(The following was excerpted from the “Centerville History” written by Mrs. Ed. J. Houle, with some information taken from History of Anoka County by Albert M. Goodrich, (c) 1976, originally published 1905.)

Centerville was one of the first settled towns in Anoka County and had an organization in Ramsey County before Anoka was set off.  It is situated in the southwest corner of the county.  In 1852 when the first settlers arrived, Centerville was covered with timber.  Settlers began removing the trees and clearing the land, except the marshes of which there are quite a number capable of being converted into good hay land.  In a short time corn, vegetables, potatoes, etc., were grown in abundance.  A few cattle raised supplied meat, milk and butter for families.  The soil was good and productive in the eastern part.  The western part was more sandy but sustained the character of good farming land.  A chain of lakes extended across the town, the largest of which was Clearwater, now known as Centerville Lake, and Rice Lake.  They were connected by Rice Creek which crossed the township in a southwesterly direction.  Two creeks run into Peltier Lake; Hardwater from the north and Clearwater from the southwest.  These lakes abound in game and fish and were a favorite resort for sportsmen.  These lakes offered a strong inducement to the first settlers, who lived chiefly by hunting and fishing for a number of years but have since turned their attention to farming.

In Centerville and in southeastern Columbus Township, there were many Indian mounds and sundry evidences that this region had been a place of numerous contests by warring tribes and might be called an Indian Battle Ground.  About one mile northwest of Centerville Village on the farm of Michael Dupre, there lies a short distance from the house, a high and conical shaped mound which was used by Mrs. Dupre as a cellar, one side being excavated for that purpose.  In making excavation, a number of human bones, a copper gun barrel and other curiosities were found.  On the top and sides, large trees were growing.  Several large mounds in the vicinity had the appearance of breastworks, as though erected for defense.  Near the lakes, human bones were found and Indian arrowheads in considerable number were found.

The permanent early settlers in Centerville were preceded by a number of fishermen and trappers, who soon disappeared before the tide of a higher civilization.  In the eastern part of the town of Centerville, the Canadian French principally took up their residence having made settlement here as early as 1852.  The first settler was Francis LaMotte in the spring of 1853.  He was followed by F.S. LaVallee, Peter Cardinal and Charles Peltier, all settling in Section 21. Joseph Houle resided here during the summer of that year, but did not make a claim.  From this date the population increased quite rapidly.  Prominent among the next arrivals in Centerville were: A. Gervais, Oliver Dupre, Joseph Forcier, Paul and Oliver Peltier, Stephen Ward, and L. Burkard.


Further Resources

Manuscript Files:
All Around the County Collection – Centerville Box


City of Centerville website