by Rev. Christopher McManus, a Methodist local elder, residing south of Pine Island. During the same season Rev. A. E. Standish preached in the mill. The first church edifice was that of the Congregationalists, built in 1869.
In 1858 a large two-story frame schoolhouse was built at a cost of about seven hundred dollars, most of which was secured by subscriptions. The preparation of lumber and timbers was begun in the fall of 1857, and J. A. Martin, then operating the sawmill, cut it a part of his share in the cost. Various additions have been made, and there are now four departments, in which are instructed one hundred and seventy-five pupils. The principal receives a salary of sixty dollars per month.
Early in the summer of 1856 a Sunday school was organized, with Francis M. Skillman as superintendent. This was also held in Hyde's shanty, and formed the nucleus from which grew a large school. The place has never been without a sabbath school since. During the year 1858 a school was taught by Miss Huldah McMannus (now widow of G. W. Fowler, residing at Lake City), in a log building erected for that purpose by the settlers in the valley of the Zumbro, on its western side, about a mile above the site of Somers & Drinkwalter's mill. The flood of 1859 swept this building away and it was never rebuilt.
Lewis, son of Francis A. Stowell, was born here in the fall of 1855, and Roxie H., daughter of Enoch Young, was born December 14 of the same year. These were doubtless the first children born to white parents within the township. Zarah Cornish, Jr., passed away June 1, 1856, and thus furnished occasion for the first funeral.
The first town meeting under the state organization was held at the residence and hotel of Elijah Lont, in the village of Mazeppa, May 11, 1858, in common with all other townships. John A. Marten was made chairman, G. Maxwell was elected moderator and Charles F. Fox and H. M. Stanton clerks. The next annual meeting was there fixed, by a vote of twenty-nine to thirteen, at the residence of C. F. Fox. One hundred and three votes were polled. For chairman, C. F. Fox had 57 votes; F. A. Stowell, 46. For side supervisors, James H. Sandford received 102 votes; R. W. Drinkwalter 50; C. F. Fox, 40; scattering, 4. For town clerk, Ansel F. Fox, 57; H. M. Stanton, 45. For assessor, George W. Fowler, 98. For collector, Ansel F. Carrier, 102. (For more information on Ansel Carrier, see CARRIER WEB SITE and PHOTOGRAPH) Overseer of the poor, William A. Preble, 57; Orville Ford, 9. Justices of the peace, Corydon Robi and G. Maxwell, received each a number of votes. In each case, the persons first named under the respective offices are the ones elected.
At a meeting of the supervisors on July 10, following, the town was divided into three road districts, the main and north branches of the Zumbro river making the dividing lines. At that time the whole of the government township was embraced in the organization, and this was a fair division.
The following list includes all the principal town officers for the several years following 1858, down to the present:
On December 9, 1865, at a meeting of the board, O. S. Lont was appointed chairman, and G. W. Judd supervisor, to fill vacancies caused by resignations of Prosper Robinson and M. Redfield.
It is evident that several of the officers elected at the regular town meeting in 1864 failed to serve, as a second election was held in the May following. Their names are shown in the above table, with the exception of A. H. Bright, who was elected assessor in place of L. B. Matthews.
In 1866 Lyman E. Thorp was appointed supervisor in place of J. H. Sandford, who failed to serve. At this meeting it was decided that two days' labor be required to pay each poll tax.
At the town election in 1872 the vote on clerk, treasurer and constable was a tie, and the following persons were appointed to those offices in the same order: J. E. Hyde, G. Maxwell, Adelbert Randall.
On April 22, 1876, a special election was held to vote on the question of voting bonds to the amount of twelve thousand dollars in aid of the Minnesota Midland railroad. A majority of seventy-eight votes was cast, out of a total of one hundred and thirty-six, in favor of the proposition. The road was built and operated in accordance with the conditions, and the bonds were issued. The bonds were to run twenty years, with the privilege of earlier payment. Nothing has yet been paid except interest.
Three bridges are now maintained across the north branch of the Zumbro, one over Trout brook, and a joint bridge between Zumbro and Mazeppa towns, over the main Zumbro river. The latter is a combination of wood and iron, and cost forty-five hundred dollars. Two of the former are within the limits of Mazeppa village, which corporation furnished most of their cost.
Elections have been held, from and including 1860, at the village of Mazeppa. An entry in the town records says: "By notice given, a special meeting was held August 20, 1864, for the purpose of voting a tax as a bounty for the payment of volunteers, which gave a majority for bounty of ten."
A meeting was held in due form on January 23, 1865, at which a majority of eleven votes was cast in favor of "issuing orders against town for the purpose of raising moneys to pay volunteers."
An entry made in the town records October 12, 1865, reads: "The amount returned to county auditor to be assessed for bounty purposes, thirty-five hundred dollars."
On the organization of the county under territorial administration, Moses Hall was appointed justice of the peace for this precinct, and Enoch Young constable. The precinct included Chester, then called Bear Valley.
This region abounds in natural curiosities. Near the junction of Trout brook with the Zumbro river is a cave in the side of the bluff, on the farm of A. H. Bright. This is probably fifteen feet high and nearly as wide, extending thirty or forty feet into the ground; a small passage at some distance above the floor of the cave runs back as much farther. The side, roof and walls of the cave are solid limestone rock and are covered with Indian hieroglyphics representing the leading birds, fish, and game animals of the region. There are numerous other characters whose significance is known only to a few. It is said by some of the early settlers that the Indians who remained here after settlement were made refused to enter the cave, saying "the devil lives there." It served as a shelter for some of the early prospectors after claims, and their horses. It was walled up by Mr. Frazier, who shortly came into possession of the claim on which it was situated, and has ever since served as an outdoor cellar.
In the fall of 1883 a well was dug in the rear of W. W. Day's livery barn on Walnut street, Mazeppa, and well preserved pieces of wood were taken from it at a depth of over forty feet. They appear to be some kind of willow, and the circumstances clearly show that an immense deposit of soil has been made since they grew. Roots and pieces of timber were encountered at various depths. Several similar discoveries have been made in digging wells in the vicinity.
Mazeppa township is not essentially an agricultural one. By far the greater part of it was covered with a natural forest growth, and it still furnishes fuel for a large tract of adjacent country. Almost the first enterprises, as above related, were the erection of sawmills; these have now disappeared and husbandry is the chief occupation. A goodly proportion of the surface has been cleared, and furnishes the best kind of field for the husbandman. With the home markets now supplied, Mazeppa offers an advantageous prospect to the farmer.
The experiences of the last five years have taught the people of this region that grain-raising is a delusion, as the farmers' sole dependence. Stock-raising is steadily growing in favor, and swine are being quite extensively grown. During the month of September, 1883, there were three severs, successive frosts, which completely ruined the corn crop, and those who were depending largely on hogs were severely pinched. This will discourage some, but as this was the first total failure of corn ever known here, this branch of agriculture will receive only a temporary check. Mr. E. F. Hopkins, of Mazeppa, is quite extensively engaged in breeding pure Berkshire swine, and is doing much to encourage stock-raising among farmers.
By an act of the state legislature during the session of 1866-7, section 6 of Mazeppa township was incorporated as a village under the same name. The organic act appointed E. L. Ford and N. J. Majerus as judges of the first election, and fixed March 17, as the date thereof. Accordingly on that day the legal voters assembled at Huntley's hall and proceeded to ballot in due form. There were eight-six votes, and the following officers were elected: O. D. Ford, president; P. Robinson, D. Van Vliet and Wells B. Smith, trustees; George Maxwell, treasurer; Wesley Kinney, recorder; J. S. Huntley, justice; Alvin Kinney, constable.
The next election was held on the first day of 1878, resulting in choice of the following officials, eighty-four ballots being cast: O. D. Ford, president; P. Robinson, D. Van Vliet and E. S. Hyde, trustees; W. Kinney, recorder; G. Maxwell treasurer; D. A. Gilbert, constable.
For the ensuing years the following were elected:
In June, 1880, there being a vacancy in the office of village constable, John B. Gregoire was appointed to fill it.
Three vacancies occurred after the election of 1883. D. Van Vliet resigned the office of recorder in April, and A. J. Myers was appointed in his place. The death of W. B. Smith caused the appointment of M. Olsen to the office of trustee in July. In February, Frank Kinney was appointed constable, in place of W. M. Rice, who failed to qualify.
At the first meeting of the village council, March 21, 1877, the license of liquor dealers was fixed at one hundred dollars per annum, and it was resolved that licenses should be granted for no longer than three months at a time.
On March 31, the road poll-tax of each citizen was fixed at two days' labor or three dollars in lieu thereof, and a property- tax of one-half per cent be assessed. An appropriation of seventy-five dollars was made for improving the road leading north in the village, on what is known as "Cemetery Hill."
The ordinances in regard to sale of liquors have undergone many changes. At one time the yearly rate was fixed at $150. The records show quarterly payments of $35, $37.50, $27.50, $28 and $25, at various periods in the village history.
On April 25, 1879, by official action, a village prison was located on the northeast corner of lot 1, block 24, where a comfortable building is now maintained for that purpose.
A village park was established early, and is still maintained, south of and adjoining the school grounds, Cherry street intervening. At a meeting of the council in May, 1883, an appropriation of thirty-five dollars was made for the benefit of the Mazeppa brass band. Concerts are given by said band at the park on summer evenings.
At the same meeting, last above named, it was decided to purchase two hand fire extinguishers for the us of the fire brigade. At the meeting in February, 1883, A. J. Myers was made chief of the fire brigade, and all its members exempted from poll-tax.
As above noted, the village is on the extreme western boundary of the county. The flat was at first bounded on the west by the Zumbro river, but in 1876 an addition was made by Ford and Wells, carrying it to the Goodhue county line. This western addition contains many fine residence sites, overlooking the village and valley. It is sometimes called Coopertown, from the fact that the Mazeppa Mill Company's cooper shops are located on that side of the river, and many of the men there employed reside in that vicinity. The center of a line drawn from Red Wing to Rochester will locate this village on the map, being twenty miles from either point. A line drawn from here to Lake City and thence to Red Wing will, with the first line named, enclose a nearly perfect triangle.
From a description of the village and its business, written by E. F. Hopkins, and published in the Lake City "Sentinel" in the spring of 1877, we make some extracts: "Whether you approach the town from the north, east or west, you see a valley containing about two hundred acres, and a handsomer one you might go far to find. We consider the view from the hill north of the town the best. As you round the point of the hill on the Red Wing road, a full view is offered of the main street (First), the churches and the north and west part of the village, while only the southeastern portion is hid by the rise of ground upon which the land reserved for a park is located, known as 'Schoolhouse Hill.'
"At your right is the mill-pond, now almost a lake, and farther down all the buildings of the Mill Company and the suspension bridge.
"Twenty-two years ago (now twenty- eight), when Joseph Ford, in company with his son Orville, saw this valley from the brow of the hill east of town, he said, 'We will bo no farther; this valley shall be our home.' And so it has been to this day - (Joseph Ford has gone to his reward, but his son still remains.) Though nothing but oak brush could then be seen on the east side of the stream, and heavily-wooded timber land on the west for fifteen miles, yet he saw the prospect of health, wealth and happiness in the useful combination of wood, water and protection from cold and storms which the timber would give to a home here. Since that time the bulk of the timber has been removed in the immediate vicinity of town; yet still enough remains to satisfy the market, while probably not less than five thousand cords have been taken from these woods the present reason. Prices have ranged this winter from one dollar and a half to two dollars for hard wood, which does not show a scarcity of fuel at present. (The deep snow of 1882-3 interfered a great deal with the operations of wood-cutters, and at this writing - fall of 1883 - prices are about double those quoted by Mr. Hopkins. Many people, in both town and country, are adopting coal as a heating agent.)
"Not until the year 1876 did the village begin to attract attention from outside the circle of its regular trade, and for this reason no great effort had been put forth by its citizens to attract attention and trade or promote its growth. The immense water-power, which all knew to be of great value to the town, had never been used to a tenth of its capacity. The fact was apparent that much would depend upon the improvement of the Zumbro, and the success of the Mazeppa Mill Company was eagerly watched and talked of by all. During the winter of 1875-6 this was the theme of conversation by citizen and stranger, and all looked for business to revive and take a grand stride forward. Progress has been so marked and rapid that all must admit we have not looked in vain, and the Mazeppa of today is far in advance of the village of a few years ago. Our property holders are firm and do not seem anxious to transfer title, and we venture to assert that not more than five thousand dollars' worth of real estate has changed hands inside of or adjoining the town plat during the year, while many inquiries are made for lots and lands by parties who could purchase for cash."
At this time houses for rental are in great demand, and every boarding-place is full. Not an empty store or business stand can be found, and building operations are numerous and active.
During the year 1876 the buildings and improvements of the Mill Company cost sixty thousand dollars, and those of other parties mad a total of eighty thousand eight hundred and fifty dollars. During the same year a business of three hundred and forty-six thousand seven hundred dollars was transacted in the following lines: drygoods stores, 3; groceries, 5; clothing, 3; boots and shoes, 4; drugs, 2; hardware, 2; furniture, 2; confectionery, 7; shoemakers, 2; blacksmith-shops, 2; tinsmith, 1; harness- shop, 1; wagon-shop, 1; lawyer, 1; hotelkeeper, 1; physician, 1; meat market, 1; livery stable, 1; millinery stores, etc.
The business of the Mill Company alone furnishes one hundred and fifty thousand dollars of the above total. At that time the capacity of the mills was one hundred and fifty barrels per day. Eleven coopers were employed, and all flour was transported by wagon to Lake City for shipment.
The principal business of the village is now transacted by the following establishments: Mazeppa Mill Company, making six hundred barrels of flour per day; four general stores, where are retailed dry goods, clothing, groceries and boots and shoes; three groceries, one of them also carrying footwear; two drug stores, one complete hardware store and tin shop, two shoe shops, two blacksmith shops, one wagon shop, one tailor, one hotel, one law office, one livery stable, two warehouses and grain elevators, and five saloons. A custom flour mill is in course of construction, and will be in operation with four sets of buhrs before this reaches the eye of the reader. There is also a stone quarry and limekiln within the village limits.
The earliest church organization was a class of the Methodist Episcopal church, under the auspices of Presiding Elder N. Hobart, of Winona. Rev. J. W. Rogers had a circuit including this charge. A. E. Standish was the local elder, and F. S. Skillman class-leader. There were eight members in the first class, as follows: Francis S. and Julia Skillman, James and Mary Ann Jackson, James Standish, Mary McLeach, Alvin Stoddard and Thurza Fraser. While other sects have multiplied in numbers, death and removals have diminished this flock of believers. Four communicants of the church now remain, namely, Mr. And Mrs. J. B. McManus and daughter Loa, and Miss Salome Stoddard.
To the Congregational society belongs the honor of erecting the first church edifice. This was completed in 1869, at a cost of thirty-five hundred dollars. Its dimensions on the ground are 50x32 feet, and it has seating capacity for two hundred and fifty persons. The society was first organized under the ministration of Rev. Henry Willard, May 17, 1860, including the following persons: Ezra and Asenath Robinson, Anna Stowell, Charles H. and Rosina L. Goodell, Eliza J. Day, Nellie G. Ormsby, Elizqa A. Hyde and Freeman Pearson. The first ordinance of baptism was administered to Freeman Pearson and Rosina L. Goodell; all the others being admitted on the recommendations furnished them by their respective churches from whence they came. Charles H. Goodell was elected deacon and treasurer, and Freeman Pearson clerk. Since Mr. Willard's pastorate the following have served as pastors: Warren Bigelow (died here), J. E. Burbank, E. P. Deeda, J. B. Ladd, S. H. Barteau, Wm. M. Weld, H. K. Painter, N. H. Pierce and Bradshaw.
A Sunday school has been kept up, and now numbers about eighty members, presided over by S. H. Wyatt.
The society now includes thirty resident members, and is steadily carrying on its work. The church stands on the southeast corner of Walnut street and Broadway, fronting the latter and overlooking the business part of the village.
The Catholic Mission Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was organized as early as 1867 by Rev. Father Stariha, of Red Wing, and he continued to visit the charge at intervals till the summer of 1878. At this time the mission was attached to Belle Chester church (in Belvidere, Goodhue county), and the several pastors there have ministered to the spiritual wants of this people. From 1878 to September, 1881, Father John Meyer presided, and was succeeded at that time by the present priest, Rev. Jon Tori. When organized, the flock was small and scarcely able to build a church. During the same year of its inception, however, a small edifice was erected - the bulk of its expense being contributed by one member, Peter Clemens - and was used for public worship until 1876, when the present handsome structure was completed. Its cost was fifteen hundred dollars. It stands on the east side of and fronting First street, just north of the railroad track. Large grounds surround it, and it is thronged with people at the bimonthly services. Owing to only one Sunday service here per month, the other being on Thursday. The cemetery of this body is north of the village, on a bluff running down to the riverside. At the present time there are forty families in communication with this church.
Free-Will Baptist Church: In March, 1880, Rev. J. N. Haskell organized a society of Free-Will Baptists here, this faith haveing been cherished by a few for many years. The following persons formed the original class: Charles and Jane Troxell, Wilson, Mrs. Mary and Miss Jane Hutchins, Elmer and Phoebe Stotts, James and Angeline Oliver, W. W. And Eliza Dean and Misses Emma, Minnie and Lydia Dean, Rosa and Flora Oliver and Martha Harrison. Services were held in 1881. During this year a church edifice was begun on the corner of Broadway and Chestnut streets, fronting the former, and was completed next season at a cost of about eight hundred dollars. It is a plain and neat appearing frame building, with room for one hundred and fifty people within its walls. Mr Willard was succeeded by Rev. E. J. Keville, who remained a year. There is no pastor at present. A Sabbath school has been kept up ever since the organization of the society. It was at first under the superintendence of Miss Emma Dean, who was succeeded by the present superintendent, Miss Loda McManus.
The first secret society organized here was the masonic. On January 11, 1871, this lodge was instituted with fourteen charter members. The organization was christened Tyrian Lodge, No. 86, and E. W. Robi was designated as Master; James Oliver, Senior Warden, and James Maxwell, Junior Warden. The other members were as follows: James Oliver, Senior Warden, and James Maxwell, Junior Warden. The other members were as follows: E. Skillman, A. J. Taft, W. M. Evans, George B. Franklin, M. Skillman, Ziba Bouthton, G. W. Judd, O. D. Ford, E. W. Ford, W. W. Black, W. W. Day. Some work had been previously done by Masons resident here, under a dispensation from the grand lodge. During the existence of this organization eight-nine persons have been in full membership, and over sixty now retain their standing. With the large number of removals that characterize this region, this is an excellent showing for thirteen years of work. In 1874 the lodge built a hall for its use, on the east side of First street, between Walnut and Chestnut. It consists of one story built above a store, and cost over five hundred dollars. Considerable furniture has been added to the room, and the lodge is in fine working shape. The officers for the term closing December 1, 1883, were: G. Maxwell, W. M.; G. W. Hall, S. W.; A. J. Myers, J. W.; H. Hallaway, treasurer; J. B. Gregoire, secretary; E. S. Hyde, S. D.; A. J. Taft, J. D.; S. H. Wyatt, Chaplain; A. Marshall, Tyler.
I.O.O.F. On August 6, 1879, a lodge of the Independent Order of Odd-Fellows was instituted here, to be known as Mazeppa Lodge, No. 71. The following were named as charter members and held the offices of the lodge as here noted: S. Phillips, N.G.; F. L. Boney, V.G.; M. Schram, secretary; G.W. Judd, treasurer; E. W. Black and James Hickox. At the second meeting other officers were installed as follows: C. C. Emery, Warden; R. A. Johnson, C.; E. W. Black, I.G.; W. King, R.S.N.G.; Alvin Kinney, L.S.N.G.; R. Black, R.S.V.G.; J. B. Gregoire, L.S.V.G.; William Ritschlag, R.S.S.; Daniel Macky, L.S.S.
During the existence of the lodge twenty-nine persons have been connected with it, and twenty-two are now in active communication. A neat hall is rented and fitted up comfortably for lodge meetings, which occur every Tuesday evening. For its age and the population of the town, this lodge is doing well
I.O.G.T. An organization of this order has been three times effected here, but it has twice died out through lack of interest. The present lodge is a very efficient and prosperous one. It was instituted on January 31, 1883, under the auspices of Col. J. T. Long, state organizer. There were forty charter members, with officers, as follows: W. W. Day, P.W.C.T.; S. H. Wyatt, W.C.T.; Clara Preston, W.V.T.; W. H.Day, W.R.S.; Murray Philley, W.F.S.; D. L. Philley, W.T.; J. B. McManus, W.C.; Hazen Runnels, W.M.; Mary Marshall, W.I.G.; L. S. Judd, W.S.; Lodge Deputy, Lucy J. Bigelow. For a month the lodge meetings were held in the Baptist church, and ever since the lodge has met every Wednesday evening in Odd Fellows' hall. The membership has steadily increased until it now numbers seventy-two, with finances in excellent condition. The officers for the current term, ending January 31, 1884, are: Charles Woodworth, W.C.T.; Mrs. Cliff, W.V.T.; Rachael Phillips, W.R.S.; W. H. Day, W.F.S.; Julia Hyde, W. T.; Carrie Day, W.C.; J. W. Turner, W.M.; Nora Judd, W.I.G.; Wilford McManus, W.S.
Women's Christian Temperance Union: This was first organized on April 15, 1878, with eighteen or nineteen members, and had at one time thirty-five. The last meeting under this organization was held in April, 1879. On September 24, 1881, a new start was made, with the original number, and a good work is being accomplished in the distribution of temperance literature, and upbuilding and fostering a right public sentiment. There are now twenty-eight members of the union, with the following officers: President, Miss Julia R. Hyde; vice-presidents, Miss Lucy Bigelow and Mrs. J. E. Hyde; recording secretary, Miss Eliza Hyde; corresponding secretary, Mrs. Ed. Noonan; treasurer, Mrs. W. W. Day.
A reform club was at one time maintained here, but long since disbanded, and its records have been destroyed or mislaid.
A lodge of the Sons of Temperance also existed over two years, into which over a hundred members in all were initiated. No records of either of these organizations can now be found.
On January 8, 1878, a lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen was instituted, and started off under very favorable prospects, but so many of its members shortly removed as to very materially weaken it, and it was abandoned.
The leading industry of the village is the manufacture of flour, carried on by the Mazeppa Mill Company. This corporation was organized under the laws of the state in 1871, with a capital of one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. The water-power and buildings were purchased from a part of the corporators, and large improvements were at once instituted. The company was composed of four individuals. L. F. Hubbard (now governor of the state) was president and treasurer, O. D. Ford secretary, and W. S. Wells gengeral manager. The other partner was W. P. Brown, and all save the secretary were residents of Red Wing. A dam of twenty-six feet depth was built in and upon solid rock, and a frame mill was built, 56x72 feet in size and four stories high. The Zumbro furnishes a steady supply of water sufficient to run eight sets or buhrs, and these were placed in the mill, with all the necessary appliances necessary for first-class merchant milling, and a capacity of one hundred and seventy-six barrels per day was thus secured. In 1878 an addition 60x70 feet in size was made for engine and boiler rooms. A Harris Corliss engine of two hundred and twenty horse-power and three boilers are now used in connection with the water-power to drive the machinery. In 1881 the buhrstones were removed, and there are now in operation thirty-eight sets of rollers for making patent flour, of which all but one set are double, making really seventy-five sets. During the season of 1883 an elevator was erected east of and close by the mill, with capacity of one hundred thousand bushels. This is covered with sheet iron to protect it from sparks. About three thousand bushels of wheat are now daily consumed by this mill and turned into six hundred barrels of flour. The product of this mill is largely shipped direct to London, Liverpool and Glasgow. The principal home market is in the New England States. One hundred standard-gauge cars are owned by the company, which has ten elevators and warehouses along the valley of the Zumbro, and furnishes the bulk of freight traffic for the narrow gauge railroad in the shipment of grain and flour.
During the season of 1883, a custom mill was built at the south end of the village by Turner J. Preble and Alonzo Comstock. This building rests on a splendid stone basement, and is 32x40 feet in area, with twenty foot posts. It is the intention to do only a custom business, and four sets of buhr stones are being placed in position at this writing. Ground was first broke for the dam in March, 1883. It stands on outlot 1, of Hyde's addtion to Mazeppa. The dam is seven and one-half feet high, and sufficient fall is secured in the flume to give a ten-foot head of water. The mill stands far above the level of the riber, at the brow of a steep bank, and the power is conveyed from the wheel to the machinery by means of a wire cable. This will be a great convenience to the farmers of the vicinity, as the other mill does only a merchant business.
In 1878 Prosper Robinson built a warehouse for storing grain near the railroad track, south of the depot. This building was 60x30 feet on the ground. In 1883 it was raised and elevating machinery put in, and it now has storage for thirty-five thousand bushels of grain. Mr. Robinson and the mill company purchased all the grain brought in, making business very lively diring the fall season. Ever since the advent of the railroad in 1878, and in fact before that time, this has been a better market for the sale of wheat than Rochester, and has drawn a large trade from Olmsted county.
In November, 1880, a musical society, or cornet band, was organized, partly for amusement and mutual improvement. There were twelve members at first, and, although changes have occurred, that number is still maintained. Under the leadership of George Westphall and business management of John W. Kingsley, it has made steady advancement and is a source of gratification and pride to our citizens. Weekly practice is kept up, and aid and encouragement from the people is earned and received.
In the fall of 1877 the publication of the Mazeppa "Tribune" was begun by Schram & Clark, the first issue bearing date November 3. In a little over sour months Matthias Schram became sole proprietor, and has so continued every since. From the beginning the paper has been an eight-column folio, one-half printed at home, and will compare favorably in appearance and ability with country journals throughout the land. Mr. Schram is a practical printer of many years' experience in Chicago, and when his ire is aroused by any of his contemporaries, they find his mettle has the true ring. The beginning of this venture was made with second-hand type, and has now been supplied with a neat dress. A building has been erected for an office by the proprietor, in which he is comfortably established.
Some of the incidents related by early settlers may not be out of place here.
The survey of the village plat of Mazeppa was begun soon after the site was located by the Fords. G. Maxwell was employed for this labor. During the summer the subdivision of the county was completed by government surveyors, and Mr. Maxwell's lines were found to vary but a trifle form the variation used by the United States survey, and they still stand.
During the summer of 1855 Messrs. Ford and Maxwell staked out a road to Red Wing. The stakes were made of saplings and peeled, so that one could be seen in daytime from the location of its nearest neighbor. Thus it was comparatively easy to find the way across the prairie. In the succeeding fall, I. T. Nicholls set about the erection of a mill, and to this end employed Mr. Maxwell to go to Red Wing after lumber. Maxwell reached Red Wing one afternoon in time to get a load on his wagon ready for a start in the morning. During the night a heavy rain fell, and next morning both load and roads were heavy. With two yokes of oxen he set out on the return to Mazeppa. At dark he had covered two-thirds of the distance, and found his wagon stuck fast in a slough. In making an extra effort to move the load the tongue of the wagon was broken, and no tools or material for repairs were at hand. In this dilemma Maxwell set out to reach home with the oxen, leaving the wagon and load. But now a new difficulty arose. The stakes that guided his course were not visible in the darkness, and he was several times at a loss as to directions, and nearly the whole night was consumed in reaching home. Next day he returned with means for repairs and succeeded in reaching Mazeppa with the load. Not a house was to be seen on the way, and the traveler was obliged in those days to depend wholly on his own resources.
G. W. Fowler was among the earliest settlers. On one occasion he killed a fine deer and proceeded to carry the carcass home. On the way he was pursued by wolves, and was compelled to abandon the venison to them in order to save himself. The first coffin made in the town was put together for an Indian by Mr. Fowler.
The famous "gold diggings" that caused so much excitement along the Zumbro, in 1858-9, were located in this town. The base of operations was at Oronoco, in Olmsted county, where a mining company was formed. In 1856 gold was discovered on the river bank by Holden Whipple, who lived near the junction of the north branch with the main stream. Search showed the existence of minute particles of the precious metal all along the stream, and a considerable quantity was found to exist in the village of Oronoco. In the fall of 1858 a copany was organized for the purpose of systematic mining, and sluices were erected on section 22. Here was found a large deposit of clay in the narrow river valley, which yielded a good percentage of "shot gold." By the time the works were ready for operation winter closed in, and a long period of impatient waiting was imposed on the sanguine miners. But their patience was destined to be still more highly taxed, for the meltin of the snow in the spring following raised the river very high, and their handiwork was swept away by the remorseless Zumbro. Their courage was, however, unshaken, and the company was reorganized with additions to its membership and capital. More extensive improvements were at once planned and begun, and by the end of June were ready for business. Everything was completed on a certain Friday night, and most of the proprietors retired to Oronoco to rest and prepare for pushing the work on the following Monday, A few of the most enthusiastic or industrious remained over Saturday to set the work going. That night the sluices were cleaned up, and something over twenty dollars- worth of gold was taken out. Alas! How mutable are earthly things!
On Monday morning the memorable flood of July 3, 1859, had arrived, and the works of the "Oronoco Mining company" were swept entirely away. The courage and resources of most of the miners having now been exhausted, the work was abandoned, and has thus since rested. There is no doubt that a large deposit of gold exists somewhere on the Zumbro river, and could its original hiding-place be found, a fortune would be secured to the lucky discoverer. It is also quite certain that fair compensation could be wrung from the auriferous earth of Mazeppa township, by concerted labor with proper appliances.
The great flood of 1859, above referred to, caused great suffering and hardship all along the stream. Considerable manufacturing machinery was swept down from Oronoco. The approach of the rise was so sudden and rapid that many settlers along the river bottoms were unable to save anything. G. W. Fowler left home in the morning and returned shortly afternoon. His house, which stood on a knoll, was entirely surrounded. The boat, moored by a chain on the river bank, was still there, but in a vertical position, the stem being just visible above the seething waters. After diving in vain two or three times to unfasten it, he succeeded in breaking the chain and removed his family to a place of safety. Numerous other settlers fared in a similar manner.
A sad accident occurred in the fall of 1856, at the "Whipped Ford," a short distance below the mouth of the north branch. A stranger who was traveling with a gun was set over the river in a boat; on reaching the shore he seized the bun by the muzzle and drew it toward him; the hammer caught on the edge of the boat, discharging the load into his body. The ferryman hastened to Mazeppa after Dr. Lont, but when the latter heard his description of the wound he declined to go, for the injured man would be dead ere they could reach him, and so it proved.
An incident in the experience of Dr. Lont will illustrate the severity of the winter of 1856-7. One day he set out with a team to visit a patient seven miles away across the prairie. A furious snowstorm came on and he succeeded in going only four miles and was housed up four days. At the end of this time, with assistance, he was able to make his way through the drifts back to Mazeppa. In the meantime he had not seen the patient, and the feelings of his wife, who was at home alone and knew nothing of his whereabouts, cannot be easily imagined.