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Rockville Was Formed – On ‘This Date In Central Minnesota History’

Mainstreet Rockville in 1908 (Stearns History Museum)

ROCKVILLE – June 25th, 1860 – Town of Rockville formed

Can you guess what Rockville was named after? If you guessed “rocks”, you’re correct! This town, located about 10 miles southwest of St. Cloud, was called Rockville because of the tremendous deposits of granite found here.

The first known settlers in the Rockville area came in 1852. More and more pioneers immigrated to the area over the next few years. As the population of the village increased, W.B. Mitchell and his father opened the first store here. On January 6, 1857 the post office was established with L. P. Gaylord in charge. Newton Smith appointed postmaster by the U.S. Government in 1860. Smith had also started a sawmill here on the Mill Creek. John Thelen started a blacksmith shop on the corner of Cedar and Broadway.

Mill Pond and Dam in Rockville in 1910 (Stearns History Museum)

The township of Rockville had been a part of Maine Prairie Township until 1860. The purpose of the meeting held on June 25th, 1860 at the home of Michael Hansen, Jr., was to form the township and elect the first officers. They were: Michael Hansen, Jr., Nicholas Kirsch, John Harren, D. H. Spicer, William Decker, and Peter A. Smith. Two days later a meeting was held with the supervisors of the towns of Rockville and Maine Prairie to divide any money being held for use in each town.

Henry Alexander, of Waite Park, recognized the granite outcroppings in Rockville and opened a quarry southeast of the townsite in 1889. He moved the entire operation to a new location, Elm Street just across the tracks on the north and to the east in Rockville in 1898. John Clark, of St. Cloud, opened another quarry here in 1907. The city’s growth boomed with hundreds of workers who were hired to work in the quarries. John Clark’s granite company secured the contract to supply the granite for the St. Paul Cathedral in 1907!

Clark Granite Company employees in 1920 (Stearns History Museum)

The village of Rockville officially incorporated in 1903.

Thanks to Sarah Warmka and the Stearns History Museum for their help with our series, “This Date In Central Minnesota History” on WJON.

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