A Brief History of McPherson Township

St. Clair Roller Mill, circa 1890s

McPherson Township is a scenic township containing the city of St. Clair, formerly known as Hilton. In 1863, the Winnebago Indians were removed from the land and incoming settlers soon made it their home. The building previously used as the Winnebago Agency was put up for sale, and soon converted to a hotel. After that it was passed down through families to serve as homes. It continued this trend until 1986 when it was decomposed beyond repair. The owner had it burned, although the plot remains marked today.  The door frame from the Winnebago Agency House can be viewed in the History Center Museum.

The rolling beds of wheat and natural growing wild rice attracted many eager settlers to McPherson Township. Many small shops arose including general stores, blacksmith shops, wagon shops, saloons, a hotel, and a mill. After much consideration, Hilton was changed to St. Clair; named for General Arthur St. Clair who fought in the French and Indian Wars.

St. Clair began to spread and thrive which led to the formation of many schools and churches. The churches created were Congregational church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, St. Johns church, and Zion United Methodist church. Many schools were also created, but many ended up consolidating with St. Clair Public School.

The railroad came to St. Clair in 1908, which ran to Duluth, St. Cloud, Glencoe and Mankato. Because of the different towns, the track was nicknamed the ABC railroad. The town continued to grow over the years and included more public works such as gas lines from Northern States Power and a city refuse system. 


Can you tell me where the Location of the Winnebago Agency stood? I'd like to go see it.
Lisa Ward (not verified)
I have a copy of Indian Chiefs of Southern Minnesota by Thomas Hughes. Hughes writes about HOOK-HOO-NO-KAW, (Little Chief) commonly called "Little Priest", he was the most active and noted of the Winnebago Chiefs when they were on the Minnesota Reservation. He was one of the five delegates sent by his people to Washington in February, 1855 to sign the treaty whereby they acquired the reservation in Blue Earth and Waseca Counties, 25 miles long by 13 miles wide. Little Priest located his village on the east bank of Rice Lake in Section 30 of McPherson Township until May 1863 when the Winnebagos were moved away. Little Priest was at the Lower Sioux Agency to receive an annuity payment when the Sioux Uprising episode began. He was suspected as having participated in numerous Uprising battles, including at New Ulm and Fort Ridgely.
Al Hodapp (not verified)
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Mike (not verified)

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