The story of the court houses and jails of Renville County is entwined with bitter battles over the location of county seat that raged for forty-five years after the county was established on February 20, 1855.
Initially Beaver Falls and Birch Cooley were rivals. In 1872, following an election the previous year that many called fraudulent, a court house was built in Beaver Falls.
In 1889, Bird Island's attempt to become the county seat was defeated at the polls, leaving the "friends of Beaver Falls jubilant." A new court house was built that year. Five years later, however, "the county seat removal war dogs" once more became active when Olivia challenged Beaver Falls for county seat honors, and Bird Island renewed its bid. In an election on October 5, 1900, Olivia prevailed 1,535 votes to 1,251. In 1902, a new court house was built in Olivia and a new jail followed in 1905.
This article consists of excerpts from a county history published in 1916.