In a former chapter, we gave the date of settlement of each town in Meeker County, and the names of a few of the earliest settlers. We now propose a random account of circumstances and incidents such as we think will not only interest the readers at this day, but be of more material value in the future. In this we are not confined to civil and judicial history, for while we were considered as “afar off” on the frontier, carving or trying to carve out a name and a future for our county, we found a national war of gigantic proportions in the South, and while congratulating ourselves that men and money were all that would be expected of us, and that we were fortunately far removed from bloody scenes, an Indian war of savage ferocity suddenly burst over our heads, and came near to our total extinguishment. Between a depletion of men for the South, and self-defense on the frontier there were few in Meeker County to indulge an idle hour.
The summer of 1856, Benjamin Dorman commenced the first farming operations, by breaking the prairie sod. Morris Powers as the first to follow suit. Powers died the next season. Dorman “still lives.” Their farms were situated between Forest City and Kingston.
The county was named in honor of Hon. B. B. Meeker, of St. Anthony why or wherefore is unknown, unless, indeed, the Italian climate of the “Big Prairie,” the richness of her soil, and the beauty of the surroundings, were found typified in the geniality of the judge’s temperament, and the quiet, good natured rotundity of his person. Judge Meeker died at St. Anthony a couple of years since.
The 4th of July, 1856, was first celebrated west or the big woods, at Forest City. On the 22nd day of June, 1856, Rudolph Schultz, Chas. Johnson and Jas. W. Quick backed a liberty-pole out of the woods and raised it in Forest City, prepar atory to the 4th. A small tin pan was well scoured with muck, and nailed on the top for a ball, and the stars and stripes were duly raised. The flag was made of white cotton furnished by T. C. Jewett; red flannel by Matt. Standish, and blue denims by John W. Huy at a loss to each, respectively, of a biled “shirt, one pair red flannel drawers, and one pair of overalls. What took place on the 4th of July, was never recorded. The first child born in the county in July, 1856, was Miss Sarah Jane—born in a camp wagon-to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Dougherty. The next, and first male child born, was Ole T. Halverson, to Henry Halverson. Both children still live in the county.
The first death in the county was a young man by the name of Frank Parsons, Nov. 12th, 1856, aged 20 years. He was buried on the town-site of Forest City.
The first marriage in the county was Joseph Weymer to Mary Dorman, in August, 1857, by the Rev. John Robson. They still live.”
The first sermon preached was by Rev. John Robson, (Methodist) Nov. 1856. He was from Boston, and in 1859 he returned to that city, and died at Melrose, March 5th, 1867. He erected, and operated the first saw mill at Forest City it was run by steam.
On the 22nd of March, 1858, A. C. Smith, Register of the U. S. Land Office, and John D. Evans, Receiver, arrived, with the archives of said office, at Forest City, and with others to the number of a baker’s dozen, were feasted with fresh oysters in the log cabin of his honor the President of the Town Company, T. H. Skinner, and which was demolished some years since, by the vandal hands of Mr. Mallory, who now owns the ground on which it stood.
The arrival of the U. S. Land Office at Forest City was considered an important era in the history of the county, and gave quite an impetus to its settlement.