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Some places in Faribault County to avoid on a dark, rainy night

By Staff | Mar 14, 2010

A couple of weeks ago this column dealt with the names of the townships in Faribault County. Mainly, the point was that the townships went through some name changes before one was settled on.

I heard a lot of comments. Our readers seemed to enjoy the humor I used, as well as the history lesson.

So, here is round two.

Someone asked me, after the township name column came out, if I knew about the ‘Ghost Towns of Faribault County.’

What? Ghost towns? With real live ghosts?

I was intrigued.

Nowadays, if one wants to know anything about anything, you ‘Google it.’ So I did.

Lo and behold, if you Google ghost towns of Faribault County, Minnesota, you actually get a hit and two names come up.

Clayton and Homedahl.

But, some further research reveals there are as many as 15 ghost towns of Faribault County — depending, of course, on your definition of ghost town.

Most have died and completely disappeared. Some left behind a cemetery. Hence, the term ghost town.

Clayton is probably the prime example. That’s because it was a fairly good-sized, thriving community which lasted almost 40 years – from 1860 to 1899.

Located two miles northwest of Bricelyn, it eventually was ‘swallowed up’ by its neighbor after Bricelyn was established.

That is a pretty common theme for these ghost towns.

Wesener’s Grove was located one and a half miles west and three miles south of the present town of Easton. Most of the businesses moved to Easton when that town was built along the railroad line.

Wesener’s Grove’s claim to fame is that the first white child born in the county was delivered there. His name was John Stevermer.

Having a post office seemed to be the qualification to be known as a town.

That was the case with Alton, located in Brush Creek Township. It had a store and post office, but eventually the post office was moved to a neighboring town – Clayton.

Seems the town was doomed from the start.

Another town, Seely, was less than two miles south of what is now Bricelyn, and consisted mainly of a post office.

About five miles southwest of present day Bricelyn was the town of Homedahl, named after what the settlers remembered as a name from Norway.

Homedahl was a thriving little town of Scandinavians, but, again, it was swallowed up by Bricelyn, and the Homedahl post office closed in 1904.

A town called Grapeland was located on the north edge of the county. Originally, the settlers there wanted to call their new town Pleasant Valley, but that name was already taken elsewhere in the state. So, because there were wild grapes growing along the Maple River, they came up with Grapeland.

Perhaps the name was why it didn’t last.

A town – or at least a post office – known as Verona was established three miles south of what is now Winnebago. But, at the time, neither Blue Earth or Winnebago were in existence.

Cornet was located along the Blue Earth River. It was also known as Woodland, but the official name of the post office was Cornet.

Two interesting names for towns near each other were Jerusalem and Jericho. Jerusalem was actually in Martin County, and Jericho was in Faribault County. Jerusalem had, among other things, a cemetery, which was moved to Winnebago City. Now that must have been interesting to see.

Does that mean there are no ghosts in the ghost town of Jerusalem?

Blaine and Sheridan were two other towns. Blaine’s post office went to Frost, eventually. Sheridan was established mid-way between present day Kiester and Bricelyn, and was moved to those two towns in 1899 when the railroad came through.

Remnants of two towns are still visible. Bass Lake and Brush Creek are easy to spot.

The county also had two towns with the same name. ‘Banks.’ There was a Banks on the north side of East Rice Lake in Foster Township, and also one on the south side of the lake.

The one to the north was also known as ‘Rice Lake’ and ‘Paynesburg’ at various times. But, the post office moved to the south side of the lake and the town followed.

When the railroad failed to follow the old stage coach line, and went through Wells instead, the Banks post office was moved, and the town followed.

The railroad was the major influence as to why some towns disappeared and others survived. When the railroad bypassed a little town, by less than a mile in the case of Sheridan, the entire town seemed to pack up and move the town on the rail line.

Leaving behind a few memories, and maybe a ghost or two.