Litchfield, is named after another unfortunate stockholder of the Railroad company, who, it appears, resides in the -rural village of London, England. The Congressional township was originally called ” Ripley ” from the lake of that name in said town, and the lake was named from the fact that near its banks one Dr. Ripley was frozen to death in the winter of 1855-6, and his remains found and buried in the spring of 1856.
Two or three years later the name was changed to “Ness” in honor of Ole Halverson Ness, Esq.
This name was taken from the’ name of the election or church district of Norway, whence came the first settlers of the town in July, 1856.
Ole Halverson, of Ness, now called Ole H. Ness, Henry Halverson, Ole Halverson, of Thon, now called Ole H. Thon, Nels C. Hanson Gunder Olson and Amos Nelson, of Fosen, now called Amos N. Fosen, were the first settlers, three of them had families. They settled on their present farms in July, 1856. Amos N. Fosen, our present worthy County Treasurer, first moved into the town of Acton, but soon found that town would not hold him for scarcity of land, and he therefore finished his claim and settlement in the town of Ness-he worked the first winter for Ole H. Ness, at splitting rails, and was the first known rail splitter in the county. Henry Halverson built the first house-Ole H. Ness built the first barn and lived in it till the next season.
Ole T. Halverson was the first child born in the town, to Henry Halverson.
Lutheran Church organized in 1858, but no building erected till Litchfield was founded in 1869.
The first school district was organized in 1861 and school house built. The first teacher was John Blackwell.
The Jones family (so called) were the first five persons massacred in the Indian war, and were buried in this town in one broad grave in the cemetery of the Lutheran Church.
There are a number of small mounds simulating Indian mounds in this town, mostly in the timber, and of evidently great age. None have ever been explored. In 1869 the town of Litchfield was platted and settled, and the county seat was removed from Forest City to Litchfield by a vote of the people in the fall of 1869. As before remarked, the town and village of Litchfield took their present name in honor of a Mr. Litchfield, of England. Mrs. Litchfield is said to have given $2,000 to the erection of the Episcopal church, parish school and parsonage at this point.
On the present town-site, Mr. Waller’s shanty was the first structure erected, and the ” Litchfield House ” the first building of any size. These buildings, however, were not on the original town-site. The first building on the town-site proper, was that of Truls Nelson, on the opposite corner north of the Town Hall, and now occupied by John Peterson. B. F. Pixley’s house was the second. Heard & Ward’s store was the third. H. B. Johnson’s and Joseph James’ buildings next, and so on.
Mrs. Marietta, wife of C. O. Porter, was the first woman on the town-site to reside.-Mrs. M. L. Pixley was the second. These ladies arrived in Litchfield respectively August 26th and 27th, 1869.
There are now five church edifices here, to-wit:
Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist, Christian or Campbellite and Swedish Methodist; also a union school house, costing three or four thousand dollars, and a Town and Masonic Hall,26×72 feet, costing, when finished, about four thousand dollars.
Present population, twelve hundred.
A. C. Smith, F. Belfoy, Chas. H. Strobeck, S. A. Plumley, E. A. Campbell, N. C. Martin and L., C. Spooner.
Drs. V. P. Kennedy, F. E. Bissell, and L. P. Foster.
Rev. Messrs. T. G. Crump, Episcopal; J. S. Sherill, Presbyterian; I. H. Riddick, Methodist and F. A. Grant, Christian.
Litchfield boasts a steam flour mill of 7 run of buhrs, owned by R. S. Hershey & Co.