Timeline

The story of Forestville, closely tied to the history of the Meighen family, spans decades.

1792
James Meehan emigrated from the village of Inver, County Donegal, Northern Ireland. The spelling of his last name changed to Meighen sometime before 1820.
1843
William Meighen, the son of James, moves to Galena, Illinois, to start a new life.
1849
William Meighen heads west from Galena as part of the California Gold Rush.
1851
Brother Felix Meighen and his wife, Eliza Jane, join William when he returns to Galena.
1853
Robert Foster, brother of Eliza Jane, purchases claim for land that would become Forestville. Felix establishes a general store there.
1855
William Meighen goes into partnership with his childhood friend Major Foster and soon owns a hotel, named the Fremont House, that Foster built. Thomas, son of Felix, is born.
1857
A more permanent brick store and house next to the original store, in which Felix Meighen and his family lives, are completed.
1868
Thomas Meighen, age 13, stops attending school and begins to work full time for his father's businesses. The Southern Minnesota Railroad chooses to bypass the town of Forestville, and the town begins to decline.
1877
The National Greenback-Labor Party nominated the elder William Meighen for lieutenant governor; he placed a distant third in the election.
1879
William Meighen runs for governor on the Greenback ticket, but loses with only 4 percent of the vote.
1889
Throughout the 1880s, the Meighens buy property sold cheaply by people leaving for more prosperous railroad towns. The family now owns the entire town of Forestville.
1897
Thomas Meighen marries Mary Broderick of Preston, Minnesota. A park called “The Elms” was established in Forestville and made available for use to local groups and families. At this time Thomas Meighen owns 1,600 acres of land.
1902
Thomas Meighen is involved full-time in politics within the People's Party and is also president of the First National Bank in Preston. Rural Route delivery system established by the US Postal Department, resulting in the close of Forestville post office.
1905
Thomas Meighen, his wife Mary Broderick, two sons, and one daughter move to a new house in Preston. Mary’s sister Katie and her husband, Mike Gartner, live in the home in Forestville and oversee the store and farm.
1910
The general store closes for good. Forestville ceases to exist as a town, but continues as an operating farm. The home is lived in by various families.
1936
Thomas Meighen dies.
1936–1960s
Thomas Meighen’s children attempt to sell the land they inherited from their father to the state of Minnesota to establish a park as that had been their father’s wish. This took many years as during the depression there was no funding.
1963
Forestville Townsite and the surrounding area are established as the Forestville State Park, administered by the Minnesota DNR.
1973
Forestville Townsite and Meighen General Store are added to the National Register of Historic Places.
1978
The Minnesota Historical Society acquired the town’s five remaining original buildings (the store, Meighen residence, granary, carriage barn, and animal barn) and 18 surrounding acres and opened a historic site.
1987
Mystery Cave is added to Forestville State Park.
2001
A visitor center is opened in Historic Forestville, reconstructed from a barn.
2008
Site is closed due to flooding across Fillmore County, but reopened later that year.