Category Archives: History

Money Creek and other local place names explained

Black Hammer is so-named because Knud Olsen Bergo came upon the prairie bluff after a wildfire blackened its sides, and Money Creek was named after a gust of wind blew the contents of an unlucky early settler’s wallet into the … Continue reading

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Southern Minnesota Railroad Company service in Houston County

Early railroads (and their tycoons) were the beneficiaries of a great gift from the government: to run rail lines to the West, railroads were typically granted every odd-numbered section for six or so miles on each side of the tracks … Continue reading

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Leprosy epidemic hits Spring Grove in 1886

Sometimes small-town news spreads far and wide. This pair of stories shows that extreme medical conditions gave Spring Grove a small amount of fame in its first few decades.

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NYTimes Observes “Our Scandinavian Population” in 1866

Imagine Decorah being at the front of the American frontier when you read this bit from the New York Times, originally published April 20, 1866: Our Scandinavian Population. A correspondent of the American Messenger estimates the number of Norwegians settled … Continue reading

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High-Resolution Plat Maps for Houston, Allamakee and Winneshiek Counties

Plat maps are an excellent resource for local history research. They show where a family lived and farmed, can┬ádemonstrate migration over time, and provide context when digging through census records. They can also be used to identify the locations cited … Continue reading

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Highland Township’s Early History

It’s hard to believe that Highland Township, in the northeast corner of Winneshiek County, Iowa, was once at the western edge of civilization. Here are excerpts from some early histories that show the difficulties as well as the promise of … Continue reading

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