Skip to main content

1870-1878: Rock County, townships organize

Bits By Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, president, Rock County Historical Society

Rock County will celebrate its 150th anniversary this year. The news will be the history of Rock County, townships, and communities. The following appeared in the Rose History of Rock County, printed in 1911.
County and Township Organization — 1870-1878
         When the early day settlers located in the unorganized county of Rock, it was attached to Jackson county for civil and judicial purposes. What little official business the new settlers had to attend to was done at the county seat village of Jackson, where was also located the government land office. There was no agitation among the settlers in favor of county organization prior to the fall of 1869. In fact, up to that time the county had a population considerably less than one hundred people (including possibly twenty-five voters), the census taken in the summer of 1870 showing only 138 inhabitants.
         Although by the original act of 1857 Rock county had been created, no provision had been made for its organization. Therefore, when the settlers decided to begin county government it was necessary to secure legislative action. Late in the fall of 1869 some of the settlers, notably J.F. Shoemaker, Jonathan Phelps, Amos Estey and E. N. Darling, took the initiative in bringing about organization. A petition to the legislature was written by Mr. Darling, assisted by Mr. Shoemaker, and circulated throughout the settled portions of the county. The petition was signed by every voter, and the proposition met with the hearty approval of everybody. There was no public meeting held to ratify the step, but it practically had a public endorsement, for at every public gathering the proposed action was the subject of discussion among the settlers, and none argued in the negative.
         The petition was sent to the lawmakers at St. Paul during the session of 1869-70. That body looked with favor on the request of the settlers from the extreme southwestern corner of the state and passed an act, approved by the governor March 5, 1870, entitled “an act to organize Rock county.” Section one read as follows:
         That the governor take such action under existing laws as may be necessary to organize the county of Rock, and appoint three disinterested persons commissioners to locate the county seat of said county. The place designated by said commissioners, or a majority of them, when reported to the governor, shall remain the seat of justice of said county until confirmed of changed by a vote of the legal voters of said county when submitted to them in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of the state of Minnesota.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.