This Sherburne County landmark was once home to the Fox family of Santiago Township. Though the house and family grew and changed, this original 1876 structure remained part of the home until it was sold in 1968. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, the house was later moved to the Sherburne County Historical Society.
Herbert Maximilian Fox was born in England in 1849 and immigrated to Canada at the age of 16. Three years later he came to Clinton Lake Township, now known as Palmer Township, in Sherburne County. He worked for another Englishman before moving to Haven Township, where he took a job at the Biggerstaff family's farm. By 1878, he had saved enough money to buy 160 acres and a house in Santiago Township. H. M. Fox married Eleanor Biggerstaff in 1879 and the couple moved into the house. Their son John was born two years later.
In 1917, John married Nellie Bartholomew, and the Fox family welcomed her into their home. John and Nellie had two sons, William and Irvin. After Eleanor died in 1923, John became the head of the household. Over the years the family obtained more land around the original farm. H. M. Fox passed away in 1940, at the age of 91. Ownership of the farm passed to his son, John, and after John's death in 1961, the 557-acre farm was transferred to his sons.
Herbert Maximilian Fox became
a prominent member of the community. He served as a U.S. Census enumerator in 1880, and in the 1880s and 1890s he was Santiago Township's tax assessor.
"Assessor H. M. Fox of Santiago was in with his books last week. This is the tenth year Mr. Fox has assessed Santiago. The first year the total valuation of the town was about $12,000, but this year it foots up over $68,000." -Sherburne County Star News, July 7, 1892
The Fox farm was located on land selected for the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, created in 1965. The family had to sell their home to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and in 1968 moved off the family farm. This move ended the Fox family's ninety year occupation of the land.
Caption: Herbert Maximilian and Eleanor Fox in front of their house, about 1900. The 1876 portion is directly behind them. The section with the porch was a later addition.