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Valentine's Day 1967: Residents Incorporate Woodbury Township into a Village

Although Woodbury’s growth put the city in the national spotlight as one of Money Magazine’s top small cities in 2012, the area has a history dating back to the 1800s.

On Valentine’s Day in 1967, residents voted to incorporate Woodbury township into a village, setting up a local government that would oversee nearly five decades of rapid growth.

The vote was spearheaded by Stanley Olander and Craig Jilk, officers of a community organizing group called the Jaycees. They promoted the move as a way to “handle the inevitable problems of growth,” according to a timeline of Woodbury on the Washington County Historical Society website.

The newly formed village government set about creating commissions to plan for future development. Expansion was swift and sweeping.

“Woodbury is the fastest growing city in Washington County,” according to the Historical Society website. “One of the most rural townships in the metropolitan area has become one of the most suburbanized.”

In 1975, a year after the village of Woodbury became a city, the population was just over 2,500. Within five years it jumped to more than 10,000. The United States Census Bureau estimates the current population at around 62,000.

Although Woodbury’s growth put the city in the national spotlight as one of Money Magazine’s top small cities in 2012, the area has a history dating back to the 1800s.

Early settlers such as John McHattie and William Middleton moved into the area in the early 1840s, following treaties with the Ojibwe and Dakota.

The township was originally named Red Rock after a stone painted by Dakota Chief Little Crow. The name was changed in 1859 when the state discovered a Red Rock Township already existed, according to the City of Woodbury’s history page.

The township was renamed after U.S. Supreme Court Judge Levi Woodbury, a friend of a town leader, according to the city’s website.

“If you like history--it doesn’t matter what kind--the Washington County area has it all,” said Brent Peterson, the executive director of the Washington County Historical Society. “It’s just a great place to live.”

For more on the history of Woodbury and Washington County, visit the Washington County Historical Society and Woodbury Heritage Society websites.

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