Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Men Who Built Fort Pembina: William Nash

Portrait of Nash, Compendium of
  History & Biography of North Dakota,
Geo. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1900

WILLIAM C. NASH enjoyed the distinction of being the first to settle in the vicinity of Grand Forks; but before that, among other things:
He was engaged in carrying United State mail in the early days from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina, and used dogs and sleds for the purpose, and he served four years as postmaster in East Grand Forks... 
He then accompanied General Hatch on his campaign through the northwest after Indians, and accompanied the expedition as far as Pembina, spending the winters of 1863-64 in Fort Garry and Pembina, and while there acted as agent for the government, and succeeded in bringing Little Six and Medicine Bottle, two Indian chiefs, back to the United States under arrest.
[Source: Compendium of History and Biography of North Dakota, Geo. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1900]

The following fall, he was appointed sutler at Fort Abercrombie, and held that position five years, during which time he was contracting.  In 18701 he helped build the post at Pembina, making the first brick used in Dakota.

1 - Prior to 1870 the Hudson Bay company had absolute control of practically all the trading interests west of the Canadian provinces. They even appointed the governor for Prince Rupert’s land, which, until the boundary was established in 1823 by Long’s expedition, was held to embrace much of present day North Dakota. A portion of the Selkirk settlement of 1812 was on American soil, as indeed was the old fort of Capt. Henry, and even later establishments. The old policy was to confine their business principally to the fur trade, but when Donald O. Smith succeeded Governor McTavish it was to trade with all the people.