Mission Township is celebrating its centennial, and more stories from the township’s early days are sought to include in a centennial booklet organizers are compiling.
Poster boards were displayed at the Mission Park pavilion on Saturday, July 6, depicting the township’s history and several residents’ stories. The pavilion was crowded with people who had watched or participated in the township’s annual Fourth of July parade, and proceeded to participate in a community picnic.
A Mission Township timeline read:
1908: Dec. 5, petition to Crow Wing County to create Mission Lake Township.
1909: Jan. 20, petition to Crow Wing County against creating Mission Lake Township.
1912: July 20, petition to Crow Wing County to Mission Township.
1913: meeting at schoolhouse #60 (Walker) to complete the organization of Mission Township.
The first officers elected in the township were: Henry Goldsberry, Bert Sabin and Albert Bjerke, supervisors; E.L. Young, clerk; Harvey Drake, treasurer; Wm. Musolf and Wm. McQuoid, justices; and Harry Clark and A.T. Kimball, constables.
Information available for residents said the township has had a slow but steady growth. Permanent settlers actually began moving into the township in the early 1890s, when the 1895 census showed 29 people. That number rose to 108 people by the 1900 census.
The land is mostly agricultural, though summer resorts and several small mills once operated.
In the 1940s, there were five resorts with 23 cottages on Horseshoe Lake. The first were Velvet Beach Resort in 1914 and Pine Shores in 1922. By 1992, there were only two resorts, and today only Ro-Be-Doe Resort remains. Many summer dwellings are now permanent homes.
At one time, only sandy trails and gravel roads ran around the lake.
The township once had three schools: Walker School (1899), Dowling School (1904) and Mission School (1909). All were still active in 1940.
The township’s first and only post office was established in 1901 — the Mission Post Office, with M.J. Johnason as postmaster. He declined to serve so Thomas J. Peters was appointed. Successors were Anthony Lively and Harvey Drake. In 1914, Myrtle Sabin was appointed postmistress.
In 1973, the Mission Auxiliary formed, followed in 1975 by the Mission Fire Department. The department’s first truck was a 1951 Ford pumper purchased for $350 from the Chanhassen Fire Department. Its second truck was a new 1979 Forstner Pumper for $32,000.
The Mission Township Fire Fair was started in 1987 to raise money for the department. This year’s Fire Fair is at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, July 20, at Mission Park.
“We are only scratching the surface of the early history of Mission Township with our efforts today,” reads a flyer the Mission Centennial History Group had available at the July 6 picnic.
The history project is ongoing. Anyone with information to share from the township’s early days is encouraged to contact Ray Holm at 13255 S.W. Horseshoe Lake Road, Merrifield, MN 56456 or at RNSholm@brainerd.net.