Edward William Mattson – Education

Mattson Project
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.According to the 1940 US Census, Edward “Eddie” Mattson completed eight years of school. Pursuing what his educational experience might have been, I began researching his likely school environment. In looking at schools in French Lake Township, I learned there were eight schools in the township over the years. So, I realized I needed to know precisely where the Mattson Family lived. I figured that the Mattson’s probably went to the nearest school.

Land Office Records

An excellent source for property records is the Bureau of Land Management records. A quick search for Mattson in Wright County, Minnesota, yielded Lars Mattson, who homesteaded 80 acres in 1876.  His patent read, in part:

Lars Mattson, [settled] the West-half of the North East Quarter of Section twenty-eight in township one hundred and twenty of the range twenty-eight, in the District of Lands subject to sale at Benson Minnesota; containing eighty acres….

[Signed] the thirteenth day of December… one thousand eight hundred and seventy-five.

Section 28 is about a mile and a quarter north-northwest of Cokato and a mile and a half southwest of Annandale. By 1894, Lars only had 20 acres. Andrew Mattson had most of the land that Lars homesteaded in 1875.

The Mattson Property in Section 28 in 1894.

I think there is an error in the map legend. If Lars’ property is 20 acres, it appears that Andrew’s property should be 60 acres, not 80 acres, as the map key indicates.

Section 28 is bounded on the north by sections 20, 21, and 22, on the south by sections 32, 33, and 34. On the east by section 27 and on the west by section 29. I would expect the school the Mattson children attended to be on one of those sections.

According to Annandale Online, there were eight former schools in French Lake Township. Only one of them, Birch Lake School, was located in any of those sections. Additionally, the Swedish Free Church at North Crow River, that Lars Mattson was a trustee for was also known as Birch Lake Mission Church. As such, I’m pretty confident that the Mattson children attended Birch Lake School. The school operated from 1874 to 1971 as District 92. Harlan Nolan purchased the schoolhouse and now is a home at the same location. The oldest Mattson child was born in 1882, so he would have begun school about 1888. The youngest Mattson child was born in 1903; he probably attended school until he was 16, to about 1919. So, the Mattson’s probably had children attending Birch Lake School from 1888 until 1919.

I’ve contacted the Wright County Historical Society. Hopefully, they will have some materials available and of interest.


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