For centuries, many indigenous peoples called this area home, including the Cheyenne, Ioway, and Dakota tribes. In 1851, the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux opened the region to white settlement in exchange for payments from the government. The first settlers in what is now Jackson County - William, George, and Charles Wood - established a trading post near the Des Moines River in July 1856 and named the town “Springfield.” Forty additional settlers soon followed.
A brutal winter complete with bitter cold, deep snow, and violent storms battered the area. To survive these harsh conditions, some Native Americans resorted to begging and even raiding new settlements for scarce food resources. Tensions rose between the two groups, culminating in the Spirit Lake Massacre in March 1857 which saw about 40 settlers around Okoboji and Spirit Lake killed at the hands of Inkpaduta and his band. The band then traveled northward, setting its sights on Springfield. On March 26, they attacked, killing seven settlers and wounding three others. Terrified of a possible second attack, the beleaguered survivors abandoned the area.
Two months later, the Minnesota State Legislature organized the area into a county, naming it after Saint Paul merchant Henry Jackson. The temporary county seat was located at the townsite of Springfield, now renamed Jackson. The area was still depopulated, however, and resettlement was slow due to continued hostility. In August 1862, the Dakota, angry at late payments from the government, skirmished with settlers; one such skirmish compelled some Dakota leaders to attack government buildings in the Minnesota River, starting the US-Dakota War. By August 24, the effects of the war had reached Jackson County. Warriors raided a community of Norwegian immigrants in Belmont Township north of Jackson, killing thirteen and wounding three. As in 1857, the remaining settlers fled, leaving Jackson County depopulated once more.
After the Civil War, resettlement in Jackson County began again. A stockade was built on the east side of the river, encouraging further immigration. These immigrants primarily came from Northern and Central Europe. They built their homes from native timber and prairie sod. Life remained difficult; there were no wagon roads, no bridges, no churches, and only one school that served the community. The threat of attack remained, and the region was susceptible to numerous disasters including prairie fire, severe blizzards, crop failures, and plagues of grasshoppers. Despite such hardship, these hardy, courageous pioneers survived and helped establish the prosperous agricultural and industrial community that Jackson is today.
Jackson County Courthouse is also on the National Register of Historic Buildings. It was constructed in 1908 by Charles Skooglun of St. Paul according to designs by Minneapolis architects Buechner and Orth. Beautiful murals adorn the Court Room and Rotunda, and have recently been refurbished. The murals are noteworthy for a subliminal humor in the execution of various figures and subjects. Several of the figures have either four or six toes! The lower level is host to personal collections, on loan and displayed for many visitors to enjoy. Open to the public, hours are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, closed weekends and holidays.
Ashley Park Monument contains the history of the Indian Massacre and is located along the beautiful Des Moines River. Also in Ashley Park, is the Olson-Slaabakken cabin, Jackson County's oldest structure. The cabin was donated by Emmet Olson in 1927 to the Park.
A Historical Marker is located on Springfield Parkway, just NW of the elementary school, marking the spot where the Woods Brothers had their trading post.
Fort Belmont hosts several items of interest including a sod house,1873 farmhouse, blacksmith shop, log cabin and stockade, 1902 Delafield Lutheran Church, a gift shop and museum. A tour of the Fort is something you won’t want to miss. The church is home to weddings as well as WWW (Worship, Word and Watermelon) services each Sunday at 7:00 p.m. June thru August. A Rendezvous is held annually at the Fort the weekend after Labor Day. The site is located just south of I-90 and US Hwy 71 turn right onto Belmont Lane. Call 507-847-3867 for additional details or to book a tour.
Historic State Theatre— Runs movies every evening. Matinees are also available on weekends and during school breaks. The interior reflects a unique Art-Deco style and includes 600 seats in the auditorium and balcony. The focal point of the theatre is the huge ‘silver screen," one of the few in the area. Viewing a movie on this screen is something you don't want to miss. For current movie information call 507-847-4360 or click their name above to go directly to their web site.
Jackson County Fair Village consists of 20 historical buildings and is located at the Jackson County Fairgrounds. A home, church and various business buildings, complete with furnishings, depict what "Main Street" might have looked like in a former era. Antique machinery and other items of interest are also on display. The Fair Village is open to the public during the Jackson County Fair, held the last week of July through the first Sunday of August. Tours are available by appointment the rest of year. Contact the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce for additional details.
Check out what's going on at the Jackson Center for the Arts by clicking the link below. Keep up to date on classes, schedules, and concert serieses.
Business After 5's are open to all Chamber Members! Events are hosted by Member Businesses.
Contact the Chamber Office to learn more!
For details on the land for sale at Jackson Crossroads, click here:
The City of Jackson, Minnesota is a welcoming community that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle for all ages.