Early Settler Biographies
Alonzo J. Edgerton
Alonzo J. Edgerton was born in Rome, New York, on June 7, 1827. He received his early education in the academy at Lowville, New York, and later went to the Wesleyan University at Middletown, Connecticut. He graduated from this institution in 1850, and the same year married Miss Sarah Curtis, a native of Middletown.
The Edgertons went to Mississippi where he taught school for one year, and then, seeking a better climate, they moved to Illinois where they remained until the spring of 1855. Then they located at Mantorville, Minnesota, where Mr. Edgerton was admitted to the bar and began the practice of law. The young man took an active interest in the affairs of the community and neighborhood in which he lived, and soon made his mark as a man of ability and promise.
In 1859 A. J. Edgerton was chosen to represent the Thirteenth Senatorial District of the state in the Second legislature. Governor Ramsey was chosen Chief Executive at the same election.
In 1862, at the commencement of the Indian troubles in the state, Mr. Edgerton organized a company of militia which was afterwards made Company B of the Tenth Minnesota Infantry Volunteers. Captain Edgerton, with his company, followed General Sibley across the plains to help quell the Sioux uprising.
He had enlisted as a private, but after eight days he was raised to the rank of Captain, and it was as Captain that he marched out of Mantorville to war. He was ordered south, and saw action in Missouri and Louisiana. By January, 1864, he was a Colonel in command of the 67th U.S. Colored Infantry, troops he led until 1867. In March 1865 Colonel Edgerton was brevetted of the United States Volunteers, a post he held until he was mustered out the military in 1867.
When the General returned to civilian life, he once again resumed his law practice, became a regent of the University of Minnesota, and set about helping to rear his family of seven boys and two girls.
On January 10, 1872, Governor Austin appointed Mr. Edgerton Railroad Commissioner, the first person in the state to hold that office and title. On his retirement from that office in 1876, Mr. Edgerton was elected to the nineteenth assembling of the State Senate.
In March 1881, Senator Windom retired from the United States Senate to become Secretary of the Treasury under President Garfield. Governor Pillsbury immediately appointed Mr. Edgerton to fill the unexpired term. The following December, Mr. Windom, having retired from the cabinet after the death of President Garfield, was re-elected to represent Minnesota in the United States Senate for the short term. Again Mr. Edgerton retired to his home at Mantorville and resumed active life in his profession.
In 1881 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Dakota Territory. He was president of both constitutional conventions in South Dakota, and left his impress on the model document which was adopted when South Dakota was admitted to statehood. He was appointed by President Harrison to be District United States Judge.
Judge Alonzo J. Edgerton, of the United States District Court, died august 9, 1896, after a lingering illness of Bright's disease. The interment was at Mantorville, Dodge County, Minnesota.
The following three biographies are of the three who filed on the section that is now Edgerton.
Alonzo D. Kingsbury
Alonzo D. Kingsbury was born January 1, 1846, in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he lived until 1855, when he moved with his parents to Independence, Iowa. When in Iowa he enlisted in the Union Army and served with the Co. C, 4th Cavalry, Iowa State Volunteers until the close of the war.
On January 14, 1871, he married Sarah E. Bessey, and in 1877 they moved to his homestead in Osborne Township. Mr. Kingsbury had set aside a portion of his homestead for town purposes, and in 1879 he was persuaded to have it surveyed and platted. This was done, and the village of Edgerton was founded in the fall of 1879.
Mr. Kingsbury was Edgerton's first postmaster; he also conducted a livery stable and a real estate business until 1888 when the family moved to Maury Island, Washington. It was there Mr. Kingsbury died in 1929. He was survived by his wife and five children, Fannie A., Bessie K., George A., Fred B., and Frank D., who was the first white child born in the village of Edgerton.
In 1925 Mr. A. D. Kingsbury wrote his brother, Charles H., about the first flood he remembered in the Edgerton area. It occurred on July 3, 1879. Two men who were working for the railroad wanted to get a head start for Pipestone for the 4th of July and left with the horse and wagon on the morning of the 3rd. The normal fording of the Rock River at that time was about one-half mile north of the present highway. When the men got there they found the river a raging torrent, half a mile wide and 20 feet deep. They returned to tell Mr. Kingsbury about it. He did not believe them, and went to see for himself. He found the river was indeed a half mile wide; in fact it covered the entire "bottom," and all he could see was a gigantic wall of water rushing towards them. This was the result of a cloudburst toward Woodstock the night before.
Albert Alonzo Dodge
Albert Alonzo Dodge was born in Oswego County, New York, on August 19, 1845. At the age of six he moved with his family to Illinois.
At the outbreak of the Civil War he was only 16 years old, and his father thought him too young to enlist; however, young Dodge thought differently. The farm work was done for the season, so he enlisted in the 52nd Illinois Infantry, and served for the duration.
After the Civil War he headed west where he worked on the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, and spent some time in California. His experiences gave him occasion to learn the use of a revolver, with which he was probably more expert than any other man in this part of the country.
He returned to the parental home in Illinois and moved with the family to Waseca, Minnesota, in 1876. Mr. Dodge remained only a short while, moving in 1877 to Pipestone County where he filed a homestead on the northeast quarter of Section 28, Osborne township.
He married Mathilda E. Kruger in Lake Crystal, Minnesota, in 1879, and brought her and her son, Edward, to the home site where they lived until 1918. At that time they moved into town to rest from their many years of labor on the farm. Mr. Dodge died in 1925, his wife died in 1928. They were survived by four children: Ellen (Mrs. John A. Fay), Minnie (Mrs. J. L. Baldwin), Clara (Mrs. E. Jacobs) and William.
Matthew M. Gunsolus
Matthew M. Gunsolus was born December 12, 1833 in Montgomery County, New York, where he was reared and educated. His principal occupation in New York was farming, until at the age of 25 he started westward on a trip of inspection through Michigan and Wisconsin. There he married Mary M. Brooks on March 9, 1858. Remaining in Wisconsin until the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the 33rd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.
After his discharge from the service, the Gunsolus family moved to Minnesota where he pre-empted government land in Waseca county in 1865. They remained there until 1878, at which time they came to Pipestone County. He filed a soldier's warrant on the southeast quarter of Section 28; forty acres of this claim was located within the corporate limits of Edgerton.
He was one of the organizers of the county and township, and was a leader in the first township meeting. He was vitally interested in all matters of a public nature and he filled numerous official positions.
His main occupation was farming, although he did considerable stock raising and dairying. In 1888 his diary herd produced 1600 pound of cheese, all of which he sold locally.
F. F. Burdette
F. F. Burdette was boron July 23, 1850 in Worcester, Massachusetts. At the age of six he moved with his parents to Winnebago County, Wisconsin. After he completed his formal education he homesteaded in Nobles county. There he married Alice Lytton on April 13, 1875. They farmed in Nobles county until 1870 when they came to Edgerton and Mr. Burdette began the mercantile business. He took an active interest in the political affairs of the village, and served on the village council, and was an officer of the Farmers Co-Operative Association.
C. S. Howard
C. S. Howard was born December 8, 1842, in St. Lawrence County, New York, of Scotch-Irish parentage. He came to Edgerton in the early days of its history, engaged in the grain business, organized the Farmers' Elevator, and farmed. He married Jessie Patterson on January 10, 1889.
F. A. Meacham
F. A. Meacham was born in Red Wing, Minnesota on October 10, 1863. He came here at an early age after short periods of residence in Kansas and Illinois. On September 3, 1885 he married Rosa Butts, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob M. Butts. They first farmed east of Edgerton, later he entered the hardware and implement business with his older brother. About 1908 he became the sole owner. After he sold the business to Frank Vander Stoep and Jerry Brink, Mr. and Mrs. Meacham retired to Minneapolis.
Iver I Peterson
Iver I. Peterson was born in Norway on April 7, 1851. At the age of ten he immigrated to the United States, his destination was Winneshiek County, Iowa, where his parents had homesteaded five years previously. At the age of 18 he left home, going to Lansing, Iowa, where he clerked in general stores and a lumber yard.
On November 14, 1872 he married Lava Aleta Hanson at De Soto, Wisconsin. They chartered a steam ship on the Mississippi to take the wedding party from Lansing, Iowa, to De Soto, Wisconsin. Mr. Peterson was familiar with all the famous steamers on the Mississippi at that time, as the stores he worked with shipped wheat, produce, etc. by river steamers. The Petersons first moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, then to Luverne, Minnesota in 1878, and in 1880 established a residence in Edgerton.
During the snow winter of 1880-1881, when every road was blocked and Edgerton did not have a train all winter, Mr. Peterson was dispatched to Luverne for a supply of tobacco; he made the round trip of 42 miles on snowshoes.
He clerked in pioneer stores in Edgerton, then conducted his own store. He later entered the employ of Mr. C. S. Howard where he remained for 22 years. After resigning his position with Mr. Howard he devoted his time to the conduct of a store established by his son, Clifford H. Peterson.
Iver Peterson died in 1936, Mrs. Peterson in 1938. They were survived by four children: Mrs. J. C. Bruner, Albert, Clifford and Walter. Two children, Henry and Mable, preceded them in death.
D E Runals
Major (name, not rank) Dimond E. Runals was born May 1, 1843, in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, of Scottish and English ancestry. Three years after the death of his mother in 1852, he and his father moved to Minnesota where Mr. Runals started his checkered, active career. Between 1855 and 1874 he set type of two newspapers, farmed, fought in the Civil War (he enlisted in co., a, 2nd Minnesota infantry), attended school, clerked, sold land, taught school, farmed again, prospected in Nevada and Idaho, worked on a government survey in the west, and in 1874 was associated with Messrs. Hadley and Kniss in locating government and railroad lands in Rock and pipestone counties. While thus employed he filed his tree claim o section 22 in Osborne township. He homesteaded in Rock county in 1876, but in 1879 he rented out that farm and moved to Pipestone county.
Mr. Runals originated the petition for the location of the post office, with the appointment of Mr. A. D. Kingsbury as postmaster, in Osborne township on April 15, 1878. He was the first notary public in the township (the second in the county), a township justice, supervisor, justice of the peace, and a clerk in the School District number 2.
On the village level he was also variously engaged. He erected one of the first buildings in town, from which he sold real estate, and acted as deputy postmaster. This building housed the first newspaper in Edgerton.
He was twice married. His first wife was Eliza S. Baldwin, whom he married on January 1, 1867, in Fillmore County, Minnesota. To that union was born one son, Kenneth Artemas on September 4, 1867. On September 16, 1882 he was married to Sarah J. Chapman, and they lived on the farm in section 34 which she homesteaded in 1880.
After the death of Kenneth, Mr. and Mrs. Runals wintered in Lynn Haven, Florida, taking their friend and companion, Cosetta Rupner. It was there that Mr. Runals died in 1921 and Mrs. Runals in 1935.
John C. Fay
John C. Fay was born in Maine in 1842. His vocation took him to the logging and lumber country of Michigan and Wisconsin where he started in the lumber industry by supplying building materials to Chicago after the great fire of 1871.
He married Dorleskee Hathaway Heylmum in 1876; they had one son, John Arthur Fay.
When the family came to Edgerton in the 1880's Mr. Fay purchased considerable farm land which he rented to the pioneer farmers. He and C. S. Howard were among the few landowners who saw the possibilities of the county at that time, bought land, and held on to it. Mr. Fay also had interests in various enterprises in Edgerton, one of which was the mill.
Around the turn of the century Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Fay and Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Lockwood, having reached retirement years, divided their time between Edgerton in the summer months and various southern locations during the winter. Lockwoods preferred the town of FayWood, New Mexico, which was founded in 1900 on a site of mineral hot springs by the Fays, Lockwoods and McDermotts. The Fays, however, preferred California, and made the bi-annual trip on the train, always taking Mrs. Fay's favorite rocking chair. While they remained in California, their son made frequent trips back to Edgerton to look over the family interests. J. C. Fay died in San Diego in 1923; Mrs. Fay remained there until her death in 1929.
William Lockwood was born November 8, 1849 in Oswego County, New York, where he received his early training and education. At the age of 14 he found employment on the Erie Canal, and later was engaged as a deck hand on a lake steamer. He later moved to Wisconsin where he held a number of assorted jobs including that of salesman, farm hand, and mail carrier; he was also in the hotel and livery business for a short while.
He married Ida M. Burdette on December 20, 1874. She was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Burdette, natives of Worcester, Massachusetts. They had one son, Lee William.
The Lockwoods came to Edgerton in 1878 where he purchased land in the town site and engaged in the mercantile business. In 1883 he homesteaded part of section 22, Osborne township. He was interested in the breeding of thoroughbred cattle, principally Herefords, and he also owned some fine Morgan horses. Mrs. Lockwood served as treasurer of the township, and he held various offices in the school district.
When Mr. Lockwood first arrived in the township, he and Mr. A. A. Dodge both wanted the same quarter section of land because of the availability of a good water supply. After the land was staked out, Mr. Dodge leaped on his horse and galloped off to the nearest land office. Mr. Lockwood headed for the same office, but because he was driving a horse and cart, his pace was somewhat slower, and he arrived just as Mr. Dodge was leaving. Mr. Dodge received title to that quarter, and Mr. Lockwood bought land in the village of Edgerton.
E. W. Day
E. W. Day was born November 14, 1832 in Grandville, New York. Both his father and grandfather were religious workers and showed great interest in Sunday school and temperance. At the age of 17 he taught school, later he worked for the American Tract Society, and in 1855 he went to Elmira, New York, to work as a bookkeeper for his step brother, B. G. Carpenter. Two years later he headed westward, locating at Saratoga, Winona County, Minnesota. There he taught, farmed, and clerked until 1864 when he enlisted in Co. K. of the Minnesota 9th Regiment. In 1878 he came to Pipestone County when only one other family lived in Osborne township and the school district. In 1879 he was elected the first township clerk, and was appointed the first justice of the peace by the County Commissioners. In 1879 he was also appointed County superintendent of Schools, and was later elected to that position. In 1886 he was elected Register of Deeds.
He married Harriet E. Ingalls of Saratoga, in 1859. Five children were born to this union: George W., Lanson H., Winnifred L., Evan A., Earnest C., and Edith.
The Days had a great interest in Sunday School, and when Mr. Day built his sod shanty o section 20, he made it extra large with the idea of conducting Sunday School there. He was also instrumental in the organization of the congregational church in Edgerton.
Johnson W. Stone
Johnson W. Stone was born in Litchfield Connecticut, on May 7, 1835. Both his parents died while he was young, and he lived with a cousin until he reached the age of 18. He and his wife, the former Sarah Birdsall, came to Osborne Township in 1879 and pre-empted land on the southwest quarter of section 20. having no children of their own, they raised 17 adopted children.
Fred H. Baldwin
Fred H. Baldwin was born in Essex County, New York on August 12, 1854. In the late 1870s he came with his parents to Fillmore County, Minnesota, where he later met and married Martha R. Bateman. In 1879 they came to Murray County, settling on a homestead in the Chanarambie Valley near the present Harry Griffin farm. They chose this site because of the abundant water supply, and the rumor of the railroad through the section. In the mid 1880s they moved into Edgerton where Mr. Baldwin was engaged in the farm implement business, as well as grain buying. He was the village marshal in 1889, and was postmaster from 1914 until 1922.
Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin were the parents of eight children: H. Ralph, who was born in Spring Valley, Minnesota; J. Lee, and W. Lyle, who were born in the sod house in Murray County: H. Irene, Sevalla Mae, H. Clay, Calla Ruth, and J. Fay, who were all born in Edgerton.
Mrs. Baldwin died in 1925, Mr. Baldwin in 1931.
Christian I. Ring
Christian I. Ring was born in Oslo, Norway, on June 11, 1848. He attended school until the age of 15, at which time he found employment as a clerk until 1869. He then immigrated to the United States, locating at Lansing, Iowa, Luverne, Minnesota, and Flandreau, Dakota Territory, before coming to Edgerton. He had worked as a farm hand and a clerk before being in charge of the John Paul Lumber Company yard in Edgerton. In 1888 he opened a general mercantile store, discontinued the groceries after one year, but retained the dry goods and clothing line. He married Hokina Johnson also of Oslo, in 1885, in Lansing, Iowa. Violet was their only child.
Robert J. Butts
Robert J. Butts was born January 5, 1831 in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. At the age of eight the family moved to Rock County, Wisconsin. After his marriage to Catherine Jane Miller on February 15, 1852 he farmed in the area until moving to Rushford, Fillmore County, Minnesota in 1864. There he enlisted for one year with the Co., K., first Minnesota Heavy Artillery. In 1871 they moved to Murray county. It was there that grasshoppers ruined his crop every year between 1872 and 1875. In 1876 the wheat blight ruined that crop. In 1878 they moved to Osborne Township. Mr. and Mrs. Butts were parents of ten children: Amos, Jerome, Elnora, Lorenzo, Amy, Rosella, George Washington, Hattie, Robert, and John.
William J. Dodd
William J. Dodd was born September 23, 1856, in Ulster County, New York, of English, Dutch, and German ancestry. The family moved to Sauk County, Wisconsin in 1861. After completing his education, William and his brother George came to Pipestone County as it was opening for settlement and filed on adjacent homesteads. At the organizational meeting of the township it was William Dodd who suggested the name of Osborne in honor of his cousin, J. C. Osborne of Newark, New Jersey.
William raised Angus and Durham cattle, and Duroc-Jersey hogs. He was unique in that he lost only one crop to the grasshoppers.
William married Flora J. Bacon in Sauk County, Wisconsin, on April 2, 1884. They had one daughter, Nellie, born in 1890, who was the County superintendent of Schools for a number of years.