A Brief History of Butternut Valley Township

Butternut Church and Congregation

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.

Butternut Valley Township was called “Cottonwood Settlement,” but in December of 1856, Col. S. D. Shaw suggested the name “Butternut Valley,” after all the butternut trees. Until 1867, the township also included Cambria Township within its borders

The first white child was born in the township to Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Strom in 1858.  The Stroms also had the first school meetings in their house.  Church services were held in various homes of Norwegian settlers, but there was no official pastor, so the services did not meet very regularly.  In 1882, a church building was built and named “The Norwegian Lutheran Church.”

Besides Norwegians, many Welsh people settled in Butternut Valley.  Worship services and school meetings were held in private homes until 1870, when residents built their own church building.  Their first pastor was Reverend D. M. Jones, who had to split his time between this church and a church in Cambria.  The church members increased until the building was too small and had to be replaced in 1887.

Buildings were slow to be constructed; in 1894, a creamery was built, and that same year a post office established.  It was called “Butternut” and its first post master was Christian Strom.  By 1897, a feed mill, a blacksmith shop, a harness and shoemaker shop, a meat shop, a livery, a hotel, and a town hall had been added to the township’s buildings.  Shortly after, telephone wires were put up.  Though Butternut Valley started out slowly, in the early 1900s it was known as one of the most fertile areas in Blue Earth County.

Photograph of the Butternut Church and Congregation, undated.

Comments

Christopher Block (not verified)
I have been doing some ancestry and on one side it is dated back to James Morgan, born around 1832 in Cardiff Wales. In 1837 he came over to America and lived in Ohio for awhile before coming to Minnesota where he settled in Butternut Valley 1857. According to the family records his marriage with Mary was the 1st in butternut -Valley. If you ever find any information on James or Mary you can reach me at 651-307-7663.
Jean Humeniuk (not verified)
I am working with a collection of photos taken in the 1890's and early 1900's by photographer, Peter E Peterson. His family lived in Linden Township, Brown County, which is next to Butternut. Some of his photos are marked as PE Peterson Butternut Minn. His later photos list Madelia, Minn vs Butternut. Anyone interesting in learning more about his photos may contact me at 218-444-4924.
Kris Miller (not verified)
I'm a descendant of Norwegian immigrants who farmed in Butternut - names are Thorstad and Johnson. I'm trying to locate details of their immigration and family tree info. Any clues are much appreciated! Of particular interest is information on Sven Johnson, born 1878, died 1929.
Josephine Vough... (not verified)
I went to country school in butternut township in the 1940s and 50s The home I grew up in was moved to our farmsite and was the former meat market building from the town of butternut. We went to 4h meetings in the old town hall in butternut and bought groceries and gas at the butternut store. All gone now except the town hall.
Mary De Leeuw (not verified)
I am doing family research on the Benders. Frank Darius Bender and his wife Rena Gilbert Bender lived there in the late 1880s and into the 1890s. Their children and Rena came down with Diphtheria 1891 and passed away. If anyone has any information I would appreciate hearing from you. The Benders were also in Lake Crystal where I grew up in the 1960s. Thank you Mary De Leeuw Email me at harmar@itctel.com
Mary De Leeuw (not verified)
I am doing family research on the Benders. Frank Darius Bender and his wife Rena Gilbert Bender lived there in the late 1880s and into the 1890s. Their children and Rena came down with Diphtheria 1891 and passed away. If anyone has any information I would appreciate hearing from you. The Benders were also in Lake Crystal where I grew up in the 1960s. Thank you Mary De Leeuw Email me at harmar@itctel.com
lois terhurne (not verified)
Hi I'm just checking to see if you have came across any inside as well as outside photos of the butternut store?

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