EARLY REMINISCENCES OF MOWER COUNTY
Hon. B. F. Langworthy of Brownsdale,
One of the Earliest Settlers of the County,
Will Give a Series of Interesting Articles
I bought me a yoke of oxen and the first crop of wheat we raised I hauled
to Winona, sixty miles, and got 55 cents a bushel for it. I made two trips
that season and the second load I sold for 60 cents a bushel. After the
second year I had a span of horses to haul my grain to Winona.
In the year 1859 politics got to be quite lively throughout the state.
The counties of Mower and Dodge were put into one district numbered 13 and was
entitled to two state senators and three representatives. Dodge county
elected A.J. Edgerton for Senator, and T.J. Hunt and Peter Mantor for
representatives and Mower county elected H.C. Rogers of the village
of Brownsdale senator and B.F. Langworthy of Grand Meadow for representative.
All the candidates in the 14th district were republican. Alexander Ramsey
was governor and Ignatius Donnelly lieutenant governor. In the first
congressional district the two most prominent candidates were Wm. Windom
and Mr. Norton both of Winona.
I was a delegate to the convention that
met in St. Paul at that time when Wm. Windom was nominated for his first
term in congress. There were a number of candidates voted for but the
contest was between Windom and Norton. Next to the last ballot, Windom
lacked two votes of an election. I was very anxious for the nomination of
Windom, and it was my good luck to be seated beside the two delegates from
Lac qui Parle county, both strangers to me, and also unacquainted with
either Windom or Norton. I knew that they had both been casting their votes
for Norton. One of them turned to me and says, "Do you know that man
Windom?" I says, "Yes, very well, and I consider him the best man by all
odds. He is good and reliable." "Well," said both delegates, "we have
both been voting for Norton from the start, but from what you say we will
votes for windom." The next ballot they did so and Windom was nominated
on that ballot, receiving two majority.
When I first came into Mower county to make it my home, the
town of Frankford was composed of two townships, 103, range 14 and 15, twelve
miles east and west and six north and south. We wanted a township organized
out of the west half, which was town 103, range 15. I went to Austin and made
the request to the county board to be set off, and they set off as we wished.
The territory of town 103 range 15, was called Grand Meadow, and as soon as
the Southern Minnesota railroad was located through the town, I moved the
postoffice to the railroad and the new station was called Grand Meadow.
Near the close of the War of the Rebellion the people of Minnesota
discovered that we had good material out of which good soldiers are made,
but in the state we lacked the training necessary to enable our young men
to enter the army. Near the close of the war our legislature passed a law
to enable the state militia to organize into companies and regiments. Mower
county was organized as the fourteenth Regiment of State Militia. There
were twelve companies organized in the county and they were authorized to
elect their company officers, a captain, first and second lieutenants. After
they were chosen, the officers elected met in the village of Brownsdale to
make choice of a man for colonel. There was a full attendance from all the
companies present. The Austin company presented the name of Ormanzo Allen
and the Grand Meadow company presented the name of B.F. Langworthy and the
latter was chosen. As soon as the facts were made known to the governor in
St. Paul, he forwarded immediately a commission to the colonel of the 14th
regiment of Mower county.
I soon after received orders from the commanding
officer who was a resident of Mankato, authorizing me to select a suitable
place somewhere near the center of the population in the county, and to call
out the regiment for a two day's drill. After consulting with some of the
officers of the different companies it was decided to meet at the head of
Rose Creek at a point a little north of the residence of Dexter Parrott,
which is near the geographic center of the county. I regret that I have not
a list of the captains' names of all the companies.
The company officers with their companies were all on hand
promptly on the
appointed day and were ready for the first day's drill in the afternoon. All
companies came prepared to camp out and get their meals. A number of the
companies had tents; others were not so well supplied. But the weather for
the two days was mild and pleasant, and those without tents met with no
inconvenience. The members of the different companies were all disposed
to be sociable, visiting from camp to camp to get acquainted. Just when
everything in camp was most pleasant and satisfactory at about 10 o'clock
in the evening, it was reported that a load of whiskey had been brought into
camp by one Harvey Anderson of Brownsdale. I immediately called the captains
together and told them that the liquor must be destroyed. I was more
particularly acquainted with Capt. Harris of Racine company. I requested
him to take such help as he needed from his company and destroy all liquor
found within the encampment.
To my surprise and regret the captain wished to
be excused as he was afraid of getting into a legal difficulty, I promptly
excused him. I then wished to call on a captain who was not afraid and by
good luck on looking over the different captains, I selected that stalwart
Scandinavian, well known by the name of Gunder Holverson of Six Mile Grove
in the town of Nevada. I called to him and says, "Captain Holverson, if
you are not afraid, you may take what help with you from your company you
think necessary and go and destroy all liquor that you may find within the
encampment." The captain says, "All right, Colonel, I will attend to it at
once." He then picked up an axe and said, "Come on boys," speaking to his
chosen men (among them was C. Huntley of LeRoy) and away they went, and in
less time than it takes to write it there was not a drop of liquor left
within the encampment. The captain soon returned and reported and reported
saying, "Colonel, the duty is performed." I felt pleased at his promptness
and said to him, "Capt. Holverson, I thank you." After that the night
passed off quietly and all were in condition to attend to their regular
duties next day.
There was one man on the ground who was not ready for military duty the
next day. He was the man that had lost his whiskey. He came to me with a
few of his followers and said, "I will make you pay for destroying my
property." I said, "Mr. Anderson, do your worst I will be ready at all
times to meet you. But I would advise you to keep cool or you may find
yourself in the lockup." I heard no more of him or his loss of whiskey.
That drill was the last that the fourteenth regiment as a military
regiement ever made. I have met but a very few persons of late years who
took part in the regiment at that time, but on the 25th of last month I
was in Austin, in conversation with a friend, when a man, grey headed,
came into the office and had business with the gentlemen that I was talking
with. He heard me speak of the spilling of the liquor by Capt. Holverson.
He spoke and said, "We split that whiskey very quickly." He was of Capt.
Holverson's company. His name is H.F. Deming, now living in his old age
four miles south of Austin. I would like to hear from more of the men who
took part in the regiment at that time.
B. F. Langworthy
(To be continued)
[Mower County Transcript, Wed., March 5, 1902 -- 4th article
in the series]