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County Historical Society reaches out

Expanding its reach and seeking those who can specifically benefit from the Becker County Museum and Historical Society, the board of directors is asking all township representatives over for a peek around the museum, to build relationships and to share in the history that formed their township.

“The museum really belongs to the townships,” Membership Committee Chairman Robin Turnwall said. “Our museum wants to reach out and let the governing bodies know that we are available, that we represent them in maintaining or finding out their history.”

By spreading the township outreach effort throughout the year, the membership committee has broken down the number of townships into smaller groups to ensure that each enjoys a more intimate and relaxed social.

The first group has been invited for June 10. Those not invited to the first meeting can expect to hear from the museum board at some point during the year.

The historical society stores records for the 37 townships in Becker County, not only preserving their history but also making the records accessible for current research purposes.

“We maintain tax records from each township dating back to as early as 1880, archives about schools and churches in each township, land transfer records from 1868-1905, township history and plat books and centennial records and many other resources which vary by township,” said Executive Director Amy Degerstrom.

“We also offer help in organizing and sorting records that are still being held by the township and assistance in decision-making about town halls and other structures a township may own,” she added.

At the informal meetings, Turnwall said the plan is to give folks a tour of the museum, “showing what we have available, what might be in the museum that is specific to their township” and serving refreshments.

The board has also been researching some historical fun facts from the each township to present. For instance, in the 1870s, when settlers were first coming to Becker County, many of them documented how horrible the mosquitos were here.

Hamden Township, which was organized in 1871, was first called Belmont, but after learning that another town in Minnesota had the same name, it was changed to Hamden. It was known for its artesian wells and some of the finest springs in the county.

On Sept. 30, 1871, the county board declared that Audubon Township established School District No. 1. It was the first school taught in Becker County outside of the White Earth Reservation. Later it was found that the creation of the school district was illegal, and the district was annulled, making Detroit Township District No. 1.

Those are just a couple of the historical facts regarding the settlement of townships in Becker County.

Each township board member will receive an invitation to the events — as will the county commissioner representing those townships — which will take place every other month throughout the rest of the year.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.