Is it 2008 or 2020? When is Kandiyohi County's 150th birthday party?
WILLMAR -- Anyone who's tried to spell or pronounce sesquicentennial knows that neither task is easy. Kandiyohi County residents had better get used to it. They'll be spelling and saying sesquicentennial twice -- in 2008 and 2020. The 12-year spa...
WILLMAR -- Anyone who's tried to spell or pronounce sesquicentennial knows that neither task is easy.
Kandiyohi County residents had better get used to it. They'll be spelling and saying sesquicentennial twice -- in 2008 and 2020.
The 12-year span represents a significant component of the county's history and addresses a lingering question about when Kandiyohi County was actually started --1858 or 1870?
That begs the question of when the county 150th anniversary should be celebrated -- 2008 or 2020?
The answer appears to be both years.
In 2008, Minnesota will celebrate its 150th year in statehood, which will be noted with activities statewide.
Kandiyohi County is making plans to piggyback on the occasion and mark its own 150th birthday next year.
During a recent Kandiyohi County Board meeting, Commissioners Richard Larson and Richard Falk both asked why the heck the county was planning its sesquicentennial in 2008 when the real century-and-a-half celebration is not until 2020.
"There's not a right or wrong answer," said Matthew Johnson, in a recent interview.
Johnson, who is a planner for the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission, is charged with the duty of helping Kandiyohi County participate in the state's sesquicentennial as well as the county's own 150th celebration.
"Both times would be a good time to reflect back on where we've been," said Johnson, taking the middle ground on a light-hearted debate on the county's history.
Andria Olson, the curator at the Kandiyohi County Historical Society Museum, said she's been surprised to hear history buffs who come to the local museum vocalize their strong opinions about the real sesquicentennial of the county.
"We have had some concern about celebrating this year," said Olson. "It has been debated."
1858 or 1870?
There was indeed a Kandiyohi County in existence 150 years ago.
But the Kandiyohi County of 1858, with just 12 townships, was only half the size it is today. The county seat at the time was located in Kandiyohi, which was a stop along the railway and was known as Kandiyohi Station.
At the same time in 1858, the northern half of the current Kandiyohi County was a separate county called Monongalia County. The county seat there shifted a bit through the years but eventually landed in New London.
The two counties coexisted for 12 years, although a 1905 history book of Kandiyohi County claims that Monongalia County existed more "on paper" than in reality.
Given the simple living conditions and low population in the late 1850s and 1860s, along with the Dakota Uprising in 1862 when many pioneers fled their homesteads, there wasn't much business to transact in either county.
In a move reportedly driven by economics, residents of the two counties agreed to merge in 1870 into a configuration of 24 townships that has been maintained ever since.
So, the current Kandiyohi County was created in 1870, which would put its 150th anniversary -- its sesquicentennial -- in the year 2020.
Delaying the celebration until then would follow the precedent set in 1970 when the county's 100th anniversary -- its centennial -- was celebrated, said Don Miller, a former president of the Kandiyohi County Historical Society and well-versed spokesman on the county's history.
But it's difficult to ignore the first 12 years of history of the two halves of the county, said Olson.
And, in 1958 -- during the centennial of the original county -- that anniversary was also noted and a book written to commemorate the occasion.
Kandiyohi County Administrator Larry Kleindl said the current Kandiyohi County "wouldn't have been formed" in 1870 if Monongalia County and Kandiyohi County hadn't already been established in 1958.
The early historical records identified the origins of local government in the county, said Kleindl, who favors multiple celebrations of the county's birth.
It seems "wrong" not to celebrate the sesquicentennial in 2008, said Olson, who said another, larger celebration should be held in 2020 to mark the date of the merged county. "It doesn't hurt anything to celebrate both years," she said.