EARLY HISTORY OF ANOKA COUNTY
("ANOKA" Indian tongue meaning "on both sides," as it lies on "both sides" of the Rum River)
There was probably no class of pioneers who were more capable of selecting favorable locations for future cities and villages, than the people known in an early day as "French traders." They had also, a peculiar characteristic of planting trading posts in proper localities to secure an abundance of trade from the aborigines of the country. The present site of Anoka was near the neutral grounds of the Dahkotas and Chippewa's, and while the trade of both could be secured, yet, neither would be likely to occupy the vicinity for any great length of time, hence the security against robbery and pillage was greater here than at most other points.
Anoka, the county seat of Anoka county, is situated on the Mississippi river and lies on both sides of Rum river which forms a junction with the Mississippi at this point. The location is particularly attractive for a city, the land being high and dry, and affording excellent drainage. The river, in its passage through the city, is about two hundred feet wide, and has a fall of about fifteen feet, thus affording excellent water-power for manufacturing purposes.
In the Indian tongue, the word "Anoka," on the authority of the Dahkota Lexicon, published by the Smithsonian Institution, in our language means, "on both sides," or, "from both sides." The name therefore, selected by the pioneers is appropriate, as it lies on "both sides" of Rum river.
The first building erected in the vicinity of the present city limits was on a point of land near the mouth of Rum river. This was done by two brother, Peter and Francis Patoille, who started a trading post here in 1846. This post was subsequently occupied by Anthony Robert, a man named Folsom, Holmes and others. While these may be called the pioneer settlers, it was not until 1851, that any permanent improvement was made.
The first settlers of Anoka county, though not strictly puritanical, yet, amid the privations common to pioneer life, were careful to promote education, social culture and refinement. Among the first buildings erected in most the new settlements were churches and schoolhouses, and this natural puritanic mode of thought continues to excel, and fully accounts for the rapid progress made in the public school system of the county.
The first school in the country was held in what is now the city of Anoka, an account of which is given in the history of the city, to which the reader is referred. There are now forty-seven organized school districts, and forty-two school houses; thirty-eight are frame, one is brick, and two are build of logs. The number of pupils, according to the last enrollment, was 1,862.
The first railroad opened for traffic in the state of Minnesota was the St. Paul & Pacific, in June, 1862. This road was only ten miles in length, extending from St. Paul St. Anthony, and having its depot at the foot of Central Avenue. The branch line was completed to Anoka in January, 1864, and on through the country to Sauk Rapids in the fall of 1867. This road enters the county in the southern extremity of Fridley township, and passes through Anoka and Ramsey townships on a curved line, nearly parallel with the Mississippi River. There is a flag station in Fridley, and regular stations at Anoka and Itasca.
In 1879 the name of this road was changed to the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway Company, and a new organization effected with George Stephen, President; R.B. Angus, Vice President, and J.J. Hill, General Manager.
The Northern Pacific Railroad Company, chartered July 2, 1864, and reorganized September 29, 1875, has no road through this county, but run their trains over the line above named, and do a regular business in connection with their main line, by virtue of a lease for a term of years.
In accordance with the organic act, the Governor appointed E. H. David, J.P. Austin, and Silas O. Lum as County Commissioners, to hold their offices until the next election. These commissioners met at Anoka on the 30th of June, 1857, and appointed the following county county officers: Sheriff, James C. Frost; Treasurer, James M. McGlauflin; Coroner, Joseph C. Varney.
At another meeting, held on the 6th of July, 1857, Daniel Robbins was appointed Assessor for district number one; Francis Peteler, for district number two; and S.L. Guice, for district number three. The county, at that time, contained but three election precincts, St. Francis, Columbus, and Anoka, which were numbered as above. These precincts embraced eight townships-Anoka, Watertown, Round Lake, Bethel, Columbus, St. Francis, Oak Grove, and Centreville. The name of Watertown was soon after changed to Dover, and is now known as Ramsey, and the name of Round Lake was changed to Grow. The boundary lines of most of these towns have been changed at different times, and four new towns organized. An addition to the county has also been made, by annexing Manomin county, now Fridley township, as before stated, making in all thirteen townships.
Anoka county, in view of her nearness to large cities, general advantages in location, excellent railroad facilities, rich soil, and many liberal endowments of nature, together with her splendid manufacturing advantages, predicates the prominent position she must assume, at no distant day, in the rank of foremost counties in the State of Minnesota.
The present county officers are: Auditor, Geo. Genddes; Treasurer, C.S. Guderian; Register of Deeds, Ard A. Hilton; Judge of Probate, O.L. Cutter; Clerk of the Court, G.W. Church; Sheriff, J.C. Frost; Attornery; D.L. Bugbee; Coroner, W.D. Randloph; Court Commissioner, Hiram Thornton; Superintendent of Schools, George D. Goodrich; and Surveyor, P.F. Pratt. (Note: the officers listed held office in 1881)
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