As you scroll through the highlights, listen to “On the Meadow,” a track from an unknown artist during the late 1800’s.

Alvarado Headlines


  • Martin Sands moves from Kandiyohi County (Willmar area) to the future Sandsville Township in the northwestern part of Polk County and establishes his homestead (about a mile and a half south of what would become Alvarado). He also selects homesteads for his two brothers, Ole and Casper, and for his cousin, Martin Johnson.


Early Marshall County Minnesota Alvarado

The map above is from 1895. Note how the Snake River is not shown as a continuous line. The shading indicates wetlands.

  • Henry Oberg, John Hendrickson, Henry Nelson, Ole Engen, and Henry Hendrickson move from Kandiyohi County and possibly the Renville county areas.
  • Martin Johnson and Ole Sands come from Norway and locate along the lower Snake River.
  • The Hans Sands family moves to area. Daughter Maren marries Martin Johnson.


  • The Alvarado community is settled.
  • Ole Sands has a small store with a post office on the site which is called Snake.


  • Martin and Maren Johnson’s daughter, Olga, is born, the first white child born in the Vega area.


  • All the land in Vega Township is settled.


  • Sandsville Township is organized.
  • Vega Township is organized. Two days of highway labor will be given by each Vega male. Fifty cents will be assessed for each $100 worth of property. The clerk, John P. Mattson, names the township in honor of the 1877-1882 explorations by the Swedish Baron Nordenskold in his ship The Vega (The Vega became the first ship to complete a voyage through the Northeast Passage and the first vessel to circumnavigate the Eurasian continent.)
Snake Post office

Ole Sands’ Snake Post office


  • P. H. Thompson and Ole Sands buy the land that will become the townsite from the railroad.


  • Woodman Lodge is built. It is a social club and sells life insurance.

Regional Headlines


  • Lake of the Woods is a major link in the voyageur’s highway with all of the trade returning from the north and west destined to cross the lake. All of the rival fur companies, Hudson Bay, Northwest, XY and American establish posts as they struggle to monopolize the trade. Posts of the various companies stand at different times at and near the mouth of the Rainy River. By the 1830s, the American Fur Company wins the monopoly of trade on the southern side of the border but by the early 1840s the fur trade, as it had been, is finished.


The Red River Trails were a network of ox cart routes connecting the Red River Colony (the "Selkirk Settlement") and Fort Garry in British North America with the head of navigation on the Mississippi River in the United States. These trade routes ran from the location of present-day Winnipeg in the Canadian province of Manitoba across the international border and by a variety of routes across what is now the eastern part of North Dakota and western and central Minnesota to Mendota and Saint Paul, Minnesota on the Mississippi.

The Red River Trails were a network of ox cart routes connecting the Red River Colony (the “Selkirk Settlement”) and Fort Garry in British North America with the head of navigation on the Mississippi River in the United States. These trade routes ran from the location of present-day Winnipeg in the Canadian province of Manitoba across the international border and by a variety of routes across what is now the eastern part of North Dakota and western and central Minnesota to Mendota and Saint Paul, Minnesota on the Mississippi.

  • Minnesota becomes the 32nd state.


  • Dakota Indians attack settlers for failure of land treaties and fiscal mistreatment by traders, and 486 settlers are killed.
  • Thirty eight Indians are hung at Mankato.
  • First railroad between Minneapolis and Saint Paul is completed.


  • A U.S. post office is established on June 15, 1870, and the name is changed to Grand Forks. Previously, traders called the area Les Grandes Fourches meaning “The Grand Forks.” By the 1740s, Les Grandes Fourches was an important trading post for French fur trappers. The post office was established for the convenience of those engaged in traffic along the Red and Red Lake rivers, although there were but few settlers living at Grand Forks at that time.
  • Alexander Griggs, a steamboat captain, is regarded as “The Father of Grand Forks.” Griggs’ steamboat is frozen in the Red River on a voyage in late 1870, forcing the captain and his crew to spend the winter camping at Grand Forks.


  • Three-day blizzard strikes Minnesota, killing 70.


  • Drawn by free or inexpensive farmland, the first settlers arrive in the Tabor area.


First edition of the Warren Sheaf - Dec. 1, 1880.

First edition of the Warren Sheaf – Dec. 1, 1880.

  • Telephone communication is established between Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
  • The first edition of the Warren Sheaf is published on Dec. 1. “At last we make our salutation to the public of Marshall County. Our little sheet has been launched, and has cast its anchor in a safe haven where by ordinary caution it ought to safely float, gathering each week its little cargo of those local events which make up the history of a county.”


  • Saint Paul is destroyed by fire.
  • Grand Forks is officially incorporated on February 22. The city grows quickly when the Great Northern Railway arrives in 1880 and the Northern Pacific Railway in 1887.
  • Warren is incorporated as a village.


  • Mayo Clinic is founded in Rochester.
  • A tornado sweeps through Rochester, killing 35.
  • The University of North Dakota is established. UND consists of only a few acres of property, surrounded by farms and fields, and is nearly two miles west of the city of Grand Forks. Students living off campus take a train or a horse and carriage bus dubbed the “Black Maria” from downtown to the campus.


  • Exportation of iron ore begins.


  • A tornado flattens Sauk Rapids; 79 are killed. It is the deadliest tornado in Minnesota history. Eleven members of a wedding party are killed, including the groom.



  • A June tornado tears through Grand Forks and kills at least two people. The fairgrounds are flattened. In East Grand Forks, “The post office was damaged, and a barn belonging to W. H. Vosberg, of Gilman, IA, was virtually lifted up, turned and dropped, driving the roof into the ground. Many chimneys and glass in all parts of the city were destroyed. The building just erected by Messrs. Peasley & Benhkie was carried some ten feet though uninjured. Everywhere are evidences of the storm. The loss is most severe. Hail stones, large as doves eggs, fell. In some cases the storm’s devastating breath has swept away home, business – everything but life.”


  • Western Minnesota is struck by major blizzard, and 109 die.


  • Tabor’s Catholic church is probably named St. Wenceslaus, after a former king of Bohemia who gained sainthood. The name is later changed to Holy Trinity.


Store in Grand Forks around 1880.

Store in Grand Forks around 1880.

  • Future serial killer Carl Panzram is born in south Polk County.


  • Warren is incorporated as a city.


  • Virginia, Minnesota, is destroyed by fire.


  • A massive forest fire encompasses Hinckley and several other communities, and more than 400 perish.


  • Tabor’s first Catholic Church is destroyed by a tornado.

U.S./World Headlines



  • Pony Express riders leave Sacramento, California, and St. Joseph, Missouri, on 1st ride.


  • Abraham Lincoln is sworn in on March 4th as 16th President.
  • Civil War begins at Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12th.
  • George Armstrong Custer graduates from West Point, last in his class.
  • Pony Express is replaced by first transcontinental telegraph.


  • Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as President of the Confederacy on February 22nd.
  • The Homestead Act on May 20th contributes to development in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Oklahoma.


  • The Emancipation Proclamation declares all slaves free on January 1st.


  • Lincoln proclaims last Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving Day.


  • 13th amendment abolishes slavery.
  • Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox on Palm Sunday, April 9th.
  • Lincoln shot on April 14th, dies next day. Four men hanged in Washington, D.C., on July 7th, for conspiring with John Wilkes Booth.
  • Andrew Johnson takes oath on April 15th as 17th President.


  • 14th amendment is ratified. The amendment grants citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” which included former slaves who had just been freed after the Civil War.
  • Transcontinental railroad completed; Ogden (Promontory), Utah wins the golden spike.


General George Custer, looking kinda, sorta confident.

General George Custer, looking kinda, sorta confident.

  • Ulysses S. Grant takes oath on March 4th as 18th President.


  • Susan B. Anthony leads protest for women at polling place.
  • Yellowstone National Park created; becomes first national park.[/list_item]


  • Custer makes his way into history at Little Big Horn in Montana.
  • Frontiersman “Wild Bill” Hickok is shot and killed while playing poker at a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. His cards – the King of Diamonds with 2 Aces and 2 Eights – became known as a “Dead Man’s Hand.”
  • Alexander Graham Bell becomes second man to invent telephone. The first, Elisha Gray, arrived at patent office one hour after Bell had registered his patent.


  • James A. Garfield takes oath as 20th President.
  • Sioux Indian leader Sitting Bull, a fugitive since the Battle of the Little Big Horn, surrenders to federal troops.
  • James A. Garfield is assassinated.
  • Chester A. Arthur takes oath as 21st President.


  • First baseball World Series played.


  • Geronimo surrenders all Apache nations, September 4th.
  • The Statue of Liberty is dedicated in New York Harbor on October 28th.


  • Thomas Alva Edison invents motion pictures.
  • First skyscraper in New York City is the World Building, 26 stories.
  • Sitting Bull killed by Indian policemen while resisting arrest.
  • Massacre of Indians including women and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.


  • Klondike gold rush begins when prospecting party discovers gold in Alaska.


  • Spanish – American War. Teddy Roosevelt and his rough-riders fight in Cuba.
  • Independent republic of Hawaii annexed by United States.