Hawley, Minnesota

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Hawley Gets it's Name

Thomas Hawley Canfield

Hawley has had six name changes since 1871, and was called Hawley twice.  The name, Hawley, became permanent the second time and has remained Hawley since 1874.  Northern Pacific Railroad and Lake Superior and Puget Sound Company were responsible for five of the names, and the Yeovil Colony for the other.  The names are Reno's Camp, Buffalo Crossing, Muskoday, Bethel or New Bethel, Hawley, Yeovil or New Yeovil, and Hawley.  Churchill's Camp could have been substituted for Reno's camp if the railroad's original location for Hawley had materialized west of present Winnipeg Jucintion, but squatters grabbed this site and forced the railroad to take the next best spot at the crossing of the Buffalo.  Hawley's first two names, Reno's Camp and Buffalo Crossing, have an adventurous ring.  Reno's Camp is certainly  a distinct name, and for publicity purposes the name would have had more value today than the others.  A name such as Reno's Camp is not likely to be forgotten.  It is not only unique, but it also brings to mind the glamour city of Reno, NV., or the Major Reno of the Battle of the Little Bighorn River.  In 1871, however, there were no permanent residents in Reno's Camp to urge retention of this distinct name.  Major Reno, after whom the camp was named, was in charge of a Northern Pacific engineering crew running line ahead of the railroad construction gangs.  Reno, a relative of the Major Reno with Custer, for a short time had a town at the east end of the line named after him, but this name was changed by Thomas Hawley Canfield, who was in charge of selecting names of the stations along the railroad line.  Reno's name was retained at Hawley in one minor fashion.  There is a Reno Street in Hawley, running east and west through the north side of the residential section.  The west end of Reno Street stops at the school grounds where it forms a "T" intersection when it reaches Seventh Street, a north-south street.  Major Reno's campsite was located on NP maps on the west side of the Buffalo River at the bend where the river changes abrupt course from west to south.  The camp existed in August 1871, and was described earlier as a boisterous tent town by the junketing journalists from the East Coast.  Buffalo Crossing and first crossing of the Buffalo was another name for Hawley during this period.  Canfield referred to Hawley in correspondence as Reno's Camp, Buffalo Crossing and first crossing of the Buffalo.  The appelation, first crossing of the Buffalo, also is confusing because in early correspondence, this first crossing was north of Lake Park.  Northern Pacific ran several preliminary lines through the area, and among the early ones, the north of  Lake Park site was the first point where the rail survey touched the Buffalo River.  The final line survey went south of this point, however, and Hawley then became known as the first crossing of the Buffalo in correspondence, while Muskoda at the west end of Hawley Township was designated the second crossing of the Buffalo.  Hawley was subjected to a lot of name calling and changing during the first months of 1872.  Canfield had planned to dub it, Buffalo, but those plans faild.  It was also called Bethel or New Bethel without any explanation given.  Hawley's first permanent citizen, Dan O'Donnell, said Hawley was called Bethel when he first arrived here.  The reference to New Bethel results in a seach for an old Bethel.  There are Bethels in both Maine and Connecticut, the latter is located  some 50 miles north of New York City where Canfield had his LS & PS Company headquarters and Bethel in Maine is located some 175 miles directly east of Burlington, Vermont, the home town of Canfield.  A running account of Hawley's name changes during this period of 1872 is gained through the correspondence of Canfield.  His original plan was to found a large city west of Detroit Lakes, and among the candidates for this honor was the site of Hawley.  His reference to Buffalo, in an April 5, 1871 message to company land agent, Geoge B. Wright, may have referred to the location north of Lake Park.  Later correspondence definitely indicated the Hawley site.  The April 5 message read:

The point of junction which I think you ought to make is out west of Detroit Lake, Lenk Lake, Buffalo or somewhere out that way.  You can make just one large city on your line, one in which a lot will be worth in 10 years more than any dozen of lots at any other point on the line, and that place you should go in on strong.  That point is in the rich country west of Detroit woods and now to be made the junction of lines to Pembina of which I shall say more in a few days.  Joseph E. Turner was busy turning out maps of townsites along the Northern Pacific line.  One of his early efforts was a townsite map of Hawley, which of course, he had to label Muskoday, as it was the proper name at that particular moment.

February 26, 1872

Dear Sir:  Herewith please find rough tracing of ground at Muskoday on the Buffalo River.  The dotted lines show the town as originally surveyed and partially completed, the full lines as completed according to your directions given when on the ground.  I forwarded you a proof tracing of Moorhead on Saturday.  I forwarded you by mail the 26th instance a drawing of Muskoday.   Joseph E Turner

In mid-March and early April of 1872, a rush of correspondence transpired concerning the proper name at Hawley.  Canfield was identifying it as Reno's Camp, Buffalo Crossing, Muskoday and Bethel and everyone was confused from New York City to the town with four names.  March 13, 1872, was a high point for Hawley in the plans of Canfield.  On this particular day he calls Hawley, Muskoday, and in a letter to Sen. William Windom, he asks for the U.S. Land Office to be located at Hawley because it is to be the center of action.  At this time also, the St. Paul and Pacific railroad's junction with the Northern Pacific was planned at Hawley (the junction was finally made at Glyndon).  Canfield's letter to Sen. Windom was written from New York City:

Dear Sir:  Yours of the 11th instant is received, saying General Averill seems disposed to locate the new land office at Detroit Lakes - I hope that will not be done - It is to be the office for lands of Red River Valley to Pembina, and nearly all the agricultural lands, especially those that will be settled first are west and north of Detroit Lakes - although today there are a few settlers at Detoit Lakes, yet when the RR opens for business next season, the other places west of there will settle up much faster - in fact, the place which I named to you, Muskoday, T139, R45, Section 1, is the center of 12 townships which a party is now selling and several sales of large amounts have been made in its vicinity, while at Detroit Lakes the colony only undertakes to sell one township, while at the other place they have agreed upon to 12 townships to have 1,000 families there during the next year - the town of Muskoday is already laid out and as soon as the cars are ready to run in the spring, the lots will be ready for sale-   Besides it will be the junction of the St. Paul and Pacific RR with NPRR, or at most but few miles from it, and hence will accommodate the whole ocuntry for 150 miles north to the British line - Detroit Lakes must be at least 25 miles to 30 miles east of the junction-   While I would not wish to lay a straw in the way of the Detroit colony, yet I know the country so well and from our applications for land, where settlers are going to locate, I'm sure they will be much better accomodated at Muskoday than Detroit - in fact the land east of Detroit has been mostly entered for years, but west of it, not being surveyed until last season, thy could not be taken until now.  Speculators are on lands east and will hold, while settlers will go onto railroad lands and government lands west - hence I think the public will be much better accommodated to have the land office at Muskoday on the Buffalo River than at Detroit Lakes - I trust you will be able to satisfy the general expediency of this and much obliged.  Yours respectfully,     Thomas H. Canfield, President

Hawley never got the land office.  It was first located at the boom town of Oak Lake and later moved to Detroit Lakes.  On Aprl 15 changes had been made.  Glyndon was now the proposed site of the junction with the St. Paul and Pacific, and Glyndon had received its permanent name.  Originally, Canfield considered calling Glyndon "Woodstock," after the home town of Frederick Billings, chairman of the railroad land committee.  The information came to light in an exchange of letters between A. B. Nettleton in Philadelphia and Canfield in New York.  Nettleton wrote on March 14, 1872:

Dear Sir:  I have your favor of March 13, my only anxiety about Muskoday was to know whether Tenney and Turner had any authority for attaching the name to the junction there.  As Mr. Billings had no knowledge of it, when I was in New York on Tuesday and in your absence could not learn that anybody about the office had heard of the name, I thought it important that Turner and Tenny should not send more of their papers broadcast giving Muskoday as the name if it was unauthorized and liable to be changed.  As it is, I see that Messrs. Tenney and Turner advertise Muskoday as the intersection town, when according to your letter, it is not likely to be at the junction at all.  I presume that you or Mr. Billings will send them such advice in this regard as seems necessary.  Yours truly,  A. B. Nettleton

New York, March 15, 1872, Gen. A. B. Nettleton, Philadelphia

Dear Sir:  Yours of the 14th was received.  I have conferred with Mr. Billings and agreed upon a name, Glyndon, is the name of the intersection between the NPRR and the St. Paul Pacific RR in the Red River Valley - Muskoday, on Section 1, T139, R45, is the first crossing of the Buffalo, about the center of Kenny and Turner's operations, which I fully explained to them when here - and which they will probably take charge of for us - I should not think it advisable for them to advertise Glyndon junction until something more definitely is known as to exact point.  Yours respectfully, Thomas H. Canfield

The concern about name changing was considerable at Brainerd where NPRR superintendent, C.T. Hobart was making timetables.  He already had a timetable showing Bethel as the place which Canfield was now calling Muskoday.  To make matters worse, the Muskoda in the west end of Hawley Township had entered the picture.  Canfield was even confused about Muskoda and preferred to call it, "Smith," for the moment.  Canfield's next correspondence was to B.C. Linsley, an engineer for the Minnesota division of the NPRR, and to C.T. Hobart.  Final name for Marion in the Hobart letter is Lake Park.

New York, March 14, 1872, C.T. Hobart, Supt. NPRR. Brainerd, Minn.

Dear Sir:  Yours of the 12th with timetables received - I had intended before you got this out to have sent you a change of the towns of this company so you could have put them onto the table, but one or two were not agreed upon - and even now one is not - those I now send are permanent, and I hope and will not have to be changed.  Please put them on your next timetable - Four on your present table are the names of post offices already in Minnesota, and by the laws of the state, as well as the United States, cannot be used again in the same state - These are Reno-Milton-Marion-and Bethel.  You will substitute Owen for Reno - Spaulding for Milton - Lakeside for Marion - Muskoday for Bethel.  Had intended the crossing of the Buffalo, where Reno's camp was in August 1871 and where I left you in your car December 1, to be called Muskoday, the Indian name of Buffalo abbreviated - there is already a Buffalo in the state so I could not use that- where the place you have on the table as Muskoda, I do not exactly know where that place was, but suppose it is near Smith's log house which is on the map- you had better call that, Smith, for the present-neither the exact place where that station will be located nor the name have been agreed upon, therefore, it may as well remain Smith until the location is settled- Thomas H. Canfield

New York, March 15, 1872, B.C. Linsley, Esq., Brainerd, Minn.

Dear Sir:  At Crow Wing and Partridge Rivers the land is already and you can go on with depots as soon as you please- the same at Muskoday, now called Bethel in Hobart's timetable- where Reno's Camp was in August at first crossing of Buffalo.  Between March 21 and March 29 the name situation became more confusing, and the railroad junction appeared to be moving location with every letter.  Canfield had no control of where the junction would go, of course, because that was the decision of the St. Paul and Pacific officials who apparently could not make up the minds at this point.  Canfield added to the confusion by apparently designating Muskoda as Muskoday in his March 23 letter, but returned to the Hawley site for Muskoday in a March 29 letter.  Two letters to George B. Wright, and telegrams from Sen. Windom and C.T. Hobart illustrate the state of flux:

New York, March 21, 1872, G.W. Wright, Minneapolis, Minn.

Dear Sir:  Muskoday is alright as far as name being fixed for now.  L.H. Tenny & Company, which is Tenney at Duluth and Turner at the Chicago Advance have made contract with land department to sell 12 townships....They are publishing the Red River Gazette and advertising in every direction the Red River Colony which is there and advertising Muskoday- they may attempt to start a new town- all this keep to yourself and keep your eye on the gun.  Arrange at St. Paul and Pacific RR to know instantly as soon as junction is fixed.

New York, March 23, 1872, George B. Wright, Minneapolis, Minn.

Dear Sir:  As soon as Tenney's advertisements are understood, parties will flock there to squat on all the sections- we now have called this place, Muskoday, and Hobart has it so on his timetable, although I had intended to call the other place, Muskoday, at Reno's Camp.  You will be able to find out from Mr. Becker how the matter progresses.

New York, March 26, 1872, Honorable William Windom, Washington, D.C.

If Averill cannot fix land offices as far west as Muskoday then have it at Audubon which is near just west of Oak Lake and under no consideration at Detroit.   Thomas H. Canfield

New York, March 29, 1872, C.T. Hobart, Supt., Brainerd, Minn.

Name the junction with Pembina branch, Glyndon, and where Bethel is now, Muskoday.   Thomas H. Canfield

Another man confused was Luman H. Tenney whose job was to sell the land by whatever name it was called.  He wrote to Canfield on March 29, 1872:

Dear Sir:  Has the Junction been definitely located and if so, what is to be its name, Muskoday or Glyndon?  How are you pleased with our Gazette and posters?  Can you suggest any improvement on our methods of working?  Shall be glad to adopt any improvements that you may point out to us.

New York, March 29, 1872, Messrs. L.H. Tenney & Co., Chicago, Ill.

The line from St. Cloud to St. Vincent you have too near to Detroit- I have corrected it from Sauk Centre- it was not near enough to Red River- also put down Otter Tail Lake, which is well known and important.  The square representing your colony extends east a trifle too far- There is no such place as Lockport.  Ft. Ambercrombie must be the place mentioned.  Yours respectfully in haste,   Thomas H. Canfield

On March 31 Canfield wrote a letter from New York to Gen. A.B. Nettleton in Philadelphia explaining his choice of the name Muskoday.  Dear Sir:  Mr. Billings desires me to write you in respect to the name given to place of the corossing of the Buffalo, viz, "Muskoday."  Thise is where the NPRR strkes the Buffalo River, and which I had intended to call Buffalo- but upon examining the post office registers, found the name had already be appropriated in Minnesota and hence could not be used again.  I therefore found what the Indain name for buffalo was, and from an intelligent and educated half-breed, got it abbreviated, so as to make an easy prounouncing name as above.  Billings has given me your list of names, many of which are very good and we will probably use- There will be towns enough to use up all the names our friends will present- but we must be governed by circumstances in use of them-  The junction of NPRR and St. Paul and Pacific RR is not yet finally located, but will probably be west of Muskoday, unless to secure more land it shall be made further east than has been contemplated-  Yours very truly, Thomas H. Canfield, President

Hawley received its correct name on or before April 3, 1872, and it was confirmed on that date by Canfield in New York in a letter to Hobart at Brainerd.  It is unfortunate that the meeting is not on record giving the reason why Hawley received it's name.  Possibly some day in the future, Minnesota Historical Society will discover such a record in the huge amount of historic material it has received from Burlington Northern Railroad, but it will take years before these records are catalogued.  In the meantime the evidence supporting Gen. Hawley as Hawley's benefactor must be given the most serious consideration.  Canfield's April 3 letter:

Dear Sir:  I wrote you on the 14th instant giving the list of the names of towns of the Lake Superior and Puget Sound Company- since that time some canvassing of names has been had and today we have agreed upon the following names which please insert in your next timetable in place of those now in it.  So far as the changes made, the others remain the same.  Substitute Lakeside for Marion, substitue Hawley for Bethel, drop out Muskoday entirely and make station at junction of St. Paul and Pacific RR Pembina Branch with NPRR, Glyndon....With these changes made, with hope will end this question.  As soon as convenient I think it would be well to issue new timetables with those names so people will get accustomed to them as soon as possible.  Hobart replied to Canfield on April 13, and Wright sent a map of Hawley to George Follet on May 12, 1872.

Dear Sir:  Your letter of the third instant came duly to hand.  The changes of names in stations as indicated will be made on the next timetables and tariff sheets we issue.  A copy of the enclosed circular has been sent out to all parties concerned and I trust that we will all soon become familiar with the new names of the stations.  Herewith I send you our freight tariffs.  C.T. Hobart

Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 12, 1872, George Follett, Esquire, Chief Clerk

Dear Sir:  I send you by today's mail the original map of Hawley and a copy of the same to which you will please affix the company's seal and return to Mr. George W. Sweet of St. Paul.  Yours respectfully, George B. Wright

Hawley rested comfortably with its new name for only a few short months.  The Rev. George Rodgers of Yeovil, England, visited the area that summer, and decided Hawley township was the spot for the Yeovil Colony of English he planned to bring across the following year.  Correspondence from November 23, 1872 to January 15, 1873, between Canfield and his immigration agent in England, George Sheppard, showed that another name change was forthcoming.  Sheppard wrote, "I now understand that the Hawley of today is to be the Yeovil of the future."  Canfield answered that the township, station and post office could be changed from Hawley to Yeovil if the English desired, but that Hawley would remain on the plat for making deeds.  The Yeovil Colonists arrived in March, April, and May 1873, and George Chant, one of the colonists, was named postmaster on April 18.   According to the records in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., the name of the post office at Hawley was changed to Yeovil on the same day.  On January 8, 1874, John Costain, a Hawley merchant in partnership with John Pryor on the site of the former Thysell Brothers, Inc., was named postmaster and Yeovil post office was changed back to Hawley permanently.  Even though Chant was renamed post master only five weeks later on February 17, and held that position until July 20, 1885 when the druggist Herbert Glaisyer received the honor, the name did not revert back to Yeovil.  No correspondence exists in Canfield's files to show why the change was made back to Hawley.  His letters to England showed a willlingness to have Hawley changed to Yeovil, yet according to the railroad timetables published during the period Hawley post office was named Yeovil, the depot continued to be called Hawley.  Lillian Elsholtz, who wrote an article on Hawley's history in the October 13, 1927 Herald, explains it best--"Dr. Rodgers suggested that their new home be called Yeovil and for several years mail was received here addressed by that name.  It was rather confusing, however, to have the station named Hawley and the post office named Yeovil, and there was much loss of mail until finally Yeovil was dropped and both the station and post office went by the name, Hawley."

This article taken from Journey Back to Hawley, A history of the early years of Hawley, Minnesota, published for the centennial observance of July 1972.  Robert A. Brekken, Editor