Heather Harren's blog

A Brief History of Rapidan Township

In 1854, Basil Moreland rounded a bend in the Blue Earth River and staked a claim on the land at the top of the east bank. Aware that the land was part of the Winnebago Indian Reservation, but recognizing the potential water power available at the falls, Moreland built a house. However, others, and Moreland, were soon evicted by the government and settlers were barred from settling in the area until 1863, when the government removed the Winnebago Indians from the area, and opened the area for settling.

Christmas Advertising

By Hilda Parks, BECHS Volunteer

Wondering what to buy your loved ones this Christmas?  How about a cracker jar or a gold fountain pen.  Those are gifts advertised in The Free Press in 1900.  A Victorla or a Hoover were suggested gifts in the 1920’s.

Studying the newspaper for Christmas gifts in 1860 would have given you no ideas.  But you would learn you could purchase Bragg’s Arctic Liniment [sic] or Wright’s India Vegetable Pills for your mid-winter aches and pains. 

A Brief History of Ceresco Township

Ceresco became a township on July 8, 1857.  Its name was a mistake; one of its residents, Isaac Slocum, had moved to the present town of Lincoln and suggested the name Ceresco for it after his old town of Ceresco, WI.  Meanwhile, John and Miles Porter suggested Fox Lake for the township’s new name after Fox Lake, WI, where they had lived before.  The County Board decided the townships’ names on April 6, 1858, but there was a mix-up and two names were switched.  Nothing was ever done to correct the mistake, so Ceresco stayed Ceresco ever since.

A Brief History of Butternut Valley Township

Because of its lack of timber and rivers, Butternut Valley was somewhat avoided by settlers in the early 1800’s.  Andrew Strom, of Norway, settled his family in Butternut in 1857.  About the same time, Evan Peterson and his family settled in another section of Butternut, and George W. Smith staked claims as well.  While it is hard to determine who the real first settler is, Strom is generally given credit.  Not many more settlers came until 1863.  At this time, about two dozen more people came to the township.

How can Social Notes be helpful for researchers?

Many people would not think the gossip column from a newspaper could provide useful genealogy information, but there are little tidbits that can come to the surface that help unlock different mysteries. For example, from the Mankato Free Press in 1907 related to Madison Lake:

“Farmers between here and Janesville who have organized a county telephone line took out a number of poles from Madison Lake, Wednesday. The line will connect with the Cannon Valley System at Janesville and besides that place will give service to St. Clair and Cream.”

What are the best ways to find and copy naturalization papers completed by your ancestors?

The best place in Minnesota to find naturalization papers is to visit the Minnesota Discovery Center is Chisholm, MN. As a part of their collection, they have all the naturalization forms on microfilm.

The Research Center at the Blue Earth County Historical Society has a copy of the index for all naturalization records that came from Blue Earth County. The information included with this index allows the researcher to know which reel of microfilm they need to look at, as well as contact information for the Minnesota Discovery Center.

What genealogical resources are available outside of the Internet?

The internet seems to be the place where people go to find out more information about their family history. There are many great resources available online, but there are also many great resources available offline as well to assist in your quest for your family, they often just take a little more digging.

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