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BLAINE

         Up until 1877 Blaine was part of the city of Anoka.  Considered to be the first settler in Blaine proper was Phillip Laddy, a native of Ireland who settled here in 1862 near the lake which still bears his name.  He died shortly after and his survivors moved to Minneapolis.

 

The next settler was George Townsend who arrived shortly after Laddy and settled on section 24, around Lever St. and 103rd lane NE. Townsend came from England and was here just a short time.  Others also came and left.

 

In 1865 Green Chambers, a former slave, born in bondage in Barron County, Kentucky, settled on the Townsend claim and became the first permanent resident of what is now Blaine.  In 1870 George Wall, Joseph Gagner and others moved in and the area began to grow.

 

The obstacles faced by Green Chambers would fill a book.  He was owned by James Gillick and at his death became the property of Gillick's two sons.  He was finally purchased by a Mr. Chambers from whom he took his name.  Shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted in the 115th Kentucky Colored Infantry and served over a year.  Upon discharge he went in search of his children whom he found and after some difficulty released from their master.  He then brought his wife and children to Anoka County where they farmed and lived for many years.

 

In 1877 Blaine was detached from Anoka and organized as a separate township.  The first election was held at the home of S.C. Tisdale on July 7, 1877.  The town was named for James G. Blaine.  The first Chairman of the Board of Supervisors was Moses Ripley.  Ripley was born in Maine and left there at the age of 15 with his family to settle in Minnesota.  After three years in the army he moved to Blaine.  Because of birthplace and the fact that James Blaine was currently a Senator from Maine and later a presidential candidate, Ripley was moved to urge that his new town be named after Blaine.  Also the area was largely Republican in feelings at the time.

 

Other town officers were:  George Tisdale, Richard Delong, G.F. Murrell, H.P. Winder, Thomas Schleif and Thomas Conroy.  F.G. Murrell was elected first clerk.

 

H.P. Winder was appointed Assessor.  The Justices of the Peace were Thomas Schleif and Thomas Conroy.  Schleif was born in Berlin, Germany and moved to MN as a child.  He served in the First MN Calvary, 18th United States Infantry, the Third U.S. Infantry.  He moved to Blaine in 1874.  Thomas Conroy was born in Ireland, then moved to Minnesota where he bought a farm in Blaine in 1870.

 

Two school districts were established.  dist. #49 had a neat frame school house.  The other district held classes in John Golden's residence.

 

In 1884 the first public ditch was constructed in Anoka County.  O'Connel Twitchel of Centerville was the major promoter of ditching in this area.  Through his work the first ditch, known as the Penouc Ditch, was completed.  The one great drawback to all the land in this area was that it needed draining.

 

James T. Elwell, born in Ramsey County in 1855, possibly did more for the city of Blaine than any man of his time.  After attending Carlton College.  Elwell invented the spring bed and moved to Minneapolis to supervise its manufacturing.  Elwell started the Minneapolis Furniture Company and the Minneapolis Bedding Company.  Elwell purchased immense tracts of land in Anoka County.  In 1886 Elwell purchased 8,500 acres from Montgomery and Morley, then all the land owned by the Great Northern, St. Paul and Duluth Railroad, the Jay Cooke estate, then 6,000 acres from Parker and Johnson.  In all he owned 52,700 acres.

 

He built 200 miles of ditches at the cost of $1,000 per mile.  Elwell had had some experience in ditching and built a ditch on either side of a mound of dirt which then became a road.  The first was built to connect Elwell's Oak Leaf Stock Farm in Ham Lake to his Golden Lake Stock Farm in Blaine.  The road became known as the Elwell Grade, now called Lexington Ave.

 

Because of his and others efforts, by the late 1880's Blaine had 350 acres under cultivation and was producing thousands of bushels of farm produce.

 

By 1880 the population had grown to 128 people and the future looked bright.

 

(compiled through the courtesy of Bill McGanigal, Vern Donnay Homes)