Calmar Township

 

A Norwegian, Thore P. Skotland, arrived in the Calmar area in the spring of 1850 and claimed as his new home a piece of land 2 miles north of town, known for many past years as the Boe farm.

Thore P. Skotland- photo by Debra Lee Pritchard

In the few months after his arrival, pioneer Skotland built a house of sod and grass and during the first six months on his new land saw only 3 Indians and 3 white men. But historians say he was cheered by the arrival of Thorsen Land, Lars Land, and Andre P. Sandager. Names are confusing, at least Norwegian names, as all of these new arrivals were brothers of Mr. Skotland.

The following year, this small band of Norwegian pioneers were joined by the families of Ole Sherven Sr., Ole Sherven Jr., Erick Stovern, Ole P. Haugen, Andrew L. Kittlesby, Thron H. Enger and Thora Bagaaron. His father Lars P. Kittlesby and his brother Peter L. Kittlesby joined a year later pioneer Kittlesby.

In 1853 others including Ole A. Flaskerud, Ole P. Biornstad, Erick Flaskerud and Even Fristad joined the settlement. In 1854 Alfred Clark and Peter Clawson who had spent time in the gold fields in

California became disenchanted with the future of this, arrived in Calmar Township and became permanent residents of the Calmar area.

By the end of 1854, along with John P. Landinand Charles G Holbeck who had recently arrived, the settlement totaled 21 men. Two Englishmen, George Yarwood and Henry Wheatman joined the group the following year along with more Norwegians including Ole P. Tenold, Ole Trickerud, Ole O. Ramberg Sr., John P. Hove, Ole O. Styve, Jacob Stenseth, and Lars Heried.

Meantime in the west part of Calmar Township, Germans, Bohemians, and Swiss were arriving in the Spillville area. Recorded as the earliest settlers were Charles Kroek who arrived in 1849, Joseph Spielman, known as the founder of Spillville, 1850, George Herzogand and Conrad Riehle in 1851.

Joseph Spielman, a Bavarian, built a log house and within a year a sawmill on Spielman Creek near the point where it joined the Turkey River.

Early Bohemian settlers began to arrive in numbers in 1854 and historians say they passed up the "foreigners" in the Calmar area and headed for the western part of the township where a few Germans lived. The Czech settlers were John Klimesh, Frank Payer, Wenzil Mikesh, Andrew Kubesh and John Novak.

Also in 1854 Swiss immigrants arrived including J.J. Haug, Jacob Stelzer, J.H. Hinterman, Felix Meyer, J.H. Meyer and John Leebel.

With new settlers arriving almost daily, it is recorded that the town of Calmar was referred to as Marysville and also "Whiskey Grove." Historians say that credit for the-name Marysville would go to Alfred Clark, recently returned for the gold fields of California, and therefore named after Marysville, California, a gold mining town.

It is said that after learning of another town in Iowa by the name of Marysville, the present name of Calmar resulted from a suggestion made by John P. Landin, a Swede who asked that it be named after his old home on the Southeast coast of Sweden, Kalmar Sound. Very soon the spelling was changed and from then on has been known as Calmar.

Thore Skotland is recorded as being one of the three incorporators of Luther College, member of its first board of trustees, and of its first building committee.

The railroad crossroads in Calmar township known as Conover, reached a climax in 1864 when the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul railroad reached the village in the middle of September. With high hopes, Conley and Peterson had the village plotted and it appeared that this would become a thriving and important market center.

"No town ever sprang up more quickly with greater hopes of stability and security," said Rev. John Clifford Eichorn in his history written in 1950, CALMAR, CRADLED BY THE GODS.

Walking down the main street of Conover in 1865, a visitor would have counted over 200 buildings and with 32 of them being saloons. One building was a stage coach office with a stage coach making a daily trip to "a poor backward village called Decorah," and another to "A struggling little place called Calmar."

On October 17,1866 Conover was incorporated. Hopes for Conover's growth faded fast when the railroad moved on northwest and a spur track was built to Decorah and Calmar. In 1869, a destructive fire burned out many of the buildings and this sealed the doom of what had promised to be an important mid-west urban center.

Four well-platted and currently used cemeteries are located in Calmar Township. Records show that the St. Wenceslaus Cemetery at Spillville was set aside for burial purposes May 22, 1869, with land purchased from Joseph Linhard. The Calmar cemetery, located on Highway #24, just southeast of town was set aside for a cemetery on November 19, 1875, with the land purchased from F. Burdick. At the time of the survey by the Winneshiek County Historical Society, there were 158 burials recorded. The town of Calmar maintains the cemetery.

Just south of Calmar is the St. Aloysius Cemetery, which was put into use November 8, 1884, with 416 burials recorded, based on a county wide survey in 1964. Near the Lutheran Church is the Calmar Lutheran Cemetery which records 732 burials. In the cemetery are four Civil War veterans, 13 World War I veterans, 3 World War 2 veterans and one Spanish American War veteran. A fifth burial place in Calmar Township is located in section 10 in the SE corner of the farm owned by Arthur Kruse which at one time was known as the Garfield Cemetery, where 8 persons are buried.

Please, contact the county coordinator to submit additions or corrections.

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this page was last updated on Monday, 28 October 2013