On the Porch

LCHS has a book in its collection that is a great resource for finding out the origin and historical significance of place names in Minnesota. The book, Minnesota Geographic Names by Warren Upham was first published by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1920. A reprint edition was published in 1969, and the copy the museum has is a second printing of the reprint edition in 1979.

The table of contents in the book lists the counties in Minnesota in alphabetical order. In 1922, Lake of the Woods County was the last county in Minnesota established. When the book was first published in 1920, Lake of the Woods County was a part of Beltrami County.

For Lyon County’s chapter, Warren Upham first writes about the history of the county and the origin of the name. Lyon County was named in honor of General Nathaniel Lyon, who was killed in the battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri on August 10, 1861. Upham also includes the sources he used for information on the origins of names in the county. The sources he used were: History of the Minnesota Valley (1882), History and Description of Lyon County by C.F. Chase (1884), and An Illustrated History of Lyon County by Arthur P. Rose (1912). Upham also interviewed Arthur P. Rose and Richard R. Bumford, who was register of deeds in Lyon County.

I will list a few of the origins of geographic names in Lyon County. If you would like more information on other places not mentioned, please contact me at the museum. Clifton township was settled in 1872 and organized October 7, 1876, bears a name proposed by Christopher Dillman. Clifton is also borne by villages and townships in 21 other states. Green Valley, a railway village in Fairview township, platted in May 1888, refers to the vast green prairie there traversed by the Redwood River. Nordland township, settled in 1870, organized May 9, 1873, has the name of a northern district of Norway, crossed by the Arctic Circle. Nearly all its settlers came from that country. Russell, a Great Northern village in Lyons, founded in May, 1888, and incorporated August 30, 1898, was named for Russell Spicer, son of John Spicer, a promoter of building this branch of the Great Northern Railway.

The photograph featured this week from the Lyon County Museum’s collection is a postcard photograph of the Russell school taken in May of 1915. This building was built in 1897 at a cost of $2,500. It closed in 1920. A new brick building opened in the fall of 1920 and is currently the RTR Middle School.

The Lyon County Historical Society (LCHS) is a non-profit, member-supported organization. LCHS operates the Lyon County Museum at 301 W Lyon St in Marshall. The Lyon County Museum is open to visitors. To contact us, visit our website: www.lyoncomuseum.org, call: 507-537-6580, email: director@lyoncomuseum.org, or on our Facebook page.


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