Information below was contributed
from the works of Keith Gulsvig,
noted Pope County Civil War Historian, Formerly of Glenwood.
Information of the origins and meanings of names was received from the "Illustrated Album of Biography of Pope and Stevens Counties," 1888, having pages 145-364 for Pope county; and from Ole Irgens, county auditor, Casper T. Wollan, a pioneer merchant, and his brother, M. A. Wollan, president of the Pope County State Bank, each of Glenwood, the county seat, interviewed during a visit there in May, 1916.


BANGOR township bears the name of a city in Maine, and of villages and townships in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and several other states.

BARSNESS township was named in honor of three brothers, Nels N., Erik N., and Ole N. Barsness, born in Norway respectively in 1835, 1842, and 1844, who settled in this township in 1865-66.

BEN WADE township was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin Wade, who was born near Springfield, Mass., October 27, 1800, and died in Jefferson, Ohio, March 2, 1878. He removed to Ohio, with his parents, about 1820; began law practice in 1827; was a district judge, 1847 51; and was a United States senator, 1851-69. He was an anti-slavery leader, and favored the Homestead bill.

BLUE MOUNDS township is crossed by a belt of low morainic drift hills, to which this name was given by settlers from Blue Mounds village in Dane county, Wisconsin. The hills thus named in each of these states appear bluish when seen from a distance.

CHIPPEWA FALLS township was named for its falls in Terrace village, descending 16 feet, on the East branch of the Chippewa river, supplying water power for a flour mill. This village and its post office at first were called Chippewa Falls, but were renamed by request of the settlers to prevent their mail from going to the City of Chippewa Falls in Wisconsin.

GILCHRIST township was probably named in honor of a pioneer settler beside its Lake Gilchrist, which lies mainly in section 7.

GROVE LAKE township has Grove lake and McCloud lake near its south side, which are more fully noticed in the later part of this chapter.

HOFF township was named for the village of Hof in Norway, about 50 miles north of Christiania.

LAKE JOHANNA township bears the name given to its large lake on the map of Minnesota in 1860, probably in honor of the wife or daughter of an early settler, but her surname remains to be learned.

LANGHEI township has a Norwegian name, meaning "a long highland.,, Its northeastern part gradually rises to an elevation about 300 feet above Lake Minnewaska, being the highest land in the south half of the county, with a very extensive prospect on all sides.

LEVEN township was named for a loch or lake in eastern Scotland, the Leven river outflowing from it, and the seaport at its mouth, on the north side of the Firth of Forth.

MINNEWASKA township, adjoining the northern shore of the largest lake in this county, bears the name given to the lake by the white settlers made from two Dakota or Sioux words, mini or minne, water, and washta or waska, good. Prof. N. H. Winchell wrote of the lake and its successive names, as follows: "This lake, according to statements of citizens of Glenwood, was originally designated by an Indian name, meaning Dish lake, because of its being in a low basin. After that, when the chief, White Bear, was buried in a high hill on the north shore, it was called White Bear lake. After a time it was changed to Lake Whipple, from Bishop Whipple, of Faribault, and by act of the state legislature in 1883 it was again changed to Minnewaska, or Good-water. It is said to be 85 feet deep in its deepest part and averages about 40 feet, and there is no known evidence of its having ever stood at a higher level." (Geological Survey of Minnesota, Thirteenth Annual Report, for 1884, p. 14.)
Nicollet's map, published in 1843, has no delineation nor name for this lake, which, with its grandly picturesque basin and inclosing bluffs, is the most noteworthy topographic feature of the county. Major Woods and Captain Pope, in their exploration in 1849, first mapped it as White Bear lake. The name Lake Whipple, in honor of Henry Benjamin Whipple (b. 1822, d. 1901), the revered and beloved Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, was applied to it during several years, when it was confidently expected that an Episcopal school would be founded at Glenwood.

NEW PRAIRIE township was named by its settlers, as their new home in the great prairie area of western Minnesota.

NORA township is reputed to have been named for Norway, the native country of many of its people.

RENO township received the name of its large lake, commemorating Jesse Lee Reno, major general of United States volunteers, who was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, June 20, 1823, and was killed in the battle of South Mountain, Md., September 14, 1862. He was graduated at West Point in 1846; served in both the Mexican and civil wars; and made a survey in 1853 for a military road from Mendota, Minn., to the mouth of the Big Sioux river.

ROLLING FORKS township was named for its contour as an undulating and rolling prairie, crossed by the East branch or fork of the Chippewa river, which here receives a considerable tributary from the north.

WALDEN township has the name of a township and village in Vermont, and of villages in New York, Georgia, and Colorado. Henry D. Thoreau lived alone in 1845-47 beside Walden pond, near Concord, Mass., as narrated in his book, "Walden, or Life in the Woods," published in 1854.

WESTPORT township and its railway village, which was platted in October, 1882, have a name that is borne by townships and villages in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Wisconsin, and ten other states.

WHITE BEAR LAKE township includes the western end of this lake, which has been known by several names, before mentioned for Minnewaska township. The grave of the Ojibway chief, White Bear, is an elongated mound on a knoll in the south edge of section 3, Minnewaska, about 90 feet above the lake, as described by Prof. N. H. Winchell (Aborigines of Minnesota, 1911, p. 298).

"Waube-Mokwa (the White Bear), who was a chief among the Ojibways and dwelt by these waters" is represented to have lived here more than two centuries ago by "The Tribe of Pezhekee, a Legend of Minnesota" (1901, 232 pages), written by Alice Otillia Thorson, of Glenwood. It is known in history, however, that the warfare of the Ojibways against the Dakotas, acquiring the region of northern Minnesota by conquest, took place much later.

Townships
Pope County History.com