Minnesota County Histories
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Norfolk Township
The History of Renville County, Volume 2
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
Chapter XLI
p. 1325-1326

Norfolk township embraces township 114-34. It is bounded on the north by Bird Island township, on the east by Palmyra township, on the south by Birch Cooley township, and on the west by Henryville township.

The first settlers in Norfolk township were S. D. Childs and Charles Sherwood, who came in the fall of 1868. Soon after came Michael Maloney and Peter and Gust. St. Dennis. Early in 1869 arrived James Brown, Patrick Williams, Dennis Gleason and Michael C. Gleason. In the summer and fall of 1869 there arrived John Stone, Charles Bowler, S. F. Warner, Timothy Kennedy, John Hogan, James Murphy and Thomas Brady.

The first birth in the town was that of Theda, daughter of S. D. Childs, born in March, 1869. She died the following September. The second birth was that of D. W. Brown, who still lives in the township. He was born in July, 1869. Rev. Nahum Tainter, a Methodist, held services in 1869 in private houses and in the school house.

The township of Norfolk was organized as Houlton, July 26, 1869. Various changes, both in name and territory took place after that and in October 2, 1876, it assumed its present boundaries. The name was changed to Norfolk in 1874.

The first officers of Norfolk township, elected in March, 1875, were: Supervisors, Silas Brooks (chairman), John Wadenspaner and Philip Ryan; clerk, W. F. Bowler, assessor, L. E. Sherwood; treasurer, Ed. Mahoney; justices of the peace, D. F. Ingram and Ed. Bowler; constables, Charles Ingram and John Regar; road overseers, Frank Adair, Ed. Mahoney and Patrick Williams. The records of Marschner township date back to December 28, 1871. There is a complete record of all the meetings of Norfolk township that have been held since March 13, 1877. The present officers are: Supervisors, Charles Glesener (chairman), Thomas Tisdell and Timothy C. Ryan; clerk, John W. Kern; treasurer, Joseph Schmoll. The modern town hall located in the center of the township on the southeast corner of section 16, was erected in 1904.

The first real estate assessment of Norfolk township, 114-34, was made in 1874. Those assessed were: Libbeus White, section 6; M. Toban, 8; R. Durby, 10 (this was transferred to George W. Crouch); John W. Perry, 10; John H. Brooks, 14; Peter St. Dennis, 18; James O'Tool, 26; Paul Revier, 26 (this was transferred to Joseph Revier); Timothy Kennedy, 28; Michael Gleason, 28; L. D. Burdick, 30; Edward Mahoney, 32; Silas Brooks, 32; Samuel D. Childs, 34; Charles H. Sherwood, 34; Levi E. Sherwood, 22; Charles Humboldt, 6, 115-34 (now Bird Island); Laura A. Gage, 30, 115-34 (now Bird Island); Florence E. White, 4 (this was transferred to N. Stone).

The first personal property assessment made in [Marschner] township, 114-34, now Norfolk, was in 1871. Those assessed were; W. H. Anderson, James Brown, Thomas Brady, Charles Bowler, S. H. Canfield, Frank Canfield, H. S. Calow, Samuel Childs, W. H. Douglass, S. C. Dike, Michael Gleason, John Hogan, Aldin Hassan, George Ingraham, John McLaughlin, Mike Malona, James Murphy, James Powers, Henry Platt, Timothy Kennedy, Paul Revier, N. P. Randall, Peter St. Dennis, O. S. Stone, John Stone, L. E. Sherwood, A. St. Dennis, C. H. Sherwood, O. F. Warner, J. White, L. White, C. C. Warner, Patrick Williams.

Paul Reviere's Reminiscences. I came to Minnesota in 1867, locating in Northfield, and later settled in Bridgewater township, Rice county. Besides myself there were my mother, my brother John, his wife and four children, Julius, his wife and two children, Levi, Joseph and William, all brothers. In 1868 I married Ellen McLaughlin and in 1870 came to Renville county, bringing with me my wife and child. I took a claim in township 114, range 34, which was later named Norfolk. At that time there were seven settlers there: Patrick Williams, Dennis Gleason, Michael C. Gleason, James Brown, Tim Canada, John Stone and Charles Bowler. I built a house, 16 by 20, and a sod stable. In the winter of 1870 I took my family to Dundas, Rice county, and worked in the woods. My wife stayed with her relatives, who were living there at the time, and we came home in the spring. Our house was made of green wood and was very cold and not at all pleasant to live in. And storms! We have had storms here that would last for three days and three nights and be so severe that one could not get out to take care of the stock, and have had to wait for a day when we could get a load of wood. But we managed the best we could and were happy. Then the grasshoppers came. We were getting along quite well that year and I had raised 700 bushels of wheat, but the grasshoppers took every bit of it. I then was compelled to go out to work. In those days we had to haul our wheat to New Ulm, a distance of forty-five miles. Often on a cold winter's day one could see a long line of ox teams moving slowly along with their loads, the jolly drivers walking alongside, wearing their small muskrat caps and having no overcoats.

The saddest sight I ever saw on the prairie was when we found Michael Maloney, his wife and sister, frozen. The girl was found about three miles from home and the others about four miles away. We took them to their home and thawed them out. There we found three children who had been left alone two days and two nights. They had stayed in bed all the time. When they had become hungry the oldest had found some bread, but it was so frozen that they could not eat it. In the fall, after the frost had blighted the vegetation, it was not safe to travel without matches in one's possession. If a fire was seen coming, the only thing to do was to build a back-fire so that one could have a place of safety, as one could not very easily escape by trying to run away from a prairie fire.

Of the first settlers in the town there are three left: Dennis Gleason, Michael Gleason and myself. I left the farm last spring and came to Franklin, with my wife, where we are now living. We still own our farm in Norfolk, also a farm in Redwood and a farm in North Dakota. We also have a good home here.

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