"The History of Houston County", Taylor
Publishing, 1982 - Page
Township is the second river township from the
northern boundary of Houston County, lying south of La
Crescent, having Mound Prairie and Union Townships to
the west and Brownsville to the south, with the
Mississippi River as the eastern boundary. The
name Hokah is of Indian origin and according to
tradition, it was also the name of a powerful Indian
chief whose village stood on the beautiful spot now
occupied by the Village of Hokah.
River enters the township from the west and winds in
an easterly direction through the northern half of the
township until it empties into the Mississippi.
The valley of the river has an average width of two
miles. The river is joined by other
streams: the most important of which is
Thompson's Creek which furnished reliable water
power. As of other river townships, Hokah has
the usual bluffs facing the Mississippi, with interior
valleys, ridges and plateaus and the scenery is very
picturesque. In the early days, the bottom
land was heavily timbered with black walnut, maple,
oak and other hardwoods, large quantities of which
were cut and rafted down the river and some of which
were sawed in local mills.
first permanent settler in the township was
Edward Thompson, who arrived in the spring
of 1851. Attracted by the fine water power, he
staked out a claim and brought his wife and family
Valley south of the village was first settled in 1853
by Hiram Butterfield
who came from Illinois and took a claim in Section
8. John Densch,
who arrived in 1854, was probably the first settler on
the "ridge". His log cabin had a sail
for a roof which he brought from the east.
Root River Brewery was located on Section 28. It
was erected in 1867 by Joseph
Pfeffer, Jr at a cost of about $10,000, and
it had a capacity of thirty gallons a day.
union cemetery on Section 10 was divided by an
imaginary line into two equal parts; one half of which
belonged to the Roman Catholics and the other half to
the German Lutherans and the German Methodists.
The first burial was in 1859, a son of Fred
Glassert who was about 12 years of age.
Academy of the Sisters of Notre Dame was erected in
1866 in the northeast corner of Section 28.
There were accommodations for borders as well as day
scholars and at times there were as many as forty
regular boarding pupils in this large building of
stone on this 200 acre plot of land. There was a
small burial place for the sisters and the
priests. Another cemetery was blessed about the
year of 1873 on this land and the wife of J.
G. Streigel was the first burial
here. There are still people being buried in
this cemetery in the 1980s and the perpetual care
makes it a pleasant resting place.
the last half of the 20th century, Hokah Township
provided excellent building sites for people who had
employment in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The plotted
additions that are recorded are as follows:
Brookwood Hills, Sept 7, 1972, First Addition to
Brookwood Hills, Aug. 21, 1974, Wagner Addition, Dec
27, 1971, Root River Terrace, Nov 10, 1970; E. E.
Bentahl's Fox Chase Road Subdivision, March 23, 1973,
E. E. Bentahl's Fox Shadows Subdivision, Nov 28, 1978.
1982 Township Officials for Hokah Township are: Clerk,
Barbara Ratigan; Treasurer, Gertrude Wieser,
Chairperson, Robert F. Tschumper and Supervisors,
Lloyd Welke, and Duane Frauenkron.
by Mrs. Bernard Wieser.
"The History of Houston County", Taylor
Publishing, 1982 - Page 28
site of Hokah was, at its founding, an Indian village. The name of
Hokah is derived from their leader, Chief Wecheschatope Hokah. The
English translation is Garfish.
Detailed accounts of Edward Thompson finding this site and brining his
family here in October of 1851 have been written in other histories.
Thompson erected a sawmill in 1852, a flour mill in 1853, and in 1866 a
dam across the Root River which furnished power for three flour mills
and some cooper shops. As early as 1854 Edward Thompson began
working on a project to build a railroad through the Root River
Valley. The Southern Minnesota Railroad began operations at Hokah
in 1866. As a result, Hokah's population grew from 100 to nearly
1,500 but a census in 1875 counted 1,023 residents. Water power
for the railroad shops which were located at the present junction of
Highways 16 and 44 was furnished by a wooden flume which ran from the
floodgates of Lake Como.
June of 1880, when the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul secured
possession of the Southern Minnesota the shops were razed, leaving
several hundred without employment. Mos of them moved away and the
loss of this business had its effect on the flour mills and cooper shops
which closed one by one.
first telephone line, built in 1902, by businessmen, extended from the
heart of town to the depot. In 1904 a switchboard was purchased
replacing a system of call bells in the Hoffman Hardware. On June
18, 1906, the Peoples Telephone Company was formed.
1917, the first electric lights were furnished by Hoffman and Ender
using water power. A cement flume carried the water from the
floodgate area to the flour mill that, erected in 1914, was on the site
of the former Weber mill. Power was furnished from 7 pm. to
midnight. a 20 horsepower engine provided standy power. This
service was provided until 1920 when they sold out to Northern States
Power. The flume continued to supply power for the mill for some
time after and is still intact today although it has been cemented shut.
dredging of the Root River, starting in 1918 and officially known as
Judicial Ditch No. 1, greatly changed the course of the river north of
Hokah. What was left of Edward Thompson's river dam was also dug
up at this time.
1933 directory of business places in Hokah would have included:
four general stores, three service stations, two cafes, a bank, car
dealership, meat market, flour mill, hardware and lumber store, cheese
factory, creamery, barbershop, newspaper, automotive repair shop, as
well as several individuals engaged in a service type business.
city hall was built as part of the Works Progress Administration in
1938. The village's share of the cost of $34,000 was $14,000.
celebrated its centennial on August 26, 1951. It consisted of a
parade and pageants. During this time and until 1965 William
Langen's Log Cabin Museum was a popular spot for anyone interested in
local history. Hokah's sewer system was installed in 1959.
Daze, a celebration first held in 1966, has consited of many different
recreational sports including a canoe race held on the Root River.
Development Corporation which was organized for much of the same purose
as the Lake Como Park, Inc. built a swimming pool in the old Lake Como
bed in 1968. In 1974 the corporation built a bath house. The
pool and surrounding area were turned over to the city in 1981.
1981, Hokah improved the water system with a new well, reservoir and
by Barbara Bissen.
1860 Hokah Census Index
since this counter was added in March, 2003.