MADELIA¬† — History

— The City of Madelia was founded on September 10, 1857 by a group of investors.

— Madelia is in Watonwan County on Highways 15 and 60. It is near the Watonwan River and Fedji Lake.

— Madelia was established by 5 men who bought the rights to a section along the Watonwan River. Philander Hartshorn, David Haire, Leander Sheppard, Stephan Benjamin, and James Hudson originally named the new town “Wacapa.” Within a year the name was changed to Madelia in honor of Hartshorn’s deceased teenage daughter.

— Joseph Flanders is often referred to as “The Father of Madelia” because of his great influence on the community. He was responsible for the major construction and development of the town, including the original courthouse.

— A legislative act in 1860 designated the County of Watonwan, and named Madelia as the county seat. In 1878 the county seat was moved to St. James.

— An infamous band of bank robbers, the Younger Brothers, were captured just west of Madelia at the sites of Fort Cox, Fort Slocum, and Fort Hill, as well as at the Ashippum Post Office, which was the 1st post office in Watonwan County. The completely restored and furnished post office is on display in the city park.

— Madelia’s population grew rapidly in the city’s first few decades. Much of this growth is attributed to the construction of Fort Cox during the 1862 Sioux Uprising, as well as the coming of the railroad. Madelia lay on the main line which ran from Minneapolis to Omaha, encouraging many settlers and businessmen to establish themselves there.

— Madelia is home to a Warren Truss Bridge that is believed to be the oldest of this type of bridge in the state.

— A relatively famous artist, Marion Anderson, is from Madelia.

MADELIA — Festivals and Events

— Madelia’s big summer celebration is “Park Days.” The annual festival is always held the weekend after the 4th of July in Madelia’s Watona Park. Park Days features numerous forms of stage entertainment including music and comedy acts as well as special interest shows. There’s plenty of food and drink too, of course, and lots of other fun activities.

— Madelia celebrates the capture of a notorious band of bank robbers every year. The Younger Brothers Capture event features a re-enactment of the capture, as well as a family barn dance, an all-city auction, and plenty of food and other activities. The Younger Brothers Capture takes place in September.

— Madelia lights up the night and celebrates the holiday season with the Razzle Dazzle Light-Up Parade. This parade of lights through downtown Madelia is wildly popular and takes place the Friday before Thanksgiving.

— Madelians open up their homes to the public once a year during the Tour of Homes. The tour takes place in November.


–Madelia KNUJ Farm Families include Jim and Barb Sorenson (1988), Steve and LaVonne Cunningham (1998), and Harold Wolle (2017).

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