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Otter Tail County Minnesota

Rush Lake Twp & Richville 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 135N, Range 39W
Government survey 1858
First Settled 1866
Organized Jan 3, 1871
Richville village incorporated Jun 13, 1905


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

Rush Lake township (township 135, range 39) was organized on January 3, 1871. The first election was held at the house of Handrick Kemper on January 24, 1871. On March 14, 1871, the three following unorganized congressional townships were attached to Rush Lake for all township purposes: Township 135, range 38 (now known as Otto township); township 136, range 39 (now known as Perham township), township 136, range 40 (now known as Edna township. Rush Lake was decreased on March 22, 1877, as a result of the following action of the commissioners: "Resolved that sections 6, 7 and the north part of section 18, which lie north of Otter Tail river in township 136, range 38, in Otter Tail county and in the town-ship of Rush Lake, be and the same is hereby detached from the township of Rush Lake and hereby attached to Marion Lake for all township purposes." This petition was signed by William Featherway, A. Duncan, Cassius Camp and A. Caulb. The original petitioners for the erection of this township numbered twenty-two, and five of these were later scratched from the petition. It was dated December 31, 1870, and contained the following names: Joseph Boedigheimer, H. Dralmann, H. Kemper, H. Gries-mer, J. Griesmer, Joseph A. Doll, Joseph Mui, I. Eibert, John Doll, Michael Doll, Joseph Riesterer, Ferdinand Eibert, M. Doll, John Mimawla, W. Fifuilson and Joseph Wabale. It is interesting to note that the original petition was changed several times before it was presented to the commissioners and this was evidently done to gain the required number of signers.

Rush Lake, the location of the second permanent settlement in the county, was first settled by a colony of Germans in the summer of 1866. The leader of the colony was a German Catholic priest. He and his people came from St. Joseph, Mercer county, Ohio, and within a few years, their farms were in a high state of cultivation. They had good houses and barns and large orchards, were free from debt and had money at interest. These people left Ohio on account of some religious difficulty, and under the leadership of their priest, Joseph M. Albrecht, came in a body to Otter Tail county to make their permanent home.

At the time of coming Father Albrecht was sixty-six and in excellent health. He came to this country about 1850 from Baden, Germany, where he owned property to the value of sixty thousand dollars. This property was called "Albrecht Castle." Father Joseph was not educated for the priesthood and while still living in Germany was married. He was a very high spirited man, full of ambition, bold and daring in his undertaking, with a determination of mind that would brook no resistance. Through the influence of his wife he was induced to enter the priesthood, and with her consent a mutual agreement was made that they would separate and each lead a spiritual life to the end of their days. Whereupon the castle was sold and both joined the Society of the Most Precious Blood. This society was found in Italy (1821) with the approval of the Pope.

In his religious views and practices Father Joseph was a little eccentric, and the following article published in the Fergus Falls Journal on October 9, 1885, would seem to confirm the statement:

For some reason unknown he always avoided meeting the bishop of his diocese and could not be persuaded to meet him under any circumstances. He was very much opposed to pride and vanity, and never delivered a sermon that he would not touch upon these points. In fact it was the main theme of three-fourths of his sermons. He also reproached his fellow clergymen because they tolerated vanity in any form. He urged most vigor-usly upon the ladies the importance of wearing plain dresses and sun bonnets, without ribbons or flowers. When the crinolines came into fashion they were a thorn in his eyes and he grew ecstatic every time he spoke against the wearing of the detested raiment. Strangely enough his attitude against this fashion was the sole cause of his organizing a colony to go west.

On one Sunday in the spring of 1866, several of the young ladies ven-tured to enter into his church wearing hoop skirts with flowers and silk ribbons on their bonnets. He noticed them during his sermon, at once made them the subjects of his remarks and closed by forbidding the ladies to enter thereafter the church so clothed. As if they were giving offense to the whole congregation it made the young ladies blush. He warned them under a penalty of some severe punishment, but the ladies, notwithstanding his stern command, did, on the afternoon of the same day, enter the church dressed as they were in the forenoon. This was more than the nervous system of Reverend Albrecht could bear. He very calmly walked to the pulpit, took down the gospel book, read a chapter appropriate to the occasion, after which he took a long hickory rod and drove them out of the church. He touched the poor little ducks moderately with the gad, but the ladies, seeing that he meant business, promptly walked out.

This remarkable episode was reported to the bishop of his diocese, whereupon Father Joseph was suspended from his clerical functions for an indefinite time. It was shortly after this suspension that he organized his colony and moved to Rush Lake, as before stated, coming from St. Paul with wagons by the way of the old Crow Wing trail.

After the colony had fairly settled down, and built their winter quarters; the old missionary Pierce paid them a visit, he having heard of the difficulties in Ohio, and tried to persuade Albrecht to be reconciled with the Bishop of Minnesota, and submit himself to his church authority. This Father Joseph promised to do. Whereupon Reverend Pierce gave him authority to carry on his church work, with the further admonition that he must go to Bishop Grace and obtain his credentials of ordination in order to perform the functions of the church in the diocese of St. Paul. For this purpose Reverend Pierce supplied him with a letter of recommendation. Father Albrecht, it is stated, went to St. Paul on foot, a distance of two hundred miles, but not finding the Bishop at home, returned to Rush Lake without his credentials or any authority whatever. But he kept on with his religious functions the same as any ordained priest, and a few of his main supporters among the colony advised him not to pay any attention to the bishop, a course he afterwards followed. But Bishop Grace, receiving intelligence of his conduct, paid him a visit at this distant outpost of his diocese, and tried to reconcile him with the church. But Father Albrecht continued obstinate, cIaiming that he had done nothing wrong and therefore had nothing to answer for.

After that the venerable old missionary, Weninger, came up to see him; also Bishop Seidenbush of St. Cloud, but all to no avail. After this he was excommunicated but to this he paid no attention, going on in his own way until he died. But he was not so much to blame as those who supported him in his opposition to the authority of the church. They would not permit him to obey the Bishop, fearing that he would remove him to some other congregation far from them. Father Albrecht was old and weak minded and therefore easily controlled by his supporters."

Among the first settlers in the colony who came with Father Joseph, were the following: A. Bender, Boedigheimer, Anton Doll, M. Doll, W. Doll, J. W. Doll, F. Stabb, I. Sarhbacher, J. Reister, J. A. Doll. Sielber-nagle, V. Eifert, F. Eifert, Joseph Weiss and about six brothers and sisters of the convent.

The sole object of this colony in moving out into the far West was their wish to be alone; to establish themselves far from the busy and hustling world where they could bring up their children according to their own belief, have their own private schools and carry out their religious ideas unmolested. But they were mistaken in supposing that they could escape western civilization. After a few years of hardship on the part of the colony the Northern Pacific railroad was surveyed and located through their locality. Upon this, some of the colonists looked with hostile eyes. They could not prevent its being built, but they would have prevented it had it been possible. They were a good class of people to do business with, always paying cash for everything. They would not allow a store bill to run over one month. They were very close in making a bargain, but once the bargain was made they always had the cash ready to lay down. They never meddled with politics, but always voted the Democratic ticket. They were not office seekers. It required considerable urging to induce them to accept a township office, but when they did accept an office, their duties were carried out to the letter.

In the spring of 1879, the entire convent building was destroyed by fire, including the chapel, barn and other buildings. The loss amounted to about six thousand dollars. There was no insurance on the building, but sufficient money was raised to rebuild the chapel. Other buildings were also constructed, the total expense reaching about eight thousand dollars. Reverend Albrecht died in the spring of 1884, at the age of eighty-four, and as there was no provision made for a successor, the congregation was left without a head. As soon as the last will of Albrecht was published, some difficulty arose among the members of the congregation because some were not recognized in the will as they had expected to be. The bishop offered them a priest, but the congregation would not agree. As a result a sharp division arose among them. Those who were recognized in the will owned the church properly by virtue of the will and were opposed to the proposition made by the bishop. Therefore those who were in favor of having a priest had to withdraw from the contest. Some joined the recognized church at St. Joseph and others became identified with the Catholic church at Perham, while the victorious ones sold their own personal property, as well as the property of the convent. They then borrowed some money on the church real estate and moved to Oregon, taking with them the remains of Father Joseph, who had been buried in the chapel. They exhumed his body one night, and the same night placed it on the train and started in the morning for the far West. Among those who moved to Oregon, besides the brothers and sisters of the convent, were the following: A. Bender (leader), A. Silbernagle, Joseph Reister, 0. Boedigheimer, C. Felz, F. Boedigheimer and J. Boedigheimer. Thus ended the history of the first Catholic church in the courty. The descendants of these worthy people are now numbered with the most substantial and highly respected people of the county.

The present township officers are as follows: Supervisors, Jacob Jung, Joseph L. Doll and George Kidder; clerk, Joachim Doll, Sr.; treasurer, Joseph Hassler; assessor, B. F. Harris; justice, Simon Sester; constable, Ben Fithen.


The village of Richville is located in the central western part of Rush Lake township (section 7, township 135, range 39), on the Soo line, and is one of the several towns in the county platted by the Minnesota Loan and Trust Company. The plat was recorded on October 13, 1903, and less than a year later it had grown to such proportions that it was asking to be incorporated with the village. A census taken on September 19, 1904, revealed the fact that there were one hundred and fifty-two inhabitants within the territory which embraced nine hundred and sixty acre's or slightly over six and a half acres for every man, woman and child in the proposed incorporation. The petition was signed by F. Siring, Fredrick Prentice, 0. A. Zimmer, C. F. Fennz, P. H. Jones, Albert Mielkek, G. F. Schroeder, W. G. Brooks, F. A. Lumbard, John Kapell, C. A. Friberg, T. K. Johnson, S. F. Johnson, J. H. Johnson, T. K. Johnson, H. P. Burgess, J. H. Eckert,. H. F. Ransom, 0. T. Skrurrud, Andrew Hullkosky, W. B. Devine, A. E. Cadwell, A. Med-ders, G. W. Eaton, G. W. Dyer and William Mack.

The election on the question of incorporation was held on October 25, 1904, and resulted in twenty-seven votes in favor and three against the proposition.

In the summer of 1905 a number of legal voters of the village decided to present a petition to the county commissioners asking for the detachment of certain territory from the corporation. This petition, signed by thirty-seven voters, represented that the three hundred and twenty acres which they asked to be detached contained a total population of only twenty-seven. The commissioners signed the petition and ordered an election held on June 13, 1905, to decide the question of detaching the said territory from the village and attaching it to the township of Rush Lake. Only one negative vote was cast out of a total of twenty-six. Richville has a population at present of approximatelv three hundred and fifty. There is one church. Methodist Episcopal. The industries of the town consist at present of a bank, hotel, creamery, heading and stave mills and grain elevator. Richville is situated in the center of a rich farm-ing section and through the co-operation of the farmers in bringing their products to this village for export it has become quite a trading center. The topography of the country makes it very convenient for the country people to have a trading center in this section and they show their appreciation by giving it every possible aid. E. G. Hayhurst is the present post-master of the village. The present village officers are as follow: W. C. Fithen; trustees, T. K. Johnson and M. M. Baker; clerk, E. W. Olson; treasurer, C. F. Franz; assessor, Adolph Schulz; justices, Ole Mebust and H. W. Schulz; constables, Jack Ash and D. E. Burgess.


Population totals in state and federal census summaries.

   Rush Lake  Richville Village
 1870  167  
 1875  263  
 1880  448  
 1885  257  
 1890  341  
 1900  419  
 1905  448  181
 1910  441  255
 1920  456  281
 1930  523  179
 1940  514  233

Places of birth for Rush Lake Township in the 1905 state census.

 Native (USA)  91   20%
 Minnesota  308   69%
 Foreign  49   11%
     Germany  44   90%
     Sweden  1   2%
     Norway  1   2%
     Canada  3   6%
     Ireland  0   0%
     Denmark  0   0%
     England  0   0%
     Poland  0   0%
     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). Albrecht , Joseph M , Joseph M (Father) ; Ash , Jack ; Austin , Horace ; Baker , MM ; Barrey , Landger ; Bender , A ; Berrey , Jeff ; Bishoff , Rusteka ; Bock , Benno ; Boedigheimer , _____ , F , J , Joseph , O ; Brooks , WG ; Burgess , DE , HP ; Burnham , William H ; Butler , Nathan ; Cadwell , AE ; Camp , Cassius ; Caulb , A ; Clarke , Nehemiah P ; Devine , WB ; Doll , Anton , JA , Joachim , John , Joseph A , Joseph L , Joseph W , JW , M , Michael , W , Wendel ; Dralmann , H ; Dugald , Joseph ; Duncan , A ; Dyer , GW ; Eaton , GW ; Eckert , JH ; Eibert , Ferdinand , I ; Eifert , F , Ferdinand , V , Victor ; Faries , Isaiah ; Featherway , William ; Fehr , Florian ; Fehrenbacher , Wendelin ; Felz , C ; Fennz , CF ; Fhar , Floring ; Fifuilson , W ; Fithen , Ben , WC ; Foltz , Charles ; Franz , CF ; Fredler , Martin ; Friberg , CA ; Friedsam , Anton ; Fuchs , Balthasar , Balthazar ; Gessner , George ; Gosseline , M L ; Grace , (Bishop) ; Griesmer , H , J ; Harris , BF ; Hasler , Blasius , Joseph ; Hassler , Joseph ; Hayhurst , EG ; Hullkosky , Andrew ; Joackim , Peter ; Johnson , JH , SF , TK ; Jones , PH ; Jung , Jacob ; Kapell , John ; Kemper , H , Handrick ; Kerber , Adam ; Kidder , George ; King , Gilbert ; Leut , Byron ; Lumbard , FA ; Mack , William ; Mebust , Ole ; Medders , A ; Mielkek , Albert ; Miller , Charles ; Mimawla , John ; Mui , Joseph ; Nash , James ; Neumaier , Karoline , Wanibald ; Nichols , Sam H ; Olson , EW ; Pierce , (Rev) ; Prentice , Fredrick ; Ransom , HF ; Rassner , Madeline ; Reister , Joseph ; Reisterer , Joseph ; Reynolds , R ; Riester , J ; Riesterer , Joseph ; Riter , George ; Sarbacher , Louis ; Sarhbacher , I ; Schroeder , GF ; Schulz , Adolph , HW ; Seidenbush , (Bishop) ; Sester , Simon ; Seufert , George ; Sheideiger , Victor ; Sherburne , Lucy J ; Sielbernagle , _____ ; Silbarnel , Christ ; Silbernagle , A ; Siring , F ; Skrurrud , OT ; Sprague , Elisha C ; Stabb , F ; Titus , Thomas H ; Truhn , Gustav ; Vandyke , Lewis ; Wabale , Joseph ; Wederle , John ; Weis , Joseph ; Weiss , Joseph ; Weninger , (missionary) ; Whitney , Samuel ; Younglove , C S ; Zimmer , OA

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