ORGANIZATION OF CHIPPEWA COUNTY AND TUNSBERG TOWNSHIP
That the county seat of Chippewa county came close to being located at the Chippewa river Old Government Trail crossing one mile north-east of Watson was the positive declaration of a late Tunsberg township pioneer who settled in 1869 and always took a vital interest and active part in county affairs. Samuel J. Sargent and his Tunsberg adherents pulled ardently for this location. It was while the rivalry for the county seat was going on between Chippewa City and Montevideo in 1869 and 1870.
Ole Torgerson of Tunsberg township had been appointed county commissioner previous to January 9th, 1869 when the first meeting of the county commissioners of Chippewa county was held. S. J. Sargent of Tunberg township had also in 1869 been appointed Chippewa countys first treasurer, so the Watson community had at the birth of the county inside of its territory two of the leading county officials and many felt that it was a good location for the county seat too; and they claimed that nowhere in nature could one find a more desirable and lovelier locacation for the county seat than at the Old Government Trail crossing that is one mile north-east of Watson.
Chippewa City and Montevideo were not so noticeable either in 1869 and 1870. Chippewa City had about six houses and Montevideo had two big log houses. But although Montevideo had only two houses, it had four men with political influence and pull, and they were: H. Ward Stone, store-keeper; Henry Anderson, store clerk; Geo. W. Frink, hotel-keeper; and Joseph D. Baker, an appointed clerk of district court, who, where he got his appointment, possibly got also the help of Governor Ramsey and Representative Swift of Beaver Falls, Renville county to get Montevideo by an act of February 25th, 1870, the temporary county seat which they shortly managed no make a permanent one.
On September 6th, 1869 the county was divided into four election precincts: the first election was held and the Watson community territory was represented in the first elected force of county officials by its following pioneers: Samuel J. Sargent, Tunsberg Co. Auditor; Ole Torgerson, Tunsberg Co. Commissioner; Ove Overson, Big Bend Sheriff.
It was only natural that S. J. Sargent was looked up to as a pioneer community leader for he was what in those days meant a well educated man and he had been a leader of men, he had been a captain in the Union army. He was also to earliest settler north of Silvernail and Gippe having settled the same year they did, in 1865. When anything went awry, that required extra aid to readjust Sargent was the first man his neighbors called on for assistance. One of his nearest neighbors was E. J. Harkness and in his log house one of the first schools in Chippewa county was started in 1870. S. J. Sargent helped organize that and acted as emergency teacher.
When a freighter's wagon tipped over in the old Government Trail crossing when the Chippewa river was swollen and one of the freighters drowned S. J. Sargent went across the river to Ole Waldum's home and borrowed a big rectangular mirror with which he in some mysterious manner located the body at the bottom of the river. It was brought to the surface and hurried on the south shore of the Chippewa river by the Old Government Trail crossing, right east of A. Person's farm buildings and barely one quarter of a mine north-east of the Watson Community Club's picnic ground. It is also said that three more members of the pioneer yankee settlement in the immediate vicinity of the crossing were buried in the same primitive cemetery and that one of them was Mrs. S. J. Sargent.
NOTICE OF THE FIRST TOWN METTING
The legal voters of the town of Tunsberg in the county of Chippewa and state of Minnesota, are hereby notified that the first town meeting for said town, will be held at the house of Sander Alleckson, in said town on Monday the twenty first day of March A. D. 1870, for the purpose of electing the following town officers:
Three supervisors, one of whom shall be designated on the ballot as chairman - One town clerk - One Treasurer - One Assessor - Two Justices Of The Peacem - Two Constables - And one Overseer to Highways for each road district in said town. Dated March 9th A. D. 1870.
Signed: R. Kingman, Ole Torgeson; County Commissioners.
Attest: S. J. Sargent, County Auditor, Clerk of Board.
This verbatim copy of the first posted township notice, its organization notice, is a true copy borrowed from the first Tunsberg township record where in S. J. Sargent's excellent, neat, clean, hand writing it can be read as readily today as on the day it was written, now sixty years ago. This first township meeting was held in the home of Sundov Alleckson. also a Civil War Veteran who, a gunner in the Artillery, marched in 1864 with the famous history maker W. S. Sherman "from Atlanta to the Sea." This first township meeting was held for a bigger township than Tunsberg is today. Tunsberg township was then Township 118, Range 41 and Township 119, Range 41. That is: it was Tunsberg township and Big Bend township welded into one big township named Tunsberg township, and remained that way about five years when it was divided into the two present townships.
At this first meeting the following township officers were elected: Supervisors, Ole Torgerson, Chairman, Gunder P. Blom, Hans Halvorson. Town Clerk, S. J. Sargent, Treasurer, Ole Erickson; Assessor, Nels Iverson, Justices of The Peace, S. J. Sargent and Ole Torgeson, Constable Paul H. Blom, Overseers of Highways, Isak Amundsen and Knut Angrimson, Clerk of Election, O. O. Lien, Judges of Election, Hans Halverson and Ole Erickson. - And our community's first official machinery was then started to function, now over sixty years ago.
In the year 1871 the township officers elected were Supervisors, Gilmer P. Blom, Gunder P. Blom, James Irvin; Town Clerk, S. J. Sargent, Treasurer Erick O. Erickson; Assessor, Lars H. Bay; Constable, Sundov Alleckson. The road districts were then established as follows: Road district number one contained all the roads in Township 118, Range 41 lying west of the Chippewa river, Road district number 2 contained all the roads in Township 118, Range 41 lying east of the river, road district number three contained all roads in Township 119, Range 41, what is now Big Bend township. The road overseers elected in 1871 were: Anders Eliason, No. 1., Jacob Engleson, No. 2., Gunder P. Blom, No. 3. A petition for a road commencing at the south-east corner of section 22, going north along the section line to the north-west corner of section 14, in township 118, Range 41, is possibly the earliest road petition on record in Chippewa county. This road begins north of the river north of the Gippe farm and goes north past the Tom Amundsen farm up to the section corner by the Engleson farm.
In the year 1872 S. J. Sargent was elected Town Clerk; Erick O. Erickson, Treasurer; Lars H. Bay, Assessor. The supervisors elected were: Gilmer H. Blom, William Thompson, Ove Overson. The Highway Overseers elected were: Iver Halverson Kanten, No. 1, John A. Bloomer, No. 2, Amund Knutson Hagen, No. 3. The running of cattle was an important problem before these pioneer town meetings. That is the roaming of cattle at large or according to their desires. There were many bitter quarrels about this and many were the pioneers who were drafted to serve as pound masters or impounding officials, but few were those who chose to serve.
Then came the year 1873, the year of the terrible blizzard, and S. J. Sargent was still reelected town clerk; The Supervisors elected were: Ole T. Olson, William Thompson, Ole O. Lien. Lars H. Bay was again elected Assessor. The Highway Overseers were; Nels Iverson, No. 1; Hans Halvorsen No. 2; James Jameson, No. 3. The board made out road tax lists for all road districts and a poll tax list for road Dist. nuinber 2. It was voted that guide posts be erected. One at the junction of The Old Government Trail and the Benson road. One at the farm of John A. Bloomer, and one at the Chippewa river crossing. Thirty dollars were appropriated to build a bridge over Dry Weather creek near the farm of Hans Halvorsen. This was the first bridge built by the township, and another was built almost as early, the same year, over the creek through section ten on the west side of the river. During the year a bridge was also built over Cottonwood creek, on the road to Benson, under supervision of Ole T. Olson.
On the 18th day of March 1874 Big Bend township was split away from Tunsberg township by an ax in the shape of a legal notification by J. M. Severance, County Auditor. At the annual town meeting S. J. Sargent was elected Town Clerk; and Erick O. Ericsson, Treasurer, and Lars H. Bay Assessor. S. J. Sargent was elected Justice Of The Peace and Ole T. Olson, Constable. The Supervisors elected were: Ole T. Olson, William Thompson, Moses A. Page. The Highway Overseers elected were: Nels Svenungsen, No. 2, Svend Pederson, No. 1, Knut Angrimson, No. 3. Due apparently to some confusion caused by the division of the township new names appear on the record. John Ehrenberg was voted on for Supervisor. Nels Iverson was later in the year by town warrant appointed supervisor, and John B. Oyen was during the year by a town warrant appointed road overseer in road district number four, where he did not live, when the overseer there did not qualify. The following places were designated as places to post legal notices. Reesor Post Office; Hagen Post Office, The Wren Post Office. In January the township decided on a date for a special meeting to vote upon the regulating and the running at large of horses and cattle. The motion to regulate was voted down. A motion to tax dogs met the same fate. During the year the board also appointed Theodore Johnson Constable in place of Albert A. Page who had moved out of the township.
In the year 1875 the election resulted in the following township officials: S. J. Sargent, Town Clerk and Justice Of The Peace; Erick O. Erickson, Treasurer and Justice of The Peace; Supervisors: Erick O. Erickson, Jacob Engleson and Gustav Eliason. Constables, Theodore Johnson and Amund Amundson, Assessor, Lars H. Bay. Highway Overseers: Jacob Engleson, No. 1; Lars Saxberg, No. 2; John B. Oyen, No. 3; Fredrick Teigen, No. 4. The road districts had been renumbered after the township division. Before the annual meeting held March 14th 1876, S. J. Sargent had moved away from the township.