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Otter Tail County Minnesota

Otter Tail Twp & Ottertail Village





From Trygg Historical Maps, Trygg Land Office, Ely, MN www.trygglandoffice.com/maps.html
b=bottom land, m=marsh, p=prairie, s=swamp

 Basic Facts:

Township 134N, Range 39W
Government survey 18??
First Settled 18??
Organized February 26, 1870


[Copied by Lory Brasel, lbrasel@leagent.net, from the book "History of Otter Tail County" Volume I - 1916 by John W. Mason]

The first attempt to organize Otter Tail township was made in the spring of 1870, but for some reason which has not been discovered the organ ization was not effected at this time. A petition dated February 26, 1870, and signed by fourteen legal voters of township 134, range 39, asked for its establishment as a civil township. The fourteen interested citizens were R. L. Frazee, William W. McArthur, Peter Willbrand, J. Covreth, Donald McDonald, William McDonald, A. Bellegen, John Bunken, Charles Mason, George Mathews, James McDougall, C. H. Peake, Giles Peake and Louis Mayrand. The history of this township prior to 1862 is found in the chapter entitled "Otter Tail County in 1860."

The board granted this petition on the 8th of the following month and gave the name of Otter Tail to the new township. They set March 17 for the election of the first township officials and designated the store of C. H. Peake as the voting place. It is very evident that the election did not take place at this time, since a second petition for the organization of the same congressional township was presented to the commissioners on September 5, 1870. This second petition, dated August 24, 1870, carried the following names: William W. McArthur, J. E. Aanserdon, Z. Covrette, A. Bellengen, P. Bellengen, Peter Willbrand, Albert Gontwan, D. McArthur, William McDonald, W. A. Plummer, Louis Dall, Martin Welch, F. H. Englundy, J. A. Wagg, Samuel Whitney, Philip Bower, James Hendry, Andrew Olson, John Pelissier, George W. Matthews, Simon Zenson, Byron Lent, R. L. Frazee and James Craigie.

In accordance with the order of' the commissioners, granting the second petition, the first election was held at the home of William McArthur, Sep tember 24, 1870. The next appearance of Otter Tail township in the com missioners records is on October 12, 1880, when A. S. Blowers, of the said township, appeared before the board and made an affidavit to the effect that "there has been no town meeting nor election held in said township for at least four years past and it has been without township officers during all that time and that the same is an organized township." Evidently there was no refutation of the charge, since the commissioners proceeded at once to appoint officers for the township, to-wit: Supervisors, John McNellis, A. S. Blowers and Wallace Johnson; clerk, Archibald McArthur; justices of the peace, Frank Barnes and A. S. Blowers; constables, Peter DeCourcy and Andrew Laird; treasurer, Charles Cox. These officers were ordered to qualify for their respective positions and hold them until their successors were elected and qualified.

It is interesting to note the taxpayers of Otter Tail township, as listed on the duplicate of 1870, which means that they were owners the year pre vious: Thomas McClure, Thomas Cathcart, James E. Wing, Ezra Briggs, Abraham Morris, Samuel Whitney, George B. Wright, Hannah Carver, Edmund Belon, Jerome C. Todd, Solon Moore, Nathan Butler, Augusta Montana, Archibald McArthur, William McArthur, Theressa Conner, Tru man Varner, Charles Rook, Daniel Brennan, Simon G. Hill, John Bishop, Sylvester Statulen, John Knight, Calvin F. How and Arthur Berson.

This is one of the earliest settled townships in the county, and as soon as the county seat was re-established at Otter Tail City by an act of the Leg islature in the spring of 1871, the town began to have hopes that it would one day become a real city. However, with the removal of the county seat to Fergus Falls in the fall of 1872, Otter Tail City lost all hopes of ever being anything but a rural village. The whole history of this township would have been changed if the Northern Pacific had passed through it, but, as subsequent events proved, this was eventually to cause it to lose its honors as the seat of justice and later its very identity as a village.

Practically half of this township is covered with water, considerably more than one-third of the township being covered with Otter Tail lake. Other lakes are Gourd, McDonald, Buchawanli, Long, Pickerel, Portage and Round. The remainder of the township is good farming land and no better farmers are to be found in the county than in Otter Tail township.

There have been three platted villages in the township, namely, Otter Tail City, Ottertail and Balmoral, although the latter is little more than a summer resort and is hardly to be classed as a village. Ottertail.

Ottertail village dates only from 1903, and is not to be confused with Otter Tail City, a village which flourished more or less on the eastern shore of Otter Tail lake from 1858 until the Soo line was put through the county in the early part of this century. If all reports be true, the late Otter Tail City might today be the county seat of the county if one particular land owner of the place had been willing to give the Northern Pacific a right of way through his farm.

The present village of Ottertail was platted by the Minnesota Loan and Trust Company and the plat recorded on September 3, 1903. Within less than six months the citizens of the infant village were clamoring for incor poration and in their petition of March 7, 1904, they stated that they wished to incorporate a tract of land embracing a total of six sections, or three thousand eight hundred forty acres, two thousand seven hundred twenty-one acres of which was land and one thousand one hundred nineteen acres water. The petition further stated that this proposed village, six miles wide and twelve miles long, contained one hundred and forty-eight inhabitants.

The petition asking for incorporation carried the names of twenty-nine citizens and legal voters, to-wit: E. B. Robinson, L. G. Sanders, H. A. Schultz, H. W. Truhn, G. A. Schult, C. L. Whiting, George Sawyer, J. W. Herzog, M. Barber, Conrad Kahler, Henry Hunter, Barney Kahler, A. R. McGowan, J. A. Lamb, Rasmus Olson, O. C. Olson, Otie Whiting, O. T. Skrukrud, G. A. Anderson, I. G. Moats, Vernon Morow, W. H. Loomis, E. P. Taylor, Harry Vosberg, John W. Johnson, James Bigley, Otto C. Pries, William H. Colvert and Edward Patterson. The election on May 3, 1904, showed thirty-five votes for as against eight opposed to incorporation. At present Ottertail is a village of one hundred and eighty. It has a German Lutheran and Methodist Episcopal church, a bank, hotel, grain ele vator and creamery. The future manufacturing interests and general wel fare of the town is looked after through a commercial club. The member ship of this club comprises all of the business men of the town and nothing is left undone by them to bring their little village to the front. G. A. Schultz is the present president.

The business interests of the present are carried on by the following persons: Hotel Just, Mrs. Emil W. Just, proprietress; railroad and tele graph agent, J. F. Allison; blacksmith, Harry R. Jones; cement worker, Batton F. Barnett; livery, J. Gordon McCloud; hardware, William F. Kempf; meat market, Samuel B. Barnett; millinery, Emma Bentlag; lumber, Wilcox Lumber Company, G. A. Shultz,, agent; physician, John Knight; wood worker, Frank E. Kaiser; elevator, Northland Elevator Company, Henry Miller, agent creamery, Farmers' Co-operative Creamery Association, H. A. Shultz, president; Herman Grefe, secretary; Henry Miller, treasurer; fuel, Otter Trail Fuel Company, H. J. Schafer, president; Henry Miller, manager. Henry A. Schultz is the present postmaster.

The present village officers are as follow: President, H. A. Schultz; trustees, Fritz Lueders, B. F. Barnett and Herman Grofe; clerk, Henry Miller; treasurer, G. A. Schultz; justices, J. R. Jones and S. B. Barnett; con stables, Max Wardeen and W. C. Kempf.

There are two summer resorts platted in Otter Tail township, Midway Park and Pleasure Park. The plat of Midway Park was recorded October 16, 1905, being platted by Martin Aalberg for Frank J. A. and Ida M. Lar son. It is located in Otter Tail township, section 31, township 134, range 39.

Pleasure Park was platted by Martin Aalberg for W. F. and Julia Aitkinson and recorded in the office of the register of deeds on July 13, 1912. It is located in the northeastern part of Otter Tail township, section 4, township 134, range 39.


Population totals in state and federal census summaries.

   Otter Tail  Ottertail Village
 1870  52  
 1875  78  
 1880  46  
 1885  224  
 1890  226  
 1895  250  
 1900  283  
 1905  186  209
 1910  200  176
 1920  230  223
 1930  214  221
 1940  208  254

Places of birth for Otter Tail Township in the 1905 state census.

 Native (USA)  43   23%
 Minnesota  96   52%
 Foreign  46   25%
     Germany  30   65%
     Sweden  3   7%
     Norway  7   15%
     Canada  2   4%
     Ireland  1   2%
     Denmark  2   4%
     England  0   0%
     Poland  1   2%
     Finland  0   0%
     Russia  0   0%
     Scotland  0   0%
     Other  0   0%

Land Maps


The following names have been extracted from original land records (by John Nelson) and Mason's History (by Karen Terry). Aalberg , Martin ; Aanserdon , JE ; Aitkinson , Julia , WF ; Allison , JF ; Anderson , GA ; Austin , Horace , Jacob ; Barber , M ; Barnes , Frank ; Barnett , Batton F , BF , Samuel B , SB ; Beardsley , George G ; Bell , James A ; Belland , Edward ; Bellant , Mack ; Bellegen , A ; Bellengen , A , P ; Belon , Edmund , Edward ; Bentlag , Emma ; Berson , Arthur ; Bigley , James ; Bischoff , Johan H , John H ; Bishop , John ; Blowers , AS ; Boehl , Joseph ; Bower , Philip ; Brennan , Daniel ; Briggs , Ezra ; Brown , Canute A , Lewis J ; Bullock , Samuel L ; Bunken , John ; Burbo , Enos ; Butler , Nathan ; Carver , Hannah ; Cathcart , Thomas ; Colvert , William H ; Conner , Theressa ; Covreth , J ; Covrette , Z ; Cox , Caleb S , Charles ; Craigie , James ; Dall , Louis ; DeCourcy , Peter ; Delaney , John ; Dreibelbis , M A ; Englundy , FH ; Faries , Isaiah ; Francis , Seymour ; Frazee , RL ; Gontwan , Albert ; Grefe , Herman ; Grofe , Herman ; Hemstrect , Pieres ; Hendry , James ; Herzog , JW ; Hill , Simon G ; How , Calvin F ; Hunter , Henry ; Johnson , John W , Wallace ; Jones , Harry R , JR ; Just , Emil W (Mrs) ; Kahler , Barney , Conrad ; Kaiser , Frank E ; Kempf , WC , William F ; Knight , John ; Laird , Andrew ; Lamb , JA ; Larson , Frank JA , Ida M ; Lent , Byron ; Loomis , WH ; Lueders , Fritz ; Mason , Charles ; Mathews , George ; Matthews , George W ; Mayrand , Louis ; Mcarthur , Archibald ; McArthur , D , William ; Mcarthur , William W ; McCloud , J Gordon ; McClure , Thomas ; McDonald , Donald , William ; McDougall , James ; McGowan , AR ; McNellis , John ; Mee , Joseph ; Miller , Charles , Henry , S N ; Moats , IG ; Montana , Augusta ; Moore , Solon ; Moran , Francis ; Morow , Vernon ; Morris , Abraham ; Nichols , Lemuel ; Olson , Andrew , OC , Rasmus ; Pace , William ; Patterson , Edward ; Peake , CH , Giles ; Pelissier , John ; Plummer , WA ; Pries , Otto C ; Reynolds , Emma Z , R ; Robinson , EB ; Rook , Charles ; Sanders , LG ; Sawyer , George ; Schafer , HJ ; Schult , GA ; Schultz , GA , HA , Henry A ; Shaw , Darius N ; Shultz , GA , HA ; Skrukrud , OT ; Statulen , Sylvester ; Steensland , Halle ; Stevens , Amos ; Taylor , EP ; Todd , Jerome C ; Truhn , HW ; Van Doosen , J F ; Van Dyke , Lewis ; Varner , Truman ; Vosberg , Harry ; Wagg , JA ; Wardeen , Max ; Welch , Martin ; Whiting , CL , Otie ; Whitney , Samuel ; Willbrand , Peter ; Wimer , George H ; Wing , James E ; Wright , George B ; Zenson , Simon

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