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Renville County Courthouse History
County Seat Olivia, Minnesota
Located in West Central Minnesota
Honorable Randall J. Slieter, Resident Judge
Susan T. Stahl, Court Administrator
In 1833 Joseph Renville, the son of a French-Canadian trader & a Dakota Indian, had a trading post at the mouth of the Rock Creek (Mud Creek). He was a soldier, government interpreter, scout, explorer, church elder, friend & leader among the white men & Indians. He was to Minnesota what Daniel Boone was to Kentucky. In 1835 a mission was established at the home & store of Joseph Renville. In 1845, Louis LaCroix built a home in Birch Cooley Township & was the first settler in Renville County.
In 1855 Renville County was established by the Territorial Legislature & named for Joseph Renville. Also in 1855, Preston Lake & Boon Lake Townships were surveyed by Thomas Simpson. In 1860, George M. Michael registered the first land claim in Boon Lake Township. In 1860, a child was born to the Joseph Michelsky family, probably the earliest birth record. The first homestead patent located in Cairo Township was issued to Samuel Renville in 1861 & signed by President Lincoln. In June 1866 Joseph Marsh married Betsey Rauch in what is now know as Flora Township. This was probably the earliest record of a marriage. The first practitioner to be regularly located in Renville County was Dr. T. H. Sherwin, who practiced in Beaver Falls as early as 1866. He was not a regular physician & had no medical education, except that which he had picked up as a hospital steward during the Civil War. The first lawsuit of Renville County took place 1868 in Birch Cooley. Terrence Brazil, Sr., charged John Tracy with cutting or mangling Brazil’s cattle when they strayed on Tracy’s premises. A six-man jury met in a chicken coop & pronounced Tracy as "not guilty", not wishing to separate Tracy from his wife & children by sending him to prison.
The earliest records of County Officials are from an election held sometime between 1860 & 1862. On March 1, 1866, Renville County was declared an organized county with the county seat temporarily located in Beaver Falls. The first meeting of the Board of Commissioners was held on April 2, 1867, when the first school districts in Renville County were created.
In 1889 a new courthouse in Beaver Falls was completed at a cost of $3,939. The county seat remained in Beaver Falls until 1900. In 1900, after much competition, feuding, court action & several elections, the county seat was established in Olivia.
The present courthouse was completed on December 5, 1902, at the cost of approximately $88,000. The courthouse was remodeled in 1992 at a cost of $75,000. The District Court area was remodeled in 1994 and again in 1996 for approximately $350,000. The exterior of the courthouse was repaired & refurbished in 1997 for approximately $1,065,000. Great care has been taken through the years to preserve the courthouse & it remains on the national register of historical buildings.
The present boundaries were established in 1870 & Renville County now comprises 27 townships & 10 cities within 982 square miles.