Thursday, May 29, 2008

1880 Dakota Territory Directory

For St. Vincent, Kittson County:

For Pembina, Pembina County:

Bradshaw, J. - Pembina Hotel
Cavalier, Charles - Postmaster
Cavalier, C. - Real Estate Agent
Crawford, Charles - General Store
Ferguson, Peter - Grocer
Gooding, C.J. - Railroad Agent
Johnson, Holmes & Driscoll - Farm Implements, Buggies & Wagons
La Moure, Webb Traill & Co. - General Store
McLellan, A. - Ontario House
Moorhead, Daniel - Saloon
Myrick, F.C. - General Store
O'Connell, Hugh - Express Agent
Pembina Mill Co. - Flour Mill
Scribner, Johnson - Saloon & Billiards
Strong, Thompson - Hardware & Farm Implements
West, George - Farm Implements & Wagons
Winchester, J.A. - Winchester House
Winters, George - General Store
Yerxa, T.E. - General Store

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sheriff Charley Brown: Chapter XX

It was on a Saturday afternoon in early June when Marguerite became aware of Josey Watson, who was visiting Charley's Mother. After lunch she had stopped at Myrick's store to buy toweling material for the hotel. There, at the clothing counter stood Charley's mother, Eliza. Beside her stood an exceptionally beautiful woman. Not wanting a confrontation with Eliza, Marguerite cautiously moved to a side aisle, maintaining a safe distance. Eliza's loud voice carried throughout the store. Much later Marguerite was to suspect the excessive timbre of her voice was intentional.

"Charley will love that scarf and hat, Josey! Why don't you try on the silk cape?"

At the mention of Charley, Marguerite's curiosity piqued. From a corner of the room she studied the woman closely. The newcomer was tall, a true blond, with pale blue eyes and a perfect alabaster complexion. Her heavy fall of honey colored hair hung in soft folds about her shoulders. She was fashionably dressed in a pale blue silk dress that exuded a cool graciousness. Marguerite realized the woman had poise and presence. It was also obvious that she was several years older than herself.

Then it struck! She was shocked and bewildered. What has this woman to do with Charley? She felt her cheeks suddenly burning with embarrassment. Keeping her distance until Eliza and the woman completed their purchases and left, she approached the store owner. "Frank, who was that attractive blond woman accompanying Mrs. Brown?"

Myrick beamed, "Eliza introduced her as Mrs. Watson. I've never seen her before, but I've heard she's visiting at Eliza's. She's certainly attractive -- must be a friend of hers from back east. What can I do for you?"

Marguerite was momentarily in a quandary. "Oh, I was just looking around. I'll stop by when I have more time." She hurriedly left the store, leaving Myrick puzzled over her sudden departure.

A gradual foreboding overtook her and she began to shake so badly that she could hardly walk. She knew she must force herself to act as if nothing was wrong, yet, she sensed a deep hurt coming. Turning toward the hotel she realized she hadn't purchased the necessary toweling material. She had promised Mrs. Geroux to hem up another dozen towels for the hotel. Shaking her head in frustration she determined to do it on Monday. What has that woman to do with Charley? Does he know she's in town? She was aware of his faults, his often rejection of her suggestions that seemingly amounted to disinterest. To her, their sexual relations were serious and exciting. Yet sometimes, she felt that to him, they were only a release of his emotions. When they were together it seemed he always wanted to possess her, yet they never took trips in the company of others, excepting Susan and Ian. He seemed less interested in marriage as the months passed, and she was beginning to feel used.

She felt she had not given Paul false hopes, nor had she led him on intentionally. Yet she had taken advantage of his good nature and friendship. He had been a distraction from Charley; he was handsome, a good conversationalist and seemed sincere in his proposal of marriage.

Arriving at the hotel she found things at a standstill. Checking the dining room she satisfied herself that the table settings were complete. Turning to the kitchen she found Mrs. Geroux and the cook discussing the evening meal.

"Will you help serve tonight, Marguerite? We'll be short. Roxy is visiting relatives in Winnipeg. I have only Florence to help."

"Sure thing! It's Saturday and the dining room will probably be full, customers should be arriving soon. When will Florence be here?"

"Quite soon, I hope." Mrs. Geroux turned to the stove and began adding milk to a large pot of fluffy mashed potatoes.

Reentering the empty dining room Marguerite felt tense and confused. Taking a chair near the entrance she felt she must sort out her feelings. Does Charley know about this blond woman? He must, she's evidently staying at his Mother's. When did she arrive? How long has she been here? She realized she hadn't seen Charley since the previous Sunday when he took her to dinner at the Pembina House. She knew that on each Saturday night he worked until closing time at the saloon. Debating with herself, she decided that when she finished with this evenings work she would stop by to see him.

It was after 9 p.m. when the tables were finally cleared and Marguerite felt free to leave the dining room. Stopping in front of the saloon she could see John working near the window. Tapping on the glass gently, she caught his attention. Smiling at her, he turned away, moments later Charley stepped from the door. The warm smile on his face was encouraging as he closed with her, grasping her shoulders possessively. "Something wrong? What's up?"

She felt emboldened. "Are you free tomorrow afternoon? It promises to be a lovely day. A picnic would be a grand idea."

"That's wonderful! I'm all for it! How about picking you up early tomorrow afternoon at your place. Leaning forward, he attempted to kiss her.

Although it was nearly dark, she quickly glanced in each direction. Seeing no one, she pressed to him in a fervent embrace. Finally pulling away, she ran her hand over his cheek in a caress. "Fine, I'll pack a lunch. It'll be our first picnic of the season." Turning, she began walking toward the bridge, pausing momentarily to turn and blow him a kiss.

Arriving at Marguerite's home the following afternoon he dismounted near the house to find the door suddenly opened by Marguerite's Mother. "I heard your horse. Gosh, Charley, you haven't been over here all winter. You and Ian used to visit often."

"Annette, it’s been a long hard winter; I hardly left the store. But it's been a grand spring. It's so warm Marguerite and I are going picnicking this afternoon."

"So she told me; she's in the kitchen putting things together."

"How has Joseph been behaving?" Charley knew of her husband's addiction to alcohol.

"No different than usual. We manage quite well. I still work at the fort and the pay is adequate. The girls help too."

"Mother!" Marguerite's voice came from the kitchen. "Can you spare a bottle of your dandelion wine? Charley favors it."

Annette smiled at Charley. "I'm glad you do. I have to keep it hidden from Joseph."

As Charley followed her to the kitchen, Annette said, "Sure honey, you know where I hide the bottles."

Marguerite turned to Charley with an impish smile. "You're early, I didn't expect you this soon."

"Better early than late. I saved my appetite for the picnic."

"There'll be plenty to eat. Just give me a couple of minutes to change clothes. You and Mom can chat."

Minutes later Charley assisted her into the buggy and turned the horse toward the ferry. Marguerite reached out to cover his hand with hers. "Are we going south of the fort?"

"It's up to you. Would you rather go to Fern Valley?" 1

"South of the fort would be just fine." Mischievously she said, "Do you think the river will be warm enough for swimming?"

"You really mean it?" He looked at her in surprise.

"Are you afraid of being compromised by me?" She was smiling.

Guiding the horse down the hill toward the ferry, he smiled as he faced her. "I'll take any of your dares."

"Then it's a done deal!" She squeezed his hand.

While crossing on the ferry Charley stepped from the buggy to visit with the ferryman. Marguerite heard some discussion of the river depth, but her mind dwelled on plans of her own. She decided not to mention the mysterious Mrs. Watson until it was time to return home; that would be soon enough. After leaving the ferry and gaining the top of the hill, Charley commented, "Gosh, it's warm, must be in the 80's -- unusual for May."

Marguerite laughed lightly, "I ordered this fine day; don't you believe in my powers?"

"I'll believe in them when we get out to the old dugout. It seems eons since that night you came to my quarters. I missed you the next morning. When did you slip away?"

She tossed her head saucily, "I couldn't wake you up; I knew you were exhausted. That trip to Detroit must have been horrible."

"I was lucky to deliver my prisoner before I blacked out. If it had happened on the train he probably would have escaped."

Nearing the fort he took the west road to avoid entering the post.

"Mother says Captain Collins plans to erect a water tower and run piping to all the buildings."

"It's about time. The steam pump works fine in the summer, but in the winter water has to be hauled up the hill in barrels. It's cold, wet, miserable work. The army winter clothes issued at the fort just aren’t adequate for this north country."

"Look, the striped gophers are out," exclaimed Marguerite.

"I hear they're called Richardson ground squirrels. Some say they're just as tasty as the tree variety."

She turned to Charley with a wry look, "Oh, Charley, you don't mean that!"

"If you'd ever have been confined in Libby Prison during the war, you'd not shun rats. I've even been bitten by them."

A repulsive expression appeared on Marguerite's face. Arriving at the Indian dugout, she exclaimed in dismay. "Oh look! The roof has finally fallen in. It was fine last year."

"Just a matter of time. I 'spect that old hillside shelter was originally built by Indians. Spring floods have taken their toll; another spring of high water and most signs of it will be gone."

"Shall we leave the buggy here and walk the rest of the way?"

"Shucks, we might as well drive a tad farther. It's still a half mile to the bend in the river."

Moments later, just as Charley drew the horse to a stop along the high bank, a crow swooped up from the river pursued by two blackbirds. As they watched the two harry their enemy, Charley said, "They sure put the run to that bird; it probably tried to rob their nest in the willows."

Stepping down he grasped Marguerite's hand, steadying her step from the buggy. Bending, he wrapped the reins around a buggy spoke, and then said, "End of the line! I'll carry the lunch basket; you take the blankets. Watch it! The bank is steep!"

"Charley Brown! I've walked down dozens of riverbanks. How puny do you think I am?"

Chuckling, he said, "That long tight skirt you're wearing wasn't made for roughing it."

Bending over, she grasped the bottom edges of her skirt and petticoat, raising them daringly to her thighs. "Now do I look capable?"

He shook his head admiringly, "Nice ankles, trim legs and shapely thighs -- you'll do!"

Smiling, she picked up the two blankets from the buggy seat before starting down the steep bank toward the river. Grasping the picnic basket he followed her down to a level spot just above the water.

Glancing around, he said, "It's not likely anyone will disturb us. We're all alone."

"Here, help me spread the blanket." After smoothing out the creases, she asked, "Are you hungry? Do you want to eat now?" Suddenly she looked dismayed, "Shoot! I forgot my sketchpad. I wanted to do a frontal view of you."

He gave her a teasing look, as she began to release her long braids. Shaking her head she loosened the mass, which fell over her shoulders, almost to her waist. He noted small beads of perspiration had gathered on her forehead.

His desire came suddenly, like a flood. Stepping forward quickly, he took her in his arms in a frenzied embrace. Almost moaning, he murmured, "I'm hungry, you bet! But not for food. It's been so long!"

His repeated kisses awoke a response in her that could not be denied. The reaction was mutual as they eased to the blanket, oblivious to their surroundings, yielding to their need. Amid grasping and groping their clothes were disposed of and Marguerite finally gasped, "Oh yes! Oh yes! It's been so long!"

Clinging together they reached a violent, spasmodic finale, and after long satisfying moments their movements finally ceased. Looking down into her eyes, Charley noted they were filled with tears. "Love, what is it?"

She moved her fingers across her face, wiping away the droplets, all the while looking up at him wonderingly.

"It's as close to heaven as I'll ever get. Oh, Charley, was it as wonderful for you?"

Leaning down to kiss her, he nuzzled her lips. "Yes, and just think, the rest of the day is ours."

After they ate, they lay back dreamily until she finally said, "Let me up; I've got to go behind the bushes."

Rolling to the side he watched her lazily as she walked behind a clump of willows. He watched as she returned, marveling at her sleek body. Her legs were long and shapely, much like a thoroughbred racehorse. Her stomach was flat and taut, her buttocks firm. Her breasts were full, nipples high and proud. He knew then that he had never seen a body as beautiful.

While still some distance from him she picked up a clump of damp clay from a crevasse. Picking off a small bit, she pelted his behind. "Come on, we're going swimming now."

He teased, "Water's pretty cold, honey."

Still smiling, she threw another clod at him, swinging her arm with vigor.

"Ouch, that hurt! Quit it!"

The third chunk caught him in mid-thigh. With a roar he arose to grab her, but she ducked, evading his clutching hands. Bursting into excited laughter she ran the few feet to the water's edge to dive gracefully far out into the murky water. Hesitating momentarily, he followed, knowing his dive was clumsy, lacking her skill.

Arising to the surface he looked around apprehensively, she was nowhere to be seen. Long seconds passed and he became worried. Finally after nearly a full minute elapsed, a head appeared far across the river. As she arose, nymph like, she swung her head to clear the hair from her face.

He yelled, "Darn it! You scared the heck out of me! I thought you might have hit your head!" His worry changed to chagrin as he slowly swam across the wide channel to join her. Finally standing waist deep in the water, he asked, "Where did you learn to swim underwater like that?"

She smiled as she wiped the moisture from her eyes. "We kids all learned to swim when we were young. It didn't make much difference, boys or girls, when we were small, but as we grew older, girls swam alone. Mother saw to that. I'm not the best swimmer -- you should see Susan. Even as we grew up, no one could catch her in the water."

"I suppose Ian knows all about that," he teased. Gathering her long fall of hair in her hands she flipped it back over her head with a sudden movement.

"Yes, he knows all about her swimming ability. She became pregnant on that same spot over there." She pointed across the river toward their blanket.

"I'll be darned! I thought their marriage was planned."

She smiled, "In a way it was; they fell in love." She looked at him seriously, "They married the very next week after the consummation. It wasn't a forced marriage; she just became pregnant that first time. She's expecting another child this fall." She studied Charley's face for long moments, hoping for a reaction. Disappointed, she finally said, "It's chilly standing here in the water. Let's cross and lie on the blanket to dry." Turning, she slipped forward into the deeper water like a sleek otter. Her head low almost submerged. He noted that as she swam, she rolled her head occasionally to gasp a breath of air.

Charley considered himself a capable, strong swimmer, but he was forced to marvel at her effortless crawl. He attempted to imitate her rolling style of breathing, only to realize it would require long practice.

After crossing the river he sank into soft, sticky mud as he stepped from the water. Seeing a portion of an old log farther up the hill he attempted to pick it free of the hard grey clay. Seeing him apparently unable to loosen the timber from the hard earth, Marguerite approached.

"What do you want with the log?"

"I'm going to put it across that strip of gumbo at the water's edge so we can wash the mud from our legs."

"Good idea! Let's do it! It's probably too heavy to lift, but perhaps we can roll it down the hill if we can work it loose."

Moments later, the two managed to free the log, rolling it down to the muddy edge of the river. Sitting on a clean portion they began washing their feet and ankles. "Oh look!" She exclaimed, "I've got something you haven't."

"What's that."

"A great big blood sucker is in love with me." Inserting her fingernail under the head of the parasite, she flipped it back into the water.

"Lots of them in these rivers. Doctors used them during the conflict between the states. They still use them medically, I believe."

Back on the blanket, their legs intertwined, Charley teased her long hair into a fan-shaped halo on the blanket. Looking up at him, she stroked his face tenderly. "You've got strong, high cheek bones, much like mine, but your face is longer and thinner." Her hand slipped to his one shoulder, cupping it to pull him closer.

His hand slipped to her cheek as he looked down at her. Caressing her temple wonderingly, he noted her smooth, flawless complexion. Her dark eyes seemed to devour him as she finally reached out with her other hand to grasp his other shoulder. Tugging him down, she slid her hands together locking her fingers behind his back, forcing him tightly down over her.

Their second joining was slow and gentle, long to end. When Charley attempted to roll from her she held him fiercely. "No, don't move. Stay with me -- I feel so content." She closed her eyes as if sleeping and for long moments they lay intertwined until Charley finally realized she had actually dozed off. Finally withdrawing, he carefully covered the two of them with the other blanket. As their bodies again made contact she rolled to him and her leg moved over his thigh; her arm clutched his chest as she buried her head snugly to him.

It was rapidly cooling by 5 p.m. when they finally gathered up the basket and blankets. Turning the buggy back toward town, he gazed toward her, "Where are we eating supper?"

"I'm not hungry at the moment, how about you? We didn't open the basket until nearly 3 o'clock.”

She looked at him worriedly, "Charley, I have something on my mind that I'd like to clear up. It's been bothering me.”

Smiling, he turned to her, "Well, shoot!

"Your Mother was in Myrick's store yesterday with an attractive woman. The woman made a purchase of a scarf and hat and your Mother remarked that you would just love them."

"You must mean Josey."

"Just who is she?"

"Fifteen years ago she was my intended, but when the war was over she married another. Her husband died some time back and now she's visiting my Mother."

"What is she to you now, Charley?" Her eyes studied his.

"As I said, she's visiting my Mother, I never sent for her. She has two teenage children, a boy and girl. They arrived on Thursday and I ran into the pair on the street. I escorted her over to visit Eugene that evening and I took the boy out to the farm Friday morning to entertain him. They are fine children, and seem to be well brought up."

"Are you still interested in Josey?"

"Marguerite, are you jealous?"

"You bet I am! You tell me that you two were once in love. Do you still have feelings for her?"

"You really are green-eyed, aren't you." Charley had a whimsical look on his face. "Drop it, Marguerite. I have no intention of taking her on any picnics, but I can't avoid her entirely."

Marguerite recognized approaching danger signals and to change the subject, said, "Have you food in that icebox up in your rooms? If so, I can make us a late supper." Charley put his arm about her waist.

"I would have suggested that myself, but I didn't know how you'd take it. You won't have to walk home in the cold tonight though, I'll see you safe and sound."

1: The author had this to say about where Fern Valley was at this time: Fern Valley was later the Joe O’Hara farm. When I was a kid and before it became private property, it was solid ferns with no weed. (And a beautiful camping spot.) It was on the north side of the Pembina River along the road just two miles west of Pembina. Turn south off Highway 55 and as you approach the Pembina River it’s just to the left and follows the north side of the river to the east. To my knowledge there are no ferns left there. Many people in town transplanted from there to personal yards.

Monday, May 26, 2008

St. Vincent Gets Street Signs

Only took 150 years give or take, but St. Vincent now has street signs!

The corner in the above photo has special significance to me; it is at the main street of the town, at the corner where my grandmother's house is...up the road a few blocks is where their old house is, and where I grew up.

By the way, according to maps drawn up at the time St. Vincent became an official city, the street names now used on these new signs were the original street names...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

MN @ 150: Pembina Trail - UPDATE

This year, events are taking place all over the state to celebrate Minnesota's 150 years of statehood. Few, if any, sesquicentennial events span the state north to south like the Sesquicentennial Stroll-planned for this summer-will.

Orlin Ostby of Gatzke has actually been planning the stroll along the Pembina Trail - one of the main historic oxcart trail routes from St. Paul to Winnipeg, Manitoba - for 50 years. With his wife, Mandy, some of his children, a cousin from Norway and a few others in tow, Ostby will set out by foot July 1 from St. Vincent, near the Canadian border, and trek down to St. Paul. A sturdy pair of oxen from New Hampshire, pulling an ox cart, will tag along as well.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Scientific History Made

In the 19th century, science was making great strides. Included in those gains of knowledge was the field of astonomy. St. Vincent and Pembina played their small parts in playing host to many expeditions that came to the area or were passing through...

"The interest aroused in total eclipses was now so great that astronomers were determined to take advantage of every opportunity, no matter how short the time of totality nor how great distances it was necessary to travel in order to view the eclipses."

Title: Excerpts From Simon Newcomb's Diary of 1860
Authors: Kennedy, J. E. & Hanson, S. D.
Journal: Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 90, p.292

Using the Google coordinates for St. Vincent below, I think your best candidate for an eclipse visible from your town that would have attracted scientists would have been that of May 26, 1854. It was a rather long annular (ring) eclipse, with the Moon too far from the Earth to cover the Sun entirely, that had a duration of 4 minutes and 10 seconds in the annular stage. Here's the chronology:

2:30:38 p.m. CDST, SW edge of Moon makes first contact with the Sun, then 52 3/4 degrees above the SW horizon.
3:57:12 p.m., annular stage _begins_ with both bodies 40 degrees above the WSW horizon.
3:59:17 p.m., maximum annular eclipse, with 90.5% of the Sun's surface covered by the Moon.
4:01:22 p.m., annular eclipse ends as the leading edge of the Moon exits the Sun's NE rim, with both objects 39 1/6 degrees over the WSW/W skyline. Duration = 4 min. 10 sec.
5:18:42 p.m., last contact, with both bodies 26 3/4 degrees above the western horizon.

The partial solar eclipse of 7/18/1860 covered 83.3% of the Sun's surface, the partial solar eclipse of 10/19/1865 obscured 68.5% of the solar surface, and the partial solar eclipse of 8/7/1869 hid 93.5% of the solar disc. There were some piddling little partial solar eclipses that I have left out of consideration. Therefore your best candidate for a major eclipse that would have attracted the attention of astronomers and which lasted long enough to justify an excursion to St. Vincent would have been that of May 26, 1854. Hopefully narrowing down the eclipses to one strong contender will enable you to discover some eyewitness accounts.

Dr. Timothy L. Bratton
Department of History/Political Science
Jamestown College
Jamestown, ND

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Freemen, Metis, and the Selkirk Settlement

What was the background of how these settlers came to our area?

Before the American Revolution, private traders, who obtained their outfits at Mackinaw, gained possession of the trade, and, after the consolidation of several companies with the Northwest Company of Montreal in 1783, there was a larger business transacted with the Indians who lived in this region so abundant in furs. At the commencement of the nineteenth century, the Earl of Selkirk, a wealthy, kind-hearted, but visionary nobleman of Scotland, wrote several tracts, ring the importance of colonizing British emigrants in these distant British possessions, and thus check the disposition to settle in the United States. In the year 1811, he obtained a grant of land from the Hudson Bay Company, described as follows: --
"Beginning on the western shore of Lake Winipie (sic - aka Winnipeg), at a point in 52°30' north latitude, and thence running due west to the Lake Winipigashish, otherwise called Lake Winipie, thence in a southerly direction, through the said lake, so as to strike its western shore in latitude 52°, thence due west to the place where the parallel 52° intersects the western branch of Red river, otherwise called Assiniboine river, thence due south from that point of intersection, to the height of land which separates the waters running into Hudson's Bay from those of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, thence in an easterly direction along the height of land to the source of the river Winipie, meaning by such last-named river the principal branch of the waters which unite in the Lake Saginagas, thence along the main stream of those waters, and the middle of the several lakes through which they pass, to the mouth of the Winipie river, and thence in a northerly direction through the middle of Lake Winipie, to the place of beginning, which territory is called Ossiniboia" or Assiniboia.

Previous to this time the only inhabitants besides the Indians, were Canadians, who, by long intercourse with savages, had learned all their vices, and imitated none of their admirable traits. Unwilling to return to the restraints of well-ordered society, from which they had fled in youth, they were fond of "...Vast and sudden deeds of violence, Adventures wild, and wonders of the moment." They were proud of the title "Gens Libres," the free people.

The offspring of their intercourse with Indian females was numerous. The "bois brulés" were athletic, expert hunters, good boatmen, fine horsemen, and able to speak the native language of both father and mother. Their chief delight and mode of subsistence was in fishing and sharing the buffalo.

From: The History of Minnesota: From the Earliet French Explorations, by Edward Duffield Neill, Pubished 1858.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Emerson Story: Doris Smith

I came across a blog the other day where a young Manitoban mother recalled her grandmother from's funny how a simple quiet life can speak volumes, isn't it?

My Grandma Doris Smith passed away when I was 7 years old. Before I was married, I just remembered her smiling face, but since I've had a family of my own, I find that I think of her often. She was a farmer's wife in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada. Most of her life was spent in the kitchen preparing food for her husband and three growing boys. My dad said her routine would consist of getting up early and making a homemade breakfast for the family. After sending them off to work and school, she would begin making a big lunch for her husband who was working hard out in the barn and in the fields. She would take lunch to the crops where my grandpa was working and upon returning, she would begin preparing dinner for her family...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Followup: John N. Chase

I was contacted a few days ago by a resident from up near home, who commented on this recent posting. He explained he was researching John N. Chase, and wondered if I had further information on him. I had to sadly report that what was in the posting was all I had been able to find. But thanks to this reader, I found out much more...

Although he was serving in the Minnesota legislature a few years earlier from St. Vincent, by the time the war began he was living down near St. Paul in his capacity as a legislator. That was why it was listed that he volunteered from St. Anthony. He was inducted on October 22, 1861, and discharged on May 4, 1864.

The brief overview of his war record given here shows a man who distinguished himself in his all too brief life. Born in Connecticut, dieing in New Orleans, he was one of many settlers who passed through St. Vincent and made their mark.

NOTE: John N. Chase's 1862 tactical manual was recently purchased by a Civil War artifacts collector who lives in a town just south of Pembina; he kindly sent me the photographs below, which show pages where Chase wrote his name and rank at that time...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Minnesota Statehood: Pembina's Role (Part I)

American Progress, by John Gast (1872)In that flourishing era in Minnesota's history between territorial status and statehood, Pembina played a leading role. Though separated from the southern part of the territory by a vast stretch of grassland, the little settlement was always of significance, for it was the natural gateway for all traffic between Rupert's Land and the United States. Through it passed countless travellers: British army officers en route to Fort Garry, Sisters of Charity going to Red River, American scientists seeking such things as a favourable site to observe an eclipse, explorers on their way to the Arctic, a host of English gentlemen bound for sport and adventure, and always the itinerant traders of St. Paul and the Red River Settlement. Pembina was a busy place; and since it was the gateway to the British Northwest, might not its proprietors also hold the "key" to the whole region?

During Minnesota's territorial days there was a keen interest in the commerce and lands of the Hudson's Bay Company and much of it revolved around the trading post and half-breed colony at Pembina. The trader, of course, was Kittson, but the moving spirit behind the colony itself was Father Belcourt, who had returned to the Northwest in 1848 in order to establish a chain of missionary stations below the 49th parallel. He planned to continue his efforts to transform the semi-nomadic, buffalo-hunting Métis into settled, agrarian folk. He hoped to attract them from both sides of the line to his missions and eventually to convert missions and Métis into colonies.

Belcourt selected Pembina as the centre of his missionary complex, a site that in 1849 was neither crowded nor charming. According to his tally, Pembina had a population of about 1,000; but if his census was not exaggerated, it was certainly misleading. In the eyes of one detached observer, Pembina did not even possess "...a collecion of huts, with the appearance of a village...," merely a few rustic dwellings scattered whimsically along the river banks, and the lodges and shanties of Pembina's floating population, the half-breeds and the Indians. With the exception of Kittson, his handful of assistants, and Belcourt, these nomads made up the colony's entire population. With the cluster of log huts at the forks, Kittson had the most prepossessing Demesne. Belcourt resided farther upstream in a comfortable two-storey house, flanked by a crude chapel and several outbuildings. To the south of these solitary evidences of civilization, there was nothing for hundreds of miles - "No houses, no cattle, no sheep, all wild as nature made it." (Speech given by Charles Cavilier, 10 Dec 1891, to a gathering of old settlers at Grand Forks. Cavilier was describing his impressions of Pembina when he first arrived there as its customs collector in 1851, Cavilier Papers...)

Despite Pembina's unpromising appearance, Father Belcourt predicted a great future for it. All that was needed to make it flourish was Washington's "Green thumb"; and, to secure the support of the federal government, the priest composed a most alluring prospectus. In it he claimed that since Pembina was the ancestral home of the Métis it would inevitably entice them away from Rupert's Land, charms: rich and arable land; a gateway to the buffalo grounds; salt springs, wood lots , and probably coal and iron too; thick grasslands ideal for cattle ranching; and a mild and salubrious climate. If the United States would only re-draw the 49th parallel to make it "incontestably American," keep out the British and their whisky, open up and sell the land, establish governmental institutions, and provide military protection, then Pembina's destiny would undoubtedly he assured. "Before three years shall have elapsed," the priest concluded, "if the Government of the United States...will extend its protecting hand to us, more than four thousand souls will soon embrace and enjoy the sweets of liberty..."

In his pursuit of federal aid, Belcourt was supported by many prominent Minnesotans. They favoured his design because it seemingly served so may of their territory's geopolitical interests. One of them suggested that, in the event of conflict with Britain, Belcourt's half-breeds "would form an invaluable defence to that exposed frontier..." Should war occur - asserted another - "a force would ever be found ready and sufficiently strong to carry the stars and stripes to York Factory and supplant the cross of St. George between the 49th parrallel and Hudson's [sic] Bay." And a third asked whether, without war's excuse, the people of Pembina "and the region they live in, [did not] present a case similar to that of Oregon Territory, in which the free gift of a quarter section of land to each person would be a judicious policy...?" These were heady speculations and the three men who made them (Henry H. Sibley, Henry M. Rice, and Alexander Ramsey) were destined to lead Minnesota through her territorial days, into statehood, and far beyond.

From: MINNESOTA and the Manifest Destiny of the CANADIAN NORTHWEST, by Alvin C. Gluek, Jr.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Sheriff Charley Brown: Chapter XIX

Tuesday, May 20, l881

A faint glimmer of light began to show in the east as Josey examined her watch in the dim light of the coach. It appeared to be 5:35 a.m. although she couldn't really be sure. Looking across the aisle she noted her blanket-covered children, both were sound asleep.

Her son, George, now 14 years, was a quiet, studious boy; he took after his lawyer father. Lucy, nearing 13, was much like herself. She needed close supervision, too prone to be free with her thoughts and actions.

Their trip to St. Paul had been untroubled, almost pleasant, the new Pullman cars offering both sleeping and dining accommodations. However, since leaving St. Paul at 5 a.m. the previous morning, the trip had been wearing; the constant shaking and rocking of the day-coach almost making her ill. Coal gases that managed to enter the car were an added complication, causing an occasional coughing spell. According to the porter who hawked oranges, apples and sandwiches every two hours, they were traveling almost thirty miles per hour.

Josey briefly reviewed their trip since leaving Philadelphia. She had written Eliza that she was scheduled to arrive in St. Vincent, Minnesota on Wednesday, May 20. It had taken only 3 days to reach St. Paul, but the further trip to St. Vincent, traveling on the Saint Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railroad, had required another 26 hours of journey. The children had taken to the cars eagerly, watching the changing countryside roll by, greatly disappointed at not seeing Indians and buffalo.

Hearing a sudden, loud rush of air and noise, she noted the conductor entering the car. He swayed from side to side, balancing to the roll of the car like a drunken sailor. Making his way toward her, he saw she was awake. Stopping to chat, he tugged out and opened his watch, announcing importantly, "We should be right on time -- have you at the St. Vincent depot at 7:10." Looking down at her, he asked, "It'll be quite early. Have you someone to pick you up there? If not the railroad agent there will likely find you transportation. Are you visiting, or planning to move to the area?"

Josey was confused at her own thoughts, but felt the information required was an invasion of her privacy. Smiling graciously, she said, "I'm sure we're expected. Someone will be present to greet us." To avoid further conversation she turned to the window, toward the now partially visible features of the prairie.

Rebuffed by her action, the conductor continued on through the car, the spring-loaded door at the vestibule making a crashing sound as it closed.

A half hour later she reached across the aisle to shake her son awake. "George, it's time to get up! We'll be arriving in St. Vincent in less than an hour. Awaken Lucy, we want to look our best when we arrive. I'm sure Eliza will be there to pick us up; she must have gotten the telegram I sent yesterday."

At 7 a.m. the train stopped just short of St. Vincent to enable the brakeman to turn a switch, shunting them onto the spur leading to the depot. By that time Josey and her children had freshened up, she, deeming their appearance presentable.

Upon stepping from the train Josey instantly sighted Eliza who came forward to take her in a warm embrace. After hugging Lucy and shaking hands with George, Eliza asked, "Where is your luggage?"

"It's in the baggage car. We'll have to gather it up. George, will you see to it? Here are the baggage checks." Turning to Eliza, she asked, "Where is your buggy? Do you have plenty of room?"

"My, yes! A friend provided me with a two-seater and driver. Just a moment, I'll ask him to assist George."

Lucy looked in awe at three Indians seated near the express door. She could hardly take her eyes from them. "Aunty Eliza, are those real Indians?"

Eliza expressed her distaste, "Yes, dear, and not very clean ones either."

Crossing the Red River on the ferry was a novelty for the youngsters. The operator, Trudo, made a fuss over them, allowing, even encouraging them to help him turn the drum that propelled the barge across the river.

Upon their arrival at Eliza's home, Josey remarked upon its size. "You certainly have a large house. Are you living alone -- or does Charley live with you?"

"Charley found the house for me, but if you'll notice, I've had an outside staircase built. I rent out the upper floor. Still, we'll have plenty of room. There are two large bedrooms downstairs and the porch is fully screened. It has a day-bed that can be used for sleeping; also it has canvas roll curtains for privacy." She smiled, "It'll be most comfortable, especially when the warm weather comes."

"Where does Charley live?"

"He and John Kabernagel have a sample store." She smiled, "I guess you know what that is. They sell liquor and wines."

Josey smiled, "I'm not completely naive. I gathered that from your letters. Still, you haven't told me where he lives."

"Oh, he has quarters over the store. The original store burned last August during a vicious lightning storm, but they've rebuilt anew. Charley also has a farm and other interests. He and other investors have land in Hamilton, so I'm told."

"Has he changed much -- in appearance I mean?"

"No, he's still straight and tall, but he's broadened out like his father. He's made his place in town, he's quite well thought of."

"I expected that," Josey mused, "He always had charm."

"I'll ask him over tonight if I can locate him. He's out of town a good deal, and might be out at his farm. It's seeding time you know."

George entered the room to ask, "Mother, can Lucy and I look over the town?"

Josey glanced to Eliza, who answered the boy, "Certainly George. The town is civilized, but be back in time for noon lunch."

As the children left, she remarked, "By noon they'll have covered the entire town. It won't take them long."

"I didn't want to bring it up before the children but haven't you something in mind? Are you trying to push Charley and me together?"

Eliza took the challenge lightly. "You're single and Charley is single. You were both in love at one time in your lives. Your children need a Father; what could be more practical?"

Josey began to smile. "Eliza, you're a romanticist, a born match-maker. I have had thoughts of Charley, in fact I thought about him all the way out here, and many other times back at home. I don't know how he'll take to me now -- it could be embarrassing. Will he forgive me for marrying Arthur?"

"Nonsense! You've matured into a beautiful woman. Charley will be pleased at what he'll see."

"I hope you're right. When Father forced me to marry, I was heartbroken. Actually my husband was kind and after a time I grew accustomed to him. He was a good provider, but both he and my Father were deeply involved in illegal trading during the war. They were lucky not to have been caught."

"Let's get you unpacked in the east bedroom. The children can decide who sleeps where. I hope you're going to settle in for a long stay. I know you'll enjoy my friends. There will be several parties hosted for you."

Charley had just stepped from his door in preparation for a trip to the farm when he met the two youngsters. Both were nattily dressed as if ready for Sunday church. As they approached the boy noted the sheriff's star that peeked from the edge of Charley's vest.

"Sir, are you Sheriff Brown?"

"Yes, I am. What can I do for you?"

"We've heard of you from our Mother. I'm George Watson, and this is my sister, Lucy." He offered his hand to Charley.

As Charley turned to the girl a strange, bizarre feeling came, a haunting feeling that brought back years of long ago. It was as if he knew this girl. Perplexed, he turned back to the boy. For seconds there was no connection, then recognition set in. Lordy! These must be Josey's children! She married a man named Watson. A sudden feeling of relief came when he realized Lucy's face was the face of Josey, of long ago.

He shook George's hand. "Wherever did you come from? How did you get here?"

"We arrived on the morning train at St. Vincent. We're visiting at Aunt Eliza's. Oh, she's not really our true aunt but she likes it if we call her that. Mother has told us so much about you, when you were both young."

"Where is your Mother?"

"Oh, she's over at auntie's house. We're visiting there for a few weeks."

A sudden feeling of foreboding came to Charley. Is this some more of my Mother's scheming, her surprise? If it is, why doesn't she leave well enough alone?

Hesitating momentarily, he knew he could not just walk away from these children. "I was on my way to the farm, but I believe I've time for a soda. Why don't we step into Wilkens' drugstore and have a treat? It's the least I can do for two visitors to our town."

Seated inside, Mrs. Wilkens served up ice cream sodas while Charley studied the pair. He judged George to be still growing, but evidently well schooled, as his grammar and manners were correct. Lucy's facial features tore at his heart. She was a dream of that same beauty he had lost just after the war.

It was the spirited Lucy who took over the conversation. "Aunt Eliza is going to hunt you up for tonight. She wants you to come and meet our Mother. Will you come? Please! Oh say you will, Mother will be so pleased!"

Charley hesitated, not wanting to run at his Mother's beck and call. Temptation finally overruled caution. "I'll stop by after supper for a few minutes. Meanwhile, I have to leave. I've work to do on the farm."

His promise to visit his mother and Josey that evening plagued him the remainder of the day. He weighed the pros and cons, remembering his rage and disappointment at Josey's marriage. Yet he reasoned, his mother had written that Josey’s father had forced her into the arrangement.

Unharnessing the four mules used to harrow that afternoon, he killed time by saddling his horse while waiting for the crossbreeds to cool. After watering and graining the animals he tossed a few forks of hay into the feed bunk. On his way back to town he found himself looking forward to a much-needed bath and shave; he must look presentable for his meeting with Josey. Heavens! It's been all of 15 years!

It was nearing 7 p.m. when he knocked on the door of his Mother's house. It was opened by a smiling Lucy. She teased, "Can I call you Charley, or must it be Sheriff?"

He realized this girl was precocious; she had spirit! Grasping his hand, she led him into the parlor saying eagerly, "Mother will be out in a moment. Aunt Eliza is busy in the kitchen; George is helping with the dishes. It's his turn, I did the noon ones."

At that moment the bedroom door opened and Charley froze in surprise. Josey was no longer a teenager; she had developed into a mature, regal beauty. Long, honey-colored hair hung in soft curls about her shoulders. Her smile warmed the room; it appeared a caressing smile, she seemed almost blushing.

"Hello, Charley," she said softly, "It's been quite a few years."

All of Charley's intentions of being brusque and curt fell by the wayside, for her beauty struck him. It was all of the glory he remembered, and more! Sensual!

Closing with him she spoke softly, "Well, don't I deserve a hug or kiss. Will you ever forgive me?"

The sudden frog in his throat finally eased. "Time has a way of healing things. You look just as gorgeous as ever, even more so."

His brief hesitation allowed the magical moment to fade. Obviously disappointed at not being taken into his arms, Josey motioned to the settee. As she sat in a nearby chair, he moved to the couch. Lucy sat beside him, taking his hand in hers.

Josey smiled demurely, "It appears you've already captured Lucy's heart. She mentioned that you treated them at the drugstore today."

"I think he's handsome, Mama, don't you?"

Charley felt a brief moment of embarrassment. "It was the least I could do. Honestly, I was puzzled when I met them on the street, since they looked dressed for church.”

"I should have made them change clothes before allowing them to ramble about the town, but Eliza and I wanted to talk over old times."

At that moment Charley's mother entered from the kitchen. Having heard the voices she knew Charley had arrived and was with Josey. "Isn't Josey even more beautiful than ever, Charley? The years have enriched her."

He stood, "The years have been kind to her, but not to me. I've put on a lot of weight."

"Oh, Charley," Josey protested, "You have a distinguished look now. You were always too thin; now you have a certain dignity."

“Last January he nearly died of pneumonia. He was in Detroit at the time; we didn't hear from him for weeks. Charley, you'll have to tell Josey all about your trip."

"Not much to tell, in fact I don't remember much. I was too darn sick to care."

"Why don't you and Josey take a walk about town. You can show her your store and Eugene's house. She knows Eugene quite well. He often visited us at Martinsburg. In fact at one time I believe Eugene was more than a little interested in Josey."

"Oh, Eliza, that's not so. Eugene and I never saw eye to eye." Smiling, she turned to Charley, "Your cousin will never settle down. He hates responsibility. The girls back home were after him but he never gave any of them a tumble. He was always more interested in horses."

"Yes, and jumping them over every high stone fence in sight." Eliza added.

Charley smiled, "Well, apparently he's finally settled down. He has homesteaded a quarter of land to the south and bought a house just two blocks from here. I think he plans on bringing his Mother and sisters out to the territory. I've heard there's not much back there for them. Didn't most families lose much of their property?"

"What the Union troops didn't take during the war the carpetbaggers plundered after Appomattox." His mother's voice had turned bitter.

"The war is over, Mother. Most people living here came from Canada and the East. It's been years since the war. The subject seldom comes up now."

"That's just as well," said Josey. "Unfortunately, back in Virginia, and other Southern states, it's still a cause for fighting and killing."

Charley motioned toward the door, "Would you care to see the town? We've still an hour or so of daylight left. We can walk over to Eugene's. He's building a new shed behind his house. I'm fairly sure he'll be home."

Lucy smiled up at him. "Charley, can I come too?"

As Josey arose, she said, "Lucy, Charley and I want to visit together. You and George can see Eugene tomorrow; you've days and weeks ahead of you.

Turning to Charley, she asked, "Will I need a wrap?"

"It's a warm evening. We'll only be gone an hour or so." Patting Lucy's shoulder, he said, "I'll introduce you to my partner's daughters tomorrow. He's got two peppy ones just about your age. If George wants to see my farm he can ride out with me in the morning."

"Will you teach me to ride a horse?" Lucy asked.

He looked down at her fondly. "Why certainly, but I'll have to find a sidesaddle."

"Why can't I ride astride? Some ladies do."

Josey approached the door, beckoning to Charley. "That's enough pestering, young lady. Come Charley, let's go before it turns dark."

As they began a slow, casual walk to the corner, Josey tucked her arm through his, squeezing his arm possessively. Charley was unnerved at her action, but felt unable to detach her arm. She's taking advantage of me. What will it look like if I meet friends? Marguerite is sure to find out. She'll misunderstand.

"Are your duties as sheriff time-consuming?"

"Not so very, why do you ask?

"Well, I plan on staying for a month, perhaps more. I was hoping we would have some time together. We were so close at one time. I know I was unfair to you, but I was forced to obey my Father."

Charley smiled wryly, "Yes, I remember your sudden disappearance, and then I was told you married that lawyer. I could hardly believe it, still can't in fact. You were sixteen at the time, hadn't you any scruples?"

"That was the trouble. I was only sixteen, not of age. I was forced into the marriage."

"Well, it's water under the bridge now. When did your husband pass away?"

"Three years ago -- it's been difficult, raising two children by myself."

Reaching the corner they turned south, Charley using the excuse to take the street side, dropping her arm and moving to the outside. She again reached to take his arm intimately. Reaching Eugene's corner, he was surprised to find the house newly painted, in a blue-gray shade. Hearing hammering in the rear, they crossed the street to find the framework of a fairly long shed in the rear of the house. Eugene was busy nailing a piece of lap siding on the end wall, supporting it with his knee. Looking up, he said, "I'll be darned. Charley, and with Josey, no less! Josey, wherever did you come from?"

"The children and I got in on the morning train. We're visiting Eliza."

Eugene glanced at Charley quizzically, and then he said to Josey in a sardonic tone, "Bet Eliza was lonesome for her old friend. Did she tell you that Charley was still single?"

Josey blushed, but had the temerity to say, "Why, Eugene, are you jealous?"

He laughed. "No way. You and I never hit it off. Where are the kids?"

"We're all staying at Eliza's."

"Send them around to visit -- they're good kids." Bending over, he picked up a long piece of lap siding and looked to Charley. "We can talk while I work; mind holding up the other end for me?" Turning to Josey, he pointed to a work stool. "Help yourself to some ease. How is everyone back east? Haven't heard from Mother or the girls for weeks. I wrote them the other day, told them to get train tickets and come out here. The house is ready, I just finished the painting."

"It looks grand," Josey conceded. "I believe they'll enjoy it here. You do have long winters though."

Charley spoke up, "Back home winters weren't as cold, but they were wet and miserable. I remember the malaria only too well. We don't have it here, and when winter sets in, it's dry and the ground is firm." He moved toward Josey, extending his hand to ease her rising from the low stool. "I should be getting you back to Mother's. I promised John I'd work tonight."

Turning to Eugene Josey said, "The children will probably be over to see you tomorrow. We should be getting back to Eliza's, it's nearly dusk."

While crossing the street, she asked, "Charley, how late do you work?"

"We lock up the bar at 1:00 a.m. usually, but sometimes it takes a bit longer, especially on a Saturday night."

"Do you work every Saturday and Sunday? Don't you have entertainment on weekends, like some time off, to do something for fun?"

"Sure, there's lots of entertainment available. In the summer we have theater groups, dances, ball games, swimming, picnicking -- just about anything goes. In the winter we have skating, skiing, curling, parties, dancing and so on. As far as I'm concerned, most of my summer is spent at work. I have occasional duties as sheriff, farm a quarter of land along the border, and share in the profits of John's and my saloon." He smiled, "But I work my share of the hours in the saloon too."

She nudged him, squeezing tightly against him, all the while smiling, “That's not what I meant and you know it! What do you do for fun? You don't work on Sunday, do you?"

"Are you hinting?" He looked at her.

She smiled, squeezing his arm with a coy look, "You bet I am!"

They were turning into his Mother's yard when he finally said, "We'll have to talk about that in the future. I'll have John ask his daughters to call upon Lucy tomorrow. If your son George wants a tour of my farm have him stop by my place about 7:30 tomorrow morning. We'll take the buggy out. I haven't much harrowing left to do, so we should be back in town by noon."

Josey felt disappointed when he turned to leave without a show of affection. She sighed deeply, knowing another magic moment was lost. Entering the house she was confronted by Eliza. "How did it go?"

Josey smiled, "He's changed a lot but he was pleasant. I'm glad he likes the children. I worried that he wouldn't accept them. I used to love him and I think I still do." She sighed, "There are problems though, mainly 15 years of his being a bachelor."

Eliza had made further plans. Tomorrow, she would notify Editor Gatchell of the Pembina Pioneer Newspaper, that Mrs. Watson and children, personal friends of Sheriff Brown, were visiting him in town. She knew that would stir the pot.

On his way back to the saloon Charley puzzled over his Mother's action. It was apparent that she and Josey had been corresponding regularly and that his Mother was now scheming to break up his intimacy with Marguerite. Somehow, it seemed like years in the past. From the frying pan into the fire!

Would his familiarity with Josey's children give Josey hopes of more? It was obvious she had no ties; was she reaching out to him? Her possessiveness when she took his arm bothered him. Whenever he had offered his arm to Marguerite she had always taken it cheerfully, but casually. Perhaps he should take Marguerite more seriously. They had always hit it off so well. Although both women were beautiful, something deep inside seemed to eat at him. He had never been a coward in combat; he had loved the excitement. But now, a feeling of caution seemed prudent.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Past Resident Comes Home to Rest

Winnie Lapp, 104, of Elk Grove, Calif., died April 23, 2008. Graveside services are scheduled for May 7, 2008, 2 p.m. at the St. Vincent Cemetery, St. Vincent.
I ran across the above obituary online last Friday. I immediately passed it on to the Gamble family descendents since I knew that some of the family had intermarried with the Lapp family. It turns out they had lost track of that family line and had no idea that one of the older generation was still alive. They were blown away, as was I!

From Alice:
I found the connection on my tree. Who would have thought there would be 2 Winnie Lapps in the same generation? This Winnie Lapp who just passed on was married to Sam Lapp, the son of Ellen Gamble and Richard H. Lapp. The Winnie Lapp that I thought she was was the actual daughter of Ellen Gamble and Richard H. Lapp...Thank you, again, for sending me this obit. It has opened up a conversation with a nephew of Winnie's and I have asked him to pass along my e-mail address to two others that he keeps in touch with - one a Gamble and one a Griffith! I just love making these connections, not only to meet new and alive people I'm related to, but also with the hopes that someone out there has the answer to my brick walls!
From Lori, comes this:
Conclusion seems to be the same, that this Winnie Lapp was married to Samuel Lapp, son of Ellen Gamble Lapp & Richard Lapp -- who also had a sister named Winnie (I think that's the Winnie in the photo with Mary Ann, Alexander, Willy & Sam that you sent to me, Alice). Yep, Winnies, Sams & Richards seem to abound in the Lapp family, just as Alices, Alexanders, Leslies, Williams, etc., abound in ours! lol
I have to say, it is one of the best moments when I can help family make connections...and all because of a little town named St. Vincent that we all have in common.

Preserving the American Historical Record

PAHR (Preserving the American Historical Record Act) proposed to increase federal support for state and local archival records held by government agencies, historical societies, libraries, and related organizations. This initiative would establish a program of formula-based grants to states for re-grants and statewide services to support preservations and use of historical records. The program, to be administered by the National Archives, will provide a total of $50 million per year nationwide. Each state would receive a portion of these funds for redistribution to organizations within its borders. This program would be in addition to the existing national grants program within the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

How can you help?

Contact your Representative in Congress and urge them to sign on as an original sponsor of PAHR. Write a few sentences telling him or her how PAHR would help his or her constituents — you! (Tell them how vital it is to have records preserved and available to the public.) Also, spread the word about this action alert!

Time is critical. Deadline for action is Saturday, May 10.

Faxing your Representative is the preferred method of communication. The Humanities Advocacy Network maintains a website with all of the contact information for legislators.

Further information about PAHR, including the bill, background information, and the amount of funding for each state can be found here...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

First State Legislature: Joseph Rolette, Jr.

Joseph Rolette, Circa 1841
He was of French ancestry.

During his service in the Territorial Council of 1857 a bill passed that would move the capitol of Minnesota from St. Paul to St. Peter. Joe Rolette, the chair of the Enrolled Bills Committee at the time, took the bill after it had passed both bodies and went into hiding with it. His efforts prevented the change from occurring.

He died in Pembina, Dakota Territory.

Date of Birth: 10/23/1820
Date of Death (if known or applicable): 05/16/1871
Birth Place: Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin
Birth County: Birth Country: United States
Other Names: Joe
Gender: Male Religion:
City of Residence (when first elected): Saint Vincent
Occupation (when first elected): Fur Trader, American Fur Company

New York Schools; At Least Elementary School

Territorial Democratic Constitutional Convention 7th Council District, Minnesota Territory Elected 07/13/1857 to 08/29/1857
Legislative Session: 1st (1857-1859)
Body: Senate Elected: 10/13/1857 Term of Office: 12/2/1857 to 12/6/1859
District: 22 Residence: Saint Vincent
Counties Represented: Cass, Pembina (defunct), Todd
Occupation: Fur Trader, American Fur Company
Party: Democratic
Committees: Enrollment, Harbors, Towns and Counties (Chair)
Session Notes: He was sworn in on December 7, 1857 and subscribed to the oath of office on December 8, 1857. An 1858-59 session was not held due to the protracted session of 1857-58. (Minnesota Legislative Manual, 1872, p. 66) Thus, even though the first session was adjourned on August 12, 1858; the term end date for it is listed as the day before the second legislative session's start date.

[From the First Minnesota Legislature Collection]

Saturday, May 03, 2008

First State Legislature: John N. Chase

John N. Chase of St. Vincent, member of the First State Legislature.
Photographer: Hill, Kelley & Company
Photograph Collection, Ambrotype ca. 1858
Location no. por 23693 r1
[From the First Minnesota Legislature Collection]

Background: He was sworn in on December 3, 1857. An 1858-59 session was not held due to the protracted session of 1857-58. (Minnesota Legislative Manual, 1872, p. 66) Thus, even though the first session was adjourned on August 12, 1858; the term end date for it is listed as the day before the second legislative session's start date.

Legislative Trivia (related to the session in which John N. Chase served):

Three nicknames are used to refer to the state of Minnesota: the gopher state; land of 10,000 lakes; and the North Star state.

In February 1858, the new Minnesota Legislature introduced the "Five Million Loan" bill. The purpose of the bill was to provide money to build railroads in the state. A highly controversial proposal, the bill ultimately passed. During the public debate, a cartoon was circulated depicting the railroad tycoons as nine gophers with human heads pulling a Gopher Train. Minnesota’s nickname "the gopher state" came from this 1857 cartoon. A full description of the Five Million Loan may be found in William Watts Folwell, A History of Minnesota, Volume II (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1961), pages 37-58. In fact, the nickname refers to the “striped gopher” which is not actually a gopher, but is a thirteen-lined ground squirrel.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pembina Mounds

I have never noticed mounds in my hometown area, but then, I wasn't aware of them until recently. Unless you are very observant, you would miss them in all likelihood. I have a feeling some of the older settlers would have seen them. Even some of our older farmers might remember seeing something...

Tribes and even bands differ in their conjectures with regard to them. In conversing with an intelligent French gentleman, who, as a trader, resided near the Pembina settlement on the Red River of the north, upon the subject of the antiquities of that region, related a circumstance, which, it would seem, throws a glimmering light upon the origin of one class of these ancient works. After the termination of a battle between the Chippewas and Sioux Indians, (in which in self-defence it became necessary for him to participate), the women and children of the former, who were the victorious party, in celebrating the achievement, created a mound, from the adjacent surface, about five feet in height, and in diameter eight or ten feet, upon the summit of which a pole ten or twelve feet in length was planted, and to this pole tufts of grass, indicating the number of scalps and other trophies achieved, were tied; around this mound, the warriors, with their usual ceremonies, indulged in mirth and exultations over the scalps of their ill-fated foes.

Wisconsin Democrat, page [1], vol. 1, iss. 19
Publication Date: February 28, 1843
Published as: Wisconsin Democrat
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Headline: Description of Ancient Remains Ancient Mounds and Embankments