Manannah, Minnesota

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Manannah is located in Minnesota
Location of the community of Manannah
within Manannah Township, Meeker County
Manannah is located in the United States
Manannah (the United States)
Coordinates: 45°15′13″N 94°37′03″W / 45.25361°N 94.61750°W / 45.25361; -94.61750Coordinates: 45°15′13″N 94°37′03″W / 45.25361°N 94.61750°W / 45.25361; -94.61750
CountryUnited States
TownshipManannah Township
1,155 ft (352 m)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
55329 and 56243
Area code(s)320
GNIS feature ID647430[1]

Manannah is an unincorporated community in Manannah Township, Meeker County, Minnesota, United States. The community is located near the junction of Meeker County Roads 3 and 30. Nearby places include Eden Valley, Grove City, Paynesville, and Litchfield. State Highways 4 (MN 4) and 22 (MN 22) are also in the immediate area.

Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[2]


Manannah is an unincorporated community in Manannah Township of Meeker County. The community is located near the junction of Meeker County Roads 3 and 30. Manannah was surveyed and platted by someone named Halcott in 1856, and again on September 6, 1871, by men named Hines, E. Kimball, and Beedy. A post office was established at Manannah in 1857 by Jonathan Kimball, and it remained in operation until 1907. Manannah was organized as a township on April 5, 1858, The first homesteader was Augustus B. Wood. He homesteaded lots 11 and 12, Sec. 6. on Dec. 12, 1869.

In 1856, Alonzo, Ziba, Silas, Albert, and Nathan C. Caswell came to the Manannah area from Monticello, and, together with James Nelson, Edward Brown, and Albert D. Pierce, took up claims around the old townsite. They built their first shanties using the provisions they had brought with them from Monticello. The settlement was increased that fall by the addition of Carlos and Anna Caswell, parents of the above mentioned Caswell men, John Tower, Andrew Hamilton, and Lucy Ann Lobdell. During that year, the Caswells' mother Anna died from rose cancer (breast cancer) and became the first woman buried in the Manannah graveyard. Scottish immigrants Ziba Caswell and Joseph W. Walker named the village and township in December 1856. Together they looked in an old Scottish history book and they discovered a Scottish village with that name.

On the 4th of March, 1857, Ziba, Nathan, and Albert Caswell put up the first real building of any size. It was a story and a half, 18 feet by 26 feet, hewed log cabin. In May, Jonathan Kimball opened a hotel in it. (In 1862, frightened settlers gathered there for protection from the Indians.) Prior to the organization of the town, the Meeker County Commissioners appointed Carlos Caswell as the Road Supervisor on April 27, 1857. The first prairie sod was broken by the Caswells on May 4, 1857. Also in May 1857, Joseph W. Walker opened the first store and, in that same year, he put a dam in the Crow River to power his sawmill. The sawmill burned down sometime after 1862. The first marriage in the village was that of James Nelson to Elizabeth A. Caswell and it was officiated by Edmond B. Kingsley, the Justice of the Peace, in the spring of 1857. The first child born was Hattie Estelle Kimball in 1857 to Jonathan Kimball and his wife and the first death was Samuel Clyde. William H. Wilcox worked in St. Paul and Minneapolis until 1857, when he bought a squatter's claim to 160 acres of land in the Manannah Township, paying fifty dollars for it. He secured government title with a soldier's land warrant, which cost him $130. He then sold the land to Phillip H. Deck for $750 in gold and bought 160 acres on sections 2 and 3 in Swede Grove township.

On October 13, 1857, an election was held at the home of Joseph W. Walker. The following men were elected: Nathan C. Caswell, Assessor, Joseph W. Walker, and Edmond B. Kingsley, Justices of Peace, Nathan C. Caswell and Mark Bridges, Constables, and Ziba Caswell, road overseer. In 1857, Joseph W. Walker built a sawmill on Crow River, but it was carried off by a flood in 1859 and was never rebuilt. Two or three years later, N. C. Hines erected a flour mill and a sawmill, a mile or two below the old site.

The village of Manannah boasted a unique early resident by the name of Lucy Ann Lobdell, who arrived from New York in the fall of 1856. She was an excellent marksman who said that by the age of 12, she “could outshoot any man!” By the time she came to Manannah, she had changed her name to "La-Roi-Lobdell" and was dressed in men's clothing. She lived as La-Roi for two years before being discovered. The Meeker County Attorney, William Richards, filed charges stating “Lobdell, being a woman, falsely impersonates a man, to the great scandal of the community.” It was found, however, that women had the right to wear pants, and the case was dismissed. But Lucy was politely, yet forcefully told to leave the county and “go home”. Except for her rifle, she had nothing to her name, so she was made a ward of the county and given money for transportation back to Long Eddy, New York where her parents lived. That was the last Manannah saw of its “Wild Woman” as Lucy had become to be known. In 1883, the British medical journal Alienist and Neurologist published an article about Lucy and used the term “Lesbian” for the first time ever. Maybe that is the Manannah masquerading “Wild Woman's” legacy. Her great-great-great-granddaughter is also named Lucy and today is an Air-Traffic Controller in the military in Hawaii.

In the fall of 1857, James Lang, along with his brother Robert Lang and S. Dickinson, came to Manannah and built a house in the village. They lived there for two years during the winter months, and on James’ farm in the summer. The Sunday of the Acton Massacre, James and several others had started for Forest City with the intention of enlisting in the Army, but hearing of the murders in Acton, they suspended action, waiting for more definite news. Hearing that some Indians had been seen going toward Manannah, they returned as fast as they could and stayed there until the following Wednesday, when all the settlers left, as it was unsafe to remain. At Kingston, James heard of the organization of Captain Whitcomb's company of Home Guards, and, with others, went and enlisted in that company. Lang was riding with George W. Britt and a group with a wagon was ahead of them when Lang and Britt's horses got stuck in the slough. Britt got out and rode off to catch the others, and Lang, still stuck in the slough, looked up and he saw two things: Britt leaving him and Indians coming and they were shooting at him. Lang lay down in the mud to pull off his shoes so he could run for his life, and the Indians, thinking they had killed him, just stopped to get his horse. Lang got up and ran, and three Indians pursued took after him on their ponies. Lang caught up with the wagon and the Indians, seeing they were outnumbered, turned and left. James Lang stayed with the Home Guards until the Indian War was over and then he joined up with the Union Army and fought in the Civil War. When he was discharged, he came back to Manannah where he got married and settled down. In the spring of 1875, Lang, along with A. P. Grey, bought out the store of Hines & Campbell, and for four years ran it in partnership, then Lang bought out his partner. He was appointed postmaster in 1881.

In September 1857, Thomas Ryckman came to Meeker County and pre-empted land on section 28, in what became Manannah Township. He was married on the 11th of February, 1862, to Harriet Maybee. They were living on their farm when the Indian outbreak occurred. Upon hearing the news of the massacre at Acton, Thomas went with others to Forest City, and a day or two later, his wife went to St. Paul, while Ryckman remained to look after his stock. Thomas was with the party of eleven that went to Caswell's farm and were ambushed. Four of the party were killed, William Maybee, a brother of Mrs. Ryckman, was among the slain. More details of the Manannah Massacre are given later in this post.

In 1858, the only settlers who came were Samuel Clyde, Michael O’Keefe, and Robert Carroll. In 1859, Rev. William Kidder, a Methodist minister, held the first religious ceremony in Manannah. The first Roman Catholic Mass was conducted by Father Anthony from St. John’s Abbey of Collegeville on August 3, 1866, in the home of Frank McIntyre. The reason was a funeral mass for Michael McNulty, the father of Frank's wife who had died.

Phillip H. Deck came in 1860 and purchased 160 acres of land, partially improved, from William Wilcox, taking everything on the place, the house, the furniture, the stock, and the crop in the field. He left and went to Milwaukee to get his family and returned to his land. On August 17, 1862, Phillip's wife Salome was home sick in bed, and Phillip was away from home helping a neighbor harvest when news of the Acton Massacre came. Thomas Ryckman's wife brought the news and took Mrs. Deck and her family to Silas Maybee's, where they were left while the men were sent for. Phillip rejoined his family that night and remained there until morning. The next night, they spent at the house of Nathan C. Caswell, but learning that the outbreak was widespread, the entire group of settlers went to Forest City. From there, Phillip took his family to Kingston, where he remained until the following Monday, when, with provisions running short, he returned to Forest City, with the intention of trying to get to his Manannah farm for clothing and provisions.

On August 26 of 1862, Deck and the other men, who had found safety in Forest City, left in the early morning for their homesteads in Manannah to check on their animals and pick up food and other needed supplies. Besides Deck, they were David B. Hoar, Romanzo D. Cressy, James Nelson, Nathan C. Caswell, Alonzo Moody Caswell, Chauncey Wilson, Thomas Ryckman, Wilmot Maybee, Linus Howe, and Joseph Page. Eating dinner quickly at the home of Maybee, they headed over to the Carlos Caswell homestead where they had left a yoke of oxen in the barn. Then they traveled two miles to the Silas Caswell home. There they loaded Wilmot Maybee's two-horse wagon with provisions and bedding. Maybee, along with Page, Deck, and Howe, with Deck's one-horse rig, started on their return trip to Forest City. When they reached the home of Carlos Caswell, the rest of the party of eleven scattered to recover stock.

The team driven by Maybee and Deck entered the yard and were ambushed by Indians who had hidden behind a pile of lumber. Page was shot and he fell from his wagon. An Indian ran up to him, pulled out his knife, and cut Page's throat from ear to ear. Deck and Howe drove about 350 feet where they were killed. Howe was shot and Deck was shot in the back eight times. Maybee drove roughly 700 feet where he left his team and ran toward the river. He was soon overtaken and shot. The killings were witnessed by Wilson and Ryckman, who were stationed roughly 60 rods away. They were powerless in providing assistance because they had left their guns in the wagon. All of the group, except the victims mentioned, reached Forest City in safety. The episode became known as the “Manannah Massacre”.

On August 28, 1862, twenty-four men, under Lieutenant John Atkinson, went to the Manannah Massacre site to bury the dead. Maybee's body was not found until the following spring, however. Deck, Howe, and Page were buried in one grave in the Manannah cemetery, where Salome Deck later erected a monument to mark the place. She and her children, including son Franklin had left for Wayne County, New York after Phillip was murdered. They came back on April 22, 1879, to farm. Almost everything the Decks had was destroyed by the Indians, the loss amounting to about $1,100, which Mrs. Deck did not receive from the State until nearly twelve years later.

The success of the Forest City stockade prompted the settlers in Manannah to build their own stockade around part of the older townsite in 1863, in case of future conflicts. There were few soldiers stationed there led by Col. Ney Smith, of Wisconsin. In June 1863, Frank McIntyre made a trip to Meeker County with the intention of taking up a homestead. Part of the way was made on foot, and after arriving at Forest City, he saw that the water was too high to cross, so on the advice of Fergus McCusker, his wife's brother-in-law, Frank decided to take a homestead on section 26 of Manannah Township. This was the first claim made north of the Crow River. He went to St. Cloud and filed his claim for the homestead, and then returned to Joliet, Illinois where he stayed until 1865. Later that year, he returned to his claim. Upon arriving, he and his wife stayed with the McCusker family, while Frank built a cabin on his claim. It was the first house erected in the township north of the Crow River. By October 18 the cabin was raised with the help of James and Peter McIntyre, Owen Quinn, Peter McMahon, Fergus McCusker, Edward Murphy, Michael and James McNulty and a few others. Mrs. McIntyre cooked dinner for them under an oak tree. During the following winter, 1865-1866, Frank completed his stable, finishing it about dark on New Year's Day. His horses refused to go into it for the first time in the dark, so he had to blanket them and let them stand outside till daylight. As he was the first settler on that side of the Crow River, Frank was often cut off from neighbors by high water.

Peter McIntyre enlisted in the Nineteenth Illinois Infantry on the 20th of July, 1862. It was a part of the famous Fifteenth Corps, commanded by General John A. Logan. Peter participated with the regiment in the siege and capture of Vicksburg, the battles of Corinth, Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, and all the various engagements in the Atlanta campaign, including the capture of the city. At the battle of Jonesboro, on August 31, 1864, Peter was badly wounded in the shoulder by a minie ball, so that he could not march with Sherman to the sea. He was sent north on furlough and spent some time in the general hospital. Thirty days later, he reported to Nashville, where he was in the convalescent hospital during the bloody battle fought there. On his recovery, he was placed in a pioneer corps and served until June 6, 1865, when he was discharged. About the 11th of August, 1865, Peter came to Meeker County and took up a homestead of 160 acres in Manannah Township. But first, he had to clear it as it then entirely covered with heavy timber.

John and Timothy Gibney came to farm in 1865. Edward H. Murphy came in 1865 after having an interesting service in the Army in the Civil War. Edward enlisted in the First Missouri Infantry for the last three years of the war. He was then detailed for secret service or espionage, and in that capacity penetrated the enemy lines and traveled throughout the south, often amid the Confederate armies. It was dangerous as Edward knew that death by hanging was the penalty given to a detected spy. Murphy was frequently arrested on suspicion and had many narrow escapes. When the war was over, he was discharged from the service and was strongly persuaded by the St. Louis mayor and others to remain in St. Louis as a detective. But desiring to farm, he came to Meeker County and took up a homestead in Manannah. Patrick McKarney came in April 1866, after serving in the Civil War also, and he settled on section 8, Manannah township. Frank McLaughlin also came in April 1866, after also serving in the Civil War. He was wounded three times, once severely. In 1866, Charles Shepherd came and located on a farm in section 20. Frank Burns came to Meeker County on the 3rd of October, 1866, and he settled in the Manannah township. Luke Rails came in the fall of 1866, with two other men, Silas and John Cossairt, and Luke took up a homestead claim in the spring of 1867.

In the fall of 1866, Menus O’Keefe came to Meeker County and located on section 6, Manannah Township. Charles McAloon started for Meeker County in 1867, and, after stopping for one night at Forest City, he settled in Manannah township, where he lived for about six months. He then took a homestead in what is now Forest Prairie Township, and lived there until May 1874, when he again settled in Manannah Township. John Hill arrived at the house of Owen Quinn in 1869 and, a few days later, he purchased a farm in section 28. In June 1869, Jacob C. Inman came to Meeker County with his parents and they settled on section 20. Jacob stayed for eight years and then he moved to section 29, and, six years later, he moved again to another farm site in the same section. In 1869, Ziba Caswell put up a dam on the Crow River, but it washed away in the spring. It was rebuilt in 1872 by N. C. Hines, E. Kimball, and Beedy, which furnished power for Hines’ flour mill that he had built along with Otho H. Campbell. It was operated by Hines until 1874 when Campbell bought him out along with a Caswell. Then Campbell had it by himself. Campbell sold the mill to A. D. Beal, who in turn sold it to Henry C. Parsons and Charles Hanson in 1907. In 1910, they sold it to William Schreiner, who kept it until 1923. The mill was blown down in a heavy wind storm, and all the lumber and machinery were sold. That was the last of the Manannah mill.

Michael Lovett came in 1870, with his family, and located on a farm in the township. He died on April 29, 1879, and his son James took over the operation of the farm. In 1871, Ziba Caswell put up a stone building and opened a general store. Also in that year, a boarding house was opened but it was changed into a hotel. Hines, E. Kimball, and Beedy built a sawmill that year too. In 1872, T. P. Murray started a furniture store and factory, which he later turned into a general store. In 1873, William Hukriede emigrated to America, and he purchased a farm on section 23 to farm. Patrick Enright came to farm in 1874, as did Henry McCann. Patrick McCaffrey came in 1876 and located in section 22 of the township to farm. John McIntee came in 1878 to farm. Miller C. Wood came in 1879 and settled in section 20. Ambrose Wall came in the spring of 1880 and purchased a farm on section 26. Rudolph Schwarz, the village blacksmith of Manannah, came to Meeker County in 1883 and started work as a smithy right away.

Charles A. Staples came to Manannah in 1883, after having a store in Litchfield with his two brothers, J. H. and Nelson P., under the general store name of Staples Brothers. He had homesteaded in Union Grove, been in the Union Army in the Civil War, discharged for a disability, and then he returned to his claim and improved it until 1882. In that year, he sold his original homestead and went to Litchfield and started the store with his brothers mentioned. In the spring of 1883, he sold out and made a trip to Dakota, with the intention of dealing in hardware, lumber and farm machinery in Spink County, but he returned to Manannah, and, in November of that year, he put in a new stock of general merchandise and started another general store with his brother, J.H. Staples. The Staples Brothers store continued up to April 13, 1888, when Charles bought his brother's interest and assumed sole ownership.

By the end of the 19th century, Manannah had three general stores, a flour and feed mill, a hotel, a cabinet or furniture shop, two blacksmith shops, a barber, a creamery, a pool hall, and a harness shop. The Church of Our Lady was organized by Rev. Father John McDermott, of Darwin, in 1876. The site was donated by Anthony Kelly of Minneapolis. The church was finished during the pastorate of Father Kinney and was included in the Litchfield parish. The parochial residence was erected in 1885. The present church building was erected in 1889. The site occupied by the church and cemetery is a twenty-acre tract and was donated by Louis Maher and Michael McGraw. The Manannah Union Church was built in 1897, but it sat empty since 1985. Finally, it was moved to the Meeker County Fairgrounds for its Pioneer Village in 1998.

The first school was taught by Patrick McNulty at someone's home in 1866. The first school building was built in 1887, (24 feet by 40 feet), and the village-wide waterworks system was completed in 1903. The city streets were still lit by kerosene into the 1910s, which, when combined with the sparks from a locomotive, resulted in a large citywide fire in 1913. On a hot June afternoon, the fire began at the depot and moved from building to building until it seemed like the entire town was engulfed in flames. By evening, despite the help of locals and hundreds of citizens from neighboring communities, a large section of the town was destroyed. But the town was rebuilt and it still stands today.


  1. ^ "Manannah, Minnesota". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing".