Population (2010)

181

Introduction

Homer is one of a string of old rivertowns between Winona and La Crescent that sacrificed much of their historic core for the widening of US Highway 61.

History

Around 1831, Francois du Chouquette, a blacksmith, set up shop at the future village site but didn’t stick around long. Next on the scene was Willard Bunnell, who arrived in 1849 and didn’t leave. Bunnell and family had initially settled on the Wisconsin side of the river at Trempealeau and Holmes’ Landing (now Fountain City). In 1849, the US government granted Bunnell a trading license, which allowed him to negotiate a deal with Chief Wapasha. Just north of Bunnell’s Landing, as the new settlement was known, the village of Minneowah attracted a few settlers and a couple of sawmills. Unfortunately, Minneowah’s original platters, the Minneowah Stock Company, forgot to file their claim, so the first settlers had no legal title to their land.

Minneowah was abandoned when Homer was platted in 1855 and settlers moved in like sharks to make new claims and divide up the former Minneowah. One of them, Daniel Dougherty, had exceptionally good luck and drew lots that included the hotel and many other parcels. Mr. Bunnell was exceptionally pissed off about this, so the two men duked it out. Dougherty nearly bit off Bunnell’s thumb before the fight ended. Life settled down in Homer (named for Bunnell’s birthplace in New York) and the village attracted a number of New Englanders among the early settlers. Never a boom town, Homer had 125 residents in 1910; much of the town’s older building stock was razed for the widening of the highway.