History of Centerville, MN
The abundance of wildlife attracted many trappers and hunters in the early 1800s. In 1850, F.W.Traves built the first house here. Soon after, families from Canada arrived and settled here because it reminded them of their former homeland. Several descendants of these original French-Canadian settlers still live in Centerville.
In 1854, settlers Peltier, LaValle, and LaMotte laid out and platted the town. They chose the name Centerville because of its central location from St. Paul, Stillwater, and Anoka. The city was officially established on August 11, 1857, when Minnesota was still a territory.
The downtown area of Centerville was originally known as the French Section. German immigrants settled farther to the west in what is now part of the city of Lino Lakes. The pioneers cleared the land for farming and agriculture, which became the focus of the area's economy. Businesses that supported agriculture followed. Residents formed the Church of St. Genevieve of Paris.
Children began to receive their school lessons during the winter of 1854 in the kitchen of a Centerville home. Many school buildings in town have come and gone since then. In 1917, children began to ride horse-drawn buses to school. The hot lunch program also began that year. Usually soup or hash was served, supplemented with sandwiches the children brought in their lunch buckets. By 1956, residents voted to organize our present Centennial School District #12. Centerville Elementary School was built in 1959 and has been added onto several times.
In 1971, the following streets were named to reflect Centerville's history:
.Mill Road - In 1854, Charles Peltier built a sawmill on Clearwater Creek.
On December 18 1854, Queen Vicky (Victoria) decreed that the French system of land ownership and succession which had sustained the French Canadian culture for over 200 years, was now null and void. The seigneurs could keep their holdings, they were landed gentry of course, but the average farmer like my ancestors were given the choice of buying the family farm at 'fair market value' or leaving. Many left for the mill towns of New England, owned by the British gents who wanted cheap land in the Eastern townships of Quebec. Typical British efficiency killed two birds with one stone, by freeing up the land and providing a cheap labour source.
However, many Canadians had grown weary of the heavy handed colonialism of the iron fist in the red serge glove, and Massachusetts or Rhode Island were not far enough away. They never forgot the scorched earth - rape and pillage of the Richeileu valley by the Glengarry Highlanders, the brutally suppressed Patriote rebellion of 1838, ..... the list goes on.
My ancestor, Charles Pelletier, and brothers John and Oliver, Lavallee brothers John Baptiste and Felix Xaviour, along with their families as well as related Parenteaus, Charbonneaus, Dupres, and Houles to name a few, trekked to the western frontier of Minnesota Territory in 1855, platted a townsite in Anoka Township and carved out a new life, far from the generations of harassment from the redcoats.
Many like my grandfather changed their name, Charles Paul Pelletier in the records of St Michel d'Yamaska became Paul Peltier in the records of Minnesota and the church records at St Genevieve in Hugo MN [originally part of Centerville].
Most of the founding pioneers are buried at St Genevieve. The Centerville area was known as 'Little Canada' and the French Canadian culture remained intact well into the 1930's. Centerville historian Mel Dupre has written about those early years, some of his stories are at the Centerville school history project website.
For more details do a web search for Centerville, Anoka, history.