Local History


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A BRIEF HISTORY OF STOCKTON

The Village of Stockton, in Hillsdale Township, was laid out in the summer of 1856, although the land was pre-empted in 1855; J.B. Stockton, Wm. Davidson and Wm. Springer were proprietors. The town was named after J.B. Stockton; Stockton stands on the E ½ of Section 34. The plat is one mile long and one-half mile wide, and embraces as area of 320 acres. Rollingstone Creek enters the town plat on the west and flows northeast through the village. Stockton stands in the main Rollingstone valley, sometimes spoken of as the “west branch”. The creek was later renamed Garvin Brook, after philanthropist H.C. Garvin, founder of Bay State Milling Company, in Winona. Garvin also donated land west of Stockton to use as a park, known as Farmers' Community Park. It was told to me that the reason Stockton got named was because J.B. Stockton had half of the town property and the most money to begin the village. ...


In the summer of 1855 H.A. Putnam emigrated to this section with his family, and built a frame building, 24' x 18', which was used as a dwelling and as a store for general merchandise. This undoubtedly was the first house erected, was located on Main Street. Among the early residents mentioned: George Gregory and family, Rev. Wm. Poling, John Dacon (blacksmith), Andrew Miller (carpenter), Henry Parrot (wagon maker), Robert Curtis (blacksmith), Henry Wiseman and John Alexander. Wiseman and Alexander owned a carpenter and wagon shop in 1857. The year 1858 was marked by the grading of the “Transit railway” which cut through the town. The population were pleased with the venture and were anxious for its completion, but when the company failed and were unable to pay their bills for labor and goods, the enterprise was looked upon with disfavor. The road was then purchased by the Winona and St. Peter company, and completed in 1861. This company eventually became part of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad and then D M & E company. Currently the railroad has again changed hands to the CNP railway. There is discussions of having a high-speed rail line through Stockton.


J.B. Stockton was proprietor of the first hotel in 1856. (Eagle Hotel – located at 8550 Co. Rd. 23) Wm. Dodge was the first postmaster in Stockton. The office was just south of the town line. Oscar Ogrosky served as postman in later years. A mill was built in the shape of a sawmill in 1855, by Wm. Dodge. In 1857 it was sold to Starbuck & Jones, who converted it into a gristmill with two runs of burrs. In 1859 it passed into the hands of Hugh Sherry, who sold a half interest to Dr. S.B. Sheardown. In was run by the partnership for five years, when it was purchased by Mowbray and Sons. In 1879 the old burrs were abandoned and patent rolling and crushing machinery installed. The capacity was increased to 250 bbls. per day. Rollingstone creek supplied half the power, the remainder was secured by steam engines. The mill, a three story frame structure, did a lively business. (Despite having changed hands many times it is still operating today.) Some of the past operators were R. Mademann, W. Cornforth, a corporation, and Tom Farren. Jamie Smith is the last to own the mill, which burned down November 25, 1988. It was said that the 1991 flood happened because the mill gates were closed, and shortly after the DNR helped the City tear down the gates. In 2009 there is still a bottom part of the mill that can be seen in the creek itself.


The first school, a frame building, 20' x 28' was built in 1857, and was taught by Albert Thomas. The second school was a large frame building, 28' x 50', built in 1875. There were two department, a primary and intermediate department. With two teachers and an average attendance of 100 pupils, this school did some fine work. This building was torn down in 1958 by Vincent Daniel, who salvaged enough material to construct a home on West Main Street. The original bell tower was saved and moved. A new concrete and brick building was occupied in 1957 as a third school on the corner of 6th and D Streets. This building was purchased by the town in 1982 after being closed as a school. It is presently used as a Community Center and City Hall. Also includes Stockton First Responders, Stockton Senior Citizens, TOPS, local 4-H branch the Peppy Pals and Hillsdale Township offices.


Merchants in the town included; Thomas and Swindler, general merchandise and drugstore; James Mitchell, hardware, boots and shoes; Simon Ramm, general merchandise; Sheardown and Sheardown, general merchandise and drugs. In later years, successive merchants were Krenzke, Roth, Steutrem, Nisbit. Although the past has seen the first frame building house a general store and residence, it has been a post office, cabinet shop, and a grocery store operated by Ralph Benicke who took over the business from his father Theo. It is now operated by Viola Benicke as an antique store. Other early businessmen were two physicians, Dr. S.B. Sheardown Sr. and Dr. T.B. Sheardown Jr.; and two blacksmith shops kept by Christopher Lowerish and George McNutt. Many other businesses have come and gone over the years; railroad depot, elevator, livestock yard, and water tower were located West of F Street near the railroad. A creamery, which was destroyed by fire was located at F Street and 6th Street. A broom factory was built on this spot but no traces remain today. Another creamery was built on C Street, but went out of business in the late 1940s. It was used as a warehouse, and now owned by Charlie Heinz who built it into apartments. C.C. Smith built a garage on Main Street, it became the English garage operated by John and then by his son Clyde. A blacksmith, C.P. Daniel, ran a business there until an autobody shop run by G. Cook moved in. It was torn down in 1994. 2009 has an industry named Technical Die Casting on the West side of town on Main Street, also have a Tooling, Machine & design company, a gas station with food bar, Tiger Lily Tattoo parlor,  and Stockton Valley Saloon as businesses.


Stockton had two churches, the Episcopal and the methodist. The services of the Episcopal church were held at first in the school house. The first minister was Rev. Benj. Evans. The congregation was regularly organized in 1859, and a church building was erected the same year. This structure was a frame 32'x 42' with a spire of 45 feet high. Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Bond, Wm. H. Bayrard and family, J.A. Moore and family and John Monk and family were the prominent original members. For several years the church was without a regular minister. Rev. Joseph Hilmer, of Winona, was in charge of this congregation, the church today is called Grace Lutheran Church.


Methodist church meetings were held in Stockton's Hotel as early as 1856, with A.J. Nelson presiding. These were continued until 1857, at the building of the school house, when it was used. Rev. Wm. Poling was appointed minister by the conference in 1857. A frame church was built in 1872 dimensions 40' x 32', tower and belfry were 15 feet above the roof line. Rev. Wm. H. Soule was the first minister appointed for the new church, which had a membership of forty-four. The church tower and belfry were destroyed in a storm and were never rebuilt. The church was closed in 1976 and was later sold. It is now used as a residence.


A Sabbath School was organized in 1856 by Mrs. H.A. Putnam, in her own house. The school had a membership of fifty, with five teachers. Rev. W.A. Miles was the minister in 1883.


Temperance Society – Refuge Division of the Sons of Temperance, No. 71. This society was chartered in 1876, with twenty-five members. For quite awhile this was flourishing society and did much good for the community, but fell into decay. The officers were W.H. Thomas – W.P., Mrs. Mary Blair – R.S.; Lella McNutt – F.S.; Frank Mitchell – I.S.; Alex Torrence – O.S.; F. E. Blair – Treasurer; Geo. Risinger – Chap. There were forty charter members.


Lyceum – A literary and debating society, organized for mutual benefit. Officers: S.B. Sheardown, president; W.H. Thomas, secretary; R. H. Allen, treasurer.


Stockton cemetery, having an area of two acres, was laid out in 1860, at the North end of the town plat. It has since been renamed Oakland Cemetery.


The main streets of Stockton are four rods wide (66-feet), excepting Broadway, which is six rods wide (99-feet). The alleys are sixteen feet wide (19.4-feet wide). The population is said to be 383.


The area of the City has since been expanded, to the west and to the east, and the population is 520. In 2009 the population is 766, with the new addition of Garvin View Estates on the North end of town. This subdivision brought forth Municipal water to the town. In 1976 the City had Municipal Sewer put in.

  • Information from the courthouse records, Winona County, Minnesota
  • “History of Winona County”, Stockton Village, Hillsdale Township, pp 594-596
  • Additional information from Harold E. Daniels as I remembered it. - January 20, 1987
  • Additional information from Archie Daniel – March 1997
  • Additional information from Bethany Winchester – July 2009
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