Courtesy of Cannon Falls & Minnesota Historical Society All Rights Reserved
Cannon Falls
Just a Little History through the Civil War Era
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1855-1857


1855-1862



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1862
The 1st settlement believed to be by Edway Stoughton, Charles Parks, James H Payton and James McGinnis with Edway Stoughton being the very 1st to settle here in the Cannon Falls area.
Charles Parks (1st Lieutenant, Goodhue County Ranger)
James McGinnes ( 2nd Sergent, Goodhue County Rangers)

Log homes of sorts were among the first built, as well as other buildings. Storage for grain and other building types. Lumber was brought in for balloon framed buildings and these buildings became more common after the saw mill had opened. Commerce began, almost at once.
The settlers were mostly of Irish, Scotch, German and Swedish and of
all faiths.

The Falls House was built by Charles Parks . It was about 16 by 24 feet
out of log and was to be used as a hotel. More information from another source follows  about the Falls House & it's owners. Read on.

Just some of the people that settled here in 1855 with land claims.
James McGinnis-February, Richard Freeborn Jr.-April, William P. Scofield-May, David L. Davis-May,Robert Fotherby-June, Franklin D. Clark-July, Hugh A. Collville-October, John D. Wheets-October, Horrace A. Tanner-October, Thomas F. Towne- November, Charles Morris- December.
( David L. Davis, Capt. Goodhue County Rangers)
( William P. Scofield, 2nd Lieutenant Goodhue County Rangers)

The Organization of the General Township took place and officers were put into place.  W. M. Barton, W. P. Scofield and Lewis Enbers were the Supervisors. J. T. Moss was Clerk, J. A. Wilson and Park Tucker were the Justices of the Peace. James H. Paton and E. H. Klock took on the job of Constables.

The Village was laid out by Richard and William Freeborn, James Mc Ginnis and William Colvill, whom all were said to have had a claim to parts of the land. William Colvill was also a Lawyer and it was said he handled much of the legalities. Capt. of the company Goodhue Volunteers that left Red Wing(Captain - Col.,Co. F 1st Minn.)

It was Surveyed and then plotted by S. A. Hart and by 1858, several additions had been made.

The town grew very quickly and by 1857, more than 1,200 people were said to be living in Cannon Falls.

Marion Abott  also was said to have came to Cannon Falls in this time period. He was a former Hamlien University Student.  He may have came from Mankato. (Pvt. Co. F, 1st Minn).

The 1st death was said to be James Mc Kune's son in August of 1855.
The 1st born was said to be Ellen Hartery in October of 1855.
Robert Fotherby and Sarah Strange had the 1st marriage and it was
Chas Parks who preformed the ceremony. He was the Justice of the Peace that was appointed. (Chas Parks is beleived to be the same as Charles Parks, the same person.) (Pvt. Goodhue County Ranger)

A stage ran through town between St. Paul and Dubuque and another stage ran from Red Wing west through Northfield. There was a appointed postmaster beleived to be James Mc Ginnis and things started to take shape for the town. Cannon Falls was a stop and rest point along the way. A place for the stage to get fresh horses and a place to stay over night for the stage.

A saw mill went into action and a General Store was opperated by Eli
Ellsworth.  In the spring, Aprill of 1855, Charles Parks sold the Fall House
to Andrus Durand and he was then the porprietor. He built a addition to it by adding a second log house and in 1856, he built a two story builbing and in 1858, sold it to Edward J. Turnner.
Another Source states the Fall House was built in 1856 by E. L. Clark and
was reopened by D.L. Davis at some date in time.

It was latter that year in 1855, and the Mc Kenzie House opened. It was run by George Mc Kenzie. The Falls House and the McKenzie House were both hotels that were in competition of each other for the business
of the stage lines. 

J. E. Chapman ran a Tin and Hardware.

R. N. Hamilto was editor and the proprietor for the 1st newspaper,
"The Cannon Falls Gazzette".
Another source states R. M. Hamline started the paper in July of 1856 and
that it was sold about 15 months latter to Mr. Hatch who then sold it to  Hoag Bross a year later. He changed the name to the "Cannon Falls Bulletin" and it was moved to Northfield and Cannon Falls had no paper
until the "Beacon" in the 1870's.

The 1st election was held in October about the second Tuesday and the town now had about 300 people living about the area.

Just some of the people that settled here in 1856 with land claims.
Russell T. Goodwin-June,  Myron B. Hutchinson-August,  Clark S. Pierce-August, Thomas Ryan-September, Frank Breedbury-October, Hugh Montgomery-December 

It was about this time a basswood log building was erected for the 1st school. It was by E. L. Clark and he was also the 1st that taught there. It was also used on Sunday's for religous services that were given by a traveling missionary, Rev T.R. Cressy Hellcotte.  It earned the tilte of The Basswood Seminary.  

The 1st Attorney was R. W. Hamilton.  (William Colvill never lived here.)
The 1st Pysician was J. E. Tibbets.

The First Congregational Church of Cannon Falls was organized  on July 31st at the school house and it is beleived, their 1st Pastor was Rev. J. R. Barns. They built their 1st church in 1868 for a cost of about $3,000.00 or so.  Another date given was 1865 for the date the chuch was built.

The 1st Catholic Service was held. It was organized in 1864  but the church was not built for a few years in 1866.

The Little Cannon Mill l was built about this time. It was about 50 by 70 feet. It was used however as a woolens mill for the 1st few years instead of the flour mill that it was built for.

The 1st Episcapal Church Service was on November 3rd, in a small house bellonging to W. P. Tanner. Rev. Timothey Wilcoyson of Hastings gave the Service and their Stone Church was  started in 1866. Mrs. W. P. Tanner, Mrs. Wheat, Miss Love and Mrs. A. E. West were said to have been there. Mrs. Tanner and Mrs. Wheat were believed sisters of William Collvil and Miss Love, his Aunt.

River Swedish Lutheran Church was organized by Dr. E. Norelius.
Thier 1st church was built in 1862. It was said to be about 20 by 26 feet.

The population grew to about 1,200 people, all was going well and Cannon Falls was moving foreward. and the town incorporated.
The 1st meeting of the City Council was  believed to be on January 17th, 1857.

Just some of the people that settled here in 1857 with land claims.
Stephan Van Guilder-February, Albert E. Weed-May, Levi Bridell-May

Minnesota became the 32nd State in May of 1858.

It was about this time or not long after that the Country started to have a financial crisis, much like a recession, more like a depression. The towns population of 1,200  fell back to about the 300 it had when it had begun in about 1855.  People moved in and out with more moving out in this trying time.  Many of the buildings were moved out of town or became abandoned. When the Civil War started and the crisis ended. The town began to grow again but did not have a full recovery till the 1870's as to it's population.

Johnathon Flinn and his wife Margaret settle in Cannon Falls on a farm. Like many, that settled in the Cannon Falls area at that time, they were not born in America.   The Flinns were from Ireland. (Co. F 1st Minn.)

George Mc Kinley's family had come to the area of Cherry Valley in this period of time also. (Co. F 1st Minn.) He was from Warsaw Township but, the No. 92,G.A.R. in Cannon Falls was named after him. The George Mc Kinley Post. He was killed at Bull Run. Alexander McKinley was his brother.

The open land in the Cannon Falls area that had been selling for $15.00 a acre was bought up by the 1860's. Minnesota was the dividing line from the east, civilization and the west, territory and uncharted land.

What could you get for your money in Central Point in those days?

One  Dozen Eggs- 7 Cents, One Dozen Candles- 15 cents, Edds Shirt- 75 cents, Towels- 10 cents, Drawers- 75 cents, Slippers- 50 cents, Dressing Gowns- $1.47, Pillow Cases 12 1/2 cents, Shoes $2.50, Socks- 20 cents and Postage was 10 cents a letter.


The Civil War Years

The exact population of Cannon Falls is not known but, is was said that it was at about 300 citizens.  Cannon Falls produced 51 soldiers for the period of the Civil War. About 1/6th of it's population. The same persent as the County of Goodhue produced as a whole.
Meet the Boys from Cannon Falls

July 9th, 1861, a circular was sent to the churches of Minnesota from Chaplain Edward D. Neil of the 1st Minn. Regt. It said in part,

" To the Churches of Christ in Minnesota of every name, Greeting."
" Grace be with you, mercy and peace from our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ tho Son of the Father, in truth and love.  It was written by request of physicians and others. It went on to ask for hospital and personal supplies that were low and asked that contributions to be forwarded to the Eastern Exchange for the hospital fund. and that they would then receive them, there. He asked that the circular be sent out where all members of the 1st Minn. were known. It was signed by the Chaplain, Edward D. Neil.

On Saturday, the 2nd of August, the ladies of Cannon Falls entertained the task of collecting $40.00. Even with times as hard as they were. It was forworded to Rev. Neil. The money was sent with items that the ladies of Red Wing had collected and bought.

Chaplain Neil's call for this, was answered so promptly and abundantly, he felt it necesary to write another letter. It was sent to Gov. Ramsey. It said in part,
" Don't kill us with kindness. Tell liberl men and noble women to send us no more money nor clothing. God Bless Them. E. D. Neil

November 1st, 1861. Wilbur H. Scofield wrote in his diary on pages 115 & 116 his thoughts of this time during the Civil War.
"Never has a year dawned upon a nation with  darker prospects than has 1861 upon the American nation. The morning dawned and we saw clearly the potentious clouds of rebellion rising from the south. Until now the livid lightnings dart across the whole heavens and the thunders of the contending elements shake the very foundation of the earth. The south has in most every instance been victorious. Why is It? We have as many men who go to battle with their lives in their hands as the south.
Our soldiers are just as brave and as able to fight, if not more so than the southern troops. Our Generals are in general as good as theirs. Almighty God is directing this thing. When we do the righteous thing we will defeat our enemies. When the people through Congress, endorse Fremont's doctrine and free the negroes, the God of Heaven will lend his great right arm, and we will put to flight our enemeis. I believe this war must have for its object the crushing out of the curse of American slavery before 1862." A Special Thank you Patricia Rehbein,for showing me this Diary.  After the Battle of Antietam September 17,1862, Lincoln
added the freedom of slaves to the war in his proclamation address to the Union.


During the Dakota Conflict, after the Indian attack on New Ulm in August, Companies of Civilian Soldiers were formed to protect the towns across the lands of Minnesota.  On August 24,1862 a company of this type was organized in Goodhue County. The Goodhue County Rangers There were 36 men in this company. It was to act as a Home Guard for the area and served until September 22, 1862. It served as the southern defense of the frontier. Some of these companies saw action in the Indain War of 1862 and did have casualties. One other company in Red Wing was The Red Wing Cavalry and in Hasting was The Hasting Rangers.

Jane Wheat writes being in Cannon Falls during the Indian Outbreak, The Indian outbreak began & alarmed us all most thoroughly. That was a sorry time for all new settlements. Word frequently came that the Indians had been seen very near us. Guns were brought out. There was talk of barricading the stone house. Just after we moved into our unfinished house a large number of people, twenty in all, men, wome, & children, with a yoke of cattle and driving some young stock came by and stopped at our house. They were almost starved and were fleeing Indians. I think they came from New Ulm or near there. One women told me her father was scalped in her sight after they started to flee. he having went back a little way for some young cattle.

                           For more Red Wing Civil War History, to see Rosters,
Goodhue County in the Civil War
and the G.A.R., see
Goodhue County in the Civil War

This page was last updated on: April 2, 2012
The following is a time line that starts with the first settlement and runs through the Civil War years.  Certainly there is more than is mentioned here. The purpose of this is to give a person a view of what life was like in the years preceding and during the Civil War and to learn a bit about the people in the area.
All of this information is from documented accounts.  Sources and credits are found on my Source page.
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E-Mail me, if you have documented history of Cannon Falls , or of a person in this time period from Cannon Falls of the Civil War Era, that you would like to share.  I am always adding to this site.
Thanks for the visit                          Date of page Sept 15, 2000
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Music: Kindom Comin ( The Year of Jubilee)
Music of the Civil War  Midi music by Dayle K.
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The photograph was taken in 1875. It includes a General Store, Harness Shop, Hardware, Drug Store and Post Office. Although it is a bit after the Civil War, it gives us a idea of what Cannon Falls may have looked like. in this era,  Several types of businesses or services may have been run in one building .