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Le Sueur County Courthouse

According to the Le Sueur County website, a number of businessmen, led by L.Z. Rogers of Waterville, undertook to make possible the location of the county seat near the center of the county by acquiring a tract of 160 acres at what is now Le Center and platted it. They offered the use of a newly constructed two story brick building to the county board for use as a courthouse if a referendum of the people of the county agreed to allow the moving of the county seat to this new location, which they chose to call Le Sueur Center. The referendum was held and passed. The county offices were moved to the new location in 1876 and the county seat has remained there ever since.

The county officers now found themselves housed in a building and on property belonging to a private land company. After several years, the county board, having had to build a jail, a sheriff’s residence, and a stable for the sheriff’s horses, found it necessary to acquire the land, which we now call the courthouse park where the present courthouse stands.

A deal was struck with the Le Sueur Center Land Company agreeing that the county should pay the land company $5,000 plus the title to the county poor farm located on the east side of Lake Volney (a total of 160 acres of land) in exchange for the title to the block that the courthouse stands on today.

The relocation of the county seat had the effect of dividing the journey to the county seat as equally as possible between the residents of the various portions of the county. This was as good as a compromise in locating the county seat as was possible.

Le Sueur Center was now considered, what is known in the south, as a “courthouse town.” It was still by no means a commercial center, but there quickly grew up a number of businesses which catered to the needs of travelers visiting to the county seat. There were hotels, restaurants, blacksmith shops, liveries, saloons, general stores, and the homes of the various county officers who had moved their families to the new county seat. However, it was still necessary for the farmers in the area around the new town of Le Sueur Center to continue to take their produce and livestock to other towns on the borders of the county.

By the 1870s, Le Sueur County had entered the age of the railroad. In the late fall of 1867, just two years after the close of the Civil War, the first railroad entered Le Sueur County from the north in the Minnesota Valley and arrived in Le Sueur. It continued south through Kasota, to the Mankato area and on to St. James. A few years later, in 1876, the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad was built from north to south through the eastern portion of the county passing through New Prague, Montgomery, Kilkenny, and Waterville. The railroad provided rapid transportation for the farmers’ grain and livestock which could be sent to market in the Twin City area. This left the farmers of Le Sueur Center area at relatively the same disadvantage they had always suffered in that they were as far as possible from transportation. This had also been true in the days of the steamboat trade when the steamboat was rapid transit for freight, passengers, express and mail. It was now true with the railways running down the east and west sides of the county, but not through or anywhere near the center of the county.

Below are photos of the Courthouse and Jail.

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