I came to Detroit from the Black Hills, S. D., June 22, 1882, and came to
this town from Frazee, the only way at that time, for the Shell Prairie road
was only opened as far as Erie Town where the town hall now stands. We came
from Frazee with about the only white inhabitant on the east side of the
Otter Tail River at that time, a man by the name of Molen. He lived in Erie
on Section 14. From his house John H. Jones and I came up here on a trail,
for that was all the "go" this way then. We found here a very nice country,
only wild, as were the inhabitants, for the Indians were the only
inhabitants when we first came. There were over a hundred Indians around
Height of Land Lake. I became acquainted with most of them and found them
peaceable and straight to trade with. After we were here a few days and had
.seen the country and got lost a number of times (I was lost on my own place
twice) we went to find the best way to cut a road to get in and out. After
working for three weeks, we came out with our road in Erie at Cotton Lake,
and I well remember how glad we were, too. The road, such as it was,
finished, we began to look for places to build, and after finding them to
suit, we commenced to cut the big trees and make them into house logs. Jones
left me about this time here all alone. I was then about six miles from
Molen, the nearest white settler. I went an with the house logs until I had
enough, which took me about six weeks, during which time I did not see a
white man, except A. H. Wilcox, who was well known out here then among the
aborigines, as the man that kept a "post-office." He used to pay them bounty
as county auditor for wolf skins. "A. H." used to stop at my abode, which
was only a small tent but it served for the time, and many a pleasant story
I heard from the old pioneer. At the same time we could hear four or five
Indian pow-wows around the lake. These Indian dances used to go on for three
or four years afterwards, until the white men took their dancing grounds and
this lake front, and "Poor Lo" left us and now it is hard to find his
In the fall, a party of whites, about seventeen in number came in,
most of them by the name of Soper. At this time I was ready to build and
they turned to and helped me, and in less than a month I had my house so
that I could go into it. The Sopers went at it and put up four or five
houses, such as they were. These were made entirely by hand with what they
call skoot roofs. Lots of work, but there were lots of them, and time was
more plenty then than money. That winter was very cold with deep snow. Some
of the settlers were very poor. as in any new country, but they all pulled
through with big hopes for the future.
About December I had my house pretty well finished. By this time Jack
Jones came back and put up a small house and said he would use it for a
chicken house after a year or two, but Jones is the only "chicken" that has
been in it yet. When he got back I left him in charge of my household, and I
went to Wisconsin to get married, and on the 20th of January, 1883, we were
back home with our friends.
Grand Park Township was organized in 1892, the first town election being
held at the schoolhouse on Section 27 on the 31st day of July, 1892.
The first set of township officers were: Chairman of board of
supervisors, Adam Prahler; supervisors, John Hopsted and Edward Evans; town
clerk, Willard Eastman; assessor, Charles Mitchell.
The next settlers who came after Evans and Jones, were Charles Soper and
wife, Marcus Soper and Frank Soper.
Mrs. Charles Soper was the first white woman to settle in Grand Park
Charles and Marcus Soper both took land on Section 28 and Frank Soper
located on the northwest quarter of Section 32. There were several others
who came with the Soper party, but they settled in the township south. These
settlers all came into the township about the 10th of August, 1882, coming
from Rooks County, Kansas.
The next settlers were Thomas Lucas and family, Lowell Smith and Frank
Smith, who came a few months later.
Edward Evans and Miss Mary Ann Miller are entitled to the honor of being
the first couple married.
The first white child born in Grand Park Township was Fred Evans, born
April 6th, 1884.
The first girl born in the township was Katie Jones, born June 1st, 1884.
The first death was a little daughter of Lowell Smith and granddaughter
of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Soper, who died about Christmas, 1885. The funeral
sermon was preached by J. H. Abbey.
Emma Renwanz taught the first school in the township, commencing about
the first of December, 1888.