Benton Co. History: The Ghost Town of Williamsville
SAUK RAPIDS (WJON News) -- You'd never know it now, but there used to be a bustling town along what is now Golden Spike Road in the middle of today's Mayhew Lake Township. (That area used to be part of a much larger Gilmanton Township)
Mary Ostby is the Executive Director of the Benton County Historical Society.
Today we're learning about the ghost town of Williamsville in the county. She says the town used to sit just to the south and west of Gilman.
About 1 3/4 of a mile south and west of Gilman on the west side of State Aid Road 3. That's Golden Spike Road today. And about 7/8 of a mile south of Bailey Creek.
Ostby says the earliest documentation of Williamsville is a road survey in 1864. She says the few documents that exist about the townsite mention that it was well-known to the loggers, locals, and travelers. It had a hotel, a stable, a general store, and a post office.
It had to have been a very significant town because anytime you have a Post Office issued by the Federal government it must have been a busy place.
Newspaper articles at the time noted Williamsville's prominence meant people in Alberta and Gilmanton Townships didn't have to go all the way to Sauk Rapids for supplies.
The general store was run by WJS Stewart who was also the Postmaster. His first name was William, so the town is likely named after him.
The 1890 maps of Benton County still show Williamsville, but it looks like by the 1900s it was already a ghost town.
Another ghost town along Golden Spike Road was the community of Popple Creek. Read about that town's past here.
Once a month Ostby comes on the News @ Noon Show on WJON to talk about the forgotten history of Benton County.