Census Index

1860 Black Hammer Census

1930 Black Hammer Census


Black Hammer


From, "The History of Houston County", Taylor Publishing, 1982 - Page 14

Ed Stevens, a millwright, had helped design and construct some of the earliest grist mills in Wisconsin and Iowa.  In 1852, he and his wife settled on the "Ike Farm" (now David Alstad's).  This he sold in 1854 to Peter Carrier, Sr. and moved to Yucatan Township.

Knut Olson Bergo is credited for naming Black Hammer.  He awoke one morning, stepped outside his cabin door, and saw that a prairie fire had spread across the nearby hammer-shaped hill.  Looking at the charred appearance it reminded him of a hill at this former home in Slidre Valders, Norwary called Sard (Black) Hammer.

The hill has been the scene of many celebrations and picnics.  The one remaining resident is our "Stone Lady."  This unique rock landmark, built in the likeness of a woman, has withstood the ravages of time for approximately 104 years.  Some will tell you that in 1878, a pioneer settler named Vaitlin Valtinson built the "Stone Lady." While others will tell you that teenagers watching a herd of grazing cattle erected the monument.  Others believe that at one time there was also a "Stone Man" and "Stone Child". 

At the first town meeting in April 1859, Halge Solverg suggested the name Clinton.  Upon submission to the State for approval, it was denied because there already was a Clinton, Minnesota.  After much deliberation the name Black Hammer was adopted.

Riceford Creek flows through the western part of our township.  By the late 1850s a number of settlers had settled along the stream.  By 1857 David Soper with partner Philander Soper, had built the first sawmill.  A flash flood destroyed the mill and many of the area's residents in 1866.

By 1981. Gunder Mathison was operating a local store and blacksmith shop.  When the Houston-Decorah Mail Stage began delivering mail, tri-weekly, he became the first postmaster.

In the late 1890s the blacksmith shop was sold to Henry Peterson, who started a wagon makers shop and kept the forge going.

A second store was started in late 1893 by Elling Karlsbraaten and Iver Dahlen, and in 1893 they sold the store to Hans Hanson.  Hanson operated the store until 1903.  Oscar Bagley and then ihis son Milton operated the store until it was sold to Sigurd Evenson in 1955.  Hans Hanson's nephew, Baldwin Hanson, became the owner in 1970.  Changes in the store itself were few.  A furnace replaced the pot-belly stove and coolers were added for meat and pop.  Other than that it continued to be a social center for the area's young and old.

School District #37 was organized in 1857, with Frank Brown the teacher.  After the school district was consolidated with Spring Grove, the red brick school house was purchased by the Black Hammer Swift Scooters 4-H Club.  The Swift Scooters celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1977, and continue to use the schoolhouse for their monthly meetings.  

The population of Black Hammer Township has been predominantly Norwegian.  Some of the earliest settlers were: Rosaaen, Ike, Winjum, Otterness, Ericksen, Onstad, Findreng, Yetrelie, Hemri, Lie, Berquam, Valtinsen, Guttormsen, Lanen, Svortaas, Bersrud.  Among the early settlers of other nationalities were: Billings, West, Simpson, Carrier, Fleming, Smith, Birdsell, Saunders, De-Fin, Rafferty, Ramsdalle, Fuler, Pulsifier, Casewell, Smart, Griege, and Robb.

We no longer have the grocery stores, the blacksmith shop or the Post Office.  But we do have the red brick school and church still serving the community.

The 1982 Township officials are: Michael Wiste, clerk; Maynard T. Brevig, treasurer, Donald Norgard, chairperson, David Alstad and Alden Solum, supervisors.  Submitted by Mrs. David Alstad.

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 Faith Lutheran


School District #37 was organized in 1857, with Frank Brown as the teacher.  The school district was consolidated with Spring Grove. 


Map of Black Hammer, MN

Black Hammer Lutheran Church Cemetery - 102/07/27/NWNE

Old Black Hammer Cemetery - 102/07/22/SENE - Approximately 20 interments were made prior to the dedication of Black Hammer Lutheran Church Cemetery. The first burial here was a daughter of Lars Skime in 1854.

Black Hammer

Early Settlers - SURNAMES

  • Ike

  • Bergo

  • Valtinson

  • Solverg

  • Soper

  • Mathison

  • Peterson

  • Karlsbraaten

  • Dahlen

  • Hanson

  • Bagley

  • Evenson

  • Hanson

  • Brown

  • Rosaaen

  • Winjum

  • Otterness

  • Onstad

  • Findreng

  • Yetrelie

  • Hemri, Lie,

  • Berquam

  • Valtinsen

  • Guttormsen

  • Lanen

  • Svortaas,

  • Bersrud

  • Billings

  • West

  • Simpson

  • Carrier

  • Fleming

  • Smith

  • Birdsell

  • Saudners

  • De-Fin

  • Rafferty

  • Ramsdall

  • Fuler

  • Pulsifier

  • Casewell

  • Smart

  • Griege

  • Robb

  • Wiste

  • Brevig

  • Norgard

  • Alstad

  • Solum