The first people living in the region now known as Minnesota were members of diverse American Indian tribes who settled in the area as early as 7500 BC. The area that is now Hennepin County was home of the Dakota, or Sioux, people for hundreds of years prior to European exploration. The Ojibwe, who migrated to Minnesota in the mid-1600's, generally lived to the north. The Dakota and Ojibwe had well-established societies based on hunting and gathering when French explorers and fur traders first passed through the area in the 17th century. Father Louis Hennepin explored the region in 1680 and named the waterfalls on the Mississippi River (in what is now Minneapolis) St. Anothony Falls. France claimed territory comprising Minnesota west of the Mississippi River and the United States purchased this area from France in 1803. In 1825, the United States established permanent control over the area with the completion of Fort Snelling at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers.
The United States government established the Minnesota Territiory in 1849. In 1851, the Dakota signed treaties ceding most southern and western Minnesota to the United States, formally opening western Hennepin County to settlement by American and European farmers. Yankee Benjamin Pounder, was the first white settler to arrive in 1855, building a house in the current section 25. He was followed in a few days by Irishman Patrick B. Corcoran, one of the founders of the town. Patrick Corcoran located in Section 23 where he and his wife Anna eventually farmed 640 acres. The first French settlers in 1855 were Michael Patnode and his son Peter, Stephen and George Archambeau, Michael and Peter Raymond, Joseph Dupont, Joseph Scott and many others, all settling in the south part of town.
The first school in Corcoran was a quaint 12 x 16 log house, and was built by one of the City's founders, P.B.Corcoran. The school was built in the winter of 1857, P.B. Corcoran was the first teacher and the first class included sixteen scholars. His next enterprise was a general store, which was started in a log house under a thatched roof and located on the west side of town. The general store business increased so rapidly, P.B. Corcoran was inclined to build a larger general store, this time with a shingle roof. In just a few short years, a larger store was again needed, this time P.B. Corcoran built 30x40 foot building with two stories. The P.B. Corcoran General Store carried the largest stock of general merchandise in town. The upper story of the general store was used for town meetings and public entertainment. A short period later Mr. E. Huot also established a second store with a fair stock of goods to service the growing community. P.B. Corcoran was also the first postmaster in town, and used his home as the post office. His weekly mail trips ran each Saturday and included routes from Osseo to Rockford. Dupont Post Office was later established in 1875 by Joseph Dupont, who was also postmaster of the establishment.
The town was organized at a meeting held at the house of P.B.Corcoran, May 11th, 1858, and at the same meeting, town positions were established. Israel Dorman was nominated as temporary Chairman, John Molan as Moderator, and Pat Braw as temporary Clerk. Officers elected included Supervisor Israel Dorman, Chairman P.B. Corcoran and Chairman John P. Kleresy, Town Clerk Pat Bra, Assessor Thomas Riley, Collector Michael Patnode, Overseer of the Poor Francis Garnieen, Justice of the Peace Israel Dorman and Peter Patnode, Constables J. Burret and John Coon. At this meeting, the town was named Corcoran, in honor of P.B. Corcoran, its founder.
How one of Corcoran’s first residents made their way.
Some of the first settlers and residents