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Watonwan County, Minnesota
WatonwonCountyCourthouse.jpg
Watonwan County Courthouse
Map of Minnesota highlighting Watonwan County
Location in the state of Minnesota
Map of the U.S. highlighting Minnesota
Minnesota's location in the U.S.
Founded February 25, 1860[1]
Named for Watonwan River
Seat St. James
Largest city St. James
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

440 sq mi (1,140 km²)
435 sq mi (1,127 km²)
4.8 sq mi (12 km²), 1.1%
Population
 - (2020)
 - Density

11,253
25.9/sq mi (10/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website www.co.watonwan.mn.us

Watonwan County is a county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2020 census, the population was 11,253.[2] Its county seat is St. James.[3]

History[]

In 1849 the recently organized Minnesota Territory legislature authorized the creation of nine large counties across the territory. In 1853, one of those original counties, Dakota, had a large partitioned off to create Blue Earth County. In 1855 the western part of Blue Earth was partitioned to create Brown County. Then on February 25, 1860, the south part of Brown was partitioned to create this county, with Madelia as the designated county seat. The county was named for its eponymous river, whose name reflects the Dakota word "watanwan," meaning "fish bait," or "plenty of fish."[4] The word first appears in the written record on an 1843 map of the area so naming the river.

In 1869 the first settlers arrived in the area of the future Saint James, and the area began growing. In 1870 an extension of the St. Paul and Sioux City Railway was terminated at the village, and railway officials decided to name the terminus Saint James. By 1878 the town had grown to the extent that a vote was taken to move the county seat there.[5]

Geography[]

File:Watonwan Co Pie Chart No Text Version.pdf

The terrain of Watonwan County consists of low rolling hills, carved by drainages and dotted with lakes and ponds. The area is completely devoted to agriculture where possible.[7] The terrain slopes to the north and east, with its highest point near its southwest corner, at 1,293' (394m) ASL.[8] The county has a total area of 440 square miles (1,100 km2), of which 435 square miles (1,130 km2) is land and 4.8 square miles (12 km2) (1.1%) is water.[9] The county is drained by the Watonwan River and its tributaries; the river flows eastwardly through the northern part of the county.[10]

Major highways[]

  • MN-4.svg Minnesota State Highway 4
  • MN-15.svg Minnesota State Highway 15
  • MN-30.svg Minnesota State Highway 30
  • MN-60.svg Minnesota State Highway 60

Airports[]

  • St. James Municipal Airport (JYG, LID) - 3 miles (5 km) east of St. James

Adjacent counties[]

Protected areas[7][]

  • Bergdahl State Wildlife Management Area
  • Lewisville State Wildlife Management Area
  • Turtle Marsh State Wildlife Management Area
  • Wilson State Wildlife Management Area
  • Woodlake State Wildlife Management Area

Lakes[7][]

  • Bergdahl Lake
  • Bullhead Lake
  • Butterfield Lake
  • Case Lake
  • Cottonwood Lake
  • Ewy Lake
  • Fedji Lake
  • Irish Lake
  • Long Lake
  • Mary Lake
  • Mud Lake
  • Kansas Lake
  • Saint James Lake
  • School Lake
  • Sulem Lake
  • Wilson Lake ("School Lake" in some records)
  • Wood Lake (part)

Demographics[]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1870 2,426
1880 5,104 110.4%
1890 7,746 51.8%
1900 11,496 48.4%
1910 11,332 −1.4%
1920 12,457 9.9%
1930 12,802 2.8%
1940 13,902 8.6%
1950 13,881 −0.2%
1960 14,460 4.2%
1970 13,298 −8.0%
1980 12,361 −7.0%
1990 11,682 −5.5%
2000 11,876 1.7%
2010 11,211 −5.6%
Est. 2021 11,135 [11] −6.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790-1960[13] 1900-1990[14]
1990-2000[15] 2010-2020[2]

Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 census data

2000 census[]

As of the 2000 census, there were 11,876 people, 4,627 households, and 3,141 families in the county. The population density was 27.3/sqmi (10.5/km2). There were 5,036 housing units at an average density of 11.6/sqmi (4.47/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 88.54% White, 0.37% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.87% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 8.78% from other races, and 1.21% from two or more races. 15.19% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 40.9% were of German, 17.3% Norwegian and 5.8% Swedish ancestry.

There were 4,627 households, out of which 32.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.60% were married couples living together, 7.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.10% were non-families. 28.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.10.

The county population contained 27.60% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 24.30% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 18.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 95.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $35,441, and the median income for a family was $42,321. Males had a median income of $29,242 versus $19,788 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,413. About 7.80% of families and 9.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.50% of those under age 18 and 8.80% of those age 65 or over.

Communities[]

Cities[]

  • Butterfield
  • Darfur
  • La Salle
  • Lewisville
  • Madelia
  • Odin
  • Ormsby (partly in Martin County)
  • St. James (county seat)

Unincorporated communities[]

  • Echols
  • Godahl (partial)
  • Grogan
  • South Branch
  • Sveadahl
  • Tenmile Corner

Townships[]

  • Adrian Township
  • Antrim Township
  • Butterfield Township
  • Fieldon Township
  • Long Lake Township
  • Madelia Township
  • Nelson Township
  • Odin Township
  • Riverdale Township
  • Rosendale Township
  • St. James Township
  • South Branch Township

Government and politics[]

Watonwan County voters tend to vote Republican. In two-thirds of national elections since 1980 the county has selected the Republican Party candidate (as of 2020).

United States presidential election results for Watonwan County, Minnesota[16]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 3,103 59.66% 1,987 38.20% 111 2.13%
2016 2,768 55.38% 1,814 36.29% 416 8.32%
2012 2,517 48.93% 2,494 48.48% 133 2.59%
2008 2,526 48.04% 2,562 48.73% 170 3.23%
2004 2,970 53.20% 2,514 45.03% 99 1.77%
2000 2,562 49.90% 2,258 43.98% 314 6.12%
1996 1,997 37.74% 2,534 47.89% 760 14.36%
1992 1,871 33.54% 2,100 37.65% 1,607 28.81%
1988 2,821 52.10% 2,544 46.98% 50 0.92%
1984 3,526 58.98% 2,425 40.57% 27 0.45%
1980 3,629 55.09% 2,442 37.07% 516 7.83%
1976 3,351 50.30% 3,177 47.69% 134 2.01%
1972 3,960 63.35% 2,229 35.66% 62 0.99%
1968 3,446 53.57% 2,701 41.99% 286 4.45%
1964 2,823 43.80% 3,615 56.09% 7 0.11%
1960 4,173 63.28% 2,412 36.57% 10 0.15%
1956 3,963 67.62% 1,886 32.18% 12 0.20%
1952 4,549 72.02% 1,752 27.74% 15 0.24%
1948 2,581 45.30% 3,039 53.33% 78 1.37%
1944 3,146 57.27% 2,324 42.31% 23 0.42%
1940 3,478 55.30% 2,783 44.25% 28 0.45%
1936 1,930 33.44% 3,668 63.55% 174 3.01%
1932 1,919 39.62% 2,795 57.71% 129 2.66%
1928 3,306 69.69% 1,412 29.76% 26 0.55%
1924 2,297 53.57% 279 6.51% 1,712 39.93%
1920 3,510 81.40% 647 15.00% 155 3.59%
1916 1,300 59.94% 801 36.93% 68 3.14%
1912 254 12.22% 618 29.74% 1,206 58.04%
1908 1,411 70.44% 537 26.81% 55 2.75%
1904 1,455 79.95% 307 16.87% 58 3.19%
1900 1,509 71.93% 509 24.26% 80 3.81%
1896 1,622 71.99% 586 26.01% 45 2.00%
1892 934 62.68% 388 26.04% 168 11.28%



County Board of Commissioners[17]
Position Name District Next Election
Commissioner Jim Pettersen District 1 2024
Commissioner Bill Miller District 2 2022
Commissioner Jim Branstad District 3 2024
Commissioner Bob Rinne District 4 2022
Commissioner Dillon Melheim District 5 2024
State Legislature (2021-2023)
Position Name Affiliation District
style="background-color:#FF3333;" width=10px | " |  Senate Julie Rosen[18] Republican District 23
style="background-color:#FF3333;" width=10px | " |  House of Representatives Bjorn Olson[19] Republican District 23A
style="background-color:#FF3333;" width=10px | " |  House of Representatives Jeremy Munson[20] Republican District 23B
U.S Congress (2021-2023)
Position Name Affiliation District
style="background-color:#FF3333;" width=10px | " |  House of Representatives Jim Hagedorn[21] Republican 1st
style="background-color:#3333FF;" width=10px | " |  Senate Amy Klobuchar[22] Democrat N/A
style="background-color:#3333FF;" width=10px | " |  Senate Tina Smith[23] Democrat N/A

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Watonwan County, Minnesota

Footnotes[]

  1. ^ "Minnesota Place Names". Minnesota Historical Society. http://mnplaces.mnhs.org/upham/county.cfm. 
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Watonwan County, Minnesota" (in en). United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/watonwancountyminnesota/PST045221. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Counties/Pages/FindACounty.aspx. 
  4. ^ Chicago and North Western Railway Company (1908). A History of the Origin of the Place Names Connected with the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railways. p. 165. https://books.google.com/books?id=OspBAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA165. 
  5. ^ Upham, Warren. Minnesota Geographic Names (1920), pp. 547-76 (accessed April 22, 2019)
  6. ^ Nelson, Steven (2011). Savanna Soils of Minnesota. Minnesota: Self. pp. 65-67. ISBN 978-0-615-50320-2.
  7. ^ a b c Watonwan County MN Google Maps (accessed April 22, 2019)
  8. ^ "Find an Altitude/Watonwan County MN" Google Maps (accessed April 22, 2019)
  9. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/docs/gazetteer/counties_list_27.txt. 
  10. ^ Minnesota Atlas & Gazetteer. Yarmouth ME: DeLorme. 1994. pp. 21–22. ISBN 0-89933-222-6. 
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021". https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/popest/2020s-counties-total.html. 
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html. 
  13. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu. 
  14. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/population/cencounts/mn190090.txt. 
  15. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/briefs/phc-t4/tables/tab02.pdf. 
  16. ^ Leip, David. "Atlas of US Presidential Elections". http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS. 
  17. ^ "County Board of Commissioners | Watonwan County, MN - Official Website". https://www.co.watonwan.mn.us/302/County-Board-of-Commissioners. 
  18. ^ "MN State Senate" (in en). https://www.senate.mn/members/member_bio.php?member_id=1053. 
  19. ^ "Rep. Bjorn Olson (23A) - Minnesota House of Representatives". https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/profile/15544. 
  20. ^ "Rep. Jeremy Munson (23B) - Minnesota House of Representatives". https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/profile/15496. 
  21. ^ "Representative Jim Hagedorn" (in en). https://hagedorn.house.gov/. 
  22. ^ "U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar". https://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/. 
  23. ^ "Home" (in en). https://www.smith.senate.gov/. 

Further reading[]

  • John A. Brown (ed.), History of Cottonwood and Watonwan counties, Minnesota: Their People, Industries, and Institutions: With Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families. In Two Volumes. Indianapolis, IN: B.F. Bowen and Company, 1916. Volume 1 | Volume 2

Template:Watonwan County, Minnesota

Coordinates: 43°59′N 94°37′W / 43.98, -94.61

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Watonwan County, Minnesota. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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