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.I don't remember ever hearing this before. Who knew Austin was such a rough and tough place 'way back when?
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.
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?