Stevens County Historical Society

History of Stevens County


1851 - In the Treaty of Traverse de Sioux, the area including Stevens County is ceded to the United States Government.

1858 - Minnesota admitted to the Union as the 32nd state in May.

1862 - Stevens County is established by Minnesota State Legislature in February.

1864 - Wadsworth Trail, which ran through Stevens County, was established by US Government as a supply line between St. Cloud and Fort Wadsworth, SD.

1866 - Stevens County’s first documented settlement established in Framnas Township by a group of Norwegians.

1867 - Stevens County boundaries redrawn along the present day lines. First church in county, Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church (later Scandia Free), holds services.

1870 - A post office called Potosi is established at Gager’s Station.

1871 - The First Division of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company comes through Stevens County, and the Village of Morris is platted. First County board meeting held on October 5. Hancock post office opens.

1872 - Stevens County organizes. Hancock and Douglas (Donnelly) platted. The first school (District #1) in the county is established in Morris and the first rural school (district #2) is established in Framnas Township. First Stevens County Courthouse is built near California and 5th Street in Morris. It later became Central School.

1873 - The first Stevens County Fair is held.

1875- The beginning of a three year grasshopper outbreak in the county.

1876 - Stevens County’s first newspaper, Frontier Business, established.

1880 - Browns Valley Line of the Great Northern opens from Morris to Brown Valley. Morris’ first bank, the Bank of Morris, established.  First volume one Hancock Times newspaper printed.

1881 - First telephones in Morris.

1884 - Second Stevens County Courthouse built on hill at 5th Street and Montana.

1885 - An official Weather Observer Station is established at Morris.

1887 - Sisters of Mercy Indian School opens in Morris. Prairie fires swept over large parts of Pepperton, Eldorado, and Morris Townships.

1890 - Second major fire in Morris again destroys about one third of the businesses.

1892 - Morris receives its first electricity.

1893 - The first murder in Stevens County is the result of a domestic dispute.

1896 - The Stevens County Poor Farm is established to care for needy.

1897 - The Chokio Review newspaper is established.

1898 - The Morris Industrial School for Indians opens.

1903 -The first automobile to appear on Morris’ streets is nicknamed “old Betsey.”

1905 - Carnegie Public Library built in Morris.

1910 - The Morris Industrial School for Indians closes and the West Central School of Agriculture opens in its place. Stevens County Poor Farm sold to private ownership. The Donnelly paper published a list of ladies and their weights; they say they have more big women than anywhere in the state.

1913 - An estimated 20,000 people attend the Corn and Alfalfa Exposition at Morris, which was organized by the West Central Minnesota Development Association.

1916 - Fourteen saloons in Stevens County close as a result of the new county option laws which declared the county dry (liquor free).

1918 - During the influenza outbreak in Stevens County, schools and the library are closed, public gatherings are banned, only family members can attend funerals, and a special hospital to care for the sick is set up above Linne Hall on the corner of Atlantic Ave and East 5th Street in Morris.

1921 - About this time, four banks within Stevens County close, marking the beginning of the economic troubles that loom over farmers throughout the 1920s.

1924 - The Morris Hospital opens on West 7th Street and Idaho about this time.

1936 - A disease called Sleeping Sickness kills many horses on local farms. Although tractors are coming into use, the death of these horses prompts a faster switch from horses to tractors.

1950 - The cornerstone is laid for the new hospital in Morris. Beginning with the 1950 federal census, more people (5,739) lived in metropolitan communities then lived (5,367) in rural townships.

1956 - KMRS Radio from Morris goes on the air.

1960 - The University of Minnesota-Morris opens.

1967 - The Chokio and Alberta schools merge to become the Chokio-Alberta District 771.

1968 - Morris Area High School Constructed. New Experiment Station facilities constructed in Framnas Township.

1969 - School District 2167 (formerly #33) in Rendsville Townshp is the last rural school to close in the county.

1970 - The Stevens County Historical Society moves into the former Carnegie Library building in Morris.

1975 - Stevens County residents experience an earthquake.

1980 - Stevens County reaches its peak population of 11,322 people with only 35% living in rural areas.

1988 - The Pomme de Terre River nearly goes dry as the result of drought.

1989 - Recycling is done on a county-wide basis.