History of Ortonville


1871 C. K. Orton arrived in Benson by train and then started out on foot.  He made his formal claim to 160 acres of pre-empted government land in Litchfield which was the nearest land office.

1872 C. K. Orton settled on section nine of Township 121, range 46.  C. K. Orton and three brothers built three buildings near the lake and started farming.  C. K. Orton also opened a trading post.

1874 On September 1st, the first Board of County Commissioners established the first six school districts.  A county Superintendent of Schools functioned from July 20, 1874 to July 20, 1878, and from March 19, 1881 to July 1, 1969.

1875 The post office was established with C. K. Orton the first postmaster.

1876 The first permanent store opened with Schumaker and Woodly as proprietors.

1877 Ortonville, School District #1, did not have a school until the summer of 1877.  Miss Ida Van Kleek was the first teacher in Ortonville

1878 Dr. A. E. Pettingill was the first doctor in Ortonville.

1879 On April 20th, a fire swept through the town destroying more than half of the 28 buildings.

1879 The first passenger train arrived in Ortonville on November 29, 1879.  C. K. Orton had given the right-of-way to the railroad.

1879 Navigation on Big Stone Lake was promoted and several companies were formed to transport passengers and freight.

1879 C. K. Orton set aside two acres of land to be used as a cemetery.  The Mound Cemetery Association of Ortonville has since added more land.  The cemetery’s earliest birth is 1791 with the earliest death being 1877.

1881 Ortonville was organized as a village by an act of the state legislature in the spring session.  The first village officers were:  H. Van Inwegen, president; C. K. Orton, Bernard Dassel, and A. L. Jackson, trustees; F. G. Tuttle, recorder, F. H. Holloway, city justice; and A. E. Randall, treasurer.

1887 The first class to graduate from Ortonville High School – with the following three graduates:  J. William Brown, Miss Franc Murray Potter and William E. Russell.

1892 Columbian Hotel was built.

1897 On August 19th, a fire destroyed the entire east side of Second Street between Madison and Monroe, ten buildings in all.

1898 On February 8, the City of Ortonville opened bids for $15,000 bonds for its water and light departments.  The 1899 Plat Book shows the City Water and Electric Works on the lakeshore.

1902 The current Big Stone County Courthouse was built.

1906 On October 30, Dr. Jacob Karn and Dr. Charles Bolsta opened a 17 bed hospital on Washington Avenue between Second and Third streets.  Grand View Hospital.  Miss Josephine Bolsta, R.N., a sister of Dr. Bolsta, was the first superintendent.  In 1919, Dr. Charles Bolsta and Dr. Bert R. Karn transferred title of Grand View to the South Dakota Evangelical Church Society.  It was called the Ortonville Evangelical Hospital until 1944, when the church transferred title to the property and the operation of the hospital back to Dr. Charles Bolsta and Dr. B. R. Karn.  Drs. Bolsta and Karn, in turn, transferred the hospital to the City of Ortonville.  In September 1944, the council passed an ordinance creating a hospital board.

1913 The first motion picture theatre in Ortonville was built at 240 NW Second Street – later became the Moose Lodge.

1913 The Library Board asked the City Council to raise $1,000 by tax levy and to apply to the Carnegie Foundation for funds.  The City purchased the site for $1,800.  The plans of F. W. Elerby, architect, for his Venetian Renaissance design were approved by the Carnegie Council and $10,000 was donated for the building.  Carlson-Hasslen bid of $10,250 was accepted and later adjusted to $9,335.  The library was opened on April 26, 1915.

1918-1919 Epidemic of Spanish influenza in Big Stone County

1917 On June 30th, street lights “went on” in Ortonville.

1924 The armory was built.

1930 23 blocks of city pavement were laid in the summer and early fall.  A three day pavement celebration and Goodwill Festival began with a dedication ceremony on Friday, noon, October 10.

1931 The first Corn Festival, sponsored by the Ortonville Town and Farm Club, was held September 3 & 4, 1931.  The Big Stone Caning Company donated the corn for the noon lunch that was served in Central Park.

1933 The Carlson and Hasslen Construction Company was awarded the $37,465 contract for the sewage and disposal plant.

1940’s Epidemic of poliomyelitis in Big Stone County.

1949 Ottertail Power Company built a plant at the foot of the lake.

1950 Hasslen Construction Co. of Ortonville was awarded the contract for general construction in the amount of $191,000 for a 32-bed hospital on the site at 750 Eastvold Avenue.  With the completion of the new hospital in 1952, the Grand View Hospital building was converted into Park View Nursing Home until it closed in September 1978.

1968 The Housing Redevelopment Authority organized with an application to build the 50-unit Lakeside Apartments, the high-rise housing for the elderly that replaced the Orton Hotel.

1975 $1,800,000 in general obligation bonds for a nursing home was approved by Ortonville voters.  The cornerstone of Ortonville’s 74-bed nursing home was placed on September 11, 1977.  Northridge Residence at 1075 Roy Street held an open house on March 18 and 19, 1978, for the new long-term care facility. For additional information regarding Ortonville and Big Stone County, contact the

Big Stone County Historical Society
Hwy. 12 & Hwy. 75
Ortonville, MN  56278