This page is about some history about Union Grove Township
and the hamlet in the township, Crow River.
For starters, Union Grove Township is an area of 36 square
miles located in extreme northwest Meeker County, Minnesota
(Township 121, Range 32) basically being an area from all the
southern shores of Lake Koronis straight south to the Middle
Fork of the Crow River. The hamlet of Crow River is near
the banks of the Middle Fork of the Crow River south of Lydia
For thousands of years, this area was Indian Territory, with
Indian Burial Mounds possibly dating back to 100 BC to 200 AD
rising southeast of Lake Koronis left as a momento to this.
The landscape was prime for hunting, with grassland and
meadows mixed among heavily wooded areas.
By the 1700's, the Dakota Indians had established a trading
partner with the French, who was 'in possession' of this area,
and if the Indians provided information, or French explorers
wandered this territory, early maps indicate the presence of
the Crow River.
In 1763, by the Treaty of Versailles, France ceded part of
thier claim in North America to Spain, which included this
area. Spain was in possession of this land for forty years,
whereby France obtained the land back from Spain.
In 1803, the United States completed a land deal with France,
known as the Louisiana Purchase, which made this area a United
States possession, and in 1804, the area became under the
jurisdiction of the Upper Louisiana Territory.
In the following years, different territories claimed this area
as when statehood was granted, the state would be smaller in
size than the territory it was; 1834-Michigan, 1836-Wisconsin,
1838-Iowa, 1846-Unorganized, 1849-Minnesota. The Minnesota
Territorial Legislature divided the territory into nine counties
and this area was included in Dahkotah County, an area extending
from the Mississippi River between Clearwater and South Saint
Paul straight west to the Missouri River. In 1851, the county
boundary maps were changed, and land north of the North Fork of
the Crow River was incorporated into Cass County. In 1855,
Stearns and Wright County were created, and possibly this area
became part of Wright County, and on February 23, 1856, Meeker
County was formed with Forest City being designated the county
seat, and the county divided into larger townships, with this
area covered by Manannah Township, which encompassed all of the
present day Union Grove, Manannah, and north halves of Harvey
and Swede Grove Townships.
If the land was surveyed or just subject to claim, the following
were said to be the first into this area: Lyman Allen, Lyman
Baker, J Lowell Haywood, and Andrew Hamilton. Edward Brown,
Silas H. Caswell (160 acres in Section 23 & 24), Alonzo Cook,
S. S. Dickenson, John W. Goodspeed, James Hamilton, Cyrus Lewis,
James Nelson (160 acres in Section 23), Judson Pierson (Section
34) and William Wheeler settled in the following months, and if
thier families arrived at this time or a time thereafter, some
family members appear listed a year later.
In these days, the means of transportation was ox or horse
drawn carts, and one trail led through this area, that being
the government trail which went diagonally through the area
which is now sections 5, 9, 15, 23 and 24 of Union Grove
Township and over to Manannah, one miles south southeast.
Cemetary grounds were chosen in this new area in Section
25, and the first burial was recorded to the cemetary in
1859 (the cemetary was incorporated on January 20, 1880,
as the Manannah Union Cemetary), perhaps Samuel Clyde.
In 1857, the following arrived to settle; Albert Bridges,
Florinda Bryant, Albert & Alonzo Caswell, James A. Lee,
William Rodgers, and James Shears. The first marriage
of the area was performed, joining James Nelson and
Elizabeth Caswell together, and the first birth in this
area, that of Charles Allen, son of Lyman Allen, occured.
The first census (Microsoft Spreadsheet Format) was
taken of the area, which included the individuals age and
place of birth, which was needed for inclusion in a bill to
designate Minnesota a state.
In the spring of 1858, D. B. Hoar moved into the area (160 acres
in Section 34), and a year later, Jeremiah Leaming (Judson
Pierson's claim), but very few more settled in the area until
and peace on the prairie after 1864.
In 1859, the first school was established in a small log cabin
owned by Nathan Caswell and was taught by Mary (Caswell) Gould.
On August 17th, 1862, the Dakota Indian Uprising began at
Acton, approximately ten miles south, and within days, the
effects would touch upon the Union Grove landscape.
Settlers fled the area to points
east, and the countryside became deserted.
On August 26th, a group of settlers set out from Forest City
for Silas Caswell's home to get needed provisions, such as
blankets, for people who were staying in Forest City to
defend the county seat. Upon setting back to Forest City,
were attacked by Indians approximately 500 yards southeast of
the Manannah Union Cemetary, and four of the eleven people,
Joseph Page, Phillip H Dick, Linus Howe, and Wilmot Maybee,
Sensing imminent danger, settlers began to build a stockade,
in Forest City on September 3rd, and on September 4th, the
village was attacked by a group of indians at 3am, who stayed
in the village burning and looting for two hours, before leaving
in three directions. One injury was reported for the defenders
of the stockade, while eleven indians were reportedly killed and
After the Uprising was quelled, an organized patrol came through the area
on the government road from Paynesville to Manannah.
Settlers once again started to come into the area in 1864,
with Silas H. Caswell.
In 1865, John Hunter came to the area, being the third
occupying land since the Indian Outbreak, as well as Thomas
Ryckman (Section 14) who moved west six miles from his original
The first religious services were held at the home of Thomas
Ryckman in 1865 by Reverend George Hardy.
The Township of Union Grove was organized April 30th, 1866, at
a meeting held in the home of Thomas Ryckman. C. D. Hill was
the chairman, Charles H. McCune, clerk, and George Hardy, C. W.
Puther, and David Newcomb served as members of the election board.
The following officers were elected; Supervisors Lucien J. Perry,
chairman, with David Newcomb and A. D. Pentler, C. H. McCune as
clerk, A. T. Pentler as assessor, S. O. Campbell as treasurer,
James Nelson and William Stockdale as constables, and C. W. Puther
and G. W. Hardy as justices.
The first schoolhouse was erected in 1867 in the Southwest Quarter
of Section 24, with Miss LaVina McNabb as the first teacher.
The Union Grove Methodist Church had its beginnings in 1867, with
16 members in Union Grove meeting at the schoolhouse. Reverend
Griswold held these services.
In 1868, a post office was established south of Lake Koronis and
called Koronis (a dot on an old map shows in around section 5),
which continued operation until 1874.
The Burr Oak Cemetary was a result of Miranda Hubbard's (Mrs. Joseph
Hubbard) death in June of 1870. The community did not have an organ-
ized cemetary, and Joseph Hubbard and David Hoar took a one-half acre
parcel from thier land and created the Burr Oak Cemetary July 25, 1872.
Grasshoppers were a severe problem in the mid 1870's, devestating
farmers crops, and in June, 1875, five dollars a bushel was offered
by Meeker County Court for dead and delivered grasshoppers.
The First Universalist Church of Crow River was organized in 1876
and Joseph Hubbard was chosen deacon.
In 1881, a lot was purchased or given on the Marcus Doll farm to
the Union Grove Methodist Episopal Church Organization and a church
building was erected shortly afterward. This lot would be midway
between Lydia Lake and the Middle Fork of the Crow River. Reverend
Haskell is credited with being the first pastor of the church, with
D. B. Hoar, George Carpenter, and George Heddin were among the early
In the late 1800's, water power was used by flour mills, and
a wooden dam was built at the outlet of Lake Koronis, which
had a gate on it and would regulate the water for the
Manannah Mill pond six miles downstream on the North Fork of
the Crow River. In the early 1920's, rock was hauled in to
make a stone dam, and a few years later, a concrete dam was
In 1902, a subdivision was platted in Section 33 and was
called Crow River. The same year, the hamlet attracted
businesses such as a general store, post office, and creamery.
On January 29, 1906, an addition was platted to Crow River, and before long,
a feed mill and blacksmith shop were also constructed, and by
1909, the making of a village appeared to be in the works
In 1908, a bridge spanning the North Fork of the Crow River
was constructed in Section 24 (365th Street).
In 1921, Legislation was passed at the State level creating
a State Highway System, and the roads which were designated
in the Township to be State Highways eventually became known
as Highway 55 and Highway 4.
In October of 1922, an 8.44 acre tract of land was purchased
for a community park for $1300 approximately three miles up
the shoreline west of the Lake Koronis Outlet, and the South
Koronis Community Park Association began, with a nine member
Board of Directors.
The first order of business was to provide additional funding, which
was done by selling operating memberships for $5 each.
Local residents then began to start cutting trees and brush
to prepare for a roadway down into the lake area from the
main road, and men with horses and scrapers and one steam
engine built up a one-quarter mile road grade, which was
completed in time for a Fourth of July celebration, 1923.
An eating shelter was erected thereafter.
In 1923, Bridge #4033 was constructed spanning the Middle
Fork of the Crow River in Section 36 (560th Avenue).
In 1926, an auditorium and a refreshment stand was built at
the park for approximately $1000.
In 1927, the State Highway Department put in a bridge spanning
the inlet of Lake Koronis for Highway 55.
The Union Grove Methodist Church underwent remodeling in 1930
with the construction of a basement and addition to the front
of the church.
In 1936, electricity was being brought to the area.
To the immediate west of the Koronis dam was an access and a
beach as the roadway was just yards away from the lake.
This area near the dam proved to be deadly in July of 1941
as two people drowned in the current.
On April 18, 1946, the Tri-County Cooperative Telephone
Association was organized, merging several individual companies
into a single company. This area now makes up the Irving-
Koronis Exchange of the Mid-State Telephone Company, which
serves two-thirds of the township.
In the 1948 election, local resident Fred Marshall ran for a
seat in Congress, and won, starting a tenure in Congress
In 1950, the State Highway Department relocated Highway 55
from running along the County line to a sweeping curve
to the south for safety reasons due to the speed of
automobile traffic and the alignment of the Lake Koronis
From 1954 to 1957, the State Highway Department relocated
Highway 4 from it's original designation around the east
end of Lake Koronis, crossing the outlet of Koronis, and
south through the middle of the Township, to a straight
road aproximately 1.5 miles to the east and in the process
built Bridge #6853 over the
Middle Fork of the Crow River and Bridge #6854 over the
North Fork of the Crow River.
In 1957, the Believers Fellowship Mennonite Church was
organized in the area.
In 1968, the park, becoming increasingly difficult to
manage as it became an attraction to those from outside
the community, ownership was transferred to
Meeker County. Soon afterward, it was learned federal
funding could be available if Stearns County and Meeker
County could operate the park cooperatively, and agreement
was reached in 1973.
On June 25th, 1969, a tornado cutting a path 3 miles long touched
down in the Whitney Lake area, causing $25,000 damage.
In 1958, the Union Grove Methodist Church had 66 members, but
by 1970, the members decided to disband the church and many
members joined the Grace United Methodist Church in Paynesville.
On June 28, 1970, the Believers Fellowship of Mennonites took
possession of the old Union Grove Methodist Church and started
holding thier services there.
In 1973, the Koronis Regional Park underwent renovations
starting with main shelter, rebuilt to accomodate approxi-
mately 200 people with kitchen facilities, and the camping area
In 1976, improvements were made to the Koronis Regional Park,
adding to the east side of the main park and the west side
of the main park.
In 1979, the Koronis Regional Park auditorium was remodeled.
In 1985, a new town hall was erected in the northeast corner
of Section 30 in place of the old school which was torn down.
In January of 1995, the Meeker County Highway Department vacated
the building which had been the Crow River Creamery and moved
the highway maintenance equipment to a new building erected on
land on Highway 4 one-quarter mile north of County Road 3.
On July 1st, 1997, a tornado caused minor damage from the hamlet
of Crow River and eastward two and one half miles.
In 2001, reconstruction of the County Road 25 bridge spanning the
Middle Fork of the Crow River took place as well as Bridge #47062
in Section 24 over the North Fork of the Crow River (365th Street).
Other projects included paving 390th Street from County Road 20 to
532nd Avenue, 532nd Avenue from 390th Street south 500', re-
surfacing through the hamlet of Crow River, and County Road 25.
*Information contained is credited to the Minnesota Historical
Society, Paynesville Historical Society, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Minnesota Department of Transportation, Meeker County Historical
Society, 'West Tier of Towns' - a book by Frank Lamson, United
States Geological Survey