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The History of Renville County, Volume 2
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
Brookfield township embraces township 116-32. It is bounded on the north by Meeker county, on the east by Boon Lake township, on the south by Hector township, and on the west by Osceola township.
Brookfield village centers at the corner of sections 6 and 7, Boon Lake township, and sections 1 and 12, Brookfield township. Church Hill is a center at the corner of sections 26, 27, 34, 35.
The first claims in this township were filed in 1865 by Edward K. Hitchcock, E. J. Tremper, David Harrington, Walter G. Horton and James Moore. The first school was taught in 1875 by E. K. Pellett in a building erected for the purpose. The first marriage was that of Albert Brown and Franc Booth, in November, 1881. The first birth was May, daughter of John Porter, born May 1, 1874. July 21, 1874, occurred the first death, that of Wilder, son of John Wilt.
Brookfield was organized in 1874 and the first election held April 7 of that year at the home of Charles Foster. Supervisors, E. H. Pellet (chairman), C. E. Porter and Alexander Camp; clerk, C. E. Porter; assessor, George Taylor; treasurer, John Wilt; justices, Henry Gerard and Diton Grindal; constables, A. Camp and W. C. Fleet.
The first real estate assessment of Preston Lake township was made in 1869. Those assessed in 116-32, now Brookfield, were: Ezra Cornell, section 10; Ebin Fisher, 15; George W. Fisher, 15; R. H. Rogers, 24.
By 1870 quite a number of people had acquired property in township 116, range 32 (now Brookfield), the real estate assessed that year being as follows: E. K. Hitchcock, sections 2, 22; J. G. Todd, 2; Henry Jewett, 4; J. A. Beaver, 6, 30; Charles A. Barkuloo, 6, 8; C. H. Pettit, 8, 10, 17, 20, 29; Ezra Cornell, 10; Seth Adams, 10; E. J. Temper, 12; W. O. Horton, 12; D. G. Martin, 12; Daniel Henington, 13; W. C. Horton, 14, 23; W. S. Horton, 14; M. O. Thompson, 14; R. J. Mendenhall, 14; James Moore, 15; E. S. Fisher, 15; G. W. Fisher, 15; Adam Sheiner, 21; Henry Reitz, Jr., 21; R. H. Rogers, 24; Jacob Ritz, 28; Sarah M. Horton, 32.
The first personal property assessment of Brookfield, 116-32 (exclusively Brookfield), was made in 1874. Those assessed were John Booth, Alexander Camp, William Fleet, Henry Gerard, D. Grindle, E. H. Pellet, E. C. Porter, W. H. Simmons, Geo. Taylor, John Wilt.
Thomas Simmons' Reminiscences. - On June 3, 1875, in company with Nicholas Haft, and son Henry, I left Loda, Iroquois county, Illinois, with a horse team and a covered wagon, bound for Minnesota. July 12 we reached Albert Lea, and on July 20 we arrived safely at the home of my brother-in-law, James Chapman, in section 30, Boon Lake township, this county. With the Chapman family I remained until the next spring, my wife joining me November 25, 1875. On May 11, 1876, I took a homestead in section 25, Brookfield township, and here I have since made my home.
My neighbors in Brookfield were Henry Gerard, Bartimus Case, C. E. Porter, John Wilt, E. K. Pellet; while those in Boon Lake township were James Chapman (my brother-in-law), D. C. Graham, Jonas Post, W. S. Pierce and W. G. Simmons (my brother). W. H. Simmons, W. G. Simmons and James Chapman had settled in Boon Lake township as early as the spring of 1869.
Farming in pioneer times was done on a small scale and in a crude manner. The ground, after being broken, was prepared with the aid of a wooden beam plow and a drag which had some twenty-four to thirty-six teeth, and to one corner of which the yoke of oxen were hitched, thus dragging it across the plowing, something after the manner of dragging a cat by the tail and doing just about as much good.
Living was not sumptuous in those days. How we really got along it is hard to say. We lived on bran, middlings and flour. Butter, meat and sugar were luxuries. But in spite of our privations, health and happiness prevailed all over this part of Renville county.
After we came the prairie fires were not so bad as they had been a few years previous as the settlers has learned to plow fire guards. Grasshoppers, however, did us a great deal of harm and caused us many hardships that we would not otherwise have experienced, for they ate up our garden produce, potatoes and grain. During the worst grasshopper year I harvested only 55 bushels of wheat. I harvested no oats and barley and corn was almost unknown at that time.
Blizzards were frequent. When we left home we were never sure but what a blizzard would for many days prevent our return. Sometimes the snow was from four to twenty feet deep. I remember a trip I took to Beaver Falls October 15, 1881. That night it commenced to snow, and it was more than a week before I could get home. The snow was four and a half feet deep on the prairie, and in some places around Beaver Falls it was said to have drifted fifty feet deep.
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