A Brief History of Morristown

“Community” began in what is now known as Morristown Minnesota by the Wahpekute Indians. These early settlers, a band of the Dakota Indians, knew the value of a natural waterway and had a village on the south edge of Morristown along the Cannon River.

On April 1st, 1856, a plat that would be forever known as Morristown Minnesota was filed and recorded. This action was intended to be the accomplishment of Jonathon Morris but his passing, due to hard work and exposure, left his widow Sarah to carry on and complete the goal of establishing Morristown. Jonathon and his family had been living 10 miles to the east when he and his son set out by canoe in search of water power for a saw mill. After traveling as far west as Waterville, they turned around and settled in the area still known today as Morristown. Their decision was based on the water power provided there by nature but also by the “pioneer hospitality” they were shown by the few people already living there when they visited. This was the perfect place to build a saw mill which is exactly what Jonathon and his family did.

After milling was established, using the swift current of the Cannon River, business began to flourish. Hotels, stores, a blacksmith shop and additional mills, including a grist mill, were all in operation during the early days of Morristown. Morristown received village incorporation in 1874. The limits of the village were one square mile. Today nearly 1000 people call Morristown home. Although many of the families can boast several generations of homestead, new families continue to settle in the community. Morristown is a small community surrounded by farmland and yet it is just a short distance from the metro areas, offering the best of both worlds.

The year 1900 nearly wiped Morristown off the map. In January of that year fire destroyed twenty buildings in the downtown area. A tornado hit in September of that same year further damaging the landscape. However, the resilient residents of Morristown rebuilt and re-established business. This brand of resiliency is still found in Morristown today.

The people of Morristown were quick to establish religious communities. In some cases, even before the town was established. The first religious service was held by Rev Jonathon Morris in 1855 in his home. The “Society of Methodist” organized in 1856 at the home of Coleman and Hinton Bloomer however, their “class meetings” began in 1854. The United Brethren Church was organized in 1867 at the home of Hiram Erickson. The Congregational Church and The First Baptist Church were also established in 1878 and 1888 respectively. The Trinity Lutheran Church was established approximately 5 miles north of Morristown in 1868 and The Bethlehem Lutheran Church had its first service in 1910.

The “pioneer hospitality” that the Morris family encountered in the 1800s is still alive and well in the community of Morristown where neighbors are friends and kindness is core.