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The City of Fosston is in Polk County, in northwestern Minnesota. The first European-American settlers came to what was known as the Thirteen Towns area in 1876, arriving in covered wagons. Charles Adair was the first to arrive with his family, with nine other following soon after, filing claims on the land. Others included John Flesch, Edouard LaBree, Herman Eikens, William Jacob Hilligoss, George Hershberger, Richard Hershberger, Jerome Thayer, Andrew Eaton, and Matt Portz, each bringing their families, which made up the Rosebud settlement, just south of Fosston. They filed on their land, while many others moved into the area as squatters. In 1878, Eastern Polk County was closed to white settlers, while the Indian police ran squatters from the area until only the nine families remained. These settlers had built their homes near one another, their only neighbors being a few Chippewa families who lived in tents or birch bark houses, and were reluctant to move to the reservations. The only roads into the area were mud paths, as not even poplar poles had been laid across the swampy land to build a roadway. In the 1880s, other settlers came into the area, filing on their homesteads. The need for a town was realized, and William Hilligoss chose the townsite in January of 1884, platting the town of Fosston, so named because its first post office was located in the Foss Store. Even before the railroad reached Fosston in 1888, the town had three stores, a trading post, drug store, flour mill, blacksmith shop, hotel, three saloons, a church and a school. A stagecoach line stopped at the Foss Store for mail. The city’s population has remained fairly stable since 1910, dropping from a peak population of 1,704 in 1960 to 1,527 in 2010. Fosston is located along US Highway 2, southeast of McIntosh and northwest of Lengby. Bemidji is about forty-five miles east, and Red Lake is about fifty miles northeast of Fosston.


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