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township has a population of 826, and the village 199. It is about 12 miles north of Decorah, with which it is connected by A. M Preg's daily mail and stage line.
A. J. Cratsenberg is postmaster and has a good general store. S. H. Willets is another merchant, and there are several other branches of business. There is a good hotel, the American House, kept by J. H. Porter. There are three church buildings, the Methodist, Congregational, and Second Adventists, and an Odd Fellows lodge of 40 members, with a hall of their own. It has limestone quarries, and the surface of the country is rolling and fertile, and well settled by intelligent farmers. In the fall of 1881 a five per cent. tax was voted for a railroad through Burr Oak, known as the Minnesota, Iowa & Southwestern, running from La Crosse southwest, and there are prospects that it will be built, and increase the importance and business of the village. In the southern part of Burr Oak township is the famous Cold Spring cave and underground lake described in the preceding chapter referring to pleasure resorts accessible from Decorah. Judge M. V. Burdick thus writes of Burr Oak in 1853:
“When I saw its location, the beautiful groves that surrounded it on every side, the undulating country in every direction, the limpid stream of pure and sparkling water, cold and clear, that wound its way through the place, I could not fail to admire the judgment and discernment of the men who decided upon the place for a site of a town. In after years I became better acquainted with the resources of the country, its exhaustible supply of timber, and its two excellent quarries of blue limestone unsurpassed for building purposes.
HESPER TOWNSHIP AND VILLAGE.
Hesper Township, in the northern tier of the county, adjoins Burr Oak on the east. Benjamin L. Bisby settled on the southwest quarter of section 29, in 1850. The next year brought in quite a number of settlers. The first permanent settler, E. E. Meader, reached his new home there on the morning of April 12, 1851, and settled on the southeast quarter of section 10, where his present residence stands. Mr. Meader came to Iowa in the fall of 1850 from his home in Maine, stopped in Clayton County, and meeting a man named Frazier, from Wisconsin, they came together, looked over the lands, were pleased with them, and in March, 1851, came with teams and prepared building sites. A. M. Waterman had, several weeks previous, encamped on a part of section 11, engaged in making sugar. Having cut and hauled logs for their dwellings, Meader and Frazier had to go eight miles for hands to help them put it up. Mr. Waterman provided the meal at this pioneer house raising. Having split out boards to roof their buildings, they piled them up, and started for the Volga
settlements for their families. Mr. Meader and family came alone, however, in April as above stated, Mr. Frazier not coming till fall.
"Late in the evening of April 11, 1851, they reached Ackerson's, about four miles from their destination, where they were pursuaded to pass the night. But early next morning, without stopping for breakfast, they pushed on to their new home, set out the cook stove beside the unfinished house, and there, in the open air of the chill April morning, Mrs. Meader prepared and set before her husband and 5 children, the first of many thousands of meals which she was destined to serve upon the same spot. The walls of the house had not even a doorway, and the first proceeding after breakfast was to cut an entrance, and then to put on the roof, for which purpose a supply of nails had been brought in the wagon. By night the family had a shelter overhead, and a loose, temporary floor of split boards; but the walls being entirely without chinking, and only a blanket hung across the doorway, the first night, which was stormy, with wind, rain and snow, was cheerless enough. By a Jint of hard labor, patient endurance, and the advance of the season, they were, in the course of a few weeks, settled in comparative comfort.
D. D. Huff and his wife Anna, settled on sec. 29, on the 26th day of April, 1851.
"In the summer of 1853 there was quite an influx of settlers, among them Tristram Allen, a member and minister of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, who, with his family, came from Michigan, in August of that year, and bought out Frazier's claim, upon which he settled and lived for almost twenty years, or until a short time before his death, which occurred in 1873. Two months later several other families of Friends came from some part of Michigan and settled some of them within the limits of this township, and some just over the line in Minnesota. Thus was begun the nucleus of the Quaker Settlement at Hesper, which has ever since been one of the prominent features of the place. Among those who came at this time was Geo. N. Holway, a native of Massachusetts, but for a time before his coming to lowa a resident of Michigan. He purchased and settled upon the claim located by Larsen, on section 9, where he lived for a number of years, and then removed to Decorah. Also Joseph Gibbon, D. Allan, Ansel Rogers, and Abraham West. In the spring of 1855 was held the first regularly organized meeting of the Society of Friends in the new settlement, and in the course of the summer, a number of families of that persuasion came in from Vermont, adding materially to the Quaker element and to the prosperity of the settlement. Among these were Russell Taber and his brothers, who. having purchased the claim originally located by Waterman, began to make preparations for erecting a steam mill. This they got in running order, so as to do sawing, before winter set in. This mill, with its subsequent additions and enlargements, still stands on the north side of the village of Hesper. During the winter a small building was put up, a stock of goods procured, and the first mercantile establishment in the place was opened, by H. H. Whaley, on the corner now occupied by Meader's store. With opening spring came another influx of immigrants, among them, several families of Friends, from Indiana, and in the course of the summer of 1856, the members of that society erected a meeting house, on the southwest corner of section 10, from which place it was, a year later, removed to a lot within the bounds of the town, then being first laid out. On the third day of July, 1856, T. N. Wilson arrived with his family from Jackson County, where he had stopped for two years after coming to the state, from the East. Immediately after his arrival he began preparations for erecting a house. On the last day of July, the building was so far completed that the family moved into it, and on the the third day of August it was first opened for the entertainment of travelers. The next year still more marked advances were made in the way of enterprise and improvement. In April, the first Methodist Quarterly Meeting was held in Wilson's house, and the Rev. Mr. Lease, then quite a young man, was placed upon the charge as minister. In the summer a school house was put up on a lot
where the building now stands, but no longer used for its original purpose; it is now known as the “Grange Hall." The first term of school in this house was taught by Edward W: Holway."
In March, 1868, the present library association and literary society, "The Philomatheans," was burned. They have a library of about 300 volumes. The present large and handsome school building was erected in 1872. The church of the Society of Friends was built in 1870; the Norwegian Church about a year later, and the Methodist Church in 1873. The State Line, and afterwards, Winneshiek County Fairs were held for several years at Hesper, and the village last fall voted a tax to the proposed Southwestern railroad, referred to in the sketch of Burr Oak and in the County History. The plat of the village was recorded February 24th, 1858. The township was organized the same year. It is near the northern part of the township, and fifteen miles north from Decorab. The township by the census of 1880, had 1,000 inbabitants, of which 212 were in the village of Hesper. The postmaster is Dr. F. Worth, who keeps a drug and grocery store. Dry goods and other branches of business are well represented. Wm. Beard & Sons, Decorah, have a branch of their Ice Cave Creamery here, and the stock farm of Geo. Q. Gardner, of Decorah, is in Hesper township.
HIGHLAND. Highland is the northeastern township of the county. Its postoffice, Highlandville, is in the southern part of the township.
"Previous to the year 1851, Highland township was a wild and unsettled region, with the vast country lying west of it. But in that year, three young men-Erick Davidson, Magne Nelson and Hagen Mastad-immigrated, in the spring, from Dane County, Wisconsin, and sometime in June, of that year, settled about one mile north of where Highlandville is now situated. In the spring of 1852 there was quite an influx of immigration, and among the most notable were the Arnesons, Knudt Bjorgo, M. John, Nels Nelson, Sr., with a family of three boys, viz: Andrew, Ole and Nels, Jr., who have played quite a conspicuous part in the history of Highland township. In the same year Albert Stoneson made his appearance with a blooming young bride. He is now surrounded by a large family of young men and women. In the years following there were quite a number that came to Highland township, among the most notable of whom was E. Berg, father of the late Hon. K. Berg and Rev.J. Berg. K. Berg had preceded his father to this country, and had made his home, before his father's arrival here, in Dane County, Wis.
"When Decorah enjoyed the palmy days of the U. S. Land Office, Highland township suffered with the rest of the county in respect to her unoccupied lands. Every acre was gobbled up by speculators, and great was the trouble among the squatters who had not already a United States patent on their homestead. A great number lost their land, as they were not able to borrow money at the then ruling rate of interest, which was 40 per cent. The immigration then ceased for quite a while, and was almost at a standstill till 1860, or the beginning of the War of the Rebellion. But in the meantime the pioneers of Highland had not been idle. Most of them had become well-to-do farmers, and many of them were already on the road to wealth, Lars Olson came from Muskegon here in the year 1851 with only a few hundred dollars. He began to lend his money at 40 per cent., and in the short space of twenty years had amassed a fortune of almost $100,000, without any kind of specula
tion whatever. Olson died a few years ago, and his money is divided among his large family of ten boys and girls, who are scattered over the southern part of Minnesota.
"About the year 1856, a school district was organized, consisting of almost the whole township. At that time the township was not very thickly setttled. In the spring of 1857 a small log school house was erected, which has long since given place to a large and commodious frame building, with all the modern improvements. It was in this old log school house that the late Prof. Berg taught his first English school, and where K. Bjorgo, Jr., learned his A B C's. He is now a young minister of the Lutheran Synod, of marked ability. Martha K. Bjorgo was the first child born in the township.
"In 1857 å Lutheran congregation was organized in Pleasant and Highland townships, and they, in conjunction with Spring Grove, Minn., called C. L. Clauson as their spiritual adviser. He served the two congregations for some time; but his labors became too arduous, and the congregations separated about three years after their organization, Spring Grove retaining the minister, who only lived a few years longer, he being the first Lutheran minister that died in this country.”
Highland township had a population of 782 by the census of 1880. Highlandville has about 50 inhabitants. "Bear Creek furnishes power to its flour mill, and it has a store and other business.
This is the western township of the second tier from the Minnesota line. We have no record of the first settler. Edwin M. Farnsworth was there in 1855. It was then known as Pilot Grove but in 1858 its name had been changed to Orleans. The post office for a large part of its inhabitants is Cresco, just across the Howard County line, though it has no village, it is famous for its fine farming country, beautiful rolling prairie. In former days a cheese factory was one of the prominent enterprises of the township and now its stock farms are famous for their fine herds of Holsteins and other herds of blooded cattle. Among these are the stock farms of L. R. Brown and Chas. Crapser, who made splendid showings at the late Winnesbiek County Fair, at Decorah. Mr. Crapser also took his herd to the Minneapolis Exposition, where he carried off all the best premiums. Population of township by census of 1880, was 636.
BLUFFTON TOWNSHIP AND VILLAGE.
The township of Bluffton is the second one from the county line from the east and the north. The population of the township is given as 807, of which the village, which is about one mile north of the center of the township, has 102, and is 12 miles northwest of Decorah, with which it connects by a tri-weekly mail and stage. The village and post office of Bluffton is situated in a romantic valley of the Upper Iowa River, about 40 rods wide. On one side the valley is overhung by a wall of precipitous rock, presenting a romatic and picturesque appearance, and the river and valley at and near Bluffton, is famous for its romatic and beautiful scenery,