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Otter Tail County 150th anniversary set for 2018

The year 2018 will be very special for Otter Tail County as residents celebrate the county's 150th anniversary, dating back to 1868.

An exhibit will open on Feb. 9 at the Otter Tail County museum (historical society) on the west side of Fergus Falls.

The first group of non-Native American settlers, Cutlerites, came to Clitherall Lake in the spring of 1865 to become permanent settlers. About 35 men, women and children made the trip from Manti, Iowa, on May 6. A second group arrived on July 31.

This was seven years after Minnesota became a state, in 1858, and three years prior to Otter Tail County becoming established.

The second permanent settlement in the county was established in 1866 in Otto and Rush Lake townships, now what's north of Ottertail city and south of Perham. The leader was a German Catholic priest, Fr. Joseph Albrecht.

The third permanent settlement took place in 1871, in what's now Western Township, west of Dalton in the extreme southwestern section of Otter Tail County. A group of people from New York had first intended to settle in the northern section of the county but later opted for the southern section of Otter Tail County.

"We have much history of the county to include in our exhibit that will also be made into a traveling exhibit in 2018," says Chris Schuelke, executive director of the Otter Tail County Historical Society.

He said that Otter Tail County was a prime destination during the post-Civil War westward migration. Among the immigrants were Scandinavia farmers.

In September 2018, county anniversary theater productions will take place in Pelican Rapids, Perham, Ottertail, Parkers Prairie and Battle Lake.