7021 1st Avenue, Richfield, Minnesota
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|Address:||7021 1st Avenue|
|Hennepin County, Minnesota|
Cornelius Couillard was born at Frankfort, Maine, on October 30, 1813. He was the son of a farmer and at age 20 engaged in the tanning business. He then became a ship's carpenter and continued shipbuilding for twenty years until business began to wane. Discouraged, he decided to follow the crowd of home-seekers and go west. In the spring of 1854, accompanied by his wife, Nancy, and six children, he took the iron horse to Rock Island, Illinois, and a boat the rest of the way to Minneapolis. He attempted to rent a farm about ten miles above St. Anthony, but remained only two days-- he was literally scared away by the Indians, who seemed unusually threatening. A reddish stain upon the floor of the house into which he had moved indicated the spot, it was said, where a white man had been scalped. He returned to St. Anthony and rented Calvin Tuttle's farm near where the University of Minnesota now stands.
Mr. Couillard was employed to help build the first suspension bridge to cross the Mississippi River, having brought his ship building tools with him from Maine. He was, in the company with another gentleman, the first person to cross the "Father of Waters" on the bridge. In the fall of 1854, Mr. Couillard made a 160-acre claim in Richfield, and had his oldest sons hold it until spring, when the whole family would occupy it. One of the Couillard sons, Adelbert, remembers driving out to the Richfield land. They borrowed a team and drove out, arriving in Richfield at 9:00pm. He held the lantern while his dad built a shanty 12 feet square. The next day the whole family moved out and they built another shanty. In those two small buildings they lived until the large house was finished. Later, they built a granary of slabs from the sawmill of Ard Godfrey that had been at the mouth of Minnehaha Creek.
Mr. Couillard was his own blacksmith and wagon maker. His produce market was St. Paul. He was a member of the Universalist Church and took a strong stand against intemperance. In his younger days, he voted the Democratic ticket, but became an Abolitionist when the freedom of the black people became an issue. Since the rebellion, he had been a Republican until he felt prohibition should be the issue. A Couillard daughter, Emma, was a schoolteacher and taught in the early days of Wood Lake School. Fred Couillard, a son, carried on farm operations and lived there until after 1898. Eventually, some of the farm was sold to Sheldon Blair, an area contractor. He was farsighted and cooperated with village planners in building the Sheldon Blair Addition. The Couillard house however, remained in the family until just recently. It is located at 1st Avenue, east of Augsburg Park.
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