Benton County Historical Society and Museum
Sauk Rapids Minnesota
Preserving the Past and the Present for the Future....

County History




Alberta lies hi the northeast portion of the county, and has an area of 46,080 acres, of which 367 are under cultivation.

The surface is slightly undulating, and chiefly covered with timber. The soil is a dark loam and quite productive. The town is watered by the Elk and St. Francis rivers, the sources of which are within its boundaries, and the west branch of the Rum river, which crosses the northeastern part.

Along these river bottoms there is a large acreage of hay meadows, the low land, in many places, extending far into the timber.

The first settlers in this town were J. B. Abbott and C. A. Gilman, but the exact date of their arrival cannot be ascertained. The oldest settler in the western portion of the town is Winslow Pappenfus, who settled on section thirty-four, with his parents, in March, 1865. The oldest settler in the eastern part of the town is William Wipper, who settled on section thirty, in 1868. These are the oldest settlers now living here, although others had made claims earlier, only to be abandoned after a short stay. Among other early settlers are William Orcott and George W. Burtield, both of whom are now residents of the town.

This township was a part of Gilmanton until 1868, when a separate organization was effected, and the first election held at the residence of William Orcutt, on Tuesday, the 31st of March. The officers elected were: Supervisors, Freeman Orcutt, Chairman, Phillip Wipper, and Isaac Faresworth; Clerk, J. B. Abbott; Treasurer, Frank Pappenfus; Assessor, Nelson Orcutt; Justices of the Peace, William Orcutt and Henry Harrison.

The first school held in the town was about 1867, by Miss Sarah Teller, at the residence of Frank Pappenfus. The first school taught in an organized district, was by Milton H. Slosson, in 1868. This was in district number twelve, in a small log school house on section twenty-seven.

The first marriage was Archibald Parks to Miss Emma Wipper, ,in 1870. The ceremony was performed by William Orcutt, Justice of the Peace, and the couple now reside in Silver City, California.

The first death was that of Frank Pappenfus, on the 20th of February, 1870. He was a native of Poland, and settled in this town with his family, in 1866.

Father Bnch began to hold religious services in the township in 1872, and two years later the Church of St. Wenceslaus was built.

The first store was opened by Wiuslow Pappenfus, at his residence, a short time ago.

In 1864-5, C. A. Gilman erected a steam saw mill, with a capacity of ten thousand feet per day. It was burned on the 20th of June, 1866, but rebuilt soon after, and is now in operation.

Although Alberta is comparatively a new town, yet, it is being rapidly developed, the census enumeration of 1880 showing a population of 413 persons.

The agricultural report for the same year shows the following products: wheat, 2,732 bushels; oats, 2,539 bushels; corn, 401 bushels; barley, 15 bushels; potatoes, 1,913 bushels; beans, 45 bushels; cultivated hay, 25 tons; wild hay, 657 tons; tobacco, 74 pounds; wool, 307 pounds, butter, 5,490 pounds; and honey, 29 pounds.


George W. Burfield was born in Cameron county, Pennsylvania, on the 19th of October, 1819. Residing with his parents on a farm till eighteen years of age, he was employed as pilot on one of the boats on the Susquehanna river. In 1864, he came to Minnesota, located on n farm hi Dodge county, and two years later, came to his present farm in section eighteen. Mr. Burfield was married to Miss Eliza Sheffer, of Pennsylvania, in 1841. They have had six children, of whom two sons and two daughters are living. Their 'eldest son, William S., was killed in the late civil war, on the 2d of April, 1865.

George W. Elwell was born in Miami county, Ohio, on the 1st of September, 1849. When he was a child, his parents moved to Randolph county, locating on a farm near Union City. In 1862, he enlisted hi Company C, of the Fifth Indiana Cavalry, under Captain Smith. They were ordered south, and soon after, took part in a skirmish with a party of Morgan's Guerillas, near Lexington, and afterwards, participated in the battles of Beemis' station and Nashville, Tennessee. In 1865, he was mustered out, and returned to Indiana, where he was employed on the Panhandle Railroad, first as brakesman, then as fireman, and conductor on freight trains. In 1870, he came to Maywood, Benton county, and after a residence of three years, purchased the farm where he has since resided. In 1878, Mr. Elwell was married to Anna C. Kleinman, of Wisconsin. They have one son, aged fourteen months.

Rev. Clemens Greenholz, a native of Oliva, Prussia, was born in April, 1843. Living there until ten years of age, he was sent to the High school at Kulm, where he remained until nineteen years old. Then, after graduating at the University of Breslau, he was ordained a priest, and in 1869, graduated at the Theological Seminary of Posen, and the following year,"was principal of a high school at Neumarkt. In the year 1871, he started on a voyage, visiting Rome, France, and finally, South America, where he was engaged as missionary in the Polish and German settlements of Peru, living for a year at Lima. In 1875, after having taken a trip around South America, he returned to his native country, and for three years, was missionary in New Zealand and other places. By continuing his travels to San Francisco, and thence ro Milwaukee, he made the entire circuit of the globe. From the latter city, he was called, by Bishop Seidenbush, to St. Cloud, and has sine* had charge of St. Weuceslaus Parish, in Alberta township.

Nelson Orcutt was born in Allegany county, New York, on the 31st of July, 1836. He remained in his native place, where he received a good common school education, and also learned the trade of carpenter and joiner, at which he worked, almost continuously, until 1857. Then, coming to Minnesota, he located on a farm in Dodge county; remaining until the llth of February, 1865, when he enlisted in Company M, of the First Minnesota Artillery, under Captain Charles Johnson. He was soon sent to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he was on guard duty, for a few months. In October, 1865, he was mustered out of the service in St. Paul, and returned to his farm in Dodge county. Two years later, Mr. Orcutt came to this township, purchased his present farm, and for two years has held the office of Assessor of the town. He was married in October, 1856, to Miss Sarah McKay. They have four children living.

William Orcutt was born in Canada, on the 27th of November, 1827. When he was eight years of age, his parents moved to Allegany county, New York, where he received his education. At the age of seventeen, he went to Wisconsin, returning soon to New York, where he remained a short time, and went to Indiana. There he was employed for a season as clerk in a store, after which he engaged in the grocery business for himself, continuing for about two years. Mr. Orcutt was, for four years, employed as grain buyer and receiver, by the Toledo, Wabash & Western Railroad Company; he was also Constable and Deputy Sheriff for the same length of time in Wabash county. In 1866, he came to St. Cloud, and was engaged in a boot and shoe store for about a year; the n came to Alberta township and purchased his present farm. Since coming here he ha sbeen County Commissioner for three years, and at different times, has held the offices of Town Clerk, Justice of the Peace, and Supervisor. Miss Ellen Wright became his wife in 1854. They have had seven children. Five boys are living, two of whom are teaching school in the town.

Winslow Pappenfus, a native of Prussia, was born on the 28th of September, 1854. The year following, his parents came to America, locating in Wisconsin, first at Watertown, and then at Green Bay, where they remained for nine years. In 1864, they came to Stearns county, Minnesota, and the following year, to their present farm. On the 20th of February, 1870, Mr. Pappenfus, Sr. died, leaving a farm of one hundred and ten

acres, which was originally all timber, but a large portion of which is under cultivation. Mr. Winslow Pappenfus was married to Miss Mary Blysezk, of Prussia, in 1875. They have had three children, one is deceased, and one boy and one girl are still living.

John K. Stewart was born in Antrim county, Ireland, on the 6th of February, 1846. In 1848, his parents came to America, first going to New Orleans, thence to Randolph county, Illinois, where they resided a number of years, John improving every opportunity afforded him to get an education. In September, 1861, he enlisted in Company E., of the Thirtieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Besides being in a great many skirmishes, he was in the battles of Fort Donelson, Pittsburg Landing, Corinth, and in front of Vicksburg during the entire seige. The summer of 1863, he veteranized at Vicksburg; was in the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, and on the 22d of July, 1864, taken prisoner, to Andersonville prison. After being released he was in the memorable march with Sherman to the Sea, and in August, 1865, was mustered out, returning to Randolph county, Illinois. In 1868, Mr. Stewart came to Minnesota, and for four years, was engaged in the printer's occupation. In 1876, he came to his farm in this township, where he has since resided, devoting most of his time to teaching school. Since his residence in the town, he has held the office of Town Clerk for six years, and is at present Justice of the Peace. In 1866. he was married to Miss Elizabeth Jane Lively, of Missouri. They have seven children, four boys and three girls.

Philipp Jacob Wipper was born in Prussia, on the banks of the river Rhine, on the 25th of November, 1833. When twenty-one years of age, he came with his parents to America; they located in Wisconsin, and remained until 1860. In July, 1861, Mr. Wipper enlisted in Company B, of the Third Missouri Infantry. He was in the entire seige at Vicksburg, also in the battles of Jackson, Mississippi; Mount Lookout, and Mission Ridge. On the 4th of May, 1864, he was wounded at the battle of Resaea, and on the 10th of September, 1864, was discharged, since when he has drawn a pension. In July, 1867, he came to his present farm, and has since been elected Supervisor four times, and Treasurer twice. Three years after coming, he was married to Miss Adelia Richardson, of Pennsylvania. They had seven children, one is deceased, and five boys and one girl are living.

William Wipper, the first settler in East Alberta, was born in Prussia, on the 8th of May, 1845. In 1854, the family came to America, locating in Wisconsin. In 1868, Mr. William Wipper came to Alberta township and purchased the farm where he has since resided. For one year he was Supervisor, Constable for three, and Overseer of the Poor for four. Miss Nancy Jane Burfteld, of Pennsylvania, became his wife in March, 1870. Six children, five girls and one boy, have been born to them.

Benton County Historical Society and Museum
218 1st Street North
P.O. Box 426
Sauk Rapids, MN 56379

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