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Watonwan County is a small and vibrant county located in the southwestern part of Minnesota, with a population of just over 10,000 people. The county has a rich and fascinating history that spans many centuries, and which offers many interesting facts to explore. Here are some of the most interesting things to know about Watonwan County's past:

1. Beginning in the early 19th century, Watonwan County was inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Dakhóta, who moved into the area around 1700. In the mid-19th century, the Dakota War of 1862 broke out, leading to conflict between the US Army and the Dakota people.

2. Watonwan County was officially established on February 25, 1860, by a legislative act dividing Brown County into several new counties. The name "Watonwan" is derived from the Dakota language and means "fish spawn," reflecting the importance of the Watonwan River to the area's ecosystem.

3. In the early years of Watonwan County, agriculture was the primary industry, and farming remained a vital part of the local economy throughout the 20th century. One of the county's leading crops was tobacco, which was grown in large quantities during the mid-20th century.

4. Watonwan County produced a state senator who also served as a governor, Rudolph G. Siefert. Siefert was born in Watonwan County in 1891. During his long career of public service, he was involved in many important legislation that made Minnesota a prosperous state.

5. St. James city, the county seat of Watonwan County, has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its many historic sites and buildings. One of the city's most prominent landmarks is the Watonwan County Courthouse, which was built in 1903 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

6. During World War II, many residents of Watonwan County served their country with distinction. In honor of their sacrifice and service, the community erected a bronze monument in downtown St. James, which still stands today as a reminder of the heroism of its citizens.

7. Finally, Watonwan County has a thriving arts and culture scene, which includes a number of museums, theaters, and art galleries. One of the most popular cultural festivals in the county is the Butterfield Threshing Bee, which attracts visitors from around the region and celebrates the area's agricultural heritage.

Overall, Watonwan County has a rich and varied history that is well worth exploring. From its Native American roots to its agricultural legacy and its many cultural landmarks, the county offers a fascinating glimpse into the people and events that have shaped its past and present.

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