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

County History




This township lies in the southwest portion of the county, and has an area of 23,040 acres, of which 1,597 are under cultivation. There is a tract of prairie in the south part, which extends over about one-third of the town; the balance is brush land and light timber. The soil is a dark loam, and quite productive. The eastern portion is watered by Elk river, which flows in a southerly direction, and is joined near the south line by Mayhew creek, which enters near the northwest corner of the town.

George McIntyre made the first claim here about 1853, and was joined, the following year, by William Smith and George V. Mayhew. During that year and the next, the population was increased by the arrival of Ellis Kling, George Morehead, Garrett, Brennan, and William Hicks.

The territory embraced in this town was formerly a part of St. George, and when the latter town was organized, nearly all the township officers resided in what is now Minden.

Minden was organized in 1868, and the first officers were: Supervisors, William Smith, Chairman, Stanley Russell, and Ellis Kling; Clerk, and Justice of the Peace, William T. Hicks.

There is a Catholic Church organization in the town, and good schools are held during the usual terms. The population, according to the last census, was 207 persons.

The agricultural report of 1880 shows the products of this town to be: wheat, 14,657 bushels oats, 8,674 bushels; corn, 3,970 bushels; barley, 319 bushels; rye, 560 bushels; buckwheat, 50 bushels; potatoes, 1,712 bushels; cultivated hay, 21 tons; wild hay, 668 tons; wool, 27 pounds; butter, 21,640 pounds; and honey, 400 pounds.


Dominick Babthelemy, a native of France, was born in 1827. His parents died when he was young. He made his home on a farm for a few years, and then was employed in making wooden shoes. In 1854, he came to America, lived for a few mouths in Pennsylvania, and then came to Minnesota, where he was employed on a farm in Clear Lake, Sherburne county, for about three years. After living in Stearns county for a short time, he came to his present farm. Mr. Barthelemy married Mrs. Mary Ann Flanigan. They have seven children.

Michael Brannelly, a resident of Benton county for twenty-five years, is a native of Galway county, Ireland, and was born on the 29th of September, 1821. He was brought up in his native county where he received his early education. In 1846, he came to America, and after remaining three years in New York State, went to California and was engaged in gold-mining until coming to Minnesota. In 1854, he purchased a farm, through his brother, in Minden, Benton county, to which he removed in April, 1857, and has resided there ever since. Mr. Brannelly taught the first school in Minden township and has always manifested a strong interest in the welfare of Benton county. He was one of the early supervisors, holding the office for ten years, and was also County Commissioner, nine years. He 'was elected Sheriff in 1868. continuing in the office two years, and has also -held a number of township offices. Mr. Brannelly was married in June, 1854, to Elizabeth Kelly, of his native county, who died in February, 1876. Of nine children born to them, but so. are living; Mary A., Margaret J., Annie, Martin H, James E., and Elizabeth.

Gabbbtt Bbennan, for twenty-six years a resident of Benton county, was born in Kilkenny county, Ireland, hi the year 1812. He emigrated to Canada in 1826, and after staying two years came to Rochester, New York, and learned the cooper's trade, which was his occupation until coming to Benton county. From Rochester he soon returned to Canada, where he lived six years, coming thence, to Will county, Illinois, where he resided until coming to his present home in Minden township in 1855. By energy and industry, he accumulated two thousand one hundred acres of land, which he divided among his sons, in 1880, retaining but three hundred and sixty acres for himself. Mr. Brennan was married hi 1840, to Miss Mary Armstrong, of Tipperary county. Ireland, who died in 1869. Of nine children which they had, but five are living; Margaret, John G. William G., Catharine, and Simon.

Chabes E. Bell dates his birth in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the llth of August, 1843. At the age of eleven years, he went with his parents to Rock Island, Illinois, where he was reared to mercantile pursuits. In August, 1861, he enlisted in Company D, of the Twelfth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served until mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, in June, 1865. Returning to Rock Island, he was engaged in the grain business with his father for two years, then railroading until 1872, when he again returned to Rock Island and was engaged in various pursuits until coming to his present farm in Minden township in August, 1879. Mr. Bell was married to Sophia Bickel, of Scott county, Iowa, in 1871. They have one daughter, named Ida.

William T. Hicks, one of the early settlers of Benton county, was born in Chittenden county, Vermont, on the 15th of August, 1828, where he was reared on his father's farm and received his early education. He came to Benton county hi May, 1855, taking a claim which had been made by his brother the year previous, in St George township, now Minden. After a short stay on his farm, he went to Morrison county and worked as a carpenter until 1857, when he came to Sank Rapids, and the following spring, returned to his old farm, where he has since lived. He was the first Town Clerk in St. George township, and also, the first Justice of the Peace, holding the latter office continuously to the present time. Mr. Hicks was married in 1872. to Juliette Camp, of New York State. Miss Camp was the first to teach a district school in Sank Rapids.

Ellis Kling, also one of the pioneers of Benton county, is a native of Dauphin county, Pennsylvania, born on the 17th of September, 1824. He was engaged in farming pursuits in his native county until May, 1851, when he came to Minnesota. After remaining a short time in St. Paul, he located where St. Cloud now stands, and soon after, engaged with the American Fur Company, remaining in their employ two years. In the fall of 1855, he located the farm on which he now resides, in St. George, now Minden township. He was one of the first Supervisors of St. George township, assisted in the organization of Minden, and has been Town Treasurer, three years. His farm contains four hundred and fifty acres of fine land, one hundred and thirty of which is in a high ' state of cultivation. Mr. Kling was married in 1854, to Lucy Lewis, of Minnesota. Of seven children born to them, six are living; Henry C., William L., Albert F., Frank, George W., and Harriet A.

George Morehead, another old settler in Benton county, was born in Manchester, England, on the llth of August. 1829. He came to America with his mother in 1838, settling in New York City, where he was engaged in teaming until 1853, when he came to Minnesota, but after a few months spent in what is now Minden township, and at Little Falls, he returned to New York. In 1855, he again returned to Benton county, and pre-empted the farm on which he now lives; this farm is chiefly devoted to stock-raising.

George V. Mayhew, for twenty-seven years a resident of Benton county, was born in St. Lawrence county, New York, on the 18th of February, 1824. He was reared to farming pursuits until 1847, when he enlisted in the Tenth United States Infantry, and served eighteen months in the Mexican war. Returning to his native State, ho was engaged in the transportation business on the Hudson river until the summer of 1854, when he came to Benton county and pre-empted a farm in St. George, now Minden township. This farm now contains three hundred acres, one hundred of which is under cultivation. Mr. May hew was one of the first Supervisors, continuing in office till 1862, when he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in Company I, of the Seventh Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and served until mustered out in May, 1865, with the rank of First Lieutenant. He then returned to his farm, and with the exception of one year's absence in Montana, has resided here ever since. Mr. Mayhew was also a member of the Minnesota State Legislature in 1861. He was married in 1858, to Melissa Smith, of New York State. Their children are, Susie E. and Nellie G.

W. H. H. Stevens is a native of Albany, New York, born on the 15th of January, 1813. At an early age, he removed with his parents to Renssalaer county, where he grew to manhood, engaged with his father in the cattle trade and brick-making. When he was twenty-one years old, he removed to Troy and was in the same business until 1839, and after that, with the exception of eight years in the Troy & Boston Railroad office, was engaged in various pursuits until coming to Minnesota in the spring of 1857. He at once settled on his present farm in Minden township, and has resided here, a prominent and worthy citizen, ever since. He was Assessor of St. George township, two years. Mr. Stevens was married in October, 1835, to Elizabeth Davis, of Troy, New York. Of six children, the result of this union, but four are living; Mary J., Emma L., Frances H., and Harry D.

Captain William Smith, another old settler, dates his birth in Herkimer county, New York, on the 5th of October, 1817. When nine years old, he removed with his parents to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he remained three years, and thence to Montgomery county, New York, which was his home until 1837. He then commenced work on board the barges and steamers on the Hudson river, steadily advancing from one position to another, until he was made Captain, holding the position many years, plying between Albany and New York. He came to Benton county in October, 1854, and pre-empted the farm on which he now lives. He was elected County Commissioner in 1855, and served about seven years; was one of the first Supervisors of St. George township, and was Chairman thirteen years; has also held the offices of Assessor and Treasurer a number of years. He was married in 1836, to Susan M. Flansburg, of Sckoharie county, New York. They have three children; Alonzo, Melissa, and Ezra.

Ezra Smith, a son of the subject of our last sketch, was born in Herkimer county, New York, on the 29th of September, 1843. He came with his parents to Benton county in 1854, and has resided here ever since. He has carried on n farm of his own for the last thirteen years. Mr. Smith was married in January, 1868, to Mary A. Sheppard, of Cattaraugus county, New York.

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

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