Cottonwood County MN History--Great Bend Twp.

Great Bend Twp.
Cottonwood County, Minnesota

Great Bend township, which derives its name from the big bend in the Des Moines river within its borders, is situated centrally east and west, on the southern line of Cottonwood county, with Jackson county at the south, Springfield township on the west, Dale township at the north and Lakeside township at the east. It is comprised of congressional township 105, range 36 west. Windom, the county seat of Cottonwood county, is located within this township, of which later account is given.

This township had some of the very earliest settlers in the county, owing to the fact that the river courses through this part of the county. Streams and lakes are always sought out by the pioneer, and this settlement was no exception to the rule.

The population of this township in 1895 was 320, exclusive of the city of Windom, which then had a population of 1,523. In 1900 the township's population was 435, and the United States census returns in 1910 gave it 444, with the city of Windom as having 1,749.


This township was formed by the county commissioners in 1870, and was the original civil township organized in the county. It was described thus: Commencing at the southwest corner of township 106, range 35, or the northeast corner of township 105, range 35 to the southeast corner of township 36, to the southwest comer of township 105, range 36, thence along the cast line of township 105, range 37, to the northwest corner of township 105, range 36; from thence east and along the south line of township 106, range 36 and on to the place of beginning.

It was resolved to have the first township meeting held at the house of Charles Chamberlin, August 27, 1870. S. B. Stedman, Paul Hamilton and Hosea Eastgate were appointed judges of election.

John T. Smith came to Cottonwood county in 1870 or 1871 and built a store at Big Bend, where it was supposed that the railroad would cross the river and the county seat finally located. He had about five or six hundred dollars and began business with a very small stock of goods. The railroad did not cross at the bend, where Charles Charnberlin had induced a preliminary survey and located the capital of the county. Windom "was born" in 1871 and with it the bright prospects and fond hopes of Big Bend were blighted. Mr. Smith's store was soon removed and no trace of Chamberlin's city nor his papers remains. Mr. Smith built a modest little store at Heron Lake about the time the railroad reached Worthington and began business there. Possessing good business tact, he entered upon a very successful era, gradually increasing his trade. Later, he opened stores in other towns, Where he was quite successful and gained considerable wealth.