For centuries, Native Americans had used the area that would become Royalton Township. The Snake River, which bisects the township, served as a transportation route and as a source of food. After the land sessions of 1837, the land became available for logging and eventual settlement. Elam Greeley settled near the Snake River in 1849. His settlement in section 15, complete with hotel and farm,was taken over by Royal C. Gray in 1854. Small scale lumbering provided most of the economic activity.
Pine County was established in 1856 and was divided into four townships in 1874. What became Royalton was first part of Pine City Township and later in 1874 it became part of Rock Creek Township. On March 17, 1880, the county board of commissioners established Royalton Township, with the boundaries that exist today.
European immigrants began to arrive after the Civil War, with Germans settling in the far south, Danes in the southwest, and Swedes in the east central part of the township. By the 1870s, the northeast section of the township had attracted many Germans; Swedes continued to settle throughout the township. Lumbering gave way to agriculture, specifically general farming with concentration on dairy cattle by the turn of the 20th century. The small communities of West Rock in the east central part (with a creamery, general store and Presbyterian, later a Lutheran, church), Greeley in the southeast (with a creamery, general store, and a Swedish Baptist church), and Clint in the southwest (with a general store, sawmill, and Swedish Methodist Episcopal church) provided economic and social activities. Settlers in the northeast were oriented to Pine City and in the northwest to Grasston.
Seven country schools existed in the township: District 7 (Royalton or Bobtail School) in section 4, District 12 (West Rock School) in section 24,, and District 124 (Stumne or Oak Hill School) in section 1 all eventually consolidated into the Pine City school system; District 14 (Clint School) in section 29 and District 41 (Hay Creek School) in section 17 joined with the Braham system; District 17 (Greeley School) in sections 27 and 34 became part of the Rush City school system; and District 63 which operated a school in the township on the north side of Snake River merged into the Grasston system and eventually became part of the Braham system.
By the end of 20th century agriculture still forms a substantial part of the township’s economy and its ethos, but most of the township’s residents find employment outside the town’s boundaries.
By: Duane Swanson