Friday, February 06, 2009

Profile: William H. Moorhead

William MoorheadThis is William Henry Moorhead of Pembina. He was known to be, among other things, a land speculator and an undertaker.  Why the text says he died in 1871, I cannot explain, but according to all sources, he did not die until 1897.

Sometimes referred to as "Highwater Bill" - according to the Chuck Walker's family oral history, because "...during one of the floods a wager was made between some men...Bill Moorhead drove a board in the water with a knot hole and said, 'The water will come up and run through the hole.' He won and later it was said that he came back after dark and drove the board deeper..."

Oh, dear...well, gossip aside, I rather like his moniker however he came by it, cheating or legitimate!

William Henry married Lizzie La Verea, a French Canadian, of North Dakota, where he was employed by the Hudson Bay Company, later owning a large tract of land and an undertaking establishment at Pembina, N. Dak.; the town of Moorhead, was named for him. He died July 3, 1897. His children were: James, Stanley, Shepley, Mary, Delia, and one or two who died in infancy.

Mr. LaFromboise says the men prominent in making Walhalla are Father Belcourt, John Meger, Joseph Rolette, William Moorhead, and Charlie Bottineau. William Moorhead was the first whiteman that he remembers at Walhalla Dak. Territrory. Mr. Moorhead and Jim McIntosh another white man came about the same time, this was about 1863. Jim McIntosh was later killed by Indians while he was carrying mail from Devils Lake South west to another post. A lady named Mrs. Reed was one of the first white women in Walhalla. - From the Early History of North Dakota

He was born at Freeport, PA Sept. 20th, 1833, and died at Pembina, July 3rd, 1897. He came to St. Paul in 1852, and arrived at Pembina, Aug. 20, 1856, with the Red River Carts, bringing supplies from St. Paul. With him came Antoine Girard and Lucien Geroux. He was in partnership at St. Joseph with Joseph Lemae, and after the latter’s death, he returned to Pembina.

Moorhead was one of the early settlers of Pembina, N.D., who had traveled in Roseau County before the white settlement. Two of his sons settled on what is known as the Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods. Moorhead told J.W. Durham that Roseau County was the greatest. From Minnesota's Last Frontier