County History


Renville County is an agricultural county located in west central Minnesota. The county is well known for its agricultural innovations including crop and animal cooperatives, seed crop breeding and production and farmers willing to experiment with newly developed agricultural technology.


Renville County's present boundaries are within 982 square miles and are comprised of 27 Townships and 10 cities (Bird Island, Buffalo Lake, Danube, Fairfax, Franklin, Hector, Morton, Olivia, Renville and Sacred Heart).

The county was established in 1855 by an act of the Minnesota Legislature. The first county election was held in 1862 but the records were lost during the US Dakota conflict. These election results were not filed with the State and no action was taken by the Legislature to declare Renville County an organized county. Finally in 1866 the County was declared organized and the second election was held. During this election the offices of Auditor, Register of Deeds, Treasurer, Sheriff, Judge of Probate, Clerk of District Court, Surveyor, Coroner and County Commissioners were filled.

Renville County was named for Joseph Renville, a famous pioneer in the west central frontier of Minnesota. Renville was born in 1779 in the village of Kaposia. His father was a French fur trader and his mother a Dakotah and member of the Little Crows band of Sioux. Renville at the age of 10 was sent to Canada to study the French language and the fundamentals of the Christian religion under the guidance of a Catholic priest. Upon his return to Minnesota he served as a guide and interpreter for the government and fur trading companies. He established his own trading post at La Qui Parle where he later died. Renville is remembered as a friend to the Sioux Indians and white travelers alike. His relationship with the Indian tribes was instrumental in maintaining peace for the new frontier.

The 2010 census data indicates there are 15,730 people living in Renville County. Of these 23.2% (3,649) are under 18 years of age, 56.3% (8,856) are between the ages of 18 and 65, and 20.5% (3,225) are of the age of 65 and older. The median age for people living in Renville County is 40 years old.