Canoe Township


The area of land between Bluffton and Pleasant Townships received its name from Canoe Creek, which flows from near the northwest corner of the township in a southeasterly direction.

The first recorded pioneers were David Kinnison and John Fredenburgh, who came to northwest Canoe Township in 1850. At that time there were still a few Indians in the area and supplies had to be brought over land by ox team from Prairie du Chien.

Lars L. Iverson was the first white child born in Canoe Township, December 7, 1852. It is said that Lars L. Iverson SR, after arrival his from Norway, being familiar with the construction of millstones, with hammer and chisel constructed millstones used in the mill on his farm in section 2 of the township. The lower millstone was reported to weighed 160 lbs. and the upper one 250-lbs, and that the mill being turned by hand by the two men. They would grind corn fine enough to make corn meal mush, so the early historians say.

Probably the most colorful early settled community in Canoe Township was that known as Spring Water. Here is where a saw and gristmill were erected about 1850. Soon after it was erected it passed to Ansel Rogers, a preacher and leader in the Colony of Quakers who gathered in that area in the early 1850's.

Early settlers in this community, in addition to Rogers, were Moses Gove, Lorenzo Blackmarr, Nathan Chase, Samuel King, Joseph Matt, Aaron Street, Ezra King, Amos and Henry Earle, Henry Chappell, the Gripmans, John Taverner, John Odson, David West, and others. Other families who arrived later were Havey and Lovinia Benedict, Washington Epley, George and John Epley, Isaac Gidley and Joseph Cook.

Because of the literary ability of many of the Quaker families, a newspaper written in longhand, probably the first publication in Winneshiek County, went to members of the Quaker Colony. Name of the paper was the ATHENEUM BANNER.

A meeting house constructed of boards sawed at the Spring Water mill served as a house of Worship and as a schoolhouse. Joseph Brownell, probably the first young man to be married within its walls, also taught private and public school.

Being deeply religious families, the Quakers not only held church services every week, but conducted mid-week services generally on Wednesday with school dismissed at 11:00 a.m. so that pupils could attend church services. The meeting house was reported to have been hot in summer and cold in winter, with women members bringing heated bricks to warm their feet in order "to keep their minds in a proper state of meditation."

The first white child born in the Spring Water community was Dr. A. C. Rogers. He later served as superintendent of the well-known Minnesota School for the feeble-minded at Fairbault, Minn.

The first recorded death was that of Eunice Gripman, a young woman of 18 years and her burial was the first in the Spring Water burial ground located just to the north edge of the present Spring Water Lutheran Cemetery.

Early historians say that the first post office was called Aquila Grove with Nathan Chase as postmaster. Other records indicate that many of the settlers became tired of the hard work and the meager results and after two decades the community rapidly disintegrated. Now only faintest evidence can be found of the community known as Spring Water, which was probably one of Winneshiek County's most flourishing community in its day.

Five cemeteries lie within the borders of Canoe Township, the oldest probably being the Spring Water Lutheran Church Cemetery, which was first used by the Quakers as a burial area in the late 1850's with definite record of the land being set aside in 1862. The new part of the cemetery is owned by the Spring Water Lutheran Church, and jointly supervised by the Decorah Lutheran Church where records are kept. A second large and well-known cemetery, the Russell Cemetery, is in section 27. Sumner Russell donated the land for this cemetery and William Smith donated additional land in 1912. The cemetery, which was originally associated with the Canoe Methodist Church in section 36, was set aside in 1893. Along the Locust Road in section 12 is what is recorded as the Evangelical Reformed Church cemetery, which is now commonly known as the Seegmiller cemetery. A church near the cemetery was torn down in the early 1930's. Near the Hauge Lutheran Church is a burial ground, which was set aside for a cemetery about 1870. This is located in section 15.

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