George Washington Debolt
Served in the UNION ARMY during the CIVIL WAR for the State of Indiana.
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George W Debolt in Long Prairie and Round Prairie, MN
Thursday, April 29, 1943
Long Prairie and Round Prairie
In the year 1870, there came from Indiana along with the Hossier migration, George W. Debolt Sr. and his family. Mr. Debolt took a homestead in Eagle Valley Township and while he never had an actual residence in Long Prairie, he was closely associated with the roads and bridges along the Long Prairie River, he being an expert bridge builder before coming to Minnesota. Four of his sons, Thomas, Levi, Isaac Newton and Charles P, were residents of the village for many years. George W. Debolt was born in 1822 and grew to manhood in Indiana. When the Civil War came on, he enlisted in the 156th Regiment of Indiana Infantry and was discharged at the close of the war. Five years later there was a very considerable movement among his neighbors and relatives in Indiana to find homes in Minnesota, and Mr. Debolt joined the movement. This group of settlers came by the conventional covered wagon method of transportation and took homesteads in Hartford, Ward and Eagle Valley Townships. Mr. Debolt homestead was in Eagle Valley, but his services were in such high demand to make bridges that he was a well known figure in all of the settlements. He built the bridge across the Long Prairie River six miles west of Long Prairie and this bridge was long a landmark known as Allee’s Bridge after Daniel and Albert Allee, pioneer residents in Reynolds Township. He built the bridge across the same river between Long Prairie and Browerville. This bridge was long a pioneer landmark referred to as Lanphear’s bridge. In the later years he built another farther down the river, and we have the impression he rebuilt the old Walt Bridge at Old Hartford. While building the Lanphear Bridge, one of Lanphear’s sons, who was working on the bridge, was drowned. The Long Prairie River at the time carried a large volume of water and a river to be taken seriously.
Few settlers had money and it was common for settlers to seek employment after getting settled, and this the Debolts did. After the claim was located and a cabin built, Mr. & Mrs. Debolt secured employment in Wright County, leaving the children to keep the house and take care of the home and the parents returned to the claim in the spring of 1871. Mr. Debolt was a public spirited citizen. He was associated in such efforts as could be made at the time to improve the neighborhood. We believe that he was one of the original petitioners for the formation of the Clarissa High School.
In 1844, George W. Debolt married Miss Sarah Wiggins, and to this marriage were born the following children: Susan, who married Jacob Sutton, and was one of the pioneer women in the region north of the present village of Clarissa; Mary Ann, who married Joseph Fisher and lived in Long Prairie and Eagle Valley Township; Andrew, who died in Indiana before the family left the state; John W., who married Lucinda Dean and was long a resident of the settlement at Old Hartford; Frances, who married first Mr. Stover, and second to Mr. Shinner; Edwin B., who married Margaret Fisher; Levi P., who married Laura Sarff, and lived some years in Long Prairie; Thomas, who married Miss Theresa Cates, daughter of J.H. Cates, and resided for many years in Long Prairie; Irene, who married John Senti, and resided for many years in Moran Township; George W. Jr., who married Hattie Cates; Louisa, who married John Morris Sarff; Henrietta, who married Elder Strong and moved to Medford, OR; Charles P., who married Ada Lake and for nearly a half-century had been a resident of Long Prairie; Isaac Newton, who lived in Long Prairie, and then moved to Clarissa, where he died a few years ago.
In 1886, Mr. Debolt was taken sick with what he doctors called inflammation of the bowels, and died. In this age, his life would probably have been saved by an operation for appendicitis, but such treatment was unknown then.
Thomas recalled his father helping the settlers construct bridges. It seem that the vicinity of the Debolt home was one well suited for hunting and many hunter came there in the fall and stayed with the Debolts. He remembers that he saw 75 deer hanging to limbs of trees near his fathers cabin when the hunters were hunting in the neighborhood.