Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Bit of History of Austin

Last weekend I found a book at a garage sale called 'A Minnesota Travel Companion' by Richard Olsenius.  The book is arranged by major byways and tells little stories about various towns and counties.  Most of stories are about when places were founded.  It includes this story of Austin:
An interesting story surrounds the naming of Austin as the county seat in 1857. In northeastern Mower, a town by the name of Frankford was the original county seat. But Frankford neglected to build a courthouse. newly elected commissioners from Austin were unhappy about the distance they had to travel for meetings. They reasoned that since a courthouse had never been built, wherever the 'tin box' containing the county records was kept, would be the site of the county seat. One day they stole the box while attending a meeting at Frankford and rode for Austin with the sheriff and townsfolk of Frankford following in hot pursuit.
The posse caught up with the men at the stage way-station in High Forest and arrested them. The hotel was searched, but not before the tin box had been ditched in a snowbank. The people of Austin, some carrying guns, gathered in Frankford to insure a fair trial for the jailed commisioners. The men were eventually released and a county-wide election in 1857 turned the county seat over to Austin.
I don't remember ever hearing this before.  Who knew Austin was such a rough and tough place 'way back when? 
Also of note, the Austin area was a prime hunting area and groups would come down from Fort Snelling to do so.  During an 1841 winter hunt, 2000 deer, 50 elk, 50 bear, five panthers and a few buffalo were killed there.  How crazy is that?


carrster said...

That is awesome! Thanks for sharing. Very cool. I had no idea. Frankford? Never heard of it!

When I was there in June, we walked around the Mill Pond & I actually read a few signs along the way. I read one about the huge hunting parties that came through & all the game that was there.

I love history!

Holly Whitcomb said...

Thanks for sharing, that is so cool! I had no idea our town has this cool nugget of history.