Biography of Adna Colburn of Hawley, Minnesota

Adna Colburn, is one of the steady going, hard working men who deserve honorable mention in connection with the history of Clay county, Minnesota. A native of Massachusetts, he was born March 7, 1834, and is one of eight children born to Adna and Clarissa (Cutter) Colburn. His brother, Justice Colburn, was a soldier in the Civil War, and now lives in Lake City, Minnesota Four sisters, one of whom, Jane, was the first teacher in Hawley, are all married and have families. One brother and one sister died in early life.

Our subject first attended the district schools in his native place, but moving with an uncle to Peoria county, Illinois when he was nine years old, he there attended select school and acquired a good education. He lived in Illinois at the time Abraham Lincoln became president, and had the privilege of aiding in his election.

Mr. Colburn settled in Clay county, in 1872, on a homestead which he preempted, about a half mile west of the present site of Hawley. Aside from two or three English pioneers who came in advance of the English colony that settled within a few miles of his claim, there were few settlers in the county at that time. From the hill near where he built his home there was a clear view into Dakota, and in all directions except east where there was a wooded district; boundless prairies stretched for hundreds of miles, and wild game was plentiful. Mr. Colburn endured all the privations and trials incident to pioneer life in a new and sparsely settled country and during the ravages of the grasshoppers in 1877 and drouths of other seasons suffered with others, the loss of his crops.

In 1895, in order to pay off outstanding obligations, he sold his farm and bought eighty acres adjoining the village, and lived there till 1902, when he sold the place to his daughter, Mrs. C. C. Wouters, and moved to his present home in Hawley.

Mr. Colburn has always been active in church and Sunday school work, and has been identified with the Union Church of Hawley since its organization in 1873, and since 1882 has served as deacon and as clerk, and is also its janitor. He was a school director in early days, and while on his farm served as supervisor and also served as justice of the peace.

Mr. Colburn married in Illinois, Miss Harriet Wilson, who cheerfully shared with her husband the trials of the early days. She died in 1881, leaving seven children, six of whom are married and have families.

In 1892, Mr. Colburn married Mrs. Martha Turner, who was an early settler and a member of the English colony, and who is active and efficient in church and missionary work.


C.F. Cooper & Company, History of the Red River Valley, Past And Present: Including an Account of the Counties, Cities, Towns And Villages of the Valley From the Time of Their First Settlement And Formation, volumes 1-2; Grand Forks: Herald printing company, 1909.

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