At one time Wasioja had many community
buildings. Today, just a stop in the road. But this little town has a
lot of history going back to 1850's - read about the seminary/college
below and the effect of the Civil War on the community. The ONLY
Civil War recruiting station to survive in Minnesota is in Wasioja -
see photo below.
Miles and miles of corn around Wasioja
Anxious to promote the growth of the newly formed town, the citizens
agreed to provide the Free Will Baptists with a building for a
seminary. A structure of native limestone was completed in 1860, and
the Minnesota Seminary opened in November of that year with and
enrollment of more than 300 students. By 1861 the school had been
renamed Northwestern College and offeered classes on all levels from
primary to collegiate.
In 1862 Wasioja had a dozen stores, a hotel, a flour mill, and was
surrounded by farms and qurries that promised a great future. Then the
Civil War started. Men from Minnesota were on the battlefields. Captain
James George, who had served in the Mexican War, asked the students to
volunteer. Lead by professor Clinton A. Cilley, the young men marched
down to Captain George’s law office and enlisted. That office - the
Civil War recruiting office is preserved today - the only one in
Minnesota. Organized as Company C of the 2nd Minnesota, they marched
off to war. Just over a year later at Snodgrass Hill near Chickamauga
they stopped the Confederates advance at a high cost. Of the eighty
young men that left Wasioja, only 25 returned with life and limb
intact. The town never recovered from the great loss.
The school continued to operate, although its enrollment had been cut
in half. In 1868 the Free Will Baptists ceased their sponorship and it
was reopened as the Groveland Seminary. Closing in 1872 and was
reopened again in 1875 by the Wesleyan Methodist Conference. The school
finally closed in 1894 and in 1905 a fire destroyed the building,
leaving the ruins that stand today.
Rev A. B. Gould, a graduate and instructor of the Seminary, acquired
and preserved the ruins. On his death his heirs deeded the site to
Dodge County as a public park.
Only surviving Civil War recruiting Station in Minnesota
Civil War Recruiting Station
When the Civil War began in 1861,
Minnesota was the first state to offer and send troops to aid the Union
cause. In April, 1861, this building was converted to use as a
recruiting station. Recruits from the Wasioja Station, numbering over
200, formed the nucleus of Company C of the Second Minnesota Volunteer
Infantry Regisment. They were sworn in by Colonel James George, who
later led them at the battle of Chickamauga.
Built in 1855 by Colonel George, a Mexican War veteran, to serve as his
law office and as a bank, the building was the meeting center of the
village in the late 1850's. In the years following the Civil War,
it was used as a jail, office, storeroom, post office and private
residence. The Dodge County Historical Society purchased the
building in the early 1960's in order to preserve what was by that time
the only remaining Civil War recruiting station left in
Minnesota. In 1987 the Society restored the building to it's
original appearance. The project was completed in July 1988, at the
time of the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
The recruiting station stands today as a reminder of the sacrifices
made by the men of Minnesota who fought and died to preserve the Union.