Kingston Township is named after Kingston in Ontario, Canada, the birthplace of J.B. Atkinson, an early settler and well known for his service in the US-Dakota War of 1862 and Civil War. In 1855, a government surveyor named J.B. Salisbury was working in Meeker County. He was so impressed by the land in what became Kingston Township that he stuck claims just east of what is now called the Salisbury Bridge. A.P. Whitney & Co. constructed the Kingston Water Power Mill between 1856-1858. Before its completion, settlers had to either make their own flour or purchase it in St. Paul. The mill later served as a fortress during the US-Dakota War in 1862. Kingston Township covers the largest area of any of Meeker County’s townships.
The town of Kingston was the second settlement in Meeker County, established in 1856 soon after Forest City. A stock of goods was brought to the town in the spring of 1857 and the first “store” was the log cabin home of A.P. Whitney. The first bridge over the Crow River was built in 1861 by M.P. Littlefield for $295. This was soon replaced by a cable walking bridge, the "Shoemaker-Olson Bridge," was built just east of Kingston. In 1885, Meeker County built “a substantial bridge” named the "Salisbury Bridge" in honor of the early settler, but nobody added approaches so that the bridge could be used safely, so the structure was largely avoided. The “New Bridge” in the postcard pictures below was a steel bridge built in 1903 at a cost of $2,700.
The 1888 Biography of Meeker and McLeod Counties states that “The trials, tribulations and hardships endured by the pioneers of the town would fill a volume. Coming here, for the most part, without money, or the wherewithal to live until they could get a crop, their endurance was severely tested. The land had to be prepared, and seed purchased before the land could be sown, and in many cases to get the seed was a serious problem.” The article continues, saying of those hardy pioneers that, “when they laid the foundations of society in this part of the state, they builded [sic] better than they knew, and to them is due much of the development of its resources.”