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Geographic History
Le Sueur County



Geographic Names

Established March 5, 1853, this county commemorates a Canadian French trader and explorer, Pierre Charles Le Sueur, before mentioned in the chapter for Blue Earth county as mining a supposed copper ore there in 1701, whence the name of the Blue Earth county as mining as supposed copper ore there in 1701, whence the name of Blue Earth river and of that county was derived. He was born in 1657, of parents who had emigrated to Canada from the ancient province of Artois in northern France. At the age of twenty-six years, in 1683, he came to the Mississippi by way of the Wisconsin river. The remaining years of the century, excepting expeditions for the sale of furs in Montreal and absence in voyages to France, he spent principally in the country of the Sioux or Dakota. He was at Fort St. Antoine, on the eastern shore of Lake Pepin, with Perrot at the time of his proclamation in 1689, which he signed as a witness. As some time within a few years preceding or following that date he made a canoe trip far up the Mississippi, this being the first recorded exploration of its course through the central part of Minnesota.

Within the first few years after Le Sueur came to the area of this state, he had acquired acquaintance with the language of the Sioux, and had almost certainly traveled with them along the Minnesota river. From his first Christian name, Pierre, as Neill and Winsor think, came the French name St. Pierre, in English the St. Peter, by which this river was known to the white people through more than a century and a half, until its aboriginal Sioux name was adopted for the new Minnesota Territory.

A letter of Cadillac, written in 1712, cited in the Margry Papers, states that after the appointment of Iberville, a cousin of Le Sueur's wife, to be the first governor of Louisiana, LeSueur had his family remove there, and that his wife and children were then living in Louisiana, where he had died. Another account indicates that he died during the return voyage from France, after his visit there in 1702, carrying the green or blue earth, supposed to be an ore of copper, which he mined on the Blue Earth river.

Townships and Village.

Information for these names was gathered from "History of the Minnesota Valley" (1882, 1016 pages,) having pages 477-532 for this county, and "History of Nicollet and Le Sueur Counties" (1916, two volumes, 544 and 538 pages, edited by Hon. William G. Gresham; and from Edward Solberg, register of deeds, who has made many land surveys throughout the county, Frank Moudry, former register of deeds, and Patrick G. Galagan, former judge of probate, each being interviewed during a visit at LeSueur Center, the county seat, in July, 1916.

CLEVELAND township, organized in 1858, was named for the city of Cleveland, Ohio, several of the first settlers here, in 1855-6, being succeeded by Le Sueur Center. In Ohio this name refers to General Moses Cleveland (b. 1754, d. 1806), agent of the Connecticut company that colonized the Western Reserve, under whose direction the site of the city named in his honor was surveyed in 1796.

CORDOVA township, settled in 1856 and organized in 1858, bears the name of an ancient city of Spain, renowned for its Moorish antiquities, which in the middle ages was "the most splendid seat of the arts, sciences, and literature in the world." The village of this township was platted September 28 1867.

DERRYNANE township, organized in 1858, was settled partly by immigrants from Ireland. Its name was derived from Derrynane Abbey beside the little bay of his name on the southwest coast of Ireland. It is also borne by a village in the province of Ontario, Canada.

ELYSIAN township, organized in 1858, received this name from its village which had been platted September 20, 1856, and was incorporated in January, 1884. It was adopted from Greek names, Elysium and the Elysian Fields, "the dwelling place of the happy souls after death, placed by Homer on the western margin of the earth, by Hesiod and Pindar in the Isles of the Blessed in the Western Ocean." The village adjoins the northeast end of Lake Elysian, called Okaman lake on Nicollet's map on 1843, which is crossed by the county line and lies almost wholly in Waseca county.

HEIDELBLERG, platted December 4, 1878, is a hamlet four miles southwest of New Prague, named by its German people for the city of Heidelberg in Germany, widely known for its great university which was founded in 1386.

KASOTA township, settled in 1851, organized May 11, 1858, took the Sioux name of its village, which was platted March 23, 1855, and was incorporated in April, 11890. It means, as noted by Prof. A. W. Williamson, "clear, or cleared off; the name sometimes applied by the Dakotas to the naked ridge or prairie plateau south of the village." This Kasota terrace of the valley drift, three miles long from north to south and averaging a half mile wide, is about 150 feet above the river and 75 feet lower than the general upland.

KILKENNY township, settled in 1856, was named by its Irish people for a city and county of southeastern Ireland. Its village on the Minneapolis and St. Louis railway was platted in 1877, and was incorporated June 3, 1882.

LANESBURG township was named in honor of its first settler, Charles L. Lane, who came in 1854 and opened a farm in section 33.

LE SUEUR township and city were founded in 1852, with the village plats bearing this name, which in the next year was given to the new county. Two rival villages, one called Le Sueur and the other Le Sueur City, were incorporated respectively on June 10 and 17, 1858. Nine years later, by an act of the state legislature, March 9, 1867, they were united in a borough town, Le Sueur, which was incorporated as a city March 16, 1891. It was the first county seat until 1875, being then succeeded by Cleveland for one year, and by Le Sueur Center since 1876.

A stream here tributary to the Minnesota river called Le Sueur creek or river, and its northern branch is known as Little LeSueur creek or "Forest and Prairie creek." The last name refers to its course through an originally wholly wooded area, but near its mouth coming to the north end of the extensive LeSueur prairie, fire miles long and two to four miles wide, which is a terrace of valley drift similar to the much small Kasota prairie terrace of valley drift similar to the much smaller Kasota prairie terrace, previous noted.

LE SUEUR CENTER, a village platted December 2, 1876, at the geographic center of the county, in sections 28 and 29, Lexington, has been the county seat from that date, its site being "cut out of a dense forest growth in 1876-77." It was incorporated in the spring of 1890.

LEXINGTON township, settled in 1855 and organized in 1858, was named after its village, which was platted by pioneers from New England in 1857. This name is borne by a village of Massachusetts, where the battle of Lexington was fought, beginning the Revolutionary War, April 19, 1775, by cities in Kentucky and Missouri, and villages and townships in nineteen other states.

MARYSBURG, a hamlet in the south edge of Washington township, platted January 24, 1859, was named by its first settler, John L. Meagher, an immigrant from Ireland, who was its postmaster during many years and was also the probate judge for this county.

MONTGOMERY township was settled in 1856 and organized in 1859. Its city, incorporated in 1902, was platted as a village September 5, 1877, when the Minneapolis and St. Louis railway was built there, its site being "in the midst of a dense forest of very heavy timber." Fifteen states of the Union have counties of this name, and it is borne also by a similar number of villages and townships, commemorating General Richard Montgomery, who it the American Revolution commander an expedition invading Canada, in which he was killed December 31, 1775, while leading an attack on Quebec.

NEW PRAGUE, incorporated as a village in March, 1877, and as a city in April, 1891, is crossed along its main street by the line of Le Sueur and Scott counties. It was named for the ancient city of Prague, the capital of Bohemia, from which part of Austria many immigrants came here.

OKAMAN, at the east side of the northern end of Lake Elysian, was an early village, platted March 30, 1857, lying partly in Waseca county. Its site was vacated in 1867 and reverted to farm uses. The name Okaman, supplied by the Sioux, was given to this lake by Nicollet, derived, according to Williamson, from hokah, heron, man, nests. It thus had the same meaning as the Okabena creek and lakes in Jackson and Nobles counties.

OTTAWA township was settled in 1853 and organized in 1858. Its village, platted April 4, 1855, was then named Minnewashta, from Sioux words meaning water and good, in allusion to its excellent springs. June 20, 1856, it was surveyed anew and renamed Ottawa, for a tribe of the great Algonquian family, nearly related to the Ojibways. Their name, originally meaning traders, is given on the Ottawa river and the capital of Canada, to cities in Illinois and Kansas, a village in Ohio, and a township in Wisconsin.

SHARON township was settled in 1854 and organized in 1858. Its name, derived from the fertile plain of Sharon in Palestine, is borne also by villages and townships in nineteen other states of the Union.

TYRONE township, settled in 1855-6 and organized in 1858, was named, on the suggestion of Irish immigrants, for a county in Northern Ireland. New York and Pennsylvania have townships of this name.

WASHINGTON, first settled in 1858 and in the same year designated as a township, has two large lakes which the government surveyors had named in honor of Washington and Jefferson, president of the United States.

WATERVILLE township, settled in 1855 and organized in 1858, received this name from its village platted December 5, 1856, which was incorporated as a village in 1878 and as a city in 1898. It is also the name of a city in Maine, and of villages and townships in ten other states. The choice of the name had referenced chiefly to the adjoining Lakes Tetonka and Sakata (Sioux named, used by Nicollet), through which the Cannon river flows, and to White Water creek, here tributary to Lake Sakata.

Lakes and Streams.

Lakes Elysian, Washington, Jefferson, Tetonka, and Sakata, Le Sueur creek or river, the Little Le Sueur creek, and White Water creek, are noted in the preceding list of townships.

Other lakes and creeks of this county are as follows, in the order of the townships and ranges, from south to north and from east to west.

Horseshoe Lake is crossed by the east line of Waterville, and Goose lake is in its section 2.

Elysian has Lake Francis, Ray's lake (named for George E. Ray, a pioneer farmer there), and Lake Tustin (partly drained), at the north side of the village; Rice lake, in sections 3, named for its wild rice; German lake, mostly in sections 4 and 5, bordered by farms of German settlers; Sasse lake, in section 10, named for early German homesteaders, William and Frederick Sasse; Silver lake, in section 30; Steele lake, on the north line of section 22; Fish lake, in sections 23, and 24; and Round lake in sections 29 and 30.

Kasota is crossed, by Chankaska creek (a Sioux name, used by Nicollet, meaning forest-inclosed), the outlet of Lake Washington; Spring creek, about three miles farther north; and Cherry creek at the north end of this township, flowing into the Minnesota river near Ottawa village. Lake Williams or Plaza, and Long lake, each very small, are in the southern part of Kasota, and the larger Lake Emily near its center. Another Lake Emily is mapped in section 31, Cleveland, only two miles southeast from the last.

Kilkenny has Sunfish, Saber, and Diamond lakes, in its south half, which is crossed by Little Cannon creek or river; and its north half has Lakes Dora, Mabel (recently drained), and Volney, the last being named or Volney J. Brockway, a pioneer farmer in section 31, Montgomery, at its north side.

Cordova township has Lake Gorman, named in honor of Willis Arnold Gorman (b. 1816, d.1876), who was governor of Minnesota Territory, 1853-7, and served in the civil war as colonel of the First Minnesota regiment in 1861, and later as a brigadier general; Sleepy Eye lake, in section 15, named for the Dakota or Sioux chief who is also commemorated by lake and village of Brown county; Goose lake, in section 28; and Bossuot lake, in sections 29 and 32.

Scotch lake in Cleveland received its name for pioneers from Scotland; Lake Henry, Decker lake (also called Silver lake), and Savidge and Goldsmith lakes, were likewise named for adjacent settlers; and this township also has a little Rice lake in section 7 and 8, Dog lake in sections 32 and 33, and no less that three Mud lakes, in sections 24, 25, and 33.

Montgomery has another Rice lake, named for the wild rice (but also called Hunt lake), in section 1; another Mud lake, in section 27; Kuzel lake, in section 16; Borer lake, in section 19, commemorating Felix A. Borer, formerly county auditor; and Green Leaf lake, named form the foliage of the surrounding woods, in sections 19, 20, 29, and 30.

Beside Hockridge lake, in the northeast corner of Lexington a farm claim was taken by his brother in 1863; Clear lake and Lake Mary adjoin Lexington village; and farther south in this township are Tyler lake, named for William L. Tyler, who settled there in 1858, and Mud lake in sections 24 and 25.

Sharon has a large Rice lake, shallow in wet seasons and filled with wild rice, but only a marsh in the summer, this being the fourth Rice lake noted in Le Sueur county.

In the northwest part of Lanesburg are Graham lake and yet another Mud lake, the sixth so named on a recent map of this county; and in its southern part, outflowing east and north into Scott county by Sand creek, are Eggert lake, Lake Pepin, named for some reason after the large Lake Pepin of the Mississippi river, and Lake Sanborn, the last being in honor of Edwin Sanborn, who took a homestead here in April, 1857.

In Derryname are Shea's lake, named for Timothy Shea, an early settler whose farm adjoined it, and School lake, in the school section 36.


Le Sueur county is crossed at and near its southern border by a belt of low morainic drift hills, ridges, and small knolls, much strewn with boulders, occupying a width of three to four miles, reaching from Waterville and Elysian northwesterly by Lake Jefferson and the two Lakes Emily to the wide Minnesota valley at St. Peter and Traverse des Sioux. In Nicollet county this belt continues, but is less clearly developed, passing westward by the north side of Swan lake. It is named the Elysian moraine by the chapters on these counties in the Final Report of the Minnesota Geological Survey, being the fifth in a series of twelve marginal moraines partly mapped in their courses through this state.

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