Litchfield Township was originally known as "Ripley" in honor of Dr. Frederick N. Ripley who perished in a snowstorm in 1857. "Ripley" changed to "Ness" in 1858 in memory of Ole H. Ness, a Norwegian homesteader. Finally, "Ness Township" became "Litchfield Township" in 1869 when the town of Litchfield was incorporated in 1869. "Litchfield" was the surname of three brothers: Electus Darwin, Egbert E., and Edwin Clark. They were contractors who had invested in the railroad between St. Paul and St. Cloud, and then later through Meeker County.
Litchfield was the first town on the prairie west of the Big Woods, and marked the beginning of a time when railroad companies would invest in the creation of towns, rather than building lines toward towns that already existed. This transition gave more security to railroad investors who wished to see these "railroad towns" continue to give business to passengers and those who worked on the line.