Our History

Founded: March 6, 1871 

The County name of 'Lac qui Parle' is French for "Lake which Speaks" or "Talking Lake". 

In 1862 the Minnesota legislature authorized creation of a county to be called Lac qui Parle on an area north of the Minnesota River. However, that initiative was not approved by the local voters affected, so the proposed county did not come into existence. Nine years later (March 6, 1871) the legislature authorized creation of the present Lac qui Parle County, south of the Minnesota River, and it was approved by local voters. The county seat was established at Lac qui Parle village on the eastern side of the new county. 

The first county board met in the local hotel and post office building in Lac qui Parle Village from inception to 1875 when they rented out a space in the local general store for $75 per year. They met there from 1875 to 1883 when $1,500 was procured to construct a new, larger courthouse in the village (pictured right), which was later moved to Madison. 

In 1884 a settlement was platted at the railway stop in Madison Township (named for Madison, Wisconsin). The settlement, also named Madison, was incorporated in 1885, and in 1889 the county government was moved from Lac qui Parle village to this new town.

In 1886, a county-wide election chose Madison as the county seat. 150 men and 40 teams of horses rode to Lac qui Parle village, where the town hall was at the time, and dragged the building 20 miles to Madison. The photo to the right is of the courthouse move in 1886. There is a very interesting story behind the move of the County courthouse, starting secretly in the dead of night. Visit our county museum to learn more! 

A new county courthouse was built in Madison in 1899 for $36,705.00 which is still being used by staff to this day. 

County Courthouse and Jail History (1916)

First County Courthouse (1872 - 1875)

Lac qui Parle County Courthouse

Old County Courthouse (1883 - 1899)

Old Courthouse (1886)

Existing County Courthouse (1899 - Present)

County Courthouse (1899)