- Dakota Settlements
- French-Canadian Settlement
- Reflecting Anoka County’s Music History
- Volunteer Opportunities
- Web Site Aids Local Preservation
Before the French-Canadian settlers established the town of Centerville in the mid-1800's, Dakota Indians lived here in the 1600s and 1700s. At that time, this area was covered with dense woodlands and many square miles of marshes, lakes, and waterways.
The natural habitat provided the Dakota with an abundant food supply, including wild rice and a wide variety of game and fish. They travelled the waterways by canoe, reaching the St. Croix River to the east and the Mississippi River to the west.
The Dakota abandoned their settlement in the late 1700's, but returned annually to harvest wild rice. The French-Canadian settlers found burial mounds and artifacts. Many items were excavated and removed from the area before they could be studied.
In the 1940s, archaeologist Harold Kohlepp examined and recorded over a thousand artifacts that still remained in Centerville, including pottery, tools, and arrowheads. He published his findings in an archeology journal, with Centerville featured on the cover.
The abundance of wildlife attracted many trappers and hunters in the early 1800s. In 1850, F.W.Traves built the first house here. Soon after, families from Canada arrived and settled here because it reminded them of their former homeland. Several descendants of these original French-Canadian settlers still reside in Centerville.
In 1854, settlers Peltier, LaValle, and LaMotte laid out and platted the town. They chose the name Centerville because of its central location from St. Paul, Stillwater, and Anoka. The City was officially established on August 11, 1857, when Minnesota was still a territory.
The downtown area of Centerville was originally known as the French Section. German immigrants settled farther to the west in what is now part of the City of Lino Lakes. The pioneers cleared the land for farming and agriculture, which became the focus of the area's economy. Businesses that supported agriculture followed. Residents formed the Church of St. Genevieve of Paris.
Children began to receive their school lessons during the winter of 1854 in the kitchen of a Centerville home. Many school buildings in town have come and gone since then. In 1917, children began to ride horse-drawn buses to school. The hot lunch program also began that year. Usually soup or hash was served, supplemented with sandwiches the children brought in their lunch buckets. By 1956, residents voted to organize our present Centennial School District Number 12. Centerville Elementary School was built in 1959 and has been added onto several times.
In 1971, the following streets were named to reflect Centerville's history:
- Mill Road - In 1854, Charles Peltier built a sawmill on Clearwater Creek.
- Mound Trail - Indian mounds can still be observed in this area.
- Progress Road - All the schools have been located on this road.
- Sorel Street - Many of the first pioneers were born in Sorel, Canada.
- Goiffon Road - Named after the pioneer missionary from France, Father Goiffon, who served as rector of the Church of St. Genevieve of Paris from 1861-1881.
The Anoka County Historical Society (ACHS) is undertaking a most noteworthy project of compiling information concerning the musical history of Anoka County for the purpose of establishing a rotating exhibit in the Anoka County History Center and Library. However, since the field of music is so broad, information will be collected and shown according to music types.
- Phase I features community, school, and dance bands.
- Phase II concentrates on orchestras
- Phase III focuses on choir and vocal groups, and
- Phase IV examines composers, music educators, and instrument makers.
If you have any information on bands, past or present, please contact the History Center at 763-421-0600 or email Todd Mahon. A committee made up of ACHS board members and community members is especially looking for photos (which can be scanned and returned to the original owner), programs, uniforms, instruments, yearbooks, scores, etc. It is hoped that the first exhibit will open in July of 2008 to celebrate Minnesota's sesquicentennial. Let's band together and share our county's rich musical heritage.
The Anoka County Historical Society, organized in 1934, is headquartered in the Anoka County History Center and Library at 2135 Third Avenue North in Anoka. For more information on its programs and activities, please visit www.ac-hs.org.
Preserving Our History
Volunteer Opportunities Consist of:
- Assisting with tours
- Assisting patrons with gathering research information
- Participating in community events (parades, luncheons, special costume events)
- Assisting the staff with filing, making copies, mailings
- Transcribing Oral Histories
- Around The County Project
Interested in collecting the history of your community? Join our Around the County Committee and represent your home town.
There are many opportunities available to express your talents and ideas. Please email Elaine Koehn, Volunteer Coordinator or call 763-421-0600.
Website Aids Local Preservation
Local designation is one of the best ways to protect the historic character of your community's buildings, streetscapes, neighborhoods and local landmarks.
To aid the process of establishing local historic districts, the National Park Service has developed a website especially for historic property owners, new members of heritage preservation commissions and community officials.
This site offers step-by-step guidance in creating a historic preservation commission, writing local preservation ordinances and setting design guidelines. You'll also learn the differences between preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction - and why it is important to choose the approach that's most appropriate to your situation. Model projects illustrate varied methods of working with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.