Biography of William Felton
Hastings, Dakota County, MN Biographies

Wm. Felton was born in 1802, June 15th, in Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, and was educated as a farmer. In 1825, August 18th, he married Miss Mahala Dana, who was born October 15th, 1805, in Dutchess county, New York, and who had removed in 1812 to Susquehanna county, in Pennsylvania. There have been born to this now aged couple two sons and four daughters. One of the sons is at present in the south, one of the daughters is a resident of Rice county, another daughter is a pioneer in Dakota territory, as her mother was in Dakota county, while the remaining son and two daughters are living within a mile of their parents home. Beside children and grandchildren Mr. and Mrs. Felton have six greatgrandchildren.

In 1852 the Feltons took boat from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, for Minnesota. The name of their craft was the Ben Campbell, and this was its first trip. Landing at Wabasha in June they remained there until September of 1852, when they came to Hastings. Mrs. Felton claims the honor of being the first white woman settler at this point. On arriving at Hastings Mr. Felton rented a log house, the first house built in the town, where he opened the first boarding house in the county. Mrs. Felton did the cooking for the first three families in Hastings. This log house was only 12x16 feet in dimension, with a kitchen 10x12 feet. In these narrow and primitive quarters Mr. and Mrs. Felton showed a generous hospitality and kindness to new corners and to every one, that will long be remembered and recounted. As many as forty-three persons have remained of a night in that little cabin, which was long ago pulled down. This house was also granted to the Catholics, as early as 1858, as a house of the Lord, and its walls re-echoed the holy mass. In the autumn of the same year Rev T. B. Cressy, a Baptist clergyman, began holding meetings also at Mr. Felton's house. As Dido knew no difference between Trojan or Tyrian, so the Feltons in in the spirit of true liberality, made no discrimination in those early days between Catholic and Protestant. Mr. Felton was the first elected justice of the peace, and the little log house was in turn dedicated to the law as it had previously been to the church. Mr. Felton has also been coroner since 1856, and has held office longer than any other man in the county. In 1854 he built the first wharf and established the first ferry at Hastings across the Mississippi. He fixed the rate at ten cents and earned nothing at the commencement of his experiment, but the tide of immigration setting in strongly soon afterwards, he reports even so high as $15 as the receipts for a single day. In May of 1855, the Feltons made a claim in Nininger township, and have lived upen it since 1856, universally respected and esteemed.


From:
The History of Dakota County and the City of Hastings.
By J. Fletcher Williams.
North Star Publishing Company.
Minneapolis. 1881.


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