This county was established December 31, 1894, and received an
addition from Beltrami county, February 10, 1896. It is named from the Roseau
Lake and river, of which the former appears, with this name, on Verendrye's map
(1737). The river is shown on Thompson's map (1814), with the name Reed river,
translated from this French name, which is in turn a translation of the Ojibway
name. Gilfillan wrote it, "Ga-shashagunushkokawi-sibi or
the-place-of-rushes-river, or briefly, Rush River." It is more accurately
called Reed-grass River on Long's map (1823) and on Pope's map (1849). The very
coarse grass, or reed, referred to is Phragmites communis, which is common or
frequent in the shallow edges of lakes throughout the prairie region of
Minnesota and Manitoba. During a canoe trip around all the shore of Red Lake in
September 1885, this species was observed in great abundance at many places,
growing 8 to 12 feet in height.
Information of the origins and meanings of geographic names
has been received from Syver G. Bertilrud, county auditor, interviewed at
Roseau, the county seat, during a visit there in September, 1909; and from him a
second time, also from D. H. Benson, dealer in real estate, and J. W. Durham,
janitor of the High School, each of Roseau, interviewed there in September,
ALGOMA township bears a name of Indian derivation,
"formed by Schoolcraft from Algonquin and goma meaning 'Algonquin
waters."' It designates a large district in Canada, bordering Lakes Huron
AMERICA township was named by its settlers, mostly born in the
more eastern states and thence called Americans, in distinction from the foreign
immigrants who settled many townships of this county.
BADGER a railway village in the east edge of Skagen, took its
name from the Badger creek, flowing northwestward, tributary to the Roseau
BARNETT township was named in honor of Myron E. Barnett, one
of its American homesteaders.
BARTO township was named for a Bohemian settler there.
BEAVER township was named for its former colonies of beavers,
living on the head streams of the North fork of Roseau river.
BLOOMING VALLEY is the most northwestern township of the
county, named for its prairie and woodland flowers in the slight depression of
the Roseau valley.
CASPFRSON Post office, in Golden Valley township, was named
for brothers who took homestead claims near it.
CEDAR BEND township has a bend of the West branch of War Road
river, bordered by many trees of white cedar, also known as the American arbor
CLEAR RIVER township received this name in allusion to the
clearness of the West branch of War Road river in its southwestern part,
contrasted with the frequently dark color of streams in this region, stained by
seepage from peaty ground.
DEER township had formerly many deer, being a favorite hunting
DEWEY township commemorates Admiral George Dewey, hero in the
Spanish-American war, 1898, who was born in Montpelier, Vt., December 26, 1837,
and died in Washington, D. C., January 16, 1917. He was graduated at the U. S.
Naval Academy, 1858; served in the civil war; was promoted to be a captain,
1884, Commodore in 1896, and Admiral in 1899. Soon after the outbreak of the war
with Spain, he destroyed the Spanish fleet off Cavite in the Bay of Manila, May
1, 1898; and on August 13 his fleet aided the troops under General Merritt in
the capture of Manila.
DIETER township was named in honor of a German settler, Martin
Van Buren Dieter, who later removed to Montana.
DUXBY post office, in Pohlitz, was named for its first
EDDY post office, in Stafford, was named in honor of Frank
Marion Eddy, of Sauk Center. He was born in Pleasant Grove, Minn., April 1,
1856; taught school a few years, and was land examiner for the Northern Pacific
railroad company; was clerk of the district court of Pope county, 1884-94;
representative in Congress, 1895-1903; and later was editor of the Sauk Center
ELKWOOD township had elk formerly on its small prairie tracts,
but most of its area is woodland.
ENSTROM township received its name in honor of Louis Enstrom,
a homestead farmer and lawyer in Malung, who was a member of the board of county
commissioners. He was born in Sweden in 1873, and settled here in 1889.
FALUN township bears the name of an important mining town in
central Sweden, famous for its mines of copper, silver, and gold, whence it is
sometimes called "the Treasury of Sweden."
FOX is a railway village in Ross, named for foxes, as the next
village and creek westward are named for badgers.
GOLDEN VALLEY township, crossed by the South fork of Roseau
river, was thus auspiciously named by vote of its settlers.
GREENBUSH a railway village in Hereim, was named for the first
evergreen trees seen near the "ridge road," as one comes eastward from
the Red river valley. These are spruce trees, about two miles northeast of the
village. An early trail, later a wagon road, and latest the railway, here began
a curving course along a gravel beach ridge of the glacial Lake Agassiz,
following this beach for about twenty miles, or nearly to the site of Roseau.
GRIMSTAD township was named for John Grimstad, a Norwegian
homesteader there, who removed several years ago to North Dakota.
HAUG Post office, in Soler, was named for Theodore E. Haug, a
homestead farmer from Norway.
HEREIM township was named for another Norwegian farmer, Ole
HOMOLKA post office, in the south edge of Poplar Grove
township, was named for Anton Homolka, a Polish settler.
HUSS township bears the name of the great Bohemian religious
reformer and martyr, John Huss (b. 1369, d. 1415). He followed Wyclif of
England, "the Morning Star of the Reformation."
JADIS, the township in which Roseau is situated, was named in
honor of Edward W. Jadis, agent for the Sprague Lumber Company of Winnipeg. He
was born in England, and received a liberal education there; came from eastern
Canada to Minnesota before 1875, and was a lumberman on Mud and Pine creeks,
floating the logs down the Roseau and Red rivers to Winnipeg; removed to
Hallock, was auditor of Kittson county, 1887-92, and died November 1, 1892.
JUNEBERRY post office, in T. 162, R. 44, is named for a small
tree, variously called Juneberry, service berry, or shad bush, which is common
or frequent throughout Minnesota.
LAONA township was at first called Roosevelt, like its railway
village, but was renamed because another Minnesota township, in Beltrami county,
had earlier received that name.
LEO post office, in Barto, was named in, honor of Leo XIII (b.
1810, d. 1903), who was the Pope twenty-five years, from 1878 until his death.
LIND, the most southwestern township, is in honor of John
Lind, the fourteenth governor of this state. He, was born in Kanna, Sweden,
March 25, 1854; came to the United States in 1867 with his parents, who settled
in Goodhue county, Minn. He attended the University of Minnesota in 1875-6; was
admitted to the bar in New Ulm in 1877, and practiced there, excepting terms of
absence in official duties, until 1901; represented his district in Congress,
1887-93; was governor of Minnesota, 1899-1901; removed to Minneapolis in 1901,
and was again a member of Congress, 1903-05; president of the Board of Regents
of the University of Minnesota, 1908-13; was envoy of President Wilson in
LONGWORTH, a railway station in Algoma, six miles north of
Warroad, is named in honor of Nicholas Longworth, of Cincinnati, Ohio, where he
was born November 5, 1869. He was graduated at Harvard University, 1891, and in
its Law School, 1893; was married to Alice Lee Roosevelt, daughter of President
Roosevelt, in 1906; was a member of Congress, 1903-13; and since 1916.
MALUNG township and village have the name of a town in western
MANDUS railway station, formerly called Lucan, was named for
Mandus Erickson, an adjoining Swedish farmer.
MICKINOCK township commemorates a petty chief of the Ojibways,
whose home was near Ross post office, west of Roseau lake. He was described as
"one of the best Indians that ever lived, intelligent, sociable, and
MOOSE township was named for its formerly frequent moose. This
is one of our few English words received, with slight change, from the
MORANVILLE township received its name in compliment for
Patrick W. Moran, its first settler, who came here in 1894.
NERESEN township was named in honor of Knut Neresen, one of
its Norwegian homesteaders.
NORLAND township, meaning Northland, adjoins the international
OAKS township was named for Charles Oaks, an American
homesteader near the center of this township, who was a stage-driver between
Stephen and Roseau but removed several years ago to the Peace river valley in
PALMVILLE township was named in compliment for Louis Palm, a
Swedish homesteader there.
PENCER, a post office in Mickinock, was intended to honor John
C. Spencer, a traveling salesman from St. Paul, but the proposed name was thus
changed by the U. S. postal department. He took a homestead claim near Wannaska,
about six miles distant to the southwest.
POHLITZ township was named for one of its pioneer
homesteaders, an immigrant from Iceland.
POLONIA township was settled mostly by immigrants from Poland.
POPLAR GROVE township was named by vote of its people, this
being chosen from the ten or more names proposed.
ROOSEVELT, a railway village in the southeast corner of Laona,
adjoining the east boundary of the county, was named in honor of Theodore
Roosevelt, the eminent author and statesman. He was born in New York City,
October 27, 1858; served as a colonel in the Spanish-American war, 1898; was
governor of New York, 1899-1900; president of the United States, 1901-09; was
later an editor of "The Outlook;" died at his home, Oyster Bay, N. Y.,
January 6, 1919.
ROSEAU, the county seat, a village in Jadis, was named like
this county, for the Roseau Lake and river.
ROSS, one of the earliest townships organized, needs further
inquiry for the selection of its name, which is borne by a county in Ohio, and
by villages in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and other states.
SALOL, a railway village in Enstrom, was named by Louis P.
Dahlquist, formerly a druggist clerk, who was county superintendent of schools
and later the county treasurer. Salol is a, white crystalline powder, used as a
remedy for rheumatism and neuralgia.
SANWICK, a former post office in Dewey, was named for Aven
Sanwick, a Norwegian settler.
SKAGEN township is in honor of Albert 0. Skagen of Ross, who
was chairman of the county commissioners. This is the name of a seaport and cape
at the north extremity of Denmark.
SOLER township is named for the district of Soler in Norway.
SPRUCE township had formerly much spruce timber. Our larger
species called black spruce, attaining a height of 70 feet and diameter of one
to two feet, is much used for paper-making; but the white spruce, of somewhat
more northern range, is a smaller tree, here growing to the height of about 20
feet, with a diameter of six to eight inches. Both are common in northern
Minnesota, extending westward to the Roseau river.
STAFFORD township was named for, William Stafford, a settler
who came from Michigan.
STOKES township was named for George Stokes, who lived in
Badger village, adjoining the west line of this township.
STRATHCONA, a railway village in Deer township, commemorates
Donald Alexander Smith, later Lord Strathcona, who was born in Forres, Scotland,
August 6, 1820, and died in London, January,21, 1914. He came to Canada in 1838
in the service of the Hudson Bay Company; was stationed during thirteen years at
trading posts on the Labrador coast, and later in the Canadian Northwest; was
promoted to be resident governor for that company; was one of the principal
financial, promoters for construction of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific
railway, and was a friend of James J. Hill, under whose leadership the Great
Northern railway was built; was during many years a member of the Dominion House
of Commons; after 1896 was High Commissioner for Canada in London, and in 1897
was raised to the peerage as Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal; was a very
generous donor from his great wealth to many institutions of education and
The compound title of his peerage referred to Glencoe, his
summer home in the county of Argyle, Scotland, and to Mount Royal in Montreal,
his former home in Canada. "Glencoe, the glen or valley of Conan, has its
equivalent in Strathcona." ,.(The Life of Lord Strathcona, by Beckles,
Wilson, 1915, vol. II, p. 265)
TORFIN, a former post office in the east edge of Palmville,
was named in honor of Iver Torfin, a Norwegian pioneer, who was the first clerk
of the court for this county, 1895-1005, now a farmer in that township.
WANNASXA, a hamlet in Grimstad, on a camping ground of the
chief Mickinock, is said to bear an early Ojibway name of the Roseau River,
Probably it referred rather to a deep place of the river, being derived from
wanashkobia, defined by Baraga as: "a reservoir or, basin of water."
WARROAD, a township of small area on the southwest side of the
Lake of the Woods, and its village on the Warroad River near its mouth,
incorporated November 9, 1901, are named from this river, which was in a neutral
tract between the warring Ojibways and Sioux. Carver's map from his travel to
the Minnesota river in 1766-67, explains this term, as follows: "All
Countries not possessed by any one Nation, where War Parties are often passing,
is called by them the Road of War."
LAKES AND STREAMS
The name of the Lake of the Woods is fully considered in the
first chapter, treating of our large rivers and lakes; and Roseau lake and river
are noticed at the beginning of this chapter.
An unnamed lake near the international boundary, in Algoma,
and Mud lake, quite small, in sections 10 and 11, T. 160, R. 37, complete the
meager list of lakes in this county, which lies within the area of the glacial
Lake Agassiz, having therefore smoothed surface, with few hollows for lakes or
Mud and Pine Creeks, flowing from the edge of Manitoba, join
the Roseau River and lake, and were formerly routes of, driving pine logs to
In Laona is Willow creek, tributary to the Lake of the Woods;
and in Moranville the Warroad river is formed by union of its East and West
branches, having also between them a small affluent called Bull Dog Run.
Roseau river, formed by its North and South forks, which unite
in Malung, receives also Sucker creek, Hay creek, flowing into the North fork,
and Cow creek, these being tributaries above Roseau lake; and farther west it
receives Badger creek, which runs in a drainage ditch along most of its course.
On the southwest, the head stream of the South branch of Two
Rivers flows past Greenbush, and thence it crosses Kittson county to the Red