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
The History of Dakota County and the City of Hastings.
By J. Fletcher Williams.
North Star Publishing Company.
Dakota County, MN
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