Holden Township

Nansen Cheese Factory, established in 1904

Nansen Cheese Factory, established in 1904

By Johanna Grothe, Goodhue County Historical Society Collections Manager

Holden Township had its first sod broken in 1854 i n Sections 23 and 24 by Wanamingo Township settlers Hans Ovaldson and Ole Oakland. The first person to make a claim was Jens Ottun in the fall of 1854 in Section 33. The Finseth brothers purchased Ottun’s claim in 1855 and became the first permanent settlers of the township. Shortly after, other Norwegians settled the area. The western part of the township was settled by Germans. The township was first known as Dunkirk and was attached to Wanamingo
Township. In 1858, it became its own township and was named Holden.
By 1860, 633 people were living in the township.  Communities in the township included Holden, Eidsvold, Nansen, Finseth Station, and part of Norway.  The community of Holden was located at the corners of Sections 4 and 8. A post office was established in 1860, closed a few months later, and reopened in 1867. Throughout the years, the Holden area had general stores, a blacksmith shop, a wagon shop, a shoe shop, a hotel, a tailor, a painter, and a physician. The Vang Lutheran Church was in the community from 1862 until 1896 when it moved one mile north. The community slowly declined even before the post office closed in 1903. All that is left in Holden are two houses and the Vang Lutheran Church cemetery.

Named after a place in Norway, Eidsvold was located along the border of Sections 23 and 26.  A post office was established in 1875.  The community consisted of Dovre School, two blacksmith shops, and the cooperative general store Forening Dovre Handels. The post office closed in 1888.
Nansen was located in Section 12. A general store was established around 1892. In 1936, the store was destroyed by a fire during a heat wave.  The Nansen Post Office was in operation from 1898 until 1905. The community also housed a cheese factory. Finseth Station was a Chicago Great Western railroad station located in Section 32. Finseth School was located nearby.

Norway, which was never platted, had its beginnings when a post office was established in a “shanty” store in 1857 in Section 24 in Holden Township. A short time later, the store and post office moved just across the township line to Section 19 in Wanamingo Township. The small trading community also had a blacksmith, a shoe shop, a feed mill, and a physician. The post office closed in 1902 and the store closed shortly afterwards. Today, Norway consists of fields.  Nine school districts were located in the township. The first school, established in 1858, was the Underdahl School (District #54). Other schools were Rauk or Holden or Baker School (#55), Dovre School (#56), Finseth School (#57), Tasa School (#58), Ugland School (#145), Norway School (#148), unnamed school (#151), and Hildebrandt School (#153).
Holden Township has many stories to tell. To learn more about the township and the families who lived there, visit the exhibit which is on display through the end of June 2013.

One comment on “Holden Township

  1. Kjell Sorbol on said:

    Intresting stuff you have dig up. Right know I try to put togetter a book
    about the Finseths that came to Goodhue in 1855.
    I am realited to them as my great grandfather came from Hemsedal where the
    Finseth farm is. Lot off good work you do. For those who want to see where them all came from.
    Intresting from Kjell.

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