Bemidji Township was surveyed in 1874, and organized in 1896, twenty four days after the village of Bemidji was chartered, and is the oldest township in the county. In 1897 the county attorney declared the original Bemidji township organization illegal (no reason given), and the township reorganized June 26, 1897. "Bemidji" is the shortened name derived from the Ojibway name for Lake Bemejigamaug, the lake with water (river) running across it. Both the village and the township took the local name. In a referendum about changing the name so as to distinguish itself from Bemidji village, the township settlers decided to stay with "Bemidji" two to one.
Homestead claims were made early on, on land near the lake and the Mississippi River, with passable wagon trails leading west into the already settled townships. Near south Lake Irving grew a cluster of settlers' cabins which would informally be named Carr Lake, after an early settler (1893). Carr Lake was never chartered, yet its importance to the area can't be too highly rated. A school, a co-op, a farmer's club, 4-h clubs, sports teams and family recreation began early in the community and continues to the present. The Community is proud of itself and of the many families who came early to settle and whose descendants remain to the end of the century.
The first official township road began in 1897 on the south shore of Lake Bemidji, ran along the east shore of Lake Irving, into the Carr Lake community continuing south and then west across the Schoolcraft and along the west shore of Lake Plantagenet, taking travelers to Park Rapids. Township roads were always a major problem for the township board. At one time the board had to get a ruling from the state attorney general on the legitimacy of a road location. Early settlers had to pay a poll tax or work specified days on township roads. In 1913, the board gave a resident 50 pounds of FREE dynamite to blow out stumps on "his" road. Many township roads - once the poor, neglected relatives of state roads - are now all-weather and hard-surfaced. A highway bypass circles the city so that through traffic is expedited, and major state divided highways run East to West, and North to South through the township. Better roads have meant sub urbanization of much township land.
The township has extensive gravel deposits from glacial lake outwash, exiting on the south shore and running to the east. The deposits have been and are still being mined down to the water table level. The hills in the SE section of the township have as much gravel reserve as has been mined in the vicinity to date. This low level valley from the southeast shore of Lake Bemidji goes east into adjoining Frohn township, cuts across a corner of Hubbard county, then spreads out as it nears the Cass Lake-Mississippi River drainage. The valley became the roadbed for several railroad rights-of-way, and then for significant highways up to the present. Several pipelines cross the township NW to SE with controlled rights-of-ways. Proximity to the growing city meant that Bemidji township people benefited early. For example, the township had telephone service by 1915.
The highest point in the township is in Sec. 11, SE of SE, on Hwy. 405, a mile from the lake. It once had a state forestry lookout tower, but today displays a number of broadcast antennae which can be seen for miles.
The earliest recorded school, District 6 in Sec. 4 (1895) was a log building in which the first town board met to organize. It was named the Nye school for teacher Porter Nye. In 1902, a Pine Grove school was established for children in the south of the township, but was consolidated in 1916 and so continued outside Beltrami supervision. The Carr Lake community had a school very early, and its enrollment grew until a two-story, brick structure was built in 1921 (Sec. 29, the NE corner). It became an independent district (#33) in 1957 but was dissolved in 1966 because costs were too high. Pupils then went to Bemidji School District (#31), The brick building is today in use as a private business. The adjacent ball field with so many memories remains in use.
Outside of Bemidji and Nymore village post office, only one other was established in the township in 1903 at Rosby, a rail stop and farm products shipping station in Sec. 1. The discontinuation date of the post office is uncertain and the widening and realignment of the major roadways has obliterated all remaining vestiges of the Rosby "community".
The township has had numerous churches organized, dissolved, and reorganized, with buildings erected, moved, sold and/or rededicated. Moving from its confined location in Nymore, Calvary Lutheran Church appears spacious to motorists passing by on Hwy. 197. Calvary's cemetery remains in Nymore in Sec. 24, at the intersections of Lake Avenue and Roosevelt Road. The Evangelical Free Church has a new building at the intersection of Highways 197 & 404. Faith Baptist Church is on Roosevelt Road. The county Pauper's Cemetery is located on Mill Avenue. Oak Hills Christian College has a private cemetery on the college grounds on the east shore of Lake Marquette.
Today, much land is residentially developed and is glowingly described by realtors as desirable rural residential living only XX miles from Town. Such township development can mean larger lot size with higher priced real estate and an increased tax base. In Bemidji township the usefulness and importance of township government has been reasserted with the need to exert more land management. Increasing commercial development with the resultant increase in land values continues to spread out into the rural township.
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