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Otsego county, N.Y. 1810 – Burnet County, Texas 27 January 1878


The Political Life and Times of S. Baldwin Olmstead

You are about to embark on a great adventure. We do not know where the search for family will take us. We can’t control them. They take us to unexpected places. We are going to take an imaginary journey on a canoe trip through the Great Lakes with ancestral voyagers trading with the Winnebago Indians. I hope you find this journey through time exciting. Come along as we retrace the footsteps of the Howard and Olmstead families. Some of them changed history. Samuel Baldwin Olmstead helped draft the Iowa and Minnesota State Constitutions.

Oral family history on the Olmstead line ended with Clara S. Olmstead the grandmother of Clara May (Miller) Powell. It was said that Clara S. Olmstead came from Minnesota, she first married a man by the last name of Howard and had fourteen children by him. The following four documents back up this story. How Clara S. (Olmstead) Howard became a widow for the first time is unknown.

Thanks to the book History of Isaac Howard of Foster Rhode Island and his Descendants by Daniel Howard, printed in 1901, we are given more insight into the lives of this family. On page 54, we find Lucy Howard was born in Columbus, N.Y; removed with her father’s family to Erie county, PA:, in 1828; married Samuel Baldwin Olmstead of Crawford county, PA; resided in Iowa and Minnesota. Her husband was prominent in public affairs, and assisted in the framing of the state constitutions of Iowa and Minnesota. In January, 1855, he was elected president of the Council (Senate) of Minnesota: He was also Indian agent, and filled various other important official positions. They removed to Texas and died in the vicinity of Lampasas.

Their children are named:
The second child was a daughter named Clara, born in Iowa.

The Sauk Rapid Frontierman a newspaper of 1856, in the Aug. 8th edition under the caption, Married, reads. On the 24th, inst. at Fort Ripley by Rev. S. Spates, Mr. F. Howard to Miss Clara Olmstead Daughter of Hon S.B. Olmstead.

The 1857 Territorial Census of Crow Wing County, Minnesota S. B. Olmsted is 45, his wife L.A. is 43. On this census, a female named C. Howard age (20) and a male Frank Howard (24) are living with the Olmstead household this census ties everything together. Now we know as young newly weds Clara S. and Franklin Howard lived with the Olmstead family.

The 1860 Morrison county, Minnesota census, film # 0014831 page # 454 we find 22 yr. Old Clara S. born in Iowa, married to 26 yr. Old Franklin Howard from NY. Franklin was a farmer. They had two little boys Fred H. (3) and Franklin Jr. (1). The young couple had a farm hand and his wife living on the farm plus a servant. The township was Bell Prairie, Iowa.

This record is the history of the life of Clara’s father, Samuel Baldwin Olmstead, a man that left a small mark on American Territorial history. Baldwin was a real mover and a shaker of his time.

On the 1838 Iowa census Baldwin Olmstead is residing in Clayton Co., IA just across the river from Prairie du Chien (Wis.), the Winnebago Indians were removed from there in 1849 to Minnesota, all information leads us to believe that Baldwin was involved with this movement.

Transportation was of great interest and concern faster and better means of getting from place to place were vital. The pioneers understandably hailed every advance from the era of canoes, pirogues, rafts, and oxcarts to steamboats, roads and railroads.  Steamboating on the Upper Mississippi, expanded greatly, but the river was ice-locked for at least five months of the year. Excitement reached a high pitch in the spring when the ice broke up, usually in April. A cheer for the first arrival-and the boat would come in with band playing and flags flying.

More family history from the book History of Isaac Howard of Foster Rhode Island and his Descendants by Daniel Howard, printed in 1901

On page 55 some information about Orpha Melissa Howard is given she was the aunt of Clara on her mother’s side. Orpha Melissa Howard was born in Columbus, N.Y., January 8, 1825; moved with her father’s family to Concord, Erie county, PA, in 1828. When sixteen years of age she journeyed alone by boat and stage coach to Iowa, where for five years she was engaged as a school teacher in the vicinity of Prairie du Chien (Wis.), and at a reservation for the Winnebago Indians. Her pioneer life was full of adventure. During an Indian massacre she took refuge for a week in Fort McGregor, and was within the fort during an attack made upon it by the Sioux. Subsequently she spent some time in Minnesota, where life was then a round of thrilling experience and adventure. She returned East.

Orpha Melissa Howard arrived in Prairie du Chien (Wis.), about 1841. Some time before or after she arrived her sisters Lucy, Emily (Emma), and her brother Freedom moved to the area.

On page 29, we are told that her brother, Freedom Howard, emigrated to Iowa and resided at Fort Decatur. Census reports indicate that he spent the rest of his life in Iowa.

From this information and census reports it would seem that Melissa Howard had family in Iowa when she traveled West. By 1838 Baldwin Olmstead was on the Iowa Territory census just across the river from Prairie du Chien (Wis.).

Lucy’s husband, Baldwin Olmstead, was involved with the Winnebago Indians as well.  The Hewitt-Olmstead trading post was run by David Olmsted. However, Samuel Baldwin Olmstead was the "administrator" of this post. In the following, Mr. Olmstead is David Olmsted. He owned the trading post.  An Indian trading post was established two miles southwest of the fort by a Mr. Olmstead and one Joseph Hewitt. It seems that they had a permit from the government to trade with the Indians. The buildings, all one story high, were constructed of logs. There were five in number, two large dwelling houses, one large store, one storage house, and a blacksmith shop. Capt. Joseph Hewitt's principal occupation was hunting, trapping, and fishing. In 1851 he left the country and located at Clear Lake, Ia., where he experienced no little trouble with the Sioux Indians. In 1849 Josiah Goddard bought the old Indian trading post from Olmstead, and in 1850 moved his family on to the land. Three or four acres of this land had been broken up by the Indians.  History of Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties.'article "Reminiscences of Pioneer Norwegians,. published in the Historical Atlas of Winneshiek County, 1906, Sec. II, pg.

The Illustrated Historical Atlas of MN (1874) page 263 gives us a biographical on David Olmsted and insight into why trade with the Indians was abandoned.<br>

In 1852 the profits of the Indian trade were becoming so small as not to justify remaining in it any longer.  During the Summer of 1855, Mr Olmsted was brought prominent before the people of this territory as a candidate for Delegate to Congress. The party that placed him in the field, was too feeble in strength and Mr. Olmsted received the smallest vote.

January 9, S. Baldwin Olmstead was elected President of the Council, six weeks later the Legislature of 1855, February 16, S. Baldwin Olmstead resigned as President of the Council and William P. Murry was elected to fill the vacancy.

On Ancestryplus, there is a book called Minnesota and its people, 1890. On page 226 and 227 it tells us a little more about grandma Clara's great-grandfather Messre, S. Baldwin Olmstead who was president of the council for the then territory of Minnesota.

The Winnebago Treaty

Aside from the historical fact, perhaps in justice to those who have passed away, mention should be made of a public meeting held in Minneapolis, January 21st, 1854, in opposition to the treaty with the Winnebagos pending in the United States senate, the confirmation of which would make the Indians of that nation near neighbors of the citizens of Hennopin county. Charles Hong was called to the chair, and John H. Stevens was appointed secretary. The object of the meeting being stated, Dr. H. Fletcher, our member of the legislature, addressed the meeting. He had secured the cooperation of Hon. Joseph R. Brown, Hon Wm. H. Nobles, the other two members of the sixth council district in the legislature, against the measure. Messers C.F. Stearns, H. S. Plummer, and Cephns Gardner, members from St. Anthony representing the third council district, had also heartily cooperated with them in opposition to the treaty, Messer. S. Baldwin Olmstead, president of the council, with Messrs William Noot, Wn. A. Davis, and Louis Bartlett, of the second council district, St. Paul, had aided in opposition to the treaty. Further remarks were made by Messrs. hoag, Harmon, D.M. Hanson, and were unanimously adopted. Suffice to say, that owing to the efforts made by the pioneers of Minneapolis, the treaty failed.

Considerable uneasiness developed among the settlers on the late military reservation, early in January, at the notation of congress in relation to a hill which had, early in the session, been introduced by Hon. R.C. Malony, of Illinois securing to them the right of preemption to these lands.

Olmsted Co. Minnesota was named after David Olmsted. Another prominent citizen of this name, but of another family, with slightly different spelling, for whom, however, some have supposed this county to be named, was Samuel Baldwin Olmstead, a farmer and contractor, of Belle Prairie and Fort Ripley, who was a member of the territorial council in 1854 and 1855.

S.B. Olmstead Formerly President of the Territorial Senate of Minnesota. Taken from the book Minnesota in Three Centuries     Sixth District, which comprised the territory west of the Mississippi and north of the Osakis River to the British boundary line, had four Representatives. (1) David Gilman, of Watab, of whom mention is made elsewhere. (2) S. Baldwin Olmstead; born in Otsego County, New York. In his early manhood he emigrated to the Northwest and resided in Iowa and Minnesota. He became interested in Government contracts about Fort Ripley, but afterwards engaged in farming at Belle Prairie. At the close of the Civil War he moved to Texas and settled on a farm in Burnett County, in that State, where he died January 27, 1878. (page452-453)    Fifth session of the Territorial Legislature began January 4, 1854, in the new capital. In the Council S. Baldwin Olmstead was elected President. The first district was represented by John E. Mower and Albert Stimson. The second district by William P. Murry and Isaac Van Etten. The latter was a native of Orange County, New York, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1851, and atonce came to Minnesota. He was afterwards a member of the first State Senate, and died at St. Paul in 1873. (Page 475)The fifth district was represented by S. Baldwin Olmstead, the sixth by Joseph R. brown, and the seventh by Norman W. Kittson. (Page 476)     The sixth session of the Legislature convened January 3, 1855. The Minnesota Daily Pioneer of that date described the personnel of the members as follows; Awe have never seen a better looking set of Legislators in attendance upon a Legislature, either of the Territory or of a State. They appear like honest men-men who have come hither to reflect the will of their constituents, and we doubt not their labors will result in credit to themselves and honor to those that have sent them here.@ A permanent organization was not effected until January 9, when S. Baldwin Olmstead was elected President of the Council and James S. Norris, Speaker o

f the House. The Speaker=s colleagues from the first district were James B. Dixon, William Willim, and Samuel M. Register. (Page 478)     The Legislature of 1855 ..February 16, S. Baldwin Olmstead resigned as President of the Council and William P. Murry was elected to fill the vacancy. (Page 481)

Sauk Rapids Frontierman newspaper for 1855-1860 are on micro-film Dec. 27, 1855<br>

Annual session of the Benton Co., Agricultural Society<br>

The fourth annual session of the Society commenced at Sauk Rapids, on Monday after noon, Hon S. B. Olmstead  presiding. The minutes are given.

Sauk Rapids Frontierman newspaper in 1855 <br>

Hon. S.B. Olmstead is President of the Benton Co., Agricultural Society, helps draft the Constitution for the Benton Co., Agricultural Society.<br>

We take pleasure in presenting to the farmers of our county, the Constitution for the Benton Co., Agricultural Society as at the Dec. Session: and we are happy to learn that the increased interest having manifested by our farmers in the welfare of this Society, bids fair to make it the most prominent as well as the oldest association of the kind in the Territory. By the way, it may not be amiss to say that it is the oldest organization of the kind in this latitude, with in the limits of this glorious confederation of States. The Society has able an efficient officers but needs more members, so that the Treasury may be better supplied with funds to carry out its objects. Let very farmer join it so you will more than get your money back the first year from distribution of seeds- a notice of which will be found in this issue. The officers for the present year are- The list of officers is given along with the Constitution for the Benton Co., Agricultural Society.

Sauk Rapids Frontierman newspaper Thursday, Oct. 16, 1856


Our election took place on Tuesday last, but up to today we have heard only from Watab Precinct with any degree of certainty. At our Precinct, a much smaller vote polled than was anticipated. A large number of voters did not come to the polls; and owning to the confidence that seemed to prevail generally, that our ticket must be successful; a great degree of apathy was evinced by all. The number of votes cast here ,was but forty five. Out of this number S.B. Olmstead received thirty-five; Perkins six and Abbe four. At Watab we learn forty-eight votes were polled forty-seven of which were cast for Abbe. It was reported here, before the election, that Watab would poll forty votes, but no one then believed that there were ever twenty-five legal voters in the Precinct. Should a representative be elected in the District through this vote, no doubt a investigation will take place, and we forbears saying more at this time upon the subject.

The people of this county were more immediately interested  in the election of county officers, especially. County Commissioners. As near as we can learn we have elected two out of the three-Cap. WM Smith, of St. George Prairie, and John Depue Esq, of Platte River. Mr. Hanson of Watab is elected, is said, over Mr. Geer; of the same place by one vote. As every one interested in the selection of Commissioners, our three candidates would undoubtedly have been elected had it not been for th large vote cast at Watab, by, if not illegal voters, certainly by those having resided there but a few weeks and having no interest whatever in the county. Still, Mr. Hanson, the person elected in place of Mr. Geer, we believe to be a gentleman, and one whom we should be as pleased to see occupy the place as any other man, had we been assured hat he would not have carried out the miserable policy of the present Board of Commissioners. This we supposed he would do, as he as put in nomination by the friends of that policy.

As for Representative, we fear that the old friend, the tried friend, of Benton county, has been defeated. If it proves to be so, we shall have the satisfaction to now that it was not done through the wishes of the people of the District. S.B. Olmstead would get a majority over any one candidate in the District, if a preference could be fairly expressed. But so many conflicting interests were involved, that it has been impossible to get a fair expression of he people. His old inveterate enemies-those who will ever oppose an honest man-in one section would say: S.B. Omstead is our choice, but we know he will not serve if elected. In another’s what has he done to entitle him this office? Answering themselves -nothing! In another-if elected, he will go for Sauk Rapids! In another, for Anoke. In another for Swan River against Crow Wing : against Watah : against Little Falls. The truth is if S.B. Olmstead is defeated, it will be because it is well known that he would go for no particular section unjustly, to the injury of another. The well known fact that he would show partiality to none will be the cause of his defeat, if he is not elected .it is will known that he could be defeated only through misrepresentation and right down falsehood ; and these means they have not hesitated to use.

SB. Abbe, of Crow Wing, is brot out to secure the vote of that section. To secure the Olmstead vote above this Jeff Perkins is nominated just before the election, and word sent to Olmtead friends all over the district, deceiving many, that Jeff. Is put in nomination to defeat. Abbe and the Walab clique and friends of Omstead will only drop their candidates and go for Jeff. Walab will be defeated. It had its affect, for everyone deceived in this way, throw away a vote on Perkins, and this vote given him would have elected Olmstead in the precincts below this with the exception of Big Lake. Olmstead would have got four fifths of the votes, but Anoke although she had perfect confidence in Olmstead seeing how the upper part of the district was split up.

In The Early Days

there is a mention of S.B. Olmstead <br>

Morrison county, Minnesota had been a rendezvous, in the first years of its settlement, by a reckless gang of desperadoes, under the leadership of Hugh Thompson, Chris Highhouse and Joe Stancliff. Highhouse, in addtion to other nefarious trades, was a counterfeter. Thompson was a tall, handsome man. Stancliff was short, of light complexion.

On the night of Oct. 1. 1858 the beating of Justice Barnum occurred, because they dreaded his court. The gang attempted his life. They dragged him out of his cabin and maltreated him fearfully, but he recovered. The citizens rose up against the thugs and banished them. Years later Thompson was lynched after killing many men in Colorado. Highhouse and his gang commenced its depredations by robbing Jas. Fergus' Store, and eventually was bold and wicked a band of renegades as ever disgraced a frontier city.

Magistrate Barnum was so badly beaten, that the court commissioner went to Little Falls and issued warrants for all parties, including the sheriff and appointed S. B.Olmstead as special officer to serve the warrants.  Thompson and Stancliff fled the country and the others were bound over to the district, except one, who escaped.  The old settlers named the troubles with the desperadoes "The Little Falls War".

Taken from the Minnesota History Society Scrapbook roll # 1 pg. 59 Vol.1

Hon. Baldwin Olmstead, His Death in Texas Last Month
sketch of His life
Formerly President of the Territorial Senate of Minnesota. Anoke Republican, 21st. Mr. W. G. Randolph, an old resident of this town, is in receipt of a letter from his son-in-law in Texas, announcing the death of Baldwin Olmstead, which occurred at the farm of the latter in Burnett county on the 27th ult. The mention of the name of Baldwin Olmstead will awake in the minds of old Minnesotians political memories reaching back into territorial times when the subject of this sketch was a member of the Territorial legislature, and a resident of Fort Ripley, where he for a while, we believe, was connected with government contracts. At the close of the war he removed to Burnett county, Texas, where he has pursued the quite life of a farmer up to the day of his death. Mr. Olmstead was born in Otsego county, N.Y. about the year 1810, and migrated West in early manhood, and was an active member of the territorial convention that framed the constitution of the State of Iowa. A few years sojourn there; and from thence came to this new section of the Northwest, which was then for the first time attracting all attention. Here he became a member of the territorial legislature; and was appointed president of the senate. After having passed a great portion of his life in public positions. He at the age of 56 removed to Texas, and has been for a time, perhaps, forgotten by many who were thoroughly familiar with him while he remained in Minnesota.

After Clara S. Olmstead was left widowed the first time she married a man named Louis Miller and had seven more children. The last seven children were born in Texas. The time lines on Clara and her parents Baldwin and Lucy show that they left Minnesota between 1866-1869 and removed to the state of Texas.

Naming pattern

The tradition of including godparent's and/or ancestors'/family member's names seemed to have been quite popular.

Louis Clair Miller  Named after his Father and Mother, Louis and Clara Miller

Otto Victor Miller 

Minnie Maud Miller  Named after Louis Sr.=s mother, Minnie Westerdam

Baldwin O."TOBE" Miller  Named after Clara>s Father, Baldwin Olmstead

Florence Miller

William Service Miller

Charles W. Miller

If census reports, time lines, History books and the book History of Isaac Howard of Foster Rhode Island and his Descendants aren’t proof enough that Baldwin Olmstead was the father of Clara S. Olmstead the fact that our Clara named one of her sons Baldwin O. leaves no room for doubt.

A son from Clara’s first marriage also serves as proof that this is our family. He was born in MN, was living at Concho TX when his younger siblings were born there, and he was living with his mother when the 1900 AZ. Census was taken.

Franklin HOWARD b: Nov 1859 in Of Bell Prairie, Morrison, Minnesota On the 1860 Morrison county, Minnesota census, film # 0014831 page # 454 we find Franklin Jr. age (1) Parents were Clara S. and Franklin Howard.On the 1880 TX census a Frank Howard is living with his brother Herbert and his wife, living at Fort Concho, Tom Green, TX. working as a bar tender.(This Frank was born in MN) On the 1900 AZ census Frank is living with his mother and some of his brothers and sisters. Again no doubt that Lucy and Baldwin were Clara=s parents.

More information about Samuel Baldwin Olmstead

Samuel Baldwin Olmstead was born in Otsego Co. NY in 1810; he came to the Northwest in early manhood, and resided in Minnesota and Iowa . He was engaged in government contracts about Fort Ripley for a time. He moved to Texas at the close of the Civil War, and settled on a farm in Burnett Co. where he died 27 Jan. 1878. (From; Minnesota Place Names published by the MN. Historical Society.)

Lucy Howard Olmsteads family history can be found in the book "A History of Isaac Howard of Foster, Rhode Island and His Descendants Who Have Borne the Name of Howard" by Daniel Howard A. M., published in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, 1901.

Samuel Baldwin Olmstead of Crawford County, PA married Lucy Howard of Erie, PA

When you go to ancerty.com on the internet and punch in Baldwin Olmstead you will find that his land is documented in Minnesota and Texas.

Baldwin Olmstead 1838

On the 1838 Iowa census Baldwin Olmstead is residing in Clayton Co., IA. There were 7 males and two Females. At that time only head of household was named. Clara S. Olmstead was born in Nov.1839 she was the oldest daughter of S. Baldwin and Lucy A. (Howard) Olmstead.

Iowa 1840-1844

S.B. Olmstead is still in Clayton county, IA. In looking for Clara S.Olmstead, all this census tells us is that there is a female 0/5 living in the home at that time no name was listed. Samuel B. Olmstead was a Delegate to Iowa state constitutional convention, he assisted in the framing of the State Constitutions of both Iowa and Minnesota. Iowa has had three constitutional conventions, all held in Iowa City. The first was in 1844. The constitution drafted then was later rejected in a popular vote. The second constitution, drafted in 1846, was the instrument by which Iowa became a state. A later convention was held in 1857 which drafted the document still used today (although much amended). Each of the conventions had central disputes which were the subject of debate.

Unfortunately, as the records of the 1844 and 1846 conventions are fragmentary, the full extent of the discussions is unknown.  The new arrivals brought more than their belongings and hopes for a new start. They also brought their past experiences and attitudes about law and government, politics, economics, and society. With a few exceptions the civilization they wanted to establish was based on old forms, modified by the demands of the new environment.

When Iowa Territory was established in 1838 the appointed governor, Robert Lucas, selected Burlington as the first territorial capital as population continued to move west the capital was relocated in 1841 at Iowa City. The first formal attempt to gain statehood came in 1844 when a Constitutional Convention was called. The effort failed, however, defeated by a dispute with Congress over state boundaries. In 1846, a second Constitutional Convention was called. A few minor changes in the old 1844 Constitution were made and proposed boundaries defined. this time, congress accepted both Constitution and boundaries, and on December 28, 1846, Iowa became the twenty-ninth state.

S.B. Olmstead


S.B. Olmstead has moved to Sauk Rapids District, Benton county, MN. As head of household, he is 37 b. in New York. His wife Lucy is age 36. Their children were Lafayette, age 17 b. in PA. Clara S., age 12 born in Iowa and Esther, age 6. Also born in Iowa. Many men are living on the homestead with the Olmstead's one of them is Freedom Howard in the research on Lucy's family we find that Freedom is Lucy's brother. The Olmstead's were under contract with Fort Ripley to supply meat and vegetables for the Fort it seems to have been a large operation.

One of the first new residents brought to this part of the country by the establishment of Fort Gaines (later Fort Ripley) was S.B. Olmstead who took up land on the east bank of the Mississippi and obtained a contract for furnishing the Fort with meat and vegetables. Samuel Baldwin Olmstead was a contractor of Belle Prairie and Fort Ripley, he was a member of the territorial council in 1854 and 1855 and was president of the council in the former year. (From: Minnesota Place Names published by the MN Historical Society.)

S. Baldwin Olmstead was prominent in public affairs and he assisted in the framing of the State Constitutions of both Iowa and MN. He was a member of the Minnesota territorial House of Representatives 6th District, 1851; He was a member of Minnesota territorial council 5th District, 1854-55; In January 1855, he was elected president of the Council (Senate) of MN. He was also the Indian Agent.

Clara S. marries Franklin Howard 1856-1857

On the 1857 Territorial Census of Crow Wing County, Minnesota S. B. Olmsted is 45, his wife L.A. is 43. On this census a female named C. Howard and a male Frank Howard are living with them this census ties everything together. Now we know as young newly weds Clara S. and Franklin Howard lived with the Olmstead family.

Crow Wing Co. was divided by the Mississippi River. In 1836 part east of the river was St. Croix County, Wisc. In 1849 it became part of MN Territory, Benton County . 1856-part of Morrison county, 1857 Crow Wing Co.

S.B. Olmstead


The census 1860 Jun 6 Military Reservation, Crow Wing county, MN p 42 Olmsted, S. B. 48 NY Lumberman Real estate 5000.Wife Lucy 45 NY, Daughter Esther A. 16 IA, a son, S. B. 9 MN, a daughter Lucy Ann 4 MN, a daughter Emma W. 1 MN, Winton, Two boarders Emma 44 NY Seamstress, Christian, Johnson 26 Denmark

Submitted by:

Carol Powell


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