The History of Fort Juelson
Fort Juelson is located in the SW 1/4th of Section 3, Tordenskjold township about 2 miles east of Underwood, MN. A flag pole may be seen on this site north of Highway 210. This earthen fort was built in July of 1876 in response to rumors that the Indians were on the warpath and had already killed settlers in the Foxhome, French, and Fergus Falls areas. Fear of harm at the hands of Indians resulted in a number of settlers leaving the area to go to Alexandria, Herman, and elsewhere. A storekeeper, Mr. Dollner*, who had a log store near present day Tordenskjold Church suggested the settlers band together and build a defensive fortification under leadership of the Civil War veterans, Hans Juelson and Berge O. Lee.
The remains of the sod barricade are still visible on this site. It is testament to the threats and trials the early settlers faced and their courage and resourcefulness in preparing for their own defense.
The Friends of Fort Juelson
The Friends of Fort Juelson (FOFJ) is a formally organized group that operates in accordance with By-Laws adopted January 12, 2009. The mission of this group is to cooperate with Otter Tail County, the owner of Historic Fort Juelson, to preserve, interpret, and enhance this site.
Approximately twenty-five members belong to this group.
The Journal, July 21, 1876
"...of the sterling farmers of Tordenskjold, in this county who went to work and built a substantial fort. While some were fleeing from the imaginary foe, a few of the hardy ex-soldiers of Tordenskjold - among whom were Hans Juelson and Berge O. Lee - rallied their neighbors and selecting a commanding position on the north of the road, between Berge O. Lee's and Hancke's constructed a substantial sod fortification on scientific plans.
...this fort which was 120x100 feet, with a cross section wall through the center, ... and a curtain or shield in front of the northwestern entrance. The wall of this fort [were] from 4 to 4 1/2 feet high, squarely and compactly built, from the sods as cut from a 16-inch breaking plow. The hill-top, occupied by the work had less than half an acre of comparatively level ground, all of which was plowed up, and the sod used in the construction. The entire work is enclosed by a fence, to keep the cattle away. As seen from a distance, this is a more formidable earthwork, than we saw in the six month's service in the army of the Potomac, with the single exception of Yorktown, and in it 50 or 100 men under command of Captain Juelson, with arms and ammunition, provisions and water, could keep the entire Sioux nation at bay... The building of this fort, as manuel exercise and exhibition of military skill and courage was far better than running away from home and friends and reflects credit upon the yeomanry of the Tordenskjold and Norman, of whose pluck and energy, it will stand as an enduring monument."
*Further research at the Otter Tail County Historical Society on October 12, 2011 revealed that according to the 1878 Tax List for Tordenskjold Township Charles A. Dollner owned 1 acre of land in Section 18. A copy of the Warranty Deed filed at the Otter Tail County Recorders Office states that the property was purchased from Peter Jensen and his wife on September 19, 1877 for the sum of $8. Most likely he was using the property prior to the formal purchase. In 1863 Charles A. Dollner settled in Section 2 of Brandon Township, Douglas County, Minnesota. According to the 1880 census Charles A. Dollner and his family were living in the city of Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
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