These are some words that appear in the biographies and historical sketches. Many of them are no longer used today.
Did I miss any words? E-mail me and I'll add them.

acre - a unit in the U.S. and England equal to 43,560 square feet (4047 square meters)
board (as in "room and board") - a table (archaic), a table spread with a meal, daily meals esp. when furnished for pay
bond - a bond issued by a public agency authorized to build, acquire, or improve a revenue-producing property (as a toll road) and payable out of revenue derived from such property
buhrs - Date: 13th century ~ rolls installed for making patent flour ~ a revolving cylinder over or on which something is moved or which is used to press, shape, spread, or smooth something
cartwright (archaic: not in Webster's) - one who builds wagons and carts. Compare to "wheelwright."
claim - something that is claimed; esp.: a tract of land staked out
common schools - "common" means "of or relating to a community at large" so common schools would be what we now call public schools
consumption - a progressive wasting away of the body especially from pulmonary tuberculosis
cooper - one that makes or repairs wooden casks or tubs
Dakota - In 1861 Dakota Territory was established, embracing not only present-day North and South Dakota but also E Wyoming and E Montana. Statehood was granted on Nov. 2, 1889, North Dakota being the 39th state and South Dakota being the 40th state. Information from the Columbia Encyclopedia at:
drove - a group of animals driven or moving in a body
drover - one that drives cattle or sheep
dysentery - a disease characterized by severe diarrhea with passage of mucus and blood and usually caused by infection
elevator - a building for elevating, storing, discharging, and sometimes processing grain
faithful (as in "faithful wife") - steadfast in affection or allegiance: loyal. Firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty: conscientious.
furnishings (as in "men's and women's furnishings") - an article or accessory of dress - usually used in plural
free-soil - opposing the extension of slavery into U.S. territories and the admission of slave states into the Union prior to the Civil War: of, relating to, or constituting a minor U.S. political party having these aims.
free soil - U.S. territory where prior to the Civil War slavery was prohibited
grange - granary, barn (archaic); farm, a farmhouse with outbuildings
Grange - one of the lodges of a national fraternal association orig. made up of farmers
half-breed - the offspring of an American Indian and a white person ~ often used disparagingly
improve (as in "improved land") - to increase the value of (land or property) by making it more useful for humans (as by cultivation or the erection of buildings)
jump (as in "jump a claim") - to occupy illegally
K. of C. (Knights of Columbus) - Etymology - Christopher Columbus: Date - 1882: a member of a benevolent and fraternal society of Roman Catholic men
Know-nothing - a member of a 19th century secret American political organization hostile to the political influence of recent immigrants and Roman Catholics
livery stable - a stable where horses and vehicles are kept for hire and where stabling is provided, called also livery barn
Lumber crib - This is not in Webster's Dictionary. I researched the word "crib" and found: Etymology: Middle English, from Old English cribb; akin to Old High German krippa manger, and perhaps to Greek griphos reed basket. Date: before 12th century.
I believe this term applies to the practice of floating logs on rivers to transport them from the place they were cut to where they would be sold or milled. Crib may have applied to the gathering together of the logs or to their appearance (like a reed basket) as they floated downstream.
M. W. A. (Modern Woodsmen of America) - a secret club of the northern US whose credo was "Cut down trees for the good of mankind." Since the land was then covered with trees, a lot of tree cutting was necessary before people could settle there.
manual training - Date: 1880 ~ a course of training to develop skill in using the hands and to teach practical arts (as woodworking and metalworking)
milch (as in "milch cow") - 14th century word for milk
narrow gauge railroad - there is no definition in Miriam-Webster Online for this type of railroad in common use at the time Wabasha county was settled, so we'll have to read between the lines:

  • gauge - the distance between the rails of a railroad
  • standard gauge - a railroad gauge of 4 feet 8 1/2 inches
  • broad gauge - a railroad gauge wider than standard gauge
  • For more information, try Boerries Burkhardt's Narrow Gauge Web Page

normal school - Etymology: translation of French école normale; from the fact that the first French school so named was intended to serve as a model Date: 1839 ~ a usually 2-year school for training chiefly elementary teachers
palmy - marked by prosperity, flourishing
Percheron - any of a breed of powerful rugged draft horses that originated in the Perche region of France
poll tax - a tax of a fixed amount per person levied on adults
preemption (as in "preempted land") - the right of purchasing before others; esp.: one given by the government to the actual settler upon a tract of public land
principal - Date: 14th century ~ 1 : a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position: as a: a chief or head man or woman b: the chief executive officer of an educational institution
proved up - the land became taxable when the homesteader proved up (paid certain fees) but he could delay this event for two years. If he died before proving up the family inherited his rights to the land. He could not relinquish the land to any but the government until he had proved up. Only citizens of the United States could prove up. From Land and Property Records
remove - to change the location, position, station or residence of
rude - primitive, undeveloped, simple, elemental as in humble surroundings
saddler - one that makes, repairs, or sells saddles and other furnishings for horses
scrip - any of various documents used as evidence that the holder or bearer is entitled to receive something (as a fractional share of stock or an allotment of land)
section - a piece of land one square mile in area forming one of the 36 subdivisions of a township
shot (as in "shot gold") - Date: 1763 ~ having the form of pellets resembling shot
squatter - one that settles on property without right or title or payment of rent: one that settles on public land under government regulation with the purpose of acquiring title.
subscriptions - a sum subscribed or pledged
survey - to determine and delineate the form, extent, and position of (as a tract of land) by taking linear and angular measurements and by applying the principles of geometry and trigonometry
  • compass ~ a device for determining directions by means of a magnetic needle or group of needles turning freely on a pivot and pointing to the magnetic north
  • degree ~ a unit of measure for angles equal to an angle with its vertex at the center of a circle and its sides cutting off 1/360 of the circumference
  • minute ~ a 60th part of an hour of time or of a degree
  • latitude ~ angular distance north or south from the earth's equator measured through 90 degrees
  • longitude ~ angular distance measured on a great circle of reference from the intersection of the adopted zero meridian with this reference circle to the similar intersection of the meridian passing through the object
  • link ~ one of the standardized divisions of a surveyor's chain that is 7.92 inches (20.1 centimeters) long and serves as a measure of length
  • rod ~ 5.50 yards, 16.5 feet
  • square rod ~ 30.35 square yards, 0.00625 acre

sutler - a civilian provisioner to an army post often with a shop on the post
temperance - moderation in or abstinence from the use of intoxicating drink.
thence - from that place or (archaic) from that time
thither - being on the other and farther side: more remote
whence - from or out of which what place, source, or cause; by reason of which fact
wont - (adjective) accustomed, used, inclined, apt: (verb) to have the habit of doing something: (noun) habitual way of doing
Yankee - a native or inhabitant of New England, a native or inhabitant of the northern U.S., a native or inhabitant of the U.S.
yoke (as in "yoke of oxen") - a bar by which the end of the tongue of a wagon or carriage is suspended from the collars of the harness, two animals yoked or worked together
viz - no definition in Webster's, may be from "vis-a-vis" meaning in relation to or compared with, as used in the book it means "see the following list."