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Renville County History 101

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1901 Renville County Map

Currently, Renville County is divided into 27 townships with 10 cities. The townships include:
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Beaver Falls – established 1867, was the first County Seat until 1900, named for Beaver Creek.
Birch Cooley – established 1867, named for its small stream, Cooley is a French word meaning the bed of a stream, even if dry, when deep, having inclined sides.
Bird Island – settled 1872, name derived from a grove of large trees surrounded by sloughs, like an island plentiful with wild birds.
Boon Lake – organized 1870, bearing the name of its largest lake.
Brookfield – settled 1871, the name also used in Missouri.
Cairo – organized 1868, first called Mud Lake, from the capital of Egypt.
Camp – organized 1867, first named Renville, later changed to Camp.
Crooks – organized 1884, named in honor of H.S. Crooks, settler and homestead farmer.
Emmet – settled 1869, named in honor of Robert Emmet, an Irish patriot.
Ericson – settled 1871, named in honor of Eric Ericson, he served as County Auditor.
Flora – settled 1865, named after Francis Shoemaker’s horse.
Hawk Creek – organized 1867, named for its creek, translated from Sioux name, Chetambe.
Hector – settled 1873, was first called Milford, renamed for a town in New York State.
Henryville – settled 1866, named for pioneer farmer, Peter Henry.
Kingman – settled 1877, named in honor of W.H. Kingman, he purchased a large amount of land.
Martinsburg – settled 1873, named for Martin Grummons, whose father lived in the township.
Melville – settled 1873, named for the Melville Railroad station located in the township.
Norfolk – settled 1868, first named Houlton then Marschner, finally Norfolk for a county in England.
Osceola – settled 1875, named for the village in Wisconsin.
Palmyra – organized 1872, named by settlers who arrived from S.E. Wisconsin, for “City of Palms”.
Preston Lake – settled 1866, named for the largest lake in the township.
Sacred Heart – organized 1869, named for an early trader who wore a bearskin hat and the bear was sacred to the Sioux nation, he was known as “Sacred Hat”, which later became Sacred Heart.
Troy – settled 1871, named after an ancient city in Asia Minor, known as the scene of the “Trojan War”.
Wang – settled 1867, named for a group of farms in Norway.
Wellington – settled 1868, named for the Duke of Wellington, victor over Napoleon at Waterloo 1815.
Winfield – settled 1872, named for General Winfield Scott, chief commander of the Mexican War.
The Cities include:
Bird Island –
railway village incorporated in 1881, the same name as Bird Island Township.
Buffalo Lake – railway village incorporated in 1891, named for the picturesque lake north of the town.
Danube – railway village incorporated in 1901, first named Miles, changed to Danube for river in Europe. Editor’s Note: I don’t think this is true of how Danube received its new name.
Fairfax – railway village incorporated in 1888, named by Eben Ryder for his home county in Virginia.
Franklin – railway village incorporated in 1888, named in honor of Benjamin Franklin.
Hector – railway village incorporated in 1881, the same name as Hector Township.
Morton – railway village incorporated in 1887, along the Minnesota River, named by Railroad officers.
Olivia – railway village incorporated in 1881, named for Olive, the first station agent in Ortonville by A.B. Rogers, a civil engineer who located the railway.
Renville – railway village incorporated in 1881, named for Joseph Renville.
Sacred Heart – railway village incorporated in 1883, the same name as Sacred Heart Township.

Editor’s Note: If you have stories to share regarding the townships or town be sure to visit our Share Your Story Page on our website, email director@renvillecountyhistory.com or mail your story to RCHS, 441 N Park Dr, Morton, Minnesota 56270.