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Mazeppa Minnesota History
From the book
"HISTORY OF WABASHA COUNTY, MINNESOTA"
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge and Others
Published Winona, MN by H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1920
Republished Currently by
This history originally located at
Original page was difficult to read due to fixed width background used
Village is the metropolis of southwestern Wabasha County. It
is located in the northwestern corner of Mazeppa Township on
the banks of the Zumbro River, which furnishes an excellent
waterpower. Railroad service is provided by the Midland
Division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
Company. The village is not only an important shipping point
for this part of Wabasha and Goodhue Counties, but gains
added importance from the fact that not far away is the
great dam which furnishes the city of Rochester with its
electric power. There is an adequate number of churches, the
educational system is good, and the municipal improvements
most satisfactory. The village is well laid out, the
business section is progressive, and in the residence
district are a number of fine homes. Shade trees and good
walks add to the comfort and beauty of the place. There are
two banks and a good newspaper. The principal business
interests of the village, in addition to its excellent
mercantile and general commercial establishments, are the
two elevators; the mill for grist, owned by the village; the
creamery, and the wood and iron working shop of M. J.
Almeter & Son, manufacturers of hay racks, sleds and
SS. Peter and Paul's
Church, Mazeppa, Minn.
Mazeppa village was named from the poem,
"Mazeppa," by Byron, that poem being a favorite of Ira
O. Seeley, who was invited to name the village. The hamlet
was founded by Joseph Ford and his son Orville D. Ford in
1855. Previous to this, in 1854, Ira O. Seeley had erected a
crude temporary bark cabin west of the river near the mill
dam, but had abandoned it for a claim in section 5.
In the early fifties the Ford family was living in New York
State, where both Joseph and his son, Orville D., owned
farms. There were two other younger sons, and it was with a
view of affording these boys wider opportunities that the
family decided to move to the Mississippi Valley. In 1854
Joseph Ford visited Illinois but was not pleased with the
land he found available in the section he visited. The
following year he determined to start for Minnesota.
Accordingly the two farms were sold, and the whole family
started on their pilgrimage. The women and younger members
were left with relatives in Illinois, and Joseph and Orville
D. came on to Minnesota. They arrived at Read's Landing in
April and there met George Maxwell. Their hope was to get
land not far from the Mississippi, but owing to the
uncertainty of land the three men set out for the cabin of
Ira O. Seeley. It was he who showed titles in the Half-Breed
tract, they decided to settle further away. Therefore, them
the beautiful valley of the Zumbro River. (Webmaster says:
"I know the previous two sentences don't make any sense. I
didn't write this. I'm just transcribing it!")
The two Fords took the half section of section 6, east and
north of the river, and erected a comfortable cabin.
Orville D. then went back to Illinois, purchased oxen and
provisions and with the whole family started for the new
home. From Galena they reached Read's Landing, on the "war
Eagle" (presumably a riverboat). On the trail from Read's
Landing to Mazeppa but one team had been driven. The party
set out with a hired horse team and wagon, the six women and
three children riding. Orville D. and Orton Ford followed
with the oxen, cow and supplies. At Mazeppa they found
Joseph Ford and George Maxwell. The next day the cabin was
furnished, the stove set up, and civilization thus
In June, 1855, J. E. Hyde began the erection of a log
building, at the corner of Main and Walnut streets, 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. In the fall of
1855, Elijah Lont and his brother-in-law, Lewis Blunt, built
a large house on the corner of Chestnut and First streets.
J. W. Judd was the first iron worker. He arrived August 15,
1855, built a log shop on the river bank and started the
iron work for the mill. The first hotel was a house built by
N. B. Smith in the fall of 1855, on the corner now occupied
by Charles Colling, corner of Cherry and First streets, lot
8, block 19, southeast. Stages passed here twice a week and
the traffic was heavy.
In 1856 Orville D. Ford built the house now occupied by Adam
Redding, lot 4, block 22, northwest corner of Pine and
First, and opened it as a hotel. Orton Ford was the first
harness maker. Henry Washburn was the first shoemaker. The
first doctor was O. S. Lont, who practiced here some two
decades. Frank Stowell was the first resident owner of a
team of horses. 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., a child, passed away June
1, 1856, and thus furnished occasion for the first funeral.
The first cemetery was laid out on the hill east of the
village, and a few were buried there. Then Orville D. Ford
gave a plot of land embracing part of the present cemetery
and the bodies were moved to it. The first marriage was a
contract marriage between Edward Hunt and Sarah Waskey, the
papers being drawn by Orville D. Ford.
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.
Succeeding Mr. Hyde, the postmasters have been Prosper
Robinson, E. L. Ford, Simon Phillips, George Maxwell, L. E.
Scruby, George Squire, M. J. Rucker and N. J. Seivert.
(Apparently the initials for Mr. Seivert should be N. P. as
listed below. Webmaster)
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 from the
variation used by the United States survey, and they still
Mazeppa, in 1877, the year before the railroad came through,
was already a flourishing village. Writing for a special
Mazeppa issue of the Wabasha County Sentinel of February 28,
1877, E. F. Hopkins says: "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.
"In 1855, 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 go no farther; this valley shall be our
home.' Though nothing but oak brush could then be seen on
the east side of the stream, and heavily-wooded timber land
of 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.
"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 1875-76 this was the theme of
conversation by citizen and stranger, and all looked for
business to revive and take a grand stride forward.
"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 flourmill 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.
"During the year 1876 the buildings and improvements of the
Mill Company cost $60,000, and those of other persons made a
total of $80,850. During the same year a business of three
hundred and forty-six thousand seven hundred dollars was
transacted in the following lines: dry-goods stores, 3;
groceries, 5; clothing, 3; boots and shoes; drugs, 2;
hardware, 2; furniture, 2; confectionery, 7; shoemakers, 2;
blacksmith-shops, 2; tinsmith, 1; harness-shop, 1;
wagon-whop, 1 lawyer, 1; hotelkeeper, 1; physician, 1; meat
market 1; livery stable, 1; millinery stores, etc."
The fire of the winter of 1890-91 wiped out several of the
leading business houses of the village, and resulted in the
moving of several of the business establishments to the
north side of the principal business street. The first fire
burned the mill, the elevator and cooper shop. In order to
guard against danger from smouldering sparks, the hand
engine was left in position on the river bank, with watchmen
to guard it. But the watch was neglected, and when fire
broke out in some grain that had been removed from the
burned mill to a meat market, it was found that the engine
was frozen. From the Mat Poncelot Building, in which was the
market of Sands & Luskell, the fire spread to the west as
far as the Taft & Munger Building, being stopped from
further progress by the street. On the east it spread as far
as the building occupied by Mrs. Mat Schram as a residence
and millinery store. There the heroic efforts of the bucket
brigade arrested the flames, and the rest of the village was
The waterpower has been the vital feature in the life of
Mazeppa. The Fords were attracted to this point by its
possibilities in this regard, and soon after their arrival
arranged for its development by offering Isaac Nichols the
waterpower 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 Nichols in
the construction of the gristmill, and subsequently bought
out the latter. Ansbry & 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, and now by the village of Maxeppa.
A sawmill was built in the fall of 1856 on the main river,
half a mile above the mouth of the north brankch , by
Alexander Somers and Rhoderick Drinkwater, 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 came to his death otherwise than
by drowning. Fowl 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 stood and was used for a
time by Bright's sons for the manufacture of beekeepers'
supplies, steam being used 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. Isaac T. Nichols then built farther up the
stream and removed the machinery thither, and the first
distillery was town down. Nichols 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. The Trout book mill change
hands several times, and has long since been swept away by
The Mazeppa Roller Mills company was organized in 1876 with
a capital of $175,000, and the flowage rights and several
buildings acquired. The company was composed of L. F.
Hubbard (president and treasurer), O. D. Ford (secretary),
W. S. Wells (general manager), and William P. Brown
(resident manager). A dam of 26 feet depth was built on the
sold bed rock, and a frame mill built, 56 by 72 feet and
four stories high. In 1878 an addition 60 by 70 feet was
made for engine and boiler rooms. In 1881 the buhrstones
were removed and forty sets of rolls installed for making
patent flour. In 1883 an elevator was built near the mill
with a capacity of 100,000 bushels. For a time the mill
consumed 3,000 bushels of wheat daily and daily turned out
600 barrels of flour. The product had a good demand
throughout the New England states and in such British
centers as London, Liverpool and Glasgow.
In addition to the elevator at Mazeppa, ten elevators and
warehouses were established along the Zumbro river and 100
railroad cars operated to bring the grain from these
establishments to Mazeppa.
When the Mazeppa elevator was built, John W. Kingsley was
made the buyer, and he was also given charge of the other
elevators along the line as they were built. Later he
succeeded Mr. Brown as general manager of the mill.
The concern underwent several changes in ownership and
finally came into the possession of Judge E. H. Johnson of
St. Paul. He converted it into an oatmeal factory and it so
continued until it was burned in 1891.
In the nineties the firm of Mason & Rust was operated at
Forest Mills. Peter Engelhardt bought the Rust interests and
the firm of Mason, Olson & Engelhardt was then formed with
J. R. Mason, Peter Engelhardt and N. M. Olson, who had
previously been an employee in the Mason & Rust plant at
Forest Mills to the site of the old mill at Mazeppa. The
dam, which had been out for several years, was rebuilt of
stone and operations started. Later the stone dam went out
and was replaced by a post dam. This proving inadequate, it
was in turn replaced by the present dam. The plant was
purchased by the village in 1915.
Prosper Robinson in 1878 built a warehouse for storing grain
near the railroad track, south of the depot. This building
was 60 by 30 feet on the ground. In 1883 it was raised and
elevating machinery put in. Mr. Robinson and the mill
company purchased all the grain brought in, making business
very lively during the fall season. The elevator was later
demolished and rebuilt.
A custom mill was built in 1883 at the south end of the
village by Turner J. Preble and Alonzo Comstock. Ground was
first broken for the dam in March, 1883, on outlot 1, of
Hyde's addition to Mazeppa. The dam was seven and one-half
feet high, and sufficient fall was secured in the flume to
give a ten-foot head of water. The mill was operated for
many years and finally burned.
Mazeppa village was incorporated by the legislature of 1877.
The organic act appointed E. L. Ford and N. J. Majerus as
judges of the first election and fixed March 17, 1877, as
the date. On that day the voters assembled in Huntley's
Hall, and cast 86 votes for the various village officers.
Those elected were: President, O. D. Ford; trustees, Prosper
Robinson, D. Van Fleet, and Welk B. Smith; treasurer, George
Maxwell; recorder, Wesley Kinney; justice, J. S. Huntley'
constable, Alvin Kinney. Since then the presidents and
recorders have been as follow: Presidents 1878, O. D. Ford;
1879, 1880 and 1881, W. W. Day; 1882, N. C. Olson; 1883, R.
F. Maxwell; 1884, Dr. O. S. Lont; 1885, W. P. Brown; 1886,
J. W. Kingsley. The election day having been changed in 1886
from January to March, a second election was held in March
at which Mr. Kingsley was re-elected. Subsequent presidents
were: 1887, E. L. Ford; 1888, 1889, 1890 and 1891, W. H.
Mack; 1892, 1893, and 1894, Peter Engelhardt; 1895 and 1896,
J. B. Gregoire; 1897, Peter Engelhardt; 1898, J. W.
Kingsley; 1899, W. H. Mack; 1900, Herman Phillips; 1901, J.
J. Darcey; 1902, Peter Engelhardt; 1903, H. J. Almeter; 1904
and 1905, Theo. Maas; 1906, C. W. Collins; 1907 and 1908,
Theo. Maas; 1909 and 1910, Matt Owens; 1911, 1912 and 1913,
J. W. Kingsley; 1914, W. L. Duncan; 1915, 1916, W. B.
Hagerty; 1917, W. B. Hagerty having been again elected,
served until July 30, when he resigned, and M. J. Hart was
appointed to fill out the vacancy; 1918 and 1919, M. J.
The recorders have been as follows: 1878, Wesley Kinney;
1879 and 1880, J. W. Kingsley; 1881 and 1882, D. Van Vleet;
1883, Mr. Van Vleet having been again elected, resigned
April 12, and A. J. Myers filled out the term; 1884 and
1885, O. B. Munger; 1886, O. B. Munger was again elected in
January, and was succeeded the same year by E. F. Hopkins,
who was elected in March; 1887, H. N. Harding; 1888, D. L.
Philley; 1889, Charles W. Underworth; 1890, J. H. Clear
(appointed April 7); 1890, W. A. Munger (appointed July 7,
1890); 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895 and 1896, W. A. Munger;
1897, 1898, 1899 and 1900, J. S. Robertson; 1901, J. S.
Robertson was again elected, but removed before the
expiration of his term and Fred D. Mack was appointed to
succeed him November 27, 1901. 1902 and 1903, Fred D. Mack;
1904 and 1905, O. G. Nichols; 1906, C. W. Collings; 1907 and
1908, Theo. Maas; 1909 and 1910, L. A. Phillips; 1911, 1912
and 1913, A. L. McCray; 1914, N. P. Seivert;
1915, N. P. Seivert, who was again elected, resigned and F.
J. Kingsley being appointed and declining to serve (August
2), W. A. Munger was appointed August 22, and by subsequent
elections served in 1917, 1918 and 1919.
March 11, 1901, by a vote of 67 to 15, the voters of the
village decided to entirely separate from the township.
The municipal improvements of Mazeppa consist of a
waterworks system, a sewer system, an electric light system,
a village hall, a village jail and a public park.
Shortly after the village was organized, a cistern was
erected at the junction of Main and Water streets, and in
1886 a hand engine was purchased. A volunteer fire
department was organized under the auspices of the village
with a chief appointed by the council. The cistern was
filled by carting water from the river, or sometimes by
pumping it through a hose from the mill. This was the only
fire protection the village had until the great fire of the
winter of 1890-91. In the meantime water for domestic
purposes was obtained from surface wells.
After the fire a waterworks system was established with a
drilled well, a wooden tank on a 90-foot tower, the water
being elevated by windmill power. It was the original
intention to have an artesian well, but after drilling to
good water, the artesian well idea was abandoned. Mains were
established covering the principal streets.
After the mill was burned in the fire of the winter of
1891-92, the dam went out and the pond was dry for several
years. In order to revive the use of the important
waterpower here, the village in 1898 leased the property,
dam site and flowage right to Mason, Olson & Engelhart, who
moved a mill here from Forest Mills.
The windmill at the waterworks was then abandoned, and an
arrangement made with the mill company for the use of a well
at the mill and for the pumping of the water to the tank in
the park, the conditions of the lease being amended to
include this provision.
But in time the old tank began to show the results of age,
leaking badly, and sometimes freezing in winter. Therefore
in 1908 a new system was inaugurated, a cement tank erected
on Cemetery Hill and the mains extended. The mill still
continued to pump the supply. The tank holds 3,000 barrels,
and has an elevation of 83 feet above the main village
street, giving a pressure of 40 pounds. There are 3,300 feet
of 6-inch mains, 700 feet of 4-inch mains, 13 double
hydrants and two dead ends.
In the early days of the village, various experiments were
made with kerosene and gasoline lamps for street lighting.
The real beginning of the present system was on April 12,
1909, when the council decided to appoint a committee to
investigate the cost and feasibility of providing adequate
street lighting. After due deliberation the matter was
submitted on June 15, 1909, to the voters who authorized the
issuance of bonds for the purpose.
Fairbanks, Morse & Co. were engaged to do the work, and a
system was established consisting of a 10 kwt. Dynamo and
equipment, with 36 street lights, the power to be furnished
by water power, transmitted from the mill to the power
house. The street lamps were lighted in the latter part of
August. Oct. 16, 1909, it was decided to accept applications
for service to business houses and residences, subject to
the hours established for the street lighting system. The
following year a larger dynamo was purchased. In 1913, the
mill power was found insufficient and a gas engine was
purchased and installed in the village hall.
November 2, 1915, a special election was held for the
purpose of bonding the village to the amount of $10,000 to
purchase the property, lease and rights of the Mazeppa
Roller Mill Co. The proposition was passed by a vote of 88
to 48, the majority being just three more votes than were
required. The purchase was accordingly made for $8,000. In
1916 a new power house was erected west of the mill. The
pump and dynamo are west of the mill.
The nucleus of a sewer system has been started, the
principal line extending from the High school, across the
business center, to the river.
The village has a pretty well wooded park, neatly laid out
and beautified with shrubbery and flowers. It has a
bandstand and benches. The park was platted with the village
and lies across the street from the school grounds. The
village hall is the old village school, purchased, moved and
remodeled in 1896.
As early as 1856, school was taught in the store of John E.
Hyde by Mrs. Sidney Munson. Eliza Goodell, who later married
Wallace Day, taught in a log cabin erected by Orville D.
Ford on the present site of the residence of Charles Colling,
and in a house erected by N. B. Smith. In 1858 a school was
taught by Huldah McManus, who later became Mrs. G. W.
Fowler. The building in which this school was kept was
erected by the settlers in the Zumbro Valley, on the western
side of the river, about a mile above the site of the Somers
& Drinkwalter mill. The flood of 1859 swept this building
away and it was never rebuilt. In the meantime J. A. Martin,
in the fall of 1857, started getting out the lumber for a
large two-story school building which was erected in the
village in 1858, the expense of the structure being met by
popular subscription. This building was enlarged and did
good duty until 1896, when it was removed and converted into
a village hall. In that year a large brick school building
was erected, and a High School department inaugurated. In
1912 an addition to the school building was erected an new
equipment added. The first graduate of the High School was
L. A. Phillips in 1898. Since then there have been
graduations every year except 1900, 1904, 1905 and 1911. The
school superintendents have been: 1896, W. G. Kingsford;
1898, R. A. Lyman; 1899, W. J. Mosher; 1902, H. H. Kent;
1904, W. C. Herrmann; 1908, J. S. Burrell; 1910, Augustus
Hallstone; 1911, E. B. Anderson; 1916, H. B. Goff; 1918, F.
S. Ladd; 1920, G. M. Rockwood.
Telephone service was inaugurated in Mazeppa by John W.
Kingsley, who connected with the Pine
Island-Oronoco-Potsdam-Plainview line at Oronoco, and
maintained an exchange in his store. The Mazeppa Telephone
Co. was organized in 1909 by John Grimm and F. C. Marvin and
took over the Kingsley interests. The exchange was moved to
a building on the west side of Main street. That same year
Parkin & Meyer of the Goodhue Telephone Co. built a line to
the village and established an exchange across the street
from the local exchange. This line and exchange were
purchased by the local company. In 1914 the present sightly
structure was erected. The company now consists of H. L.
Lathrop and John Grimm.
The Mazeppa Farmers' Elevator and Mercantile Co. was
established in 1908. In 1912 it was reorganized as the
Mazeppa Farmers' Elevator Co., and in 1916 sold to the
Huntting Elevator Co. The Huntting people now lease the
elevator to Carl Engelhart, while they themselves operated
the old Maas elevator.
Creameries and cheese factories in this vicinity date back
for several decades. In 1816 (this must be 1916), E. G.
Hammer, of Zumbrota, bought out the creamery then owned by
the Farmers' Elevator co., and had been purchased by them
from A. L. McCray. In 1920 Mr. Hammer sold to the present
company the Mazeppa Farmers' Co-operative Dairy Association,
which was organized early this year with Thomas Bake as
president; Fred Busse, Jr., as secretary; and Paul Krinke,
The Mazeppa Brass Band was for many years an important
institution, and won many prizes at musical meets. It
underwent several reorganizations, but throughout its
existence the principal musicians were practically the same
persons. The first organization was in November, 1880,
George Westphal being the first leader and John W. Kingsbury
the first business manager.
In the early days Mazeppa and vicinity were represented in
correspondence appearing in various state and county papers.
For some time in the middle seventies the Wabasha County
Sentinel had a Mazeppa department with Mazeppa news and
advertisements, and on February 28, 1877, issued a full
two-page Mazeppa supplement. The editor of the department
was E. F. Hopkins.
The Mazeppa Tribune was first issued November 3, 1877. There
has been considerable confusion in the numbering of the
issues in times past, but the date of the first issue is
fairly well agreed upon. The paper was established by Schram
and Clark. In a little over four months Matthias Schram
became sole editor and proprietor. He was succeeded in 1886
by A. J. Myers. In 1891 Benn Houghtaling became editor and
proprietor. He was followed in 1893 by the Tribune Printing
Co., so called, composed of the brothers Herman H., David
and Joseph Phillips. Joseph Phillips, the manager, withdrew
in about two years, and the paper was continued by the other
two. In 1898, W. G. Kingsford took the paper. He was
succeeded in 1908 by L. A. Phillips, the present editor of
the Mazeppa Journal, in which the Tribune is merged.
The Mazeppa Independent was started by F. J. Rucker and
George Goetting. It was sold and taken to Zumbro Falls.
November 3, 1904, it was brought back to Mazeppa by Michael
Marx and established as the Mazeppa Journal. November 5,
1905, the paper was purchased by L. A. Phillips. In 1908 he
purchased the Tribune and consolidated the two papers under
the name of the Mazeppa Journal, retaining the volume and
number of both papers. The first consolidated issue was
published June 20, 1908.
Attention to religious duties has been an important factor
in the lives of the people of Mazeppa. The first religious
services were held in the store of John E. Hyde, in July,
1856, by Rev. Christopher McManus, a Methodist local
preacher residing south of Pine Island, in Goodhue County.
During the same season, Rev. A. E. Standish preached in the
mill. The first church edifice was that of the
Congregationalists, built in 1870-71.
A Sunday School was organized in 1856 with Francis M.
Skillman as superintendent. This was held in the store of
John E. Hyde, where school was also held, and where early
church services were conducted.
The early history of this church from its very infancy
brings us back to the time when this section on the
outskirts of Wabasha County was scarcely settled and the
first Catholic settlers in this vicinity, who were poorly
situated with earthly means and only few in number, had to
be satisfied with the services rendered to them occasionally
by those good, noble, spirited pioneer priests, Fathers
Thissot, Trobec and Knauff, who under many hardships and
admirable self-sacrifice visited the Catholic people that
lived around here and attended to their spiritual wants and
at different intervals saying Mass and administering the
sacraments in the private house of the first champion
Catholic settler, Mr. Peter Clemens. Although the flock was
small, a little frame structure was erected in 1867 by Mr.
Peter Clemens, who was body and soul of this organization
from its inception. This humble building with all its
simplicity was to be the edifice of worships of their holy
faith. And although the beginning was very hard, yet the
hearts of those Catholic pioneers, trusting for better days
to come, were courageously filled with the ardent desire to
see in time the joyous day, when they would be able,
increased in number, to meet the difficult task of raising a
fund to build a large edifice, upon which the glorious
Cross, the significant symbol of our Faith, would in its
full brightness, in the golden rays of the sun, be seen in
the church tower. And indeed, their confidence and hope were
not in vain, their courage, firm ambition and their
sacrifices were plentifully rewarded. In the fall of 1871 a
small knot of men were clustered together in this place,
earnest, humble and God fearing men. They found that there
was yet a certain want a demand to be made on their slender
purses, to build a church, thus adding to the honor of their
undying faith. They were about to erect a memorial, to which
the coming generation of the Mission could raise
forefathers. And the seed to be planted by a few should grow
to a strong tree, whose fruitful branches would extend its
blossoms around a far district.
Consulting the old records, sustained yet today by the
congregation, the few families contributed the necessary
money and gave generously to the best of their ability. In
the fall of 1875, Father C. Walters, who made his abode at
Belvidere till the next summer, visited Mazeppa occasionally
and collected the first money for the building of the new
church. And after the completion of the foundation in the
year 1876, the work proceeded rapidly until the long desired
day approached, when the new House of God was dedicated with
the most significant ceremonies for divine services, by the
Most Rev. Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul. Rev. Father
Stariha, of Red Wing, had the pastoral charge of this
Mission, who visited the place at intervals till the summer
of 1878. At this time the Mission was attached to St. Mary's
Church of Belvidere, Goodhue County. On October 10, 1878,
SS. Peter and Paul's congregation was incorporated, the
legal document bearing the signature of the late Archbishop
Thomas L. Grace, pastor at Belvidere, attended to this place
and was succeeded by Rev. John Tori. In the year 1880, under
the administration of their pastor, Rev. John Meier, a fine
church bell was purchased and the 14 stations of the Cross
placed by Rev. Ignatz Limberg; who ministered to the people
here for about 12 years. Under the pastoral charge of Rev.
Fr. Limberg a Sanctuary and Sacristy was built and a
basement under the church made.
The Right Rev. Bishop Cotter, D.D., of Winona, yielding to
the frequent appeals of the people for a resident pastor,
most joyfully granted his approval and entrusted the
organization of the parish to the present incumbent, Rev.
Father Mueller, who as the first resident pastor, commenced
his parochial duties November 1, 1901, on the Feast of All
Saints, on which day he held his first service. Looking over
the field of his future labors, a great and difficult task
was to be done, that demanded earnest activity and a
sacrificing spirit on the part of the parishioners. A house
was rented for the temporary residence of the pastor, and
after having made proper arrangements, a lot on the north
side of the church was purchased from Mrs. Anna Gregoire. In
the spring of 1901 the excavating of the foundation was
commenced and the erection of the fine and comfortable
rectory, with all the modern improvements according to the
plans of Architect Keith of Minneapolis, was completed on
August 1, 1901. Mr. Jos. Reiland was the contractor of the
parsonage. The next step was in the direction of renovating
the exterior of the church, in shingling the roof and
painting. Also the interior demanded attention, for most was
to be done in the beautifying of God's holy temple. New
altars were erected, statues and vestments purchased. In
August, 1901, two new church bells, the gifts of some of the
parishioners, were solemnly blessed by Rev. John Meier of
Winona, assisted by several other priests. And as the
increase of the parish members especially of the rising
generation, demanded more room capacity, the congregation
decided in 1902 to enlarge the church, by building two side
wings in the form of a cross to the main church structure,
each having the dimensions of 18x27 ft. In the year 1903 the
entire church was adorned with stained leaded glass windows.
In 1904 a new commodious chapel completely equipped for
daily winter services was built in size 18x35 ft., costing
$1,200. And in order to increase the surroundings of the
church and rectory, six fine lots adjoining the church
property were purchased in 1906 from Mr. Beck. Besides the
many additions to the movable articles, such as a large new
church organ, etc., a fine crucifixion group with stone
platform was erected in the cemetery in 1909, as well as a
new cement walk made from the rectory to the church and
cement steps in front of the church. In the fall of 1910 a
new coal furnace of the latest style, of 90,000 cubic feet
capacity, was installed in the church and the walls of the
church were most artistically frescoed. In the spring of
1911 a large set of gothic relief stations were erected and
a parish library established, a large barn built 20x36 ft.
The cemetery consisting of more than five acres of land, has
met with many improvements since 1901, the last being the
erection of an iron fence and galvanized arch, 14 feet in
height and 12 feet in width. Among the main improvements
made in 1916 were the installation of electric lights in the
church and chapel. In the spring of 1919 a commodious
society hall was built, fully equipped with furnishings.
Worthy of mention is the one week's holy mission that was
held in the parish church in September, 1903, conducted by
Rev. Father Gottfried Schlachter of the Precious Blood
The present church societies, which are in a flourishing
condition, are: St. Mary's Ladies' Society, organized
October 24, 1880, and reorganized in 1901 membership 95. St.
Peter's Benevolent Society, organized November 27, 1892. The
Catholic Order of Foresters, Court No. 630, organized
November 22, 1896. St. Aloysius Sodality, organized January
1, 1906. St. Agnes Young Ladies' Society, organized June 21,
1912. Confraternity of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord,
canonically erected December 31, 1901.
The following are the priests who in succession attended as
pastors to the spiritual wants of the faithful belonging to
the mission up to its erection as a parish with a resident
pastor: Reverends Knauff, Stariha, Meier, Tori, Schmitt,
Limberg, and the present incumbent as the first pastor, Rev.
Francis X. Mueller. Since the incorporation of this church
the gentlemen who acted in the official capacity as legal
directors respectively as secretaries and treasurers are the
following: Nicholas Marx, Peter Birkenforth, Peter
Christnach, Chas. W. Colling, N. P. Seivert, Peter Nei,
George Nei, and Peter J. Marx.
Rev. Francis X. Meuller
Methodist Episcopal Church
The earliest church organization in the village was a class
of this denomination, 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. The church flourished for
some years, but deaths and removals finally diminished its
numbers, and services were discontinued. In 1911, when the
Congregationalists were having difficulty in securing
regular preaching in its pulpit, and appeal was made to the
Methodist Conference. A local Methodist organization was
perfected, and the Methodists have since occupied the
Congregational church. The Methodist pastors since May 23,
1911, have been the Rev. Messrs. John W. Atkins, W. E.
Hawley, Herbert E. Davis, A. B. Gould and then J. W. Atkins
The congregational Church of Mazeppa was organized under the
ministration of Rev. Henry Willard, May 17, 1860. The first
members were: Ezra and Asenath Robinson, Anna Stowell,
Charles H. and Rosina L. Goodell, Eliza J. Day, Nellie G.
Ormsby, Eliza A. Hyde and Freeman Pearson. The first
ordinance of baptism was administered to Feeman 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. The pastors have
been: The Rev. Messrs. Warren Bigelow, J. M. Hayes, J. E.
Burbank, E. P. Dada, J. B. Ladd, S. H. Barteau, Wm. M. Weld,
H. K Painter, N. H. Pierce, Daniel French, John Bradshaw, W.
W. Ross, W. W. McArthur, J. C. Huntington, A. L. Struthers,
W. H. Pierce, Q. C. Todd, J. E. Ingham, W. H. Moore, Irving
B. Hollman, J. L. Nott, Frank Ferguson, S. T. Beattie, C. H.
Moxie, Allen Clark and Paul Albert. O. B. Gould also
occupied the pulpit at intervals. The church building was
erected in 1870-71. It stands on the southeast corner of
Walnut street and Broadway, fronting the latter, and
overlooking the business part of the village. A parsonage
was also erected. The Congregational organization is still
retained, but its members worship with the Methodists who
now occupy the church edifice.
Free-Will Baptist Church
In March, 1880, Rev. J. N. Haskell organized a society of
Free-Will Baptists here, this faith having been cherished by
a few for many years. The following persons formed the
original class: Charles and Jane Troxell, Wilson, Mr. 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 the schoolhouse, where the
first quarterly meeting was 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. Mr. Willard was succeeded by Rev. E. J.
Keville, who remained a year. Not long afterward services
were discontinued. The first superintendent of the Sunday
school was Emma Dean.
Tyrian Lodge No. 86, A. F. & A. M.
held its first communication under dispensation February 8,
1870. The first officers were: Worshipful Master, E. W.
Robie; senior warden, James Oliver; junior warden, George
Maxwell; treasurer, H. Wilson; secretary, W. M. Evans;
senior deacon, O. D. Ford; junior deacon, George B.
Franklin; senior steward, W. W. Day; tyler, G. W. Judd. The
first application for membership was that of Evander
Skillman. The charter was granted January 11, 1871. The
first officers elected under the charter were: Worshipful
Master, E. W. Robie; senior warden, James Oliver; junior
warden, W. W. Black; treasurer, A. J. Taft; secretary, W. M.
Evans; senior deacon, Evander Skillman; junior deacon, G. B.
Franklin; tyler. G. W. Judd.
The Masters of the lodge have been: E. W. Robie, James
Oliver, W. W. Black, J. S. Huntley, E. S. Hyde, George
Maxwell, E. L. Ford, Geo. W. Hall, John B. Gregoire, E. L.
Ford, L. L. Mathews, John McCabe, N. L. Munger, A. L.
McCray, A. P. Hawkinson, M. J. Rucker, L. A. Phillips and A.
The first meetings were held in the hall in the store at the
southeast corner of Main and Walnut streets. Afterward the
lodge put an extra story on the building owned by Dr. O.S.
Lont and occupied as a drug store by William Angell. In time
John W. Kingsley purchased the property and it is now owned
by the lodge, the lodge room being in the upper story and
the banquet hall in the lower story.
Mazeppa Chapter Order of Eastern Star,
No. 188, began work under a dispensation granted
March 17, 1906, the officers being: Worthy matron, Mrs.
Lottie McCabe (Mrs. J. B. McCabe); worthy patron, E. L.
Ford; associate matron, Ellen Munger (Mrs. N. L. Munger);
secretary, Mrs. Agnes Kingsley (Mrs. J. W. Kingsley). The
chapter was granted its charter May 10, 1906, and the
officers elected were: Worthy matron, Harriet Nichols (Mrs.
O. G. Nichols); worthy patron, E. L. Ford; associate matron,
Ellen Munger (Mrs. N. L. Munger); secretary, Agnes Kingsley
(Mrs. J. W. Kingsley). The office of matron has been held
successively up to the present time by Mrs. Harriet Nichols,
Mrs. Agnes Kingsley, Mrs. Nellie McClelland, Mrs. Maude
Yotter (Mrs. F. C. Yotter), Mrs. Mary Kingsley (Mrs. F. W.
Kingsley), and Mrs. Phoebe Mack (Mrs. L. L. Mack).
Mazeppa Lodge, Ancient Order of United
Workmen, was instituted January 8, 1878, but the
charter was soon surrendered.
Mazeppa Lodge, No. 225, Degree of
Honor, was organized January 8, 1906. The first
officers were: Past Chief of Honor, Clara (Mrs. John E.)
Philley; chief of honor, Hattie (Mrs. Fred D.) Mack; lady of
honor, Melissa (Mrs. Lansford) Ingalls; chief of ceremonies,
Mary (Mrs. W. A.) Munger; recorder, Anna L. (Mrs. E. L.)
Ford; financier, Hattie (Mrs. O. G.) Nichols; receiver,
Caroline (Mrs. M. J.) Rucker; usher, Emma Beardsley; inside
watch, Kate (Mrs. Thomas) Hodson; outside watch, Margaret
(Mrs. N. J.) Almeter.
Mazeppa Lodge No. 71, I. O. O. F.
, was instituted Aug. 6, 1879, with the following charter
officers: 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.
Deville C. Ford, W.R.C., No. 96,
Mazeppa, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic
, was organized January 25, 1896, with the following charter
members: Orille A. (Mrs. Orvill D.) Ford, Adelia A. (Mrs.
Orton) Ford, Elizabeth (Mrs. Charles C.) Robinson, Maria D.
(Mrs. Robert H.) Davis, Mary J. (Mrs. Henry) Pengilly, Arne
E. (Mrs. Lewis) Judd, Eliza (Mrs. Thomas) Carlon, Helena A.
(Mrs. Peter A.) Clemens, Emily (Mrs. Z. B.) Page, Julia R.
(Mrs. Charles) Turner, Mary (Mrs. Levi E.) Scruby, Mary
Pengilly, Susanna (Mrs. George W.) Sullivan, Grace Pengilly,
Georgia (Mrs. William L.) Duncan. The officers for that year
were: Mary Scruby, president; Elizabeth Robinson, secretary;
Emily Page, treasurer; Julia R. Turner, chaplain; Mary
Pengilly, conductor; Eliza Carlon, guard; Susanna Sullivan,
assistant conductor; Helena Clemens, assistant guard. The
work of the Woman's Relief Corps consists mainly in
assisting the Grand Army of the Republic in their noble work
of caring for their afflicted comrades and their dependent
ones; in cherishing and emulating the deeds of our army
nurses and of all loyal women who rendered loving service to
our country in its hour of peril; and in teaching patriotism
in the communities in which we live, and perpetuating the
memory of our heroic dead by the sacred observance of
Memorial Day. With the last mentioned service in view, a
part of the Corps' work consists in making a wreath of
flowers for each of the graves of departed comrades, the
Corps marching to the cemetery with the G. A. R. on May 30
each year to deposit the decorations. The Corps is growing
in strength every year, and has now a patriotic instructor
whose duty is to promote patriotic education in the schools
by presenting flags, patriotic primers, oleographs of the
origin and history of the Stars and Stripes, and to observe
national anniversaries and flag days. The report of the
patriotic instructor for 1919 (Josephine Elston) shows that
she visited six schools, presented one flag to a Sunday
school and one flag to a public institution, gave 36 flag
salute leaflets and eight primers to schools, the amount
expended being $16.16. Through the kindness of Comrade
Gilbert Beardsley of CD. C. Ford Post No. 50, of Mazeppa, a
list of the soldiers who have answered the last roll call
has been obtained and is here presented, namely: James
Harrison, Ira Belden, Thomas Perry, R. A. Johnson, Lester
Frederickson (World War), Nile Graham, M. Owen, A. Marshal,
W. W. Black, Elmer Black, A. J. Taft, John Smithson, N. B.
Smith, C. N. Elston, Andrew Arnold, T. Holloway, Joe Sibly,
John O'Connell (U. S. Navy), Ben Crandall, John Hyde, Orton
Ford, Ansil Carrier, Henry Washburn, Turner Preble, Charles
Robinson, Charles Sibley, George Hall, G. Goodman, George
Carlon (Spanish War), Thomas Carlon, Henry Putman, Henry
squire, H. Helenbolt, Mr. Hartman, George Franklin,
Sylvester Summers, H. Paxley, George Suits, Wallace
Hutchins, F. Crandall and L. McManus. The Post also
decorates eight graves at Bell Chester, seven at Lincoln and
three at Bear Valley.
Mazeppa Lodge, I. O. G. T., had
a flourishing organization for several years. 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 Runnells, W.M.; Mary Marshall, W.I.G.; L. S.
Judd, W.S.; Lodge Deputy, Lucy J. Bigelow.
The Women's Christian Temperance Union
at Mazeppa was first organized on April 15, 1878. The last
meeting under this organization was held in April, 1879. On
September 24, 1881, a new start was made with the original
The People's State Bank of
Mazeppa was incorporated May 25, 1909, and received its
charter August 5, 1909. The first officers and directors
were: G. H. Squire (president), Nick. Arendt
(vice-president), Arthur J. Hodge, (cashier), Matthias J.
Hart, R. F. Budersiek, J. J. Darcy, A. R. Hawkenson, F. W.
Kingsley, all of Mazeppa, and William Manthei, of Zumbrota.
The bank opened for business in its present sightly
building, September 13, 1909. The original stock was
$10,000, increased January 10, 1911, to $20,000 and November
13, 1919, to $25,000. December 31, 1910, the deposits were
$51,552.81, the loans and documents $47,601.91; December 31,
1910, the deposits were $51,552.81, the loans and documents
$47,601.91; December 31, 1915, the deposits were
$175,363.13, the loans and discounts, $150,307.57. December
31, 1919, the capital and surplus and undivided profits were
$36,932.12; the loans and discounts, $365,716.35; the
deposits, $411,832.49. Mr. Squire is still the president and
Mr. Hodge the cashier. Mr. Arendt died as vice-president and
was succeeded in January, 1915, by Fred Grossbach. When the
bank was opened Frank A. Hodge was assistant cashier. He was
succeeded by Art. S. Hodge, the present assistant. The bank
has been especially active in agricultural endeavor and has
made a specialty of cattle loans. The present directors are
G. H. Squire, J. J. Darcy, Otto Goetsch and Bertha Arendt.
Bookkeepers have been employed from time to time, the
present on being Antonio Hoffman.
The Bank of Mazeppa had its
beginning in the fall of 1886, when H. T. Fowler, formerly
of the Batavian Bank of St. Paul, started a private bank
here. Business was started October 10, 1886. The bank was
incorporated January 2, 1888, with a capital of $10,000. The
original stockholders were: Prosper Robinson, Theo. Maas, J.
W. Kingsley, E. L. Ford, William Robinson, C. F. A. Maas, H.
T. Fowler, J. B. Gregoire, W. D. Angell, Anthony Casper, D.
L. Philley, O. D. Ford, W. H. Mack, Walter Fowler, Peter
Engelhart, Philip Arendt, Francis Reding, Elmer E. Fowler.
The Messrs. Maas were living in Pine Island, Messrs. Arendt
and Casper in Bell Chester, Mr. Reding in Bell Chester and
Walter Fowler in St. paul. The first officers were: O. D.
Ford, president; H. T. Fowler, Cashier. The directors were
H. T. Fowler, E. L. Ford, D. L. Philley, Philip Arendt,
Prosper Robinson, J. W. Kingsley, O. D. Ford, C. F. A. Maas
and W. H. Mack. April 7, 1890, E. E. Fowler was elected
cashier, H. T. Fowler, having resigned. E. E. Fowler died in
the fall of 1894, and on September 19 of that year L. L.
Mathews was elected to fill the vacancy. Mr. Mathews
resigned December 31, 1904, and the present cashier, A. F.
Liffrig, was elected to fill the vacancy January 10, 1905.
Theodore Maas, the president, succeeded O. D. Ford, January
14, 1902. The present officers are: Theo, Maas, president;
C. F. A. Maas, vice-president; A. J. Liffrig, cashier;
Georgia Erwin, bookkeeper. The directors are: Theo. Maas, C.
F. A. Maas, J. W. Kingsley, Peter Engelhart, W. G.
Kingsford, Sarah Kingsford and A. F. Liffrig. The
institution was chartered as a state band December 24, 1891,
and started business as such, January 2, 1892, the
stockholders being John Miller, Lewis Klingsporn, Francis
Redding, E. E. Fowler, J. B. Gregoire, J. W. Kingsley, C. F.
A. Maas, Anthony Casper, Orville D. Ford, E. L. Ford, W. H.
Mack, William F. F. Maas, August Klingsporn, William
Robinson, Addie M. Gilman. The directors were O. D. Ford, J.
B. Gregoire, E. L. Ford, W. H. Mack, C. F. A. Maas, J. W.
Kingsley and E. E. Fowler. At this time the capital was
increased to $25,000. The bank has been in the same building
since it first opened its doors. It has been an important
factor in the life of the community for over three decades
and has had its share in its progress and growth. The
deposits on January 2, 1892, were $50,414.93, the loans and
discounts $51,361.29. The deposits on December 31, 1900,
were $81,509.47; the loans and discounts $76,519.23. The
deposits on December 31, 1910, were $233,470.00; the loans
and discounts $180,416.71. On December 31, 1919, the capital
was $25,000, the surplus and undivided profits $14,202.54,
the deposits $395,917.73.
Mazeppa Township occupies a part of Township
109, Range 14, that part east of the south fork of the
Zumbro River having been set off to Zumbro. It is bounded on
the north by Chester, on the east by Zumbro, on the south by
Olmsted County and on the west by Goodhue County. The
northern part is cut by the Zumbro River, and its northern
branch, Trout Creek.
Much of the township was originally covered with a dense
forest growth. Except along the water courses the timber is
now for the most part cleared off, although nearly every
farmer has a small grove, and many have timber lots.
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. 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 and some of the first settlers lived here for a
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 appeared 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.
The first settler in Mazeppa Township was Ira O. Seeley. He
visited this 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. 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. During the same season Anson L. Carrier, Nelson B.
Smith, Turner Preble, Francis A. 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 visited the township.
When the first settlers came to Mazeppa, the Indians were
plentiful. They cultivated some land on the Zumbro River to
raise corn. They often camped in the east end of what is now
Mazeppa village. They were friendly to the whites, and often
engaged in tests of marksmanship with the men.
An incident in the experience of Dr. O. S. Lont will
illustrate the severity of the winter of 1856-57. 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.
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.
Mazeppa Township is crossed by the main road between Lake
City and Rochester. 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.
The Gold Fever days in this vicinity are still remembered in
this vicinity. 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 company 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 melting 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.
But 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
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 after noon. 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
Like the other towns in the county, Mazeppa, which then took
in the whole Congressional Township, was organized May 11,
1858, on which date the first town meeting was held. John A.
Marten was made temporary chairman, after which George
Maxwell was elected moderator, and H. M. Stanton and Charles
F. Fox were chosen clerks. The town was already well
settled, and 103 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. Drinkwater, 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. Overseer of the poor,
William A. Preble, 57; Otis K. Gould, 43. Constables, A. F.
Carrier, 102; W. A. Preble, 59; Orville Ford, 9. Justices of
the peace, Corydon Avery, 60; John Reimund, 69; James Bent,
James L. Bent, Ladd Robi and George Maxwell, received each a
number of votes. 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
On April 22, 1879, a special election was held to vote on
the question of issuing bonds to the amount of $12,000 for
the Minnesota Midland Railroad. Out of 136 votes, 78 were in
favor of the proposition, and in due time the bonds were
issued. The township has a town hall in section 17.
This history originally located at
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