Skip to main content

Full text of "A pioneer history of Becker County, Minnesota, including a brief account of its natural history ... and a history of the early settlement of the county; also, including ... historical information collected by Mrs. Jessie C. West. And numerous articles written by various early pioneers relating to the history of the several townships of Becker County"

See other formats


1 ^ r\V^ Y * n ^ tf 1 > \ > 

JW. •' - a"^ 'f g. ^ "^ -f^" I <^ 


-' ^^ 




^._. v^ 










Becker County 














Page 14U— First line, the word "cub" is superfluous. 

Page 251— Fifth line from bottom, read 1S95 instead of " 1905." 

Page 2d7— Sketches of John George Morrison and George A Morrison, 

following, were written by George A. Morison.O 
Page 280— Eleventh line, read Tim and Redpath, instead of "Jim 

and Redpath." 
Page 3l5— Nameof Mrs. Jessie C, West, as historian, should be left out. 
Page 313— Tenth line from bottom read Sec. 18 instead of " 19." 
Page S63- Fourth line from bottom, read Rosanian instead of 

" Rossmas." 
Page 368-Eleventli line from bottom, date of marriage should read 

NOV.2S, 1S66. 
Page 373— Fifteenth and 17th lines, read Sec. S instead of "6." 
Page 426— Fourth line, read a long distance, instead, of " the long 

Pages 436 7 — Appears the name of Rev. K. " Bjorge," but should read 

B Jot go. 
Page 469— Third line. History of Lake View, read /. B. Siinzuous in- 
stead of "A. B " 
Page 475— Article regarding Pelican Valley Navigation Co. was 

written by John K. West, of Detroit, and his name 

should have been appended. 
Page 501— Twelfth line, read birthplace of Mrs. Ebeltoft, ^orwa^ in- 
stead of 'Sweden." 
Page 517— First line, read 1847 instead of " 1874." 
Page 524— Last name in sketch of Hugh Sullivan, read Ole D. Olson 

instead of 'Ole I." 
Page 531— Tiie three first iii7es should go to the bottom of same page. 
Page 540— The last half of seventh and four following lines, should 

follow tirst line on page 541. 
Page 563— The words both hands full but should precede the last 

line on page. 
Page 566-Fifth line, for "Carl Campbell" read C. M. Campbell. 
Page see- Nineteenth line read 29th June. 
Page 591 — Peneath cut in upper right hand corner, read Mr. and Mrs. 

O.J.Jahr. Beneath cut in lower left hand corner, read 

Nels Nelson Viger. 
Page 602- Fourth paragraph, 3rd line, read Charles Schnitzer, instead 

of "A." 

Page 6U-Fourth line read 1802 instead of " 1S62." 

Page 674— Transpose names under cuts. 

Page 686— In title line, read Toad Lake instead of " Good Lake." 

Page 695— Sixth paragraph, omit name of John O'Neil. 

Page 736— That part of first paragraph stating that Dr. Emma K. 

Ogden served as an army nurse, is incorrect. 
Page 738— First line should read, " W. J. Morrow, Jan. 3, 18S7, to Jan. 5. 



The History of Becker County, here presented to the public, 
is the result of long and patient labor and research, bestowed 
upon it with a view of producing a brief presentation of its 
natural history, including that of the mineral, vegetable and 
animal kingdoms, and also to produce an authentic and con- 
nected narrative of events of general importance and interest, 
which have occurred in the early settlement of the territory now 
included within the limits of Becker County, or in which its 
residents have been actors ; confining the accotmt as closely as 
possil)le to the count}', and its present and former inhabitants ; 
referring to outside matters only as far as necessary to show 
the connection of events. 

In the preparation of this work, no labor has been spared 
in gathering historical material from, and calling to ni}- assist- 
ance the most thoroughly informed citizens of the county. It 
has been my object to collect all facts obtainable, and as veracity 
and the unimpeachable truth are the life, and the heart and 
soul of history, I have been equally diligent in excluding every- 
thing of doubtful authenticity. 

This work is intended chiefly as a pioneer history and a 
special effort has been made to collect and record such historical 
information as is liable soon to evade our grasp, and pass for- 
ever beyond our reach, with an addition of such incidents of 
more recent occurrence as may be of especial interest, delegating 
to some younger historian the task of recording the more com- 
monplace events of recent years. 

Perhaps more space has been allotted to the early days of 
the county than will be of interest to the present generation, 
but pioneers hope to be pardoned by those who came later 
for clinging with a vivid and aft'ectionate recollection to the 
memorable pioneer past, and for recalling, and lingering with 
feelings of pride and friendship around the memories of the 
days that are no more. 

I at first started out with the intention of writing up a sketch 
of all the early settlers, and particularly to publish the army ex- 
perience of every old soldier in Becker County, presuming and 

4 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

guessing that tliere would be as many as fifty, but when I came 
to count them up and found that more than three hundred 
soldiers of the Civil War were now living or had lived in Becker 
County, my head began to swim around and around, and I 
gave it up. I have since told some of my friends that I was 
not writing biographies of the early settlers or old soldiers ex- 
cept of such as had died, and so far as any of them have ex- 
pressed themselves, they have assured me that there would be 
no ill-will or feelings of jealousy on their part if they were 
left out under those conditions. I have, however, inserted a few, 
of people who have left the county, and also a few of the very 
earliest settlers, who are still living. So if any one is disap- 
pointed in not finding his name on the biographical list, he can 
attribute it to the fact that he is still in the land of the living. 

As many of the people of our county well remember, Mrs. 
Jessie C. West, of Detroit, had for several years before her 
death been gathering material for a history of Becker County, 
and had collected cjuite a large amount of valuable historical 
information. Her papers have since been placed in my hands, 
and from them I have selected a large number of articles and 
items which I at first intended to give a separate place in my 
book by inserting them all together by themselves; but after 
a further examination of the various articles, I decided that they 
would be better appreciated, and would add more to the interest 
of the work, and would be more interesting in and of themselves 
if they were distributed throughout the work, where they would 
naturally fit in and connect with the various subjects of a kindred 
nature with themselves. 

In order to give her due credit for all the articles used be- 
longing to her collection, I have placed her name under the 
lower right-hand corner of all articles written by herself, and 
where they were compiled by her or furnished her by some 
one else, I have placed the name of the author under the lower 
right-hand corner of the article, and have placed Mrs. West's 
name under the left lower corner of the same article. 

All articles written for me by other individuals will have 
the name of the writer prefixed or annexed, and wherever there 
is no name attached, either at the head or the foot of the article, 
your humble servant is supposed to be the author. 

A. H. Wilcox. 


T/jat you read the preface before reading 
the hook proper in order to fully understand 
the authorship of the -carious articles. 

Table of Contents. 

I'reface 3 

Becker County Created 9 

General George L. I'ecker 15 

Geology of l^.ecker County IT 

Lakes and Rivers 19 


Wild Trees and Plants of Piecker County 23 

Praiiies and Natin-nl Parks 41 


Wild Animals of Becker County 43 

The Buffalo — Moose — Elk — Caribou — 
Common Deer — Antelope — Panther — 
Lynx — Wild Cat — Timber Wolf — 
Coyote or Prairie Wolf — Red Fox- 
Cross Fox — Silver Gray Fox — Black 
Fox — Grizzly Bear — Black Bear — 
Wolverine — Fisher - — Pine Marten — 
Otter — Badger ■ — Skunk — Raccoon — 
Opossum — Mink — Ermine — Weasel — 
Bat — Jack Rabbit — Northern Hare, 
or Timber Rabbit — Cottontail Rabbit 
— Beaver — ^Musk Rat — Porcupine — 
Woodchuck — liarn Rat — Black Squir- 
rel — Gray Squirrel — Red Squirrel — 
Flying Squirrel — Chipmunk — Pocket 
Gopher ■ — Gray Gopher — Speckled 
Gopher — Field Mouse — Deer Mouse — 
LTouse Mouse — Jttmping Mouse — Mole. 


List of Birds of Becker County 159 

Fishes of Becker County 191 


How was this Country first Peopled.. 195 


Chi;i]iewa Indians 196 

Abstract of Title 200 

The fust Inhabitants 210 


Birch-bark Canoes and Canoe Travel.. 21() 


The Old Red River Road 217 

I'irst Settlement by White People 220 


Northern Pacific Explorations 234 


History of the White Earth Reservation 239 


Organization of Becker County 275 

History of Burlington Township 277 


History of Detroit Township 315 


History of Audubon Township 373 

History of Lake Park Township 412 

History of Cormorant Townshij) 44i 


History of First_ Settlement of Lake 
Eunice Townshin 4oh 

History of Lake View Township 4<i9 


History of Richwood Township 479 

History of Hamden Township 49i; 


History of Cuba Township 510 

My first three Years in Becker County 530 


Mosquitoes, Prairie Fires and Grass- 
hojjpers ■"' 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 


The First Law Suit in Becker County. 582 


County Seat Controversy 584 


History of Atlanta Township 592 


History of Walworth Township 594 


History of Erie Township 599 


History of Holmesville Township GOfi 


History of Osage Township GIO 


History of Carsonville Township C23 


History of Shell Lake Townshi,. 640 

History Grand Park Township G43 

History of Height of Land Township. 647 

Shell Prairie Road 654 


History of Silver Leaf Township 659 

History of Evergreen Township 663 


History of Spruce Grove Township... GilG 

History of Runeberg Township G71 

History of Green Valley Township.... 677 


History of Wolf Lake Township GS3 


History Toad Lake Township 686 

History of Two Inlets Township 688 


History of Savannah Township 692 


Organization of White Earth Township 70O 
Organization of Calloway Township... 700 

The Maple, the Oak and the Pine 701 


Nelson-Kindred Convention 716 


Building the Court-House and Jail.... 723 

The Seasons 72S 

Old Soldiers 732 

List of Becker County Officers 736 


History of Becker County 

Chapter I. 


Becker County was established by an act of the Legislature, 
approved March i8th, 1858. That is to say, its exterior bound- 
aries were designated and recorded ; it was given a place on the 
map of Minnesota and named Becker County in honor of Gen. 
George L. Becker, of St. Paul. There were, however^ no white 
people living in the county for ten years afterwards. 

The territory included within the boundaries of Becker Coun- 
ty is as follows: All of Townships 138, 139, 140, 141 and 142 
north, of Ranges 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 and 43 west of the 
Fifth Principal Meridian — forty townships in all. 

There had been no county or township lines established in 
or around Becker County at the time it was created. 

In i860 the Fifth Guide Meridian was established between 
Ranges 38 and 39 as far north as the south boundary of the White 
Earth Reservation, and the Tenth Correction line, which is the 
line between Townships 140 and 141, and which is also the south 
line of the reservation, was also established. These lines were 
run b}' J. W. Myers, Deputy U. S. Surveyor. There were no 
more government lines run imtil 1870, when government sur- 
veying was begun in earnest, and by the close of the year 1872 
the county was about all surveyed. 

The base line from which these townships are munbered 
runs east and west across the middle of the state of Arkansas, 

lo A PioNEKR History of Becker County. 

intersecting' the Mississippi River near the city of Helena in 
Phelps County. The Fifth Principal Meridian, from which these 
Ranges are numbered, intersects this base line about twenty- 
eight miles west of the Mississippi, near the little village of ]\Iar- 
vell. This point of intersection is called the initial point. 

This ^^leridian line runs both north and south from this point, 
and in running north intersects the Mississippi River north of St. 
Louis where it is discontinued, all land east of that river in 
Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota being surveyed from the third 
and fourth Princi]:)al ^Meridians. 

The surveys from the Fifth Principal Meridian cover all of 
the vState of Louisiana west of the ^Mississippi, all the States 
of Arkansas, ]Missouri, Iowa, North and South Dakota and all 
of Minnesota west of Range 24 and the Mississippi River, except 
a little corner around St. Paul. 

The famous Hot Springs in Arkansas are in Township Xo. 
2, south, the south tier of townships of Missouri is Township 
No. 22, north, the north tier of townships of Iowa is Township 
No. 100, north, and the north tier of townships in Minnesota is 
Township No. 164, north. 

Before Becker County was created, it was a part of Stearns 
County. After Douglas County was organized a change was 
made, and it was attached to that county. 

The plat of the old townsite of Detroit, that was laid out 
in the spring of 1857, ^vhere the village of Frazee now stands, 
was recorded at St. Cloud on the 17th day of June, 1857, and 
Dr. David Pyles" certificate of appointment as notary public 
was recorded at Alexandria on the 19th day of January, 1S69. 

These are the only liecker County documents I know of 
being recorded in cither count}-, Imt there were probably others. 



St. Pall, Alarch 17, 1894. 
]\Iy Dear Madam : 

I am in receipt of your esteemed favor of the 14th inst. 

Your purpose to collect the material for a history of the 
county in which you live, is to be most highly commended. The 
early settlers of these new regions are too apt to neglect what is 
really one of the most important elements in historical studies, 
the preservation of the local happenings and traditions of the 
primitive days which constitute the formative period of dis- 
tinct localities. I hope you may succeed in what you have 
undertaken anfi though I cannot add much to your stock of 
knowledge, I am glad to contribute what I can. 

Becker County was established by act of the legislature of 
this state, March 18, 1858. (See Kelly Statutes, Vol. i. Chap. 8. 
Sec. 734, page 216.) 

At this date I was in Washington as one of the members 
of Congress elect, from Minnesota, awaiting the admission of 
the State into the Union. The State was admitted Mav 11, 

While thus awaiting the action of Congress on the subject of 
admission, I received a letter from the Hon. J. D. Cruttenden, 
a member of the House of Representatives of Minnesota, and 
chairman of the Committee on Towns and Counties, which 
stated that in organizing the newer portions of the state into 
counties, the committee had decided to give my name to a 
county in the northwest; a region then almost unknown. 3ilr. 
Cruttenden represented what was known as the Twenty-first 
District, wdiich embraced the counties of Morrison, Crow Wing 
and Mille Lacs. This honor was unsought by me, unexpected, 
and, as I thought then, and think now, undeserved. 

Nevertheless, the legislature enacted the law, and ever since, 
Becker County has had a name and place on the map and in 
the world. 

My business pursuits and engagements were such during 
these years that I had no occasion to visit that part of the 
state. My attention was called to the fact that there was a 
county in that region bearing mv name, bv the Rev. Dr. Noble, 

A PioNKiiR History of Becker County. 13 

then pastor of the House of Hope in this city, and now pastor of 
one of the largest churches in Chicago. 

Meeting' him one day on the street here, probably in 1870, 
he informed me that he had just returned from an Indian pay- 
ment in the northwest which he attended on behalf of the govern- 
ment as one of the witnesses. 

He grew eloquent over the region he had traversed ; men- 
tioned the lakes and streams and groves and rolling prairies and 
ended by saying that it was in Becker County, and he thought 
it the finest county in the state. 

I replied, jokingly, that there was a certain fitness in nam- 
ing the finest county in the state after one of its best men. 
Don't think there was any vanity in this. Those who know 
me well, will bear witness that I am incapable of saying such 
a thing seriously. 

I am very sorry I cannot say more to you about the early 
history of your county. 

AA'ith reference to my title of "General," which I have carried 
for the last thirty years, I have to say, that the first governor 
of the state made me one of his aides, with the rank of brigadier 
general. I owe this title to Governor Sibley's appointment as 
one of his military family. The history of my military services, 
if written, would be as brief as the chapter on snakes in Ireland ; 
there are none. 

And now as the Apostle Paul says at the close of one of his 
I'^pistles to the Galatians, "Ye see how large a letter I have writ- 
ten unto you with mine own hand." 

Very sincerely yours, 

Geo. L. Becker. 
Mrs. John K. West. 


A Pioneer History of Becker County. 15 

Chapter II. 


Gen. Becker was born at Locke. Cayuga County, New York, 
Jan. 4, 1829. He obtained his early education at the district 
school of his native town, and afterwards took a course at 
Moravia Academy. Later he entered the preparatory depart- 
ment of Western Reserve College at Hudson, Ohio.' In 1841 
he removed with his parents to Ann Arbor, Mich., and entered 
the Michigan University in 1842. graduating in 1846 with the 
second class that went out from that institution. He arrived 
in St. Paul, Oct. 29, 1849, and engaged in the practice of law. 
In 1862 he became land commisioner of the old St. Paul & 
Pacific Railroad, and upon the organization of the first division 
of that road he was made president. That was Feb. 6, 1864, 
and he continued in that position until 1876. He bore his full 
share of the hard work and responsibilities attendant upon the 
completion of the line, and during his presidency several hun- 
dred miles of road were constructed into a country rich in 
resources and needing only a railroad and the settlers which 
would naturally follow it to make it one of the richest in the 
Northwest. He had the pleasure of seeing the road grow from 
a little stub to a long line connecting the Red River with the 
Mississippi and St. Paul with Manitoba. During that time he 
filled many offices of trust and also made several business trips 
to the East and to Europe in the interest of the road. During 
his residence in this state he has held a number of public 
offices. At the first municipal election in St. Paul held under 
the city charter he was elected a member of the council and 
was afterward elected president of the body, in which he served 
two years. In 1856 he was elected mayor of the city and in 
1857 lie was chosen one of the delegates to the constitutional 
convention, acting with the Democratic branch of that body. 
In October of that same year he was elected a representative 
m Congress to take his seat upon the admission of Minnesota 
uito the Union. At the time of the election it was believed 
the state would be entitled to three representatives, but it was 
learned that it was entitled to but two. He drew cuts with 

i6 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

James M. Cavanagh and \^'illiam W. Phelps, who had been 
elected as the other two representatives, to see who should 
return home. The general drew the unlucky number. He 
accepted the situation gracefully and returned home. He has 
been a lifelong Democrat, and in 1859, when he was but thirty 
years of age, he was unanimously nominated for governor by 
the Democratic convention, but was defeated by Hon. Alexander 
Ramsey after a hard fight. In i860 he was a delegate to the 
National Democratic Convention at Charleston, S. C, which ad- 
iourned without making a nomination. After the dual nomina- 
tion at Baltimore he supported the Breckenridge and Lane fac- 
tion. He was elected to the state senate in 1868 and served in 
the tenth, eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth legislatures. In 1872 
he was again nominated by his party for congress, but was de- 
feated by the Republicans. 

When the state board of railroad and warehouse commis- 
sioners was created in 1885, Gen. Becker was appointed by Gov. 
Hubbard as the democratic member and was reappointed by Govern- 
ors McGill, Merriam and Nelson. His thorough knowledge of rail- 
road afifairs in this state has made him an especially valuable member 
of the board. As a citizen he was universally respected and ad- 
mired as a man of strict integrity and unusual ability. He was 
the democratic candidate for governor of Minnesota in 1894. 
Gen. Becker died in St. Paul, on the 3rd day of January, 1904.— 
St. Paul Pioneer Press. 

A PioNEKR History of Beckkr Count v. 17 

Chapter III. 


Afy claim to being- a geologist is based altogether upon 
practical work, which consists of three years' experience as 
mining engineer in coal mines in Ohio, and three years of gold 
mining in Montana. While employed as land examiner for^he 
Northern Pacific Railroad Company in 1874, '75, 76, 'yy and 
'7%. I was especially instructed to explore and report 'upon the 
probability of the existence of coal in the valleys of the Mis- 
souri, James and Sheyenne Rivers, in what is now North Da- 

I reported the existence of an abundance of lignite coal in 
the Missouri Valley, but that there was no probability of its 
existence in the other two valleys. Subsequent developments 
have proved the correctness of my report. They are at present 
mming large quantities of coal in the valley of the Missouri 
and the Northern Pacific Railroad Company has since made 
further explorations in the valleys of the James and Sheyenne 
Rivers, by numerous deep drillings, but no coal has been found. 

In the summer of 1876 I reported the probable existence 
of small quantities of gold in the Sheyenne Valley, a few miles 
above where Lisbon is now located, and washed out a few 
panfuls of gravel, but found no gold. Several years afterward 
quite an excitement broke out over the discovery of gold in 
that same place but there was but little of it. 

But I am drifting away from Becker County. 

My scientific and book knowledge of geology however is 
somewhat like that of M. V. B. Davis, who once got his geology 
and architecture somewhat tangled. One day, when they weTe 
lunldmg the stone schoolhouse in Detroit known as the Holmes 
liuildmg, Davis stood watching one of the stonecutters who 
was dressing down a big niggerhead boulder, making it ready 
for its place in the wall of the building. A reporter for some 
newspaper came along and inquired what the style of archi- 
tecture of the building was going to be, whether' it would be 
Ciothic or Corinthian or Grecian or Ionic or Doric. Davis re- 
plied that he had never heard, but he believed it was goino- 

i8 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

to be principally Dornic. Aside from being a good joke, it was 
a very truthful reply and will apply equally as well to the ge- 
ology of Becker County, for all the rocks I have seen in the 
county belong to the "Dornic" or niggerhead, boulder family. 
They are principally granite with now and then a magnesian 

All the limestone boulders are of a whitish color and are 
next to the marble in date of formation. The component parts 
are carbon, lime and a less propoirtion of magnesia, and it makes 
a fair quality of lime. The process of manufacturing lime is 
known to nearly everyone. The principal involved is the burn- 
ing up with an intense heat of the carbon that has held the 
rock together for ages, and which allows the particles of lime 
to separate and form what is called quickdime. 

There was originally quite a sprinkling of limestone blocks 
or boulders in some of the western townships, but they were 
nearly all dug out and burned into lime many years ago by 
the early settlers. The gray boulders are all granite, and were 
originally formed down deep in the bowels of the earth and 
are supposed to have been brought to the surface by upheaval 
in immense masses. The principal bulk of the mountains in 
the Rocky ^Mountain range is granite. It is the foundation stone 
of the earth, and is in fact the old rock itself. 

None of the boulders in Becker County were formed here, but 
were brought from far distant regions, undoubtedly from some 
part of the country of a higher altitude, by icebergs or glaciers. 
Granite is composed of three different ingredients, quartz, feld- 
spar and mica. They do not always exist, however, in the same 
proportion and sometimes either one or another of these parts is 
missing altogether, which accounts for the different appearance 
of some of these boulders. When the mica predominates the rock 
is soft, and after long exposure to the atmosphere begins to 
decompose and the shiny, brassy looking flakes of the mica be- 
come very conspicuous, and are sometimes mistaken for gold. 
Many a tenderfoot in the gold mining regions has been taken 
in with what old miner's call "fool's gold." When the quartz 
predominates the rock is much harder than usual, particularly 
when the mica is missing, and it loses much of its gray color 
and does not resemble the ordinary granite. Bowlders of that 
character are quite frequent in this county. If there are any 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 19 

beds of rock "in place" in Becker County, which means, if there 
are any regular layers of stratified rock remaining' in the same 
])osition, and in the same place in which they were by nature 
formed, they are down deep in the unknown depths of the earth. 

Many years ago, in 1846, Professor Dale Owen, an eminent 
geologist, was sent by the United States government to make 
a geological survey of the Red River country. On that expe- 
dition he explored the Otter Tail River, and was persistent 
in his cft'orts to ascertain if there was any rock "in place" in 
the country, but found no indication of anything but loose boul- 
ders for a long time, although there were some fine blocks of 
white magnesian limestone found along the river in what is 
now the town of Maine in Otter Tail County, and a few other 

Finally, to his great delight, he found what he pronounced 
a ledge of stratified limestone in a state of nature, of consider- 
able extent, projecting from a high bank of the river. The lo- 
cation of this cjuarry was fairly well described, and in 1872, 
when examining the lands of the Northern Pacific Railroad Com- 
pany in that vicinity. I made a diligent search of the low bluft's 
bordering on the Otter Tail River, and a few miles from Fergus 
trails I found an immense hole in the river bank made the year 
before and a deserted limekiln close by, but no sign of an\- 
limestone quarry remaining. Professor Owen's rock "in place" 
happened to be an immense block of limestone that had been 
dumped by some iceberg or glacier and which happened to have 
been left right side up with care ; but the settlers had dug it 
out completely and burned it into lime, leaving nothing but a 
hole in the ground. With its disappearance went the last prob- 
ability of any "rocks in place" in the Red River country in 
Alinnesota, including Becker County. 

The surface formation of the county was deposited here 
during the glacier period, and is what geologists term a drift 
formation, a conglomeration of sand, gravel, some boulders 
and some clay, in the eastern and central portions of the count}', 
and of clay, some boulders, and a very small amount of sand 
and gravel in the western part. While these granite bowlders 
are quite generally distributed throughout the county, there are 
but few localities where they are very plentiful. They are much 
sought after for foundations for buildings, and are already be- 
coming scarce in the vicinitv of the villages of Lake Park. Au- 

20 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

dubon, Detroit and Frazee. The only localities in the county 
where they have a surplus to si)are are in the eastern part of 
Erie, the south part of Shell Lake, southwest Carsonville and 
a few in Toad Lake, Wolf Lake and Runeberg Townships. 

It is highly improbable that any stone quarries or any mines 
of any description will ever be found in the county, excepting 
perhaps iron ore. Natural gas may exist and possibly petro- 
leum, although we are too far away from any coal fields to ren- 
der it probable. I have never taken any stock in any of the 
alleged discoveries of coal like that near Barnesville or in any 
other part of northwestern Minnesota. There are undoubtedly 
blocks or boulders of coal under the ground at intervals through- 
out this drift formation, at no very great depth, that were brought 
in by glaciers or icebergs from far distant regions, for I have 
seen them dug out in North Dakota, and there might be a little 
pocket of gold-bearing gravel or c[uartz brought along in the 
same way ; but they will amount to nothing, except to raise 
a few false hopes and end in disappointment, like the Barnes- 
ville coal mines, or the gold mines on the Sheyenne River in 
North Dakota a few years ago. 

There are indications of iron ore around some of the tam- 
arack swamps and springs in the eastern and central parts of 
the county, and there are light deposits of bog iron ore in many 
places which have been precipitated from the water, which in 
many places is strongly impregnated with iron. 

What there may be a hundred fathoms or more below the 
surface we cannot tell ; there may possibly be millions of wealth 
down there, but it will not be for this generation to possess 
and probably not for any other, for there is no probability of 
its existence. 

But the geological formation of Becker County has given 
to her people what is of more value to them than stone quarry 
or mine ; it has given them a surface soil of surpassing rich- 
ness, and especially in some of the western townships it has 
given them a soil that for fertility and durability has no su- 
perior on the face of the globe. 

Dec. 24. 1904. 

A PioNKiiR History of Becker County. 21 

Chapter IV. 


I did not intend to say much about the surface features of 
the county, as with the exception of the forests, they will re- 
main much as they are now for years to come, but there is one 
feature of the topography of our county of so peculiar and in- 
teresting" a character that I cannot well pass it by, and that is 
the lakes and rivers within our borders. 

Becker County occupies a peculiar position in the physical 
geography of our country, located as it is on the watershed 
of North America. We are living at the fountain-head. Our 
county is at the beginning and the parting of two mighty rivers. 
Around us rise the fountains from which the great Mississippi 
begins its course to the Gulf of Mexico, and from which the 
Red River of the North pursues its winding way to the Arctic 
Sea. A peculiarity of these rivers is, that they both start on 
their long journey to the sea in a direction exactly opposite to 
their general course and final destination. 

Where on the face of the earth was there a more beautiful 
river than the Otter Tail, in the town of Erie, before the pines 
and the firs were cut away from along its banks? Many of its 
features of beauty still remain. 

The south end of the Itasca State Park extends into Becker 
County, occupying all of sections one, two, three and four of 
Savannah Township. Hon. J. V. Brower, under whose direc- 
tion this park was created, pronounced Lake Hernando De Soto 
"the greater ultimate reservoir bowl at the source of the Mis- 
sissippi River." This lake lies in section three of Savannah 
Township, and the "Hautuers," or dividing ridge between its 
waters and those of the Red River extends to the line be- 
tween sections three and ten, a full mile within the limits of 
Becker County. This dividing ridge is semicircular in outline 
and forms a rim around the head of the lake about two hun- 
dred feet higher than the lake itself. 

Lake Itasca has an elevation of 1457 feet above sea level: 
Lake Hernando De Soto an elevation of 1558 feet while the 
"Hautuers," or dividing ridge is 1750 feet above, and is the 
highest point of land in this part of the state. 

2.2 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Tliere is no perpetual stream of water flowing from Lake 
Hernando De Soto towards Lake Itasca, but in wet seasons, 
when there is a surplus of water, there is a considerable tfowage 
from the first named lake into the streams that drain into Lake 
Itasca, where they mingle with and become a part of the waters 
of the ^lississippi River. 

I will quote the following from Neil's History of Minnesota : 

Like the Garden of Eden this part of the country is encircled by 
lakes and rivers. There, is "water, water, everywhere." The surface 
of the country is dotted with lakes, and in some regions it is impossible 
to travel two miles without meeting a beautiful expanse of water. Many 
of these are linked together by small and clear rivulets, while others are 
isolated. Their configuration is varied and picturesque; some are large, 
with precipitous shores, and contain wooded islands, others are approached 
by gentle grassy slopes. Owens in his geological report says: "Their 
beds are generally pebbly, or covered with small bowlders, which peep 
out along the shore and frequently show a rocky line around the entire 
Circumference. But few of them have mud bottoms. The water is generally 
sweet and clear, and is as cool and refreshing during the heat of summer 
as the water of springs or wells. Nearly all the lakes abound with various 
species of fish, of a quality and flavor greatly superior to those of the 
waters of the Middle and Southern States." 

E. D. Neil. 

There are two hundred and ninety-six meandered lakes in 
Becker County, containing all the way from forty to several 
thousand acres each. A lake to be meandered 1)v the govern- 
ment surveyors must contain not less than forty acres. In addi- 
tion to these lakes there arc more than a thousand ponds, con- 
taining from five to forty acres each, scattered over the count}-. 

Cormorant Lake was originally much the largest lake in 
Becker County, but about twenty-five years ago it was cut in 
twain by the lowering of its waters. The eastern division, how- 
ever, still holds its place at the head of the list for size of all 
the lakes in the county. This lake originally contained 7011.38 
acres exclusive of meandered islands of which there are eight, 
with an aggregate area of 326.35 acres, of which six are in the 
eastern division with 209.07 acres, and two in the western di- 
vision with 117.28 acres. The eastern division contains 4728.66 
acres exclusive of meandered islands and the western division 
22'^2.'/2 acres. I have been recently informed, however, that 
the water in this lake has been rising until it now covers the 
old channel between the two sections of the lake, and there is 

A PioNEKR History of Be;cker County. 23 

a probability that in a few more years it will resume its former 

Section 13 of Cormorant Township is the onl}- solid govern- 
ment section in Becker County that lies entirely within the 
limits of any of its lakes. 

The second lake in the order of size is Height of Land Lake, 
with an area of 3921.33 acres. Shell Lake is third with 3219.40 
acres, and Detroit Lake is fourth with 3117.97 acres. Floyd Lake 
in Detroit Township contains 1225 acres, and Oak Lake in the 
same township (the name by which this whole country was 
known in 1870 and 1871) contains 78.67 acres. 

Chapter V. 


I do not claim to be a scientific botanist, as I never studied 
the subject at school a day in my life, but when a boy I picked 
up a botany that an older sister had borrowed and in a short 
time acquired a sufficient knowledge of the science to analyze 
plants correctly, and at the end of the first flowering season 
had studied out a majority of the native plants in the neighbor- 
hood. I soon acquired a fondness for the study that amounted 
almost to a passion, and for many years devoted much of my 
leisure time to the study and analysis of plants. Next to my 
work as a surveyor, the practical application of botany in the 
analysis of plants has been the delight of my life ; and even 
now when too old to run lines over the prairies and through 
the forests and swamps, I still delight in exploring new botani- 
cal fields in other states, and hunting out new species of the 
vegetable kingdom. I am aware that but few people in this 
world take any interest in this science, and many of them are 
extremely puzzled at the enthusiasm of the zealous botanist 
when his interest is awakened at beholding for the first time 
some plant or flower of a new and rare species, and are in- 
clined to make light of his passion for collecting what they 
consider mere worthless weeds, and are apt to look upon him 
not only as whimsical and cranky but his sanity is frequently 
called in question. 

I will now give a brief outline of the general plan of classi- 

24 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

fying- and distinguishing- plants in as simple language as pos- 
sible, laying- aside as far as practicable all scientific terms. 

The whole vegetable kingdom is divided first into two grand 
series, the flowering and the flowerless plants. The flowerless 
series is a small one, and we will here leave it with the remark 
that it is made up chiefly of the ferns, the mosses and the lichens. 

A\'hile they have no flowers they bear seeds in abundance 
which are borne on the backs of the fronds or leaves. The 
flowering" series is in its turn divided into two classes, the 
Exogeiis and the Eiidogcns. In the class of Exogciis, the 
growth of the plant or tree is always on the outside and is ac- 
complished by a succession of rings or circles, one of which, as in 
the case of trees is added to the circumference each year. The 
seeds are always divided into two lobes, which are lifted from 
the ground as the seed sprouts upward and forms the first 
pair of leaves as in the case of the bean and pea. The parts of 
the flowers are always in fours or fives or some multiple of 
these numbers. All plants of this class have bark and pith. 
In the class of Endogciis the growth of the plant is in the 
interioir and the increase in size is by expansion outward from 
the center, and the seeds have but one lobe which remains in the 
ground when the seeds sprout upwards. This class of plants has 
neither bark nor pith. To this class belong the wdieat, the corn, 
the grasses and the palms. The wood of the palm tree has no 
circular rings or grains or pith or bark. The parts of the flowers 
in this class are always in threes or sixes, the leaves are always 
parallel-veined like those on a cornstalk, while those of the 
E.vogciis are net-veined like those of the maple. As this last 
class (Eiidogcjis) is much smaller, I will now leave it behind. 

The class of Exogcns is divided into two sub-classes, one of 
which includes only the coniferous trees, such as the pine and the 
spruce, so I will leave it and take up the other sub-class which 
is called the Aiigiospcniiac. 'JMiis sub-class is divided into three 
divisions, the polypetalous, the monopetalous, and the apetalous. 
The petals, as most people know, are the flower leaves or 
the leaves of the flowers themselves. In the first division the 
corolla is made up of separate petals like the rose. In the second 
division the petals are all more or less united into one piece, 
forming a somewhat cup or bell-shaped flower, like the morning- 
glory. In the third division the flower has no petals or corolla, 
although the other parts of the flower are perfect. A\'e will 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 25 

now turn to the monopetalous division. This is divided into 
four subdivisions founded upon the different positions of the 
stamens in the flower. The stamens are the male organs of 
the plant, the two sexes being as actual and positive and as 
important in the vegetable as in the animal kingdom. In the 
first subdivision the stamens are more numerous than the lobes 
of the corolla. In the second they are of the same number 
as the lobes of the corolla and opposite to them. In the third 
division the stamens are of the same number as the lobes of 
the corolla and alternate with them. In the fourth subdivision 
the stamens are fewer than the lobes of the corolla. These sub- 
divisons are again divided into natural orders of which there 
are about one hundred and forty in the northern states. These 
orders are based on some peculiarity of the plant, such as the 
leaves growing opposite to each other, or alternate on the stem. 
The natural orders in their turn are divided into genera, and 
the genera into species. Genera is the plural of genus. All 
the oaks in the country form one genus, while the white oak 
and the bur oak, for instance, are each separate species of the 
genus oak. 

All the standard text-books of botany contain not only de- 
scriptions of all known plants in their territory, but are also fur- 
nished with analytical tables which trace each and every plant 
down through the different series, classes, sub-classes, divisions. 
subdivisions, natural orders, genera and species. Having acquired 
a general knowledge of the principles of botany and the mean- 
ing of the peculiar terms employed in the science, the student 
proceeds to study or analyze plants with a view to determine 
their names and the places they occupy in the system. In 
order to analyze a plant it should be taken when in full leaf 
and in full bloom, and it is sometimes essential that some of 
the fruit or seeds should be present, although it is generally 
difficult to find all these conditions present at once. In the 
case of some flowers, when the parts are of fair size and fully 
developed, it is quite a simple process, but when the parts of 
the flower are small and indistinct, and when some of the parts 
such as the seeds are not matured until after some of the other 
parts have perished, it is quite a difficult problem. A magni- 
fying glass is indispensable in some cases. 

Suppose we have in our hand a flowering branch of some 
shrub or tree. Turning to the analysis, we compare it first with 

26 A PioxEER History of Becker County. 

the series of flowering' plants with which we find it to agree 
as having" flowers. Then cntting" the branch across, we see if it 
is made up of wood, pith and bark ; if the leaves are net-veined, 
and if the flowers are in fours or fives. Showing these pecu- 
liarities it doubtless belongs to the class of E.vogciis. Then if the 
seeds are contained in an ovary, it comes under the sub-class 
of angiospermous plants, instead of the coniferous. A\'e next 
find that it has a corolla as well as a calyx, and that the petals 
of the corolla are seperate and distinct, so that it belongs to 
the polypetalous division. Our attention is next directed to 
the insertion of the stamens, whether they are growing on the 
corolla, or on the calyx, or on the receptacle. In this case they 
are growing on the receptacle. Then if the stamens are more 
numerous than the petals, which we find to be so, this places 
our plant in the hypogynous subdivision. That we find the 
leaves to be opposite instea;d of alternate, and the seeds are 
solitary instead of being more than one. This brings it down 
to the natural order, Tiliacca wdiich is found on page loi in 
the body of the flora in Gray's Botany. 

We then compare our plant with the character of the order 
and find they agree. A\'e now proceed to find the name of the 
genus, which is readily done, as there is only one in this order, 
and we find it to agree with every particular. It belongs to the 
genus Tilia. 'J'here are three species of 'Tilia, one of these is a 
large tree and the other two are small ones. This branch came 
froiu a large tree, so it is the Tilia Americana, or the basswood. 

I have a list of 8oi different species of wild trees and plants 
which I have analyzed in the United States, of which number 
I have found in Minnesota 460, North Dakota 13, Iowa 41, Missouri 
12, Arkansas 36, Texas 25, Louisiana 7, Florida 8, South Carolina 
9, North Carolina 19, Tennessee 6, Ohio 41, Pennsylvania 7, New 
York 82, West Virginia 26, Delaware 9, a grand total of 801. 

Following is a list of the 460 wild plants and trees I have 
found growing in Becker County. I have analyzed all these 
myself, and know the list is correct as far as it goes. Of course 
there are a few species that I have never found, especially among 
the grasses and sedges, but the list will be found to include 
nearly all the native plants and trees growing wild in the county. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 27 

Native Wild Plants. 

The following- is a list of the native plants, trees and larger 
shrubs I have found growing- in the county : 

Botanical Names. Common Names. 

Clematis Virginiana Virgin's Bower. 

Anemone patens Pasque Flower. 

Anemone cylindrica Long-fruited Anemone. 

(The earliest flowers of spring.) 

Anemone Pennsylvanica Anemone. 

Anemone nemorosa Windflower. 

Hepatica triloba Liverwort, Liverleaf. 

Thalictrum dioicum Early Rue. 

Thalictrum purpurascens Purple Rue. 

Ranunculus multifidus Yellow Crowfoot. 

Ranunculus flammula Smaller Spearwort. 

Ranunculus rhomboidous Crowfoot. 

Ranunculus sceleratus Cursed Crowfoot. 

Ranunculus abortivus Small-flowered Crowfoot. 

Ranunculus septentrionalis 

Ranunculus Pennsylvanicus Bristly Crowfoot. 

Ranunculus acris Buttercups, Yellow Daisy. 

Caltha Pulastris Cowslip, Marsh Marigold. 

Coptis trifolia Goldthread. 

Aquilegia Canadensis Wild Columbine. 

Delphinium azureum Larkspur. 

Actaea spicata Red Baneberry. 

Actatea alba White Baneberry. 

Menispermum Canadense Moonseed. 

Caulophyllum thalictroides Blue Cohosh. 

Nymphaca odorata White Pond Lily. 

Nuphar advena Yellow Pond Lily. 

Sarracenia purpurea Pitcher Plant, Sidesaddle Flower. 

Sanguinaria Canadensis Bloodroot. 

Papaver somniferum Wild Poppy. 

Adiumia cullaria Dutchman's Breeches. 

Corydalis aurea Golden Corydalis. 

Arabis hirsuta Sicklepod. 

Arabis perfoliata Tower Mustard. 

Arabis confinis 

Lesquerella Ludoviciana 

Camelina sativa False Flax. 

Nasturtium armpracia Horseradish. 

Erysimum chirantroidcs . . Wormseed Mustard. 

Sisymbrium canescenes Tansy Mustard. 

Sisymbrium sophia Hedge ^Mustard. 

28 A Pione;i<;r History of Becker County. 

Sisymbrium thaliana ^Mouse-ear Cress. 

Brassica alba White Mustard. 

Brassica nigra Black or Common Mustard. 

Brassica compestris White Rutabaga. 

Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd's Purse. 

Thlaspi arvense Wing-seeded Mustard. 

Lepidium Virginicum Wild Peppergrass. 

Polanisia graveolens 

Cleome integrifolia 

Reseda luteola Dyer's Weed. 

Viola pedata Bird's-foot Violet. 

Viola palmata Common Blue Violet. 

Viola blanda Sweet White Violet. 

Viola rotundifolia Round-leaved Violet. 

Viola pubescens Downy Yellow Violet. 

Viola hastata Halberd-leaved Violet. 

Viola canina Low Dog Violet. 

Viola tricolor Pansy Heartsease. 

Dianthus barbatus Sweet William. 

Saponaria officinalis Soapwort, Bouncing Bet. 

Silene noctislora Catchfly Cockle. 

Lychinis githago Corncockle. 

Arenaria lateriflora Sandwort. 

Stellaria media Common Chickweed. 

Stellaria longifolia Long-leaved Stitchwort. 

Cerastium arvense Field Chickweed. 

Cerastium vulgatum Larger Chickweed. 

Portulaca oleracea Purslane, Pusley. 

Malva rotundifolia Common Mallow. 

Malva sylvestris High Mallow. 

Malvastrum coccineum False Mallow. 

Linum usitatissimum Common Blue Flax. 

Linum sulcatum Yellow Flax. 

Geranium maculatum Cranesbill. 

Geranium Carolinianum Small Cranesbill. 

Oxalis violacea Rose-flowered Wood Sorrel. 

Oxalis corniculata Yellow Wood Sorrel. 

Impatiens pallida Touch-me-not. 

Ceanothus americanus Redroot Jersey Tea. 

Rhus toxicodendron . Poison Oak, Poison Ivy. 

Polygala paucifolia Fringed Polygala. 

Polygala senega Seneca Snakeroot. 

Baptisia lencantha False Indigo. 

Trifolium pratense Red Clover. 

Trifolium medium Zigzag Clover. 

Trifolium stoloniferum Running Clover. 

Trifolium repens White Clover. 

Trifolium prcumbens Low Hop Clover, Yellow Clover. 

Mellilotus alva Sweet Clover. 

A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 29 

Medicago sativa Luzerne Alfalfa. 

Psoralea escnienta Pomme de Terre, Ground Apple. 

Amorpha canescens Lead-plant. 

Petalostemon violaceus Sweet-scented Prairie Clover. 

Petalostemon candidus White Prairie Clover. 

Astragalus caryocarpus Ground Plum. 

Astragalus Canadensis jMilk Vetch. 

Astagalus Missouriensis Vetch. 

Glycyrrhiza lepidota Wild Liquorice. 

Desmodium acuminatum Tick-trefoil. 

Vicia Americana Climbing Pea-vine. 

Lathyrus ochroleucus Everlasting Pea. 

Lathyrus venosus Wild Pea-vine. 

Lathyrus palustris Creeping Pea-vine. 

Amphicarpaea monoica Hog Pea-nut. 

Rubus oboratus Purple-flowering Raspberry. 

Rubus triflorus Dwarf Swamp Raspberry. 

Rubus strigosus Wild Red Raspberry. 

Rubus occidentalia Black Raspberry. 

Rubus villosus Common High Blackberry. 

Rubus Canadensis Low Blackberry, Dewberry. 

Rubus hispidus Running Swamp Blackberry. 

Geum macrophyllum Yellow Avens. 

Geum rivale Water Avens, Purple Avens. 

Geum triflorum 

Fragaria Virginianna Common Wild Strawberry. 

Fragaris vesca Smaller Wild Strawberry. 

Potentilla Norvegica Cinquefoil. 

Potentiila Pennsylvanica Fivetinger. 

Potentilla palustris Marsh Fivefinger. 

Agrimonia eupatoria Agrimony. 

Rosa engelmania Prairie Wild Rose. 

Rosa Carolina Hedge Wild Rose. 

Tiarella cordifolia Mitrewort. 

Mitela nuda Bishop's Cap. 

Heuchera hispida Alum-root. 

Parnassia palustris Grass of Parnassus. 

Ribes cynosbati Prickly Gooseberry. 

Ribes bracile Smooth Gooseberry. 

Ribes prostratum Skunk Currant. 

Ribes floridum Wild Black Currant. 

Ribes rubrum Wild Red Currant. 

Epilobium angustifolium Rosebay, Firewood. 

Epilobium coloratum Willow Herb. 

Epilobium adenocaulon Marsh Rosebay. 

Oenothera biennis Evening Primrose. 

Genothera albicaulis Prairie Primrose. 

Genotherf. serrulata Shrubby Primrose. 

Circaea litetianna Enchanter's Nightshade. 

30 A PioNEUR History of Becker County. 

Circaea alpina Lesser Enchanter's Nightshade. 

Echinocystis lobata Blooming Bur Cucumber. 

Heraceum lamatum Cow Parsnip. 

Pastinaca sativa Common Parsnip. 

Thaspium aureum Golden Alexanders. 

Thaspium barbinode 

Cryptotaenia Canadensis Honewort. 

Carum carui Caraway. 

Cicuta maculata Poison Hemlock. 

Cicuta bulbifera Cowbane. 

Osmorrhiza brevistylis Sweet Cicely. 

Osmorrhiza longistylis Short-styled Cicely. 

Sanicula Marylandica Sanicle. 

Aralia racemosa Spikenard. 

Aralia nudicaulis . Wild Sarsaparilla. 

Aralia quinquefolia Ginseng. 

Cornus Canadensis Dwarf Dogwood. 

Linnaea borealis Twinflower. 

Symphoricarpos occidentalis . .. .Wolfberry or Snowberry. 

Lonicera ciliata Fly Honeysuckle. 

Lonicera caerulea Swamp Honeysuckle. 

Lonicera hirsuta Hairy Honeysuckle. 

Lonicera sullivantii Common Twining Honeysuckle, 

Houstonia purpurea Innocence. 

Galium Boreale Northern Bedstraw, Cleavers. 

Galium trifidum Small Bedstraw, Cleavers. 

Galium asprellum Rough Bedstraw, Cleavers. 

Galium triflorium Sweet-scented Bedstraw, Cleavers. 

Veronia noveboracensis Ironweed. 

Eupatorium purpureum Trumpetweed, Joepye. 

Eupatorium sessilifolium Upland Boneset. 

Eupatorium perfoliatum Boneset, Thoroughwort. 

Liatris squarrossa Blazing Star. 

Grindelia squarrossa 

Solidago latifolia Goldenrod. 

Solidago rugosa Goldenrod. 

Solidago Missouriensis Goldenrod. 

Solidago serotina Goldenrod. 

Solidago Canadensis The National Flower. 

Solidago rigida Rough Goldenrod. 

Solidago lanceolata Narrow-leaved Goldenrod. 

Aster macrophyllus Broad-leaved Aster. 

Aster oblongifolius Long-leaved Aster. 

Aster sericeus Wild Aster. 

Aster multiflarus Many-leaved Aster. 

Aster puniceus Aster. 

Erigeron Canadensis Horseweed. 

Erigeron strigosus Daisy Fleabane. 

Erigeron bellidifolius Robin's Plantain. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 31 

Erigeron Philadelphicus Common Fleabane. 

Antennaria plantaginifolia Cudweed, Everlasting. 

Ambrosia trifida Great Ragweed. 

Ambrosia artemisiaefolia Ragweed, Hogweed. 

Iva xanthiifolia 

Xanthium Canadense Cocklebur. 

Heliopsis scabra Oxeye. 

Echinacea angustifolia Purple Coneflower. 

Rudbeckia laciniata Coneflower. 

Rudbeckia hirta Yellow Coneflower. 

Helianthus annuus Common Sunflower. 

Helianthus rigidus Rough Sunflower. 

Helianthus Maximiliani Wild Sunflower. 

Helianthus tuberosus Wild Artichoke. 

Bidens frondosa Spanish Needles, Sticktight. 

Bidens thrysanthemoides Water bur-marigold. 

Helenium autumnale Sneezewort. 

Anthemis cotula Mayweed, Dog-fennel. 

Anthemis nobilis Chamomile. 

Achillea millefolium Yarrow. 

Chrysanthemum leucanthemum. . White Daisy. 

Tanacetum vulgare Tansy. 

Artemisia caudata Sage-brush. 

Artemisia abrotinum Southernwood. 

Artemisia Ludoviciana Western Mugwort. 

Artemisia absinthium Wormwood. 

Petasites palmata Sweet Colt'sfoot. 

Petasites sagittata . .A.rrow-leaved Colt'sfoot. 

Senecio aureus Golden Rugwort. 

Senecio integerrinus Ragwort. 

Arctium lappa Burdock. 

Cnicus lanceolatus Common Thistle, Bull Tliistle. 

Cnicus undulatus Wavy Leaved Thistle. 

Cnicus altissimus Large Flowered Thistle. 

Cnicus muticus Swamp Thistle. 

Cnicus arvensis Canada Thistle. 

Hieracium Canadense Hawkwood. 

Prenanthes alba Rattlesnake-root. 

Troximon cuspidatum Mock Dandelion. 

Taraxacum officinale Common Dandelion. 

Lactuca pulchella Wild Lettuce. 

Sonchus arvensis Sow-thistle. 

Lobelia syphilitica CardinaLflower, Great Lobelia. 

Epigea repens Trailing Arbutus. 

Lobelia spicata Lobelia. 

Campanula rapunculoides Bellflower. 

Campanula rotundifolia Harebell. 

Campanula aparinoides Marsh Bellflower. 

Vaccinium Pennsylvanicuni Common Blueberry. 

32 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Vaccinium corymbosum Huckleberry. 

Vaccinium macrocarpon Common Cranberry. 

Chiogenncs serpyllifolia Creeping or Swamp Wintergreen. 

Arctostaphylos uvaursi Bearberry, Uva, Ursa. 

Gaulthera procumbens Wintergreen. 

Ledum latifoilum Labrador Tea. 

Chimaphila umbellata Prince's Pine, Pipsissewa. 

Pyrola secunda Shin Leaf. 

Pyrola rotundifolia Pear-leaved Wintergreen. 

Trientalis Americana Chickweed Wintergreen. 

Steironema cilapum Loosestrife. 

Lysimachia thyrsiflora Tufted Loosestrife. 

Apocynum androsaemifolium ...Dogbane. 

Apocynum cannabinum Indian Hemp. 

Asclepias incarnata Purple Silkweed. 

Asclepias cornuti Common Silkweed. 

Asclepias ovalifolia Milkweed, Silkweed. 

Gentiana crinita Fringed Gentian. 

Gentiana Andrewsii Closed Gentian. 

Frasera deflexa Spurred Gentian. 

Menyanthes Virginica Buckbean. 

Phlox pilsoa Phlox. 

Hydrophyllum Virginicum Kidneywort, Cow Cabbage. 

Ellisia nyctelea 

Echinospermum Virginicum .... Beggar's Lice. 

Echinospermum redowskii Sticktight. 

Mertensia paniculata Lungwort. 

Lithospermum canescens Yellow Puccoon. 

Onosmodium Caroliniana Gromwell. 

Ipomoea purpurea Wild Morning Glory. 

Convolvulus Hedge-bindweed. 

Solanum nigrum Black Nightshade. 

Physalis grandifiora Ground Cherry. 

Physalis Virginiana Husk Tomato. 

Verbascum thapsus Mullein. 

Scrophularia nodosa Figwort. 

Pentstemon gracilis Beardtongue. 

Pentstemon grandiflorus 

Mimulus ringens Monkey Flower. 

Veronica leptendra Culver's Physic, Blackroot. 

Veronica peregrina Speedwell. 

Gerardia purpurea Purple Gerardia. 

Castilleia coccinea Scarlet Painted-cup. 

Pedicularis Canadensis Lousewort. 

Pedicularis lanceolata Lousewort. 

Utricularia vulgaris Floating Bladderwort. 

Martynia proposcidea Unicorn Plant. 

Verbena urticaefolia White Vervain. 

Verbena hastata Blue Vervain. 

A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 33 

Verbena spricta Hoary Vervain. 

Mentha Canadensis Wild Peppermint. 

Lycopus Virginicus Water Hoarhoimd. 

Monarda fistttlosa Wild Bergamot. 

Lophanthus anisatus Wild Anise. 

Nepeta cataria Catnip. 

Nepeta glechoma Ground Ivy. Gill-over-the-Ground. 

Bracocephalum parviflorum . . . . Dragon's-head. 

Scutellaria galericulata Skullcap. 

Leonurus Cardiaca ^Motherwort. 

Galeopsis tetrahit Hemp Nettle. 

Stachys hyssopifolia Hedge Nettle. 

Plantago major Common Plantain. 

Plantago lanceolata English Plantain. 

Oxybaphus myctagineus Wild Four-o'clock. 

Amarantus blitoides Tumbleweed. 

Salsola tragus Russian Thistle. 

Chenopodrum album Pigweed. Lamb's Quarter. 

Chenopodrum murale Redroot. 

Chenopodrum hybridum Maple-leaved Goosefoot. 

Chenopodrum capitatum Strawberry Elite. 

Rumex altissimus Pale Dock. 

Rumex verticillatus Water Dock. 

Rumex crispus Yellow Dock. 

Rumex Britannica Great Water Dock. 

Rumex acetosella Field Sorrel. 

Polygunum aviculare Knotweed. 

Polygonum erectuni 

Polygonum muhlenbergii 

Polygonum hartwrightii 

Polygonum persicaria Lady's-thumb. 

Polygonum hyrdopiperoides . . . .Water-pepper. 

Polygonum hydroppier Smartwced. 

Polygonum sagittatum Arrow Leaved Tear-thumb. 

Polygonum convolvulus Black Bindweed. 

Polygonum scandens Wild Buckwheat. 

Polygonum esculentum Buckwheat. 

Asanim Canadense Wild Ginger, Colt'sfoot. 

Commandra umbellata Toad-flax. 

Euphorbia serpyllifolia Spurge. 

Cannabis sativa Common Hemp. 

Humulus lupulus Common Hop. 

Urtica gracilis Wood Nettle. 

Urtica dioica Stinging Nettle. 

Pilea pumila Richweed. 

Hexalectris aphyllus 

Cypripedium pubescens Yellow Lady's-slipper. 

Cypridedium spectabile Rose-flowered Moccasin Flower. 

Cypripedium arietinum The Flower of the State of Minnesota. 

34 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Iris versicolor Fleur-de-lis. 

Sisyrinchium angustifolium Blue-eyed Grass. 

Hypoxis erecta Star Grass. 

Similax herbacea Carrion-flower. 

Allium tricoccum Wild Leak. 

Allium cernuum Wild Onion. 

Allium reticulatua Short Wild Onion. 

Polygonatum biflorum Dwarf Solomon's-seal. 

Polygonatum giganteum Great Solomon's-seal. 

Asparagus officinalis Asparagus. 

Smilacina racemosa False Spikenard. 

Smilacina stellata 

Smilacina trifolia 

Maianthemum Canadense 

Clintonia borealis 

Uvularia perfoliata Bellwort. 

Uvularia grandiflora 

Lilium Philadelphicum Wild Yellow Lily. 

Trillium erectum Bath Flower, Wakcrobin. 

Trillium grandiflorum 

Trillium cernuum 

Zygadenus elegans Prairie Lily. 

Tradescantia Virginica Spiderwort. 

Luzula vernalis 

Typha latifolia Cattail. 

Arum trillium Indian Turnip, Jack-in-the-Pulpit. 

Colla Palustris Water Arum. 

Acorus calamus Sweet-flag, Calamus. 

Alisma plantago Water Plantain. 

Sagittaria variabilis Arrowhead. 

Scirpus lacustris Great Bulrush. 

Scirpus torreyi Smaller Bulrush. 

Eriophorum polystachyon Cotton Grass. 

Eriophorum lineatum Wire Grass. 

Carex varia Sedge. 

Carex pedunculata Low Sedge. 

Panicum crusgalli Barnyard Grass. 

Aira fleuuosa "... Hair Grass. 

Setaria glauca Pigeon Grass or Foxtail. 

Zizania equatica Wild Rice, Water Oats. 

Stipa spartea Porcupine Grass. 

Oryzopsis asperifolia Buck Grass, Evergreen Grass. 

Phleum pratense Timothy or Herd's Grass. 

Phragmites communis Wild Reed. 

Poa serotina Wild Redtop. 

Poa pratensis Blue Grass. 

Buchloe dactyloides Buffalo Grass. 

Triodia cuprea Common Redtop. 

Equisetum hyemale Scouring Rush. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 35 

Adiantum pedatum Maidenhair Fern. 

Pteris aquilina Common Brake. 

Lycopodium clavatum Common Club Moss. 

Lycopodium complanatum Ground Pine, Wolf's-foot. 

The following is a list of the native trees and larger shrubs I have found 
growing in the county. 

Tillia Americana Baswood, Lin, Linden. 

Xanthoxylum Americanum Prickly Ash. 

Ilex verticillata Black Alder, Winterberry. 

Celastrus scandens Bittersweet. 

Rhamnus alnisolia Dwarf Buckthorn. 

Vitis labrusca Northern Fox Grape. 

Ampelopsis quinquefolia Woodbine, Virginia Creeper. 

Acer spicatum Mountain Maple. 

Acer saccharineum Sugar Maple, Rock Maple. 

Acer rubrum Soft Maple, Red Maple. 

Negundo aceroides Box Elder, Ash-leaved iNIapIe. 

Rhus glabra Sumach. 

Amorpha fruticosa Large False Indigo. 

Prunus Americana Wild Red or Yellow Plum. 

Prunus pumila Dwarf Cherry, Sand-cherry. 

Prunus Virginiana Choke-cherry. 

Prunus serotina Wild Black Cherry. 

Prunus Pennsylvanica Wild Red Cherry. 

Spiraea salicifolia Queen-of-the-meadows. 

Pyrus Americana Mountain Ash. 

Crataegus Crusgalli Cockspur Thorn. 

Amelanchier alnifolia Service-berry, June-berry, Shad-berry. 

Cornus stolomnifera Red Osier, Dogwood, Kinnikinnik. 

Cornus Circinata Round-leaved Dogwood. 

Cornus paniculata A small species of Dogwood. 

Cornus alternifolia Green Osier Dogwood. 

Sambucus racemossa Red-berried Elder. 

Viburnum opulus High Bush Cranberry. 

Viburnum pubescens Bitter Haw. 

Viburnum lentago Sweet Black Haw. 

Fraxinus Americana White Ash. 

Fraxinus viridis Red Ash. 

Fraxinus sambucifolia Black Ash. 

Dirca paulustris Moosewood, Leatherwood. 

Elaeagnus irgentea Silverberry. 

Ulmus fulva Slippery Elm or Red Elm. 

Ulmus Americana White Elm, Water Elm. 

Ulmus racemossa Rock Elm, Cork Elm. 

Celtis ocidentalis Hackberry, Sugarberry. 

Juglans cinerea Butternut, White Walnut. 

Juglans nigra Black Walnut. 

36 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Betula lenta Yellow Birch. Sweet Birch. 

Betula papyrifera White Birch, Canoe Birch. 

Betula pumila Low Birch, Swamp Birch. 

Alnus incana Tag .\lder. Common Alder. 

Corylus Americana Beaked Hazelnut. 

Corylus rostrata Beaked Hazelnut, Filbert. 

Ostyra Virginica Iron Wood, Hornbean. 

Carpinus Caroliniana Blue Beech, Water Beech. 

Quercus alba White Oak. 

Quercus macrocorpa Bur-oak, Sweet Oak. 

Quercus rubra Red Oak, Scarlet Oak. 

Salix alba White Willow. 

Salix Babylonica Wheeping Willow. 

Salix discolor Shining Willow. 

Sali.x tristis Dwarf Grey Willow, Prairie Willow. 

Salix sericea Silky Willow. 

Salix petiolaris 

Salix Candida Hoary Willow, Gray Willow. 

Populus alba White Poplar, a cultivated species. 

Populus tremuloides .^spen, Quacking-asp, The Common 


Populus grandidenta Large-leaved .Aspen, Black Poplar. 

Populus balsamifera Balm of Gilead. 

Populus monilifera Cottonwood. 

Populus Lombardy Poplar. 

Pinus strobus White Pine. 

Pinus banksianna Jack Pine, Black Pine. 

Pinus resinosa Norway Pine, Red Pine. 

Picea nigra Black Spruce. 

Abies balsamea Fir Balsam. 

Larix Americana Tamarac, Larch, Hackmatack. 

Juniperus Communis Common Juniper, Dwarf Cedar. 

Taxus Canadensis .\merican Yew. Ground Hemlock. 

There are a good many more species of wild plants in Becker 
County now, than when it was first settled. At that time the 
most troublesome plant in the coimtry was thought to be the 
wild morning'-glory. A good many new species have followed 
in the wake of civilization that were not here before, and many 
of them are verv troublesome. Among the species that have 
been introduced that are somewhat troublesome in their nature 
are the mullein, the dandelion, the plantain, the pm-slane. the 
ragweed, and the yellow daisy. Among those that are consid- 
ered a positive nuisance are the burdock, the cocklebur, the 
sweet clover, the white daisy, the wild mustard, the bull thistle, 
the Russian thistle, and last but not least, the Canada thistle. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 37 

These plants have all evidently come in to stay, especiall}- the 
Canada thistle. 

The bull thistle has gained a strong foothold in many places, 
especially in sections eighteen and nineteen in Grand Park town- 
ship, where it has spread rapidly along the roadside and through 
the timber for a distance of two miles or more in the last ten 
years. It is a biennial plant, always dying the second year, and 
consequently can be easily destroyed by mowing before the 
plant goes to seed. 

The Russian thistle has made its appearance along the North- 
ern Pacific Railroad track in the last six or seven years, in small 
quantities. It is an annual plant, always dying the first year 
and consequently ought to be easily destroyed. It does not 
thrive well in our moist climate, and the surface of Becker 
County is not adapted to its rough and tumble habits. So it 
should not cause any serious apprehensions. 

The wild mustard so far has made the most trouble of any 
pestiferous plant in the county, but the farmers appear to have a 
way of keeping it under control. 

The sweet clover is a harmless, inoffensive looking plant, 
but it has taken possesion of a good part of Ohio, where it 
appears to be master of the situation. 

There is a dense patch of it in Otter Tail County, along the 
road about half way between Pelican Rapids and Frazee. It 
is slowlv creeping towards Becker County, at the rate of about 
forty rods a year. 

The white daisy is a troublesome weed in some of the older 
states, but in Becker County it has only appeared in flower 
gardens and dooryards. It is a dangerous pet, and is liable to 
make trouble in the future. 

Xearly all of the above weeds can be kept under control, 
but there is a vicious plant thriving in our midst that is more 
to be dreaded than all the mustard, sweet clover, bull thistle, 
Russian thistle, and the seven years' plague of grasshoppers 
combined, and that is the Canada thistle. It is like the song 
of the everflowing brook "Men may come and men may go, But 
I go on forever." 

Some of the other pests of the field and highway may come 
and some may go, but the Canada thistle has come to stay for- 
ever. Silently and slowly, but surely, little by little, year after 

38 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

year, it is spreading over the country. It is a perenial plant, 
its roots living from year to year, and they are never known to 
die. I have known a strawstack to be built over a patch of Canada 
thistles and burned three years afterwards and the year after the 
fine thev were up and blooming as vigorous and thrifty as ever. 
Sixteen years ago, I discovered a patch of these thistles in a barn- 
yard near the old Oak Lake cut about a rod square, and I do not 
think there were any more of them in the county at that time. 
I sent word to the authorities of Audubon township, warning them 
of the dangerous character of the plant. They were mowed down 
some time that summer, after they had matured, and that was all 
I ever heard of being done to them. They are now growing all 
around in that vicinity. There is a big patch of them in the village 
of Detroit, a few in the Red Eye country and lots of them on the 
White Earth Reservation. They are also fast taking possession of 
both Brainerd and Duluth and the north shore of Lake Superior, 
along the Canadian Pacific Railroad. There are three species 
of native thistle in the county, all of which are quite harmless. 
Of the plants threatened with annihilation, I will mention 
only the ginseng. Thirty years ago, I found it in considerable 
quantities at the west end of Floyd Lake, and have seen it grow- 
ing near the narrows of Big Cormorant Lake, and in Lake View ; 
but when the dried roots become worth nearly their weight in gold, 
it became a shining mark for the Chippewa squaws and the un- 
erring aim of their little steel hoes has nearly accomplished its 

Another plant of great importance in the financial afi:"airs of 
the Chippewas, is the Seneca snakeroot, tons and tons of which 
have been dug throughout the brush prairie regions of the coun- 
ty. It is a hardy perennial plant, and appears to be holding" 
its own against this persistent Indian warfare with wonderful 
success. This plant was abundant on the prairies of Atlanta be- 
fore they were ploughed up. Late in the fall or early in the 
spring after the prairies had been burned, they were dotted with 
these plants, the evergreen nature of their radical leaves render- 
ing them nearly fire proof, and quite conspicuous after the fire 
had blackened the ground. 

There are other species of medicinal plants in the county 
that are used quite extensively. The Leptendra or the blackroot 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 39 

and the Ura iirsa or the bearberry, and the kidneywort, all of 
which grow in considerable quantities and which ought to find 
a ready sale at good prices. Here is an opening for the squaws 
after the snakeroot has dissappeared. 

Of deadly poisons the Ciciita maculata or poison hemlock 
stands at the head of the list. It grows extensively in wet 
places all over the county, and looks like a big caraway plant. 
The roots resemble wild artichokes, only they are a little longer 
drawn out. It was eating this root that killed Miles Hannah 
in the spring of 1873 on the Clearwater drive, and it also fatally 
poisoned a man in the employ of J. W. Dunn near Detroit, eight 
years ago. 

The Cicuta hulhifera is also a deadly poison. It resembles 
the maculata, but is not so plentiful. 

Any and all plants belonging to the natural order UmbiilUfcra, 
to which the above belong, growing in wet or moist places, are 
liable to be poisonous, while plants belonging to the same family 
growing on high, dry ground like the parsnip, the carrot, the 
caraway, the sweet cicely, the fennel, the dill and the anise, are 

The Rhus toxicodendron, or poison oak, poisons many people 
externally, and is said to be a rank poison when taken internally. 
It grows all over the timbered portions of Becker County in great 
abundance. It grows to be about a foot high, and is readily known 
by its leaves always growing in threes. There are some suspicious 
plants belonging to the natural order of Ranunculus, such as the 
crowfoot, the columbine, the larkspar and the red and wdiite bane- 

The natural order Scrophulacca, to which the foxglove and 
the monkey flower belong, has some poisonous species, none of 
which are native of Becker County to my knowledge, but some 
of them that do grow here are of a suspicious character. 

A plant of much importance in the domestic economy of 
the Indians is the wild rice. For generations this plant fur- 
nished them with their daily bread, or at least with about every- 
thing in the shape of bread they had to eat. As most people 
will know it grows in the water where it is from two to 
ten feet deep. The seeds rapidly take root in soft mud, and in 
the old beds of sunken straw from former growths of wild rice, 
of which there is frequently a depth of several feet down deep 

40 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

in the water, at the bottoms of some of the lakes and ponds. As 
a consequence the growing plants are never very strongly rooted 
and are easily pulled up. The first year I brought a drive of 
logs down the Otter Tail River. I was bothered and put to a 
big expense getting them through the wild rice straw in Height 
of Land Lake, Rice Lake and Blackbird Lake. There had been 
an immense crop the year before and it was still holding by the 
roots to the bottom of the lakes. The next spring, I hit upon 
a device of my own to get rid of the old straw. I made a dam at 
the outlet of Height of Land Lake and another at the outlet 
of Rice Lake, and about the middle of March, when the ice 
in the lakes was about as thick as it was going to get, I closed 
up my dams. The water would then begin to raise the ice in 
the lakes, and the ice would pull up the wild rice straw by 
the roots, and as soon as the ice melted the wind would blow 
the straw ashore where it would be out of the way. The Indians 
gather the wild rice in their canoes and pound ofif the hull from 
the seeds by placing it in holes in the ground, and pounding 
it after the fashion of churning with an old-fashioned up and 
down churn. 

The goldenrod is the national flower of the LTnited States. 
There are forty-two species of Solidago or goldenrod in the 
Northern States, seven of which are found in Becker County, 
and the Solidago Cauadcnses. the national flower is one of the 

The Cypripcdiimi or pink lady slipper, the state flower of Minne- 
sota, is also a native of Becker County. 

The most curious plant in the county is the Sarracciiia pur- 
purea, or side-saddle flower, also appropriately called the pitcher- 
plant. The leaves are shaped exactly like a pitcher, and one of 
them will hold a gill of water. They are common in the tamarac 

A Pioneer History oi- Becker County. 41 

Chapter VI. 


A large part of Becker County was originally covered with 
natural forests. The surface of about twenty of the forty town- 
ships in the county was clothed almost exclusively with a good 
growth of timber. In the other twenty townships there were 
tracts of prairie land, varying in size of from one, two and three 
sections in a township, like Lake View or Green Valley, to those 
occupying a whole township like Walworth, and I make the 
proportion of the prairie land to the timber land in these twenty 
townships in the ratio of about four to three, or four-sevenths 
prairie and three-sevenths timber, and as the other twenty town- 
ships were almost exclusively timbered it would leave the surface 
of the whole county about two-sevenths prairie and five-sevenths 
timber, or what is a little nearer the true proportion, four-thir- 
teenths prairie and nine-thirteenths timber. 

The famous Park Region of Northwestern Minnesota occu- 
pies a large part of the western portion of Becker County. 

Charles Carleton Coffin, correspondent of the Boston Journal, 
who came with the first Northern Pacific Railroad exploring 
expedition through this region in 1869, first gave it the name 
of the Park Region, and he sounded the praises of the Park 
Region and of Becker County throughout the length and breadth 
of the land. His letters were copied in other newspapers far 
and wide, and his descriptions and pen pictures were neither 
overdrawn nor exaggerated. It was reading one of these letters 
in a Chicago paper that started me on the road to Minnesota 
in September, 1869, and to Becker County the succeeding year. 
A copy of this letter will be found, later on, in the article giving 
an account of the first Northern Pacific Exploring Expedition. 

Bayard Taylor, the celebrated traveler, visited this region 
a short time afterwards, and pictured the Park Region in colors 
equally as glowing. On the nth of August, 1873, Ex-Vice 
President Colfax spent a day in our county, and he pronounced 
the country about Detroit and Audubon the most beautiful he 
had ever laid his eves upon. 

42 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Of the region about Detroit Lake. ex-Governor Bross of Illinois, a 
world-wide traveler, writing to the Chicago Tribune says: "There is scarcely 
a section without a beautiful lake; small prairies, rich and rolling, alternate 
with groves of oak and other hard wood; and, certainly, if any more invit- 
ing region can be found, we have never had the good fortune to see it." 

But there is another park region in the eastern part of om- 
county, that was never seen by either of these eloqtient writers, 
that is still more beatitiful. I refer to the region of the cotintry 
known as the Shell Prairies. The nearest approach to level land 
in Becker County is on these prairies. These prairies begin at 
the Crow Wing River in Hubbard County, and extending in a 
northwesterly direction, this beautiful stretch of prairie land 
enters Becker Cou"ty, at the southeast corner of Osage Town- 
ship, and continues in a northwesterly direction up through 
Osage and Carsonville, varying in width from two to five miles, 
widening out as it enters the Reservation, and occupies nearly 
all of Township No. 141, Range 37. These stretches of prairie 
land are dotted with evergreen groves, consisting chiefly of jack 
pine, with an intermixture of bur-oak as yott proceed to the 
west, and add greatly to the beauty of the landscape. The sur- 
face of these prairies is smooth and unbroken by sloughs or other 
obstructions. This is especially the case with the southeast 
corner township of the White Earth Reservation, which is so 
smooth and unbroken that, barring an occassional small grove of 
timber you can plough a furrow across the township in almost 
any direction. If you wish to see the most beautiful township 
of land in Minnesota, the greater part of which is still in a state of 
nature, and but slightly marred by the hand of civilization, take 
a drive over Township 141, Range 37, the southeast corner town- 
ship of the White Earth Reservation, and I think you will find it 
there. There are some fine farms in the south part of the town- 
ship but they add to rather than detract from its natural beauty 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 43 

Chapter VII. 

Wild Animals of Becker County. 

One hundred years ago the whole Red River Country, in- 
chiding the rolHng country on its eastern border, and also 
including the country about the headwaters of the Mississippi 
and Crow Wing Rivers, was a paradise for wild animals. This 
country at that time was the principal field of operations for 
the Northwest Fur Company, and there was also an opposition 
fur company doing business in the same territory at the same 

The headquarters of the Northwest Company was then at the 
junction of Park River and the Red, about half way between 
where Grand Forks and Pembina have since been built. At 
this trading post, Alexander Henry, the resident general mana- 
ger of this Fur Company, had his headquarters. There were 
also branch trading posts at the forks of the Red and Red Lake 
Rivers, one at the mouth of the Pembina River, one at Red 
Lake and one at the White Earth in what is now Becker County. 

Immense numbers of furs were taken every year by the Indians 
and half-breeds for this company and shipped by them to Montreal 
in Canada. They were taken in birch-bark canoes down the Red 
River to Lake Winnipeg, thence up the Winnipeg River to the 
Lake of the Woods, thence via Rainy River, the Great Lakes and 
the St. Lawrence to Montreal. 

In the year 1798, according to the official report of the North- 
west Fur Company, they shipped to Montreal by way of Lake 
Superior the following list of skins in round numbers. 

Beaver 106,000 Wolverine 600 

Bear 2,100 Fisher 1.650 

Fox 5,500 Raccoon xoo 

Otter 4,600 Buffalo robes 500 

Muskrat .' 17,000 Elk 700 

Marten 32,000 Deer 750 

Mink 1,800 Dressed deer skin 1.200 

Lynx 6,000 

The opposition fur company must also have secured nearly as 
many. Of these furs the territory now included in Becker Coun- 
ty furnished a fair proportion. 

44 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Neil's History of Minnesota has this to say of Alexander 
Henry, who during the year 1800 and for several years after- 
wards was in charge of these trading posts. 

Alexander Henry, the second, was a nephew of Alexander Henry, one 
of the first subjects of Great Britain who traded at Lapoint before the 
Revolutionary War, and whose book of travels is well known to the 
literary world. The nephew was a partner of the Northwest Fur Company, 
and although his education was limited, his perception was quick, and 
his pen that of a ready writer. He kept a journal for several years during- 
his residence in the Red River Country, and but few journals contain so 
many important statements. His notes ought to be published. 

The Hon. Norman W. Kitson. once a member of the Legislature from 
the Red River Country was a relative of the writer of this journal. 

E. D. N. 

Since the above was published the journal of Alexander 
Henry has been published in full by Professor Elliott Coues. 
As I have used numerous quotations from the above mentioned 
journal, I deemed it appropriate that I should give a brief ac- 
count of the author, as I have here done. 

I have included in these articles all the wild animals that 
ever inhabitated Becker Cotmty as far as my knowledge extends,, 
although some may have been omitted that I know not of. 

The information given in the following pages is largely my 
own experience, together with incidents and adventures that have 
come under my own personal knowledge, with a few extracts from 
competent authors to help out where my personal knowledge 
is insufficient to convey a fair conception of the character and 
habits of certain species of animals. I have not undertaken 
to arrange them in any scientific order, although I have en- 
deavored to keep the different families together. 

The Buffalo. 

I begin my history of Becker County animals with the 
buflfalo, because it is the largest and most distinctly American 
of all the wild animals inhabiting this continent. In my opinion 
it would have been a more fitting emblem of our national flag 
than the piratical eagle. The western part of Becker County 
was formerly a favorite summer range for the buflfalo, and their 
skeletons have been found in all parts of the county. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 45 

In 1870 while engaged in surveying for the Government, I 
found a great many of their bones scattered over the prairies 
in the townships of Hamden and Cuba. They were particularly 
plentiful near the Buffalo River on sections 9, 10, 15 and 16 in 
the latter township. Buffalo River was so named from the 
immense herds of buffalo that formerly roamed along its banks. 

Many years ago I found a buffalo skeleton, which still had 
some of the hair on its head, in a spring hole on the west shore 
of Long Lake, on section 2'j in the town of Erie, near where 
Millard Howe has since resided, where the buffalo had incau- 
tiously ventured, and was unable to extricate himself. 

I have found buffalo skulls as far east as the Crow Wing 
River in Hubbard County, and Lieutenant Pike, the first Gov- 
ernment explorer of the upper Mississippi River in 1805, found 
several good sized herds of buffalo on the east side of the Mis- 
sissippi, near where Little Falls now stands. 

Major Long, while exploring the Red River Valley in the 
summer of 1823, met a large herd of buffalo a little east of where 
McCauleyville, in Wilkin County, is now located. 

In the spring of 1862, the writer of this article ascended 
the Missouri River on a steamboat belonging to tlie Americ:in 
Fur Company from Sioux City, Iowa, to the Great Falls, near 
the Rocky Mountains. The last sign of civilization at that 
time was at the northern border of Nebraska. On the 27th of 
May we stopped to cut wood on the east side of the river, in 
what is now South Dakota near its present capital. In a little 
opening immediately above where we landed, six bull buft"aloes 
were feeding, apparently unconscious of our presence. Six of 
us started out to surround the bulls. This was a difificvilt task, 
because the little opening of about half an acre was surrounded 
by timber and a dense undergrowth of willows, rose bushes, rip- 
shins and bullberry bushes, which were covered with sharp 
thorns. Our scheme, however, worked to a charm and before 
they knew it. we had them completely surrounded. A well- 
beaten trail ran from the river through to the little opening, 
and from there on through the thickets to the open prairie be- 
yond. When all was ready, three or four of us fired, and two 
bulls fell to the ground. ( )ne of them, however, succeeded in 
getting on his feet again. The four bulls that were unhurt made 
a break for the open prairie along the trail while the wounded 

46 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

bull took the trail for the river. Aly station happened to be 
on this trail. When I saw the bull coming with eyes distorted, 
and blood flowing from his mouth and nostrils, I started for 
the river, too. My gun was empty, and the trail was walled 
in with brush so dense as to be almost impenetrable, and the 
bull was gaining on me at every jump. A wounded bufifalo, 
when enraged and driven to desperation by the hunter is of all 
animals in the world the most diabolical in appearance. He 
was the very image of ferocity and horror. It did not take 
me long to reach the river bank, which was one of those per- 
pendicular-cut banks, peculiar to the Missouri, with a torrent 
of deep muddy water running at its base. I now^ gave a last 
farewell glance over my shoulder at the bull, and just then to 
my surprise and infinite relief, he tumbled headlong to the ground. 
We took him on board the boat and everybody had beef for a while. 

At two different times our steamboat was obliged to stop, 
and tie up alongside the shore to avoid the immense herds of 
buffalo that were floating down the river. The first drove we 
encountered was near where Bismarck in North Dakota is now 
located. The river was nearly half a mile wide and was filled 
nearly its entire width with live buffaloes, and they were at 
least half an hour in passing. We encountered the other drove 
a little above the mouth of the Yellowstone and it must have 
contained at least 20,000 animals. 

There are two peculiarities of the buffalo, which I will men- 
tion. One is the thickness of the hide on the skull of the ani- 
mal, which is at least an inch thick. The old muzzle loading 
rifle ball could not penetrate it, but the modern breech loader 
probably could. I worked hard for ten minutes, with a sharp 
ax, trying to cut a dried scalp in two that came off a 
buffalo bull's pate. It was more than half an inch thick when 
dried, and nearly as hard as sheet iron. The hides of all bulls 
were very thick and heavy, and it took a good strong man to 
handle one. Nearly all the robes were made from the skins 
of cows. The Indians always tanned buffalo robes by using 
the brains of the animal, and they tanned buckskins the same 
way. The other peculiarity is the ease and quickness with 
which it springs to the ground when suddenly alarmed. Instead 
of raising itself first by two legs, and then by the other two, 

A PioNKER History of Bi^ckhr County. 47 

like the ox or the horse, the buffalo springs to the ground with 
its four feet all at once and in an instant, with but little eft'ort. 
Buffaloes live to be thirty or fory years old and are not full 
grown until six. 

The following extracts from the journal of Alexander Henry, 
will show that the buft'alo formerly existed in the Red River 
country in immense numbers, and that their visits were not 
confined to the summer season. 

Mr. Henry says : 

Sunday, May 6th, 1800. 
At Bois Prere, near where we are camped, has been a great buffalo 
crossing for many years. The ground on both sides is beaten as hard as 
a pavement, and the roads leading to the Red River are a foot deep, and 
I am at a loss and bewildered in attempting to form any idea of the 
numerous herds of buffalo which may have passed here. 

Sept. nth, 1800. 
I climbed up a tall oak tree which I trimmed for the purpose, and 
from the top of it I had an extensive view of the surrounding country. 
Buffalo and elk were everywhere to be seen passing to and fro. Four 
of my men returned today having killed fourteen bears. 

I shot a wolf that was passing by and killed him dead. Buffalo come 
down to drink, both day and night, near our camp but we seldom molest 

Sept. 18th, 1800. 
I took my morning view from the top of my oak tree and saw more 
buffalo than ever before. They formed one body, commencing about half 
a mile from camp, from whence the plain was covered as far as the eye 
could reach. 

November 7th, 1800. 

We saw a great herd of cows going at full speed southward but on 
coming to our track, which goes to the salt spring, they began to smell 
the ground, and as suddenly as if they had been fired at, turned towards 
the hills in an easterly direction. It is surprising how sagacious these 
animals are. When in the least alarmed they will smell the track of even 
a single person in the grass, and run away in a contrary direction. I have 
seen large herds, walking very slowly to pasture, and feeding as they went, 
come to a place where some persons had passed on foot, when they 
would instantly stop, smell the ground and draw back a few paces, bellow, 
and tear up the earth with their horns. 

Sometimes the whole herd would range along the route, keeping up a 
terrible noise, until one of them was hardy enough to jump over, when 
they would all follow and run some distance. 

48 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

December ist, 1800. 
Some Cree Indians informed me today, that they had seen a calf as 
white as snow in a herd of bufifalo. White bufifalo are very scarce. 
There is also once in a great while one of a dirty gray, but they are 
very rare also. 

January 4th, 1801. 
We have had a terrible snow storm. I can count from the top of my 
oak tree, twenty or thirty herds of buffalo feeding out on the prairie. 
It is surprising how the cow bufTalo resists the cold piercing North winds 
which at times blow with such violence over these bleak plains, whicH 
causes such a drift that it is impossible to face it for any length of time. 
Still these animals will stand grazing in the open fields. 

January 14th, 1801. 
At daybreak I was awakened by the bellowing of buffaloes. On my 
right the plains were black and appeared in motion. Opposite the trad- 
ing post the ice was covered, and on my left the river below us was 
covered with bufifalo moving northward. I dressed and climbed my 
oak tree for a better view. I had seen almost incredible numbers of 
buffalo in the fall, but nothing in comparison to what I now beheld. The 
ground was covered at every point of the compass as far as the eye 
could reach, and every animal was in motion. 

January 25th, iSoi. 

A herd of cow buffaloes were crossing the river on the ice near the 
trading post, when dogs chased them and prevented one from landing. 
Perceiving this the men took a rope which they doubled and entangled 
her legs in such a manner that she fell on her side. She lay quiet for a 
while, while they fastened the rope around her horns and dragged her 
to the post. Here she jumped up and made at the dogs, taking no notice 
of us. Crow and Pierre, two half-breeds jumped on her back, but it 
did not incommode her in the least. She was as nimble in kicking and 
jumping at the dogs as before, although they both were heavy men, 
weighing nearly 200 pounds apiece. She was not full grown and very lean. 
What must be the strength of a full grown bull, which is twice the weight 
of a cow? It is common to see a bull weigh 1,500 pounds, but a cow is 
seldom over 700 or 800 pounds gross. 

A fat cow killed in the autumn, weighs from 600 to 700 pounds. .\ 
lean cow seldom exceeds 300 pounds. I have weighed 150 cows, killed 
from Sept. ist to Feb. ist, and found they averaged 400 pounds each. 
Bulls in the same space of time average 550 pounds. Two-year-old heifers, 
in autumn, average 200 pounds. One-year-old calves, in autumn, average 
no pounds. These weights are exclusive of the ofifals. But the total 
eatable meat of one full-grown bull, as received in the store house, weighed 
800 pounds. One thigh alone weighed 85 pounds. This bull was in full 
flesh, but had neither inside tallow nor back fat; which gives me reason 
to suppose that a full-grown bull, killed fat, about July ist, would weigh 
about 1,800 pounds, ofifals included. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 49 

March 30th, 1801. 
Rain has broken np the ice in the Red River. It drifted in large 
masses, making a great noise by crushing, tumbling and tossing in every 
direction driven by a strong current. It continued to drift on the 31st, 
bearing great numbers of dead buffalo from above, which must have 
Ijeen drowned in attempting to cross while the ice was weak. 

Wednesday, April ist, 1801. 
The Red River is clear of ice, but drowned buffalo continue to drift 
by in entire herds. Several of them have lodged on the banks of the 
river near this place. Some of the squaws have cut up the fattest of 
them for their own use, and their flesh appears to be fresh and good. It 
is really astonishing what vast numbers of them must have perished, for 
they formed one continued line in the middle of the river for two days 
and two nights. 

April i8th, iBoi. 
Rain. Drowned buffalo still drifting down the river, but not in such 
vast numbers as before, many have lodged on the bank and along the 

April, 25th. 
Drowned buffalo drift down the river day and night. 

AlEx.^nder Henry. 

Elliott Coues, the editor of Henry's Journal says : 

This account is not exaggerated. John McDonnell's Journal of May 
i8th, 1795, when descending Qu' Appelle River, states: Observing a good 
many carcasses of buffaloes in the river and along its banks, I was taken 
up the whole day in counting them, and to my surprise I had numbered, 
when we put up at night, 7,360, drowned and mired along the river and in 
it. In one or two places, went on shore and walked from one carcass to 
another, where they lay from three to five buffaloes deep. 

As to the exact time when the Buffalo left Becker County, or 
Minnesota, I am unable definitely to state. For this and other 
valuable information with reference to this subject, I am indebted 
to the Hon. R. M. Prol)sfield, of Clay County, Minnesota, which 
I will insert in full : 

MoorhEad, Minnesota, October, igoi. 

Hon. A. H. Wilcox, 
Frazee, Minn. 
"My Dear Sir: 

''I am sorry that I cannot assist you to an}- extent regarding the 
habitat of buffalo in Becker County during my time in the valley of the 
Red River, which dates from April ist. 1859. On my first trip to this 
valley. I came by the way of Crow Wing, Otter Tail City, and crossed 
Detroit Lake from the southwest on the ice to the present site of Detroit, 
and left the old trail at or near Oak Lake. I have no doubt but that 
during those years mentioned above, the buffalo did occasionally roam 
over the western or prairie part of Becker County in small stray herds, 

50 A PioNEKR History of Beckicr County. 

and tliat previous to my settlement in the country the buffalo roamed in 
large numbers in the same range of country, as was shown by numerous 
skulls and bones I have passed on the prairie between Oak Lake and Lake 
Park. Especially do I remember one place, perhaps two or three miles a 
little north of west from where Audubon is located. The bones were 
scattered over an area of nearly a section of land and there must have been 
nearly one hundred skeletons at that location. 

Clay County was not a steady place of abode of the buffalo during my 
time as I have seen them only four different years from 1859 to 1868. 
In 1859 one Henry Block and myself killed five during the week before 
Christmas, killing three of them one day and two more the next two days 
following. The snow was deep and we crawled onto them by stealth. We 
only saw eight altogether, killing the last late one evening. There were 
three left, it being dark and too cold to attempt anything more. The 
thermometer was twenty-five degrees below zero, with a northewst wind, 
very strong, so that we were glad to return to our tents. The next 
morning, we could not see any of them and having meat enough for what 
people there were there at that time did not attempt to find any more. 
The last one we killed was spoiled the next morning, as we had not dressed 
him the evening before. We were very cold and it was too late to do so. 
It may seem strange that an animal should spoil with the thermometer at 
twenty degrees below zero, but the bullet penetrated the stomach and 
tainted the meat, so we only hauled four carcasses home. They were all 
old, big bulls, probably driven out of the herd they came from by the 
younger blood, as it seems is their habit. 

The next herd was on the Dakota side, beginning about three miles 
north from Georgetown, stretching west and north along the Red River. 
We only penetrated the herd as far as Elm River, thirteen miles north 
of Georgetown where it empties into the Red River. There may have 
been 10,000 or 100,000 of them for all we could tell, as we could not see 
their limit either north or west. A few got across the Red River onto the 
Minnesota side. We only killed four of them. This was in July, 1866, 
and very hot, and the half-breeds did not wish to kill more than they could 
use without spoiling. On this occasion I killed my first buffalo on horse- 
back, with a Colt's navy revolver, but that exhausted every shot (6) and I 
had no more to reload with. I followed the old bull up until he expired. 
My experience was not pleasant, and had not my saddle horse known 
more about buffalo hunting on horseback than I did, I probably would not 
be here to write this. The next small herd was seen in 1867, twenty-five in 
all. We found them about two and one-half miles east of Georgetown. 
The half-breeds killed three, and did not want any more, it being July and 
very hot. This time I did not attempt myself to do any shooting, as I 
took my wife and two children out on the hunt to see the performance. 
We rode in an old bull cart, and it was a rough ride. 

The last buffalo seen was at Georgetown, near the Hudson Bay build- 
ings, and within fair rifle shot. It was in September, 1868. I only had 
a muzzle loader rifle and got one shot into one (there were only two), and 
before I could reload they were 120 rods away and I cannot tell if my 
second shot hit. Following up the trail, I could find the blood on the dry 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 51 

grass. They crossed the Buffalo River at the mouth of it, and I did not 
follow them any further. These were the last wild buffalo I saw in the 
valley. Several years afterwards there was one shot not very far from 
Fargo, only one being seen. 

This is all I can tell you of the buffalo history from my own experience. 

Very truly yours, 

R. M. ProbsField. 

These were the last buffalo ever seen in Minnesota to the best 
of my knowledge. The last time any buffalo were seen in Dakota 
Territory east of the Missouri River, was, I think, in 1875. 

In the summer of 1874. a surveying party in the employ, and 
under the direction of George G. Beardsley, with Melville H. 
Davis as a compassman, ran the nth Standard Parallel, from a 
point in what is now North Dakota, near where the village of 
Hillsboro now stands, running their line due west to the Mis- 
souri River. 

Sometime in September their line took them throtigh the 
Hawk's Nest, a grove of timber containing about forty acres, 
which stood alone on the prairie, some thirty miles west of 
the James River and not far from where the village of Carring- 
ton now stands. Near the Hawk's Nest they encountered a herd 
of buffalo, numbering about three hundred animals. They had 
no time to devote to hunting, but about the 20th of October, 
after the party had disbanded two of its members who lived 
at Jamestown, started from that place for the Hawk's Nest to 
hunt buffalo, each man being provided with two yoke of oxen and 
a wagon with which to haul home the meat. The names of these 
men were John Nichols and Merritt Wiseman. Nichols was one 
of the best men on the prairies, and on a government survey, I 
ever knew. I had him with me in 1875 and again in 1880. Wise- 
man was with me in the spring of 1872, examining land in Atlanta, 
Walworth and the Wild Rice country in Minnesota. 

The two men with their teams and wagons found the buft'alo 
about 30 miles northwest of the Hawk's Nest late in the after- 
noon of the 24th day of October, 1874, where the herd was quietlv 
feeding on the prairie. They unyoked their oxen and turned 
them loose to graze, while they themselves went directly to 
shooting buffalo. The animals evidently had not been hunted 
as they were easily approached, and it was an easy matter to 
get within gunshot range. When night set in thev had killed 

52 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

five or six and by the time they had reached their camp it was 
dark, and their oxen had wandered away, and were nowhere 
to be found. This did not cause them any uneasiness, however, 
as they flattered themselves that they would not wander far 
and could be readily found in the morning". They set up their 
tent, eat their supper and turned in for the night, the weather 
at the time being warm and pleasant. About midnight, how- 
ever, a terrible snow storm accompanied bv a strong north 
wind, swept over the prairie and by the next morning had as- 
sumed the proportions of a regular blizzard. 

I was caught out in the same storm on Apple Creek, nine 
miles northeast of Bismarck, where I was camped with one other 
man, and it stormed so hard that we did not get out of our 
bed until eleven o'clock the next day, when we eat a little bread 
and butter and started for Bismarck, which place we reached 
with considerable difficulty. 

Nichols and Wiseman did not leave their tent the first day 
of the storm at all, but on the ensuing day, the storm having 
subsided, they searched the adjacent country far and near for 
their oxen, but the snow had obliterated every track, and not 
a sign or trace of an ox could be found. They continued the 
search for two days more with no better success, and then gave 
it up. They were now 80 miles from Jamestown, and at least 
60 miles from the nearest point on the N. P. R. R., and there 
were no settlers or white people short of that distance in any 
direction. They were w'ell supplied with provisions for several 
weeks, but winter was at hand, and the outlook for getting back 
to civilization was anything but cheering, but the longer it was 
delayed the more difficult it was liable to become. 

Wiseman was a large heavy man, a little clumsy, not over 
ambitious and a poor traveler on foot at the best, and he de- 
cided that he could never walk to the railroad. 

Nichols was a man of different calibre. Tie was then in the 
prime of life, of medium size, strongly built and brim full of 
vitality and energy. He at once decided to make the attempt 
to reach the railroad. In fact that was their only salvation. 
Accordingly on the morning of October 28th with two davs 
rations in his pockets, he started in a southerly direction over 
the snow covered prairies. The snow was a foot deep on an 
average, making the traveling extremely laborious. He traveled 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 53 

the entire distance wthout halting, never stopping to rest, eat 
or sleep. He ate as he walked, taking liis course by his pocket 
compass and the sun by day, and by the stars at night, covering 
the entire distance in about thirty hours, traveling all day the 
28th. all the succeeding night and half of the 29th, reaching 
the Xorthern Pacific Railroad near where the village of Steele, 
the county seat of Kidder Comity, is now located. 

Staving all night with Thompson, an old Scotchman, who 
was running the Xorthern Pacific Railroad pump at the then 
14th siding he took the cars the next morning for Jamestown, 
where he procured a horse and buckboard a day or two after- 
wards, and started back after Wiseman, arriving at the bufifalo 
camp in due time. He took Wiseman back home to James- 
town, leaving the wagons and a large part of their outfit, and 
nearly all of the buffalo meat behind. The next spring they 
made another trip to the buffalo range with two yoke of oxen, 
and were again successful in finding the herd of buft'alo on their 
old feeding grounds. They killed several, but most of them 
were in rather poor condition and they only hauled home about 
a ton of meat, which they sold for $90. These were the last 
buffalo killed, I think, by white men east of the Missouri River. 
One pair of their oxen was found the next spring near the 
Sheyenne River in a starving condition, another pair was killed 
l)y the Indians during the winter in the same vicinitv, but the 
other fonr oxen were never heard from. 

During the season of 1875, ^ party of half-breeds, then lo- 
cated at Valley City, but who for man_\- years before had lived 
at Pelican Rapids, in Minnesota, moved up to the Hawk's Nest 
and hunted this band of buft'aloes until they killed the last 
animal in the herd. I was in Dakota surveying, every }ear from 
1873 until 1882 inclusive, working back and forth from the Red 
River to the Missouri, and covering a wide range of comitry 
north and south, and I feel sure that these were the last of those 
interesting animals found east of the Missouri River in any 
part of the United States. 

The Pacific railroads were the final undoing of the buff"alo. 
and l;)y 1888 the last remnants of the southern herds were ex- 
terminated in southwestern Texas, and the last of the herds 
of the northern part of the United States were annihilated in 
Montana about the same time. 

54 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

the United States, probably s^ .nU^^utj """" ''"' °' 

Buffalo Killed at White Earth. 

Mr. a. H. Wilcox, 
Frazee, Minn. 
Dear Sir: 

or thereabout. * 'P *° ^'"^ reservation in 1848. 

My recollection of this trin as fr^u u t 

Canadian vovageur who l! ^ u""' ^^ "^^^"'^ ^°"'-"^'-- a" old 

at the time 'refer d To in 8.8 ' 7 .•'.' ''' ^"^^"^^" ^- Company 

- by Joseph Jonl: onTfi^'^ttZZr '""'"'^T '''''''' ^° 
who died two years a<.o ,-. ^ ,, '^ members on this reservation, 

near as I can Jt^^t^C^:, J, C r^ S'^Tv''' 'T ''''' ^ 
;n charge of the American Fur Compa y sttettf ^^ ^e" ci:; "" ^'^" 
try, was mformed that a very lar^e herd of K ff Chippewa coun- 

Earth Lake and vicinity its w n 5' ^ "'^^ """' "'"'"'"^ ^^'^^ 

-all party from Sandy tal" il' 1 g":; M:' jln H^f''^' " ^^"^ ^ 
father to Ben. L. Fairbanks, and fatLr of Robert S^' !nd lib 'iT'" 
banks, whom you no doubt knew tr. i.-n "°^, ' ^'^•' ^nd Albert Fair- 
supply of the traders of^h. ! '"°"^^ ^"^^'^ f^'" the winter 
to the White Earth Lake or "If"" "'T ^"'"^ ^"^^^ ^^^ ^"butary 
party left Sandy Lake in k^tk' r "°" ^''^''^ "^"""^^ ^-"t-^^- The 
with several "og tratns the on T^ ."""^ ''^ "°"^^ ^^ ^^^ruary 

and was ioined ^by^aT^addiLr^foTcf ^ro^ SLT'^" "^ ^^r.^^^^' 
Joseph Jourdan referred to Tj 7 ^ ' ^"^^^S which was 

where my father' farm is II ""l" "^ 'r^'' '' "''* ^^ "°" ^'^^ Lake, 

started ou^t dail^t^o chTse 'U 2 wSic^ ;h:rdid Tot t:[^ ^^^ ^""f^ 
in overtaking on account of th. 7 ""^ ™"^^' trouble 

being on snowshoes "^ ^^'^ "^°"' ^^^^ ^^'"^"^ themselves 

and''o^fe"t„^:LVrrlTaf! '"ih^^"^ ^-^^^^^^ ^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ ^-t, 
Mr. Fairbanks stared Tt after buff , A r""'' "" ^"'^^^ ^^^^ ^^ 

in the morning the balance of tL . ' ■ ^^T '''''' ""' ^'^^t o'clock 
a number of sLts m 'r^^i^ Ji iT^.T^Tl'ir "T'--''-' 
Smith's farm is now located, an^d Mr^crurl\^1I':5LeTy-;,^-f ;;,2 

A Pio.xiiER History of Becker County. 55 

snowshoes and started for the point from whence the sound of the 
shooting came. When he arrived at Winfield Smith's Lake he saw Mr. 
Fairbanks shooting at an old bull buffalo, and before he brought it down 
he had fired fifteen or twenty shots at him. My Uncle Paul, who was 
an expert bufifalo hunter, had steered Mr. Fairbanks up against the bull 
knowing that it was so old that the chances, on account of its thick, 
scabby skin, were nearly even to have it escape or be killed, and the 
former wanted to get a joke on the latter who was his father-in-law. 

Mr. Courrier said that the herd scattered as soon as the first shots 
were fired by my Uncle Paul, but he followed a number of cows and 
calves that ran along the edge of the woods towards what is now the 
Agency, and shot one at every hundred yards or so, so that he had killed 
nearly enough to load the trains of the party with meat before the arrival 
of the Red Lake contingent. 

The party continued to hunt in this vicinity for more than a week, 
but Uncle Paul was probably the first one that killed any bufifalo within 
this county — I mean of that particular party — as his first day's shooting 
seems to have extended to a point opposite the old trading post two 
miles north of this village. 

The party returned to their respective trading posts laden with bufifalo 
meat. . In this connection, only the choicest pieces were taken and not 
a bit of bone was loaded on to the trains. 

I cannot recall all the details of the trip as told to me by both Mr. 
Courrier and Mr. Jourdan, but I have not forgotten all of them and 
know they were very interesting. 

Yours truly, 

Gus. H. BE-^ulieu. 


A PioNEKR History of Becker County. 57 

The Moose. 

With the exception of the buffalo, the moose is the largest wild 
animal ever found in Minnesota, if not in the United States. It 
is still found in northern Minnesota in large numbers, and is as 
plentiful now as at any time in the past, and is still frequently met 
with in Becker County. When seen in its native wilds, the male 
moose with a full set of horns, is a noble and formidable looking 
animal. He reminds one of a big ox circulating around with a 
two-armed rocking chair on the top of his head. Moose have 
been killed weighing eighteen hundred pounds. 

The moose frequently makes himself at home among domestic 
cattle, although their friendship is not always duly appreciated 
by the cattle. In 1862, '63. '64. I had a partner in the gold mines in 
Montana by the name of John D. Brown, an Irishman by birth, 
who passed through Becker County in 1857 on his way to the 
Rocky Mountains. His party followed the old Red River trail 
from Sauk Rapids and Long Prairie up to Otter Tail City. It was 
late in the fall, and the snow was several inches deep. The first 
night after leaving Otter Tail City they camped on the old trail 
between the two lakes- on what is now Section 36 in the town of 
Burlington, near where Herman Fisher now resides. The old 
Red River road ran around between those two lakes then. They 
were traveling with ox teams, and did not reach their camping 
place until nearly midnight. The men and cattle were all tired, 
but just about the time they had finished their suppers a bull 
moose charged in among the oxen, evidently thinking they were 
some of his own kind. This frightened the oxen, and a regular 
stampede took place. They took the trail leading in a north- 
westerly direction crossing the Otter Tail River and the moose 
after them. Two Frenchmen in the party followed after the oxen, 
but they did not overtake them until the middle of the forenoon 
the next day, when they found them near Floyd Lake, two miles 
north of where Detroit is now, and the moose was still with them. 

I never saw but one live moose in Becker County, and it was 
with a band of four or five deer, crossing the Otter Tail River a 
little below my saw^ mill at the Erie bridge, in the spring of 1887. 

In the summer and fall of 1892, T saw a good many moose 
while surve^■in^■ on the Red Lake Reservation in Marshall Count\' 

58 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

for the government. It was surprising with what ease they 
would cross the marshes and floating bogs in that swampy coun- 
try. Instead of walking or trotting along squarely on their feet, 
as they would on hard land, they appeared to travel with a kind 
of a lope, or a bound and hop, on the knees of their fore legs, 
and on the gambrel joints or hunkers of their hind legs. On one 
occasion we though we could run down a moose that we found 
in a boggy marsh, but were astonished to see with what ease it 
oustripped us in the race. An ox or a horse could not have kept 
up on the marsh for a distance of ten rods without getting hope- 
lessly mired. 

One evening in August, about sundown, a big bull moose 
with a monstrous pair of horns happened to get his eyes on our 
camp, which consisted of three tents standing on the edge of a 
small prairie. He circled back and forth, coming a little nearer 
at every turn, while George Senacle, of Lake View, in our county, 
crept down through an adjacent patch of brush with a gun to get 
a shot at him. The rest of us skulked behind a tent to keep out 
of sight. The curiosity of the moose kept drawing him closer 
and closer, until he had ventured up within ten or twelve rods of 
our tent, and still nearer to Senacle with his gun. We all kept 
completely hid from view except Bill McCart. He was so long 
we could not entirely hide him. We tried to double him up 
like a jack-knife, but in spite of all we could do, one end of him 
would stick out, and finally the moose got his eye on that particu- 
lar end, when he gave a snort and away he went over the prairie, 
like a hobby-horse in a merry-go-round. 

On another occasion, I was running a line near the west line of 
Beltrami County, through scattering poplars and tall grass, sighting 
to trees or stumps or anything that happened to be in the right 
place for the line. Willie Moore was head chainman, and was fol- 
lowing close to my heels through the grass, which was three or 
four feet high. I took sight on what I thought was a black stump 
sticking up through the grass and which was exactly in line and 
started to go to it. When within forty or fifty feet, I noticed that 
my object moved a little, so I remarked to Willie that there was 
a moose ahead of us, and sure enough there was a cow moose and 
her calf with their heads down in the grass licking away at a 
little spot of alkali ground, or what in some parts of the country 
they call a "deer lick." We watched them for two or three min- 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 59 

iites, when the old cow made the discovery of our presence and 
gave a snort, and away they went. 

The following is from the Detroit Record of Nov. 21st, 1892: 

A Dakota hunting party, who have been spending a month in the 
Lake Itasca region, came into town last Tuesday with three wagon loads 
of game. They had four large moose, and twelve deer. The game was 
bought by Stephens Bros, for shipment. One of the moose, a five year 
old cow, weighed about twelve hundred, and Mr. Stephens is preparing 
the hide for mounting. One of the deer, a line buck, dressed over 250 
pounds. How does such game strike the eastern jack-snipe shooters? 

Mrs. West. 


A Pioneer Histokv of Becker County. 6i 

The Elk. 

A full grown male elk, with a full set of horns is the most 
noble and majestic animal in North America. 

The elk former])- roamed over Becker County in large num- 
bers, but suddenly disappeared with the first settlement of the 
country. For several years afterwards, however, elk horns were 
found in dififerent parts of the county in considerable numbers. 

I saw three elk in the spring of 1872 near the South branch 
of the Wild Rice, north from Lake Park, and Peter Parker, 
whose home was then at White Earth, informs me that he saw 
two near Cormorant Lake in the latter part of April that same 

Henry Way also informs me he saw two in the Southwest 
part of the county in 1872. These are the last elks I ever heard 
of in Becker County. 

Alexander Henry says : 

Aug. 25th, 1800. 

One of the Indians killed a large elk, which he gave me. Sept. 5th i8oo. 

At five o'clock the canoes arrived and camped. Aly men told me 
they had seen a great many elk and bears crossing; large herds were seen 
at every turn. The Indians in the canoe had killed four otters and three , 
beaver. This evening the hunters returned, having killed four elk, and one 
buffalo, all extremely fat. 

September nth, 1800. 
The Indians set out early to hunt, and killed four bears and eight elk. 

A. Henry. 

Another letter from ni}' friend Probsfield in reference to the 
elk in Becker County, I will insert. He says : 

Elk have been at home throughout the whole Red River country and 
as far east as Deer Creek in Otter Tail County, where I saw the first I ever 
saw in March, 1859. I have seen them near the western border of the 
White Earth Reservation, in Becker County, and have killed one on the 
so-called Engelbromer farm in Western Becker County in the year 1865, 
and know that elk meat was the main supply of meat for the half-breeds 
and Indians all over the Northwest, between Red River and the Big Timber 
on the east. 

62 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Elk seem to like a prairie country, interspersed with groves of timber, 
as more were to be found in such localities than where it was all prairie. 
Along the Red River and its tributaries they were frequently found, 
especially, and more so in the winter time; but up on the higher lands 
and especially throughout the so-called Park Region, they were more 
plentiful than in the Red River Valley, and Becker, Otter Tail, Grant, Pope 
and Stevens Counties had a goodly share of them forty years ago, but the 
growing settlements appeared to crowd them out. 

I have no doubt that a good many other counties in Western Minne- 
sota were roamed over by them. I have seen them between Lake George 
and Lake Henry in Stearns County, on Round Prairie in Todd County 
and at Chippewa Lake in Douglas County, and from what I saw, I came 
to the conclusion that their range was much more extensive than what 
came under my rather limited observation. 

Yours truly, 

R. M. Probsf'iEld. 

The elk is about twice the size of the common deer of 
Minnesota, with horns of the same pattern, but about three 
times as large, being larger in proportion to the size of the 
animal than those of the deer. 

The elk was formerly distributed well over Minnesota. In 
1805, Lieutenant Z. M. Pike speaks of large bands of elk east 
of the Mississippi River, in what is now Morrison County. 
Forty years ago they were very abundant in the vicinity of all 
the timber skirted streams on the plains of Dakota and Montana, 
and well up into the Rocky Mountains. They were particular- 
ly abundant along the borders of the Missouri River in what 
is now North Dakota. 

About the first of June, 1862, four of us started across a 
timbered bottom land of the Missouri River, near where Wash- 
burn, N. D., is now, to see what we could find in the way of 
game. We spread out twenty or thirty rods apart, and then 
started west from the river in the direction of the open plains 

We had not gone more than sixty rods, when a large animal, 
which I at first thought was a mule, jumped up and started on 
a run obliquely to the left of me. I was astonished to see a mule 
in that wild Indian country, for there was not a white settler 
living within 300 miles of the place at that time. It finally dawned 
on me that the running animal was an elk, without horns. In a 
few seconds it had gone beyond the distance for a successful shot 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 63 

from my ritie, but later on I heard the report of a ritie to my 
left, at which the elk turned and ran through the timber ahead 
of me and was soon out of sight. I quickly found its trail, which 
I followed not more than twenty rods and there found the elk 
stretched on the ground, a lifeless mass. It was a beautiful animal, 
and weighed so much that it was a heavy load for the four of 
us to carry it to the steamboat after it was dressed. 


A PioxKivK IlisT(!Kv ()F Becker County. 65 

The Caribou. 

1 have never found an Indian or white man who had ever 
seen a caribou in Becker County. The nearest trace I can find 
of them is at Leech Lake and Red Lake. Old North-Wind says 
he saw a herd of them at Sandy Lake, forty or fifty }ears ago, 
and that he had seen them at Leech Lake since that time. 

There is a herd of reindeer in Alaska, brought over from 
Lapland a few years ago, and I have seen men who have seen 
these animals, and have also seen caribou near by them, and they 
sav there is no perceptible difl:"erence between the tw^o animals. 

I had this photograph taken in British Columbia and I 
insert it here for comparison wdth the moose and the elk. It is 
much smaller than either. 

I have seen a pair of their horns that were found in Becker 
Countv, so I will give it a place in my book. 

The Common or White-tailed Deer. 

r)f all the wild animals of North America classed as big 
game, the common deer was the most generally and widely 
distributed, the best known and comes the nearest to being 
the ideal and favorite game of the stalwart hunter. 

The white-tailed deer is the only species that I am aware 
of inhabiting Becker County, although in 1890 I saw two deer 
in Height of Land Township that at the time I was sure were 
black-tailed deer, but as I did not see their tails I may have 
been mistaken. The black-tailed deer instead of being a reddish 
l)n)wn like our common deer is a dark gray, with very large 
ears, broad at the ends, and has a short tail w'ith a black tip. 
The common deer is too well known to need any description, 
and it is to be hoped that it will continue to be so for years 
to come. 

When the countrv first began to be settled up, they were no 
more plentiful than now, but they began to increase with the 
growth of the settlements, so that by 1874 and for several years 
afterwards, there w^as fine deer hunting in the timbered parts 
of Cormorant, Lake Eunice, Lake \^iew^ and Burlington ; although 

66 A PioxEER History of Becker County. 

they generally left those towns for the pineries farther east after 
winter had fairly set in. In the beginning of the year 1880, when 
Holmeville, Erie and Height of Land were getting fairly well set- 
tled, deer became more numerous there than ever before, and the 
Shell Prairie regions farther east w^ere a favorite resort for the deer 
the year around. In those days deer were slaughtered by wholesale 
and as there was no law against selling the venison at certain seasons 
it was no unusual sight to see them hauled to the railroad stations 
by the sleigh load, and to see them stacked up on the freight house 
platforms by the score. 

I never had an opportunity of ascertaining the number killed 
in any one season in Becker County, but in the winter of 1878- 
79 I was in Morrison County, traveling over the different parts 
of the country all winter, visiting all the lumber camps and fre- 
quently camping with hunters at night. I took considerable 
pains to ascertain the number of deer killed in the county that 
winter, and it amounted to more than 1,400 that I was sure of. 
I have hunted deer but little in Minnesota, and never shot at 
but one in Becker County. In September, 1878, I had been up 
in the Height of Land Lake country ten days, all alone, and was 
following my way down the east side of the Otter Tail River 
in the town of Erie on my way home. \\'hen near the north 
line of Section 35 I heard something plunge into a big hole in 
the river on the opposite side. This hole at that time was 
wide and deep, much wider and deeper than now. R. L. Frazee 
drowned a span of mules by breaking through the ice in that 
same hole the winter before. I could hear the animal swimming 
toward me, and in a short time a fine buck landed about sixty 
yards ahead and started on a dead run across a little opening. 
I had a pistol with a barrel about eight inches long with a 
little skeleton breech, which I carried in my belt, and with this 
I fired at the deer as it ran, shooting it straight through the 
heart. It w^as getting dark when I killed the deer, but I dragged 
it across to the west side of the river and went on down to 
Samuel Pearce's in the town of Burlington, who at that time 
lived the farthest up the river of any white settler. He and his 
son William hitched up the oxen and wagon and drove up in 
the dark and brought back the deer. 

A Pioneer History of Be;cker County. 67 

The (leer are nnicli lart^er in ATinnesota than in other sec- 
tions of the country west and south. In Montana a white 
tailed doe will not wei^h more than sixty pounds, dressed, on an 
average, and a Imck not more than one hundred pounds. The same 
may he said of the deer in Arkansas and Texas. In ^Minnesota 
thc\- will weigh nearly twice that much. 

The bucks, as most people know, shed their horns at the 
beginning of the winter, after which they are inclined to herd 
together by themselves, although when a country begins to settle 
with white people, they are much less inclined to bunch together. 

In the winter of 1863 and 1864 I was hunting near the Bear 
Tooth Mountain in ^lontana about fifteen miles north of where 
Helena now stands. There were three of us together riding 
through a forest of ])ines, when we heard a rushing sound be- 
hind us as if a hurricane was sweeping through the woods. 
Just then a herd of deer came rushing past that my partners 
estimated at 200 animals. We all fired into the drove from 
horseback, but our horses had become wild with fright at the 
unusual sight, so our aim was bad and we did not kill a single 

The deer like the moose is strictl}' an animal i^f the woods, 
seldom venturing out on the prairie. 

When we lived on our homestead at ( )ak Lake, in Detroit 
Township, I had a garden containing about an acre of groimd, 
in the midst of an oak grove near the house. Tn the summer 
of 1873 a doe took a fancy to our garden, particularly to our 
turnips and cabbages. Mrs. \Mlcox frequently found this "inno- 
cent looking doe" as she called it in either the garden or the 
path between the garden and the house. She never made any 
motions or noise to frighten the doe and it became quite tame 
and would come up within a short distance of her, and also 
come up close to the house and remain awhile and then go 
away at its leisure, but it was always afraid of me. 

Sometimes there would be three deer around the house 
at once, and none of them ap])eared to be afraid of Mrs. Wil- 

I once lived almost exclusively on venison for nearly six 
months. I could never have lived that way on tame meat. I 
could eat enormouslv of the venison, averaging six pounds every 

68 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

day. bones counted in. I grew fat, and felt well, and weighed 
more that winter than I ever did before or since but was lazy 
and stupid, and I could readily account for those peculiarities in 
the meat eaters after living for generations on a meat diet. As 
near as I can remember, I ate thirteen whole deer and antelope 
during that time. I wish I had some of them now. 

During the seventies the winters with three or four exceptions, 
in Becker County were long and hard, and the snow correspond- 
ingly deep ; and such winters were usually fraught with disaster 
to the deer, as they were easy victims to both the wolves and the 

The winter of 1880 and 188 1 was especially severe, as were 
also the three following wdnters, and during those years the deer 
had all they could do to hold their own, but with one excep- 
tion the next nine winters were all comparatively mild, and 
the deer increased amazingly during all that time. 

The winter of 1892 and 1893, however, was long and hard, 
with three or four feet of snow and the destruction of deer was 
enormous. Nearly 2,000 deer were killed in the county during 
that winter, whereliy their numbers were greatly reduced, and 
again in the winter of 1896 and 1897 with a depth of snow greater 
than ever before known in the history of the country, they came 
near being annihilated. 

There are a few deer still to be found in Becker County, but 
it is doubtful if they are ever seen again as plentiful as they were 
in the years that are past. 

The following items are from the Detroit Record : 

The killing of deer this fall has amounted to slaughter. During the 
season several hundred saddles have been sold to Detroit dealers alone, 
and they continue to come in daily. Frank Harris bought thirty saddles 
of one man two weeks ago, and the first of this week a lot of eighty saddles 
were brought in. Hunters say that deer are more plentiful than ever before, 
and they attribute the fact to the mild winters we have had, and the absence 
of snow which enables the animals to escape the wolves which generally 
work destruction among them. — Detroit Record, December 13, 1889. 

November 14th, 1892. 

Deer are said to be unusually numerous in this section. Two men 
killed thirteen, recently, only a few miles from Detroit. 

Indians are said to be netting fish in Detroit lake. This should not 
be allowed for a day — either by white men or Indians. 

T. L. Gilbert and James Nunn were in town ^Monday, having come 
down from Pine Point with sixty saddles of venison, bought by Hoyle & 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 69 

Nunn of the hunters in that section. Last week the firm sent down thirty- 
three saddles, and all has been shipped through E. W. Davis, of this 
village. Mr. Gilbert says the hunters, mostly Indians, are meeting with 
good success this fall. From a camp in which there were three hunters 
they bought forty-eight saddles, last week. Mr. Gilbert tells of one Indian 
— John Buck-a-nah-gah, who recently shot seven deer and a bear in a 
single day's hunt. 

November 21st, 1892. 
Hoyle & Nunn sent in their last lot of venison for shipment last 
Tuesday — three large sleigh loads. The firm has bought and shipped three 
hundred and fifty carcasses, and taken altogether the deer hunting season 
has proven one of remarkable success. 

h.appy chippewas. 

more game than ever at white earth— indians contented. 

White Earth, Minnesota, 
Special, December 4th. 1892. 

Never in the memory of the oldest inhabitant has game been so 
abundant as this early winter. The Indians at White Earth who have 
moved from Mille Lacs, and they are many, are great hunters and have fairly 
reveled in their favorite pastime, which had been crowned with more than 
satisfactory results and corresponding profits. Your correspondent saw 
piles of venison stored at White Earth agency and passed many loads on 
their way to Detroit City for shipment. Celum Mattson has killed twenty 
deer this winter, Tyler Warren killed seven in two days, Charles Murray 
and Wa-bu-tus each killed a moose, and there is not an Indian hunter but 
has killed more or less. They sell the saddles and eat the rest, and it is 
evident from the number of new overcoats seen upon these Indians and 
general comfortable appearance of such a large number, and all before any 
government payment has been made, that they are making substantial 
investments, and not dissipating the products of the chase. 

December 12th, 1892. 

Probably the largest shipment of venison that was ever shipped from 
Detroit was sent to St. Paul, Monday, by E. W. Davis, commission mer- 
chant of this city. There were 800 saddles and full carcasses and as they 
were piled up in one pile awaiting shipment they presented a novel spectacle. 
We understand that this is only about one-half of what Mr. Davis has 
shipped this year. — Detroit Record. 

Mrs. West. 

The Antelope. 

The antelope is the most beautiful and fleet-footed animal 
of the prairies, and formerly inhabited the great plains and 
prairies of the West in immense numbers. No longer than 
forty years ago, there were undoubtedly more antelope between 

70 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

the western frontier and the Rocky Mountains than any other 
species of animaL 

It is a matter of conjecture how far East they ever ranged 
into Minnesota, l)ut it is certain that they occasionally strayed 
into Becker County. 

They are usually found in bands of from two or three to 
twenty or thirty, but were occasionally found alone. The follow- 
ing' description of the antelope from the pen of Washington 
Irving is more complete than any I can give : 

Their color is a light dun, slightly spotted with white, and they have 
small horns, much smaller than those of the deer which they never sheB. 
Nothing can surpass the delicate and elegant finish of their limbs, in which 
lightness and elasticity and strength are combined. Their habits are shy 
and capricious; they keep in the open plains, are quick to take alarm and 
bound away with a fleetness that defies pursuit. While they thus keep in 
the open plain and trust in their speed, they are safe, but they have a 
morbid curiosity that sometimes betrays them to their ruin. When they 
have run away for some distance and left their pursuer behind, they will 
suddenly stop and turn to gaze at the cause of their alarm. If the pursuit 
is not followed up, they will after a time yield to their inquisitive hankering 
and return to the place from whence they have been frightened. 

The hunter takes advantage of this well known curiosity and lays flat 
on the ground in the grass and ties a handkerchief to his ramrod, which he 
waves in the air. This has a fascinating efifect on the antelope, who gazes 
at the mysterious object for some time at a distance, then approaches 
timidly, pausing and reconnoitering with increasing curiosity, moving 
around the point of attraction in a circle but still drawing nearer, until 
within range of the deadly rifle, it falls a victim to its own curiosity. 

The following letter from the Hon. R. M. Probsfield. the 
oldest settler in the Red River Valley in Minnesota, will be of 
undoubted interest to the people of Becker County: 

MooRHEAD, November 13th, 1901. 

Hon. .\. H. Wilcox. 
Fr,\zee, Minn., 
Dear Sir: — 

In reply to your inquiry. I can say that I never saw or shot an ante- 
lope during all the time I have lived in the country east of the Red River, 
and only two or three times in Dakota. Antelopes have been shot and 
brought into Georgetown in the early sixties. I bought one that was 
shot at the South Branch of the Wild Rice River up on the highlands, 
but am not able to say whether it was killed in Becker County or in Clay 
County. William Moorhead, long a resident of Pembina County, N. D., 
who died a few years ago, saw two and shot one on the ground where 
Detroit (Becker County), is located now. That was in 1859, i860 or 1861. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 71 

I remember him telling about it, and know it was previous to the Indian 
outbreak in 1862. I consider all the antelope that were seen east of the 
Red River Valley stray ones; the same as the bufifalo seen during the sixties, 
but have no doubt that such stray ones roamed occasionally over the 
whole range of country east of the Red River as far as the big timber. 

Yours truly, 

R. M. ProbsfiEld. 

In the spring" of 1862, while ascending the ^Missouri River, 
and when a few miles above wdiere Bismarck, N. D., now is 
located, we sighted a band of antelope on a small prairie on the 
west bank of the river. The captain of the steamboat told us 
that if we would go to the upper deck with our rifles, he would 
pull the boat close to the shore, and give us a shot at the 
antelopes. Accordingly five or six of us ascended to the hurri- 
cane deck, cocking our rifles, while the steamboat was slowly 
and as silently as possible heading for the little prairie, which 
lay almost on a level with the upper deck of the boat where 
we stood. As we advanced, the antelope stopped grazing and all 
fell into line as is their habit and stood there gazing at the 
boat until we were within about one hundred yards, when 
their leader gave a loud "])ah,"" their signal for alarm. AA e all 
fired at once and three of them fell to the ground. A\'e (juickly 
landed and found two were dead, but the third was only crip- 
pled, and was trying to reach the woods, .\fter chasing him 
for some time, I caught him by one of the hind legs. He drag- 
ged me around for a while, when he was dispatched with a knife 
in the hands of one of the negro cooks belonging to the steam- 

The antelope is considerably smaller and its legs are much 
shorter than those of the deer of Minnesota. An average sized 
antelope will weigh about one hundred pounds live weight. 
Their feet are unlike those of a deer and more like those of a 
sheep, not having any duclaws above their heels. 

As late as 1877, there were a good many antelope in Xorth 
Dakota within thirty or forty miles of Fargo. I found a band 
of a dozen or more, twelve miles north from AA'heatland in 
the vicinity of some springs in July of that year. 




A PioNKiiR History of Becker County. 73 

The Panther. 

The panther has been found in Becker County, although 
it was by no means common. I never came across a white man 
who had ever seen a hve one in the county, but have met a few 
Indians who had seen them. 

The panther is very near the color of the common red fox, 
only a little darker. Unlike the other great American forest 
cats, it has no spots or stripes, except, that the lips and the outer 
rim of the ear and the tip of the tail are blackish. 

Panthers have been found measuring seven feet, head and body, 
and the tail thirty inches, and they usually stand about two 
feet high and their average length from tip to tip is from six to 
seven feet. 

In the older states the panther has always been dreaded as a fierce and 
treacherous beast because of its alleged habit of springing upon travelers 
from branches of trees and rocky cliffs. When attacked it is a bold and 
courageous fighter, and the killing of one has always been regarded as a 
feat of skill and courage. 

The principal prey of the panther was the deer, but it seized any 
smaller animals that came in its way. The mode of hunting is by lying 
in wait for, or creeping up to within leaping distance and then springing 
upon it. A panther has been known to kill loo^ sheep in a single night. 

Their silence when hunting or when attacked is a notable characteristic, 
yet on rare occasions, usually on winter nights, they make the woods re- 
sound with terrifying screams. They figure largely in books of American 
travel and adventure. 

In October 1872, while surveving and appraising land for the 
Xorthern Pacific Railroad Company, I came across one of these 
animals in the Township of Fryberg in Otter Tail County. Al- 
though there were three of us in my party engaged in this work, 
we always worked singly and alone, rttnnirig our lines with a small 
ctMupass and counting our footsteps by way of measurement. On 
the morning of the 25th, I left our camp, which was on the banks 
of the Otter Tail River in section twenty-nine, and started north 
to make a survey and plat of that section. A fire had been run- 
ning in the woods, and I noticed among the ashes and burnt 
leaves the tracks of some large animal which resembled those 
of a Rocky Mountain lion. I had seen these animals and their 
tracks in Montana but having never heard of any in Minne- 

74 A PioNKHR History of Becker County. 

sota, nor any panthers either. T thoug-ht no more about it. Xot 
long' afterwarcLs. while running' a line in a westerly direction. I 
came to a lake which was about one hundred rods across, which 
I was obliged to go partly around in order to continue the 
course of my line on the opposite side. I started around the 
south shore of the lake but had not gone far before I started up 
a large animal wliich was lying down on the sandy beach of the 
lake. At first sight I took it to be a large timber wolf. He 
did not offer to run but squared himself around half standing, 
half sitting, and appeared to be quite indift'erent to ni}- presence. 
I always had a contempt for wolves, but as T had nothing to 
shoot with, and did not want a row. I took but little notice of 
him and made a half circle around through the woods and came 
to the lake shore about one hundred feet beyond him. I went 
on nearly a quarter mile, wondering what kind of an animal 
it could be, when I concluded to go back and stir him up and 
see what he was like and if he showed fight I would jump into 
the lake, and if he came after me, I would keep him off. drown 
him, or punch his eyes out with ni}- Jacob's-staff. When I came 
within about fifteen rods of the animal I started towards him 
on a run. yelling and shouting at the top of my voice, until 
within about four rods of him, when I saw he was not going to 
run, so I stopped. I then laid my Jacob's-staff" across a little 
leaning tree, to see what nice aim I could take if I only had 
a gun. T then commenced to throw stones at him, and the 
third stone hit him on a fc^re leg, when he jumped up about four 
feet in the air spitting like a cat. I then saw that it was a genuine 
panther which would measure seven or eight feet from tip to 
tip. He then lay or rather stood low on all fours, switching a 
long tail from side to side and assumed the attitude of a cat 
when about to spring upon a mouse. I then began to throw at 
him again, and soon hit him with another rock. He then gave 
a jump and shot through the air towards me with the speed 
of an arrow. About the same time, I shot through the air 
in the opposite direction, and landed in the lake where the 
water was about two feet deep. The panther made two leaps, 
covering a distance of at least twenty feet at each jump, but 
stopped short as soon as T struck the water, about twenty-five 
feet from where I stood, his eyes glaring like balls of fire and 
the hair on his back standing straight up on end. He stood there 
with his 1)ack hunq:ie(l up. and his tail this time erect, spitting and 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 75 

hissing- like a cat at l)ay and appeared to be preparing- for another 
attack, when I recollected that I had a big day's work to do. and 
that 1 might be caught out in the woods after dark if I did not 
soon get at it. so I waded along- the shore of the lake back- 
wards, keeping my eye on the panther for a distance of fifteen 
rods, when I went ashore and around the lake, vowing that I 
never would be caught out in the woods again without some- 
thing to shoot with. 

Three days afterwards I was at Pelican Rapids, and saw in 
Cowles" blacksmith shop the skin of an animal just like the one 
I had seen, which he had killed a week before. This was a 
female and measured seven feet from the end of the nose to the 
tip of the tail, and was undoubtedly the mate to the one I 
had seen. 

A panther was killed a few miles north of Pine Point in the 
vear 1897 by a Chippewa Indian, a son of North-Wind. He shot 
it in the top of a tree. Another one was killed by an Indian 
in the township of Runeberg, in the year 1882. that measured 
seven feet two inches from tip to tip. 

The following account of an adventure with four panthers is 
given to me by J\Ir. W. F. Broadhead, who is now an attorney 
at Clayton, the county seat of St. Louis County, Missouri. Air. 
Broadhead is a brother of James O. Broadhead, who was provost 
marshal of St. Louis during the civil war, and who was Cleve- 
land's foreign minister to Switzerland. Our hero studied law 
under Governor Bates, wdio was Lincoln's attorney general, 
and he in turn was for several years the teacher of Gen. John 
R. Bates, the present lieutenant general of the LInited States army. 
Mr. Broadhead worked for me in the gold mines during the 
early part of the summer of 1864, and left on the first of 
August to open up a cattle ranch at the head of Crow^ Creek, 
about twenty miles southeast from wdiere Helena, Montana, now 

Mr. Broadhead says : 

"About the latter part of October, 1864, I took Smith, one of the team- 
sters, and taking along the necessary horses we ascended to the head of 
a dry gulch which had its source on the southwest side of the Crow 
Mountain, or "Old Baldy" as it is now called and went into camp. After 
hunting and prospecting a few days, I one day set out alone and afoot to 
go up the southwest side of the mountain as far as I could in a day's 


tramp. Wlien passing around the bald open side of the mountain, I came 
to the tracks of four panthers in the Hght snow, one very large, and three 
smaller tracks, a female and her family. Following the trail I came to a 
place where there were some scattering pines here and there. The trees 
were small, their lower limbs reaching the ground in places and the snow 
had partially melted away from under them. At this place I noticed that 
the cubs seemed from their tracks to have been playing around in different 
directions, rendering it difficult to follow them. I had lost the trail of the 
larger animal and stopped to consider my course. Just then I heard one 
of the young panthers squall and looking saw one of them running in the 
direction of some rocky clifTs to my right. The cub was nearly full 

I started after it, but was halted by a deep loud roar behind me and 
turning saw the old mother under the low spreading limbs of a pine not 
more than twenty-five feet away, where she had been couched down on the 
tawny pine needles under the tree. She was lying or rather standing 
low on her feet, her body almost touching the ground, her tail waving from 
side to side ready to spring and seemed almost in the act of springing 
towards me. To act instantly was my only safety. As I saw her I 
stooped and cocked my rifle, and rested it upon my knee as was my habit, 
aimed it at her and pulled the trigger, but, the hammer failed to fall. It 
was a walnut stock and had become wood-bound from the dampness. I 
instantly again set the trigger and pulled just as she arose to spring. This 
time there was no failure and she sank down and died in a moment. I had 
put a minnie slug running seventeen to the pound into her throat and it 
had passed through almost the entire length of her body. She measured 
nine and one-half feet from tip to tip. I killed two of the cubs with my 
navy revolver, and securing the skins returned to camp. It was a danger- 
ous moment but was so speedily over I scarcely realized it. 

W. F. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

The Ljmx. 

The lynx is from thirty to thirty-six inches in length, head 
and body, and the tail about five inches. The color is a grizzly 
or grayish brown, with the ear tips and end of the tail black 
and the belly white. 

The habits of the lynx are the same as those of the forest 
cats, generally, and their depredations upon the farmer's poultry 
yard, together with the fear inspired by their screams at night 
and the value of their pelts have led to their extermination in 
the old settlements. They are persistent mousers, and pro1)a- 
bly more than repay their occasional theft by destroying great 
numbers of these pests. Chiefly nocturnal in their habits, they 
sleep by day in hollow trees and caverns, and in such places, on 
a bed of dried grass they bring forth their kittens, which the 
mother will defend with a ferocity that but few animals can 

The lynx is quite common in Becker County. I never saw 
but one and he disappeared so quickly among the trees that I 
did not get a very good look at him. 

D. O. Jarvis caught seven during the winter of 1883 and 1884, 
on the east side of Height of Land Lake. Carl Oelfke of that 
township says he has caught 35 since he first came to Becker 


Animal Attacks Him and He Escapes by Leaping Into the River. 

Pioneer Press Northwest Special Service. 

Superior. Wis., June 27th, 1906. 

Edward Ruquist, who has just returned from a fishing trip near Deham, 
reports a harrowing tale of an encounter with a female lynx, in which he 
came out victorious, but not until he had received several painful scratches 
from the enraged animal's claws. 

Ruquist says he saw a lynx kitten while fishing along the bank of a 
stream and immediately gave chase. The little animal took refuge in a 
hole and Ruquist started to dig it out. While he was thus engaged the 
mother of the kitten stealthily approached from behind him, and without 
warning leaped onto his back, sinking her claws deep into his flesh. 

Ruquist yelled lustily for help, but realizing that he was alone, and 
that he must do something to escape the furious attack of the maddened 
animal or else be killed, he leaped from the high bank on which he was 

A PioxKn;R History of Becker County. 79 

standing and plnnged headforemost into tiie water. The lynx is not an 
aniphibions animal and dislikes water as much as does a house cat. 
Accordingly it released its hold on Ruquist's back and made its way to 
shore, where it confined its attention to its yelling kitten. 

Meanwhile Ruquist's cries attracted the attention of his companion, 
who was some distance away, and the latter coming up shot the mother 
with a rifle. They did not succeed m capturing the kitten, however. 

The Wild Cat. 

Tlie wild cat was formerl}- ver}' common in Becker Count}', 
and is still to be found in the timber districts. The wild cat 
is usually two feet in lent^-tli includino- the tail which is very 
short, from which circumstance it is frequently called the bob 
cat. I have seen several wild cats in captivity, and there was 
considerable variation in their appearance, but they all bore a 
general resemblance to a luonstrous house cat except in color 
and the fact of their tail being- bobbed off short. 

As nearlv evervbod\' knows they are providecl with long, 
sharp claws, are expert climbers, and in a fight at close ([uarters 
are dangerous cutomers to encounter, by a man or a dog. 

John Stearns of Cotton Lake caught a wild cat in P'rie Town- 
ship in the winter of 1904 or 1905, which was so large that some 
of his neighors called it a catamount. 

I never saw but one wild one alive, and it was dift"erent in 
its general appearance, in color and in size from any I have 
seen in captivity before or since. In July 1878, I was engaged 
in examining Xorthern Pacific Railroad land about fifteen miles 
northwest from Bismarck, X. 1)., and a mile or two east of the 
Missouri River. \\'hile running a line north through Section 3, 
Township 140, Range 81, I came to a very deep ravine, tbe bed of 
whicb was at least fifty feet below the level of the prairie. The 
sides of the ravine v, ere very steep, in some places nearl\- i)er- 
pendicular, and in a ravine was a dense growth of oak timl:)er. 
On reaching the bottom of the ravine, I came to a pool of clear, 
cold spring water, ten or twelve feet long and a yard wide. At 
the upper end of the pool lay what I took to be a rock, or a 
stick of wood, and without taking any special notice of it I pro- 
ceeded to unbuckle mv belt, and after taking oft' my tin cup 
and laying my belt, and pistol, which I carried on my belt. 

8o A PioxiiiiR History of Bkcker County. 

down on a loo^ nearby, I stooped down to dip up a cup of 
water. Abont this time the object at the other end of the pool 
gave a jnmp in my direction, hissing and spitting hke a cat, 
and was plainly disposed to resent my intrusion to its drinking 
place. It was an enormous wild cat, fully twice as large as any 
wild cat I had ever seen in captivity. Its head and body would 
measure three feet at least. I stepped back and picked up my 
pistol and turned to shot at the animal, but the moment it 
caught sight of the weapon it gave a jump in among the trees, 
and scrambling up the side of the blufif, disappeared from view. 
j\Ir. S. F. Sivertson, a successful trapper, who lives on Section 
6 of Todd Lake Township once dug a wild cat out of a hole 
in the ground on Section 5 of that township. He thought he was 
digging out a skunk, when he unexpectedly came to the wild cat 
which he killed with a club. 

The Gray, or Timber Wolf. 

The worst nuisance of any four-footed beast in Becker Coun- 
ty is the wolf. There are two species, the gray or timber wolf, and 
the prairie wolf, or coyote, and one kind is about as bad as the 

The timber wolf is confined chiefly to the forest, and lives 
mostly on rabbits and other small animals, but sometimes 
they combine and run down deer and occasionally make sad 
havoc with sheep, pigs, calves and other domestic animals. They 
are cannibals of the worst type, and timber wolves will not only 
devour prairie wolves, but will even eat up their own species. 
I once put out some strychnine in the evening and went out 
the next morning to see what the result was, and while yet some 
distance away I saw a big timber wolf standing around, ap- 
parently licking his chops wdth a self satisfied look, so I con- 
cluded that my poison was of no account, but upon nearer ap- 
proach the wolf fled, and I found that I had poisoned a prairie 
wolf, and the big fellow had devoured every part of him but his 
head, tail, and a few of the larger bones. 1 have also used the 
flesh of timber wolves for bait, and have caught other timber 
wolves with it. 

I have seen wolves run down and devour deer, and even 
antelope, the most swift-footed aniiual of the prairie. They 

A I'loxKER History of Becker County. 8i 

o^enerally choose a small prairie, like the prairie north of Detroit, 
or the Frazee Prairie, but sometimes attack them in the woods 
or t)n the o]:)en prairie. When a deer is sighted they will scatter 
away and skulk around the edge of the prairie, and hide in the 
brush or tall grass, or in the edge of the woods a quarter of a 
mile or so apart, until they have the game partly or entirely 
encircled. A peculiarity of the deer is that when they are close- 
ly pursued they will not leave the locality altogether, but will 
circle back after a while to their old grounds. W'hen all are 
properly located some one of the wolves will start the chase by 
giving a few unearthly howls, and start for the deer. This wolf 
will chase the deer for perhaps twenty minutes, during which 
time the deer has gained slightly on the wolf. When this wolf 
is tired out another wolf will take his place, and probably make 
about an even race with the deer, and when he is tired out a 
third will take his place and by the time he is tired the deer 
will be pretty tired himself, and in a short time the whole pack 
will join in and run the deer to earth, and devour him before the 
breath is fairly out of his body. That is the way they hunt deer 
and antelope in an unsettled country. 

In the winter of 1 880-81, I was camped near Shell River, in 
the eastern part of Becker County, when a gang of wolves ran 
down and killed a deer but a few rods from our tent. The 
snow was all tramped down and stained with blood for acres 
around, and this with the head and a few of the larger bones was 
all there was left to tell the tale. 

There is but little difference between the number of wolves 
of the two kinds now and at the time of the first settlement of 
the county, although there has been an average of about fifty 
killed every year. In 1878 I was treasurer of the county and 
paid bounties on just seventy-five wolves, about evenly divided 
between the two kinds. 

They have probably been more plentiful in the northeast 
part of Grand Park Township for the last few years than in any 
other part of the county. Several times I have had lumber 
camps in that vicinity in the winter, and there would seldom 
be a night all winter long but what they would hold a concert 
in our vicinity. ]\Iany a night I have camped out in the fall 
of the vear when looking after pine timber, in that neighbor- 
hood and seldom a night without being serenaded by wolves. 
Strange as it mav seem, a concert held bv a half dozen live wolves 

82 A PioxEEK History of Becker County. 

around a lonely camp-fire in the woods is the most interesting 
and enlivening music I have ever listened to. A covote begins 
his howl with a bark, the same as a fox or a dog only much 
faster than a dog, and ends with a howl, whereas a timber wolf 
starts in on a howl without any prelude, beginning on a low kev 
and ending high, displaying a wonderful range of voice, and 
probably the next howl will begin high and end low, thus alter- 
nating with a low and high beginning as long as they keep on 
howling I once was traveling on a lonely trail through the 
forest, all alone, in the dead of winter, and in the afternoon 
came to where three wolves had entered the trail ahead of me, 
and I followed their tracks all the afternoon, and they were 
still ahead when I camped for the night. My camp was in a 
thicket of fir balsam trees, by a small stream of water at the 
foot of a big hill. It was one of the coldest nights on record, 
with about a foot of snow. Soon after dark I had a fire kindled, 
and was frying some pork and venison for supper when I heard 
a sniffing across the creek followed by a combination of howls 
there were my three wolves, half sitting, half standing, about 
four rods away. It was a grand and interesting picture, those 
three large, plump and vigorous animals, engaged in the full 
display of their vocal powers. They looked so sleek and well 
fed that I was not afraid of them in the least. I had no fire-arms 
and had even broken the handle out of my axe, so for lack 
of any other amusement I began throwing fire brands at the 
wolves. They were now thoroughly frightened, and l)egan to 
scamper away among the trees as fast as their legs could carry 
them. It was not more than half an hour, however, before they 
came back, and resumed their former ixisitions Init kept very 
cjuiet after that, and as I had no more firebrands to spare I let 
them alone, and they were still there when I went to bed, and as' 
I soon fell asleep I never knew what became of them. 

In the winter of 1862-63 I killed fifty-two wolves, and twelve 
the next winter, but that was not in Becker County. Some of 
them I shot, some I trapped and some I poisoned. They were 
about half prairie wolves and half timber wolves. Some of them 
were of enormous size, and of all shades of color from nearly 
black to white. One of them, alxnit the largest of all, was entire- 
ly wdiite. It is much easier to shoot or trap a wolf than it is 
to poison one, especially after a few have l)een poisoned, as the 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 83 

hunters of Becker County well know, but there is once in a 
while an exception. I once fixed up a strong dose of strychnine 
and at night put it out a few rods from my camp. Nothing 
came to it that night, but the next morning after I was up, and 
sitting in plain sight, a wolf came up. and after making about 
three circles around the bait approaching a little nearer all the 
time finally grabbed a ])iece of meat and swallowed it. He 
then went through about the same performance as before and 
carried another piece a short distance and swallowed it also. 
This was repeated the fourth time when he took a piece and 
started away, and ran into a thicket of willows a few rods 
ofl:'. I took my rifie and followed into the thicket to see what 
became of him. He had gone through to an opening on the 
other side and was going through all sorts of motions, walking 
stiff-legged, standing on his hind feet, turning summersaults, 
and finally gave a jump into the air and fell dead to the ground. 
It was not more than ten minutes from the time he ate the first 
mouthful until he was dead. 

On another occasion I fastened a piece of meat on the pan 
of my wolf trap without thinking what the result might be, and 
the next morning found the trap gone. There was a light 
snow on the ground, and the tracks of a large wolf led away from 
the place, but there was no trace of the trap along his trail, 
but I could see where the chain had dragged through the snow. 
After following the trail for a mile or so I came to where the 
wolf was lying down behind a big pine tree. He jumped up 
to run, but stepped on the chain and turned a summersault, and 
then went on about as fast as though he had no trap about him. 
From what I could see of the trap I thought he was carrying it 
in his mouth. I had no gun to shoot him with and he was soon 
out of sight. I now followed his tracks until I came to where he 
had undertaken to cross a creek and had broken through the 
ice. The weight of the trap was keeping his head under water, 
but I soon pulled him out and found that the trap had him by 
the end of the nose, by a good strong hold just back of the 
tushes. After a few minutes of good hard blowing, and shaking 
himself a couple of times, he appeared to be pretty well restored 
to life, but thoroughly cowed down, and as he did not show any 
disposition to fight, I thought I would try and lead him home to 
camp and show him to my three partners. I cut a good, stout 
choke-cherrv club and started off. He led all right for a short 

84 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

distance, when all at once he gave a spring- and with his fore- 
paws tore a leg nearly off my old pants, and scratched my leg 
severely. Concluding that he was entirely too frisky for a pet 
I laid him out with my choke-cherry club. 

At another time I was camped near a small stream, with five 

companions, in the month of November, 1863. While we were 

eating breakfast one morning a wolf came up and commenced 

eating the refuse of the deer we had killed the night before about 

one hundred yards from where we were sitting. One of my 

companions seized his rifle and shot the wolf as we supposed 

dead in his tracks. I had a knife in my hands at the time, and 

rushed out to skin the wolf, and as I supposed he was already 

dead went without taking my gvui. As I came up to him he 

got up and ran oft' over the hills and away from the direction 

of the camp. I followed him for about three hundred yards 

and had nearly overtaken him, when he turned around and 

took after me. One shoulder was broken, but otherwise he was 

not badly hurt, so it was just about an even race between us. 

After chasing me about fifty yards, during which time the wolf 

was onlv a few feet from my heels, I came to the thigh bone 

of a buffalo which I picked up and threw at the wolf with 

both hands, and as it whirled the big joint at the end hit him 

between the eyes, which knocked him down, and before he 

could recover himself I cut his throat. In November, 1862, I 

was traveling on horseback through what is now a part of the 

State of Montana, near where the city of Great Falls now stands, 

when my attention was attracted by some fresh earth being 

thrown out of a hole in the ground by some animal that could 

not be seen, as it was below the surface, whatever it was. 1 

soon discovered a large grey wolf crouched down behind a 

small mound of earth, with his attention closely riveted to the 

spot where the earth was flying out of the hole, about two 

rods from it. I could have easily shot the wolf, for he was 

not more than four rods away. I sat on my horse and watched 

the proceeding for five minutes or more, when all at once a 

fox emerged from the hole with a prairie dog in his mouth 

and started off across the prairie. The dog was squealing and 

kicking at a lively rate. The fox had hot gone far, however. 

before the wolf started after him with a howl, and after going 

a few jumps caught up with the fox and took the prairie dog 

awav from him and ]:)roceeded to devour it himself. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 85 

A few years ago L. C. McKinstry proceeded to stock his 
farm, a mile south of Audubon, with sheep. The wolves, however, 
caused him no end of trouble, and as he is a man of many recourses 
he concluded to head off the wolves by taking the sheep over to a large 
island in Little Cormorant Lake, on the line between Audubon and 
Lake Eunice. This island contains 160 acres or more, and if I re- 
member rightly is a quarter of a mile from the mainland in the 
narrowest place. He expected of course the wolves would cross 
over when the lake was frozen but when the ice was gone in the 
spring he fancied his troubles were over and commenced to sleep as 
only a man can sleep who is thoroughly honest and has gained an 
important victory over his enemies. His peace of mind, however, was 
(loomed to be of short duration, for going on over to salt his sheep 
in the spring he found that the wolves had been there ahead of him, 
and that the island was strewn with wool and bones and that 
a large quantity of mutton had disappeared. He then proceeded to 
enclose his pasture at home with woven wire netting, but the wolves 
were not to be defeated by any such arrangement, for they soon 
commenced to dig under this fence and crawl through into the 

The following is from the Becker Co. Journal of Jan. 13th. 1899. 
and transpired in Cuba Township : 

Last Thursday morning as Oscar and Peter Olson were coming to 
school they saw a wolf in Lewie Holmes' field, just south of the school 
house. Mr. Wolf immediately showed fight and the boys valiantly fought 
him with stones and chunks of frozen mud. 0!e Raaen, who had spent 
the night at Mr. Olson's, and who was with the boys, threw a chunk of 
mud that knocked the wolf over. Then Oscar rushed up and hurled a 
huge piece of frozen mud on his head which killed him. The boys carried 
the wolf to Mr. Olson's, and Friday Oscar took the hide to Detroit to 
receive the bounty. The boys are quite proud of their capture, as well 
they may be. 

The Prairie Wolf or Coyote. 

The prairie wolf so much resembles the timber wolf in 
appearance and general character that in most instances a de- 
scription of the one will render a lengthy description of the 
<^ther unnecessary. The coyote is but a trifle more than half as 
large as the timber wolf, and is a shade lighter in color. The 
timber wolf and coyote were about equal in point of numbers 

86 A PioxKKR History of Becker County. 

when this country l)e.Li"an to settle np. l)ut the tiniljer woh^es 
have l)ecome a Httle fewer, \vhile the coyotes have not only 
held their own. but have positix'ely increased durint;' the last 
twenty years. In the early days a coyote would occasionally 
swallow a tempting- morsel of meat that had been poisoned, but 
after seeing a few of their companions go through the terrible 
spasmodic ordeal of strychnine poisoning they became exceed- 
ingly shy, and no matter how alluring the bait, it is now almost 
impossible to get one of them to touch it. I think it is easier 
to either poison or trap a timber wolf than a coyote. 

The pelts of both species of wolves are in fair demand for 
robes and overcoats. The skin of the timber wolf is much the 
strongest, but the fur of the coyote is the softest, and the skin being 
thin and light it makes a very comfortable robe. I (Mice made 
a robe of twelve coyote skins, all of which I killed myself and 
tanned the skins. I had nothing to line it with, and the robe 
did not weigh four pounds. I have slept out of doors many a 
time with nothing over me l)ut that robe and a single blanket, 
in the dead of winter, with the thermometer 40'^ below zero 
and always slept comfortably. 1 had a buffalo robe to spread 
on the snow, and a fur cap on ni}- head, Init no tent or shelter 
of any kind. It is surprising how much warmth there is in one 
of these fur robes. I have slept out of doors, and in tents under 
just such conditions as those related above, wdth seven or eight 
blankets and quilts over me, and found it impossible to sleep 
as warm, as under a single robe. 

The coyote has some wavs and habits peculiar to itself, that 
are a little curious. I once was traveling through a marsh^' 
meadow north of Audubon, wdiere the grass and the rushes were 
three or four feet high, when I saw something jumping u]) and 
down in the grass that I took to be a sandhill crane, or a wild 
goose with a broken wing. I crawled through the grass towards 
the object, which I observed was still l)obbing up and down, 
until within three of four rods of it, wdien I saw it was a coyote, 
tr}-ing to jump high enough above the grass to get a good look 
at me. I was now where I could get a good look at the coyote, 
who kept up his jumping until I arose and gave him a chance 
for a good look which a]:)peared to satify him, and he started 
off on a run. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 87 

The Red Fox. 

AMien Becker County began to be settled up foxes were 
very numerous, much more so than at the present time. Xot 
onlv the common red foxes were plentiful, l^ut an occasional 
cross fox, and the silver gray and black foxes have been seen or 
caught in the county. 

In the winter of 1870-71, the woods in the vicinity of the 
Otter Tail River were alive with red foxes. Their tracks were 
to be seen everywdiere. Rabbits were not as numerous as now 
anywhere in the country, as they were kept thinned out by the 
foxes. They were also the chief enemy of the partridge, de- 
stroying them and their eggs in great numbers. When the 
country began to settle up, the foxes began to grow less, falling 
easy victims to poison. They were suspicious and cunning about 
traps, but strychnine has been their destruction. I have known 
them to dig u]^ steel traps that were neatly covered with chaff 
or with snow, and turn them over, and spring them from the 
wrong side, and then cut up all kinds of unmentionable tricks 
with the trap, steal the bait and depart for parts unknown. 
The bark of a fox is much like that of a dog, only their voices 
are finer and they bark much faster. 

They burrow in the ground, but wdiether they dig their own 
burrows or not I cannot say. There were formerly so many 
badger dens in the country that it should not have been nec- 
essary for them to go to that trouble. They are very prolific 
breeders, nine voung pups being al)Out the average size of a fox 

In 1876, when examining land for the Northern Pacific Rail- 
road Company, I came to a ravine on the prairie, one afternoon, 
and my attention was attracted to what I at first took to be a 
lot of stakes driven in the ground on the opposite side of the 
ravine, all in a bunch. It looked for all the world like a bunch 
of nine-pins set up in a bowling alley, all ready to be knocked 
down. Soon however, one of them started on a run over the 
hill and I saw it was a fox, the mother of the litter. I counted 
those that remained, as they stood upright, and there were nine : 
and as I started in their direction they all scrambled into a hole 
in the side of the hill. As it looked like easy digging, and was 

88 ■ A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

only a mile from our camp, I went back about sundown with 
two men and a spade to see if we could get any of the foxes. 
As we came in sight, the ten foxes were standing up on their 
posteriors, by the hole the same as before, and the old mother 
again scampered off over the hill and the other nine ran into 
the ground. We then began to dig with our spade, and after 
working into the hill, three or four feet, came to a fox's tail. 
I had taken the precaution to take along a pair of buckskin 
mittens that were in the camp, and after putting on a mitten, 
I took the fox by the tail, and then slipped my other hand up 
along his back, and got him by the neck and took him out. As 
it was about the 20th of July, the fox was nearly full grown. 
We then tied his legs together and laid him down on the grass. 
As soon as ovir backs were turned, he hobbled off up the hill 
and ran into another hole that we had not seen. I soon how- 
ever pulled out another fox, but he fooled us the same way, 
and made his escape. The third one we hobbled and put in a 
gunny sack and he stayed with us. In this way I took out the 
whole nine, but we did not know what to do with them after we 
had dug them out. If I took them to camp in the gunny sack, 
thev would smother, as the weather was intensely hot, so we 
let them all go but three, and started for camp with one each, 
in our hands. I had the spade to carry, and the mosquitoes 
w^ere biting us by the thousand. I had a spade in one hand, a 
fox in the other, and did not have a single hand to fight the 
mosc|uitoes with, and as the spade was worth more than the 
fox, I let the fox go. We boxed up the other two foxes, and 
I afterwards took them home to Detroit ; but soon became tired 
of them and gave them to W. F. Ball. They both afterwards 
got away and one of them lived for a year or so under what 
is now the Northern Pacific Railroad section house in the east 
part of the town. The house was then unoccupied, and the fox 
was frequently seen around there with a strap around his neck. 
At another time^ I found where some foxes had taken pos- 
session of a section corner that consisted of a big mound, that 
the surveyors had evidently tried to see how big they could 
make. My attention was attracted to the section corner stake 
that had been pulled down into the mound, and only the end 
v/as sticking out on a good deal of a slant. I took out the 
stake, and ran it into a hole in the side of the mound, and 
out popped a fox, almost full grown, and away he went across 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 89 

the prairie. When a fox is .suddenly started up in that way. 
it tries its best to run awa}- from you, and look around at the 
same time, which makes it look as if it was running sideways. 
I then poked out another, and giving him a gentle kick behind, 
away he went sideways over the prairie. In this way I scared 
seven foxes otit of that mound. 

That same year 1876, late in August, when running a line 
all by myself, I took sight with my compass on a brown looking 
object on the prairie about fifty rods ahead, exactly in line. As 
I approached it I saw it was an animal of some kind, and as 
it did not move I supposed it was dead. When within a few 
steps, I saw it was a large red fox, stretched out at full length 
on the grass, fast asleep. I kept on silently until within a yard 
of the fox, and could easily have struck him with my Jacob 
stafif, but it seemed too much like murder to take advantage 
of his slumbers. In another second, however, he bounded into 
the air like a rubber football, and away he ran sideways across 
the prairies looking backward to see what I was doing. 

The cross fox is said to be a cross between the red and 
silver grey fox and is marked sometimes strongly, and some- 
times indistinctly with a dark cross on the back and shoulders. 
In 1888. a fine large cross fox had a den on Section 22 in Erie, 
about half a mile west of the county bridge, w'here John Shoen- 
berger now lives. I saw this fox several times and he was a beautv. 


A Pioneer HrsToRv or Becker County. 91 

The Silver Grey Fox. 

The silver grey fox is much rarer and is a dark colored fox 
with the hairs tipped with a light silvery color. His tail is black 
with a white tip. 

The silver grey fox is (iccasionall}- found in this county, but 
like the black fox it was but seldom met with, not only in Becker 
County but in all parts of the country. I never saw a live one 
in this county, and never saw a wild one anywhere. 

The animals seen in this picture I found up on the north shore 
of Lake Superior, near Port Arthur, in a state of captivity, and 
although they were a year and a half old, and were captured 
when quite young, they were still very wild. Xotwithstanding 
they had a comfortable board kennel to live in, as shown in 
the picture, they had honeycombed the ground with their dens 
and burrows, as far as the length of their chains would permit. 
Thev were so wild they would not allow the photographer to 
come near enough to take a picture of sufficient size to do them 
justice, and thev were much finer and better looking animals 
than what they are here represented to be. 

The photographer in a letter says: "I could not go any closer 
for fear they Avould break the chain. They seemed to think the 
camera had come for them and jumped around so that I had to 
go aw a}' for awhile." 

Manv vears ago, I think it was: in the winter of 1874 and 75, 
Gabriel Halverson, who was then liAdng on his homestead in 
Section 21 of Richwood Township, had the misfortune to lose 
an (IX. and a night or two afterwards as wolves and foxes were 
quite numerous in the neighborhood, he set a steel tra]) near 
the dead ox, and caught a siher grey fox, the skin of which 
was worth more than the ox when alive. 

The following is from the Audubon Journal of March 13th, 


A silver grey fox was seen running- across the prairie nortli of town 
on last Monday. A Norwegian who had noticed him. started in pursuit 
with several dogs, but sly Rrynar 1 took to the woods and escaped. A 
silver grey fox skin is worth between thirty and forty dollars any day and 
the animal is therefore much hunted and rarely found. 


A PioxKKR History of Bkcker Counts'. 93 

Black Fox. 

The black fox differs from the silver grey in being' of a darker 
color, some of them being almost entirely black. The end of their 
tail, however, is tipped with white. The black fox is very rare. 

The following is from the Detroit Record of December 5th, 1892: 

Wm. Uran came down from White Earth Monday with a load of 
venison. He says that he shot a black fox near Twin Lakes one day last 
week. A black fox is a rare animal and there never was but one or two 

killed in this country. It is said that the liide is worth $200. 

George A. Morison, of White Earth, one of the veteran fur 
traders of the Northwest, has this to say with reference to the 
foxes of Becker County. 

Red foxes were quite abundant, and now and then a few cross foxes, 
some silver greys and an occasional black fox would be caught. The latter 
were so scarce that I am led to believe they were stray visitors from the 
far north — both the black and the silver grey being separate species, but 
the cross is a mixture of the red and silver grey. Some three years ago, 
a black fox was reported seen in 143-41 and seemed to be a regular resident 
of that township. Many tried to get him, but their failure to do so would 
seem to justify the old belief of the Indians, that the black fox is a 
Monedo, or devil, and is ten times "cuter" than his red cousin. 

The Grizzly Bear. 

1 (lid not sup]X)se there had ever l)een a grizzly bear in Minne- 
sota, and especially in Becker County, but in reading Alexander 
I fenry's journal I can:e across the following : 

"Oct. 17th, 1800 — During my absence, my hunter killed a large 
grizzly bear, about a mile from the fort. Grizzly bears are not very 
numerous along Red River, but are quite plentiful farther west along 
the Sheyenne River."* 

Peter Parker, a Pine Point Indian, who has a clear head and a 
remarkably good memory says, there was a large grizzly bear killed 
in the Smoky Hills a little south of the Shell River in what is now 
the town of Carsonville, in the fall of 1875. It was killed by an 
Indian by the name of Wah-yah-ge-gah-bow, who sold the skin to 
John Beaulieu. 

X^orth-wind, an old Indian, now living at Pine Point, relates 
to me that in the spring of 188 1 he killed an immense grizzly 

*This bear was killed a little north of where Grand Forks now stands. 

94 A PioNEKK History of liKCKER County. 

bear a few miles south of Lake Itasca, which would make the 
locatiou about on Section lo of Savannah Township, in Becker 
County. The snow was ver\- deep that spring and stayed on the 
ground until late in April, in traveling through the woods on 
snowshoes, he came to a large hole in the ground four or five 
feet in diameter. Almost simultaneousl\- with the discovery 
of the hole he heard a loud noise like the chattering of teeth, 
accompanied by a noise between a howl and a growl, which he 
at once recognized as cc^ning from some member of the bear 
famih'. lie was armed with a (l()uhle-l)arreled sh(Ugun loadetl 
with small shot but he instantly sli])ped a bullet into each barrel, 
which he had no sooner done than a bear of monstrous size, 
and of a grizzl\- grey color emerged from the hole. As soon as 
she came in sight he fired both barrels at her head but instead 
■of killing her outright as he expected, both balls glanced from 
her skull without entering the brain. The shots, however, had 
the efifect of stunning the bear for a minute, after which she 
started for the hunter, but owing to the depth of the snow 
and its soft condition, and the dazed condition of the bear, he 
soon ran away from her. and returning the next da}' with three 
other Indians, and a Winchester rifie or two, they tracked the 
bear into a tamarack swamp, where they found her still alive 
but considerably bewildered, where they soon killed her. 

Xorth-Wind said she was as large as an ordinary cow and 
would weigh at least 700 pounds. On returning to the den they 
found three culxs onlv a few days old, of the same grizzly gray 
color as their mother, which they killed and brought along with 

Cxrizzly bears have l)een killed in Calift)rnia weighing as high as 
1,800 pounds. 

In the spring of 1S63, with eight companions, I was just 
beginning mining operations on the Prickly Pear Creek, in 
Montana, a few miles from where the city of Helena now stands, 
although there were no wdiite people at that time living within 
sixty miles of us. One evening in April while getting our sup- 
pers a large grizzly bear came up within fifty feet of where 
we were camped, raised himself on his hind legs and began 
snififing the air, attracted no doubt by the savory odor of the 
venison that we were frying. He was a giant in proportions, 
and looking back from the present time, through a lapse of forty- 
two vears it seems as thou2"h he stood ten feet tall. (Jne of our 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 95 

men l)y the name of Graves who happened to have his rifle 
near at hand, fired at the bear, hitting him just under the eye. 
Tlie l)ear dropped to the ground apparently dead, and we gath- 
ered around him with our knives, waiting for him to give his 
farewell kick, when we expected to have the satisfaction of 
taking off his hide. I was going to shoot him again but old 
man W'ithrow objected, saying I would spoil his skin. In the 
meantime a stream of blood as large as my finger was spurting 
out of the bullet hole under his eye. Finally just as we were 
al)out to turn him up on his back to commence skinning, he 
flopped himself over onto his feet as nimble as a cat, and started 
oft' down the creek on a run. We fired several shots at him 
as he ran but to no purpose. We followed him down the creek 
for three miles, when he ran into a patch of low willow brush, 
and as it was then dark we gave up the chase. It is extremely 
dangerous to follow a grizzly bear into the brush. You may be 
able to see their trail for quite a distance ahead, when all at 
once they will pounce upon yoit from the side, having gone 
around and lain down alongside of where they had passed a 
few minutes before. 

The next October this same man Graves had a narrow es- 
cape from this same bear, in this same patch of brush. He 
was trailing the bear when all at once it came upon him from 
the side, so suddenly that he barely had time to shoot, and 
although he was hardly an arm's length away he missed the 
bear altogether. Graves then struck the bear over the head 
with the butt of his gun which knocked him down, but' 
shivered the stock to pieces. He then seized the barrel of his 
gun and struck him over the small of the back, which knocked 
him down the second time but he was on his feet again in an 
instant. He knocked him down in this way six or seven times, 
by which time Graves was nearly exhausted, and he began to 
feel that he must soon give up the fight, when it appears that 
the bear was seized with the same kind of feelings, for all at 
once he turned and ran, leaving Graves master of the field. 
Graves came back to our camp without any coat, hat, knife or 
gun, but with the print of four great claws across his cheek. 
Two of our men went back with him and they killed the bear. 
The scar where Graves had shot him the spring before was 
plainly visible. This bear, head and body included, measured 

96 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

more than eight feet in length, and weighed 850 pounds. He 
was killed only a few rods from where the Northern Pacific pas- 
senger depot at East Helena now stands. 

The Black Bear. 

The Black Bear is still quite common in Becker County, 
nearly as much so as when the county was first settled. This 
bear is quite a formidable animal, but is seldom known to attack 
human beings except when at bay, or wounded, or in defense 
of its young. There are exceptions, however, an instance of which 
I will relate further on. 

The habits of the black bear are well known. They generally 
live in the ground in the winter and always hibernate in this 
latitude, coming out slick and fat in the spring. Their dens are 
sometimes nothing more than a mass of tree tops and brush, 
caused by some windfall, and I have known an instance where 
a surveyor's axeman fell down through the brush upon a family 
of bears in the dead of winter. 

The natural food of bears is berries, fruit and soft shelled 
nuts, such as acorns and hazel nuts, and roots, of which the 
wild artichoke is the favorite, but they sometimes feed on skunk's 
cabbage, and what is still worse, the Indian turnip, or jack-in- 
the-pulpit, which has a juice when green, the most acrid and 
fiery of any plant in the country, burning the mouth worse 
than red pepper. They are very fond of sweet apples, but 
generally give sour apples a wide berth. They are also fond 
of flesh, particularly fresh pork, having a special relish for young 
pigs. They are passionately fond of ants, and in the woods 
many an old rotten log gets turned over, and many an ant-hill 
gets turned inside out, in search of these insects. They will also 
risk their lives for honey. 

When a bear is pursued by hunters it resorts to all sorts 
of schemes to throw them ofi:' the track. The most common of 
which is to double track. Every once in thirty or forty rods. 
the}^ will turn half way around and walk back in their previous 
tracks for four or five rods, and then turn partly back again 
and give a long jump to the right or left, then they will go on 
again at an angle of thirty or forty degrees from their original 

A PlONKKK HlSTom' ()!■ r>l-;CKKR CoL'XTV. 97 

In the month of September, 1877, I was examining a section 
of railroad land in Morrison County, ten or fifteen miles south- 
west of Litte Falls. About noon, while running a line with a 
small compass, I heard the sound of footsteps and a low mut- 
tering, between a grunt and a growl, ofif some distance to my 
left, which I at first took to be some of the Polish settlers hold- 
ing a confab in their own language. As I proceeded north the 
noise appeared to keep about the same distance from me, until 
all at once, whatever they were they made a rush towards me 
and came to a standstill in a clump of willows and alders about 
four rods to my left. They then set up a most unearthy noise, 
(lififerent from anything I had ever heard, a sort of compound 
noise, something like what you would hear if you would turn three 
or four calves loose, and set three or four bloodhounds onto 
them, and the whole six or eight would tune up and make all 
the noise they possibly could in their own tongues. I concluded 
that some wolves had caught a deer and were devouring it 
alive, so I broke down a bush to mark the place where I had 
left ofif my line, hung my book pocket and compass on a tree, 
and with my Jacob's-stafif rushed ofif down into the willows to scare 
ofif the wolves and secure the venison. I had no gun, but I 
made my way through the brush foir a distance of twenty or 
thirty feet, during which time the noise had ceased, when im- 
mediately there commenced a fearful cracking of brush and 
renewal of the noise, all of which were fast coming in my di- 
rection. I stood my ground until some big willows began to 
bend over almost in my face, when I turned and made for 
higher ground. I had seen no animals yet, but I could hear 
them close to my heels as I ran, and wdien I got out of the 
swamp, I came to an ironwood tree, about six inches in diame- 
ter, which I went up like a squirrel ; never before had I dreamed 
that I could climb so well, and even took my Jacob's-stafif with me. 

Immediately after I had seated myself on the first limb, which 
was eight or ten feet from the ground, a big black bear rushed 
up to the foot of the tree, raising herself up on her hind feet 
and tried to climb the tree. The tree, however, was too small 
for her grasp, so she stood and looked at me, giving an occa- 
sional "cluck" wath her tongue and now and then renewing 
her efiforts to climb the tree. I tried to strike her with the 
Jacob's-stafif, but could not quite reach her. Every time I struck 
at her she would strike at the stafif with her paw. 

98 A PioxHER History of Becker County. 

\\'hile the old bear was keeping me up the tree, four more 
bears, two of whom were full grown and two were cubs, came 
out of the swamp and seated themselves on the ground about 
fifty feet away, keeping up a low muttering all the time. 

When the old bear had kept me up the tree about ten min- 
utes, she went back to the other bears and seated herself with 
them. The}' ap]:)eared to have made up their minds to stay all 
day. After waiting ten minutes longer, I climbed down, and 
as the bears did not attempt to follow me, I set up my compass 
and then started north on mv line, while the bears sat still and 
looked on. 

There is another story which I will relate in connection with 
this. When I had finished my day's work, I started to hunt 
our camp. After going east about two miles, I came to a log- 
house and on entering asked the lady of the house for a drink 
of water, and received what was much more to my liking, a 
drink of milk. She asked me what I was doing back there in 
the big brush, saying at the same time she seldom saw anvone 
coming from that direction. I told her I was looking over the 
railroad coiupany's land, "(^)h," says she "you are one of those 
'valuators' that are around here." I then told her about the 
bears. She wanted to know if I did not know of some better 
place in Minnesota where there were no bears to eat up the 
children, and where the children could go to school. I referred 
her to Becker County, the result of which was that the whole 
family moved up to Detroit the next spring, and they are now, 
1901, among the most prosperous farmers in Detroit Town- 
ship. The lady referred to is Mrs. Martin Casey. By the way, 
Casey and his neighbors went the next day and killed all of the 
five bears. 

On the 25th day of October, 1884, a young man came into 
my office, at Detroit (I was County Auditor), and asked me to 
go with him and show him a homestead. I replied that if he 
would furnish a conveyance, I would go with him. He soon 
appeared with a team and butcher's wagon belonging to John 
O. French. Before leaving Detroit, we met my brother's young- 
est boy, AA' arlo Wilcox, with a little single barrel shotgun, and 
he wanted me to take it along, saying we might see something 
we would w^ant to shoot. The shotgun was accordingly taken 
along. We reached Height of Land Lake about eleven o'clock, 
hitched our team and proceeded to look over section eight in 

A PioxKKR History of BivCker Colintv. 99 

lleii^ht of Land Township, j^'oing south on the east Hue of 
the section and l)ack north through the middle. Soon afer 
])assing" the central point of the section we came to a thicket 
of young poplars, where there was a lot of fresh earth scattered 
around, and a lot of small stacks of leaves piled up, and my 
com])anion remarked that "there must have been some deer in 
there." I replied that there had been something" worse than 
deer in there. Just then a big black bear stuck its head out of 
a hole in the ground, about six feet from where I stood and 
undertook to come out. It was growling and showing its teeth 
in a frightful manner, when I rushed up and kicked at it and 
it quickly slid back into the ground. I then shouted to my 
companion, "here is a bear." The next thing that came into 
my mind was a wish that we had something to kill the bear 
with, a gun, a revolver, an ax or even a hatchet. I had for- 
gotten that we had a gun with us, when my companion called 
to me to take the gun and give him the compass. I replied 
that was just what I wanted. I cocked the gun, which was 
loaded with Xo. 6 shot for partridges, and aimed at the l)ear's 
head, which was now in plain sight and pulled the trigger, but 
the hammer failed to fall. I let the hammer down and cocked 
it again, but still I could not fire the gun off. I fooled away 
at least two minutes with the lock and then asked my com- 
l)anion what was the matter with the gun. He said that I must 
have pulled the hammer back too far, as there were three catches 
to the lock instead of two like other guns. The second was 
the right one, whereas I had each time pulled it l)ack to the 
third notch. Having now studied out the combination, I began 
to look for the bear, but it had disappeared. I then wdiistled 
twice long and loud, wdien I thought I could see its head down 
in the hole and took aim half way between the eye and the ear 
and pulled the trigger once more. This time there was no fail- 
ure, the gun went otT and here was a terrible kicking for a 
minute down in the hole and then all was still. The bear had 
kicked itself well back to the rear of its den. By hard pulling 
I managed to get the bear back to the entrance, then we got 
hold of an ear and a paw each and finally pulled the bear out. 
In going back to our team we met John and Marcus Soper ; 
they had an ax with them and we soon cut a road to the bear, 
and they assisted us in lifting it into the butcher's wagon, which 
was just the thing to haul the bear home in. We arrived at 

loo A PioNKKR History of Bkckek County. 

Detroit a little before dark and weighed the bear on Smith and 
Harris's scales. It weighed 299 pounds. 

In August, 1872, W. W. M'Cleod, of Richwood, was gather- 
ing beans near his house when he heard screams from the in- 
mates of the house. A young bear had entered the kitchen, but 
retired on hearing the screams. Air. M'Cleod with the aid of 
his wife and some strong blankets succeeded in capturing young 

George Learman, of Detroit, says that sometime in the 
eighties he was hunting deer over near the Detroit mountain, 
when some boy who was hunting in the same vicinity called to 
him that "there was a bear over there." He went to the boy, 
and was shown a bear that was denned up for winter, but partly 
aroused, was looking out of his den. George shot, and as he 
supposed, killed the bear ; laid his gun down and was tugging 
away to get the bear out of the hole ; had worked at him some 
little time, pulling and tugging, and while he had Mr. Bear 
by the head and jaws trying to get him out. the bear suddenly 
opened his eyes and mouth, giving a half grunt or growl. George 
was exceedingly surprised, and admits that he was a very scared 
boy and got away from the bear mighty quick, secured his gun 
and did a lot of shooting at the poor bear's head before he 
ventured near him again. 

'Sir. Larson kindly brought the particulars of a bear to the Local 
which are substantially as follows', and occurred in Richwood: 

Early Monday morning while IMrs. Frank Anderson was doing her 
housework, she heard a commotion in the barnyard, and looking out, saw 
a monstrous black bear making toward the house. She at once screamed 
for her husband who fortunately happened to be near by. He seized his 
gun and shot the bear in a vital spot, which knocked him down. He im- 
mediately arose and advanced toward Mr. Anderson, who rapidly fired three 
more shots that took effect in vital places, but did not quite succeed in 
killing him in that manner. He then grabbed his axe and with some well 
directed blows finished killing Bruin. His faithful dog rendered efficient 
service by fighting the bear from the rear. 

Quite a large amount of stock has been killed in the vicinity, and 
lately a number of calves, the slaughter of the latter v;as attributed 
to the bear killed Monday. It is reported that there are more of these 
savage beasts in this region.— La/cf Park Local. 

June 6th, 1884. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. ioi 


August, 1906. 

Charles Oelfka. of Height of Land Township, was chased around his 
farm-house by a huge black bear. Fortunately, he had left the door of his 
house partly open, and he dashed through the door and shut out the anger- 
ed bear, who then pushed and scratched at the entrance in an efifort to force 
its way in. Mr. Oelfka heard something scratching at the side of the 
house, and thinking the cattle were loose, he went down stairs attired just 
as he had been sleeping, and went into the yard. No sooner was he in the 
dark than he saw the big dark object moving towards him. Oelfka ran into 
the house. 

Then Bruin moved to the window, and Mr. Oelfka shot the animal as 
it stood at the window looking inside. The bear rushed ofif, and Oelfka 
chased it with some dogs. He came up to it in the woods and again shot 
it. this time fatally. 

The bear was brought to Frazee. It weighed 250 pounds, and was 
almost black. The meat was sold and was quickly purchased by the citizens. 

Mr. Oelfka says that the forest fires have been raging fiercely in the 
woods northeast of Frazee, and they have driven the game from their 
seclusion to the lands which are being cultivated. In consequence of this 
fierce fire, it is expected that wild game will be plentiful in the northeastern 
part of Becker County this year. A recent heavy rain has retarded the 
forest fires, but the wild animals, driven from their seclusion, are hungry 
and fierce. — Detroit Record. 

Alexander Henry says in his Journal : 

September 15th, 1800. 
My hunter killed a large bear near the camp today, and a half-breed 
killed four more. 

September 20th, 1800. 

Two Indians came from above and informed me that they had killed 

forty bears, some elk, moose, and a few beavers and raccoons. One 
Indian boy had killed two bears. 

October 13th, 1800. 

One of my hunters saw a full grown bear as white as snow. His gun 
missed fire and the bear escaped. He assured me that it was not a grizzly, 
but one of the common kind. 

The bears, both black and grizzly, which reside along Red River, take 
to the large hollow cottonwood trees, where they lie dormant during the 
winter and are hunted by the Indians in the same manner as raccoons. 

But the bears in the rolling country, where it is more elevated, never 
take to the trees for their winter quarters. They live in holes in the 
ground, in the most intricate thicket they can find, generally under the 
roots of trees' that have been torn up by the wind or have otherwise fallen. 

I02 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

The reason why the bears differ so much in their choice of habitations' is 
obvious. The low points along the river are every sprmg subject to 
overflow when the ice breaks up. The water and mud carried down by 
the current make their dens v:ncomfortable. On the higher lands where 
the ground is free from overflow the soft and sandy soil is not so cold 
and uncomfortable as the stiff black mud on the banks of the river. 

August 8th. 1808. 

Last evening the Indians brought in some fresh meat, including a 
large black bear and her two cubs, one of which was brown and the other 
entirely black. This is frequently the case. I once saw a black bear 
killed early in the spring, whose two cubs were taken alive, one of them 
being cinnamon and the other black. 

Both were kept at the fort for a long time and became perfectly tame. 


I04 A Pioneer History of Becker County, 

The Wolverine. 

The wolverine is a native of the semi-arctic regions of North 
America, but has been found somewhat farther south than our 
range of latitude, and I have it from good authority that it for- 
merly inhabited the timbered regions of Becker County, but never 
in very large numbers. 

In the winter of 1801-02. two wolverines were killed in the 
vicinity of White Earth and the skins taken to a trading post 
where Grand Forks now stands. In the winter 1802-03 the 
skin of a wolverine was purchased at a trading post recently 
established at White Earth. 

In the winter of 1880-81, I found the tracks of an animal, 
in the Shell Prairie country, that the Indians said was a wolver- 
ine. The track of one forefoot was five inches long and four 
inches wide. I measured the track in the snow with a short 
stick and then measured the stick in camp. 

Old North-Wind, the Pine Point Indian, says he killed a 
wolverine many years ago with a hatchet, that had broken into 
an old wigwam, and was gnawing some bones that had been 
left there. 

Old Basswood says the last time he heard of a wolverine in 
Becker County was about fifteen years ago, or about 1890. I have 
seen two wolverines in my lifetime, but they were not in Becker 

When in the gold mines in Montana, in 1862-3, I had a part- 
ner by the name of John Peterson. On one occasion Peter- 
son went away prospecting in the mountains for a couple of 
weeks, leaving his cabin locked. His cabin was built of pine 
logs, the lower tier of which lay flat on the ground, and the 
floor was nothing more or less than the bare ground itself. In- 
side the cabin he left ten or fifteen pounds of bacon and a quanti- 
ty of dried venison. 

AMien Peterson returned he discovered that something had 
been prospecting under his house, during his absence. A hole 
had been dug under one side nearly big enough for him to 
crawl through himself. Hearing a noise inside he plugged up 
the hole and unlocked the door of his cabin, and was not long 
in discovering the burglar, which proved to be a wolverine of 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 105 

large size. He at first attempted to make his escape through the 
hole by which he had entered, but failing in this he backed him- 
self up into one corner, where he fell a victim to the unerring 
aim of Peterson's navy revolver. 

The wolverine had been living high during Peterson's absence. 
The meat had about all disappeared and he had been occupying 
Peterson's bed, nesting in the dried hay, but had kept it tolerably 
clean although the floor had been defiled in a beastly manner. 

This animal nteasured nearly three feet in length, exclusive 
of the tail, which was about ten inches long, and stood about 
sixteen inches high. 

As the wolverine has undoubtedly left Becker County for all 
time I will endeavor to give a detailed account of this peculiar 

The wolverine is the largest of the family of animals to 
which it belongs ; such as the fisher, the marten, the skunk, the 
otter, the ermine, the weasel and the badger. It somewhat re- 
sensil)le cub bear in its movements, but much more resembles 
a low standing, bushy-haired dog in appearance. 

As my experience with wolverines has been very limited I 
will quote from a work published by Professor Elliot Coues, 
secretary and naturalist of the American branch of the commis- 
sion that established the boundary between the United States and 
British America. The title of the work is "Fur Bearing Ani- 

In color, tiie wolverine is blackisli, or deep dusky brown, with a re- 
markable broad band of chestnut or yellowish-brown, running along the 
sides, and turning up to meet its fellow on the rump and base of the tail. 

The wolverine is a dangerous foe to many animals larger than itself, 
and by the profes'sional hunter is looked upon as an ugly and dangerous 

To the trapper, the wolverines are equally annoying. When they 
have discovered a line of marten traps, they will never abandon the road, 
and must be killed before the trapping can be successfully carried on 
Beginning at one end, they proceed from trap to trap along the whole 
line, pulling them successively to pieces, and taking out the baits from 
behind. When they can cat no more, they continue to steal the baits 
and hide them. If hungry, they may devour two or three of the martens 
they find captured, the remainder being carried off and hidden in the 
snow at a considerable distance. The work of demolition goes on as fast 
as the traps can be renewed. 

The prospensity to steal and hide things is' one of the strongest traits of 
the wolverine. To such an extent is it developed that the animal will 

io6 A PioNKKR History of Becker County. 

often secrete articles of no possible use to them. He has been known 
to gnaw through a log nearly a foot in diameter, and also to dig a hole 
several feet deep in frozen ground, to gain access to the coveted supply. 
This propensity of the wolverine to carry ofif traps receives confirma- 
tion from other sources. In Captain Cartwright's Journal (ii, 407), an 
instance is recorded in the following terms: — "In coming to the foot of 
Table Hill I crossed the track of a wolverine with one of Mr. Callingham's 
traps on his foot; the foxes had followed his bleeding track. As this 
beast went through the thick of the woods, under the north side of the 
hill, where the snow was so deep and light that it was with the greatest 
difficulty I could follow him even on Indian rackets, I was quite puzzled 
to know how he had contrived to prevent the trap from catching hold of 
the branches of trees or sinking in the snow. But on coming up with him 
I discovered how he had managed; for after making an attempt to fly at 
me, he took the trap in his mouth and ran upon three legs. These 
creatures are surprisingly strong in proportion to their size; this one 
weighed only twenty-six pounds and the trap eight; yet including all the 
turns he had taken he had carried it six miles." 

The ferocity of the wolverine, no less than its cunning, is illustrated in 
some of the endless occasions on which it matches its powers against those 
of its worst enemy. A man had set a gun for a wolverine which had been 
on his usual round of demolition of marten traps. The animal seized the 
bait unwarily, and set ofT the gun; but owing to careless or improper 
setting, the charge missed or only wounded it. The wolverine rushed 
upon the weapon, tore it from its fastenings, and chewed the stock to pieces. 
At Peel's River, on one occasion, a very old wolverine discovered my 
marten road, on which I had nearly a hundred and fifty traps. I was in 
the habit of visiting the line about once a fortnight; but the beast fell in 
the way of coming oftener than I did, to my great annoyance and vexation. 
I determined to put a stop to his thieving and his life together, cost what it 
might. So I made six strong raps at as many different points, and also 
set three steel traps. For three weeks I tried my best to catch the beast 
without success; and my worst enemy would allow that I am no green 
hand in these matters. The animal carefully avoided the traps set for his 
own benefit, and seemed to be taking more delight than ever in demolishing 
my marten traps and eating the martens, scattering the poles in every 
direction and caching what baits or martens he did not devour on the spot. 
As we had no poison in those days, I next set a gun on the bank of a little 
lake. The gun was concealed in some low bushes, but the bait was so 
placed that the wolverine must see it on his way up the bank. I blockaded 
my path to the gun with a small pine tree which completely hid it. On 
my first visit afterward I found that the beast had gone up to the bait and 
smelled it, but had left it untouched. He had next pulled up the pine 
tree that blocked the path, and gone around the gun and cut the line which 
connected the bait with the trigger, just behind the muzzle. Then he had 
gone back and pulled the bait away, and carried it out on the lake, where 
he laid down and devoured it at his leisure. There I found my string. 
I could scarcely believe that all this had been done designedly, for it 
seemed that faculties fully on a par with human reason would be required 

A PioxKER History of BiX'kkr Couxtv. 107 

for such an exploit, if done intentionally. I therefore rearranged things, 
tying the string where it had been bitten. But the result was exactly the 
same for three successive occasions, as I could plainly see by the foot- 
prints; and what is most singular of all, each time the brute was careful to 
cut the line a little back of where it had been tied before, as if actually 
reasoning with himself that even the knots might be some new device of 
mine, and therefore a source of hidden danger he would prudently avoid. I 
came to the conclusion that he ought to live, as he must be something at 
least human, if not worse. I gave it up, and abandoned the road for a 
period. When pressed by the pangs of hunger, still bolder exploits are 
sometimes performed, as in the instance narrated by Captain J. C. Ross. In 
the dead of an Arctic winter, his ship's company were surprised by a 
visit from a wolverine, which clambered over the snow wall surrounding 
the vessel, and came boldly on deck among the men. Forgetful of its 
safety in the extremity of its need for food the animal seized a canister 
of meat, and suffered himself to be noosed while eating. 

The Fisher. 

'i'he fi.sher formerly inhabited Becker County in large num- 
bers, but I fear they will now have to be classed among the 
extinct animals of the county. 

1 never saw but one fisher, and that one was wading around 
in a shallow place in a stream of water apparently trying to catch 
a fish, or a frog, or a clam, or possibly a turtle for its dinner. It 
was not very shy at first, but after allowing me to approach with- 
in a couple of rods, it ran ashore on the same side of the creek 
on which I was standing and disappeared among the pines. 

This fisher was about the size of an ordinary red fox; being 
a])out two feet long exclusive of the tail which was about a foot 
in length, and much more slender than that of a fox. Its color 
was black. 

Old Basswood says that fishers were cjuite common about the 
headwaters of the Otter Tail River until about thirty years ago, 
when a terrible fire swept through that part of the country and 
they all disappeared. He thinks the fire referred to occurred in 
the spring of 1872. 

Ouoting again from Professor Coues : 

The general aspect is rather that of a fox than of a weasel, but the 
ears are low, and remarkably broad, being about twice as wide at base as 
high; they are rounded in contour, and well furred, both sides, to the 

io8 A PioNKER History of Becker County. 

entrance. The feet are broad and flat, furred both sides, and armed with 
very stout, compressed, much curved, acute claws. 

The fisher is a larger and stronger animal than any variety of the 
pine marten, but it has similar manners; climbing trees with facility, and 
preying principally upon mice and frogs. It lives in the woods, preferring 
damp places in the vicinity of water, in which respect it differs from the 
marten, which is generally found in the driest spots of the pine forests. 

The hunters have assured me that they have known a fisher to destroy 
twelve out of thirteen traps in a line not more than fourteen miles long. 

Mr. Frothingill informs us that whilst residing in the northern part 
of our state, thirty-five years ago, hunters were in the habit of bring- 
ing us two or three specimens in the course of the winter. They obtained 
them by following their tracks in the snow, when the animals had been 
out in quest of their prey the previous night, thus tracing them to the 
hollow trees in which they were concealed, which they chopped down. 
They informed us that as a tree was falling, the fisher would dart from 
the hollow, which was often fifty feet from the ground, and leap into the 
snow, when the dog usually seized and killed him, although not without 
a hard struggle, as the fisher was infinitely more dangerous to their hounds 
than either the grey or red fox. They usually called this species the black 

A neighbor on one occasion, came to us before daylight, asking us 
to shoot a raccoon for him, which, after having been chased by his dogs 
the previous night, had taken to so large a tree that he neither felt dis- 
posed to climb it nor to cut it down. On our arrival at the place, it was 
already light, and the dogs were barking furiously at the foot of the tree. 
We soon perceived that instead of being a raccoon, the animal was a far 
more rare and interesting species, a fisher. As we were anxious to study 
its habits we did not immediately shoot, but teased it by shaking some 
grape vines that had crept up nearly to the top of the tree. The animal 
not only became thoroughly frightened, but seemed furious; he leaped from 
branch to branch, showing his teeth and growling at the same time; now and 
then he ran half way down the trunk of the tree, elevating his back in the 
manner of an angry cat, and we every moment expected to see him leap 
ofif and fall among the dogs. He was brought down after several discharges 
of the gun. He seemed extremely tenacious of life, and was game to the 
last, holding on to the nose of a dog with a dying grasp. This animal 
proved to be a male; the body measured twenty-five inches, and the tail 
fifteen inches. 

The largest fisher which I have seen was killed by myself on the 
Riviere de Argent, one of the channels of the mouth of Slave River, about 
fifteen miles from Fort Resolution. It was fully as long as' a Fulvus fox. 
much more muscular, and weighed eighteen pounds. In the color of its 
fur the greyish tints predominated, extending from half way down the 
back to the nose. The fur was comparatively coarse; though thick and 
full. The tail was long and pointed, and the whole shade of the pelage 
was very light and had rather a faded look. Its claws were very 
strong and of a brown color; and as if to mark its extreme old age the 
teeth were a good deal worn and very much decayed. I caught it with 

A PioNEUK History of Becker County. 109 

difficulty. For about two weeks it had been infesting my marten road, 
tearing down the traps and devouring the bait. So resolved to destroy 
it, I made a strong wooden trap. It climbed up this, entered from above 
and ate the meat. A gun was next set but with no better success, it cut 
the line and ran ofi with the bone that was tied o the end of it. As a 
dernier ressort. I put a steel trap in the middle of the road, covered it 
carefully, and set a bait at some distance on each side. Into this it tumbled. 
From the size of its footprints my impression all along was that it was a 
wolverine that was annoying me. and I was surprised to find it to be a 
fisher. It showed a good fight, hissed at me much like an enraged cat 
biting at the iron trap, and snapping at my legs. A blow on the nose 
turned it over, when I completed its death by compressing the heart with 
my foot until it ceased to beat. The skin when stretched for drying was 
fully as large as a middle sized otter, and very strong, in this respect 
resembling that of a wolverine. 

In their habits the fishers resemble the martens. Their food is much 
the same, but they do not seem to keep so generally in the woods. They 
are not so nocturnal in their wanderings as the foxes. An old fisher is 
nearly as great an infliction to a marten trapper as a wolverine. It is an 
exceedingly powerful animal for its size, and will tear down the wooden 
traps with ease. Its regularity in visiting them is exemplary. In one 
quality it is, however, superior to the wolverine, which is that it leaves 
the sticks of the traps where they are planted, while the other beast, if 
it can discover nothing better to hide, will cache them some distance ofif. 


A Pioneer History of Becker County, 


The Pine Marten. 

The ])ine marten was once very ])lenliful in the timber por- 
tions of Becker County, and it is possible that there are a few 
left in the north central part, although I have not heard of one 
for several years. 

I never saw but two. One of them had just been shot from 
an oak tree and the other was running up a low pine and skip- 
ping around anK^ng its branches. These martens bore a strong 
resemblance to the mink, only they were a little larger in size, 
and their ears were very much larger. They are expert climbers, 
and are as much at home among the trees as a squirrel. 

Old Basswood's father killed four martens at Basswood Lake, 
in the southeast part of the reservation about 1855. 

The marten from which this i)hotograph was taken was a 
fairly good specimen, only it was much darker than they will 

In speaking of the marten, Professor Coues says : 

This animal is about the size of a common house cat, though standing 
much lower on account of the shortness of the legs. The length of the 
head and body is about a foot and a half, more or less; the tail with the 
hair is a foot long or less; the tail-vertebrae are less than half as long 
as the head and body. The tail is very full and bushy, particularly toward 
the end, the reverse of the tapering-pointed shape which obtains in the 

It is difficult to describe the color of the marten fur accurately. In 
a large heap of skins (upwards of fifty), which I have just examined 


minutely there exists a great variety of shades darkening from the rarer 
of yellowish-white and bright orange, into various shades of orange brown, 
some of which are very dark. However, the general tint may with pro- 
priety be termed an orange brown, considerably clouded with black on 
the back and belly, and exhibiting on flanks and throat more of an orange 
tint. The legs and paws as well as the top of the tail are nearly pure black. 
The claws are white and sharp. 

The marten is ordinarily captured in wooden traps of very simple con- 
struction, made on the spot. The traps are a little enclosure of stakes 
or brush in which the bait is placed upon a trigger, with a short upright 
stick supporting a log of wood; the animal is shut off from the bait in 
any but the desired direction, and the log falls upon its victim with the 
slightest disturbance. A line of such traps, several to the mile, often 
extends many miles. The bait is any kind of meat, a mouse, squirrel, 
piece of fish, or bird's head. One of the greatest obstacles that the marten 
hunter has to contend with in many localities is the persistent destruction 
of his traps by the wolverine and fisher, both of which display great cun- 
ning and perseverance in following up his line to eat the bait, and even 
the martens themselves which may be captured. The exploits of these 
animals in this respect may be seen from the accounts elsewhere given. 
I have accounts from Hudson's Bay trappers of a marten road fifty miles 
long, containing one hundred and fifty traps, every one of which was 
destroyed throughout the whole line twice — once by a wolf, once by the 
wolverine. When thirty miles of this same road was given up, the re- 
maining forty traps were broken five or six times in succession by the 
latter animal. 

Notwithstanding the persistent and uninterrupted destruction to which 
the marten is subjected, it does not appear to diminish materially in num- 
bers in unsettled parts of the country. It holds its own partly in conse- 
quence of its shyness, which keeps it away from the abodes of men, and 
partly because it is so prolific; it brings forth six or eight young at a 
litter. Its home is sometimes a den under ground or beneath rocks, but 
oftener the hollow of a tree; it is said to frequently take forcible posses- 
sion of a squirrel's nest, driving off or devouring the rightful proprietor. 
Though frequently called pine marten, like its European relative, it does 
not appear to be particularly attached to coniferous woods, though these 
are its abode in perhaps most cases simply because such forests prevail 
to a great extent in the geographical areas inhabited by the marten. 

The marten is no partner in guilt with the mink and weasel in the inva- 
sion of the farmyard, nor will it, indeed, designedly take up its abode in the 
clearing of a settler, preferring always to take its chances of food supply 
in the recesses of the forest. 


A PioNiiEK ilisToKv c)F Becker Couxtv. 113 

The Otter. 

The otter inhabited Becker County 100 years ago in consider- 
able numbers, and their skins were an article of traffic of no small 
magnitude. They have, however, been getting gradually less, 
year by year ever since, until but very few are left in the county 
at the present time. 

I never saw but one otter alive, and that was shot by a com- 
panion at my side so quickl}- that I could hardly sa}' that I ever 
saw it alive. 

Few animals vary more in size than the otter. Some in- 
dividuals are twice as large and heavy as others equally as 
mature. The average length of a full grown otter is from four to 
four and a half feet, from tip to tip ; some specimens, however, 
touching five feet while others are not more than half as long. 

The fur of the otter is of great beauty, very thick, close, 
short and glossy. 

The otteir has a peculiar habit of sliding dat on its belly, 
whether for amusement or convenience, I am unable to say. 
In the winter of 1870 and 71, there was an otter slide on the west 
bank of the Otter Tail River, nearly in front of where George 
Herrick now lives in the Town of Erie. Although I have seen 
otter slides in dilTerent parts of the country, 1 must give in- 
formation at second hand, and will quote from Audubon, in the 
following language : 

The otters ascend the bank at a place suitable for their diversion, and 
sometimes where it is very steep, so that they are obliged to make quite 
an effort to gain the top: they slide down in rapid succession where there 
are many at a sliding place. On one occasion we were resting ourselves 
on the bank of Canoe Creek, a small stream near Henderson, which 
empties into the Ohio, when a pair of otters made their appearance, and 
not observing our proximity, began to enjoy their sliding pastime. They 
glided down the soap-like muddy surface of the slide with the rapidity 
of an arrow from a bow. and we counted each one making twenty-two 
slides before we disturbed their sportive occupation. 

This habit of the otter of sliding down from elevated places to the 
borders of streams, is not confined to cold countries, or to slides on the 
snow or ice, but is pursued in the Southern States, where the earth i.= 
seldom covered with snow, or the waters frozen over. Along the reserve 
dams of the rice fields of Carolina and Georgia, these slides are verv 


The food of the otter, and the manner in which it is procured, 
are noted l)y the same author in the following terms: 

The otter is a very expert swimmer, and can overtake ahnost any 
fish, and as it is a voracious animal, it doubtless destroys a great number 
of fresh water fish annually. We are not aware of it having a preference 
for any particular species, although it is highly probable that it has. 
About twenty-five years ago we went early one autumnal morning to study 
the habits of the otter at Gordon and Spring's Ferry, on the Cooper River, 
six miles from Charleston, S. C. where they were represented as being 
quite abundant. They came down with the receding tide in groups or 
families of five or six together. In the space of two hours we counted 
forty-six. They soon separated, ascended the different creeks in the salt 
marshes, and engaged in capturing mullets (Mugil). In most cases they 
came to the bank with fish in their mouths, despatching it in a minute, 
and then hastened back again after more prey. They returned up the river 
to their more secure retreats with the rising tide. In the small lakes and 
ponds of the interior of Carolina, there is found a favorite fish with the 
otter, called the fresh water trout. 

A retreat examined by Andubon has been thus described 1)y 
this author : 

One morning we observed that some of these animals resorted to 
the neighborhood of the roots of a large tree which stood on the side of 
the pond opposite to us', and with its overhanging branches shaded the 
water. After a fatiguing walk through the tangled cane-brake and thick 
underwood which bordered the sides of this lonely place, we reached 
the opposite side of the pond near the large tree, and moved cautiously 
through the mud and water to its roots; but the hearing or sight of the 
otters was attracted to us, and we saw several of them hastily make otY 
at our approach. On sounding the tree with the butt of our gun. we 
discovered that it was hollow, and then having placed a large stick in a 
slanting position against the trunk, we succeeded in reaching the lowest 
bough, and thence climbed up a broken branch from which an aperture 
into the upper part of the hollow enabled us to examine the interior. 
At the bottom there was c^uite a large space or chamber to which the 
otters retired, but whether for security or to sleep we could not decide. 
Next morning we returned to the spot, accompanied by one of our neigh- 
bors, and having approached and stopped up the entrance under water 
as noiselessly as possible, we cut a hole in the side of the tree four or 
five feet from the ground, and as soon as it was large enough to admit 
our heads, we peeped in and discovered three otters on a sort of bed 
composed of the inner bark of trees and other soft substances, such as 
water grasses. We continued cutting the hole we had made, larger, and 
when sufficiently widened, took some green saplings, split them at the 
butt end, and managed to fix the head of each animal firmly to the ground 
by passing one of these split pieces over his neck, and then pressing the 

A PioNKKR History of BkckER County. 115 

stick forcibly downwards. Our companion then crept in to tlic hollow, 
and soon killed the otters, with which we returned home. 

The last otters catight in I'.ecker County of wliicli J lune 
any knowledge were taken in Lake Eunice Township in 1887, an 
account of which is here given by James Xunn, of T\)nsfor(l. who 
was living in Lake Eiuiice at the time. 

In the fall of 1887, Harry Britt, a neighbor, and I were out hunting 
small game north of Lake Maud, when we came to a peculiar looking 
trail on the frozen inlet close to the lake. It looked as if something 
had been dragged along until the snow had become packed quite hard, 
and ended at the lake when the open water was reached. When we returned 
home, we reported the finding of this strange sign to Uncle George Britt, 
as Harry's father was called, and I well remember how anxious he became 
about some old traps that were hard to find. A few days afterwards he 
brought home three fine otter skins, for which he realized something like 
thirty dollars. 

]. N. 

S. F. Sivertson, of Toad Lake Township, while walking over 
the thin, transparent ice near the outlet of Toad Lake in the 
fall of 1902. discovered a large otter swimming in the water 
under the ice directly beneath his feet. He followed him for 
some distance thinking he might catch him, but he finally dis- 
appeared all at once, probably having entered his l)urrow, the 
entrance to which is always under the water, the same as that 
of a beaver. Otters never climb trees. 



A Pioneer History of Bkcker County. 117 

The American Badger. 

The badger was quite common in Becker County when it 
was first settled, and a few still remain, but they are not found in 
any such numbers as they were thirty or forty years ago. The 
badger is a stout, thick set animal of great strength, but is not 
especially noted for agility. The body is broad, flattened and 
low ; the legs being very short and stout, with broad, flat feet 
and enormous claws. 

The color is a grizzly gray which gives rise to the expres- 
sion "as gray as a badger." The length of the animal from tip 
to tip is about thirty inches, six inches of which is included 
in the length of the tail. Some of the fore claws are an inch and 
a half in length. 

The badger is one of the most secretive animals in the coun- 
try, living exclusively in holes in the ground, for the digging of 
which its whole make-up is admirably adapted, and it is seldom 
seen in the daytime. You might travel for days and weeks 
in a country where their holes were abundant, and where num- 
erous badgers lived, and not see a single animal. There are still 
a good many badger holes in our county, and undoubtedly a 
few badgers, but I have not seen a badger for twenty years. 
Every badger hole, however, is not the home of a badger, as many 
of these holes were originally the home of a gopher or a chip- 
munk, and have been enlarged by the badger in order to get 
at the little animal itself, for its supper or breakfast. 

The badger is not an expert runner and can be easily run down 
by a man on foot, in which case they always show fight. 

In the spring of 1871, when we were living on the northwest 
quarter of section 6 of Detroit Township, where Nels Lofstrum 
now resides, we discovered a badger's den near our house, and on 
two or three occasions Mrs. Wilcox encountered the old badger 
himself digging wild artichokes in a patch of hazel-brush about half 
way l)etween the house and his den. The first time she saw him 
he was only a few feet away and the badger immediately set 
his jaws to clattering like a threshing machine; but in a very 
short time he started on a run in one direction, and Mrs. Wil- 
cox started in the other direction, and it was only a question 
of speed as to which should reach their den first. The next time 

ii8 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

she saw him, however, he did not appear to be so reaehly fright- 
ened, neither did she, and by the time we moved from there down 
to another claim at Oak Lake, a Httle later on, the badger had 
become comparatively tame. 

I once came across a large badger on the prairie, when en- 
gaged in examining land for the Northern Pacific Railroad Com- 
pany, some disance from its hole. I was alone and had no wea]:)- 
on but my Jacob's-staff. The badger started to run but i soon 
overtook him, when he turned to fight. Anyone who has been 
in close quarters with a badger knows what a frightful noise they 
make by clattering their jaws together, when brought to bay. 
The bear makes a similar noise under the same circumstances, 
only much louder. \\'oodchucks or ground-hogs make the same 
kind of noise. It is neither a growl, nor a snarl, nor a howl, nor 
a hiss, but rather a mingling of all. 

When the badger saw that he could not get away he turned 
and came at me with a rush, with his jaws clattering loud enough 
to be heard twenty rods away. I struck at him with my Jacob's- 
stafif, but he proved to be an artful dodger. I backed away a 
few steps, when he charged at me again, this time raising on his 
hind legs as he came up trying to claw and bite my hands and 
legs. I kept him off with my Jacob's-staff and finally managed to 
hit him a welt across the back that stunned him for a few seconds, 
but before I could repeat the blow he rose up and was ready to 
renew the fight. I then knocked him over, and hit him when 
he was down. He, however, made another charge, but my blows 
finally began to tell, and after hitting him at least a dozen times, 
I finally cracked his head, which finished him. 

My right arm and shoulder were so lame after that fight 
that I could not get my coat on, and was obleged to carry my 
arm in a sling for a whole week. 

On another occasion, when out on a survey in North Dakota 
in 1876, we were camped on the banks of the Sheyenne River 
near where Lisbon now stands. One morning we were going 
to move our camp, so I left all the men to help load u]) tlie camp 
outfit and started off alone for the place where we were to begin 
our day's work, expecting the men to follow as soon as the wagon 
was loaded, ^^■hen 1 had gone nearly a mile, I saw two badgers 
digging roots in a patch of wild artichokes, but when they saw 
me they ran for their home and both rushed in. The foremost 
badger immediately l)egan digging and throwing dirt in the wav 

A l'i().\):i;i< llisToin- of Becker County. 119 

of the hindmost which obstructed his progress, so I reached 
the hole just in time to catch liold of his tail. The badger pulled 
with all his might, and the badger is a very powerful animal. 
Vie immediately commenced digging also, excavating with his 
fore paws and throwing out the dirt with his hind feet, and turn 
mv head whatever way I would, a good part of it came square 
into my face. The weather was dry, and the day hot, and the 
light soil as it came from that hole was nothing more or less 
than a continuous stream of dust. The badger in the meantime 
was digging himself slightly farther and farther in, and the 
strain on his tail was becoming harder and harder all the time. 
My arms were pulled their whole length into the hole, and noth- 
ing but the size of the hole prevented me from being pulled in 
altogether. When I first caught hold of the badger I expected 
somie of the other men along in a very short time and intended to 
have them help dig out the badger. So I held on to him for at least 
half an hour. Finally my hands and arms began to grow dreadfully 
tired, the sweat was running in little streams down through the 
dust and dirt on my face, the badger was still heaving the dry earth 
into my neck, face and eyes until I finally decided that I could "hold 
the fort" no longer and was obliged to let go. I then went back to 
the camp and found that after they had loaded up the wagon they 
started to drive across the river and had tipped over, dumping 
the whole load int(_^ the water and had only just then finished re- 
loading the wagon. 

In August, 1878, I was camped for a week all alone by a 
little spring, six miles west of where the village of Steele, in 
Kidder County, N. D., now stands. I was living in a tent and 
as I had to do my own cooking, I had taken along quite an as- 
sortment of canned stuff, particularly canned beef. I was very 
careful of my provisions as there was no place to buy any 
nearer than fifty miles. As my work of appraising land took 
me away the whole of each day, I always took great care to 
fasten the front of my tent in the morning, and even banked it 
up next to the ground with sods to keep the "varmints" out. 
After a day or two, I found that some kind of an animal was 
making regular visits, both by night and by day. It finally 
got inside by digging a hole underneath and helped himself 
to half a can of canned beef that I had left open and tried to 
open a new can, as T could tell by the marks of his teeth. He 

I20 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

tried to get in at night and I could easily have shot him, but I 
supposed it was a skunk, and was not inclined to pick a quarrel 
with him as he was liable to be well armed himself. Finally one 
evening, as I sat in front of my tent eating supper, I made a 
new discovery. There was a steep bank about twenty feet from 
my tent, six or eight feet high, and I found that there had been 
a big hole dug in the bank that same day. My visitor had evi- 
dently taken a liking to the locality, and to me, and had decided 
to become mjy permanent neighbor. Before I had finished eat- 
ing, I fancied I could see a shadow or a motion of some kind, 
well back in the hole, and a moment later the object became a 
shade plainer and continued to advance almost imperceptibly un- 
til the outline of a badger's head came into plain view. I hap- 
pened to have a single barreled pistol with an eight inch barrel, 
at hand, and I shot he badger through the head, without leaving 
mv seat. 

The Skunk. 

The skunk is so common in Becker County that it is not 
necessary to say much about his everyday affairs, but there are 
some traits of character and habit peculiar to the animal that are 
both curious and interesting, and in which humanity in general 
is largely interested, to which I wish to call attention, and 
there is no way in which I can do it so briefly and clearly as to 
quote again from Professor Coues. He says : 


Tlie almost insuperable repugnance, which the skunk naturally excites', 
has always been an obstacle to the investigation of its peculiar defensive 

The first, and for a long time the only accurate, record, was that given 
by Dr. Jefifries Wyman in the first volume of the Boston Natural History 
Society's Proceedings, 1844, p. no. This indicated, though briefly, the 
general structure of the parts which obtains throughout the family, as 
far as known. The organ is a true anal gland, without connection with the 
genito-urinary system. The organ is paired with a fellow on the opposite 
side. These glands are situated on either side of the intestine, at the root 
of the tail, just within the anus, and are about an inch in diameter. When 
the animal is pursued, the lower part of the intestine is prolapsed through 
the anus, the tail is elevated over the back, and by the contraction of the 
muscles of the anus the acrid fluid is eiected in two streams to the dis- 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 121 

tance of six or eight feet. The fluid is a peculiar secretion Hke that of 
the civet, and not the urine, as is commonly thought. The common opin- 
ion, that the animal scatters it with its tail, is erroneous. The fluid is 
limited in quantity; and, having been discharged, the animal is harmless 
until the sacs are again filled by gradual secretion. 

To the eye, the peculiar and odoriferous secretion of this animal is a 
pale bright or glistening yellow, with specks floating in it. By the mi- 
croscope it looks like a clear fluid, as water, with masses of gold in it, 
and the specks like bubbles of air, covered with gold, or rather bags of 
air in golden sacks. The air I take to be the gas from the golden fluid 
The fluid is altogether peculiar and indescribable in odor, pungent, pene- 
trating, and persistent to a degree, perhaps, without parallel, outside of this 
sub-family, in the animal kingdom. It has been called "garlicky," but this 
is a mild term. The distance to which the substance, in liquid form, can 
be ejected, is, in the nature of the case, difficult to ascertain with pre- 
cision, and doubtless varies with the vigor of the animal and amount of 
accumulation in the reservoir. But there is no doubt that the spurt reaches 
several (authors say from four to fourteen) feet, while the aura is readih" 
perceptible at distances to be best expressed in fractions of the mile. 
The discharge is ordinarily invisible in the daytime, but several observers 
attest a certain phosphorescence, which renders the fluid luminous by night 
This is doubtless true, though I have not verified it by actual observation 
Emission does not take place when the animal is captured in a deadfall, in 
such way that the small of the back is broken by the falling weight. I 
found that instantaneous death is' not always a sure preventive of escape 
of effluvium. A skunk which I shot with my pistol, held within a foot of 
its head, the bullet traversing the whole body from the forehead to the 
groin, was too ofYensive to be skinned, though it died without a perceptible 
struggle, and had certainly not opened its reservoir up to the moment 
when shot. 

It seems, however, that the disgusting qualities of the substance have 
been given undue prominence, to neglect of a much more important and 
serious matter. The danger to the eyesight, should the acrid and pungent 
fluid actually fall upon the eyes, should not be forgotten. Dogs are some 
times permanently blinded by the discharge, and there are authentic cases 
in which human beings have lost their sight in the same way. Sir John 
Richardson alludes, on the authority of Mr. Graham, to the cases of 
"several" Indians who had lost their eyesight in consequence of inflamma- 
tion resulting from this cause. 

The effect upon dogs is described by Audubon and Bachman: "The 
instant," they say, "a dog has received a discharge of this kind on his 
nose and eyes he appears half distracted, plunging his nose into the earth, 
rubbing the sides of his face on the leaves and grass, and rolling in every 
direction. We have known several dogs, from the eyes' of which the 
swelling and inflammation caused by it did not disappear for a week. 

The fluid has been put to medicinal use in the treatment of asthma. 
One invalid is said to have been greatly benefited by the use of a drop three 
times a day; but he was soon obliged to discontinue the use of the remedy, 
owing to the intolerably offensive character which all his secretions ac- 

122 A l^loXKKK HiSToKV ()F BlvCKKR CoL'XTV. 

quired. A story is told* of an asthmatic clergyman who procured the 
glands of a skunk, which he kept tightly corked in a smelling-bottle, to 
be applied to his nose when his symptoms appeared. He be'.ieved he had 
discovered a specific for his distressing malady, and rejoiced thereat; but 
on one occasion he uncorked his bottle in the pulpit, and drove his con- 
gregation out of church. In both these cases, like many others, it is 
a question of individual preference as between the remedy and the disease. 

By Rev. Horace C. Hovey, M. A 

It is cruel to add aught to the odium already attached to the common 
skunk. But. clearly, he is as dangerous as he is disagreeable. In a wild 
state he is by no means the weak, timid, harmless creature commonly 
described by naturalists; although it is said that, if disarmed of his weapons 
of ofYence while young, he may be safely domesticated. 

An adventure, while on a summer tour amid the Rocky ^Mountains, 
first called my attention to the novel class of facts about to be presented. 
Our camp was invaded by a nocturnal prowler, which proved to be a large 
coal-black skunk. Anxious to secure his fine silky fur uninjured, I at- 
tempted to kill him with small shot, and failed. He made characteristic 
retaliation; and then rushing at me with ferocity, he seized the muzzle 
of my gun between his teeth! Of course the penalty was instant death. 
An experienced hunter then startled us by saying that the bite of this 
animal is invariably fatal, and that when in perfect apparent health it is 
always rabid. He resented our incredulity and confirmed his statement 
by several instances of dogs and men dying in convulsions shortly after 
being thus bitten. 

On mentioning this adventure to H. R. Payne, M. D.. who had been 
camping with miners near Canon City, Col., he said that at night skunks 
would, come into their tent, making a peculiar crying noise, and threaten- 
ing to attack them. His companions, from Texas and elsewhere, had 
accounts to give of fatal results following the bite of this animal. 

Since returning to Kansas City, I have had extensive correspondence 
with hunters, taxidermists, surgeons and others, by which means the par- 
ticulars have been obtained of forty-one cases of rabies mcphitica, occurring 
in Virginia, ^Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado and Texas. 
All were fatal except one; that was the case of a farmer, named Fletcher, 
living near Gainesville, Texas, who was twice bitten by M. macroura [of 
Aud. & Bach.r^M. mcphitica var. — E. C], yet recovered and is living still. 
On further inquiry it was found that he was aware of his danger, and 
used prompt preventive treatment. Another case was alleged to be an 
exception; that of a dog which was severely bitten in a long fight with 
a skunk, but whose wounds healed readily and without subsequent disease. 
It seems, however, that this dog afterward died with mysterious symptoms 
like those of hydrophobia in some of its less aggravated forms. 

Instead of burdening this article with a mass of circumstantial details, 
a few cases only will be given best fitted to show the peculiarities of the 
malady; and those are preferred that are located on the almost unin- 

*By .\udubon and Bachman, Quad. X. .\. i. 323. 

A PioxKi'K HisTom- oi" Ukckkr County. 123 

habited plains of western Kansas, because there the skunks would be least 
liable to be inoculated with canine virus. 

A veteran hunter, Nathaniel Douglas, was hunting buffalo, in June, 
1872, fourteen miles north of Park's Fort. While asleep he was bitten 
on the thumb by a skunk. Fourteen days afterwards singular sensations 
caused him to seek medical advice. But it was too late, and after con- 
vulsions lasting for ten hours he died. This case is reported by an eye- 
witness, Mr. E. S. Love, of Wyandotte, Kansas, who also gives several 
similar accounts. 

One of the men employed by H. P. Wilson, Esq., of Hayes City, Kansas, 
was bitten by a skunk at night, while herding cattle on the plains. About 
ten days afterwards he was seized with dilirium and fearful convulsions, 
which followed each other until death brought relief. Mr. Wilson also 
reports other cases, one of which is very recent. In the summer of 1873, 
a Swedish girl was bitten by a skunk while going to a neighbor's house. 
As the wound was slight and readily cured, the affair was hardly thought 
worthy of remembrance. But on Jan. 24th, 1874, the virus, which had 
been latent for five months, asserted its power. She was seized with 
terrible paroxysms. Large doses of morphine were administered, which 
ended both her agony and her life. 

The Raccoon. 

In its movements, and in the facility with which it uses its 
fore i)aws. the raccoon comes the nearest to a htiman being of 
any animal, in Minnesota. The track of the fore foot is hke that 
of a cliild's hand. It was formerly very common in I5eckei 
County, and there are still a good many left, but they are no 
where near as mmierotis as formerly. 

I have never seen but two raccoons in the County during my 
thirty-five years' residence here. In Xovember. 1883, I saw one 
in a small creek which is the inlet to Shell Lake at the bridge 
<»n the north shore. It soon went ashore and waddled off into 
the woods as soon as it saw me move. I found another u]) in 
a tree, about a foot in diameter, and there was a black squirrel 
u]) in the same tree with the .raccoon. I chopped the tree down, 
and when it fell the s(|uirrel gave a long leap when the tree was 
about three-fourths of the way to the ground, and struck the 
earth as lightly as a feather and escaped. The raccoon howevei 
clung to the tree until it struck the ground which threshed 
the life out of him. 

As most everyone knows, raccoons are great lovers of green 
corn, and manv of them are caught in the fall of the vear while 

124 -"^ PioxKKR History of Becker County. 

helping themselves to roasting- ears, or after being" tracked by 
dogs and treed in the adjoining forest, where they are easily 
killed by being shot, or by cutting down the tree in which they 
have taken refuge. 

Racoons are easily tamed and make interesting pets. I have 
had them reach their paw through a small hole in the wire 
netting of their cage, and insert it into the bottom of my vest 
pocket, and take out a peanut or a piece of candy as handilv as a 
monkey could do it. 

Alexander Henry in his journal says: 

Oct. igth, 1800. 
My men have caught twenty raccoons' and five foxes. They bring 
in daily some raccoons, foxes, fishers and wolves. 

Nov. 2ist, 1800. 
My men take no more raccoons in traps. These animals are now 
lodged in hollow trees, where they will remain, like bears, until spring, 
without sustenance. The men take plenty of foxes and wolves, a few 
fishers, and a chance marten. 

Nov. 30th, 1800. 
Some of my men went raccoon hunting, the weather being warm. 
They returned in the evening with seven, which they had t'onnd in one 
hollow tree. Raccoon hunting is common here in the winter season. The 
hunter examines every hollow tree, and when he sees the fresh marks of 
their claws, he makes a hole with an ax, and thus opens the hollow space, 
in which he lights a fire to find out if there be any raccoons within, as they 
often climb trees in the autumn, and not finding them proper for the 
purpose, leave them and seek others. But if they be within, the smoke 
compels them to ascend and put their heads out of the hole they entered. 
On observing this, the ax is applied to the tree and with the assistance 
of the fire, it is soon down, and the hunter stands ready to despatch the 
animals as they are stunned by the fall. But sometimes they are so ob- 
stinate as to remain in the tree until they are suffocated and roasted to 

The Opossum. 

I did not suppose that any opossum would ever have the 
courage to come to Becker County, and did not intend to say 
anything about him, but in the Detroit Record of December 
9th, 1904, the following appeared under the head of Height of 
Land items: "Mr. Herrick caught a possum in his trap last 

A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 125 

This brings the opossum right home among us, and gives me 
good ground to write up what I know of this interesting animal. 

When I was a boy, sixteen years of age, which carries us 
back to the winter of 1849-50, I was living in western New York, 
a country nearly as cold as this, and up to that time the opos- 
sum had never been heard of so far as any of us knew in that 
part of the country. I was trapping for foxes that winter with 
a steel trap, and was not very successful, as I only caught one, 
but caught several skunks, which I did not want, as they were 
of no value in those days. One morning in February, I visited 
my trap, already thoroughly disgusted with the skunks for being 
so careless in getting into my trap, when I found I had caught 
what I took to be another skunk. I had a club in my hands, 
but as I did not care to get at too close range, I threw my club 
at the animal at a distance of about a rod, and held my breath 
and shut my eyes to await the consequences. The clul) hit 
the ground and the trap, and just barely touched the animal, 
but not hard enough to hurt a baby. 

To my astonishment the animal keeled over, gave a few 
quivers and stretched itself out for dead. I had caught an ani- 
mal that was new and strange ; its tail w^as considerably more 
than a foot long, nearly an inch in diameter, round and entire- 
ly naked. I was somewhat surprised at the ease with which 
I had killed it, but never for a moment dreamed but that it was 
thoroughly dead. 

I took it home and put it into a box until after break- 
fast, when I found it was not only alive but quite lively. By 
the time I had it out of the box, it was dead as ever, so I took 
it over to a neighbor, who was an old trapper, and he pronounced 
it a "possum," and asked me if he might have the hide. I told 
him "yes" and he immediately preceeded to skin the animal. The 
ease with which it had been killed on two occasions had slipped from 
my mind, so I said nothing about it. but from what I have since 
learned of their habit of ''playing opossum." I am positive that one 
allowed himself to be skinned alive without liinching. 

The female opossum is provided with an external pouch, 
in which it carries its young, the same as a kangaroo. 

When the young opossums are first born, they are not more 
than an inch long, and resemble young mice, but they are im- 
mediateh' placed in the pouch by the mother, where they are 
nourished and grow rapidly for six weeks, at the end of which 

126 A PlOXKl'R lllSToKV Ol' UlvCKKK CoLWTV. 

time they leave the pouch and run al)()ut. l)ut occasionally re- 
turn for shelter and protection. 

Mrs. \\'ilcox. who is a native of ( )lii() where opossums 
were plenty, has seen them carrying" their young' in the manner 
described. She once saw a litter of young" opossums ])laving" in 
the woods, a little larg"er than new-born kittens, 1)ut as soon as 
they saw her, they made a scamper for their mother, who was 
not far away. The old opossum stood erect on her hind feet, 
and the young ones, five in number, climbed into the pouch, the en- 
trance to which was about half way between the fore legs and hind 
legs. She then wrapped her tail around her body just below the 
orifice of the pouch which served as a belt, and kept the young- 
sters from falling out, then dropped down on all four of her 
feet and scampered away to her little den in the rocks and was 
soon out of sight. 

These animals are good climbers and are ex])erts at gather- 
ing fruit, especially peaches, and farther south they go for the 
persimmons. They use their tails as well as their paws, and 
frequently have been seen with their tails wound around a limb 
and their body hanging" below head downwards, perhaps asleep, 
or perhaps reaching" out with their paws for persimmons, or what 
is also very much to their liking, the eggs in some bird's nest. 

Aside from the tail the opossum has some resemblance to the 
raccoon, only slightly smaller. 

After I caught my opossuni as first related, several others 
were caught that same winter. So. perhaps, others may follow 
up the brave fellow who has found his way to Becker County, 
and it is to be hoped they may be more fortunate, and keep out of 
the traps. 

The American Mink. 

The mink it too common in iiecker County to need a very 
minute description. With the exception of the muskrat, there 
have been more mink skins taken than those of any other fur- 
bearing animal in Becker County since the country began to 
be settled. Being strictly aquatic in its habits, the large number 
of lakes and ponds and rivers in Becker County aft'ord a vasi 
field for their homes and an abundance of their fa\orite food. 
The mink is still quite plentiful in Becker County. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 127 

Professor Coues says : 

"The length of head and body, 11 inches; tail vertebrae, 6; with hairs, 
7; total length, 18 inches. 

Unlike the marten, the mink has small, low ears, smaller than those 
of the weasel. 

I have observed that the color of this animal, as well as of the otter 
and beaver, grows lighter as it advances in years, and that the white 
blotches or spots are of greater size and distinctness in the old than in 
the young. The fur of a young mink (under three years), when killed 
in season is very handsome; its color is often an almost pure black. The 
skin is thin and pliable, approaching nearly to the papery consistency 
of that of the marten. When aged, the hide is thick and the color more 
rusty. The summer pelage is short, but tolerably close, and is of a reddish 
brown color, and the tail, though still possessing black hairs, shows dis- 
tinctly the under fur of a decidedly rusty hue. 

The peculiar odor which the animals of this genus have in common, 
attains in this large and vigorous species a surpassing degree of fetor, 
though of the same quality. No animal of this country, except the skunk, 
possesses so powerful, penetrating, and lasting an effluvium. Its strength 
is fully perceived in taking the animal from a trap, or when the mink is 
otherwise irritated. Ordinarily the scent is not emitted to any noticable 
degree; it is under voluntary control, and the fact that the mink spends 
most of its time in the water is another reason why its proximity, even 
in numbers, is not commonly perceived by smell. 

The tenacity of life of the mink is something remarkable. It lives 
for many hours — in cases I have known for more than a day and night — 
under the pressure of a heavy log, sufficient to hold it like a vice, and 
when the middle of the body was pressed perfectly flat. Nay, under one 
such circumstance, which I recall, the animal showed good fight on ap- 
proach. When caught by a leg in a steel trap, the mink usually gnaws and 
tears the captive member, sometimes lacerating it in a manner painful to 
witness; but, singular to say, it bites the part beyond the jaws of the trap. 
This does not appear to be any intelligent attempt to free itself, but rather 
an act of the blind fury excited by consciousness of capture. Some have 
averred that it is an instinctive means of lessening pain, by permitting a 
flow of blood from a portion of the limb beyond the point of seizure; but 
this seems to me very problematical. The violence and persistence of the 
poor tortured animal's endeavors to escape are witnessed in the frequent 
breaking of its teeth against the iron — this is the rule rather than the ex- 
ception. One who has not taken a mink in a steel trap can scarcely form 
an idea of the terrible expression the animal's face assumes as the captor 
approaches. It has always struck me as the most diabolical of anything 
in animal physiognomy. A sullen stare from the crouched, motionless 
form gives way to a new look of surprise and fear, accompanied with the 
most violent contortions of the body, with renewed champing of the iron, 
till breathless, with heaving flanks, and open mouth dribbling saliva, the 
animal settles again, and watches with a look of concentrated hatred, 
mingled with impotent rage and frightful despair. It is probably our only 

128 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

species which feeds habitually upon reptiles, fish, nioUusks and crustaceans 
— more particularly upon frogs, fresh water clams, crawfish and the like. 
Nevertheless, it is not confined to such diet, but shows its relationships 
with the terrestrial weasels in a wide range of the same articles of diet as 
the latter secure. It is said to prey upon muskrats — a statement I have 
no hesitation in believing, though I cannot personally attest it. It is also 
destructive to our native rats and mice and is known to capture rabbits, 
while its not infrequent visits to the poultry yard have gained for it the 
hearty ill-will of the farmer. Various marsh-inhabiting birds are enumerated 
in the list of its prey, among them the rails and several smaller species; 
and it does not spare their eggs. But most birds are removed from its 
attack; for the mink is not a climber, at least, not to any extent. 

Minks are not burrowing aninials in a state of nature, but freely avail 
themselves of the holes of muskrats and other vermin. They cannot climb 
a smooth surface, but ascend readily where there is roughness enough for 
a nail hold. The grown male will weigh about two pounds; the female 
is heavier than she looks, averaging between one and a half and one and 
three-fourths pounds. April is for the most part the month of reproduc- 
tion. Five or six young are ordinarily produced at a birth. Litters have 
been found in the hollow of a log, as well as in the customary burrows. 

The mink has been frequently tamed, and is said to become, with due 
care, perfectly gentle and tractable, though liable to sudden fits of anger, 
when no one is safe from its teeth. Without showing special affection, it 
seems fond of being caressed, and may ordinarily be handled with perfect 

E. C. 

S. F. Sivertson once dug a mink out of a hole in the ground 
on an island in Toad Lake. Just as he had unearthed the mink 
it gave an evasive jump and landed on the seat of Sivertson 's 
pants and scrambled up under his coat, where it fastened itself 
with its teeth and toe nails, which pricked through his shirt to the 
hide. Sivertson tried to pull it out by the tail, but the harder he 
pulled the worse it bit and scratched. He was finally obliged to 
lie down flat on his back, by which means he finally smothered 
the mink. 


The Ermine. 

The ermine is still found in Becker County. It very much 
resembles the weasel, but is somewhat larger and invariably 
has a black tip to its tail, varying from one-fourth to one-third 
its total length. This is the distinguishing mark between the 
ermine and the weasel. The length of the ermine is about ten 
inches, exclusive of the tail, which is from four to five inches 

A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 129 

loni^. Its color in summer is a dull brown above, and a sulphury 
yellow beneath. In the winter, in this latitude, it is a pure 
white all over, except the end of its tail whch is black all the 
year around. 

The ermine is provided with glands which emit a powerful 
odor like that of the skunk, only it is less rank and penetrating, 
and not so far reaching. 

In the fall of 1872, while camped a few miles south of De- 
troit Lake, an ermine found its way into a sack that was about 
one-third full of dried venison. I was the first one to discover 
the intruder, so I closed up the sack, keeping him inside and 
finally caught him by the head while he was still in the sack, and 
killed him with my hands. The stench that he emitted was hor- 
ribly ofl^ensive, and the venison was ruined ; we never used any of 
it afterwards. 

The fur of the ermine, many years ago, was held in great 
value, being used for robes of royalty, worn by the crowned heads 
of China, Turkey and other nations of Europe. A thousand 
dollars was a low figure for a cloak of ermine. One hundred and 
fifty years ago, their skins formed a large part of the Canadian 
exports, but later they have so sunk in value as not to pay the ex- 
pense of collecting them. 

About the first of Nov., 1904, I saw a beautiful ermine near 
the Otter Tail River opposite the Commonwealth sawmill, in the 
slab-yard. He had just donned his winter's dress, which with 
the black tip to his tail presented an interesting and grace- 
ful appearance. A little shy at first, he soon became quite tame, 
allowing me to approach within a few feet of him, when suddenly 
he would retreat back in among the slabs, but soon returned, 
coming almost near enough for me to put my hand on him. 
After playing around in this way for five minutes, his curiosity 
was evidently gratified, and he scrambled away over the slabs 
in quest of a mouse or some other small game, to which they are 
very destructive. 

They are great destroyers of all small animals, such as rab- 
bits, hares, gophers and chipmunks ; also the domestic fowls of 
our poultry yards frequently fall a victim to their rapacity, as 
well as grouse and partridges, which, with their eggs and young, 
are in constant danger of being destroyed by the ermine. 

130 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Professor Coiies says : 

The ermine indeed is neither so aquatic as its congener, the mink, 
nor so much at home on trees as the marten; but it has too frequently 
been observed in such situations to admit the doubt that it both swims 
and climbs with ease and without reluctance. 

The always pleasing pen of Mr. Wm. Macgillivray has furnished us 
with the following general account of the habits of the ermine: It fre- 
quents stony places and thickets, among which it finds a secure retreat, 
as its agility enables it to outstrip even a dog in a short race, and the 
slimness of its body allows it to enter a very small aperture. Patches of 
furze, in particular, afiford it perfect security, and it sometimes takes 
possession of a rabbit's burrow. It preys on game and other birds, from 
the grouse downwards, sometimes attacks poultry or sucks their eggs, and 
is a determined enemy to rats and moles. Young rabbits and hares 
frequently become victims to its rapacity, and even full-grown individuals 
are sometimes destroyed by it. Although in general it does not appear to 
hunt by scent, yet it has been seen to trace its prey like a dog, following 
the track with certainty. Its motions are elegant, and its appearance 
extremely animated. It moves by leaping or bounding, and is capable 
of running with great speed, although it seldom trusts itself beyond the 
immediate vicinity of cover. Under the excitement of pursuit, however, 
its courage is surprising, for it will attack, seize by the throat and cling 
to a grouse, hare or other animal, strong enough to carry it off; and it 
does not hesitate on occasion to betake itself to the water. Sometimes, 
when met with in a thicket or stony place, it will stand and gaze upon 
the intruder, as if conscious of security; and, although its boldness has 
been exaggerated in the popular stories which have made their way into 
books of natural history, it cannot be denied that, in proportion to its 
size, it is at least as courageous as the tiger or the lion. 

The Weasel. 

There are weasels in Becker County as well as ermine, al- 
though they bear so great a resemblance to each other that most 
people are inclined to regard them as one and the same animal. 
Both animals change their color semi-annually, and both are 
inveterate destroyers of smaller animals, such as mice and go- 
phers, and frequently make sad work in the poultry yard. 

The weasel is shy and wary, while the ermine will approach 
a person as if unconcious of danger, and will dodge back and 
forth, to and from its place of concealment, coming a little nearer 
until within three or four feet, if unmolested. The weasel is a 
good climber, while the ermine seldom undertakes to climb 
anything more than a wood pile or a low building. The ermine 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 131 

is about three inches longer than the weasel, and the tip of its 
tail is always black, although the remainder of its fur may be 
either brown or white, while the tail of the weasel is all of the 
same color. 

I once saw a weasel, or rather a pair of weasels, which was 
an extraordinary freak of nature ; two of them grown together, 
after the manner of the Siamese twins. A ligament of skin 
and, probably, flesh, about an inch wide connected the two ani- 
mals together, just back of the fore shoulders. I saw them on 
two different occasions as they dodged back and forth under 
my father's barn. I tried to catch them, but did not succeed- 
That was in 1850 more than half a century ago, but I still re- 
tain a very distinct impression of their appearance. 

The weasel is sometimes the prey of hawks, but sometimes 
the hawk gets the worst of it. 

At one time a farmer in walking over his grounds, saw at a 
short distance from where he stood, a hawk pounce on some 
object on the ground, and rise with it in its claws. In a few 
minutes, however, the hawk began to show signs of great un- 
easiness, rising rapidl}' in the air. or as cpiickly falling, and wheel- 
ing irregularly around, while it was evidently endeavoring to 
force some obnoxious thing from itself with its feet. After a 
short but sharp contest, the hawk fell suddenly to the earth, 
not far from where the farmer stood intently watching the 
manoeuver. He instantly went to the spot, when a weasel ran 
away from the hawk, apparently unhurt, leaving the bird dead, 
with a hole eaten through the skin under the wing and the 
large blood vessels of that part torn through. Professor Coues 
says : 

A glance at the phj'siognomy of the weasel would suffice to betray 
its character. The teeth are almost of the highest known raptorial 
character; the jaws are worked by enormous masses of muscles covering 
all the side of the skull. The forehead is low. and the nose is sharp; the 
eyes are small, penetrating, cunning, and glitter with an angry green 
light. There is something peculiar, moreover, in the way that this fierce 
face surmounts a body extraordinary wiry, lithe and muscular. It ends a 
remarkably long and slender neck in such a way that it may be held at 
right angle with the axis of the latter. When the creature is glancing 
around, with the neck stretched up, and flat triangular head bent forward, 
swaying from one side to the other, we catch the likeness in a moment — 
it is the image of a serpent. 

132 A PioNEi;R History of Becker County. 


Bats were never very common in Becker County. When 
living on our homestead, at Oak Lake, more than thirty years 
ago, we occasionally had a visit from a bat ; they always, of course, 
come at nightfall and disappear at the break of day. 

I have not seen a bat for many 3'ears, and I am not sure 
that there are any in existence in the county at the present 
time, and there are, perhaps, young people in the county who 
never saw one, so I will give them a brief description. 

The bat is an animal abundantly supplied with wings, but 
without feathers. Their color is nearly black. Their bodies 
are covered with a short, fine substance, something like velvet, 
but their wings are naked, especially the inner surface. The 
head and ears somewhat resemble those of a mouse, but their 
sharp, carnivorous teeth are more like those of a weasel or a 

The length of the body is about two inches and the breadth 
of the extended wings five inches from tip to tip. The wings 
are made of a fine frame-work of bones and sinews covered 
with a fine, flexible membrane. I am not aware that they have 
any legs or feet, but they are provided with short claws instead. 

At the elbow joints of their wings are short hooks with 
which they suspend themselves from the underside of a roof 
or any other smooth surface, with their heads downwards. 

In the winter they retire to caves and other warm, sheltered 
places, where they lie dormant until spring. 

In the winter of 1897 and '98 I visited the Mammoth Cave 
in Kentucky, and when about half a mile underground we came 
to where the roof was literally covered with bats, in patches 
of twenty or thirty feet in extent. They were hanging suspended 
from the roof of the cave, heads downward by the hooks on 
their wings. 

Bats appear to have a peculiar affinity for bed-bugs. In the 
spring of 1856 I cut down a large black walnut tree in Fairfield 
County, Ohio, in the top of which was a large hollow containing 
a nest of bats. There were about forty bats in the hole and with 
them about a peck of bed-bugs. Being nocturnal in their habits, 
thev were dazed and blinded and bewildered bv the lisfht of the sun 

A PioxKER History of Becker County. 133 

to such an extent that they flew against us and against the trees, 
striking" them so hard that some of them were badly crippled. 

The Great Hare, or Jack Rabbit. 

This animal was formerly confined to the prairie regions in 
the western part of the county, but later on it has worked its 
way in among the clearings and fields in the wooded districts, 
farther east. 

The general color of the jack rabbit is a pale brown with 
black ear tips. It changes its color at the beginning of winter, 
and although the bleaching is extensive, it is never quite com- 
plete, like that of the timber rabbit. The change in color in 
this class of animals takes place as far south as latitude 41°, 
its range of latitude varying with the severity of the winter, 
while in the Allegheny and Rocky Mountain regions, it extends 
two or three degrees farther south. 

The jack rabbit is a very interesting and rather amusing 
'and comical animal, ^^'hen in seclusion and unconscious of 
being observed, and particularly when sitting erect on his hind 
legs, with one ear cocked back and the other forward, engaged 
in thinking of his family affairs, he is a very meek, serious and 
inoffensive looking animal ; but a jack rabbit engaged in a brown 
study and seriously reflecting on his misdeeds, and a jack rabbit 
engaged in destroying fruit trees and garden stuff are two dif- 
ferent propositions. A jack rabbit under a full head of steam 
is another propositon. 

With the approach of danger he will start off with a hop, 
skip and a jump, generally on three legs, as if partially disabled, 
and then stop and await developments, and right here is the 
critical period in the aff'airs of the jack rabbit, for if there is 
a shotgun in any way connected with the cause of alarm, he 
is now liable to fall a victim to its deadly aim. If he is not 
upset with a gun on the start, and he is satisfied after a moment's 
observation that the cause of alarm is a reality, he lets himself 
loose on all fours and starts oft' on a race that will outstrip 
the most swift-footed animal in the land. I have measured the 
jumps of a jack rabbit in the snow that were twenty-two feet be- 
tween tracks. In the fall of 1881, while I was engaged in sur- 
veying the Fargo branch of the St. Paul and Milwaukee 

134 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Railroad, there was a young" man in my party by the name of Henry 
Hamilton, from Detroit, a brother of Georg-e D. Hamilton of the 
Detroit Record, then about eighteen years of age. Once, as we 
were returning from our work to our boarding place at Fort Aber- 
crombie, Henry and I were riding in the tail end of the wagon 
with our feet hanging out behind, when a jack rabbit jumped up out 
of the grass and gave three or four bounds on three legs and 
then stopped. Says I to Henry "he has got a leg" broke and you 
can catch him." "That is so" says Henry, and off he started 
after the rabbit. The rabbit did not appear, however, to take 
him at all seriously at first, for he waited until Henry was 
within a short distance, when he gave a few more hops, still 
making believe that he was crippled and then stopped again. 
This gave Henry new courage, and he increased his speed with 
renewed energy. The rabbit now saw that Henry was in earnest 
and let himself out at full speed over the prairie, and was soon 
out of sight. When Henry came back he remarked that he 
didn't think that rabbit had any leg broken. 

The first jack rabbit, I ever saw was being chased by two big 
timber wolves. As soon as the rabbit saw me he started in 
my direction and came within about four rods, stopped and 
stood up on his hind legs and looked as though he felt himself 
to be in a place of safety. The w^olves both came within easy 
rifle shot and then stopped. It was difficult to decide which 
to shoot, the rabbit or one of the w^olves. But I was in need 
of meat and concluded to try the rabbit, and brought him down 
with a bullet through the head. \\'\i\\ a repeating rifle I could 
have easily killed one or both of the wolves, but before I could 
reload they were out of reach. That rabbit was all I had to 
eat for the next four days. 

In some of the states farther west, especially in the mountain 
valleys where irrigation is practiced, jack rabbits are a serious 
pest. They much prefer to gnaw the bark off the apple trees 
and to eat the young growing grain and alfalfa, than to live on 
their old diet of prickly pears and sage-bush, and as a conse- 
quence they thrive and multiply in some of those little valleys 
in the west to an extent almost beyond belief. In the summer 
of 1902, while traveling along the western borders of the Blue 
Mountains in central Oregon, on two different occasions and 
in two different places, I counted more than one hundred rabbits 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 135 

on eacli occasion along the roadside between sundown and 
dark. While I was at Prineville, the county seat of Cook County, 
two men in one day killed and brought in 137 jack rabbits and 
eave them to the hogs. 

The Northern Rabbit or Hare. 

When I began to write an account of the wild animals of 
Becker County, I intended to write about those only that form- 
erly lived here and have since disappeared altogether, or were 
liable to become exterminated, but when once started in, it is 
difficult to decide where to stop, so I am now getting among 
a class of animals that will smile at the idea of ever becoming 
exterminated, as, for instance, the muskrat, and still more so, 
the rabbit. "To breed like rabbits," is an old saying, and our 
rabbits are no exception to the rule , for there are five rabbits 
in the timber regions of the county now to where there was 
one thirty-five years ago. The woods were alive with foxes 
then, and they lived largely on rabbits, but the white settlers 
have long since thinned out the foxes with strychnine, and the 
rabbits have increased to correspond with the decrease of the 

The northern rabbit or hare, as every one knows, changes 
its color twice a year. Audubon, the celebrated American nat- 
uralist, and the man that our village of Audubon was named 
for by his own niece, once kept an animal of this class in con- 
finement for a whole month in the spring of the year while it 
was undergoing this change, and he ascertained that the change 
was made gradually by the white hairs falling out and new hairs 
of a brown color growing in their place. So he laid it down 
as a rule that all changes of color in animals at the beginning 
of the winter, as well as its close, came about in the same way. 

Other naturalists have since discovered, however, that while 
Audubon was correct as to the change in the spring, that he 
was in error in regard to the change in the beginning of the 
winter, which came about by a gradual change in the color of 
the fur as cold weather came on, and that there was no falling 
out of the fur itself. The northern rabbit is probably no more 
plentiful anywhere in the county than in the vicinity of the Otter 
Tail River in the town of Erie. 

136 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

In the l)e£;inning- of the long- cold \vinter of iSSj-'SS, a large 
family of people, and poor at that, moved into the house of 
Charles E. Molen, on Section 14, in Erie. The settlers in the 
vicinity were somewhat nervous over their poverty, and were 
fearful of being- obliged to help pull them through the winter. 
I was putting in logs at my mill by the bridge that winter, but 
I never heard of them' asking- for any help or going hungry, 
although I know they did not have $10 worth of provisions 
all winter besides rabbits. They kept two shotguns going, and 
killed several hundred rabbits that winter, all of which they 
devoured asking no favors of anyone. \A'hen spring came and 
the snow disappeared, the back yard and the front yard were 
both filled with the heads, pelts, running apparatus and general 
anatomy of those rabbits, and when the time came to clean up 
the yards and remove the rubbish, it made a whole wagon-load. 

Two men, who had just imported themselves into the county, 
wintered in a little cabin half a mile south of my mill that 
same winter on Section 26. I furnished them with a little salt 
occasionally, but aside from that they, too, lived entirely on rab- 
bits. They killed more than 100 during the month of February. 
After all this slaughter there were still rabbits left in the spring. 

One day, after the snow had gone, I was looking around 
among my saw-logs at the mill, when I saw a ral)bit bounding 
down one of the roads leading through the log yard, coming- 
straight towards me on a fast run, with a mink close at its heels. 
I supposed the rabbit would be as badly scared at me as he was 
at the mink, but instead of that he ran right in between niy feet 
and stopped there, his heart beating like a trip-hammer. The 
mink then sneaked ofT towards the river, while the ral)bit turned 
around and gazed at the mink for several minutes. I did not 
offer to disturb him, but let him sit until he was ready to leave. 
Finally he hopped leisurely away, and the last I saw of him, he 
was mounted on a saw-log, standing erect on his hind feet, taking 
observations. Mrs. AVilcox had fed and petted some of the rabbits 
around the mill that winter, but they never became very tame. 
They were fond of bread crusts, but would not eat soft bread. 

1 never was much of a rabbit hunter myself, but on one oc- 
casion when out hunting with a dog, he ran an animal, that 
I could see from its tracks was a rabbit, into a hollow tree about 
two feet in diameter. The tree was standino-, Ijtit the rabbit had 

A Pioneer History of Dkcker County. ^37 

gone up the hollow in the inside, out of reach. I then cut a 
pole about four feet long and nearly an inch thick, split the 
small end up for the distance of about a foot, and then ran the 
split end up the hollow tree. I could feel something alive up 
there, and placing the end of the pole against the rabbit, gave it 
a gentle twist which wound the split end of the pole into the 
rabbit's hide, so that it was glad to let go and come down, the 
stick still retaining its grip on the rabbit. Thinking there must 
be another, I ran the pole up the tree again, and twisted down 
another rabbit the same way. Trying my luck the third time, 
I soon tangled my split pole up in the fur of another rabbit. He 
held on long and hard, but the stick held its grip and I pulled 
him out also. 

This species of rabbit, or hare, is still very plentiful in some 
parts of the county. 

In the winter of 1905 and 1906. they were very numerous 
in the vicinity of Pine Point. William D. Aspinwall, who runs 
a store at that place says, that several times during that winter 
he and Peter Parker and Buddise went rabbit hunting, and they 
almost invariably killed and brought home two or three sacks 
full. Frequently, the three of them killed over 100 in a single 

The Cottontail Rabbit. 

There are not many cottontail rabbits in Becker County. 
I never saw or heard of any here, until five or six years ago, 
and have never seen but two or three in Becker County, although 
they are quite plentiful in some parts of Otter Tail County. 

The cottontail is a true rabbit, as it never changes its color, 
whereas those animals of this family that turn white in the 
winter are nothing more or less than hares, although usually 
called rabbits. 

The cottontail is a little smaller than our native hare, and 
they are very numerous in some of the states farther south, 
where they are a positive nuisance, being very destructive to 
fruit trees and gardens. 

The cottontail lives almost exclusively in and around culti- 
vated fields, while the native hare of our county makes its home 
in the seclusion of the forests. 

138 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

It is nothing" nncomnion for hunters in some parts of Iowa 
to go out and shoot forty or fift}^ of these rabbits in a few hours. 

The cottontail rabbits have been working slowly north, towards 
Becker County for several years, but I think they are making 
a great mistake in coming to this cold country, with nothing 
to wear but their summer clothing, for we have a breed of 
rabbits here, already acclimated, and abundantly supplied with 
clothing suitable for both winter and summer, and wdiich are a 
much superior breed to the cottontails, and far less destructive 
to gardens and orchards. 



140 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

The Beaver Cub. 

The beaver formerly inhabited Becker County in immense 
numbers, but by the time the first settlement was made in the 
county they had been almost exterminated. In the spring of 
1872 I saw two beavers that had just been caught in the Bufifalo 
River, in the western part of the county, by a French half-breed, 
whose name was Antoine Cariljeau and an occasional beaver 
skin was picked up by fur buyers for several years afterwards. 
The timbered portions of Becker County were formerly favorite 
resorts for the beaver. On the smaller streams and ravines and 
natural drains, throughout the forests of the county, the remains 
of their old dams are still existing by the hundred. For several 
years I was lumbering in the vicinity of the Otter Tail River, 
and had occasion to open up at different times more than 100 
miles of logging roads. These were generally located along the 
channels of the small water courses leading to the Otter Tail 
River, or to the lakes through which it flows. These water courses 
were invariably obstructed by beaver dams at distances varying 
from fifteen to fifty rods apart, according to the amount of fall 
in the channel. The dams were just far enough apart, so that 
when they were full of water it would reach from one dam to the 
other. On some of my roads the greatest part of the work to 
be done was grading through these dams. The best of material 
for the construction of such dams was everywhere abundant. 
The soft mud, and the soft wood trees, such as the balm of Gilead 
and the willow, the alder and the aspen were in great abundance 
in the very localities where most needed. A splendid specimen 
of an old beaver dam is located on the little creek which crosses 
the river road, one mile north of the residence of Samuel Pearce. 
This dam is a few rods below where the road crosses the creek 
in Section 36, Town of Erie. 

The beaver, however, frequently manages to get along with- 
out any dam at all. On streams the size of the Otter Tail 
River, and larger, where the current is slow and the water deep, 
they frequently burrow in the banks of the stream. The entrance 
to their habitation is always under water, but as they dig their 
way into the bank, they always work upwards, establishing their 
place of abode about a foot above the level of the stream. 

A PioNKER History of Becker County. 141 

Wherever the nature of the ground will not admit of such a 
dwelling" place, they always build a dam, and in the pond above 
the dam they always build one or more houses or lodges, as 
it may more properly be called, the entrance to which is always 
under water. This is undoubtedly to afiford protection against 
wolves and other wild animals. 

My own personal experience with the bea\er has been out- 
side of Becker County, but they will illustrate the habits and 
peculiarities of the beaver better than I can give them otherwise. 

In the winter of 1862-3, I cut into a beaver's house that stood 
in a pond, made by a beaver dam built across a stream about 
the size of the Buffalo River in the town of Cuba. The house 
was built in about four feet of water, and stood the same dis- 
tance above the water. The pond was covered with ice, three 
or four inches thick, clear and transparent. As I began to chop 
into the wall of the house, three beavers plunged out and into 
the water under the ice and disappeared. It took almost an 
hour to chop through to the interior with a sharp ax, because 
the framework was a complete netting of willow saplings, half 
an inch in diameter, filled in with mud, and the whole mass 
was at that time frozen solid. It would have been impossible 
for a wolf or any other animal to dig through that structure 
at any season of the year. The walls of the house were at least 
one foot thick, the interior was four feet long and three feet 
wide, with a partition through the middle. There was a hole 
through the partition, just large enough for a beaver to pass 
through. The interior was lined with dried grass leaves, and was 
very comfortable, and clean enough for a person to live in. The 
floor under the grass was a foot above the water, smooth and 
hard, and although it was zero weather, the interior of the house 
was warm from the natural heat of their bodies. On one side 
of the partition was a storehouse filled with provisions, which 
consisted of willow sprouts about one-third of an inch in diameter 
and two feet long, the bark of which is their principal food. 
In the other room was a quantity of these sprouts with the 
bark already gnawed off, ready to be dumped into the water before 

Beaver dams are usually from four to five feet high, and are 
built of brush cut in the summer when in full leaf, interwoven 
with sticks from four to six feet longf and from one to six inches 

142 A Pioneer History of Becker County. • 

in diameter. All of these are filled in with mud as fast as they 
are laid. It is astonishing to see what these animals will accompHsh 
in the way of felling trees, some of which are two feet in diameter. 
The only use they make of trees of this size, however, is to cut off 
the branches to use in the construction of their dams. 

In the summer of 1863, some beavers commenced to build 
a dam across a creek only a few rods below my cabin. I could 
hear them at work every night, and on several occasions, when 
there was a good moon, I crawled down through the brush and 
sat for an hour at a time watching them at work. There ap- 
peared to be four in the colony, and they always worked in 
pairs. One beaver was engaged altogether in cutting down trees. 
The trees were all small ; willow, alder and choke-cherry. He 
would once in a while commence on a choke-cherry, but after 
giving it two or three bites, would make a wry face and leave 
it and commence on a willow or alder. His mate floated the 
sticks and brush to the dam and laid them in their places. The 
other pair were engaged in filling in the brush and woodwork 
with mud. Their work was progressing slowly but surely, until 
the middle of July, when they were overtaken with a dreadful 
disaster. Twelve of us had been at work for ten weeks on a dam, 
a mile above, and when we had raised the water to a height 
of eighteen feet, the dam broke away, causing an immense flood, 
which tore out one end of the beaver dam, so that it was swung 
around and lodged against the bank of the creek, but it did not 
wash away. During the flood, these beavers swam around and 
around in the deep water, diving occasionally and slapping the 
water with their tails as they went down, as if trying to show 
their disgust with the fools who had made them so much trouble. 

Slapping the water with the tail when they dive, is a peculiar 
trait of the beaver. In October, 1862, a man by the name of Howe 
and myself were camping on the banks of a river where there 
was not a white person living within fifty miles in either direc- 
tion. The river was one hundred feet wide at this place, with 
four or five feet of water, a moderate current and alluvial banks, 
five or six feet high, which showed every indication of being 
honeycombed with beaver dens. After sitting around our camp- 
fire until nine o'clock, we took a final look at our horses and then 
went to bed. As soon as everything had become quiet, we 
heard a chug in the water, somethino- like the noise that a 

A I^ioNEKR History (jf Becker County. 143 

stone the size of a man's fist would make when thrown in. This 
was soon followed by another chug-, and then another, and 
another until it seemed as though a whole shower of rocks was 
being rained into the river. My companion was now thoroughly 
frightened, and declared his belief that a hundred Indians were 
on the opposite side of the river, throwing stones at us. We 
got up and went down to the river bank and the noise ceased 
instantly, but we had no sooner retired again than the noise was 
livelier than ever. Howe now seized his saddle and started for 
his horse, with the avowed intention of leaving the place. I 
told him I was sure the noise was made by beavers, but he 
was as sure the noise came from Indians. I told him I had three 
horses to lose to his one, and that, rather than leave in the dark, 
I would sit up and guard the horses, to which he finally agreed. 
I watched about an hour, h\ which time Howe was snoring" sound- 
1\' and the moon had arisen, but the noise in the river had not 
abated one particle. I then crawded on my hands and knees 
through the tall grass to the river bank, where I had an excel- 
lent view of what was going on. The whole surface of the 
river was in a turmoil. The beavers were swimming around 
and diving almost evervwhere. I counted at one time thirteen 
above the water, and it is certain there were forty or fifty within 
two hundred feet of where I lay. 

In the month of December, 1863, I was camped with four 
companions on the right bank of the Missouri River, close to 
where the village of Townsend in Montana is now located. Just 
before dark one night, I went to the river bank after a pail of 
water. During the day a small ice gorge had formed several 
feet high, but the water had mostly settled away through the 
ice. so that I was obliged to walk some distance over the ice- 
drift to get the water. 

When about a rod from the shore, I heard a peculiar sound, 
as if something was being smothered in the ice under my feet. 
I began to dig into the crushed ice and soon came to a live 
beaver, but before releasing him altogether, called to my com- 
panions, who came out and one of them brought a revolver. 
Betwixt my digging and that of the beaver, the ice gorge began 
to give way, but the men all joined hands with me and with 
each other, and the last man caught Ik Id of a tree on the shore. 
By the time the man came wdth a revolver, the ice began to 
move inider our feet, Init we shot the licaver and released him 

144 -^ PioxEER History of Becker County. 

from the ice. By this time, the ice gorge was rapidly going, 
l^ut I hung" on to the beaver and the string of men that reached 
to the tree hung to me, and we were soon pulled safely on 
shore. We ate the beaver for supper that night. Beaver tails 
are very delicious to the taste, like pigs' feet, only there is much 
more of them. A beaver tail is about a foot long and some of 
them are four inches wide, while others are only about three 
inches wide. A beaver with a broad, flat tail always has dull 
inferior teeth, and vice versa, a beaver with strong, sharp teeth 
has a narrow tail, so you will see that some of them are made 
for wood cutters and others are made for handling mortar and 

The length of a beaver, head and body included, is about two 
feet. The beaver belongs to the family of rodents, their adz- 
shaped teeth resembling those of the rat or the squirrel. The 
hind feet are very large and broad and are as completely webbed 
as those of a goose. A fair-sized beaver will weigh about thirty 
or thirty-five pounds, gross weight. 

There is at this time, 1905, a colony of beavers in the north- 
eastern part of Becker County, according to the following report, 
by James Nunn, of Ponsford : 

He says : 

Nov. 25th, 1905. A year ago last summer it was reported at Ponsford, 
that beavers were working on Indian Creek, in the town of Two Inlets, and 
out of curiosity, I visited the locality and found a small dam. recently built 
across the stream, just below the bridge on the Ponsford and Boot Lake 
road, which had raised the water about eighteen inches, which satisfied me 
that a colony of beavers had located there. Last summer they extended 
their operations and built another, and a larger dam, above the bridge, 
which raised the water about two feet at that point. The trees used in 
the construction of these dams were from one to six inches in diameter, 
being as large as any that grew just there. 

Deer and bears are quite numerous in that vicinity, and an occasional 
moose is yet found in the northeastern part of Becker County. 

It is said that there is a colony of beavers at work south 
of Shell Lake, near the line between Shell Lake and Carsonville 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 145 


June 5th. 1906. 
The beavers are at work again on the Dinner Creek dam. It is becom- 
ing a serious problem as to whether the beaver had best be trapped, the 
(lam blown ont, or the game and fish commission pay for the flowage. 
They work in a very wary manner and the person who gets sight of them 
must be skillful and patient. This family is supposed to be a part of flie 
state park tribe and we are loth to destroy them. — Detroit Record. 

The Muskrat. 

This animal always has been, is now, and undoubtedly for 
years to come will continue to be found in Becker County in 
great numbers. 

There are but few farms, or but few quarter sections of land 
in the country, that have not within their borders one or more 
"rat" ponds or lakes, or are in close proximity to them, some 
localities in the Shell Prairie country, alone, excepted. 

One of the dreams and hopes of the boy of ordinary ambition 
is to become a trapper and a hunter, and where is the boy born 
and reared in Becker County who has not had the opportunity 
to realize those dreams? As a general thing" they have had a 
chance to trap muskrats to their heart's content, provided, of 
course, that they could procure the traps, and many an honest 
dollar they have earned that way. On more than one occassion, 
also, the rats have been a godsend to a large part of the popula- 
tion, particularly in 1872-73-74-75 when the grasshoppers were 
devastating" the country, as I have related in another article. 

Nearly everybody knows as much about these animals as I 
do, as to how they live both in the water and out, and how they 
build their houses, and obtain their food at the bottom of ponds 
and lakes. They always breed and rear their young on dry land. 
In the winter and spring of 1890, I had a lot of railroad ties 
piled u]) at dififerent places on the shores of Height of Land 
Lake. In the spring, when removing one of these piles of ties 
into the lake, preparatory to floating them down the river, we 
found a mtiskrat nest under the ties. There were five yoimg 
rats in the nest, al^out the size of chipmunks, and I gathered 
up a handful, four I think, and ptit them into the pocket of my 
rubber raincoat and buttoned them in. I then went up to the 
house of Mr. Simon ^^^aite, where I was boarding, and began 

146 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

to take the rats out of my pocket to show them to the old lady. 
By this time however, the youngsters were not so docile as thev 
were when 1 picked them up, for as soon as I put iii}' hand 
in my pocket, the young rascals grabbed me by the fingers with 
their teeth and hung on for dear life. I pulled ni}- hand out 
with rats lianging to three fingers and a thumb, and I could 
not shake them ofif, but they kept on biting. Finally with the 
assistance of Airs. AA^aite, I chocked the little villains, one at a 
time, until they let go. I then told her she might ha\'e the 
rats for ])ets, but she fired them out of the house and told 
me I ought to have known l)ettcr than to have had an}'thing 
to do with them. A\'ith the exception of shooting a few, this 
is all the experience I ever had with muskrats. 

The Porcupine. 

The porcupine is occasionally found in Becker County. It 
is a good, solid, plump animal, a little larger than a raccoon, and 
will measure about three feet long from tip to tip, of which the 
tail is about six inches. They do not belong to the same natural 
famil\- as the raccoon, skunk, badger, opossum and the bear, but, 
rather, are allied to the squirrel and the woodchuck, the muskrat 
and the beaver ; having teeth of the rodent or adz-shaped order 
for gnawing hard, tough substances. It is an easy matter in 
the woods to determine when you are in the vicinity of porcu- 
pines, especially in the winter, for they will take the bark slick 
and clean from the tops and upper limbs of trees down, half way 
to the ground. They generally select maple and poplar or tam- 
arack, taking trees from fifteen to thirtv feet high. Most 
people know what the quills of the porcupine are like. About 
three inches in length with very sharp points, with barbs of a 
fine texture pointing backwards, that permit the quills to work 
inwards, but they are extremely difificult to extricate. 

When 1 lived on my homestead at ( )ak Lake, in Detroit 
Township, my dog tackled a porcupine one day and got decidedly 
the worst of it. He came home with his mouth full of quills, 
some of them were run through his tongue, others were run 
through his nose and the ends were sticking out on each side, 
and some were stuck completely through his under jaw. He 
was a large, powerful Xewfoundland dog, and was decidedly 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 147 

opposed to allowing me to meddle with the quills. 1 finally 
got him down on his back and pinned him down by running 
a pitchfork into the ground with the tines astraddle his neck, 
in which position he w^as held while I extracted the quills with 
a pair of pincers. 

I have had cattle that had taken a fancy to smell of a hedge- 
hog, and would come home with six or eight quills sticking 
more than half their length in the pad of their nose. These too 
had to be pulled out with pincers. 

The porcupine is clad, in addition to his quills, with a short, 
thin growth of hair, much shorter than the quills in the summer, 
but in winter the quills are outgrown with a luxuriant growth 
of long black hair, somewhat on the furry order, that completely 
hides the quills. It is a mistaken idea that porcupines can throw 
their quills, particularly those of the body. It is possible that 
by giving the proper shake to the tail, a few quills growing on 
that appendage might be thrown for a distance of a foot or two, 
at the season of the year when they are shedding heir quills. 

They are expert climbers, and they invariably live in hollow 
trees. Many a time I have tracked them to a hollow tree when 
a boy, on a thawing day, in the winter, and would cut the tree 
down and drive them up some other tree that had no hole 
for them to get into, and then shoot them on i)urpose to see 
them fall and tumble to the ground. 

In the summer of 1893, I was looking over Section i. Town 
of Grand Park, with a view to cutting off the pine timber the 
ensuing winter. I was traveling along the road cut out for 
hauling hay, when I came across a porcupine that was traveling 
along the road in the same way that I was going. He was 
quite tame, in fact a little too tame to suit my fancy, but I did 
not wish to kill him, as I felt interested in seeing all such 
harmless animals thrive in the country. At the same time, he 
was so tame and friendly that I was not inclined to go off and 
leave him. I drove him along the trail ahead of me for awhile 
guiding him with a pole. He finally got so that he wanted to 
keep close to me, but he went too slow, and I did not fancy 
his quills, so I went off and left him. 

The next winter, when cutting the pine in that vicinity, my 
men came across him and his mate, both comfortablv housed 

148 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

inside large, hollow pine trees, separately, but both were killed b_\- 
the falling of the trees. 

The Woodchuck. 

This animal is quite common in Becker County. In some 
parts of the United States it is called the ground-hog. It is a 
burrowing animal, digging its own hole and hibernating during 
the winter and coming out fat in the spring. This is a coarse- 
haired animal, having no fur in its covering to tempt the trapper, 
but is sometimes caught for its hide, of which whip lashes are 
made of a superior quality. A single hide will make a good 
lash six feet in length. Nearly everybody in Becker County 
has seen a woodchuck either here or in some other part of the 
United States. A full grown animal is twenty inches or more in 
length, of which the tail is four or five inches. They are usually of a 
brown color, but occasionally one is found of a jet black. In 
western New York, where they are much more numerous than here, 
about one in every twenty or thirty is black. I once found a 
woodchuck on Section 26, in Lake V^iew Township, as black as 
a coal. It ran into the hollow of a standing oak tree, and I 
fastened it in by blocking up the entrance with chunks of wood 
and limbs of trees, intending to take it home with me when I 
came back, but I did not come back that way. The woodchuck 
is a poor climber, and is never known to go far up a tree, but 
can easily climb a fence or a wood-pile. 

The Common Gray or Barn Rat. 

The common barn rat cuts a very important figure in the 
affairs of the ordinary farmer in some parts of the United States. 

For many years after Becker County began to settle up, 
we congratulated ourselves over the fact that we had, as we 
believed, made our everlasting escape from those pests of the 
barn and farm house, that had made life a burden during our 
younger days in some of the older states. 

We were free to admit that our lot had been cast in a cold 
country, in a country where winter reigned supreme five months 
in the vear, more or less, but we felt that we had left behind 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 149 

us enough that was disagreeable and annoying, to offset the 
discomforts or our winter chmate to a great extent and in various 
ways. The ground was covered with snow in the winter which 
afforded us good sleighing on which to do the heavy work, instead 
of being obliged to plod around in the mud. The extreme cold 
killed all the malaria in the air and the water, so that we were 
not subject to fevers or chills, it also killed the germs of the 
little bug or worm that invariably infected the peas and some- 
times the beans, making them wormy in the states farther 
south, and last but not least, we had left the old gray rat so 
far behind us that he could never overtake us during our life- 
time, and if he did, he could never withstand the rigors of our 
northern climate, but would invariably perish during the first 
winter season. 

But woe to our dreams of fancied security and delight ; it 
is true that we enjoyed twenty-five years of immunity from their 
annoyance, but an evil day finally dawned upon us. Our fond 
hopes proved after all to be but empty dreams, for slowly but 
surely the rats have been on our trail during all these long 
years, following us up with an unerring instinct and have over- 
taken us at last. 

A\'hen they first put in an appearance in the county it is 
difficult to say, but the first time I remember seeing them was 
about the year 1897. They were quite numerous and aggressive 
around Frazee about that time. How they came, whether by 
rail, by wagon or on foot, is a matter of uncertainty ; we only 
know they came. They do not appear quite so numerous in 1905, 
as they were at first. It has been intimated that the extremely 
cold winter of 1903 and 1904 reduced them to some extent. 

But there are rats yet left in Becker County, so I will give 
a little of my experience with these animals, and a brief de- 

An ordinary barn rat is about eight inches in length, exclusive 
of the tail, which is six inches long and about one-fourth of an 
inch in diameter, and entirely naked. Their color is a dark blue 
when young, but they become gray with age. 

In some of the older states, fifty or sixty years ago, manv 
of the barns were literally overrun with rats. We killed 
scores of them every year, but they did not appear to get anv 
less in numl^ers. They may have found some way by which 

150 A PioxKKR History of Bkcker County. 

they have been able to diminish their numbers since, but if they 
have, I never heard of it. My father had a barn thirty by forty 
feet in extent, and in one corner of the barn was a granary about 
twelve feet square, which he kept well filled with wheat and oats 
during the winter season. The rats would gnaw a hole into this 
granary every winter and help themselves to the grain. During 
the winter of 1849-50 they became unusually numerous and 
troublesome, and my brother, C. P. Wilcox and myself decided 
to make war on this community of rats. We accordingly pro- 
vided ourselves with a lantern, and each armed with a club we 
proceeded to the barn about nine o'clock one evening. They 
had gnawed a hole through a corner of the granary door at 
the top, and the noise from the inside denoted considerable 
activity among the animals within. 

We quietly opened the door, stepped inside, closed the door 
behind us as quicklv as possible and plugged up the hole in the 
door. We then went after the rats with our clubs, hitting them 
right and left with telling effect. There must have been about 
forty of them in that little room and when they found their onl\- 
avenue of escape was cut off, they became desperate and began 
to show fight. They came at us half a dozen at a time, and after 
being bitten several times we were glad to open the door and get 
out. We killed fourteen rats that evening and about as many 
more the two nights following. After that they would invariably 
make a rush for the door as soon as it was opened and rush out. 

They burrowed in tlie hay-mow during the winter months. 
cutting tunnels through the solid hay. twenty or more feet in 
length, with chambers leading in various directions, insuring 
warm and comfortable quarters for themselves during the winter. 

I have known from fifty to seventy-five of these rats to be 
killed in a single evenins;^ in the manner outlined above. 

The Black and Gray Squirrel. 

I am not aware that there were any black or gray squirrels in 
Becker Count}- before the coming of the white settlers. I be- 
lieve that zoologists have decided that the gray and black squirrels 
are one and the same species, but I am hardly reconciled to the 

A PioxivKK llisTdin- oi- Becker Countv. 151 

According to the best of my knowledge, they have been coming 
to Becker County in about equal numbers, the first coming about 
1878. Unfortunately, however, they manage to get killed off about 
as fast as they come, so I am afraid they will never become very 

These squirrels are certainly very interesting and beautiful ani- 
mals, and it is a pity, they cannot be let alone a few years, and given 
a chance to get a foothold in the county. 

Fifty years ago black squirrels were very plentiful in Western 
New York, and there would usually be about twenty black squirrels 
to one gray one. During those same times, in Ohio, the conditions 
were reversed, and there would be about twenty gray squirrels to 
one black one, while in Michigan they were about equally divided. 

Once in Western New York when they were very abundant, I 
saw a black squirrel, a grey squirrel and a white squirrel, all up 
in the same tree and they were all about the same size. It was the 
only white squirrel I ever saw or heard of. I could easily have 
killed it, but only tried to catch it alive and failed. As would nat- 
urally be supposed, it was a shining mark for the men and boys 
with guns in the neighborhood, and was shot a day or two after I 
saw it. 

Occasionally there would be a year when squirrels would pass 
through those states in large numbers. They never appeared to be in 
a hurry and generally would linger through the entire season. They 
would climb the houses, the barns, the shade trees in the dooryards 
and along the highways, and the fruit trees in the orchards. They 
were killed by both men and boys in large numbers, and thev were 
considered the best eating of any game in the country. 

The following from the Indianapolis Journal, of Sept. 17th. 1905, 
gives a good account of these S(|uirrels in Indiana vears ago : 

For more than fifty years after Indiana was first settled, the slaughter 
of wild animals went on without any restriction. 

There was some excuse for killing squirrels, for they were a pest in 
early times, being great thieves of seed corn and green corn. More than a 
dozen different varieties were indigenous to the United States, but the best 
known was the common gray or migratory squirrel. It was called 
migratory on account of the long journeys it sometimes made. Occa- 
sionally, for reasons of their own, probably in search of food, these squirrels 
used to migrate from one part of the country to another in great numbers. 
Once started on one of these migrations, neither mountains nor rivers 
could stop them, and they devoured ever3'thing eatable that came in 
their wav. 

152 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Audubon describes one which he witnessed: "It was in 1819, when we 
were descending the Ohio river in a flatboat, chiefly with the intention of 
seeking for birds then unknown to us. About 100 miles below Cincinnati, 
as we were floating down the stream, we observed a large number of 
squirrels swimming across the river, and we continued to see them at 
various places until we had nearly reached Sniithland, a town about 100 
miles above the mouth of the Ohio. At times they were strewn, as it 
were, over the surface of the water, and some of them, being fatigued, 
sought a few moments' rest on our long steering oar, which hung into 
the water in a slanting direction over the stern of our boat. The boys 
along the shores and in boats were killing the squirrels in great numbers, 
although most of them got across." 

They were very numerous in the primitive forests of Indiana and 
their depredations were a serious matter for the pioneers. They hid near 
the cornfields, and as soon as the seed corn was covered they began to 
dig for it. Old farmers used to tell how accurately a squirrel would follow 
the row and dig into a hill of corn till he found the grains. Later, when 
the cars began to form, the squirrels attacked them. Some years they 
were worse than others, and the years 1824, 1834 and 1836 are numbered 
as especially bad ones. 

During the squirrel visitation the farmer put forth his utmost efforts 
to protect his crop. The best marksman in the family took the gun, and 
the rest, women and children, rang bells, rattled "horse-fiddles," pounded 
on dead trees and made all sorts of noises. Sometimes a man was paid to 
work one half of the day and shoot squirrels the other half. 

A local historican of Johnson County says: "Mrs. Mollie Owens says 
there were seasons when she could stand in her door and see fifteen or 
twenty squirrels on the fence at any morning hour. James Owens, her 
husband, killed 200 in one day. Jacob Bower shot twenty-six on one 
occasion without moving out of his tracks. William Freeman, without 
rising from his chair at the breakfast table, shot nine from a hill of ripening 
corn in the garden in the front of his cabin door. Thomas Patterson shot 
two from a neighbor's chimney and they fell into the fireplace within." 

The Red Squirrel. 

The small, red, timber squirrel is found in considerable num- 
bers in Becker County, and is more widely distributed throug-hout 
the northern part of the United States than any other animal, being 
found in every state from Maine to Washington, wherever there 
are any groves or forests of timber. It is so well known that it is 
useless to undertake to say anything about the interesting little 
animal, that is not known to people in general. It is bright, cheer- 
ful and harmless, building its habitations, and rearing its young in 
the trees near our homes whenever it can find a hollow large enough 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 153 

for a nest, and frequently in our barns, and even in the chambers of 
our houses. 

When we lived on our homestead at Oak Lake, one of them 
made a nest in an old vinegar keg that stood at the end of our house, 
and that reminds me that once Mrs. Wilcox set a hot custard pie on 
a stump near the house to cool, and before she was fairly back in the 
house, a red squirrel landed on top of the pie with all four of his 
feet. It gave three or four squeals and ran up a tree, jumping 
around among the limbs, chattering, and holding up and shaking 
first one foot, then another, for the space of three or four minutes. 

The Flying Squirrel. 

This animal is occasionally found in Becker County. It is a 
little larger than the common red squirrel and resembles it in gener- 
al appearance, except that it is provided with a membrane or skin, 
connecting and filling the intermediate space between the fore leg and 
the hind leg on each side of the body. This web or membrane is an 
extension of the skin covering the body, and is about an inch in 
width. It cannot be said exactly to fly, but with help of its extended 
legs and the consequent spreading of the membrane connecting the 
fore legs with the hind legs, it can sail from the top of one tree to 
another tree at a considerable distance, rising slightly above its start- 
ing point at the first leap and then gradually inclining downwards, 
using its tail as a rudder, it can land on the ground or on the branch 
of another tree at a distance of from one hundred to one hundred 
and fifty feet from the place of starting. There was a family of fly- 
ing squirrels in the grove of timber surrounding my house at Oak 
Lake, in the summer of 1873. They appeared to be easy prey to my 
old cat. When sailing overhead they more resemble the outstretched 
skin or pelt of some small animal than a squirrel. The flying 
squirrel is provided with a fine soft fur, of much finer quality than 
that of any other specie of squirrel in this part of the county. It is 
an expert climber always nesting in hollow trees. 

The Chipmunk. 

Everybody living in the woods of Becker County knows the 
chipmunk, a beautiful little animal with a head and body about six 

154 -^ PioxEKR History of Becker County. 

inches in length and a tail half as long. At lumber camps and at 
houses newly erected in the woods they are quite neighborly, com- 
ing in and making themselves at home, and one time in the fall of 
the year they came near taking possession of my camp. When un- 
molested they become quite tame about a camp, and more than 
once I have had them eat out of my hand. 

They live in the ground and hibernate, although they are fre- 
quently tempted to come out of their wintry home on a warm 
sunnv day. 

The Pocket Gopher. 

Professor Coues sa}s : 

The pocket gopher, as its name indicates, is pro\ided with hirge pouches 
or pockets connecting with its mouth, on each side of its head and neck. 
It has long been a matter of dispute as to wliat the gopher carries in its 
pockets, some people believing that they carry the dirt of which the 
mounds are made that dot the prairies. This I believe to be a mistake, 
as' nothing is ever found in their pockets but food. They have enormous- 
ly large fore parts, and in working under ground, after they have loosened 
the earth, they push it ahead, propelhng themselves along by their hind 
legs, with their head quite buried in the mass of soil. Coming as they 
do up the slanting passage, when they reach the surface they give the 
load of dirt a quick and vigorous flirt, which throws the dirt at some dis- 
tance. The method may be compared to a snow plow, only the dirt is 
pushed ahead instead of being dumped to either side. 

The pocket gopher is a very common animal in l^eckcr County, 
but is the most secretive, and less is known of its domestic af- 
fairs than of any animal in the country. Kverbody knows a gopher 
knoll when he sees it, and when the farmer comes to a shock of 
wheat with the inside all gone, and a stack of loose soil nearly as 
high as the original shock built up in its place, or when he comes 
to six or eight hills in a row of potatoes in which the bottom has 
dropped out, potatoes and all, he knows that a pocket gopher has 
been operating a mine in the neighborhood. 

On the 28th of July, 1886. the Board of Count}- Commissioners 
of Becker County passed a resolution to pay a bounty on gopheis 
and blackbirds, the price set on the heads of gophers being two dol- 
lars per himdred. 

At that meeting or a subsequent one, I do not remember which, 
the question arose as to what should be considered a gopher. There 

A Pioneer History of Bkcker County. 155 

were four farmers on the board at that time, and all four of them 
were unanimous in the opinion that all burrowing animals of the 
squirrel tribe should be considered as gophers, and although this 
decision was not placed on record it w^as the understanding that the 
scalps of all pocket gophers, gray gophers, speckled gophers and 
chipmunks should be paid for at the rate of $2.00 a hundred. 
Whether this ruling was adhered to, for any length of time or not. 
I do not know, as I left the auditor's office at the close of the year, 
but judging from the amount of money recpiired to pay the sub- 
sequent bounties, there must have been a general slaughter of all 
four of the species of animals named above. 

The following is from the Detroit Record of March 28th, 1889: 

The county commissioners yesterday voted to discontinue the payment 
of gopher and blackljird bounties in this county. The effort to exter- 
minate these Httle pests has thus far cost the county about $5,000, and a 
decrease in the number is scarcely perceptible. 

Of the $5,000 referred to about $2,500 was paid out for gopher 
bounties, which means that about 125,000 of these little animals 
must have been slaughtered in less than three years in this county. 

^^^ J. ]\lorrow, who was count}- auditor during nearly all of this 
bounty paying period, estimates that the above figures are approx- 
imately correct and that at least 125,000 animals belonging to the 
gopher family were slaughtered during that time. 

The Gray Gopher. 

The gray gopher, or ground squirrel, as it is sometimes called, is 
very common in 15ecker County. They are nearly as plentiful now 
as they were when the country first began to settle up. They are 
not as destructive to grain fields and gardens as the pocket goph- 
er, and when given a chance the}- l)ecome (piite tame. 

In the month of September, 1871, I was camped at the north end 
of the lake that reaches up across Section 6, in Lake Park Town- 
ship, and for several days I was there all alone, doing m\- own cook- 
ing. Among other things I used considerable corn starch which I 
made into a kind of pudding. 

A gray gopher was living in a hole only a few feet frt)m my tent 
and it was not long before he began to show a disposition to get 
acquainted, and to pick up the bits of corn starch pudding that 

156 A PioxEKR History of Bkcker County. 

fell from the table. In a da}^ or two he became so tame that he 
would take lumps of pudding from my hand the same as a kitten, 
only with this difference, that as soon as he had swallowed two or 
three mouthfuls, he would invariably break and run for his hole. 
He would never stay under ground however more than a minute, 
when he would come back and hunt around for more pudding. On 
one occasion he w^ent through the rounds of swallowing the pudding, 
running into his hole and back to the tent again, five or six times, 
until he finally got so full that he could squeeze himself into the 
ground no longer, but stuck fast in the hole. I pulled him out and let 
him go. He was aroimd again the next day, when I made a noose 
on the end of a string, which I placed over the hole, and when he 
came out I pulled on the string and caught him around the body 
and pulled him out, and kept him tied up for a few hours. This 
however did not affect his appetite in the least, for he ate all the 
pudding he could find during his confinement. I moved away that 
day and turned him loose, but he was still hunting the ground over 
for something to eat when I came awav. 

The Speckled Gopher. 

The speckled gopher is very common on all the prairies of Beck- 
er County. Every school-boy on the prairie knows the little animal 
that stands by its hole on its hind feet as straight as a picket, with 
its fore legs hanging by its side, and when alarmed, or its curiosity 
satisfied drops into its burrow so quickly and silently you hardly 
miss him, and in less than a minute bobs up again almost as sud- 
denly as he disappeared. 

The Field Mouse. 

Everybody knows the common field mouse. It is an irritable, 
pugnacious little creature, standing up on its hind legs and fighting 
for itself against its enemies at great odds. 

The Wood Mouse or Deer Mouse. 

The wood mouse is a pretty little animal, three or four inches 
in leno-th, with a tail a little less. It is of a buff' or fawn color, darker 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 157 

along- its back, with its under parts pure white. It is sometimes 
called the deer mouse or white-footed mouse. Their natural home 
is in hollow trees, where thev store away acorns and hazel nuts for 
the winter, divesting them of the shuck or shell before putting 
them away. Many a time in the older states I have cut down trees 
in which I found two or three quarts of beech nuts already peeled 
by these little creatures, and which we always greedily appropriated 
to our own use. They frequently make their nests in the house of 
some settler, where they make bad work destroying clothing, as 
they never discriminate between your old clothes and your Sunday 
suit, being equally as liable to chew up and appropriate one as the 
other, when it comes to making their nest. We had a family of 
them in the grove on our homestead at Oak Lake, and they made us 
a lot of trouble. 

The House Mouse. 

This little rodent, with a head and body not much larger than 
your thumb, is quite a factor in the animal kingdom. It is said to 
be a foreigner, smuggling itself into this country on shipboard from 
Europe, nearly two hundred years ago. It certainly has improved 
its time and opportunities, for it has kept pace with civilization, and 
there is scarcely a family household in America that has not its quota 
of these little "varmints." It is the pest of housewives and house- 
maids, who keep up a constant warfare against it with a hostile array 
of cats, traps, brooms and rat poison. Yet it does not seem to di- 
minish in numbers. It is a terror to them, whether dead or alive, for 
a single mouse running across the floor will stampede a whole room- 
ful of women as effectually as if a coyote or a wild-cat had been 
turned loose in the room. Some of them are brave and skillful 
trappers of the little beast, but their trouble only just begins when 
he is caught, for they generally have to call one of the boys to take 
the mouse out of the trap. There is no danger of the species ever 
becoming extinct. 

The Jumping Mouse. 

This interesting little animal is one of the smallest of the four- 
footed beasts of Becker Countv. It is found in meadows and low 

158 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

places, living- in thick, heavy grass throughout the country but is 
not very plentiful. 

It has some of the characteristics of the kangaroo ; inasmuch as 
it travels by jumping with its hind feet. When alarmed it starts 
off in a succession of astonishing leaps, making eight or ten feet 
at a jump, using only its hind legs, but when not in a hurry it walks 
on all fours like any other animal. 

This tiny creature is about three inches long, head and body, 
and its tail is nearly twice as long as both. It has light fore-quar- 
ters, strong hind-quarters, and very long hind legs. 

If a mouse weighing an eighth of a pound can jump eight feet, 
how far ought a dog weighing ten pounds to jump? 

The Mole. 

The mole is too well known to require an extensive description. 
It is about two and a half inches long, with a short tail and power- 
ful fore parts especially adapted to digging. 

The fur is thick and soft, lying with ecfual ease backwards as 
well as forwards. 

The eyes are very small and covered with a membrane, and in- 
vestigation shows that the eye is much degenerated, and of but lit- 
tle use as an organ of sight. Moles are subterranean in their habits, 
and live exclusively on animal food. All kinds of worms, grubs 
and caterpillars are readily eaten, and in captivity, meat, small birds 
and even other moles are greedily devoured. Their limbs, although 
short, are capable of very rapid movements, and wdien in quest of 
their food, moles frequentl}- travel long distances underground so 
near the surface that the earth becomes raised u]:» above the tunnel 
which it makes. 

Moles generally dwell in underground encampments built by 
themselves of mud and clay, which, when c()m])lete(l and dried out, 
become hard and water-proof. These little camps arc usuall\- call- 
ed mole hills. 

A r'lONEER History uf Becker County. 159 

Chapter VIII. 


Compiled isy Trios. S. Roberts, M. D. 


Becker County, lying as it does between the great forest region 
of northwestern Minnesota and the treeless plains to the westward, 
is ideally situated for presenting within its boundaries a great 
variety of bird life. The western one-third of the county is rolling 
prairie, sloping from elevations of 1400 to 1500 feet along the 
forest border, toward the Red River Valley in the tier of counties 
adjoining it on the west. This, with several isolated areas of 
prairie in the forests farther east, provides congenial homes for a 
large number of prairie loving birds. Among these are a few 
species belonging more appropriately to the high Cotcau regions 
of North Dakota, as, for example, the Lark Bunting, Sprague's 
Pipit, Chestnut-colored Longspur, Burrowing Owl and several oth- 
ers. The remaining two-thirds of the county are more or less 
thickly covered with forest. Pine trees, spruces and fir balsams 
are found throughout much of this area. Deciduous trees of 
many species are abundant or predominate in the southern and cen- 
tral portions of the county, but in the northeastern quarter the 
forest becomes more distinctly coniferous and both the fauna and 
the flora present the typical Canadian aspect. Thus there is 
presented in the timbered regions of the county a diversity of con- 
ditions which attracts almost all the avian forest dwellers of the 

The prairies and forests of Becker County are diversified by over 
88,000 acres of water in the form of lakes and ponds and many 
streams. Thus an immense number of aquatic birds here find con- 
genial surroundings and ample opportunity to disport themselves, feed 
and raise their young. With the advent of man and the inevitable 
and largely unavoidable destruction of primitive conditions, there 
has been a widespread and wholesale diminution in the numbers 
of the water birds, extending in some instances to almost the en- 
tire disappearance of species once conspicuous features of the 
bird life. Some of these birds, as the swans, geese, pelicans, cur- 
lews, avocet and godwits cannot live in the wild state in associa- 

i6o A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

tion with civilized conditions an}- more than could the buffalo, 
antelope or elk, and there is no hope that they will ever again be 
restored to the old places where they were once so abundant. A 
few have left their names attached to lakes and rivers, as empty 
reminders of their early occupancy of the land. 

The following list of birds of Becker County has been com- 
piled from information in the possession of the Minn. Nat. Hist. 
Survey derived from several sources. In the early eighties Prof. 
W. W. Cook, now connected with the Biological Survey, Washington, 
D. C, was stationed at White Earth Agency and collected much 
information in regard to the bird life of that locality, which has 
found its way into print in several connections, particularly in 
his well known "Migration of Birds in the Mississippi Valley." In 
1883, Mr. Foster H. Brackett, of Massachusetts, who died a few 
years ago, prepared an annotated list of birds observed about De- 
troit in the month of May of that year. This list was published in 
the Otiartcrly Journal of the Boston Zoological Society, Vol. II, 
1883. The writer spent nine weeks in the summer of 1902 study- 
ing the birds of the Lake Itasca region, immediately adjoining the 
northeastern corner of Becker County, and the information there 
obtained applies equally well to the evergreen forests of the coun- 
ty under consideration. The data from these three sources have 
been used, supplemented by safe inferences from what is known 
of the general distribution of our birds. In this manner a list 
has been prepared which will, it is hoped, give to the general 
reader a fair idea of the bird life of Becker County. To the 
bird student, who may have opportunity to give close attention 
to the subject it will at least provide a basis for future more exact 

Total number of species of birds occurring in Becker County. 262 

Water birds occurring in Becker County 83 

Land Birds occurring in Becker County 179 

Summer Residents (Breeding birds) 158 

Migrants only 53 

Winter Visitants 17 

Permanent Residents 18 

Accidental 13 

Extinct 2 

A PioNEi^R History of Becker County. i6i 

I. Western Grebe {Aechuwphorus occidentalis.) 

A western species, probably occurring occasionally in the 
lakes and marshes. 
2. HoldoEi^l's Grebe, Red-necked Grede (Colyinbus holbccllii) 
Undoubtedly breeds in colonies in the marshy bays of the 
larger lakes, as it does in Grant County and at Leech 

3. Horned Grebe {Colymhtis miritus). 

To be looked for chiefly spring and fall in open water. 

4. Eared Grebe (Colymbus nigricoUis calif ornicus). 

A western species, breeding in colonies in marshes and 

5. PiED-BiLLED Grebe, Dabchick, "Hell-diver" (Podilymbus 

The common species of grebe, breeding abundantly in 
all shallow lakes and sloughs. The grebes all construct 
floating nests of water-soaked, decayed vegetation, deposit- 
ing the oval-shaped, much stained eggs in a shallow de- 
pression in the top. In the absence of the parent bird 
the eggs are covered with wet material and it is gener- 
ally thought that incubation is partly accomplished by 
the action of the sun upon this mass of damp vegeta- 

6. LooN, Great Northern Diver {Urinator imbcr) . 

A common and well-known bird. The two large olive- 
gray, black-spotted eggs are usually deposited in a de- 
pression on an old muskrat house on the edge of open 

The Black-throated and Red-throated Loons, high north- 
ern species, may occasionally occur in early spring and 
late fall. 

7. Herring Gull {Larus argcntatus) . 

This is the large white gull commonly seen spring and 
fall, flying over the larger lakes. It breeds farther north. 

8. Ring-billed Gull (Lams dclazvarcnsis.) 

A smaller gull similar to the last. 

9. Franklin's Gull (Lams franklimi). 

The only gull found during the summer months. It breeds 
in colonies in sloughs and marshy lakes. The farmers 
call it the "Prairie Dove" and it may often be seen fol- 

i62 A PioxKKR History of Becker County. 

lowing the "breaking ploughs," picking up the grubs and 
worms as they are turned up by the plough-share. 

ID. Bonaparte's Gull (Lariis Philadelphia). 

Similar to the last in size and general appearance. A 
migrant, spring and fall, breeding in the far north. Often 
seen in great tiocks late in the fall. 

11. Caspian Tern {Sfcnia caspia). 

To be looked for as an uncommon migrant. 

12. Forster's Tern (Sterna forsfcri). 

A summer species, breeding in the sloughs and marshy 
ponds in company with Black Terns. This bird with its 
black cap, pearl gray mantle, long. forked tail, and snowy 
white under parts, well merits the name of "Sea Swal- 
low," sometimes applied to the Terns. 

The Common and Least Terns may occasionally occur 
but are imperfectly known as Minnesota birds. 

13. Beack Tern {Hydrochclidon nii^ra siiriiiainciisis) . 

An abundant and, in the breeding season, noisy bird, nest- 
ing everywhere in sloughs and wet marshes. It constructs 
a rather neat but frail nest of fine stems on floating 
vegetation and lays from two to four dark, spotted, strong- 
ly i)yriform eggs, similar in appearance to those of most 
Terns. The black body-plumage of the adult bird ren- 
ders it very unlike its snow-white relatives, in appearance. 

14. DouiiLE-CRESTED CoRMoRANT, "Black Loon" (Phahicrocorax 

dilophiis) . 
A common bird, congregating in certain localities where 
they build their nests in the tops of trees or on the ground, 
usually on islands in large lakes. It has rapidly decreased 
in numbers of late years. Cormorant Lake in the south- 
western part of the County derived its name from the 
presence in former years of a colony of these birds. 

15. White Pelican {Pclccaiiiis cryfhrorhyiichos) . 

This large bird, — formerly abundant, nesting on the 
ground in colonies, — is now greatly reduced in nvmibers, 
occurring chiefly in small wandering companies. 

16. American Merganser. Sheldrake, ( Merganser aiiierieaiiiis). 

Probably appears chiefly as a migrant spring and fall. 

A PioxiviiR History of IjKcker County. 163 

17. Red-bkKasted Merganser (Merganser serrator). 

May be looked for as a breeding bird as well as migrant. 
Nest on ground near water. 

18. Hooded Merganser. "Fisb Duck,"" "Saw-bill."" (Lof^Jiodyfes 

A common duck, nesting in bollow trees. Remains late 
in the fall, often in rapid places in streams, when all still 
water is frozen over. A beautiful bird but the flesh usually 
"fishy" and indifferent eating. 

19. Mallard, "Green-head" (Anas bosehas). 

Breeding commonly in marshes and sloughs, especially in 
the prairie portions of the county. This, like all the ducks, 
has been reduced deplorably in numbers of late years. 
Still an abundant migrant spring and fall. 

The Black ^Mallard, or Dusky Duck, probably occurs spar- 
ingly during migrations. 

20. Gadwall, Gray Duck (Cliaiilelasimis sfrepenis) . 

Common, breeding ; similar to Mallard in its summer hab- 

21. Baldpate, American Widgeon (Marcca anierieaini). 

Not very common, breeds. 

22. GrEEn-wingEd Teal (A'eftion earoliiieiisis) . 

Common spring and fall, but for the most part breed- 
ing further north. 
27^. Blue-winged Teal (Oucrquediila discors). 

An abundant bird in all suitable localities, nesting com- 
monly about marshes and ponds. 

The western Cinnamon Teal may occur occasionally as 
a rare straggler. 

24. Shoveller. Spoon-bill (Spatula rlypeafa.) 

Common, breeds. Usually light in weight and a poor 
duck for the table. 

25. Pintail, "Sprig-tail"" {Daflla aeiifa). 

A common early spring and fall migrant, appearing in 
large flocks ; breeding less numerously in the prairie por- 
tion of the County. 

26. Wood Duck [Ai.v spoiisa). 

This gorgeously colored and valuable duck is rapidly 
decreasing in numbers everywhere with the advent of civ- 
ilization. The Wood Duck, as its name implies, is partial 

164 A PioxEER History of Becker County. 

to the streams and ponds of woodlands. It builds its nest 
in a cavity in a tree, often at a considerable distance from 

27. Redhead (Aythya amcricana) . 

Common, breeding in the sloughs and around the edges 
of marshy lakes in the more open portions of the county. 

28. Canvas-back {Aythya raUisncria). 

A less common breeder, but numerous spring and fall. 
This and the last species are fond of the wild celery and 
congregate in the fall in great flocks on lakes where this 
plant is abundant. 

29. Greater Scaup Duck, Large Blue-bill (Aythya marila) . 

Found spring and fall, but less commonly than the next 

30. Lesser Scaup Duck, Blue-bill (AytJiya affiiiis). 

Abundant spring and fall, furnishing a considerable part 
of the late pass-shooting. Breeding sparingly about 
marshy lakes. 

31. Ring-necked Duck, "Black Duck" (Aythya collaris). 

A common and valuable duck, breeding in the marshes 
and appearing as a migrant in great numbers spring and 
fall. In size and appearance very like the Lesser Scaup, 
but the wing patch, or speculum, is bluish gray instead 
of white as in the Scaup. 

32. Golden-eye. Whistle-wing (Claiigiila clangiila amcricana). 

Nowhere common ; found chiefly about the larger lakes 
and along rivers. Xests in a hollow tree. 

A northern species, Barrow's Golden-eye, may occasion- 
ally occur during winter along rivers where the water 
flows too rapidly to freeze. 

33. BuFFLE-iiEAD, "Butter-ball" (Charitonctta albcohi). 

Frequent spring and late fall, preferring open water. 
May occasionally breed ; nests in hollow trees. 

34. White-winged Scoter (Oidemia deglandi). 

This and its two congeners, the American and Surf 
Scoter, are chiefly birds of the sea-coasts and high north- 
ern regions, but are occasionally found in the interior and 
an individual belonging to this group may now and then 
be taken spring or fall or even during the winter months 

A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 165 

where there chances to be open water. They are of Httle 
or no value as game birds. 

35. Ruddy Duck (Bris)Jiatnra jamaicensis). 

This curious little cluck with its spike-like tail is a com- 
mon bird in reedy, marshy lakes, and nests commonly 
about their margins, floating its bulky nest among the 
rushes and cat-tails. It is an expert diver and generally 
adopts this method of escape when hard pressed, after 
the manner of grebes. 

36. Lesser Snow^ Goose, White Brant {Chen hypcrborea) . 

Formerly an abundant species in the prairie regions, ap- 
pearing from the north in late fall in vast flocks ; now, 
much reduced in numbers. 

The Blue Goose {Chen ca:rnlescens) may occur as a 
straggler during migration. 

37. White-fronted Goose {Anser alhifrons gonibeli). 

An arctic-breeding species that may occur rarely during 

38. Canada Goose, "Honker" (Branta canadensis). 

A common migrant spring and fall and formerly a reg- 
ular breeder in the prairie regions, but now rarely, if ever, 
found during the summer. 

The Hutchin's Goose and the Cackling Goose, varieties 
of the Canada Goose, probably occur during the spring 
and fall migrations. The true Brant {Branta hernicla) 
is rarely if ever found in Minnesota, despite the many 
records to the contrary. The Snow Goose is so universally 
known among sportsmen by the name of Brant, that it 
has led to much confusion in statements regarding these 

39. Whistling Swan {Olor colnmhianus) . 

40. Trumpeter Swan {Olor buccinator). 

Of these two species the Whistling Swan breeds in the 
far north and is only found in Minnesota during migra- 
tions and is then an uncommon bird. 

The Trumpeter Swan formerly bred commonly from 
Iowa northward, as evidenced by the many bodies of water 
named after this bird. Now few, if any, remain to breed 
within our territory. Small parties of the latter species are 
still to be found, however, during the migratory seasons. 

i66 A PioxJiivK History of Becker County. 

41. American Bittern (Botcmnis Iciifiginosiis). 

A common bird of marsh and lake side. Familiarly known 
by the names of Stake-driver, Shite-poke, Thunderpump. 

42. Least Bittern (Ardctta c.vilis). 

This slender, curious little bird is common among the 
rank growth of the marshes, especially among the quill- 
reeds ; but its elusive habits result in its being little known. 

43. Great Blue Heron (Ardca hci-odias). 

A common bird about the shores of lakes and along the 
banks of streams. Nests in colonies in the tops of tall 
trees, often in company with Cormorants. This bird is 
popularly known by the name of "Crane ;" but, though 
it has long legs and a long neck, it belongs to a different 
family from the Cranes proper. 

44. Beack-crowned Night Heron {Nycticorax nycticorax 

nocvins) . 

Ma}^ possibly occur in Becker County, but the locality is 

rather far north for this species. 

45. Whooping Ckaxe (Cms aiiicricaiia) . 

A migrant, spring and fall, now becoming rare. 

46. Sandhill Crane (Gnis Mcxicaiia). 

Once a very common bird, breeding in the great prairie 
marshes, but now chiefly a migrant. Usually seen and 
heard flying high overhead. 

47. King Rail (Rallns clcgans). 

Possibly a rare summer resident. 

48. A'iRGiNiA Rail (Ralhis 7 irgiiiiaints) . 

49. Carolina Rail, Sora (Porcaiia caroUiia). 

This and the preceeding species are the common Rail birds 
of the marshes, the Sora, however, far out-numbering the 
larger and longer-billed Virginia Rail. The Sora remains 
until the marshes freeze in the Fall, when they disappear 
in a night as if by magic. 

50. Yellow Rail {Poraaiia noz'choracciisis). 

Prof. W. W. Cooke has seen this little Rail once at White 
Earth Agency in the latter part of June, which would indi- 
cate it as a breeding bird. On account of the dense marshy 
growth, which it frequents, and its indisposition to take 

A TioxEEK History oi'^ Bkckur County. 167 

wing when disturbed, it is not easy to observe and may be 
long overlooked where it is not uncommon. 

51. CooT, Mud-hen (fiilica atncricana). 

An abundant and well-known bird, breeding in great 
numbers in sloughs and marshy lakes. 

The Florida Gallinule (Galliinila galcala) may occasion- 
ally occur in similar surroundings, though it is naturally a 
more southern bird. The red bill and frontal shield will 
distinguish it from the Coot, in which the bill is white 
with brown shield. The Gallinule, in habits, is more like 
a Rail than a Coot. 

52. Wilson's Piialarope (StCL!;aiiopiis tricolor). 

This gentle, graceful bird is a common summer resident on 
the prairie meadows. Contrary to the usual custom, the 
female Phalarope is the gay-colored member of the family, 
and leaves the incubation of the eggs and care of the 
young to her plainly-colored mate. 

Another species, the Northern Phalarope, probably occurs 
as a rare migrant. 

53. AvocET (Rcciiri irostra amcricaiia). 

Formerly a breeding bird throughout the prairie regions 
of Minnesota, now of rare occurrence. 

54. Woodcock {Philohela minor). 

Frequents low, wet woodland. Uncommon. 

55. Wilson's Snipe. Jack Snipe (Gollinago dclicata). 

A common bird in meadows and along tlie marshy borders 
of lakes and streams, especially in spring and fall, a few 
nesting in such localities. 

56. LoNG-iULLED DowiTCiiER,, Red-brcasted Snipe {Macroshaiii- 

pliiis sci^lopaccus) . 
Breeds in the far north ; migrates through our state in 
little flocks, when it is to be found frequenting sloughs or 

57. Stilt Sandpiper (Micropalaina hynioJifopiis). 

A rare migrant. 

58. Knot, Robin Snipe {Triiiga caiiiitiis) . 

May occur as a rare migrant. 

59. Pectoral Sandpiper. Jack Snipe (Triiiga luacnlafa). 

Usually a common migrant. 

i68 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

60. White-rumped Sandpiper (Triiiga fuscicoUis). 

A migrant spring and fall. 

61. Baird's Sandpiper (Triiiga bairdii). 

Sometimes a common migrant found along the sandy 
shores of lakes, often in company with the next species. 

62. Least Sandpiper (Triiiga ininutilla). 

A common bird spring and fall along the shores of lakes 
and streams. Breeds far north. 

63. Red-backed Sandpiper (Triiiga alpiiia paciUca). 

Occasionally found during migration in similar situations 
as the last two and the next species. 

64. Semi-paemated Sandpiper (Brcwictes piisiUns). 

Associates with the Least Sandpiper, which it closely re- 
sembles in most ways, but may be distinguished by the 
webbed base of its toes. 

65. Sanderling (Calidris arcnaria). 

A coast-wise bird, occurring as a rare straggler if at all. 
Has been taken several times in Minnesota. 

66. Marbled Godwit (Liinosa fcdoa). 

Once an abundant and conspicuous summer resident over 
all the prairie regions of Minnesota, but now so reduced 
in numbers as to be almost uncommon. 

67. HuDSONiAN GoDwiT (Liinosa li(riiiastica). 

May occasionally be encountered as a migrant. 

68. Greater Yeeeow-lEGS (Totanus melaiwleucus). 

69. Lesser Yeleow-lEGS (Totamis ftaripcs) . 

Both these long-legged snipe are common and early mi- 
grants and their loud "Tell-tale" cries are well known 
sounds about mud flats and marshy lake-sides. A few are 
to be found during the summer months, but they breed 
almost entirely in the far north. 

70. Solitary Sandpiper (Helodromas solitaries). 

A common migrant found chiefly about ponds and streams 
in wooded regions. A few pass the summer and probably 
nest in such localities. The nest is a rarity and there is 
reason to believe that the eggs are deposited in the deserted 
arboreal nests of other birds. 

71. Western WillET (Symphcmia scmipalinata inornata). 

Once a common summer bird of our prairies, now greatly 
reduced in numbers. 

A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 169 

72. Bartramian Sandpiper, Field Plover, Upland Plover, 

"Onaily" (Bartrainia longicauda) . 

Once one of the most characteristic birds of all our upland 
prairies ; but on account of its palatable flesh and tame and 
unsuspicious nature, together with the destruction of its 
natural habitat for purposes of agriculture, it has been re- 
duced almost to the verge of extermination where it was 
once most abundant. The "passing" of the Upland Plover 
is much to be deplored, and it is doubtful whether it can 
ever be reinstalled, even with the most rigid protection. 

73. Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryugites subruficollis). 

Occasionally encountered during migration in compact 
flocks of many individuals, frequenting the dry prairies in 
the neighborhood of lakes and watercourses. 

74. Spotted Sandpiper, "Tip up," "Teeter" (Actitis inacularia). 

A common summer resident, familiar to everyone as it 
feeds along the sandy shores of our lakes and streams. 

75. LoNG-BiELED Curlew (Numenhis longirostris) . 

The day of this large and conspicuous bird with its long 
curved bill has nearly passed in the settled portions of 
Minnesota. It was once a common summer resident on 
our prairies. 

76. HuDSONiAN Curlew (A^uiiiciiiiis Jiiidsoniits). 

A rare migrant if at all. 
yy. Eskimo Curlew {Nitincnins borcalis) . 

Formerly an abundant migrant over the prairie regions 
of the interior, but now like the Passenger Pigeon, ap- 
parently a bird of the past. The explanation of its singular 
disappearance is not apparent. 

78. Black-belliEd Plover (Sqnatarola squatarola) . 

Sometimes common on upland prairies during migration. 

79. Golden Plover {Charadriiis dominicus). 

A more common species than the last, occurring under 
similar conditions. 

80. KiLLDEER Plover (Aigialitis rocifcra). 

A common and familiar bird, its loud "Kill-dec, Kill-dee, 
Kill-dee" well-known to everybody. 

81. Semi-palmated Plover {JEgialitis semipalrnata). 

Occurs during migration. 

I/O A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

82. Belted Piping Plover (.Jii!;ialifis uicloda circmiiciiicta ] . 

Like the last may be encountered during" migration and 
possibly breeding-. 

83. Turnstone (Arciiaria nioriucUa). 

May be looked for as a very rare migrant. F. H. Brackett 
reports seeing a "bunch of four" near Detroit in Mav, 

84. BoB-WHiTE. Quail (Coliiius zirgiuiaiius). 

Air. D. W. Meeker, of Moorehead, states that this 1)ird 
has of late years become a permanent resident in moderate 
numbers in the southern part of Becker County. This is 
probably the most northern locality for the state. 

85. Canada Grouse, Spruce Partridge {Dc)idrai!;a[^iis cainidciisis). 

Fovuid in the evergreen forests of the county. 

86. RuFEED Grouse, "Pheasant," "Partridge" (Bomisa initbcJIiis 

toi^ato ) . 
A common bird of the forests, disappearing all too rapidly 
with the destruction of its haunts. 

87. Prairie Hen, Pinnated Grouse, Prairie Chicken (Tyiiipanii- 

chus amcricaiiiis ) . 
This bird has extended its range northwestward until it 
is now found in almost all parts of Minnesota, where the 
character of the surface is suited to its wants. It reached 
the western part of Minnesota twenty-five or thirty years 

88. Sharp-tailed GrolisE. "Prairie Chicken" [Pcdiocccfcs phasi- 

aiiclliis campcsfris). 
This was the original Prairie Chicken of the western part 
of our state. It is rather more frecjuently found among 
scattered timber and in brushland than the Pinnated 

89. P.vssENGEK Pigeon, Wild Pigeon (Bctopistcs tiiigraforiiis) . 

Formerly an abundant bird throughout all the wood- 
lands of the state, now probably entirely extinct every- 
where. Brackett reports seeing near Detroit in May. 1883, 
"a few small flocks," and adds that it was "ver}- abundant 
a little later." 

90. Mourning Dove, Carolina Dove (Zoialdiira uiacroiira). 

A common bird, often mistaken, when in flocks, for the 
last species, accounting for some of the reports of the lat- 
ter bird being seen during late years. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 171 

91. Turkey Buzzard, Turkey \'ulture {Cathartcs aura). 


92. SwALEOW-TAiLED KiTE (Ehuwidcs forfjcatiis) . 

Occurs as a summer resident in the forest-covered portion 
of the county. A single individual seen by the writer at 
Elk Lake near the northeastern corner of Becker County 
in July, 1902. 

93. Marsh Hawk, Marsh Harrier (Circus hudsouius) . 

A common bird seen hunting low over the marshes and 
prairies. Its food consists largely of meadow mice, frogs, 
snakes and large insects. It is therefore a useful bird and 
should not be thoughtlessly destroyed. 

94. Sharp-shinned Hawk {Accipitcr tcJox). 

This trim little hawk is a summer resident and fair- 
ly common. It is rapid of flight and daring in pursuit 
of its prey. It is powerful for its size and destroys many 
birds and where opportunity offers does much damage 
among young poultry. 

95. Cooper's Hawk {Accipitcr coopcrii). 

Common. Resembling the last species, but decidedly larg- 
er. Often called "Hen Hawk." It works much havoc 
among wild birds and poultry. 

96. American Goshawk (Accipitcr atricapillus) . 

Found chiefly in the winter time, but a few may breed in 
the heavy forests. A large, powerful bird that preys al- 
most entirely upon rabbits, squirrels, grouse, ducks and 
poultry when the opportunity offers. 

This hawk, together with the last two species and the 
Duck Hawk, to be mentioned later, are the outlaws among 
the diurnal birds of prey. They do far more harm in se- 
curmg their chosen quarry, than can be condoned by the 
small amount of good they do in the destruction of in- 
jurious rodents and other animals. In the case of all the 
other hawks the balance is in their favor and they are 
of real benefit to the farmer and are worthy of protec- 
tion even if they do destroy an occasional domestic fowl. 

97. Red-tailed Hawk. "Hen Hawk," "Chicken Hawk" (Butco 

borcalis) . 
This is a common bird, forming the great bulk of the large 
hawks seen during the summer time. It is a valuable allv 

172 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

of the fanner, feeding as it does almost entirely upon 
gophers, squirrels, mice, grasshoppers and other insects 
with a few snakes, lizards and frogs, and, less frequently, 
wild birds and poultry. However, its few harmful deeds 
give it a bad name and it is relentlessly pursued and de- 
stroyed by every poultry raiser, when the real offender is 
usually one of the smaller species mentioned above. 

A light colored variety of this bird, known as Krider's 
Hawk, and a dark western form, known as the Western 
Red Tail, may be looked for as of occasional occurrence. 

98. Red-shouldered Hawk {Biitco lineatus). 

A more southern species probably occurring occasionally 
in the summer time. 

99. Swainson's Hawk, Grasshopper Hawk {Bntco szuaiiisoiiii). 

A common species. This bird feeds almost exclusively on 
striped gophers and mice, grasshoppers and crickets. At 
times it destroys large numbers of locusts and large grass- 
hoppers, which it secures by beating low over the prairie 
and seizing them as they tiy up from the ground. It is 
thus an eminently beneficial bird and should be recognized 
and carefull}- protected. 

100. Broad-winged Hawk (Bntco playptenis). 

A medium sized hawk that rarely kills birds and is dis- 
tinctly of benefit to the agricultural interests. An abundant 
loi. American Rough-legged Hawk (Arcliibiitco lagopiis saiicti- 

A winter bird, feeding extensively upon mice and other 
small rodents. 

The Ferruginous Rough-legged or Squirrel Hawk, a 
western species, may occasionally occur as a straggler. 

102. Golden Eagle (Aquila chyscutos). 

Chiefly a winter bird in the United States, but Prof. Cooke 
tells us that he has seen them in Becker County, presum- 
ably at White Earth Agency, as late as the first of June ; 
which would seem to indicate that they formerly, if not at 
present, bred in the secluded parts of the county. 

103. Bald Eagle (Haliccfiis Icucocephalus). 

Once rather common. Now restricted to a few pairs, nest- 
ing amid the wildest snrroundings. A pair has nested 

A Pioneer History of Becker Couxty. 173 

for many years past in a large pine tree on the west shore 
of Elk Lake, but a short distance north of the northeastern 
corner of Becker County. The writer inspected and photo- 
graphed this eyrie, containing two young eaglets in July, 
1902. The Bald Eagle makes bold to capture a few squirrels, 
rabbits, gophers, and an occasional bird ; but for the most 
part secures its living by robbing the Fisk Hawk of its 
hard-earned prey. It is, also, not averse to carrion when 
hard pressed. A noble record for the bird selected as our 
national emblem ! 

104. Gyrfaecon {Falco rnsticolus) . 

This, or one of its two varieties, may be looked for as a 
rare accidental winter visitant from the north. 

105. Prairie Falcon {Falco mexicanus). 

A western species that may occur as a rare straggler in 
the prairie portion of the county. 

106. Duck Hawk (Falco peregrinus anatuni). 

A beautiful, bold hawk of medium size. An occasional 
pair may be found nesting in tall timber about the larger 
bodies of water. 

107. Pigeon Hawk {Falco coliinihaviiis). 

A common little hawk of spirited habit, feeding chiefly on 
birds and insects and occasional small mammals. 

108. Richardson's Merein (Falco richardsonii) . 

A western species that may occur as a rare visitor in the 
prairie portion of the county. 

109. Sparrow Hawk (Falco sparvcrhis). 

An abundant and beautiful little hawk to be seen sitting 
motionless on the top of a stub or fence post, or poised on 
rapidly-beating wings, as it looks for the mouse or grass- 
hopper in the grass below. A very useful bird that has 
been all too greatly reduced in numbers of late years. 
Nests in holes in trees. 
no. OsPREY, Fish Hawk (Fandioii halicctiis caroliiicnsis) . 

A few pairs nest about the larger bodies of water. They 
were to be seen daily about Lake Itasca in the summer 
of 1902, securing their prey by bold dashes into the water, 
often from a considerable height. They seize the tish in 
their talons and bear it off to be devoured at some con- 

1/4 A Pioneer History of Becker Couxty. 

venient resting place when not despoiled of their quarrv 
by the watchful Bald Eagle. 

111. LoNG-EARED Owl (Asio zvilsoniauus). 

A common inhabitant of tamarack and white cedar swamps. 
Migrates south in the winter. 

112. SiioRT-E.\RED Owl (Asio accipitrinits). 

Common. A bird of the marsh and prairie, rarely, if ever, 
found in woodland. Summer resident only. 

113. B.ARRED Owl (Syniimn iicbitlositin). 

A frequent species in heavy timber. 

114. Great Gray Owl (Scotiaptc.v cincrca). 

Occasionally found in the winter time in the heavy forest. 

115. Richardson's Owl (Xyctala tciig)iiahiii n'cJiardsoiii). 

A small owl, occurring occasionally in winter. 

116. Saw-whet Owl (Nyctala acadica). 

The smallest of our owls. A not luicommon permanent 
resident, nesting in deserted woodpecker holes. 

117. Screech Owl (Mcgascops asio). 

This is the common little owl that comes so fearlessly 
about farms, hunting for mice among the out-buildings and 
about the grain stacks. Remains through the winter. 

118. Great Horned Owl, Cat Owl (Bubo rirgiiiiaints). 

The commonest large owl. Found chiefly in heavy woods. 
This bird is large and powerful and very destructive to 
mammals and birds of many species. It kills a large num- 
ber of rabbits and works havoc among the Ruffed grouse 
during the late fall and winter season, when other food 
is not as easily obtained. 

The owls are, for the most part, beneficial to agricultural 
interests, as they destroy, in their nocturnal prowlings, an 
immense number of mice, other small injurious mam- 
mals, and insects, some of them of the most damaging 
varieties. The Great Horned and the Great Gray are 
the only two species an inventory of whose food would 
show the balance to be seriously against them. The farmer, 
who kills the smaller owls, is thoughtlessly destroying most 
valuable allies in the constant warfare which it is necessary 
to wage against his natural enemies. 

A light variety of the Great Horned Owl is known as 
the Arctic Horned Owl. 

A PioxEER History of Becker County. 


119. Snowy Owl (A^ycfca iiycfca.) 

A winter visitant, sometimes appearing in considerable 
numbers, usually in open country. It is a powerful owl, 
destructive to birds, mammals and fish, but its munbers 
are usually so limited that it is not a disturbing element of 
much importance. 

120. American Hawk Owl {Snrnia ulula caparoch). 

A rather common winter visitant throughout the forests 
of northern Minnesota and a few probably remain to breed. 
This owl is said often to hunt its prey, hawk-like, in the day- 

The popular idea that owls are able to see but very 
imperfectly in the daytime is not entirely correct, for most, if 
not all, varieties can see well enough to get about with per- 
fect ease when forced to move, and several other species be- 
sides the Hawk Owl occasionally hunt by day. 

121. Burrowing Owl {Spcotyto cunicularia hypogcca). 

A bird of the prairie dog towns further west, occasionally 
found in western Minnesota inhabiting deserted badger 
and fox dens. 

122. Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccy:::iis aiiiericaiiiis). 

123. Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccycus crythrophfhalniiis) . 

The cuckoos are rather common but shy birds and little seen 
as they inhabit the thick underbrush. Their loud, rattling call 
is, however, well known ; and the belief, that they utter 
it usually just preceding storms, has given to them the 
common name of "Rain Crow." They are about the only 
birds that will eat, in any considerable numbers, the hairy 
caterpillars which are often such a pest; and they are there- 
fore, among our most beneficial birds. Unlike the Euro- 
pean Cuckoo they build their own nests and rear their own 

124. Belted KingeishER {Ccrylc alcyon). 

Common about all the lakes and streams. 

125. Hairy Woodpecker (Dryobafes zillosus). 

Common in heavy timber and wooded swamp-land. 

126. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobofcs pubcscciis) . 

Abundant everywhere in woodland. 

127. Arctic Three-toEd Woodpecker. Black-backed Three-toed 

Woodpecker (Picoides). 

A common permanent resident in the evergreen forests. 

176 A PioxEKR History of Becker County. 

128. American Three-toed Woodpecker, "Ladder-back" {Picoi- 

dcs aiiiencaiiiis) . 
An uncommon bird. Breeding at Lake Itasca in 1902. 

129. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapiciis ^arius). 

A common summer resident. This bird from its habit of 
piercing the bark to secure the sap, does much injury to 
many varieties of trees, incluchng cultivated fruit and orna- 
mental species. It is therefore to be regarded in the light 
of a pest — the only outlaw among the woodpeckers, which 
are, as a family, among the most useful of all our birds. 

130. PiLEATEi) Woodpecker, Logcock, Cock-of-the-Woods, 

(Ccophkriis pilcafiis abicticola) . 

This, the largest of our woodpeckers, is still rather common 
in the primitive forests. It is a most useful bird and should 
never be ruthlessly destroyed simply because it is an object 
of curiosity, as is so frequently the case. 

131. Red-iiEaded Woodpecker (Mclancrpcs crytliroccphahis) . 

Common in open woodland and about habitations. 

132. Flicker, "High Hole," "Yellow Hammer," "Golden-winged 

Woodpecker (Colapfcs aiiratiis hifciis). 
A familiar bird known to everyone. More terrestrial in 
habit than the other woodpeckers, feeding extensively on 
ants which it secures by thrusting its long, sticky togue in- 
to their burrows. 
^33- Whip-poor-will {Anfrostoiiiiis vocifenis) . 

Present. Brackett says, "Heard one on May 6, 1883, near 

134. NiGHT-ii.vwK, Bull bat {Chordcilcs zirgiiiiaiiiis). 

A common and well-known bird. The birds found on the 
prairie and in open country are light-colored and are known 
as Sennett's Night-hawk. 

135. Chimney Swift, Chimney "Swallow" [Chcctiira pi-lai:!;ica). 

Abundant. Formerly bred in hollow trees. 

136. Ruby-Throated Hummingiurd i^Trocliiliis coliibris). 


137. Kingbird {Tyrainius tyraniiiis). 


138. Arkansas Kingbird (Tyrainuis verficalis). 

A western species found rather commonly in the tree claims 
and groves along the borders of the prairies. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 177 

139. Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchiis criiiitiis). 

Frequent in heavy timber about lakes and along water- 
courses. Builds its nest in a cavity in a tree. This is 
the Flycatcher that almost invariably places a cast-off snake- 
skin in its nest. 

140. PHoeoE, House Pewee {Sayoniis pha-bc). 

A familiar bird, nesting about out-buildings and under 

141. Olive-sided Flycatcher (Coutopns borcalis). 

A summer resident in heavy woodland. Brackett says: 
"Saw several near Detroit in 18S3." 

142. Wood Pewee {Coiifopus lirciis). 

A common bird in all woodland. 

143. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Enipidoiia.v Hazircntris). 

A common migrant, and probably a few breed in damp 

144. Traill's Flycatcher (Binpidonax fraillii). 

Common, frequenting chiefly willow^ groves and low-lying 
brush land. Probably, in part, at least, the variety known 
as the Alder Flycatcher. 

145. Least Flycatcher, Chebec (Enipidoiia.v ininiiiuis). 

The most common member of the family in all woodland. 

146. Prairie Horned Lark, Shore Lark (Ofocoris alpestris 


A common bird everywhere in open country. Retreats 
southward in winter and returns at the very earliest sug- 
gestion of spring. 

A larger variety know'n as Hoyt's Horned Lark, which 
breeds in British America, may be looked for as a late 
fall and early spring visitant. 

147. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata). 

Common, and familiar to all. 

148. Canada Jay, "Moose Bird," "Camp Robber," "Whisky Jack" 

{Pcrisorcns canadensis) . 

Common, noticed chiefly in the winter time as it then 
forages about lumber camps and forest dwellings. In the 
early spring it retreats to nest in the most inaccessible 
spruce and white cedar swamps. 

178 A PioxEiiK History of Becker Couxtv. 

149. XoRTiiEKX Ravex {Corz'iis corax /principalis) . 

Occurs cliiefly as a late fall, winter and early spring- visit- 
ant from the north, feeding- about camps and along- the 
shores of lakes and rivers. 

150. American Crow (Conns aiiiericaiius) . 

\'ery common. 

Clarke's Nutcracker, a western bird, has been taken as a 
rare straggler in western Minnesota and may be looked 
for in Becker County. 

151. Bobolink, Reed Bird, Rice Bird {Dolichonyx oryaiTonis) . 

An abundant bird in all prairie meadows. Called Rice 
Bird in the south where it is very destructive in the rice 
fields; in the north a harmless or beneficial bird. 

152. Cow Bird {Molothrns ater). 

Common. A parasitic bird, never building a nest of its 
own, the eggs being deposited in the nests of other birds, 
usually a species smaller than the cow bird. The voung 
are cared for by the foster parents. 

153. Yellow-headed Blackbird (XaiitJwccphalus xanflwccplia- 


Abundant in all (juill-reed and cat-tail swamps. A powerful 
bird, doing much harm to corn, oats and wheat but also 
feeding extensively upon grasshoppers and locusts. 

154. Red-wixged Blackbird (Agelaius pluriiiccus.) 

An abundant and destructive bird although the injury it 
does to grain is somewhat compensated for by the numerous 
number of injurious insects and weed seeds wdiich it con- 

A variety known as the Thick-billed Redwing occurs as 
a migrant in late fall and early spring. 

155. Western Meadow Lark (Sturnella magna ncglccta). 

Abundant. A valuable bird to the farmer. 

156. Orchard Oriole {Ictcrns spurius). 

Brackett says, "Quite common" at Detroit in May, 1883, 
but this is so near the northern limit of its distribution 
that one would expect it to be of infrequent occurrence. 

157. Baltimore Oriole, "Hangnest," "Golden Robin," "Golden 

Oriole" {Icterus galbula). 
\'erv conimon. 

A PioxKKR History oi' Becker County. 179 

158. Rusty Blackbird (Scolccopliagiis carolinus). 

A common migrant spring" and fall, breeding' in the far 
north. Occurs in large, noisy flocks. 

159. Brewer's Blackbird (Scolccophagus cyaiioccplialus). 

Similar to the last in appearance. A summer resident, 
breeding' in colonies in poplar groves and other small 

160. Bronzed GracklE, Crow Blackbird (Ouiscalits qiiiscula 


Common, breeding. Most noticeable in the late summer 
and fall when thev congregate in loose flocks, feeding 
about farm-yards, fields and lawns, destroying a large num- 
ber of injurious insects and grubs that compensate in some 
measure for the injury that they do to the farmers' crops. 

161. Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraiisfes ccspcrtinus) . 

A \vinter visitant, appearing in small flocks. Tame and 
vmsuspicious in habits. Feeds largely on fruit of the box- 
elder, maple and hackberry. 

162. Pine Grosbeak (Piiiicola ciiuclcafor). 

Also a winter visitant. Fond of the fruit of the sumac 
and high -bush cranberry. 

163. Purple Finch (Carpodaciis purpurcns). 

Chiefly to be seen in flocks, spring and fall, but a few 
breed in the evergreen forests. 

164. American Crossbill {Loxia ciinirosfra minor). 

A permanent resident throughout northern Minnesota. 

165. Whitk-winged Crossbill (Loxia Icncoptcra) . 

Occurrence the same as the last but usually not so plentiful. 

166. Redpoll {AcantJiis liiiaria). 

A visitant from the north, occurring in flocks often of 
considerable size. 

Two other varieties, the Hoary and the Greater, may 
be looked for as occasional associates of the common Red- 

167. American Goldfinch , "Thistle Bird," "Wild Canary" (As- 

tragaUnus tristis). 

Common. Nesting late in summer. 

168. Pine Siskin (Spiniis piiius). 

]\Iuch less common than the last, chiefly seen spring and 

i8o A PioxEKR History of Becker County. 

fall, but a few may nest in the pine forests of the north- 
eastern corner of the county. 

169. English Sparrow {Passer doiiicsticus). 

Introduced into the United States in 1850, this bird has 
spread until it is now a resident in almost every state and 
territory of the Union and in most parts of British America. 

170. SnowFlake (Passcriiia tiivalis). 

A winter visitant from the north, occurring in larg^e flocks 
in open country. Chiefly noticeable in the late fall and 
early spring. 

171. Lapland Longspur (Calcoriiis lappoiiiciis). 

Like the last. 

172. Smith's Longspur (Calcarius pictus). 

May occur in company with the last species. 

173. Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus). 

A common summer bird on the higher prairies. 

174. McCown's Longspur {Rhynchophancs uiccoivnii). 

To be looked for as a breeding bird, often in wheat-fields 
among the growing grain. Breeds in Pipestone and Lac 
qui Parle Counties. 

175. Vesper Sparrow, Grass Finch, Bay-winged Bunting (Poocce- 

tcs gramiiicus) . 
A common roadside bird. 

176. Savanna Sparrow (Aimiiodraiiiiis sand-d'ichciisis saiaiuia). 

Common in meadows. 

177. Baird's Sparrow (Aiiimodraiinis bairdii). 

A prairie Ijird. common in the same situations as the last 

178. Grasshopper Sparrow, Yellow-winged Sparrow {Amniodra- 

nms saiaiinanim passcrimis). 

A common bird of upland prairie and grass fields. 

179. Henslow's Sparrow {Aniinodramns hcnsloivii). 

This tiny bird, almost mouse-like in habit, is not uncommon 
among rank grass, in dry meadows or upland fields. 

180. Leconte's Sparrow {Ainiiiodraiiiits Icconfcii). 

Common in the marshes and meadows about prairie 

181. Nelson's Sparrow, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Finch {Amuiodra- 

mus nelsoni). 

Frequents prairie marshes. Breeding. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. i8i 

182. Lark Sparrow. Lark Finch (Choiidcsfes grammacus). 

A bird found chiefly in semi-prairie country. Usually 

183. Harris' Sparrow (Zoiiotrichia qncnila). 

IMigrant, spring and fall. Usually abundant in the latter 

184. White-crowned Sparrow (Zoiiotrichia Icncophrys). 

Like the last but less common. 

What is known as Gambel's or the Intermediate Sparrow, 
a western variety of this species, occurs regularly during 
the migrations, often in considerable numbers. 

185. White-throated Sparrow (Zoiiotrichia albicoUis). 

Common summer resident, breeding throughout the ever- 
green portion of the county. 

186. Tree Sparrow (Spi::;clhi monticola). 

An abundant migrant spring and fall. 

187. Chipping Sparrow, "Chippy," Hair-bird (SpizcUa socialis). 

Common, often breeding familiarly about houses and in 

188. Clay-colored Sparrow (Spi::cUa pallida). 


189. Slate-colored Junco, Snow Bird (J unco hyciiialis). 

An abundant summer bird throughout the evergreen re- 
gion. Elsewhere migrant spring and fall. 

An occasional example of the western variety known as 
the Oregon Junco, may be found among the migrating 

190. Song Sparrow (Mclospica iiiclodia). 

Common summer resident. 

191. Lincoln's Sparrow (Mclospica lincolnii). 

Found chiefly in the evergreen forests. Probably breeds, 
but apparently not common. 

192. Swamp Sparrow (Mclospiza georgiana). 

Common. A bird of wet swamps, especially where grown 
up in bushes. 

193. Fox Sparrow (Passer ella iliaca). 

A common migrant spring and fall. 

194. TowHEE, Chewink, "Ground Robin" (Pipilo crythrophthal- 

A common bird in woodlands. 

i82 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

195. RoSK-i'.REASTED Grosbeak (Zamclodia Judoziciana) . 

A common summer resident. 

196. Indigo Bunting {Cyanospiza cyanca). 

Infrequent, probably reachino^ the northern hmit of its 
distribution in the open woodland of the southern part of 
Becker County. Prof. W. W. Cooke states that he did 
not see it during a three years' residence at White Earth 
Agency ; but Mr. B. T. Gault reported seeing several. May 
27th, 1893, in going from Detroit to Lake Lida. .\t the lat- 
ter place several were encoimtered June 15th of the same 
year in a brushy pasture. The writer did not see it at Lake 
Itasca, but it occurs at Leech Lake. 

197. DiCKCissEE, Black-throated Bunting (Spha americana). 

A summer resident, frequenting chiefly grass, clover and 
grain fields, where it nests in late June and July. Becker 
County is near the northern limit of its range but it has 
been found nesting in Polk County, still further north and 
it has been reported from Marshall County. 

198. Lark Bunting, White-winged Blackbird (Calaiiiospica incl- 

anocorys) . 

A bird of the western plains found on the upland prairies 
of western Minnesota, often commonly. 

199. Scarlet Tanager {Piranga erythraniclas) . 

Found as a summer resident in open woodland. 

200. Purple AIartin (Progiic siibis). 

Common about settlements. 

201. Cliff Swallow {PctrochcUdon hinifroiis). 

Common, breeding under the eaves of buildings. 

202. Barn Swallow (Hinindo crythrogasfra). 


203. Tree Swallow, White-bellied Swallow (Tachyiiiccta hicoJor). 

Common. Nesting in holes in trees and stumps. 

204. Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia). 

Frequent, nesting in colonies in holes in banks along rivers 
and lakes. 

205. Rough-winged Swallow (Stclgidoptcry.v scrripcjuiis). 

Similar to the last but less sociable. 

206. Bohemian Waxwing {Ampclis garridus). 

A winter visitor from the north, coming often in con- 
siderable flocks, but verv irregularly. 

A rioxKKK History of Becker County. 183 

207. Cedar IjIRD, Cherry Bird, Cedar Waxwing [AuipcUs ccdro- 

niiii ). 

An abundant summer resident. 
20(S. Northern Shrike, Butcher Bird {Laiiiiis burcalis). 

A spring and fall visitor, but probably not found during 

the winter except in unusually mild seasons. 
2oy.- Migrating Shrike (Laiiins Indovicianus jitigrans). 

A summer resident. 

210. Red-eyed V'ireo (Virco olivaceus). 

Common everywhere in woodland. 

211. Philadelphia VirEo (Virco philadclphicus). 

An uncommon migrant, possibly breeds. 

212. Warbling VirEo (l^irco gihus). 


213. Yellow-throated Vireo (Virco fiavifrons). 

A summer resident, less common than either the Red-eyed 
or Warbling. 

214. Blue-headed Vireo, Solitary Vireo (Virco solitarius). 

Breeds rather commonly in the evergreen forests in the 
northeastern corner of the county, elsewhere a migrant. 

215. Black and White Warbler (Mniotilfa varia). 

A summer resident throughout the wooded portion of the 

216. Golden-winged Warbler {Hcliiiijithophila chrysoptcra) . 

A summer resident in bushy woods especially near tama- 
rack swamps. 

217. Nashville Wx\rblEr (Hcliiiiitthophila nibricapilla). 

A common summer resident in the tamarack and white 
cedar swamps. 

218. Orange-crowned Warbler (Hcliniiifliopliila cclata). 

A common spring and fall migrant. 

219. Tennessee Warbler (HchninthophUa pcrcgrina). 

A very abundant migrant spring and fall. 

220. Parula Warbler {Compsothlypis anicricana). 

A rather common summer resident in the heavy timber. 

221. Cape ^Iay Warbler (Dciidroica tigriiua). 

A spring and fall migrant. 

222. Yellow W^\rblEr (Dciidroica crstiza). 

An abundant summer resident. 

184 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

223. Black-Throated Blue Warbler (Dciidroica ccrnilcscois). 

An uncommon migrant. 

224. Myrtle Warbler. Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dciidroica 


An abundant spring and fall migrant. A few pairs prob- 
ably breed in the Lake Itasca region. 

225. Magnolia Warbler {Dciidroica maculosa). 

A common migrant, breeding in limited numbers in the 
evergreen forest. 

226. Chestnut-sided Warbler (Dciidroica pciiiisyl7viiica.) 

A common summer resident. 

227. Bay-breasted Warbler (Dciidroica castaiica). 

An uncommon migrant. 

228. Black-poll Warbler (Dciidroica striata). 

A common migrant. 

229. Blackburnian Warbler (Dciidroica blackbitniicc). 

Breeds rather commonly in the heavy forests of the county. 

230. Black-throated Green Warbler (Dciidroica zirois). 

A bird of the heavy forest, living almost exclusively in the 
tree tops. 

231. Pine Warbler (Dciidroica zii:;orsii). 

An abundant summer resident in all "Jack pine" timber. 

232. Palm Warbler (Dciidroica paliiiarniii) . 

A common migrant. 

233. Oven bird (Scinrus anrocapiUus). 

Common everywhere in woodlands. 

234. Grinnell's Water-thrush (Scinrus noreboracciisis nota- 


Summer resident in low-lying woodlands. Common along 

the banks of lakes and streams during migration. 

235. Connecticut Warbler (Gcothlypis agilis). 

To be looked for as a rare migrant. 

236. Mourning Wari'.lER ( Gcothlypis Philadelphia) . 

A common summer resident, breeding in old "burns" in 
the pine forest. 

237. Maryland Yellow-throat (Gcoflilypis trichas brachidac- 

A common summer bird in all bushy meadows. 

238. Wilson's Warbler (IVilsoiiia piisilla). 

A spring and fall migrant. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 185 

239. Canadian WakblER (IVilsonia canadensis). 

Chiefly as a migrant, but a few breed about the white 
cedar swamps. 

240. American Redstart {Scto{^hai:;a ruficilla). 

A common summer resident. 

241. Amzrjcan FiPiT (A iifhiis pciiiisylzaniciis). 

Spring and fall migrant, seen usually in open country or 
along the beaches of the larger lakes. 

242. Sprague's Pipit (Aiithiis spragiicii). 

A western species occurring on the prairies of the western 
portions of the county. This bird soars and sings high in 
the air like the English skylark and our own horned lark. 

243. Cat Bird (Galeoscoptes carolinensis) . 

Common summer resident. 

244. Brown Thrasher (Toxostoina nifuiii). 

Quite common in the more open wooded portions of the 

245. Western House Wren (Troglodytes ccdoii a::feciis). 

A common and well known little bird. 

246. Winter Wren (Olbiorchilus Jueiiialis). 

A summer resident, breeding in the heavy forest, but not 
commonly. More frequent as a migrant. Not found in 
the winter as its name implies. 

247. Short-billed Marsh Wren {Cistothorns stcUaris). 

A common bird in meadows and marshes. 

248. Long-billed Marsh Wren (Cistothorns pahtstris). 

A commoner bird than the last, found in wetter marshes. 

249. Brown Creeper (CertJiia faniiliaris ainericana) . 

This tinv little bird is common in all woodland, migrating 
south in the winter. 

250. White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis). 

A common permanent resident in all woodland. 

251. Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis). 

A summer resident, migrating southward for the winter. 

252. Chickadee (Parus atricapillns) . 

A permanent resident. Common. 

253. HuDSONiAN Chickadee (Parus hndsonicns). 

A northern species to be looked for as a winter visitant, 
possibly nesting, as it does regularly in the northeastern 
part of Minnesota. 

i86 A I'ldXKKR HisTom' oi" 1')i;ckkk Couxtv. 

254. GoLDEN-CROwNRD Kinglet (Rcgulus satrapa). 

A common spring' and fall migrant. 

255. RuRY -CROWNED KiNGLET (Reguliis calciiditla) . 

An early spring and late fall migrant, usiialK' in con- 
siderable nnmbers. 

256. Wood Thrush (Uylocichla iiiiisfclina). 

A summer resident, its beautiful song beard in almost all 

257. Wh^son's Thrush, \"eery ( Hylocichla fiisccscciis). 

A common summer resident. 

258. Gray-cheeked Thrush (Hylocichla alicicc). 

A spring and fall migrant. 

259. OrjvE-BACKED Thrush, Swainson's Tbrusb (Hylocichla 

nstnlata sivainsonii) . 

A summer resident in tbe evergreen forests. 

260. Hermit Thrush (Hylocichla guttata pallasii). 

An abundant summer resident throughout tbe coniferous 
forests. Its wonderful song could be heard coming from 
all directions until far into the twilight every evening at 
Lake Itasca during June and July. 1902. 

261. American Robin {Mcriila migratoria). 

An abundant simimer resident, often seen migrating in 
considerable flocks. 

262. Blue-bird (Sialia sialis). 

A common and familiar bird, nesting not only in boxes 
about habitations, but very commonly in holes in tree stubs 
standing in open places in the forest. 

Disappearing- Birds and Game Birds. 

P.Y ]). W. AlEEKKR. 

^lany of the birds that were common in Becker County in 
early days have become rare and some of them almost extinct in 
this localit}-. This is especially true of the swan, pelican, whooping 
crane, sandhill crane, blue heron, cormorant, wood duck, wild 
pigeon, woodcock and bald eagle. 

The last named, the emblem of the nation, formerly nested 
in the county ; and the last nest, of which there is a record, was 
in a large tree which stood on an island in Cotton Lake. This 

A I'lOXKIiR iIlST(;RV Ul' HlvCKER CoUXTY. 187 

tree blew down about five years ago and tbe eagles have found a 
new nesting place more remote from civilization. 

In 1897 a whooping crane was found dead in Town Lake, 
south of Frazee. The bird had been shot and had probably flown 
some distance before his wounds proved fatal. Albert Higbee, in 
the history of Walworth, also mentions the killing of one in that 
township in the early eighties. 

Cormorants and pelicans formerly nested in Becker County 
and the fact that two lakes were named after these birds is due 
to this fact. The cormorants formerly nested on the islands in 
the lake of that name, in the southwestern part of the county, 
but were forced to vacate by the settlers. 

There were several colonies of blue heron in the county, but 
now the nests are widely scattered. During the summers of 1886 
to 1889 the Indians cut down about thirty pine trees each year 
on the shores of Rice Lake, north of Height of Land Lake, in 
order to get the young birds for food. 

The wild pigeon, which at one time was found everywhere in 
North America, from Mexico to Hudson's Bay and from the Atlan- 
tic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, has entirely disappeared. These 
birds nested in Becker County and as far north as Hudson's Bay. 
Until the seventies the wild pigeon was very plentiful and count- 
less thousands of them were killed in this locality. The last one 
seen in Becker County, of which there is a record, was observed 
by Mr. Wilcox in 1888. This bird was crippled and remained 
through the summer of that year in a little grove of pine trees 
on the banks of the Otter Tail River about eight miles north of 

Woodcock never were plentiful in Becker County and for many 
years have been very rare. This is one of the game birds that 
is rapidly disappearing and will soon be referred to only in the 
past tense. 

The finest of all our ducks, the graceful, beautifully plumaged 
wood duck is another favorite that is becoming rarer each year. 
This bird formerly nested in holes in trees near the lakes and 
streams of Becker County and some of them still breed in remote 
sections of the county. Old settlers recall seeing the mother bird 
carrying her young, one by one, in her bill to the water from the 
nest in the tree. 

Other birds that are practically extinct in this locality, are the 
avocets, curlews and godwits. 

i88 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

The (leniand for game birds for the eastern markets well nigh 
caused the extermination of the ruffed, pinnated and sharp-tailed 
grouse by the market hunters, aided and abetted by traders in the 
villages. Since the sale of all game has been prohibited in Alinne- 
in the woods. Limiting the open season, also the number that may 
be killed in a day, are factors that aid their protection. It will be 
necessary, however, to enact and enforce more stringent laws, else 
these birds will, like the buffalo, soon be exterminated. 

The ruffed grouse, the king of game birds of Minnesota, is 
found in all the timbered parts of Becker County. This splendid 
bird is also called "partridge" and "pheasant," because of their 
resemblance to their Euro])ean relatives. Dr. Coues says, "The 
bird itself is unmistakable ; no other species has the conspicuous 
ruffle of lengthened, broad, soft, silky (purple-black) feathers on 
the neck." No one who has heard the whirr of the ruff'ed grouse, 
when taking wing, could mistake this peculiar, startling sound for 
any other. Nor can one mistake the drumming sound made by 
the male bird, by rapidly vibrating his wings, while standing on 
a log or stump. The home of the ruffed grouse is in the wood- 
lands — in the summer they are found near openings and around 
berry patches, but as the leaves fall and winter approaches they 
seek the cover of heavy timber and wooded swamplands. They 
pair in the early spring ; nest upon the ground in the shelter of brush, 
a fallen log or in a hollow between the roots of a tree. The num- 
ber of eggs varies from ten to sixteen ; and the newly hatched 
chicks quickly hide under leaves or brush when the mother bird 
sounds the note of alarm. She will pretend to be wounded in 
order to lead an intruder from the vicinity of her brood, and will 
attack one who continues to approach after the little brown shadows 
have disappeared. 

No game bird is more difficult to shoot. Their colors blend 
so completely with their surroundings that it is difficult to dis- 
tinguish them until they are awing — then the hunter often has 
only a glimpse of a whirring, brown body, darting to the cover 
of nearby brush or timber. The flesh is white, extremely delicate, 
and highly prized. 

Comparatively little is known of the Canada grouse, or, as it 
is commonly named, the "spruce grouse" or "spruce hen." This 
bird was also called the "fool hen" because it had not learned 
to fear man. With the ap])roach of civilization it has retired to 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 189 

the dense forests and dark swamps where it is rarely seen. In 
summer it feeds upon berries, the buds and leaves of plants and 
shrubs and insects. In the winter its food is mainly the buds 
and leaves of pine and other coniferous trees. 

The sharp-tailed grouse was the original "prairie cliicken" of 
the west and was plentiful in Becker County, especially in the 
western part where prairie and woodland meet. They are about 
the same size as the pinnated grouse, and the distinguishing marks 
are : the pointed tail ; lighter colored plumage, especially on the 
breast and lower part of the body ; heavier feathering of the legs 
and extending well upon the feet. Its home is in the rolling 
country where there is brush or stunted growth of timber. A 
favorite bird with sportsmen, as they lie close for the dog ; usually 
rise singly, and when flushed will fly but a short distance. In 
summer they feed upon berries and insects, in the winter upon buds 
of brush and trees. 

The pinnated grouse or prairie chicken was driven west by 
the advance of civilization and for many years has been found 
upon the prairies and in the openings in the timber of Becker 
County. The pairing season begins with the breaking up of winter, 
when the booming of the male bird sounds like the beating of 
a mufiled drum. This sound is made by inflating the orange- 
colored receptacles at either side of the neck, and issuing the call 
for the female, which is at the same time a challenge to other 
males. Their nest is a crude affair of grass on the sod or in the 
stubble. The number of eggs laid varies from eight to sixteen 
and the female has entire charge of incubation and the care of 
the young. Coveys remain together until late in the fall when the 
birds "bunch," the flocks often numbering from one to two hun- 
dred. Early in the fall the birds lie well to the dogs and, unless 
scattered, nearly all of the covey will take wing at the same time, 
the mother rising slightly in advance of her young. As the season 
advances the birds become wilder and, when disturbed, fly a long 
distance. They feed upon small grain and seeds, which are in- 
variably picked from the ground, and are fond of grasshoppers 
and other insects. In the winter they roost in trees, feed upon 
buds, around straw stacks and in cornfields and weed patches. 
The flesh is dark, of a gamey flavor and is highly prized. Dis- 
tinguishing marks are, the short rounded tail and the little wings 
of narrow, straight, pointed feathers at either side of the neck. 

190 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Quail have several times reached the southern townships of 
Becker County where several bevys were hatched in 1906. These 
birds resemble young ruffed grouse with abbreviated tails. They are 
very prolific, the female laying from twelve to twenty eggs. Both 
parents aid in the process of incubation and in the care of the 
young. They feed mainly upon seeds and insects and from an 
economic standpoint are considered the most valuable of all birds. 
The call of this beautiful bird resembles the name by which it is 
known in some localities — "Bob White." Quail are difficult to shoot 
on account of their extremely rapid flight. They live through a 
winter when the snowfall is light; but when the snow is heavy 
they find it difficult to procure food. As they roost upon the 
ground, huddled together in some sheltered spot, they are often 
smothered by drifting snow. 

Many varieties of wild ducks, besides the wood duck, still nest 
in the unsettled parts of the county. During the seasons of mi- 
gration, in the spring and fall, the ducks tarry with us until they 
leave, on the northern journey for their breeding grounds ; and 
in the fall for their winter homes. The lakes and marshes of 
Becker County, where wild rice and celery thrive, are favorite 
haunts for these birds and there the hunters seek their quarry. 

English and other snipe are numerous about the open marshes 
during the spring and fall. Some varieties still breed in the county. 

L pland plover still breed extensively on the prairies and mead- 
ows of Becker County and leave, late in the summer, for southern 
climes. Late in the fall the golden plover stop over a few days be- 
fore proceeding on their journey to the grassy ranges of Texas and 
Northern Mexico. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 191 

Chapter IX. 


By D. W. Meeker. 

In the fish that inhabit the lakes and streams, nature endowed 
Becker County with a goodly heritage. In them the Indians found 
one of the principal sources of their supply of food — one that was 
inexhaustible, for the Indian never was guilty of wanton destruction, 
nor would he capture more fish or game than he could make use 
of. It is to be regretted that his white brothers did not learn from 
him the lesson of moderation ; for, if they had, they would never 
have fed fish to their swine or used them to fertilize their fields. 

The early settlers, like the Indians, found in the fish a staple 
article of food, and this was one of the reasons why they located as 
near as possible to a lake or stream. The white man brought im- 
proved implements for capturing fish ; and these were readily adopted 
by his dusky brother of the forest. 

As the country became more thickly populated and the lines of 
railroad were extended the demand for fish for shipment increased ; 
and the waters of Becker County became a favorite field for the net- 
ter and market fisher. For many years there was little or no re- 
striction; and the game and food fish were slaughtered during the 
spawning seasons, for that was the time when they could be netted 
or speared with comparative ease. When the fish became scarce 
there came a demand for protection during the spawning periods; 
and laws were enacted prohibiting fishing in the early spring. These, 
like all other laws, were flagrantly violated by a certain class of citi- 
zens ; and it became necessary to pass more strict laws ; imposing 
more severe penalties, and making it the duty of special officers to 
enforce them. The sale of black bass is prohibited in Minnesota; 
also the taking in any other way than with hook and line. In this 
part of the state the bass do not leave their spawning beds until late 
in June, and the closed season should be extended from May 30th 
to July I St. 

Several varieties of fish, that were not natives of Becker County, 
have been planted in its waters with varying success. Brook trout 
were placed in the streams flowing into Detroit Lake from the east 

192 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

and south, and they have thrived in those waters. Trout were also 
planted in the small streams tributary to the Buffalo and Wild Rice 
Rivers; but have not become numerous in those brooks. In 1874 
the United States government planted "salmon," probably land- 
locked or lake trout in Detroit Lake ; but these were caught in a 
few years by the Indians near the mouth of he Pelican River, early 
in the spring. It was doubtless the same variety of fish that was 
planted in Hehrhold Lake by the government in 1896; but there 
is no record of any of them having been caught. The State Game 
and Fish Commission has planted crappies in the Detroit chain of 
lakes and these fine fish will, in all probability, become abundant in 
these lakes. Carp were planted in Oak Lake and are, doubtless, still 
there as they are only caught with net or spear. 

The black bass, small and large mouth, are natives of Becker 
County, and the large mouth variety is found in practically all of the 
lakes. A description of these fish is unnecessary, for nearly every 
resident of the county has an intimate acquaintance with them. They 
are the game fish of North America and Dr. Henshall, the recognized 
authority, says, "Inch for inch, and pound for pound, the gamest 
fish that swims." The small mouth variety is the rarer, and many 
fishermen consider it the gamer of the two. The color in both 
varieties varies, even in the same waters ; age, depth and hue of 
water, and presence or absence of weeds about their haunts being 
factors. In the winter the black bass hibernate in deep water ; and 
authorities agree with the statement of Mr. John Eoff, found in 
the Report of the Smithsonian Institution, for 1854: "In the winter 
season they retire to deep, still water and apparently hide under 
rocks, logs, etc., and remain there until the first of April." 

After leaving their winter quarters, the bass spend several weeks 
before they pair and begin preparations for breeding. Each pair 
makes a nest in shallow water, varying from two to six feet deep, 
in the lakes. The nests are shallow, saucerlike depressions, about 
twice the diameter of the length of the fish, from which the bass fan 
with their tails and fins, sand, silt and vegetable matter, leaving a 
bright, clean bed. The female deposits her eggs in the nest and 
they are fertilized by the male. The eggs are hatched in from one 
to two weeks, depending upon the temperature of the water. If the 
spawning period has arrived the fish will not spawn unless the 
temperature of the water is above 50 degrees ; and the eggs will 
die if it falls to 45 degrees after they have been deposited. It is 

A PioNEKR History of Becker County. 193 

the male bass that guards the nest and broods the newly-hatched fry 
for several days, until they scatter to the shelter of weeds and grass in 
shallow water. The young fish feed upon small crustacean and 
some of the larval forms of insects. In a month they are an inch 
long ; three to six inches in the fall ; and increase about one pound 
each year until the average maximum of five pounds is attained. 

Black bass cannot be propogated artificially and breeding in 
captivity is still in the experimental stage. Fry for transplanting (in 
Minnesota) are obtained from the sloughs and shallows of the lower 
Mississippi. The large mouth is the Oswego. 

The Rock bass resembles the black bass, but is deeper and more 
compressed, like a sunfish. It is olive green in color, much mottled ; 
head and mouth large ; eyes large and red. The rock bass, when 
fullgrown, is from ten to twelve inches in length and weighs about 
one pound. They are common in all the waters of Becker County 
and are an excellent pan-fish. 

Wail-Eyed Pike, as they are commonly known, although in the 
"books" they are also called "Pickerel" and "Pike-Perch," are na- 
tives of most of the lakes of the county. Cormorant being a notable 
exception. The reason for the absence of the Pike from this lake 
has never been explained. This is one of the most valuable of the 
food fishes of the state. It is a trimly built, shapely fish with a 
long and rather slender body. The head is large, and the large eyes 
are "glassy." The color varies ; but is usually of an olive or greenish 
brown ; are rarely found in shallow water except early in the 
spring, when they spawn near the mouth of a stream. The pike 
are a quick growing fish, attain a length of three feet and, occasion- 
ally, a weight of ten pounds. They are found about sandy or gravel- 
ly bars and, as the season advances, seek deeper, colder water. 

The pickerel is a native. This fish is not a favorite in Becker 
County, because the more desirable members of the finny tribe are 
so plentiful. It cannot be called a handsome fish, for it has too 
large a head and a mouth that is far too large for a thing of beauty. 
The pickerel is a valuable food fish, especially after it has attained 
a weight of three pounds or over. They spawn early in the spring 
in very shallow water along the marshy or grassy shores of the lakes 
and streams. The pickerel is easily caught, for it will bite at any- 
thing; and during the winter is speared through holes in the ice. 

Several varieties of sunfish are found in the w^aters of the county 
and some of them are misnamed crappies. These fish inhabit every 

194 -^ Pioneer History of Becker County. 

lake and stream in the county ; are easily caught, and are a very 
desirable pan-fish. 

The yellow perch is another fish that is found in all the waters 
of the county. It is always found in schools — the fish in each school 
being about the same size. The fiesh is delicately flavored. 

Catfish and bullheads are natives of the lakes and streams of 
the county. They are not favorites with fishermen, yet the flesh is 
highly prized in many localities. 

The sucker family is well represented in the waters of the 
county. The red horse and other varieties of sucker are abund- 
ant. They are of little use as food fish as the flesh becomes soft 
early in the spring. The sucker is the w^orst enemy of other fish 
for it follows them during the breeding season and feasts upon 
their spawn. It is rarely taken except with net or spear. 

The tullibee, or inland or mongrel whitefish, is a native of the 
deep water lakes of the county. It is a valuable food fish and one 
that is highly prized by those who live near the lakes. Its home 
is in the deep, cold waters, and it never comes near the surface except 
during the breeding season, which occurs late in November and 
early in December. The tullibee spawns near the surface ; and, 
when they are running, are caught in gill nets. Many people bury 
them in the snow and thus have a supply of fresh fish for the entire 

The minnows are, of course, numerous in all the waters of the 
county. Some of the darters are very beautiful, especially dur- 
ing the breeding season ; and on account of their brilliant colors, are 
said to occupy the same position among fishes that humming birds 
do among birds. The creek chub or horned dace, silver fin or 
"horny head," shiner, roach or golden shiner, red fin, l)lunt-nose, 
silversides, stickleback and stone rollers are common. 

The dogfish is the only non-edible fish found in the waters of 
the county. 

It is probable that all the fish found in the Red River of the 
North and its tributaries have been found in Becker County. There 
are records of sturgeon being taken in Detroit Lake ; and probably 
some of the "monsters," reported from time to time, are members 
of this family. Sheepshead, also called the fresh water drum, have 
been caught in Pelican Lake. The gold eyes, river chub and some 
of the minnows and darters are also found in the tributaries of the 
Red River that flow from the countv. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 195 

Chapter X. 


For a long- time it was the opinion of many intelligent people, 
who had investigated the subject, that the Indians were the de- 
scendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel. If it is a fact that they 
were actually lost, that might be a very reasonable theory, but al- 
though a good many Jews have been found in America in recent 
years, I have never heard of their claiming any relationship with 
the Indian. 

George Catlin, an American artist, who had traveled among 
the Indians of the entire continent, and was undoubtedly better 
acquainted with the Indian character and traditions than any 
other white man, claimed to be firm in the belief that the Indians 
had an Adam of their own and that they were originally created 
on the American continent. 

Bancroft, the eminent American historian, expressed his belief 
that the Indians are of Mongolian descent. 

This opinion is corroborated by Dr. Eastman, a highly edu- 
cated Sioux Indian of full blood, who says that he recognizes the 
names of several of the Japanese warships as familiar Sioux 
names, varying but little from those of his own tongue. 

During the world's fair at St. Louis, in 1904, an educated In- 
dian woman, of the Creek Nation, stated that during a conver- 
sation with some of the Filipinos, who were there on exhibition, 
that she could understand a large part of their language, and could 
converse with them in their native tongue with a surprising de- 
gree of intelligence. 

But whether they were of Mongolian, Malay, Phenician, Scan- 
dinavian, American. Aztec, or Hebrew origin, or whether they 
were descended from the man in the moon, will probably never be 
known, and the imagination, unsupported by facts, may roam at 
will in the realm of ingenious, speculation, which it is unprofit- 
able to pursue. 

ig6 A PioxcKK History of Becker County. 

Chapter XL 


Ojibwa. the original name of the Chippewas, means puckered 
up, or to roast until drawn up. (See Warren's History of the 
Ojibwa Nation.) 

I am free to admit, that I take a different view of the Indian 
question, and that my feelings and sympathies run in a different 
channel from that of many of the American people. 

Sixty years of my life I have passed among, or in close prox- 
imity to different tribes, and have traveled or lived among' more 
than twenty dift'erent nations of Indians, speaking as many differ- 
ent tongues. 

When a child in my mother's arms, we were both saved from 
a watery grave by a squaw, belonging to the Alleghany tribe of 
the Seneca Nation, who forced her way in a canoe, through a rag- 
ing flood, and rescued us from a block of ice that was hurrying 
us at a rapid rate, down the swiftly flowing waters of the Alle- 
ghany River. 

It is true that I have been twice held up by the Sioux Indians, 
who each time considered all white men as trespassers on their 
lands, and I was once robbed by the Bannocks, but they were 
then at war with the United States, and only two months before 
nearly three hundred of their warriors had been slain by our 
soldiers in a single battle. 

I have lived for more than thirty-six years as a near neighbor 
to the Chippewa Indians here in Becker County, and feeling my- 
self duly qualified to render an impartial opinion in their case, I 
pronounce them, with the exception perhaps of the Flatheads and 
Fend' Oreilles in Montana, to be the most honest, peaceable and 
trustworthy nation of Indians in the United States. Of course 
there have been criminals among them, like Bach-i-na-na, Bo-a- 
nece and Bobolink, who have been guilty of the crime of murder, 
but during the brief history of our county, twice as many mur- 
ders have been comiuitted by white men. 

During my ten years' experience in logging on the Otter Tail 
River, I have had many losses from theft by white men, but never 
lost the value of a penny through an Indian. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 197 

Bishop Whipple once told of making a trip many years ago 
with a party of Indians, and one morning, as they were about 
to start out on a hunt, the l)ishop asked the chief what he had 
better do with his watch and pocketbook, as he did not like to 
carry them around through the brush and swamps, and he was 
afraid they would be stolen if he left them in camp. The chief 
replied, "hang them up on a tree, they will be safe ; there is not a 
white man within fifty miles of here." 

Ever since the discovery of America there has been a class of 
white men on the frontiers, who have considered the Indians as 
legitimate victims of plunder and rapine, and in some sections, and 
at dififerent periods of our country's history it has been the height 
of ambition with some of this class of bravados to kill one or more 
Indians. Adam Poe, notorious as the slayer of Big Foot, a Wyan- 
dot chief, near the Ohio River, in West Virginia something like 
100 years ago, once remarked that "he had killed 'bars' and 'paint- 
ers' (bears and panthers) to his heart's content, but that there 
was no game like Injuns," 

To the credit of the people of Becker County, however, the 
Indians here have received far better treatment than in many other 

W. W. Warren, the historian of the Chippewa Nation, himself 
one-fourth of Chippewa blood, in the preface to his interesting 
work makes the following touching and elocjuent plea in behalf of 
his kindred race : 

The red race of North America is fast disappearing before the onward, 
irresistless tread of the Anglo-Saxon. Once the vast tract of country, 
lying between the Atlantic seaboard and the Mississippi, where a century 
since roamed numerous tribes of the wild sons of nature, but a few, a 
very few, now exist. Their former dominions are now covered with the 
teeming towns and villages of the "pale face," and millions of happy free- 
men enjoy the former homes of these unhappy and fated people. 

The few tribes and remnants of tribes, who still exist on our Western 
frontier, truly deserve the sympathy and attention of the American people. 
We owe it to them as a duty, for we are now the possessors of their 
former inheritance, and the bones of their ancestors are sprinkled through 
the soil on which are now erected our happy homesteads. 

The red man has no powerful friends, such as the enslaved negro 
once could boast, to represent his miserable, sorrowing condition, his many 
wrongs, his wants and wishes. In fact, so feebly is the voice of phil- 
anthrophy raised in his favor, that his very existence appears to be hardly 
known to some of the American people, or his character and condition 

198 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

has been so misrepresented, that it has failed to secure their love and 

The heart of the red man has been shut against his white brother. 
We know him only by his exterior. 

Much has been written concerning the red race, by travelers, mis- 
sionaries and by some eminent authors; but the information respecting 
them, which has thus far been collected, has been superficial and inaccurate. 

It is true that the Indians are possessed of traits of character 
and an individuaHty peculiarly their own, and in most cases a 
white man who expects to deal with them by following the busi- 
ness rules and principles of the white men, will at first become 
puzzled and disappointed, but after a better acquaintance, and 
gaining their confidence will find his business with them very 
much simplified and more satisfactory. The following extract 
from the rep<^rt of Indian Commissioner Leuj^p, for 1905, touch- 
ing these peculiar characteristics of the Indian are well worthy 
of record. 

I copy the folloAving article from the \Mute Earth Touiahai^'k. 
Of this report the editor says : "All those who may read the follow- 
ing extracts from the report of Commissioner Leupp, cannot help 
but admit that he has a sincere regard for the Indians. Notwith- 
standing that he may have overdrawn their virtues, there it not 
an Indian in America who should not feel grateful for the Commis- 
sioner's report as a whole." 

The Commissioner says : 

The commonest mistake made by the white wellwishers in dealing 
with the Indian is the assumption that he is simply a white man with a 
red skin. The next commonest is the assumption that because he is a 
non-Caucasian he is to be classed indiscriminately with other non-Cauca- 
sians, like the negro, for instance. The truth is that the Indian has as dis- 
tinct an individuality as any type of men who ever lived, and he will never be 
judged aright till we learn to measure him by his own standards, as we 
whites would wish to be measured if some more powerful race were to 
usurp dominion over us. 

Suppose, a few centuries ago, an absolutely alien people like the 
Chinese had invaded our shores and driven the white colonists before them 
to districts more and more isolated, destroyed the industries on which 
they had always subsisted, and crowned all by disarming them and penning 
them on various tracts of land where they could be fed and clothed and 
cared for at no cost to themselves, to what condition would the white 
American of to-day have been reduced? In spite of their vigorous ancestry 
they would surely have lapsed into barbarism and become pauperized. No 
race on earth could overcome, with forces evolved from within themselves. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 199 

the effect of such treatment. That our red brethren have not been wholly- 
ruined by it, is the best proof we could ask for the sturdy traits of character 
inherent in them. But though not ruined, they have suffered serious 
deterioration, and the chief problem now before us is to prevent its going 
any further. To that end we must reckon with several facts. 

First, little can be done to change the Indian who has already passed 
middle life. By virtue of that very quality of steadfastness which we 
admire in him, when well applied, he is likely to remain an Indian of the 
old school to the last. With the younger adults we can do something 
here and there, where we find one who is not too conservative; but our 
main hope lies with the youthful generation, who are still measurably 

The thoughtless make sport of the Indian's love of personal adorn- 
ment, forgetting that nature has given him an artistic instinct of which 
this is merely the natural expression. What harm does it do him that he 
likes a red kerchief around his neck, or feels a thrill of pride in the silver 
buckle on his belt? Does not the banker in the midst of civilization wear 
a scarf pin and a watch chain, and fasten his linen cuffs with links of gold? 
The highest of us is none the worse for the love of what is bright and 
pleasant to the eye. Our duty is plainly not to strangle the Indian's 
artistic craving, but to direct it into a channel where its satisfaction will 
bear the best fruit for himself and the world. 

200 A PioNEEK History of Becker Countv 

Chapter XII. 


It is customary among all careful business men, and particular- 
ly with dealers in real estate, before investing money in land or 
taking security in the same, to investigate the title to the land in 
question. Becker County is now nearly all, except what is on the 
White Earth Reservation, in the hands of white people as owners, 
and they, I believe feel secure in their right and title to their 
homes, and such other real estate as they possess, wherever they 
are able to trace the dififerent instruments of conveyance link by 
link in one unbroken chain back to the deed or patent from the 
United States Government. 

But for the satisfaction of all such that have any fear that 
there may be a flaw in their title previous to Uncle Sam's patent, 
and for the satisfaction of any person who may on any moral 
grounds, or who may have any conscientious scruples as to 
whether Uncle Sam himself had a good and sufficient right, both 
morally and legally, to convey to us these lands, we will proceed 
to investigate the title to the soil of Becker County, back to the 
very beginning of the history of the real estate business on the 
American continent. 

Becker County was a part of the Louisiana purchase, which was 
ceded or deeded to the United States by Napoleon Bonaparte, Em- 
peror of France, on the 30th day of April, 1803. And now the gi- 
gantic question arises : how did France acquire a legal right to this 
country to begin with? And here we come to the first instrument 
of conveyance ever executed in writing afifecting the title to the 
farms and homes of the people of Becker County. 

Early in the year 1689, Nicholas Perrot, a Frenchman, with 
a party of forty men, established a trading post at Lake Pepin, and 
commenced trading with the Sioux Indians. That same year he 
formally claimed the country in the name of France. 

The official document reads as follows : 

I, Nicholas Perrot, commanding for the King at the post of Nadoues- 
sioux. and commissioned to manage the interests of commerce among 
the Indians, and to take possession in the King's name of all places where 
I have heretofore been, and whither I will go. 

I, this day, the 8th of May, 1689, do, in the presence of the Reverend 

A Pioneer History of Becker CoUx\ty. 201 

Father Marest of the Society of Jesus, Missionary among the Sioux; of 
Monsieur de Borieguillot, commanding the French in the neighborhood 
of the Wisconsin; Augustin Legardieur, Esquire; Sieur de Caumont; and 
of Messieurs Le Seur, Herbert, Lemire and Blein, declare to all whom 
it may concern, that being come from The Bay Des Puants, and to the 
Lake of the Wisconsins, and to the River Mississippi, we did transport 
ourselves to the country of the Sioux, on the borders of the River St. 
Croix, to the mouth of the River St. Pierre (Minnesota River), on the 
bank of which were the Mantantans; and farther up to the interior, to the 
northeast of the Mississippi, as far as the Menchokatonx, with whom dwell 
a majority of the Sioux who are to the northwest of the Mississippi, to take 
possession for, and in the name of the King, of the countries and rivers 
inhabited by the said tribes, and of which they are the proprietors. 

The present act done in our presence, and signed with our hands and 
subscribed, etc. 

We here find the Minnesota country west of the Mississippi River 
claimed by France, and this instrument is one of the Hnks in the chain 
of title by which our lands are held. But to a man of ordinary in- 
telligence and moral sensibility we are still in the mire of doubt and 
uncertainty, and are far from "reading our title clear" to the soil we 
now occupy, and I here come to a question that has puzzled many an 
able writer, and been the theme of many a long-winded controversy. 

When Washington Irving began to write up the history of New 
York, he encountered this same overshadowing question. He, how- 
ever, met the question heroically, and came forward with an array of 
arguments and statement of facts that must forever settle the ques- 
tion of the right of the King of France to this section of our country 
to the entire satisfaction of all conscientious philanthropists and legal 
quibblers. He says : 

The question which has thus suddenly arisen is: What right had the 
first discoverers of America to land and take possession of a country with- 
out first gaining the consent of its inhabitants? A question that has stood 
many fierce assaults, and has given much distress of mind to multitudes 
of kind-hearted people. And indeed, until it be totally vanquished and 
put to rest, the worthy people of America can by no means enjoy the soil 
they inhabit with clear right and title, and quiet, unsullied consciences. 

The first source of right by which property is acquired in a country 
is discovery. For as all mankind have an equal right to anything which 
has never before been appropriated, so a nation that discovers an unin- 
habitated country and takes possession thereof is considered as enjoying 
full property, and absolute, unquestionable empire therein. 

This proposition being admitted, it clearly follows that the Europeans 
who first visited America were the real discoverers of the same; nothing 
being necessary to establish this fact but simply to prove that it was 
totally uninhabitated by man. This would at first appear to be a point of 

202 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

some difficulty, for it is well known that this quarter of the world abounded 
with certain animals that walked erect on two feet, had something of the 
human countenance, uttered certain unintelligible sounds very much like 
language and in short, had a marvelous resemblance to human beings. 
But the zealous and enlightened fathers who accompanied the discoverers, 
soon cleared up this point, greatly to the satisfaction of his Holiness the 
Pope and all Christian voyagers and discoverers. 

They plainly proved, and as no Indian writers arose on the other side 
to dispute the fact, it was considered as fully admitted and established 
that the two-legged race of animals before mentioned were mere cannibals, 
detestable monsters, and some of them giants; which last have always been 
considered as outlaws. Indeed the philosophic Lord Bacon declared the 
Indians to be people prescribed by the laws of nature. 

Nor are these all the proofs of their utter barbarism. Ullo tells us, 
"Their imbecility is so visible that one can hardly form an idea of them 
different from what one has of the brutes. Nothing disturbs the tran- 
quility of their souls, equally insensible to disasters and to prosperity. 
Though half naked, they are as contented as a king in his most splendid 
array. Fear makes no impression on them, and respect as little." And 
M. Bouguier says, "It is not easy to describe their indifiference to wealth 
and all its advantages. One does not well know what motives to propose 
to them to persuade them to any service. It is vain to ofYer them money; 
they answer they are not hungry." And Vanegas assures us that "Ambition 
they have none. The objects of ambition with us — honor, fame, reputation, 
riches, positions and distinctions — are unknown among them. In a word, 
these unhappy mortals may be compared to children, with immature in- 

But the benevolent fathers advanced still farther, and stronger proofs, 
Lullus affirms: "The Indians go naked and ha\"e no beards! They have 
nothing of the reasonable animal except the mask. And even that mask 
was allowed to avail them but little, for it was soon found that they were 
of a hideous copper complexion, and being of a copper complexion it was 
all the same as if they had been negroes, and negroes are black, and black, 
said the pious father crossing himself, is the color of the devil." There- 
fore, so far from being able to own property, they had no right even to 
personal freedom, for liberty is too radiant a deity to inhabit such gloomy 
temples. All of which circumstances plainly convinced the righteous 
followers of Cortes and Pizarro that these miscreants had no title to 
the soil they infested — that they were a perverse, illiterate, dumb, beard- 
less black seed — mere wild beasts of the forests, and like them should be 
either subdued or exterminated. 

The right of discovery being fully established, we now come to the 
next, which is the right acquired by cultivation. To cultivate the soil we 
are told is an obligation imposed by nature on mankind. Now it is 
notorious that the Indians knew nothing of agriculture when discovered 
by the Europeans, but lived a most vagabond, disorderly, unrighteous life; 
whereas it has been unquestionably shown that Heaven intended the earth 
should be plowed, and sown, and manured, and laid out into cities, and 
towns, and farms and pleasure grounds and public gardens — all of which 

A Pionke;r History of Becke;r County. 203 

the Indians knew nothing about; therefore they did not improve the talents 
Providence had bestowed on them; therefore they were careless stewards; 
therefore, they had no right to the soil; therefore, they deserved to be 

It is true the Indians might plead that they derived all the benefits from 
the land which their simple wants required — they found plenty of game to 
hunt, which, together with the roots and wild fruits of the earth, furnished 
a sufficient variety for their frugal repasts; and that so long as these pur- 
poses were answered the will of Heaven was accomplished. 

But this only proves how undeserving they were of the blessings 
around them: they were so much the more savages for not having more 
wants. Therefore, the Indians, in not having more wants, were very 
unreasonable animals, and it was but just that they should make way for 
the Europeans, who had a thousand wants to their one, and therefore 
would turn the earth to more account, and more truly fulfil the will of 
Heaven. Besides inany wise men who have considered the matter properly 
have determined that the property of a country cannot be acquired by 
hunting, cutting wood, or drawing water therein. Now as the Indians 
(probably from never having read the above decisions) had never com- 
plied with any of these forms, it follows that they had no right to the 
soil, but that it was completely at the disposal of the first comers, who 
had more wants and more desires than themselves. 

But a more irresistible right than either that I have mentioned, is the 
right acquired by civilization. All the world knows the lamentable state 
in which these poor savages were found. But no sooner did the benevolent 
inhabitants of Europe behold their sad condition, than they immediately 
went to work to improve it. They introduced among them rum, gin, 
brandy, and other comforts of life; and it is astonishing to read how soon 
the poor savages learned to estimate these blessings. They likewise 
made known to them a thousand remedies by which the most inveterate 
diseases were alleviated and healed; and that they might comprehend the 
benefits and enjoy the comforts of these medicines, they introduced among 
them the diseases which they were designed to cure. By these and a 
variety of other methods was the condition of these poor people won- 
derfully improved. 

Here, then, are three complete and undeniable sources of right estab- 
lished, any one of which was more than ample to establish a property in 
the newly discovered regions of America, and this all at once brings us to 
a fourth right, which is worth more than all the others put together; and 
this last right may be entitled the Right by Extermination, or, in other 
words, the Right by Gunpowder. 

But lest any scruples of conscience should remain on this head, and to 
settle the question of right forever. His Holiness Pope Alexander VI. 
issued a bull by which he generously granted to the Catholic nations of 
Southeastern Europe all the newly discovered quarters of the globe. These 
nations having both law and gospel on their side, were clearly entitled to 
the soil, and also to the eternal thanks of these infidel savages, for having 
come so far. endured so many perils by land and sea, for no other purpose 

204 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

but to improve their forlorn, uncivilized, heathenish condition; and for 
having made them acquainted with the comforts of life." 

W. I. 

We now find France with a securely established title to the 
soil we now occupy, in Becker County. 

In 1762 France ceded the whole of the province of Louisiana 
to Spain who was the sole and undisputed owner for thirty-eight 
years, when by the treaty of St. Ildefonso, Spain ceded the Pro- 
vince back to France on the first day of October 1800. 

France never took formal possession of the entire province, but 
occupied a few places on the Mississippi River jointly with Spain, 
the most important of which was New Orleans ; both nations hav- 
ing troops stationed there at the same time. Finally on the 30th 
day of April, 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte, by the treaty of Paris, as 
I have before stated, sold the province to the United States for 

Spain was displeased with the transfer of the province to the 
United States, and her minister at Washington was instructed to 
warn our government to suspend the ratification of the treaty of 
cession of Louisiana ; as the French government, in securing the 
province had contracted with Spain not to retrocede it to any 
other power, and France, not having adhered to that agreement, 
the treaty cession was declared void by Spain. This controversy 
was not settled until the 22nd of February 1819, when Spain rati- 
fied the treaty of Paris, and relin((uishe<l all adverse rights she 
may have possessed. 

When our government took possession of the country, they 
found what is now northwestern Minnesota, occupied jointlv by 
the Sioux and Chippewa nations of Indians. Neil's History of 
Minnesota says : 

For more than a century, there had been a westward tendency in the 
emigration of the Indian nations, and a frequent source of war among the 
Northwestern tribes, was the encroachment upon each other's hunting 

In the hope that good might result from well defined boundary lines, 
on the igth of August, 1825, by order of the authorities at Washington, 
Governor Clark, of Missouri, and Governor Cass of Michigan, convened 
at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, a grand congress of Indians, among which 
were represented the Sioux and Chippewa Nations. After some discussion, 
it was agreed between the Sioux and Chippewas that a dividing line should 
be established between their respective countries. In Minnesota, the line 
of demarkation agreed upon began on the St. Croix River, a day's paddle 
above the head of Lake St. Croix; thence between two lakes, called Green 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 205 

Lakes; from thence to the Standing Cedar that the Sioux split; thence 
to Rum River, crossing at Choking Creek, a day's march from its mouth; 
thence to a point of woods that projects into the prairie a half day's march 
from the Mississippi; thence in a straight line to the Mississippi River 
at the mouth of the first river above the Sauk; thence up that river to a 
small lake at its source; thence to a lake at the head of Prairie River, a 
tributary of the Crow Wing; thence to the portage of Otter Tail Lake; 
thence to the outlet of Otter Tail Lake; thence to the BufYalo River, mid- 
way between its source and its mouth, and down said river to Red River, 
and down Red River to the mouth of Goose River. 

This division line placed nearly all of Becker County in the 
Chippewa territory, leaving about half of Cormorant Township 
and perhaps a small fraction of the southwest corner of Lake Park 
on the Sioux side of the line. By this treaty the Sioux title to 
nearly all the territory of Becker County was extinguished. 

It became evident, however, soon after the treaty, that neither 
the Sioux nor Chippewas were willing to be pent up by any bound- 
ary lines. 

The only adverse claim to the soil of Becker County, now, was 
that of the Chippewa Indians, who had rightfully considered 
themselves the lawful owners of all of what is now northern ISIin- 
nesota, from time immemorial. 

I am indebted to Gus. H. Beaulieu for the following memoran- 
da of treaties between the United States government and the Chip- 
pewa Indians, relating to the territory embraced in Becker County: 

The first treaty was made April 7th, 1855, with the Mississippi, Pillager 
and Lake Winnebegoshish bands of Chippewas, and ceded the following 
tract of country to the United States Government: 

Beginning at a point where the east branch of the Snake River 
crosses the southern boundary line of the Chippewa country, east 
of the Mississippi River, as established by the treaty of July 29, 
1837; running thence, up the said branch to its source; thence, nearly 
north in a straight line, to the most westwardly bend of Vermillion 
River; thence, northwestwardly, in a straight line, to the first and 
most considerable bend of the Big Fork River; thence, down said 
river to its mouth; thence, down Rainy Lake River, to the mouth 
of Black River; thence, up that river to its source; thence, in a 
straight line, to the northern extremity of Turtle Lake; thence, 
in a straight line to the mouth of Wild Rice River; thence, up 
Red River of the North, to the mouth of Bufifalo River; thence, 
in a straight line, to the southwestern extremity of Ottertail Lake; 
thence, through said Lake, to the source of Leaf River; thence, 
down said river to its junction with Crow Wing River; thence, 
down Crow Wing River, to its junction with the Mississippi River; 

2o6 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

thence, to the commencement on said river of the southern bound- 
ary line of the Chippewa country, as established by the treaty of 
July 2g, 1837; and thence, along said line, to the place of beginning. 
And the said Indians do further fully and entirely relinquish and 
convey to the United States any and all right, title and interest, 
of whatsoever nature the same may be, which they may now have 
in and to any other lands in the Territory of Minnesota or 

Within the above described territory ceded under this treaty, nine 
reservations were created, and established, viz.; Mille Lacs, Gull Lake, 
Rabbit Lake, Rice Lake, Sandy Lake, Pokegama, Leech Lake, Cass and 
Winnebegoshish reservations. 

You will see the terni.s of this treaty that all the land in 
Becker County was thereby ceded to the United States govern- 

By a treaty made March iSth, 1865, with the Chippewas, all these 
reservations, except the Leech Lake, Cass Lake and Winnebegoshish were 
ceded to the United States, and in lieu thereof there was set apart for the 
Indians a long irregular strip of country reaching from a point on the 
Mississippi River near Grand Rapids, to the mouth of Thief River, and 
from there down Red Lake River to a point a few miles below Red Lake 
Falls, but which did not quite take in any of Becker County. 

On the i8th of April, 1867, a treaty was made, by the terms of wdiich 
all that part of the last described reservation lying west of the Leech 
Lake and Cass Lake Reservations was set aside, and in lieu thereof the 
following was made a part of the treaty: 

"And there is further reserved for the said Chippewas out of 
the land now owned by them such portion of their western outlet 
as may upon location and survey be found within the reservation 
provided for in the next succeeding section. 

Article 2. — In order to provide a suitable farming region for 
the said bands, there is hereby set apart for their use a tract of land, 
to be located in a square form as nearly as possible, with lines 
corresponding to the Government surveys; which reservation shall 
include White Earth and Rice Lakes, and contain thirty-six town- 
ships of land; and such portions of the tract herein provided for 
as shall be found upon actual survey to lie outside of the reservation 
set apart for the Chippewas of the Mississippi by the second article 
of the treaty of March 20, 1865, shall be received by them in part 
consideration of the cession of lands made by this agreement-" 
Article two above quoted is the stipulation of the treaty of 1867 which 
established what is now White Earth Reservation. Hole-in-the-Day, 
Misquadace and Shab-aush-kung were the chiefs that negotiated the treaty. 
The treaty of 1S55 was negotiated by Hole-in-the-Day, Sr., Flatmouth, 
Sr., and other chiefs of the Mississippi bands. 

It is very doubtful whether the Indians made a very good treaty in 
1867, since they ceded a very large tract of country estimated to contain 
two million acres, although they got a part of White Earth Reservation 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 207 

in lievi of this cession. This was one of the causes which led to the 
assassination of Hole-in-the-Day by May-dway-we-nind and six other 
Indians, all of whom were cousins of the former. May-dway-we-nind was 
one of the Indians who stirred up the Bear Island outbreak, and who was 
afterwards convicted with eight others for resisting a deputy U. S. mar- 
shal, which was the only charge, under the law, over which the United 
States had jurisdiction in the Sugar Point fight. May-dway-we-nind froze 
to death at Leech Lake two years ago last winter. 

In regard to the question about the cession of White Earth Reserva- 
tion, the Indians, as you will notice by the cessions quoted herein, ceded 
the country which is now a part of the White Earth Reservation, in 1855; 
in 1865 the government ceded a large strip of country back to the Indians, 
which included a part of the reservation which was known as the "Western 
Outlet" of the Chippewas. Under the treaty of 1867. a part of this Western 
Outlet was retained, although it was the intention of the Indians to retain 
the whole of it, but they were over-reached in the wording of the treaty. 

Gus. H. BeauliEu. 

Northern Pacific Railroad Land Grant. 

In the year 1864 the United States congress granted a charter 
to the Northern Pacific raihoad company accompanied by a land 
grant, which after a few alterations and amendments, including 
every odd numbered section of land belonging to the United States 
government for a distance of twenty miles on each side of the center 
of the main line of that road in Minnesota, and forty miles on each 
side in territory between Minnesota and Puget Sound. An addi- 
tional strip of land was set aside to indemnify the railroad company 
for any land that had been sold or otherwise disposed of within the 
limits of this land grant. These indemnity lands included all odd 
numbered sections within the limits of a strip twenty miles in 
width on each side of the actual land grant in Minnesota, and ten 
miles on each side in Dakota. I think all these indemnity lands in 
i\Iinnesota finally passed into the hands of the railroad coinpany, 
and I am positive that this was the case in Becker County, with 
the exception of the lands on the White Earth Reservation, none 
of which were included in this land grant. 

The date at which the title of the Northern Pacific attached, or 
on which their ownership began, was the time of the filing of the 
plat of the final location of their road with the commissioner of 
the general land office at Washington, and its acceptance b\- the 
secretarv of the interior, which for the lands in Becker Countv was 

2o8 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

the 23rd of September 1870, consequently any person with a pre- 
emption right, who settled on any of these odd numbered sections 
in Becker County before that date, could hold the land and make 
final proof and payment at the rate of $1.25 per acre. 

A homestead would not hold on these lands, even if taken before 
they were withdrawn, as such right was held not to be good until a 
homestead was filed, and such filing could not be made until after 
the lands were surveyed and the plats returned to the land ofiice. 
and none of the plats of Becker County townships were returned 
to any land office for nearly a year after the odd numbered sec- 
tions became railroad lands. At that same date, September 23rd, 
1870, all even numbered sections within the twenty mile limit 
became double minimum land, and when taken after that date 
must be paid for when pre-empted, at the rate of $2.50 per acre. 
One hundred and sixty acres could be pre-empted at that rate, 
but only eighty acres could be taken as a homestead and when a 
homestead was commuted it must be paid for at the same price 
per acre. A soldier of the civil war, however, could homestead 
one hundred and sixty acres and, if he so desired, the length of 
time served in the army or navy could be deducted from the five 
year residence required. 

A few years afterwards congress passed a law allowing all cit- 
izens of the United States to homestead one hundred and sixty 
acres inside the land grants of the railroads. The Northern Pacific 
railroad company in the course of time received patents from the 
United States Government, and a deed from them is considered as 
good as a patent from the government. A small part of the land 
in Becker County was located with Sioux half-breed scrij^t. a 
kind of ingenious device for getting hold of valuable lands before 
they were surveyed, and without settling on the same. This script 
was issued to mixed bloods for one hundred and sixty acres, in 
consideration of relinquishing all rights or claims on the general 
government for annuities or other means of support in the future. 
This script was transferable, and any government land could be 
taken with it, whether surveyed or not, and frequently after any 
one tract of land had been held for a while, the script would be 
lifted and laid on another tract of greater value. Two hundred and 
eighty acres of land, including the grove of pine timber on a part 
of Sections 22, 23 and 26, in the town of Erie, a little west of the 
Otter Tail River, where the old pine stumps now are standing at 
the present time along the Shell Prairie road, was taken bv this 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 209 

script, also a forty on Section 2, in the town of Burlington, now a 
part of the Pearce farm. 

The only other class of lands in Becker County is the state 
land. As everyone knows all of sections numbered 16 and 36 were 
granted to the state for school purposes. Any person, however, 
with a pre-emption right, could before the repeal of that law hold 
one hundred and sixty acres of land on either of these sections, 
provided they settled on such land before the government section 
lines were established. 

Congress, also many years ago, granted to the several states, 
including Minnesota every forty acre tract or fraction which by 
the government surveys was shown to be more than half swamp. 
This grant was made to the several states with the understanding 
that the land so granted should be improved by ditching or other- 
wise, but by far the best and largest part of the state lands in Min- 
nesota w'ere given away with little or no profit to the state, before 
any such improvements were made. The first list of state swamp 
land ever transferred in Becker County was a three thousand acre 
list, granted to the Canon River Improvement Association, and 
sold to E. G. Holmes and A. H. Wilcox, in 1882. 

Lists of state swamp lands was also selected in Becker County 
by the Northern Pacific railroad company, the Great Northern and 
the Wisconsin and Minnesota roads. 

After these corporations had finished making selections of land 
under their grants, the refuse of this magnificent original state 
swamp land grant to Minnesota was appraised, and is now being 
sold by the state to private parties by the same method that school 
land is sold. 

2IO A PioxEER History of Becker County. 

Chapter XIII. 


The first occupants of the territory, of ^vhat is now Becker 
County, of which we have any definite knowledge, were the 
Indians known as the Otter Tail band of Pillagers. They ranged 
over a considerable extent of country, but their favorite resort 
was the Otter Tail River, and the country adjacent thereto. 
This range of country was an ideal home, and a veritable para- 
dise for the Indians. The time was when buffalo were numerous, 
and men are still living who have killed them in Becker County. 
Still later, when the elk was very abundant, and not more than 
fifty or sixty }ears ago, elk meat was the principal source of 
food throughout northwestern Alinnesota, and later still u]) to 
the present time, venison was to be had in considerable quantity, 
but what was of far more value to them than all these were 
the numerous lakes stocked with countless numbers of fish of 
the finest quality, and the abundant supplies of wild rice that 
could be obtained around the borders of these lakes. Game 
might sometimes become scarce, and once in a long time the 
wild rice might fail, but the supply of fish was inexhaustible 
and never failing. Where is the Indian that would starve in the 
vicinity of any of these lakes before they were depleted of fish by the 
white man? 

Alexander Mackenzie, who explored Mackenzie River to the 
Arctic Ocean, in 1789, and who also led the first expedition across 
the North American Continent to the Pacific in 1793, and who 
was in those days the leading spirit of the northwestern fur 
trade, in writing of this country more than one hundred years 
ago said: "There is not. perhaps, a finer country in the world 
for the residence of uncivilized man, than that which occupies 
the space betwen the Red River of the North and Lake Su- 
perior. It abounds in everything necessar}- to the wants and 
comfort of such a people. Fish, venison and fowl, with wild 
rice are in great plenty, while at the same time, their subsistence 
recpiires that bodily exercise so necessary to health and vigor." 

Up to the time of the Sioux outbreak in 1862, and the ex- 
pulsion soon afterwards of the Sioux from ^Minnesota and the 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 211 

eastern Dakotas. the Chippewas in this vicinity were hable to 
frequent .raids from these Indians, and bloody battles were fought 
in some of the adjoining counties. Many years ago the Sioux 
held possession of the Otter Tail River country for some time, 
and the numerous mounds along the river, and in other parts of 
the country are said by the Chippewas to have been built by the 
Sioux. Some of these mounds are of considerable size, especially 
those near the outlet of Height of Land Lake, some of them 
being ten or twelve feet high with a base of thirty or forty feet 
in breadth. There are others quite prominent on the farm of 
L J. Collins, near Frazee, also three or four a little west of 
the bridge across the Otter Tail River on Section 2^,, in Erie 
Township, some near Round Lake on the White Earth Reserva- 
tion, some at Shell Lake, and two or three near Detroit Lake on 
the little prairie a few rods west of where the Pelican River flows 
into the lake. 

A\'hen the Sioux left Becker County as a place of abode, 
no one appears to be able to tell, but it must have been more 
than one hundred years ago. The date of their final relinquish- 
ment is the 19th of August, 1825. 

The ( )tter Tail band occupied the country as individuals and 
families, but I can find no trace of anything resembling the ap- 
pearance of a village, or ])ermanent headquarters for the habita- 
tions of the people anywhere in the county, previous to the settle- 
ment of the Indians at ^^d'lite Earth in 1868. There were, how- 
ever, occasional temporary gatherings, and the outlet of Height 
of Land Lake was the most frequent place of rendezvous. This, 
by the way, was the most beautiful and romantic spot in Becker 
County and would have been an admirable place for a white man's 
village. Aside from its natural loveliness and ease of access 
there had been a fish trap built across the Otter Tail River, a 
short distance below the outlet, a long time ago, where fish could 
be secured in abundance at all seasons of the year. At the upper 
end of Height of Land Lake and the two lakes first above men- 
tioned were the most extensive and valuable wild rice beds in the 
whole region of country ; all of which made the vicinity of 
Height of Land Lake a kind of wigAvam metropolis for the Otter 
Tail Indians on various occasions. 

^lany of the Pine Point and Otter Tail Indians were born 
in Becker Count v. lohn Rock was l)orn at Flovd Lake near 

212 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Detroit in 1844, and Kab-a-mab-hie was born at Rice Lake, three 
miles south of Frazee, a short time afterwards. 

While there was constant warfare between the Sioux and 
Chippewas, and the Chippewas living in Becker County were 
kept in a state of perpetual dread and anxiety from fear of the 
Sioux, there is no record or remembrance on the part of any of 
the older people of any actual fighting', of any importance in 
Becker County. 

Wars and battles, which are so largely interwoven into the 
history of nearly all the nations of the earth, and of which it is 
largely made up, have no place in its history or traditions. Not 
a trace or scent of the smoke of battle can be found through all 
the dim and hazy recollections of the past. The white-winged 
dove of peace has faithfully and successfully watched and hovered 
over the destinies of Becker County, as far back as the memory 
and knowledge of the red man can reach. 

In the meantime many bloody tragedies were enacted in Ut- 
ter Tail and other neighboring counties. A terrible battle was 
fought between the Sioux and Chippewas at Battle Lake in Otter 
Tail County, more than one hundred years ago. W. W. Warren, 
the historian of the Chippewa Nation, in giving an account of 
this battle in 1851 says, that it was fought fifty-seven years ago. 
This w^ould place the date of the battle in the year 1794. 

A war party of forty-five Chippewas, belonging to the Mis- 
issippi band, recklessly attacked a camp of three or four hundred 
Sioux, who were partly concealed in a grove of timber on the 
snores of one of these lakes. Soon after the fighting began 
the Chippewas retreated to a patch of tall grass which afforded 
them a temporary protection, but the Sioux swarmed around 
them, and outnumbering them eight to one. the little band 
was nearlv annihilated, two-thirds of their number leaving their 
bones on the battlefield. The Sioux also sufi'ered terribly ; losing 
a far greater number of warriors than the Chippewas. 

The Dead Lake Massacre. 

Basswood, a Chippewa Lidian, belonging to the original band 
of the Otter Tail Pillagers, and who is now seventy-four years 
old, still resides at the south end of Basswood Lake. His land 
is in Sections 34 and 35, Township 142, Range 37. His father lived 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 213 

there before him and there is where he died. Basswood's home 
has been in the same place all his lifetime, although he and 
his father have been away frequently on hunting" excursions, 
some of which were of considerable length. 

There is a good sized island in the lake covered with a heavy 
growth of Basswood timber, which in years gone by served as 
an asylum of retreat and seclusion for the Basswood family, 
whenever a war party of Sioux invaded the neighborhood. 

I questioned him regarding the relations of the Chippewas 
toward the Sioux in his younger days, and he stated that while 
there was much fighting between the two nations from fifty 
to seventy-five years ago, he never knew of any battles being 
fought in what is now Becker County, but that when a boy, 
there was a battle fought between the Sioux and the Chippewas 
at Grave Lake in Otter Tail County. I told him I had never 
heard of Grave Lake. He replied that it was not more than 
fifteen miles from Frazee, and lay directly west from Rvish Lake 
only a few miles. I told him it must be Dead Lake, and he 
said I was right ; the proper name was the Lake of the Dead. 
He was not present at the battle, but referred me to another 
Indian by the name of Ma-king who was there on that fatal 
occasion. Ma-king lives about four miles north of Pine Point, 
and I looked him up. He is now (1905) about seventy years 
old and in poor health. He stated that he was born on the 
north side of Detroit Lake, where the village by that name now 
stands, and his home has been within the limits of what is 
now Becker County ever since. \A hen he was a boy, some- 
where between the age of five and ten years, and as near as 
we could figure it out, with the help of Frank Smith, our inter- 
preter, about the year 1843 or 1844, there was a terrible slaughter 
at Dead Lake. It was not much of a battle, but was cold- 
l)loode(l murder, a veritable massacre of old men, women and 
children. The able-bodied men of the Chippewa camp had gone 
away either on a hunting excursion or warlike expedition, and had 
left their old men and their own families, to the number of about 
fifty people, in the seclusion of a heavily timbered point of land 
on the east shore of Dead Lake. This place is fifteen miles 
from the Becker County line and is nearly due south from 

After living there for a few days in fancied security, they 
were suddenly surprised by a war party of Sioux, who came 

214 A PioNKEK History of Becker County. 

in from the east on the land side and fired upon the defenceless 
camp without a moment's warning. Nearly half of the party 
were shot down at the first fire, includint;" nearly every man 
in the camp. 

There was great consternation and excitement among' the 
Chippewas and they undertook to scatter away into the woods 
for shelter, but every avenue of retreat was cut oft' in that di- 
rection, and their only recourse was to take to their canoes, three 
or four of wdiich were soon loaded down with women and 
children. Many of them were shot while fleeing across the water. 
Only one of the old men and thirteen women and children escaped. 
All the others, between thirty and forty were killed. Ala-king, 
his mother and a small brother escaped. His father had been 
killed the winter before by the Sioux in the vicinity of Red River. 

This tragedy is corroborated by Henry Way, who settled 
in Otter Tail County more than forty years ago, and who heard 
it related frequently by the Indians as having occurred something 
like twenty years before that time. He says that the lake went 
by the name of the Lake of the Dead in those days. 


2i6 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Chapter XIV. 


The most common method of travel by the Indians originally, 
in what is now Becker County, was by water, by means of birch- 
bark canoes. There were formerly plain, well beaten canoe or 
portage trails between all the principal lakes of the country. 
The Otter Tail, Pelican, Buffalo and Shell Rivers were navigable 
for canoes, in many pices of considerable length, and these 
added to the many lakes in the county, made travel by water 
much easier and more feasible than by land. It is true that 
portages had to be made quite frequently, but their loads of 
freight were light, and as one person could easily carry a canoe 
over his head from one lake to another, the time and labor 
required to make one of these portages was but little more than a 
sort of recreation, or rest from the monotony of paddling the 

How Canoes Are Made. 

The following is from Neil's History of Minnesota: 

"In the summer of 1826, General Lewis Cass, after concluding a treaty 
with the Indians at the head of Lake Superior, determined to return in a 
birch bark canoe. 

Immediately a large force of women and children were set to work 
and built him a canoe thirty-six feet in length by five feet in width. 

Stakes were driven into the ground the desired length of the canoe, 
and then rolls of birch bark, stripped from the tree unbroken and stitched 
together with the fine roots of the tamarack, were placed within the en- 
closure and secured to the stakes. Cross pieces of cedar were then inserted, 
producing the desired form, and constituting the ribs or framework. 

After the birch bark was properly sewed to the frame, the stakes were 
pulled from the ground, the seams covered with pine pitch that the water 
could not enter." 

After awhile ponies came into use, and still later the Red 
River cart was introduced, the first of which I have any knowl- 
edge being made by Alexander Henry in the fall of 1802, and in 
which goods were brought from Red River to Red Lake. 

A Pione;er History of Becker County. 217 

Chapter XV. 


When the whites first came to Becker county they found an 
old, well-beaten road running" across the county. There were 
three distinct trails in the road, showing that it had been exten- 
sively used for vehicles drawn by a single animal. The road en- 
tered Becker County on the south, between the two lakes on the 
south line of Section 36, of Burlington Township, nearly a mile 
east of where the Northern Pacific Railroad crosses the county line. 
It crossed the Otter Tail River a little below the lower Frazee dam, 
and a little above the present bridge on the Silver Leaf road and pass- 
ed up through the town of Burlington very near where the Northern 
Pacific Railroad has since been located, reaching Detroit Lake at 
the mouth of Sucker Creek, half a mile south of the club house. A 
little before reaching the present site of the club house the road took 
to the gravelly beach of the lake, which it followed for some 
distance, and again took to the water's edge where it crossed the 
Pelican River in Detroit Township. It then passed up by the 
old Tyler House, wound around into the southeast corner of the 
original townsite of Detroit, then back around by F. B. Chapin's 
house, thence northeasterly about half way between the Rich- 
wood road and the Pelican River, thence around nearly to where 
John O. French now resides, thence west along the south shore 
of Floyd Lake, then to the nortH shore of Oak Lake. 

From there it wound its way northwest, and then north 
through the west part of Sections 7 and 6 of Detroit, then up 
through the western tier of sections in Richwood. then crossed 
the Buffalo River at the old bridge, and thence in a northerly 
direction across the White Earth Reservation to Pembina. 

All efforts to ascertain the date of the first travel over this 
road have been fruitless. My opinion is that the road was opened 
up soon after the dividing line was agreed upon by the Sioux and 
Chippewas between their respective territories, which was on the 
19th of August, 1825. The only road connecting the settlements 
of Pembina on the lower Red River and Fort Snelling and other 
points on the Mississippi lower down, before that time, passed 
through where St. Cloud, Alexandria and McCauleyville have 


A PiuxiiKK History ov Ukckf.r County. 

since been located, 1)}' \vhich all traYel to and from the Red River 
coiintrv was oljlii;e(l to go through the heart of the Sioux coun- 
try, Avhereas a road through by the new route would pass 
through a section of country owned altogether by the Chippewas, 
and would be considered much safer, as the Sioux even in that 
day were considered a nation of cut-throats, and were called the 
''cut-throat Sioux," further west, by the French a long time ago. 
The most remote date of the use of this road which I have been 
able to obtain is given in an extract from a letter from Hon. R. 
j\I. Probsfield of Moorhead. He says : 

I do not know when the old road was first established, but was told 
by Norman W. Kittson that he used that trail in the late thirties, say 
between 1837 and 1840, on his way to and from Prairie Du Chien, Wis- 
consin and Pembina and Ft. Gary, now Winnipeg. 



The Anson Northup expedition with the machinery of the old North 
Star steamboat passed over this same route. The North Star was dis- 
mantled at the mouth of Gull River, on the Mississippi and from there 
it was all hauled on sleds to the Red River, opposite the mouth of the 
Sheyenne, where it empties into Red River. 

A PioxKKR History of Becker County. 219 

I left St. Paul on February 26th, 1859, and arrived at Sauk Rapids 
on the 28th, with a span of horses and wagon. There was no snow on 
the ground so far, but I was here informed that I could go no further 
than Piatt River with a wagon, so I bought a light sled and loaded my 
wagon onto it. We stopped at Luther's, about half way between Piatt 
River and Swan River that night, where I left my wagon, and loaded our 
truck onto the sled and made Crow Wing the following night. We ar- 
rived at Otter Tail City on the fourth or fifth of ^Nlarch and stopped with 
old ^McDonald where we found a part of the Northup expedition. An- 
other part of the expedition had gone ahead to build a bridge across the 
Otter Tail River at one of the upper crossings, as the river was not 
frozen over. The snow was deep, some sixteen or eighteen inches. The 
bridge was built for the boiler and other heavy machinery. Arriving in 
tlie woods that surround Detroit Lake on the southeast side we struck 
the farthest advanced camp where some of the lightest of the freight had 
been hauled to. Listead of following the old trail around Detroit Lake, 
we crossed it on the ice straight over to a point of prairie, probably a 
little less than a mile east of where the court house now stands. There 
was a log cabin there, a claim shanty of old McDonald's, where I suppose 
he had traded with the Indians at intervals, but no one was there at the 
time when we arrived. 

Heavy snow fell after that, making the rest of our journey long, 
tedious and perilous, getting out of forage for our teams, and the last 
day also out of provisions for the men. 

The Northup Expedition left the old road about a mile west of Oak 
Lake and about three miles east of where Audubon is now and traveled 
by compass in a northwesterly direction to a point on the Red River 
opposite the mouth of the Sheyenne. a place called Lafayette, abotit five 
miles from where Georgetown is now. The details of that trip would 
fill a good volume. 

The planking of the hull of the steamboat was sawed out of Red River 
oak. by hand power whipsaw. operated by three men. 

R. ~SL Probsfield. 

The trail made by Mr. r*rol)stield and his party, from the old 
road a mile west of Oak Lake, to Lafayette on the Red RiYer, 
afterwards became a well traYeled road, and was nuich used by 
the Indians, half-breeds and fur traders, after that time. It 
crossed the Buffalo River near the corners of Sections y, 10, 15 
and 16 in the township of Cuba. 

The Leech Lake Road. 

In the summer of 1868, the L^nited States Government opened 
up a road between Leech Lake and White Earth. This road in 
t^oini;- west, passed through what is now Osage and Carsonville. 
not far from where the main road passing through Park Rapids. 

220 A Pionee;r History of Becker County. 

Osage and Ponsforcl now runs, only it cut straight across the 
country instead of following section lines ; and on the Reservation 
it ran, most of the way, in the same location as the old road now 
in use. 

Chapter XVI. 


The first occupation of the soil of Becker County by white 
people, of which we have knowledge, was in October 1802, when 
a small trading post was established at White Earth by men in 
the employ of the Northwest Fur Company. They, however, re- 
mained there but a short time. This post was run by a man 
by the name of Duford. During that same month, October 1802, 
a small trading post was established at Shell Lake, in what is 
now Shell Lake Township, by William Morrison, the man who 
first discovered Lake Itasca and the extreme head waters of the 
Mississippi River a year later. 

In 1854, Donald McDonald, of Otter Tail Lake, built a log- 
house on the northeast shore of Detroit Lake, on the little prairie 
a few rods west of where the Pelican River enters the lake. After 
trading there with the Indians about two years he returned to 
Otter Tail. 

In the year 1867 a treaty was made at Washington by which 
various tribes of Indians, residing along the Mississippi River, 
were to be removed to White Earth the ensuing year. Arrange- 
ments were accordingly made that fall by which one million feet 
of pine logs were cut and banked on the east side of White 
Earth Lake during the winter of 1867-8 to be sawed into lumber 
for the use of the Indians the ensuing year. These logs were 
cut by men in the employ of Wm. Thompson and Fred Peake. 
who had been awarded the contract for banking" the logs, and 
they all returned to their homes below with the advent of spring. 
This was the first party of men to begin operations at White 

About the last of April 1868 a small party of men was sent to 
White Earth from Crow Wing, by Major J. B. Bassett, the 
Indian agent, to begin farming operations. A contract was 
made with Joseph W. Wakefield to break 240 acres of land for 

A PioNKER History of Becker County. 221 

the Indians, and about the 25th of April a small party of white 
men was sent to White Earth with teams to do this work. Paul 
H. Beaulieu was the leader of this party. He had been recently 
appointed to the position of Government farmer at the agency 
about to be established and was sent with this advance party to 
select and survey out the land to be plowed and to take charge 
of afifairs generally until such time as the agent himself should 
arrive. They arrived at White Earth about the loth of May, 
and Paul remained in the county, and as he was the only one 
of the party that did remain he is entitled to the honor of being 
the first pioneer settler with white blood in his veins to settle 
permanently in Becker County. The first white person to settle in 
Becker County, outside the reservation, was Patrick Ouinlan, 
who settled on the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter 
of Section 35, of Burlington Township, a few rods north of the 
county line, on the 28th of May 1868. He supposed at the time 
that he had located in Otter Tail County, but none of the coun- 
ty or township lines had been established at that time. When 
the Chippewa Indians passed by his place, a few days afterwards, 
on their way to their new homes at White Earth, and also when 
the Henry Way party passed a few days still later, he told them 
all that he was living in Otter Tail County, which led Way and 
Sherman to belive they were the first white settlers in Becker 
County, but after the line between Becker and Otter Tail coun- 
ties was run by W. W. Howard in the summer of 1870, Ouinlan 
found himself living in Becker County. 

Quinlan's wife was a full-blooded Chippewa and this circum- 
stance leaves the ^^"ay-Sherman party entitled to the honor of 
being the first party of "simon-pure" white people to settle in 
Becker County. 

On the 14th day of June, 1868, the first installment of Indians, 
about 150 in number, came to White Earth under the direction 
of Maj. J. B. Bassett, then Indian Agent, and under the guidance 
of Truman A. Warren; and another large party came in 1S69, 
making several hundred who had gone to White Earth during 
those two years. 

On the 28th day of June, 1868, Henry Way, Almon A\'. 
Sherman and L. D. Sperry took up claims near Oak Lake in 
what is now Detroit Township. They put up hay and returned 
to their families at Clitheral. Sherman moved to Oak Lake that 
same fall and they and Ouinlan were all the wdiite people to winter 

222 A I'loxEKR History ok IjKckkr County. 

in Becker County during" the winter of 1868 and 1869 outside the 
reservation. In the spring of 1869 Way and Sperry came back 
from Clitheral with their famiUes, and in the month of June, fol- 
lowing, three Norwegians, John F. Beaver, Chris. Anderson and 
Fred Johnson, located in the western part of what is now Audubon 

A little later on another party, mostly relatives of Way and 
Sherman, came and located a little south of the three Xorwegians 
in the same township. This party consisted of Buckly B. Ander- 
son, wife and seven children, Jackson Burdick, a son-in-law of 
B. B. Anderson, wife and three children and Harvev Jones, a single 
man who took land on Section 18. 

Along in October of that same year. Dr. David Pyle, who had 
been appointed government physician at AA^hite Earth, came and 
located in the same vicinit}' and remained there the most of the 
winter. Two other men came with him, whose names were M. 
L. Devereaux and David lieveridge. The three men brought a 
shingle mill with them, and made bass wood shingles during the win- 
ter of 1869 and 1870, on what is now Section 18 of Audubon Town- 
ship. Mark AA'arren wintered somewhere in the county, and also 
another man by the name of Talmage, who lived in a dug-out ; on 
what is now Section 20, of Audubon Township. 

We are now able to make a pretty accurate list of all the people, 
who wintered in Becker Count\- during tlu' winter of 1869 and 
1870, outside the White Earth Reser^•ation. 

Patrick Quinlan. 
Mrs. Patrick Quinlan. 
Joseph Quinlan, a small boy. 

Henry Way. 
Mrs. Henry Way. 
Dora Wa>-. 
Nellie Way. 
Fanny Way. 

Almon W. Sherman. (Died during the Winter.) 
Mrs. Almon W. Sherman. 
Alma Sherman. 
Dee Sherman. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 22.^ 

Mrs. Lyois Cutler, mother of Mrs. Sherman. 

Lois Anderson, granddaughter of Mrs. Sherman. 

Dewitt Sperry. 

Mrs. Dewitt Sperry. 

Ella Sperry, Frank Sperry, children of Dewitt Sperry. 

Alice Sperry, niece of Dewitt Sperry. 

Mrs. Barbary Stillman, mother of Mrs. Sperry. 

Christen Anderson. 
Mrs. C. Anderson. 

Annie Anderson, daughter of Chris. Anderson. 
John F. Beaver. 

Mrs. John F. Beaver. (Died in the spring of 1870). 
Frederick Johnson. 
Buckley B. Anderson. 
Mrs. B. B. Anderson. 
Jedediah Anderson, son of B. B. Anderson. 
Edward Anderson, son of B. B. Anderson. 
Richard Anderson, son of B. B. Anderson. 
Elva Anderson, daughter of B. B. Anderson. 
Freeman Anderson, son of B. B. Anderson. 
Miron Anderson, son of B. B. Anderson. 
Andrew Anderson, son of B. B. Anderson. 
Jackson Burdick, son-in-law of B. B. Anderson. 
Mrs. Jackson Burdick. 

Ida Burdick, daughter of Jackson Burdick. 
Eunice Eurdick, daughter of Jackson Burdick. 
Oren Burdick, son of Jackson Burdick. 
Harvey Jones. 
David Pyle. 
M. L. Devereaux. 
David Beveridge. 
Mark Warren. 

The census of 1870 gives the population of Becker County as 
308. These figures are misleading, as to my certain knowledge 
there were not more than sixty people in the county on the first 
day of June of that year outside the White Earth Reservation, so 

224 A Pioneer HISTuR^' oe Becker County. 

that the other 238 reported at the time must have been mostly on 
the reservation, and nearl}^ all of them Indians. 

In the summer of 1869, a party sent out to explore a route for 
the Northern Pacific Railroad, passed through the county from the 
west, and among them was John ( ). French, now of Detroit 
Township, who was connected with the party. 

In the summer of 1870, the probability that the Northern Pa- 
cific Railroad would pass through the county brought quite an 
influx of settlers, too many to mention in detail at the present 
time, but they will be accounted for under the heading of the dif- 
ferent townships. 

At the beginning of the year 1879, there was not a single set- 
tler in the whole region of country east of the Otter Tail River, 
which includes rather more than the eastern half of the county. 
That summer J. F. Siegford, his son, Frank Siegford, George M. 
Carson, A. W. Sanderson, and C. E. Bullock, opened the wa}' and 
led the van-guard of pioneers to the beautiful prairies of Osage 
and Carsonville, that have since developed into one of the most 
thriving and ])rosperous communities in the county. 

The timbered to\vnshi])s were somewhat slower to settle, but 
at the present time (1905) there is scarcely a cjuarter section of 
government land in the count}- without a settler. 

The first white girl born in the county was Clara D. W'ay, 
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Way, who were then living at 
Oak Lake in I^etroit Township. She was Ijorn on the 20th of 
July 1870. The first white boy born in Becker County was Olaus 
Reep, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sevald Reep, who was born on the 29th 
day of July 1871 and recorded January 20th, 1872. 

The first death among the white settlers was that of Alnion W. 
Sherman, who died at Oak Lake on the 31st day of December, 

The first white people to g"et married in the county were L J. 
Hanson and Annis Mix, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Mix, 
who were married by Rev. J. E. Wood on the 22d day of October 

Frank M. Campbell of White Earth took the census of Becker 
County in 1870. 

The first deed of conveyance for land in Becker County was 
made by Christen Anderson to the Northern Pacific Railroad Com- 
panv, for the west half of the southwest road of Section 8. in 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 225 

the present township of Aiuhibon. This deed was made the nth 
day of July, 1871, and recorded January 20th, 1872. 

The first mortgage in Becker County was made by Ole Peter- 
son to Knute Nelson, present United States senator. The mort- 
gage was for $200, and was on the east half of the southwest 
quarter of the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter, and lot 
5 of Section 4, in the present township of Audubon. 

The mortgage was dated January 9th, 1872. 

The first school in Becker County was taught by Mrs. Julia 
A. Spears at White Earth in the fall of 1870. 

The first school in Becker County, outside the reservation was 
taught by Miss Nancy M. Comstock, in the fall of 1871, in a house 
belonging to Henry Way, in what is now school district number 
three in Audubon Township. The first school taught in Becker 
Count}^ in a legally organized school district, was in district 
number one in the village of Detroit, by Miss Lottie Frank, be- 
ginning on the second day of July 1872. 

The first religious service in Becker County was held at White 
Earth by the Rev. John Johnson, (Enmegahbowh), in the fall of 

The first religious service in Becker County, outside the reser- 
vation, was held by the Rev. Dr. Lord on the shore of Floyd 
Lake on the 22d of August 1869, at the camp of the Northern 
Pacific Railroad exploring expedition. 

The first religious service ever held in Becker County with a 
full audience of Becker County people, and by a minister residing 
in this part of Minnesota, was conducted by the Rev. T. Watleson 
at the house of John F. Beaver in what is now Audubon Town- 
ship, on the sixth of November 1870. 

Father Gurley was the first resid'ent minister in Becker Coun- 
ty, outside the reservation, coming here as missionary for the 
Ncirthern Pacific Railroad, under the auspices of the Methodist 
churcli in July 187 1. 


A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

William Morrison. 


William Morrison, one of Becker County's earliest white set- 
tlers, was born in Montreal, Canada, March 7th, 1785. 

His father was a Scotch immigrant named Allan Morrison, a 
native of Stornoway, on the Lewis, one of the Hebrides or west- 
ern Isles, forming part of Scotland, and his mother a Canadian 
French lady named Jane for Jessie) Wadin. 

A PioxiiER History of Bkcker County. 227 

William having received a common school education, commenced 
clerking in a store in Montreal before he was fifteen years of age. 

Montreal was at that time the home and general headquarters 
of the British and Canadian fur traders, who came down the 
Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers, in mackinaw boats and birch- 
bark canoes, every summer, with their winter's collection of furs, 
and returned the same season, to the far Northwest, with a new 
supply of goods for the next winter's business. 

The few avenues to fortunes presented to the ambitious young 
men by the Canada of that day, coupled with the tales of adven- 
tures, and stories of the large profits made in the fur trade, fired 
young Morrison's ambition, and he at the early age of sixteen, was 
apprenticed by his father with the Northwest Fur Company, then 
the great rival of the more ancient Hudson's Bay Company, and 
started for old Grand Portage on Lake Superior, the Company's 
western headquarters, with the returning boats. 

The next year, in 1802, he was sent to Leech Lake and thence 
to an outpost on the headwaters of one of the streams tributary to 
the Crow Wing River, from which point they collected furs from 
their Indian hunters scattered through what is now Becker and 
Otter Tail Counties. These Indians were Pillager Chippewas, 
and from information gathered from some of the old Indians I 
knew at Leech Lake in 1870, and who remembered well "Sha-gah- 
nansh-eence," the "Little Englishman," as he was called by the 
Chippewas, I would locate this outpost at Shell Lake. 

In 1803-4 Morrison wintered at Upper Rice Lake on the head- 
waters of the \\^ild Rice River, and it was during that winter and 
the spring of 1804 that he visited Lake Itasca and the various 
smaller lakes which form part of the source of the Mississippi River. 
No white man had ever visited that country before Morrison, and 
he rightfully claimed to be the discoverer of the source of this 
great river, although Nicollet, Beltrami and Schoolcraft all claim- 
ed this honor several years later. 

It being the policy of the Northwest Fur Company not to allow 
any of its traders to remain more than one or two years at the 
same outpost, Morrison was, in this manner, enabled to visit many 
places, and became well acquainted with the fur resources of a 
vast territory ; the knowledge so acquired soon proved of great 
value to him. 

228 A Pioneer History of Becker Couxty. 

His industrious habits and natural shrewdness, coupled witli 
his ability to handle the rough "Yoyageurs" and his po])ularit}- 
among the Indians, soon attracted the notice of his employers, and 
after several years spent in managing various trading posts in 
Minnesota, he was placed in charge of a number of them, with 
headquarters at Sandy Lake, on the upper ]\Iississi])pi River. It 
was while stationed there that an incident occurred, illustrating his 
popularity with, and influence over the Indians. 

Tecumseh's brother, "The I'rophet," had sent out his tobacco 
to all the western and northwestern tribes, with a secret message 
to the Indians to join him in a general massacre of the whites in 
the Indian country. 

Such was the reputation and influence of this famous grand 
medicine man, the prophet, over the Indians, that although the 
Chippewas were of a peaceful disposition and had no great cause 
of complaint against their traders, they dared not refuse the invi- 
tation. The tobacco sent was smoked in secret council, the Indians 
withdrew away from the trading posts, and generally assumed an 
unfriendly attitude. 

Morrison had left Sandy Lake and gone on a business trip to 
Fond du Lac, to meet with the other chief traders and the manag- 
ing board of the Northwest Company. While there, messengers 
came in from Sandy Lake and a number of other trading posts, 
with reports, that the Indians were acting in an unfriendly manner, 
and that their actions indicated there was mischief a brewing, but 
none of the traders' employes could find out what the trouble was. 

The assembled traders decided that Morrison was the only one 
able to get the secret out of the Indians, and he started at once for 
Sandy Lake, his own post, with the messenger who had brought 
die report. They had a light l)irch canoe and traveled rapidly, so 
that on the forenoon of the third day they paddled out of Prairie 
River into Sandy Lake. 

Some young Indians, wdio were returning from a deer hunt, 
recognizing him. hurried home to spread the news, that the "Little 
Englishman" was coming home. From stray hints heard while at 
Fond du Lac, Morrison had made up his mind that "The Prophet" 
was at the bottom of the trouble, and he soon decided on his plan 
of action. Paddling close to the shore he was soon opposite the 
wigwams of the Indians, but contrary to custom he never stopped 
to enquire about the news and kept on as if in a great hurry. This 


nettled the suspicious Indians, and one of them was sent on to 
intercept Morrison above one of the small portages which cut 
across the points formed by the long bends of the Mississippi River, 
below the mouth of the Sandy Lake River. His face was painted 
black, and as Morrison did not seem to notice him, the Indian hailed 
the canoe, when the paddlers stopped. "You seem to be in great 
hurry," said the Indian, "what news where you come from?" "Xoth- 
ing," answered Morrison, "and what is going on here?" "Nothing 
here either." Then Morrison slowly began paddling away ; stopping 
suddenly, he half turned around saying: "Oh yes, there is some 
news I was forgetting. The great medicine man, "The Prophet." has 
been killed by the Long Knives, (the Americans). Then he re- 
sumed paddling and soon reached his stockade, a short distance 
down the Mississippi. The next day the Indians flocked in and 
resumed friendly relations, without showing the least sign of ill 

As luck would have it, messengers came a few days afterwards 
from Lake Superior, confirming his report of the death of "The 
Prophet," and all circumstances connected with the plot came out. 

It was a lucky hit. Morrison had calculated that if he could 
get the Indians to come around, he would succeed in getting them 
started out deer hunting, birch-bark raising, etc., and get them 
scattered, so they could not spend their days of idleness in plotting 
more mischief. 

William Morrison stayed with the Northwest Fur Company 
until in 1816, when being oiYered better inducements, he joined 
the American Fur Company (John Jacob Astor's), and was placed 
in charge of the department of Fond du Lac, with headquarters at 
Old Superior. Wisconsin. This department embracing within its 
territory. Lake Vermillion, Red Lake, Sandy Lake. Leech Lake, 
Lake Winnebagoshish, Cass Lake, Otter Tail Lake, Crow \Wihg 
on the Mississippi, and Grand Portage on Lake Superior. He re- 
mained in charge of John Jacob Astor's business there until 1826, 
when having acquired what was called a competency for those 
days, he retired from the fur trade and returned to Canada. There 
he purchased a large island, since known as Morrison's Island, in 
the St. Lawrence River, between Old Fort William Henry, now 
Sorel, on the south shore, and Berthier-en-Haut, on the north shore 
of the river. 

For some years he was engaged in farming, but pastoral life 
was too quiet and unexciting for his active mind, and after a few 

230 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

years spent on the farm, he settled in Berthier, where for many 
years he carried on a mercantile business, and was also judge of 
the county court. 

While trading in the upper [Mississippi country, he married a 
Pillager Chippewa woman, by whom he had two boys and a girl. 
His wife dying soon after the birth of the last born, the children 
were, according to Indian custom, taken care of by the wife's 
mother, who always thereafter followed and lived with her grand- 
children. When Morrison left the Indian country in 1826, he made 
arrangements to take his three children with him, but on the eve of 
the day set for the departure of the boats, from Superior for Macki- 
noe, the grandmother stole the children and disappeared during 
the night. Search for them was made for several days, but with- 
out success, and they were necessarily left behind. They returned 
eventually to Leech Lake, and in course of time the two boys grew 
to be great hunters and warriors, and many Sioux scalps dangled 
from their belts whenever they went out with a war party. 

In spite of their Indian bringing up, and thanks to the good 
advice given them by their uncle, Allan Morrison, they never for- 
got that they were of white blood, and always exercised their in- 
fluence over their reckless tribesmen to keep them from molesting 
the whites, and but for the stand taken by Joseph, (or Ay-gans as 
the Indians called him), at Leech Lake during the outbreak of 
1862, there would have been a massacre of the em]:)lo}es and 
traders at the agency. 

Hole-in-the-day, head chief of the Mississippi Chippewas, had 
stirred up the Pillagers to such a pitch that they had robbed the 
stores and made the whites prisoners. They had met in several 
councils and the most reckless of them had decided that the whites 
must die the next morning. Ay-gans had taken an active part in 
the councils, but had always taken the part of the prisoners. At last, 
when he saw that all his efforts had been in vain, he got up and 
spoke about their comradeship in war and in the hunts, and also 
on their relationship to one another and of that law of nature which 
binds kin to kin, and then he bared his arm, displaying his light 
skin, saying: "You are talking of killing our white friends, and you 
say they must die tomorrow. Look at this arm ; it is light colored, the 
blood that runs through it is white man's blood, and when 
you kill our white friends you will kill me also." That last part of 
the speech was telling. Ay-gans was a brave man, and his last 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 231 

words, were to Indian ears, both defiant and threatening. The next 
morning other brave men took sides with the whites and their 
Hves were spared. They were marched down to Gull Lake as 
prisoners, and turned over to the care of the Gull Lake Indians, 
and afterwards liberated. 

Descendants of this Jos. !AIorrison are now settled on the Wild 
Rice River in Norman County, but formerly were a part of the 
first contingent of Otter Tail Chippewas, who removed with their 
father to Becker County in 1872, and settled around the present 
agency and the Old Trading Post. 

The daughter was taken into the family of one of the missionaries 
and followed them to Stillwater, where she married a German 
farmer, and died several years ago. Joseph died at Beaulieu, Minn., 
in January, 1889. His older brother Richard, or Dekaince, died at 
Otter Tail Lake about 1870. 

AA'illiam ^lorrison's second wife was a Miss Ronssain, daughter 
of a Fond du Lac, Minn., Indian trader. She was the mother of 
two sons and two daughters, and went with her husband to Canada, 
where she died a few years afterwards. William, the oldest of the 
two boys, left Canada for the west and eventually joining one of 
Col. Fremont's expeditions to the Pacific coast, went to Cali- 
fornia, where he settled and died about 1850. 

The younger son, Donald George, left Canada before he was 
twenty years of age, and worked his way through Michigan, Illi- 
nois and Wisconsin to Minnesota, where he settled in the Red River 
valley near the boundary line, and became a member of the Terri- 
torial Legislature of Minnesota. A few years later he settled in 
Old Superior, Wisconsin, where he was elected register of deeds 
of Douglas County, an office he held for years afterwards. He 
died in Superior, in 1898. 

After the death of his second wife, William Morrison found 
himself with four young children, with none but hired help to man- 
age and care for them, so after a couple years of this kind of exist- 
ence, he married Miss Elizabeth Ann Kittson, an elder sister oi 
the late Commodore N. W. Kittson of St. Paul, Minnesota. Four 
daughters were born of that union. 

Mrs. Morrison died in February, 1864, and her husband, who 
had been blind for several years, could not bear up long under the 
blow. He aged rapidly after this, and although surrounded by 
kind friends who endeavored by their attentions and company, to 
keep his mind interested in the events of the day, he lost all interest 


in life and gradually passed away. He died on Morrison's Island 
August /th, 1866, and was buried in Sorel, alongside of his last 

In religion he was an Episcopalian, and in politics a Conserva- 
tive, and a strong supporter of the Canadian government in the 
troublesome years of 1837-38, and possessed of much influence 
with the authorities. This he used to good advantage after the 
rebellion, and was instrumental in saving the lives and liberty of 
many of his patriotic friends. 

The accompanying portrait was taken when he was about sixty- 
nine years of age. 

Geo. a. Morison. 

Mark Warren. 

The first man I ever saw in Becker County was Mark Warren. 
He was one of those eccentric characters, always found on the fron- 
tier, whose occupation can best be defined as fur trader and wild 
rover, and who usually disappeared with the advent of civilization. 

I found him near the southw'est corner of what is now Cormo- 
rant Township, in October 1870. I asked him where he lived, 
and he pointed to an old Red River cart that was standing near by 
and said that was all the home he possessed. He did not remain 
in the county more than a year or two longer, but I afterwards 
frequently camped with him both in Minnesota and Dakota, learn- 
ing something of his history, which had been very eventful. He 
was about forty years of age, a native of Vermont, well educated, 
and started out in life intending to become a lawyer. His life, 
however, about that time became blighted, the particulars of which 
he never gave me in full, but from occasional hints it was easy to 
surmise the cause that changed the whole future course of his life. 
He had been for many years engaged in buying furs from the 
Indians and frontier settlers, and for the last ten or fifteen years 
had been a rambler in this region of country. Sometime in the 
year 1865, he had gathered up a cart-load of furs and taken them 
to St. Paul, disposing of them at good prices, and returning by the 
Old Red River trail, camped at night near the Buffaki River. His 
camp was a little way off from the trail, and sometime in the night, 
someone entered his tent, struck him on the head with a club, then 
stabbed him in the breast with a knife and robbed him of $400 and 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 233 

left him for dead, ^^'hether the robber was a white man or an 
Indian was not known, as Warren did not see the vilhiin. When 
he l)ecame conscions, it was noon the following' day and he was 
scarcely able to move hand or foot, and lay in that condition until 
the second day, when he mustered up strength to crawl out to the 
cart trail, where he lay all that day and the next night. About 
noon of the third day, he was picked up by some Red River half- 
breeds, who took him to the nearest trading post, where he ho\- 
ered between life and death for a whole month, and it was a year 
before he fully recovered from the effects of this foul deed. 

AX'arren went from here to the A\'ild Rice River, and in the au- 
tumn of 1874, I found him on the l)ank.s of the Missouri, a little 
above Bismarck, in Dakota, and again in 1878, I found him further 
up the Missouri in a snug cabin, herding cattle and reading Black- 
stone. The last I heard of him was in the year 1895, when he 
had found a final resting place among the mountains of A\^voming. 

234 A Pione;e:r History of Becker County. 

Chapter XVII. 


The first route proposed for the Northern Pacific Railroad was 
to run from Duluth to St. Cloud and from thence to Breckenridge, 
as a feasible route was known to exist along that course, whereas 
most people had their doubts as to the practicability of building a 
railroad farther north. The first exploring expedition was fitted 
out in June, 1869, under the direction and management of George 
A. Bracket, of Minneapolis. Their first camp was pitched at 
Small Lake, a little w^est of St. Cloud on the 9th day of July, 1869. 

Accompanying the expedition was J. Gregory Smith, at that 
time governor of \'ermont, and also president of the X'orthern 
Pacific Railroad Company, Eugene M. Wilson, of Minneapolis, 
member of Congress from the third Minnesota district. Senator 
William Windom, the Rev. Dr. Lord of Chicago, Charles Carlton 
Coffin, correspondent of the Boston Journal, and among several 
others the financial agent of Jay Cook, a man whose name was 

Pierre Bottineau, a Red River half-breed, and one of the most 
noted frontiersmen of the Northwest, was the guide of the party, 
and John C). French, now of Detroit Township, was his assistant. 

The party consisted of about seventy men, fifty-five of whom 
were teamsters ; twenty-five light wagons and buggies, and about 
thirty heavy wagons, loaded with provisions, baggage and general 
camping outfit. As they left St. Cloud, they made a very imposing 
procession, stretching out along the road for nearly half a mile in 
extent. They moved by easy stages, following the old Alexandria 
and Red River road, and in the course of about a week reached 
Fort Abercrombie, a frontier post occupied by United States 
troops. The party here divided, about one-half of them remaining 
behind to explore the Red River Valley and the country adjacent 
thereto in a direction north from Ft. Abercrombie. 

The other half of the expedition now procured the ser\'ices of a 
squad of twenty-five or thirty soldiers from Ft. Abercrombie, under 
the command of a lieutenant to serve as an escort, and then, under 
the leadership of Bottineau and French, proceeded to explore the 
country across the Dakota plains to the Missouri River. They 

A Pionee;r History of Becker County. 235 

crossed the Maple, Sheyenne and James Rivers, coming to the 
Missouri some distance north of where Bismarck now stands. 

At their camp near the James River they were fired upon, in 
the night, by a party of Sioux Indians and skirmishing with the 
pickets was quite hvely for a couple of hours, and was only brought 
to a close by the dawning of day. One soldier was slightly wounded. 

x\fter examining the approaches to the Missouri, and ascertain- 
ing the feasibility of a crossing, the party started back by a new 
route a little north of their outward trail, and about the 15th of Au- 
gust reached the Red River a little north of where Fargo now 
stands. Here they met the party which they had left at Ft. Aber- 
crombie a few weeks before. 

After a short rest, the united expedition crossed the Red River 
and started on their homeward journey in an easterly direction 
across the Red River flats, and on the 21st of August, 1869, camped 
for the night on the shores of Floyd Lake, in what is now Detroit 
Township. The next day being Sunday, the expedition rested 
from their journeying and the Rev. Dr. Lord held religious servi- 
ces at the camp, and preached the first sermon ever preached in 
Becker County by a white man of which we have any knowledge. 

At this camp at the southwest corner of Floyd Lake, Charles 
Carleton Coffin wrote a letter to the Boston Journal, giving a de- 
scription of the country in the western part of Becker County, and 
appropriately naming it the Park Region of Minnesota. 

The following is a copy of his letter: 

On our second day's march from Red River, we came to a section 
of country that might with propriety be called the Park Region of 
Minnesota. It lies amid the uplands of the divide. It is more beauti- 
ful even than the country around White Bear Lake in the vicinity 
of Glenwood. Throughout the day we rode amid such rural scenery 
as can only be found in the most lovely spots in New England. Think 
of an undulating country, gently rounded elevations with green slopes, 
of lawns and parks and countless lakes; calm waters reposing amid the 
low hills, skirted by forests, fringed with rushes, perfumed by lilies; or 
of the waves rippling on gravelly beaches, of wild geese, ducks, loons, 
pelicans and innumerable waterfowl building their nests amid the reeds 
and rushes; think of lawns blooming with flowers, of elk and deer browsing 
amid the meadows. This is their haunt. We see their tracks along the 
sandy beach, but they keep beyond the range of our rifles. 

So wonderfully has nature adorned this section of country, that it 
seems as if we were riding through a country that had long been under 
cultivation, and that beyond yonder hillock we shall find a mansion or at 
least a farm house. 

236 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

I do not forget that I am seeing this country at its best season, that 
it is midsummer, and that the winters are as long as in New England; but I 
can say without reservation that nowhere in the wide world, not even in 
England, the most finished of all lands; not in la belle France, or sunny 
Italy, or in the valley of the Ganges, or the Yangtze, or the slopes of the 
Sierra Nevadas in California have I beheld anything approaching this 
region of natural beauty. 

It was a pleasure, after three days' travel over trackless wilds, to come 
suddenly and unexpectedly upon a hayficld. There were the swathes newly 
mown. There was no farm-house in sight, no fenced fields, but the hay- 
makers had been at work in the vicinity. We were approaching civiliza- 
tion. Ascending the hill we came in sight of a settler, a pioneer. One of 
our party had already come up with him. and he informed us that we should 
find the old trail about a mile ahead. He had a long beard hanging to 
his breast; long, matted hair and a pale wrinkled countenance. He had 
come from Ohio in his youth and had always been a skirmisher on the 
advancing line of civilization. 

We struck the old trail about a mile west of Oak Lake. This trail 
was formerly traveled by the French and Indian traders, between the 
Mississippi River and Pembina, and had not been used much of late years. 
Striking that, we should have no trouble in reaching the settlements at 
Otter Tail forty miles southeast. 

Emigration travels fast. Four families have just made a beginning 
at Oak Lake on the old Red River trail. We reached the settlement on 
Saturday night. August 21st. and pitched our tent on the shore of Floyd 
Lake for the Sabbath. It was a rare treat for these people to come to 
our camp and hear a sermon from the Rev. Dr. Lord. The oldest person 
in the colony is a woman, now in her eightieth year, with eye undiminished, 
a countenance remarkably free from the marks of age. who walks with a 
firm step after three-score years of labor. Sixty years ago she left Lebanon, 
New Hampshire, a young wife, leaving her native hills for a home in the 
state of New York, then moving with the great army of emigrants to Ohio, 
Illinois, Missouri and Iowa in succession, and at last b'^ginning again in 

Last year her hair, which had been as white as the purest snov,% began 
to take on its original color, and is now <|uite dark. There are but few 
instances on record of such a renewal of youth. 

The women and children of these four families lived here all alone 
for six weeks while the men were away after the stock. On the fourth 
of July all hands traveled forty miles, to Rush Lake to celebrate the day. 
Store, church, school and post office are forty miles away and the nearest 
mills are fully as distant." 

The four families referred to were the Henry Way, Sherman, 
Sperry and Stillman families, who had settled the year before at 
Oak Lake. 

The settler referred to with the long- hair was a half hmy individttal 
by name of Talmage, who lived in a little dugout a mile or two 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 237 

southwest of where Audubon now stands. He left the country 
the next year. He is the man who cut the hay referred to in 
the letter above. 

The expedition then proceeded on its way to the east, the 
route followed by them being- very nearly identical with that 
now occupied by the Northern Pacific Railroad itself. This ex- 
pedition settled the location of the Northern Pacific between Du- 
luth and Moorhead, but another expedition was sent out the next 
year to make a farther examination of the country between the 
Red River and the Missouri. John (). French was also a mem- 
ber of this expedition, and to him I am indebted for a large part 
of the information contained in this article. 

The Northern Pacific Railroad was just a little more than one 
year in being built through Becker County. Grading began in the 
vicinity of the Otter Tail County line and in the Detroit Woods, 
about the middle of October, 1870, and was finished in the western 
part of the county about the middle of November, 1871. By the 
first of December, trains were making regular trips to Oak Lake 
Cut, which were continued through the winter, but only two trains 
were run through to ]\Ioorehead that fall, as the road was blockaded 
with snow until the middle of the next April, although a large crew 
of men shoveled snow all winter at an expense of $30,000. 

General Rosser was chief engineer of this part of the railroad. 
An engineer by the name of Keith had charge of the work from 
the second crossing of the Otter Tail to Chris. Anderson's place on 
Section 8, in Audubon Township, and Reno, a relative of Major 
Reno of Custer Massacre fame, had charge from there to where 
Hawley, in Clay County, is now. In 1870 and 1871 an engineer by 
the name of McClellan, a cousin of General McClellan, surveyed 
a line from Floyd Lake, in Detroit Township to Pembina. Fred. 
Brackett had the contract of grading the road from the crossing of 
the Otter Tail River near the county line to Detroit Lake, and 
George M. C. Brackett graded the road from Detroit Lake a dis- 
tance of ten miles to the west. 

T. M. Ault had a sub-contract for grading a few miles east 
from Detroit Lake. 

An old Scotchman by the name of James INIcCoy, had a con- 
tract for grading, where the village of Lake Park now stands. 

The Soo railroad was built across Becker County in the year 





A Pioneer History of Becker County. 239 

Chapter XVIII. 


I will begin the history of White Earth with a letter from Ma- 
jor J._D, Bassett, who was Indian agent for the Mississippi Band 
of Chippewas at the time of their removal to White Earth in 1868: 

WoLFBORO, N. H., August 10, 1906. 
Yours of the 27th ult. reached me a few days since, forwarded from 
Minneapolis. I have delayed answering it in order to consult with Mr. 
James Bean, who now lives in California, but was expected here, and 
who was my clerk during my incumbency of the Indian agency and could 
have given me much help in answering your letter. These answers are 
from memory, which is not as clear as they would have been if I had some 
diaries kept at that time, which I have in Minneapolis. I find that forty 
years dims my memory of events that transpired that length of time ago. 
When the treaty was made in Washington in 1867, the party that went 
with me consisted of George Bonga (interpreter), Head Chief Hole-in-the- 
day, Peter Bottineau and five or six other Chiefs and Headmen; all full- 
blooded Indians. We were there over two months before the treaty was 
made and ratified. Paul H. Beaulieu was sent by me to White Earth in 
the spring of 1868, before the removal to explore the country and meet 
me on my arrival there, which was to precede the arrival of the Indians. 
Truman Warren was employed as an interpreter and collected the Indians 
at the old agency, near Crow Wing, superintended collecting the outfit 
and accompanied them on their journey. I followed them a few days 
after and overtook them at Otter Tail Lake, where they were met by a 
delegation of Sioux Indians and were holding a friendly council. Paul 
Beaulieu met me, before I arrived at the point afterwards selected for the 
agency, and accompanied me back to the reservation, and together with 
him the agency was located, also a road to White Earth Lake, and a site 
for the sawmill selected. 

I do not recollect now of sending any one to the reservation to do 
any work except what was done by Paul Beaulieu, in exploring on the 
reservation. As soon as the site for buildings was selected and the loca- 
tion of the land to be broken was marked out, I employed Joseph Wake- 
field to break the land for an Indian farm and to break land separately, 
for such Indians as desired to occupy it. I do not recollect the exact 
date when the breaking commenced or ended, but there is no question 
about Paul Beaulieu being the first settler. He was there before the first 
colony arrived and I think his family was there also, and he was employed 
as a farmer from the time of the first arrival of Indians at White Earth 
Reservation, until I left the agency. There were Indians and half-breeds 
constantly going and coming, but the number there was constantly in 
creasing. I think, when the Indians arrived near the Reservation, Paul 

240 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

went out to meet them and piloted them to the ground. I think he met 
me at some point and came back with me before the arrival of the Indians. 
I left the Indians at Otter Tail Lake and did not see them again until their 
arrival. Truman Warren stayed with the Indians until their arrival at 
their destination. Truman was the Moses from the start, and true and 
faithful. ]\Iost of the Indians that went that year, went together with 
Warren. No band or body of them went together after that time during 
that year. Several ox teams went with the Indians, and I think the same 
teams were put to work breaking land. There were some pine logs cut as 
you suggest, and it was done by Joseph Wakefield the next winter. I 
do not recollect how many, but enough to build many houses for Indians 
and store-houses. 

My experience with the Indian Department shows to my mind the 
most incomprehensible absurdity that a civilized people ever attempted 
to impose upon an uncivilized race. To attempt to civilize a people and 
at the same time prevent them from adopting any of the arts or advan- 
tages of civilization, is to my mind absolutely absurd and ridiculous. 
Give the benefit of law and the work is done at once. Abrogate law 
amongst the white people and we would soon relapse into barbarism. 

Respectfully yours, 

J. B. B.'^SSETT. 

First Land Plowed in Becker County. 

J. W. Wakefield, now of Aitkin, Minn., who did the first 
plowing in Becker County, says: 

Aitkin, Minn., July 22, igo6. 

In the fall of 1862, I passed through Becker County with the Indian 
agent, on our way to Clearwater, where he made payment to the Otter 
Tail, Pembina and Red Lake Indians. We followed the old Red River 
Trail, and camped at Detroit Lake on our way out. Edwin Clark was 
the agent at that time. It was a wild trip. The Sioux were all over the 
country, and were very hostile; it being soon after the beginning of the 
terrible massacre in southern Minnesota. The Otter Tail Indians escorted 
us through to the Clearwater. I broke 240 acres of land for the Indians 
at White Earth, in the summer of 1868, and the winter following cut one 
million feet of pine logs to be sawed into lumber and to be used in the con- 
struction of the agency buildings. 

I started my teams from old Crow Wing in the latter part <>f .Kpril. 
1868, and Paul H Beaulieu was the leader of the party, because he knew 
better how to manage the fording of the rivers, but William Thompson 
took charge of the work. Paul was employed by the government as 
farmer and surveyor. After locating my teams at breaking, he returned 
to accompany Major Bassett. I commenced breaking about the middle 
of May, with two six-ox teams and four two-horse teams. I think Paul 
Beaulieu's first trip to White Earth was when he went with my teams, 
arriving there early in May, 1868. James Warren and George Van Valken- 

A PioNiiiiR History ui* I>ecke;r County. 241 

burg came to White Earth later on. I opened up a store there, as I was 
the only licensed trader in the country at the time. Robert Fairbanks 
was my clerk. E. B. Lowell took charge of my logging camp that next 
winter. I think our making the trip through that country in the fall of 
1862, was the cause of White Earth being chosen for a reservation, for 
we all recommended it to the government as the Garden of Eden, and 
we were not much mistaken. 

I have been trying to refresh my memory as to the names of those 
of my party who went to White Earth to do the breaking of land. There 
were, besides Beaulieu, four men and one woman. The woman was Wm. 
Thompson's wife, a white woman, and the entire party were white men, but 
for my life I cannot remember their names, except Wm. Thompson and 
Simeon Weaver. As to Paul H. Beaulieu, he went back to Crow Wing and 
brought his family back, and so did Robert Fairbanks. The following 
winter I cut one million feet of logs to build the Agency. Again Paul 
Beaulieu returned to Crow Wing and piloted my teams and crew through. 
They left Crow Wing the early part of January, i86g. This party was, P. H. 
Beaulieu, E. B. Lowell, John B. Wakefield and True Moores. Somewhere 
in the vicinity of Detroit, they experienced a snow storm. So much snow 
fell with the heavy wind, the men got discouraged and all agreed to turn 
back, when True Moores with a four-horse team hitched up and said he was 
going to White Earth, as he had hired out to do and started out alone. 
Paul Beaulieu soon followed and after some time they all pulled out, and 
with much difficulty, with snow and cold, made their way by following the 
ridges and high land, for the valleys were ten to twenty feet deep with 
snow. It was quite an undertaking to haul our supplies so far without 
roads or bridges. I got $13.00 per acre for breaking and $10.00 per one 
thousand feet banking logs and it was not too much either. 

Yours respectfully. 
To A. H. Wilcox Joseph B. Wakefield. 

The William Thompson referred to took a claim the next year two 
or three miles south of where Frazee now stands and lived there 
for several years. The place is now owned and occupied by Thomas 
Keyes. His wife referred to afterwards became the wife of C. H. 
Whipple and lived in Detroit for several years and died there on the 
13th day of March, 1888. 

First Saw Mill at White Earth. 

Long Pr.mrie. Minnesota. July 10. 1906. 
Hon. a. H. Wilcox. 
Frazee, Minn., 
Dear Sir: 

I have your favor of the 2nd inst., asking about my trip to White Earth 
in the spring of 1868, and in reply will say I went there at that time to 
build a saw mill for the Indians, under contract with Major J. B. Bassett, 
then Indian agent. 

242 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

We loaded the engine, boiler and mill machinery into a flatboat at 
the old village of Crow Wing and poled the boat up the Crow Wing River 
to the mouth of Leaf River and up that river to Leaf Lake. The party 

was made up of the late Wm. L. Dow, Little Falls, Minn., Mr. Mc- 

Cabe, of Minneapolis, Minn., Mr. Jerry Bartrum and a brother of his, whose 
name I have forgotten, and myself, with about half a dozen Indians who 
helped pole the boat. 

We found the water very low that spring and in many places were 
obliged to build wing dams to raise the water sufficiently to enable 
us to get up over the rapids; when we got into Leaf River we found it 
so crooked that our boat, which was seventy feet long, could scarcely 
make the turns and we were greatly delayed and did not reach Rufifee's 
Landing on Leaf Lake as soon as we expected; we ran short of provisions 
and the last few days lived on fish which we caught in the river. We left 
the boat at Rufifee's Landing, and the cargo was afterwards loaded onto 
wagons and hauled through to White Earth Lake. After leaving our boat, 
we went to Otter Tail Lake where Charley Peake had a trading store, only 
to find he had nothing to eat except fish and potatoes, and for four days, 
while we were waiting for the teams which started from the Crow Wing 
Agency the day after we did and which were greatly delayed by bad roads, 
we shared his generous hospitality and scant bill of fare. At Otter Tail 
Lake was also located Mr. Van Norse, to whom we were indebted for many 

When we reached Buffalo River we were obliged to bridge that stream 
before we could get our teams across, and while there Major Bassett over- 
took us and went ahead to White Earth and sent back Mr. Paul Beaulieu 
to pilot us in to our destination. 

Upon our arrival we immediately commenced work on the saw-mill, 
and soon had it running. It was located about two miles east of the present 
village on the bank of White Earth Lake. 

Thompson & Peake had banked a lot of pine logs across the lake the 
winter before, and from these we sawed quite a lot of lumber and shingles 
and then left the mill in charge of Anton St. Germain, who ran it for 
some time. 

The following winter I built a saw-mill at Red Lake for the Indians 
of that agency; the mill was located at the outlet of the lake and was run 
by water power. 

The firm of Thompson & Peake, who did the lumbering at White Earth 
the winter before I went there, was composed of Mr. William Thompson, 
whom you mention, and Fred Peake. Giles Peake and Charley Peake 
were at Otter Tail at the time. 

There were no Indians with Major Bassett, they came later and arrived 
while I was there during the early summer. Paul Beaulieu was at White 
Earth ahead of us and before Major Bassett went there, he must have gone 
there very early in the spring. 

Truman Warren was at the old Crow Wing Agency at the time and 
did not reach White Earth until the middle of June. It is difficult for me 
to give the exact date when my party left Crow Wing m the spring, but 
my best recollection is that it was about the middle of May. 

A PiONEKR History of Backer County. 


I regret that I am unable to go more into detail or be more definite 
as to dates, but the fact is I am now eighty-four years old and my memory 
is not as good as it was some years ago. I came to Minnesota in 1856 and 
settled at Little Falls, have lived in this part of the state ever since, and 
am interested in the history of the state and am pleased to contribute any- 
thing I can, to make the history that I have had anything to do with making 
a matter of record. 

Yours truly, 

Samuel Lee. 

Mr. Lee is the father of Hon. Wm. E. Lee, of Long Prairie. 
Mr. Samuel Lee died at Long Prairie October 22nd, 1906. 

Nathan Butler. 

XAl'HAX I'.V 11, ER. 

Nathan Butler, an old U. S. government surveyor, who was 
with the first party of Indians when they went through to White 
Earth in the month of June 1868, says: 

It was in June 1868 that I first went into Becker County. It was the 
time Major Bassett moved the Indians to White Earth Reservation. I 
joined him near Otter Tail Lake and went to White Earth with him. 

244 -■^ PioxKEK History of LiiiCKKK Countv. 

Paul Beaulieu was living at White Earth with his family when Major 
Bassett and I arrived there. He met us two or three miles this side of 
the agency. He was hunting along the road, and had killed a lynx and 
some other game. He returned to the agency with us, and we took 
dinner with him, which his wife had prepared, apparently in anticipation 
of our arrival. I recollect very distinctly that she had bear meat and a 
turtle cooked. I noticed that Bassett ate pretty freely of the bear meat, 
but not of the turtle. When we were out after dinner, inspecting the 
breaking that Jos. Wakefield was doing for the government, Bassett re- 
marked, that he did not think his wife would put a turtle on the table 
more than once with the feet on it. That accounted for his eating bear 
instead of turtle. I ate the turtle and preferred it to the bear meat. 

We were there nearly a week on account of one of the mules being 
lame, and while we were there I recollect Bassett talking with Lee about 
putting up a saw mill by contract, but could not make any bargain to do it. 

When we got back to the outlet of Rush Lake the heaviest of the 
saw mill machinery was there loaded on wagons waiting for Bassett. We 
gave them information about the road, and gave them three weeks to get 
to White Earth Lake. In seven days they had the mill there ready to 
set up; the best job of handling ox teams I ever saw. 

In a letter to W. W. McLeod, Mr. Btitler says : 

On our return I met three or four men from Clitheral, Otter Tail 
County, looking for good land on which to locate and I pursuaded them 
to go through the Detroit Woods to the vicinity of Oak Lake. They 
were delighted with the land in that vicinity and made claims there to 
which they afterwards moved their families. One of them, Henry Way, 
was living in the vicinity the last I heard of him. These, at the time were 
supposed to be the first white men who ever settled in Becker County. 
Patrick Quinlan was living on the river bank just south of where Frazee 
is now, but he thought he was living in Otter Tail County until after the 
county line was run two years afterwards. 

In 1874 I was employed by the U. S. Commissoner of Indian Affairs 
to locate and survey a wagon road from Detroit to the Red Lake Agency. 

As there was a good road already located to White Earth Agency and 
from there to the Wild Rice River, I adopted the old road that far, and 
the road from there north did not vary two miles at any one point from 
a straight line. 

In July, 187 1, I went to Oak Lake, then the end of the railroad, and 
outfitted three parties to examine land for the Northern Pacific Railroad 
Company, and in the fall of that year took a party into the woods east of 
Richwood and examined the towns of Grand Park and Carsonville. 

N. B. 

To W. W. McLeod. 

Mr. lUitler is now living- at Minneapolis, bnt was back here in 
Jnly 1906, at the age of 74 years, making a survey of some land in 
the woods a few miles south of Frazee, about as nimble as ever. 





246 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

History of White Earth, 

By Mrs. Julia A. Si'Ears. 

In 1867 my home was at the old Chippewa Agency near Crow 
^^'ing•, Minnesota. A widow, with three children, I was employed 
as government day teacher, and rememher very well the events 
which occurred at that time. J. B. Bassett was Indian agent, and 
the same year went to ^^'ashing■ton with the head chief Hole-in- 
the-day, and other chiefs of the Mississippi band of Chippewas, to 
make a treaty with the government in the exchange of their old 
reservation for a new- one which was to be selected for them in 
northern Minnesota. It was a year after the treaty, before all the 
Indians could be pursuaded to leave their old home, and when at 
last they were willing and ready to move, Hole-in-the-day became 
dissatisfied and unruly. He demanded much for himself as head 
chief which was refused by the government. He then began to 
oppose the removal and made much trouble by trying to prevent 
the other chiefs and braves from starting, telling them to wait until 
next spring" as he would not be ready until then ; that he was going 
to Washington again to demand of the government that improve- 
ments be made at the new reservation before removal, including 
a saw-mill, houses for the Indians, and a large house for himself 
like the one that was destroyed by fire during the Indian raid in 
1862. He told them that when all these improvements were made 
he would be ready to go, and they and the Agency would all move 
together. He urged them to wait, but they would not listen to him 
and were determined to go. The agent had received orders from 
the department to have the Indians removed to their new home 
early that spring, and they were all ready to start. Hole-in-the-day 
was very angry when he found that he could not prevent them from 
moving, and threatened to kill the first to go. Some of his braves 
supported him in his stand. Finally, after much trouble, they were 
ready to start on the 4th day of June, 1868. 

T. A. Warren was appointed by the government to superintend 
the transfer of the Indians to their new reservation at White Earth. 
He collected together men, women and children, about two hundred 
in all. at the old agency. I saw them when they started, with a long- 
train of ox teams, Mr. Warren in a light buggy with his wife and 
child. My friend, Reverend Fred Smith, now rector of Saint Colum- 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 247 

bia church at White Earth, accompanied them. He was then a very 
young man. He has given me some information of the first two 
years of the settlement at White Earth, including the following nar- 
rative of the removal written by himself : 

In the morning of June 4, 1868, Truman Warreji started with the 
Indians for their new home, White Earth, with eleven ox teams, moving 
the Mississippi band of Chippewas, under the chiefs White Cloud, Wah- 
bon-ah-quod, Nay-bon-ash-kung and Mun-ne-do-wab. It was a trying 
time. Hole-in-the-day had told his braves that whoever went first would 
surely be killed on the spot. Nay-bon-ash-kung, who was a brave as well 
as a chief, took his gun and told the party to follow him, saying: "Now, 
follow me; whoever will come in my way to stop me from going, he will 
be killed on the spot." All the Indians went along with him, having their 
guns ready for business, and nobody dared to come in his way. T. A. 
Warren was their leader, having charge of the removal. In coming through 
to Otter Tail Lake we saw few houses, but after leaving the lake we saw 
none. It was a vast wilderness. The Indians arrived at White Earth at 
noon, June 14, 1868. We camped near the present site of the agency 
buildings, and lived in tents and wigwams until houses were built. Eew 
were ready by cold weather, and some of the Indians built little log huts 
for their first winter. T. A. Warren had charge of the Indians after they 
reached their new home. He built a log store house for the flour, pork, 
groceries and other supplies, and distributed weekly rations to the Indians 
for one year. 

Air. Paul Beaulieu, at the request of the Indians, was their first 
farmer. He came from Crow Wing with his family and four wdiite 
men and they arrived a short time in advance of the Indians and 
settled at a place four miles from A\'hite Earth Lake, now known 
as the "Old Trading Post." This was their first village here. 

James W^arren, government saw^yer and carpenter, and George 
Van A'alkenberg, government l)lacksmith, came with Paul Beaulieu 
on one of his trips. 

Samuel Lee and a party of men left Crow AA'ing about the mid- 
dle of Alay with the machinery for a sawmill wdiich he afterwards 
built at AA'hite Earth Lake and he had hard time getting through 
with the mill. The government farm was located, farmhouse and 
stables built, as also a dwelling house for T. A. Warren and several 
small houses for the Indians — all log buildings. There were no 
gardens the first year, as they arrived too late in the season, but 
there was plenty of wild rice in the lakes, and ducks, geese and prai- 
rie chickens were also plentiful. The lakes were filled with many 
varieties of fish, including catfish, pickerel, muskallonge, black and 
rock bass, suckers, red-horse and wall-eyed pike. Sturgeon were 

248 A I'loxKKR History of Bkckkr County. 

also cauL;ht in W hite F'artli Lake. The first two years deer were 
quite plentiful, and also elk, moose, bear, muskrats and rabbits. 
Nay-bon-ash-kung', one of the chiefs, who died in 1873, killed the 
first elk. The Indians did not hunt much the first year, those who 
were able to work being- hired by the government to help build their 
own houses. In the fall of the same year (1868) Rev. Mr. John 
Johnson (En-meg-ah-bowh) sent word he was coming to \\niite 
Earth with his family, bringing with him a few Indians from IMille 
Lacs. He requested a party of Indians to meet him at Otter Tail 
Lake as it was not safe for a small party to travel alone through the 
wilderness, the Sioux being feared at that time. That winter a 
little log church was built. Rev. Johnson was sent by Bishop Whip- 
p\e to convert and civilize the Indians, in which work he was very 
successful. He \\as an eloquent preacher and very popular with the 
Indians. In September, 1868, Julius Brown, ( Alamuckkawange) 
the first male child, was born. Jane Parker, daughter of Bahbewob 
(Peter Parker), was the first girl born. 

The first death occurred September i, 1868, Gin-gion-cumig-oke, 
mother-in-law of T. A. Warren. x\h-zhe-day-gi-shig and wife were 
the first couple married, on January 12, 1869, in Saint Columbia 
church, where they were also baptized. 

In the fall of 186B, the Indians were paid their first amuiity 
money, ten dollars per head, at White Earth. 

R. P. Fairbanks, who was a big boy ar this time, says he remem- 
bers well that Joseph Wakefield came here before the Indians ar- 
rived and built a small store at the old trading post. The name of 
the members of the firm were Joseph Wakefield and Fred Peake. 
His father, Robert Fairbanks ran the store for them. This was the 
first store at White Earth in recent years. 

The 14th day of June of each year has always been observed by 
the people and Indians as the anniversary of the day when the first 
Indians arrived at White Earth. They named their new home Gah- 
wah-bah-bi-gon-i-kah, or White Earth, from the white clay found 
under the black soil. 

On April i, 1869, Mr. Bassett resigned his office as Indian Agent, 
and an army officer was then appointed by the government to fill 
the vacancy, during whose term two annuity payments were made 
to the Indians. 

During 1869 most of the Indians that had remained at the old 
agency at Crow Wing and Gull Lake moved to White Earth, as did 

A Pioneer History of Becker Cou.\ty. 249 

also a number of mixed-blood families from Crow Wing and Leech 
Lake. In that year a Roman Catholic priest. Father Tomazine, ar- 
rived and his first church was a small building built of logs and locat- 
ed about three miles south of the agency. 

On the morning of Sept. 9, 1870, I started with m_\- three children 
from Little Falls, Minnesota, in company with my sister, Mrs. James 
Warren, and family of seven children, on our journey to White 
Earth. Mr. La Chance and Mr. Mouchamp were hired with their 
tw() tw'd-hcrse teams and one ox team. We went to Crow W ing 
and to()k the Leech Lake road as far as Twenty-four-mile Creek, so 
named from being 24 miles from I^eech Lake, where a road had just 
been completed by the government across the country to White 
Earth. Here we met an Indian with an ox team who had been sent 
by my brother, Truman, to guide us to White Earth. Mr. La 
Chance went back to Little Falls, while Mr. Mouchamp continued 
with us. We traveled very slowly as the teams were heavily loaded. 
It was a desolate country, but wa saw large numbers of ducks, geese, 
prairie chickens and partridges. My sister and I walked nearly the 
entire distance. When we reached Pine Point we met Rev. Johnson 
with his family, on their way to visit Bishop Whipple, and taking his 
two daughters to Saint Mary's Hall, Faribault, where they were 
to attend school. W'e camped together that night and had a pleas- 
ant visit with them. Mr. Johnson informed us that the roads were 
in a very bad condition and that we were yet one and a half day's 
journey from White Earth, which proved true. Ten days after 
leaving Little Falls we arrived at our new home, where we were 
warmly welcomed by relatives antl friends. We were much pleased 
with the country, the fruitful gardens and the tall oak trees which 
were so green and beautiful, there having been no frost. I was 
much surprised to see the great improvement in my Indian friends 
whom I had known at the "Old Agency" and who had come with 
the first removal. When they left there they were heathens and wore 
blankets, long hair, feathers, and painted their faces, and now when 
they came to shake hands and welcome me they were dressed like 
white men, wdth short hair and unpainted faces. This was the result of 
the good work of their missionary, who had converted most of 
these Indians. They were now trying to live Christian lives and 
had taken their lands near each other. The government had houses 
built for them and they all appeared contented and happy. I never 
heard any of them express regret at having come to White Earth, 

250 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

their only complaint being; the lack of schools for their children. 
Mr. John Cook had been appointed by the government to be their 
farmer and overseer, having arrived with his family from Leech 
Lake earl\- in the spring of 1870, where he had filled a similar posi- 
tion for a nnmber of years. I was very glad to renew their ac- 
(piaintance, as I had known them at Leech Lake where we first 
met. Mrs. Cook was the first white woman who came to White 
]£arth. They had three beautiful children, two boys and one girl. 
They were good Christian people, Mr. Cook being an honest, up- 
right man, and the Indians had great respect for him. For his 
home he had selected another place near a lake two miles from the 
village, where a new farm-house and other government buildings 
were being erected. AAdien completed in the fall he moved there 
with his famil}^ and kindly offered me the house he had vacated 
for a day school and residence, which I gladly accepted. There 
were about forty children in attendance and I taught all winter. 
it being the first school on the reservation. 

In the fall of 1870 there was a new blacksmith appointed, a Mr. 
Cochran who had been there only a few weeks. Early one morning 
he went out in a boat to shoot ducks, and in reaching over the side 
of the boat to pick up a duck, which he had killed, the boat upset and 
before assistance could reach him he was drowned. His body was 
not recovered until the following spring. He was the first white 
man Ijuried at AMiite Earth. 

The removals, including ourselves, were: Alfred Warren and 
familw Madeline Warren, Tyler Warren and Mrs. Delia Winters. 
These were all the children of W. AV. W^arren the historian. They 
have since all passed away except Madeline, who is now Airs. 
George ITran. There were also Mr. Tim. Moore and wife and 
mother-in-law, Mrs. Fountain, Mr. Frank M. Campbell, wife and 
four children, Mr. Robert Fairbanks, wife, four sons and one daugh- 
ter, and Mr. Frank Roy, wife and family, all from Crow \¥ing. 
Besides these there were two traders, George Fairbanks and Wm. 
McArthur, the last named coming several years later. I remember 
the Indians secured quantities of furs in the fall and early spring, 
such as bear, timber wolves, coyotes, red fox, mink, lynx, wild-cat, 
coon, muskrat, skunk, weasel, marten, fisher, otter and badger. 
The four last mentioned animals are now very rare. 

In 1870 Mr. Bardwell was appointed Indian agent, with head- 
quarters at Leech Lake, and held the office for one y^ar, another 

A PioNEKR History of Beckisr County. 251 

annuity being paid during his term. In that year Bishop Whipple 
came to visit the Indians. He held services and confirmed a large 
number of Indians in the little log church, on this his first visit to 
White Earth. All the Indians loved and respected their good Bish- 
op and he was their best friend. With his influence with the De- 
partment at Washington he did much to help them when in trouble 
and want during the grasshopper plague. 

In the spring of 1871 E. P. Smith was appointed Indian agent 
with headquarters at White Earth, bringing his own employes, 
most of them coming from Ripon, Wisconsin. This being the first 
agency at White Earth, their names are here given: Mr. Chittenden, 
tnimarried, head clerk and overseer ; Mrs. Minnie Cook, niece of E. 
P. Smith, assistant clerk ; Mr. M. V. Nichols, farmer ; Mr Bardwell, 
blacksmith ; Mr. A. K. Murray, engineer in charge of the govern- 
ment sawmill at White Earth Lake ; Mr. J. E. Haven, carpenter ; Dr. 
Bodle, physician. All had families. Dr. Bodle and Mr. Haven 
were employed for a number of years at White Earth. Several 
government houses for employees were built, including the Indian 
boarding school, the only school building ready for use that fall. 
The first superintendent and teachers were Mr. and Mrs. Armour, 
from Iowa. There was room for only fifty pupils, and twenty-five 
boys and as many girls were taken, none under fifteen years of age. 
The pupils were taught to do all the work in the boarding school. 

Eastern churchmen assisted the Episcopal mission and a new 
church and parsonage were built. The new church was consecrated 
l)y Bishoji \\'hipple in August. 1872, when he visited WHiite Earth 
accompanied by quite a party of the clergy and laity. 

In the spring of 1871, John Cook and family moved from W^hite 
Earth to their new home and farm near Audubon, where all the 
members of this unfortunate family were cruelly murdered a year 
afterwards by three Chippewa Indians, Bobolink and Boanece being 
the principal actors in the tragedy. They were both arrested soon 
after the crime and taken to prison, but Boanece was released for 
want of evidence. He was quite ill when he returned home, but 
recovered partially and was able to walk about, always with a loaded 
gun as if he expected to be retaken. In February, 1873, Mr. James 
Whitehead came to White Earth to arrest him again. The Indians 
became very much excited and quickly held a council and all agreed 
to stop the arrest. They were determined not to allow Mr. White- 
head to take Boanece from the reservation, although knowing him 

252 A Pioneer History oe IIkcker Couxtv. 

to be guilty. Tlie fear of an Indian ()utl)reak was tlieir reason for 
resisting the arrest. The Leech Lake Pillagers had several times 
sent word to the White Earth hidians that if they permitted him to 
be taken off the reservation to prison again, where he would be hung 
by the whites, there would be trouble and they would C(.mmence kill- 
ing the white ])eo])le. P)oanece and his wife were related to S(Mne of 
the worst Indians at Bear Lsland, Leech Lake. This was the last 
attempt made to arrest him, and he died soon after at his home on 
Rice River. The west half of White Earth Reservation was sur- 
veyed by George P. Stuntz and Shaw of Duluth and St. Paul, in 
the summer of 1871. During the year 1873 all the government 
buildings were completed, including the large school-house and 
boys' building, also the industrial hall where the Lidian women 
were taught house-work, including cooking, sewing, knitting, carpet- 
weaving, etc. Miss Hattie Cook, niece of E. P. Smith, the agent, 
was the matron in charge. 

In the spring of 1873 a }oung Indian woman was murdered in 
a sugar camp. She was one of two sisters who had l)een left to 
watch the camp during the night. An Indian assaulted them and 
killed the elder one with a hatchet after she had tried to defend 
herself. The younger sister escaped and reported the tragedy. The 
murderer attempted to run away, but was caught and taken to Fort 
Ripley, where he was held a prisoner for some months in the guard 
house, the only punishment he received for the crime. He is still 

One night during the same year an Indian was shot while re- 
turning home from the village and his body found by the roadside 
the next morning. He was supposed to have been murdered by a 
Leech Lake Indian to avenge the killing of a relative. 

In 1H73, Rev. J. A. Gilfillan, a young Episcopal clergman, came 
to White Earth to assist Rev. Mr. Johnson in mission work. He 
very soon learned to speak the Ojibwa language, and with his kindly 
ways, won the love and respect of the Indians, who found in him a 
sincere friend. He instructed a class of young Indian luen and 
prepared them to become clergymen and deacons for the dififerent 
churches and missions, which through his influence were erected for 
the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. In this work he was very suc- 
cessful. Most of his pupils are still living, having charge of the 
churches and missions, and are preaching the gospel to their own 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 253 

E. P. Smith completed his term as agent in 1872. During the 
short time he was Indian agent he made a great many improve- 
ments at White Earth. He was a Christian man and one of the best 
agents ever on the reservation. Mr. Douglas, from [Minneapolis, 
succeeded him, and remained in office one year. 

During 1873 some of the prominent mixed-blood families and 
traders from Crow Wing, Minnesota, moved to White Earth. They 
included Mr. Clement Beaulieu, wife, four sons and one daughter ; 
Albert Fairl)anks and family ; A\'illiam Fairbanks and family ; George 
Donald and family. A son of ^ir. Scandrett, and grandson of Bish- 
op \\'hipple, was the first white child born at White Earth, in the fall 
of 1874. 

Truman A. Warren, 

Truman A. Warren was born at La Pointe, Madeline Island. 
Lake Superior, April 19th, 1827. and was the second son of Lyman 
M. Warren, the first permanent American settler on Lake Superior. 
The father was for many years connected in business with the 
American Fur Company, making his residence on Madeline Island, 
its most westerly headquarters along the chain of the Great Lakes. 
He was a direct descendant of Richard Warren, one of the Pilgrim 
Fathers of the Mayflower. Gen. Joseph Warren who fell at Bun- 
ker Hill, was also a member of a collateral branch of this same 

The mother of Truman Warren was Mary Cadotte, the daughter 
of Michel Cadotte, an old time fur trader of Lake Superior and 
the great Northwest and was himself the son of Jean Baptiste Ca- 
dotte, who was in partnership with Alexander Henry, the English- 
man, noted for his journeys and writings. The wife of Michel Ca- 
dotte, and mother of Mary Cadotte was an Ojibwa woman, daugh- 
ter of Waub-ije-Jauk (White Crane) hereditary chief of the La 
Pointe band of Ojibwas, wdiich was closely related to the bands of 
the Mississippi. Truman W^arren was the younger brother of W^ 
W. Warren, the historian of the Ojibwa nation. 

In the summer of 1836 their grandfather, Lyman Warren, Sr., 
of New York, visited La Pointe, and on his return took home the 
two boys with him to Clarkson, New York, where they attended 
school for two years. Afterwards, from 1838 to 1841, they attend- 
ed the Oneida Institute at Whitesborough. near Utica, New York. 
where they acquired a good scholastic training. 

254 ^"^ PiOxXEER History of Becker Couxtv. 

Truman remained at Clarkson until 1843, ^vhen he returned to 
La Pointe, Madeline Island. He was of a fine personal appearance, 
gentlemanly, somewhat reserved in manner, studious and practical. 
Having acquired an excellent penmanship, he very readily found 
employment in the office of James P. Hays, U. S. Indian Agent, 
and from that period he was connected with the Indian service nearly 
all his life. He became identified with the Mississippi Chippewas 
in 1 85 1, at the time when an effort was made to remove the Lake 
Superior Chippewas to Crow Wing and Gull Lake. He made his 
home at the Chippewa Agency near Crow Wing and resided there 
for years, engaged in trade and also in the government service at 
times, always on good terms and in friendship with the head chief, 

Mr. Warren took a lively interest and an active part in the re- 
moval of the Indians to the White Earth Reservation, and it can be 
truly said that it was greatly through his advice and wise counsel 
that they were at last prevailed upon to leave their old home and 
country where they had roamed and lived for generations back. 
He was one of the party who accompanied the chief, Hole-in-the- 
day, on his trip to make a selection of the lands and to locate the 
\\'hite Earth Reservation. On his return from his trip he carried 
in his own conveyance a goodly specimen of the rich black soil as 
a proof of the richness of the "promised land" ; and the Indians 
who came to see were greatly pleased. They laughed heartily 
and said it was only "Makoukes" (or Little Bear, Mr. AVarren's 
Indian name) who would take the trouble of doing this. 

After twenty years of constant employment in the Indian ser- 
vice, during which time he opened up a thriving farm, Mr. Warren 
left his home at White Earth, and commenced a new home on the 
Red Lake Reservation. Though never intended for a permanent 
residence, it was here that he met his death after a few days of severe 
illness. He died October 31st, 1888, aged sixty-one years, leaving 
a wife, two sons and two daughters. His remains were brought to 
White Earth for interment at St. Benedict Cemetery. 

The following is copied from a letter written by J. B. Bassett, 
Feb. 25th, 1905, who was United States Indian agent at the time of 
the first removal : 

Your favor of the 15th inst., received. I gladly answer your inquiries 
as well as I can, but the lapse of twenty-seven years has blotted much of 
that history from my memory. There are some of the persons with whom 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 255 

I was associated that I shall never forget, and among them is your brother, 
Truman A. Warren. A truer and nobler man I have never met. It was 
through his influence and help that I persuaded the Indians to remove to 
their present reservation. Your brother T. A. Warren had charge of col- 
lecting the Indians that first went to White Earth. 

He brought them together at the old agency, organized the outfit, had 
charge of it and accompanied them on their journey. As you truly say 
ihey had perfect confidence in him, and well they might, for he never de- 
ceived them. Your memory of the removal is quite correct. Your brother 
was my interpreter from the time that I assumed the agency until I left. 
I always found him a truthful and remarkably bright and intelligent gentle- 
man although his life spent on the frontier, where he was surrounded 
by all the temptations that lead astray and have ruined so many. He 
always maintained his manhood and purity of character while associated 
with the Indians. 

The Beaulieus were a remarkably bright family. Paul Beaulieu was 
an exceptional man, of a vivid imagination and good heart, and gifted with 
plenty of brain power. He was an orator and had mastered the English, 
French and Ojibway languages perfectly. 

Three sisters of T. A. Warren survive him, all residents of White 
Earth. The oldest is Mrs. Julia A. Spears, born September 3d, 
1832, at La Pointe, Madeline Island, Wis. She was educated at 
Clarkson, ]\Ionroe County, New York and was employed as govern- 
ment day teacher for several years in the early settlement of White 
Earth. Her family consists of two daughters and a son, Mrs. Alice 
J. Mee, ]\Irs Mary Lambert, who with their families reside at White 
Earth ; and William R. Spears who with his family lives at Red 
Lake, where he has been engaged in trade for several years. The 
next sister, Mrs. Mary English was born in 1835 at La Pointe, Wis., 
and educated at Hudson, Ohio. When eighteen years old she re- 
turned home and taught government school at Odahnah, Wis., for 
a number of 3'ears, and also at Red Clifif, Wis. She removed to 
White Earth in 1874, and was principal of the government boarding 
school there for two years. She was transferred to Red Lake as 
principal of the first government school at that place for five years. 
She was married to John English at Red Lake and taught school 
for ten years longer, when her health failed and she resigned, re- 
turning to White Earth. Mrs. Sophia W^arren, third sister, was 
born in 1837, at La Pointe, Madeline Island. She was married 
when quite young to Mr. James Warren, a white man of the same 
family name and one of the earliest settlers who came to White Earth 
as a government employe two years before his family joined him. 
He died in 1882 leaving a widow, seven sons and four daughters, 

256 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

most of whom are married and have famihes. Edward L \\ arren, 
one of the sons, resides at Cass Lake, Minnesota ; Henry Warren, an- 
other son, resides at Bena, Minn., being superintendent of the gov- 
ernment boarding school there. The rest have homes in White Earth. 
Mr. Paul Beauheu was one of the first settlers, and was gov- 
ernment farmer during the first two years of the settlement of 
White Earth Reservation. He ploughed and made the first garden 
in White Earth. During his life he was always a very prominent 
man. He died in 1897, leaving a widow, two sons and two daugh- 
ters, all married and with families: ^Mrs. A. A. Ledeboer, Mrs. 
Elizabeth Mackintosh and Truman Beaulieu having their homes at 
White Earth, and Clement Beaulieu, the younger, wdio resides at 
Red Lake. 

^Irs. Julia Spears. 

William Whipple Warren. 

William Whipple Warren, the historian of the Chippewa Nation, 
was born on Madeline Island in Lake Superior the 27th of May, 
1825. He was the father of the late Tyler Warren and Mrs. George 
L'ran, of White Earth. He was a member of the second Minnesota 
Territorial Legislature in 1857, and was then residing at Gull Lake. 
He died of consumption in May, 1853, at the age of twenty-eight 

Elliot Coues, editor of Alexander Henry's journal, has this to say 
of the Cadotte family : 


Jean Baptiste Cadotte, Sr., (the great grandfather of W. W. and 
Truman Warren and also of Mrs. Spears, Mrs. English and Mrs. James 
Warren,) came to Michilimackinac in Oct., 1756, with his wife, a Nipissing 
woman. This wife died in 1767. That same year he married Marie Monet 
by whom Marie Cadotte was born and baptism registered as of July 28th, 
1768. J. B. Cadotte founded a trading post on the American side of Sault 
Ste. Marie in 1760 and was found there May 19th, 1762. by Alexander 
Henry, Sr., with whom he went in partnership. He went with him in 
1775 to the Saskatchewan River and separated from him at the Cumber- 
land House to go to Fort des Prairies in October. 

J. B. Cadotte crossed the Rocky Mountains near the National Bound- 
ary, more than one hundred years ago, and the famous Cadotte's Pass, the 
oldest pass in those mountains south of the Boundary Line, was so named 
for him. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 257 

He is said to have prevented the Lake Superior Indians from joining 
Pontiac. He remained in trade and agriculture until 1796, v^^hen, on the 
J4th of Alay of that year, he gave his property to his two legitimate sons 
J. B. Cadotte, Jr., and Michel Cadotte at Sault Ste. Marie. The date 
of his death is somewhat conjectural, but was somewhere between 1803 
and 1810, at a very advanced age. 

Michel Cadotte, Sr., son of J. B. Cadotte, Sr., and grandfather of 
Truman Warren was on the south side of Lake Superior in May, 1798. 
His house was on the bay between Sand River and Bad River. His wife 
was an Indian woman, and one of his daughters married Leon St. Germain. 

Michel Cadotte, Jr., is listed as a voyageur in the Northwest Fur 
Company on the Chippewa River in 1804, and took part in the capture of 
Michilimackinac in the War of 1812. He was a brother to Mrs. Lyman 
Warren and an uncle to Truman Warren. 

Louis Cadotte. thought to be a brother of the last (?) was taken to 
London, by George Catlin as chief of a band of Indians he exhibited 
there. Louis Cadotte married an English girl and brought her to Sault 
Ste. Marie where she died. He was living there in Sept. 1853. See Wm. 
Kingston's "Western Wanderings." 

Beaulieu Family. 

Alexander Henry in his journal says : 

Oct. 2d, 1805. We set off for Pembina River with Le Sueur, Huneau 
and wife. Fire on the plains in every direction; burned our horses' feet 
passing through smouldering turf. We slept at night in Beaulieu's tent 
on Sale River. 

Elliott Cones, editor of the above work, has the following to say 
with reference to the Beaulieu family : 

Beaulieft is a very old name in these annals. A half-breed family of 
that name was found on Slave River when the Northwest Fur Company 
first reached it in or about 1778, showing prior presence of the French so 
far as this. Francois Beaulieu, one of the family born in the region, was 
one of the six voyageurs who accompanied Sir Alexander McKenzie on 
his exploring expedition across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific coast, 
in 1793, from the place where they had wintered on Peace River. He was 
baptized by Bishop Tache in 1848. He died in 1872 almost a centenarian. 
The Beaulieu of whom Henry speaks is Joseph Beaulieu, listed as a voy- 
ageur in the Northwest Fur Company on Red River in 1804. 

Bazil Beaulieu from Montreal, was a voyageur of the North- 
west Fur Company in 1804 and 1805, at Flambeau, Minn. He was 
the father of Clement H. and Paul Beaulieu of White Earth. 

258 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Paul H. Beaulieu was born at Mackinac in 1820. He was of Frencli 
and Indian descent and took an active part in the early development of the 
territory and state of Minnesota, especially in all matters relating to the 
Chippewa Indians, and in their several treaties with the government. 
He possessed the attributes of a splendid education, was a master of the 
English and French languages, a born diplomat, a brilliant orator, and a 
Chesterfield in manner and address, and was reputed to be the most 
fluent interpreter of the Chippewa dialect that the nation ever produced. 
He was largely instrumental in bringing about the measure which secured 
to the Chippewas their present home, the White Earth Reservation, and 
he, too, led the van when they removed hither, and turned the first 
furrow and planted the first crop, and took the initiatory steps in the 
paths of a new civilization. Mr. Beaulieu never sought the uncertain 
allurements of the political world, although grandly qualified to honor 
and administer the duties of its most intricate branches; he chose, rather, 
to humiliate himself to his humble surroundings and to the elevation of 
his kindred, the Chippewas of Minnesota. He belonged to that lofty 
school of individualism that is fast passing away, and who, "along the 
cool, sequestered vale of life, they keep the 'morseless tenor of their way" 
and whose noble deeds of self-sacrifice are buried with them. ]\lr. Beaulieu 
had been in failing health for some time, and the sudden and tragic death 
of his beloved son, John H. Beaulieu, a few weeks ago, undoubtedly 
hastened his demise which occurred on the gth of February, 1897. He 
leaves a wife and two daughters and two sons, Mrs. Jennie Ledeboer, 
Mrs. A. J. Mcintosh, and Truman and C. A. H. Beaulieu. He was a 
brother of the late lamented Col. C. H. Beaulieu. and at the time of his 
death he was employed as interpreter on the Chippewa Commission. In 
respect to his memory Maj. R. M. Allen, U. S. Indian agent, ordered 
the agency flags at half mast during Wednesday and Thursday, and that 
general business about the agency be suspended during the funeral services. 
He was laid to rest on Thursday, in St. Benedict's mission cemetery; Rev. 
Father Aloysius, O. S. B., officiated at the funeral services.— D^iro/i Record. 
Mus. West. 

Col. Clement H. Beaulieu, Sr., or, as his friends delighted to call him, 
"Uncle Clem," was born at Lac du Flambeaux, in the then territory of 
Michigan, which included Wisconsin, Minnesota and a large portion of 
territory west of the Mississippi, on Sept. 10, 1811. A pioneer, a statesman 
and an individual of marked characteristics, being born in a period when 
the West and Northwest was, comparatively speaking, a howling wilder- 
ness and barbaric Eden of the untutored red man, his father, Bazil Hudon 
de Beaulieu, having emigrated from Canada in the year 1804. and who 
was actively engaged in the fur trade of the Northwest for many years, 
and in which business ^Ir. C. H. P.caulicu. Sr.. became early engaged in 
the Lake Superior region and other points east and west of the head- 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 259 

quarters of the Mississippi, especially in the vicinity of La Pointe, Wis., 
and at Crow Wing, Minn. At the latter place at one time he owned and 
conducted the most thriving trade and enjoyed the pleasantest home in 
Minnesota, under the warm hospitality of its roof and from the bounty 
of its board no friend or stranger ever turned away hungry, nor felt 
touched by the chill of discourtesy. 

Mr. Beaulieu was of mixed French and Algic Indian blood, being 
descended on his father's side from the chivalrous de Beaulieus of France, 
and the most distinguished totem or clan of the Ojibwa nation, members 
of whose family have been chiefs and princesses from time immemorial, 
and the principles and persuasive influences of both races were happily 
continued in the life and nature of Mr. Beaulieu, and it was owing to 
the implicit faith that the Indians cherished in his word and wisdom that 
he was a power amongst them, and true it is, that many serious collisions 
have been averted between the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota and their 
white neighbors, owing to his timely councils, and today, these people 
not only can thank his aggressive forethought and wisdom for their 
heritage to homes on the White Earth Reservation, but the further sig- 
nificant t'act that no stain of the white man's blood rests on the hands of 
the Chippewas of Minnesota. 

He was married to Miss Elizabeth Farling, a daughter of one of the 
early Scotch missionaries, in 1840, celebrating midst the surroundings of 
a large family of children and grandchildren their golden wedding, some 
three years ago. 

THE SEER OF Minnesota's venerable pioneers is dead! 

Clement Hudon de Beaulieu, more familiarly known as Col. C. H. 
Beaulieu, of White Earth, this county, died on the morning of Monday, 
2d of Jan., 1893, after a short illness of some eight days. Mr. Beaulieu, 
who was a very active man for one so advanced in years, met with a 
very serious accident a few days ago, having broken his leg, and which 
culminated in his death. His wife survives him, and also five sons, Capt. 
Chas. H.. Rev. C. H., Jr., Gus. H., Theo. B., Robt. G. and one daughter, 
Mrs. Theo. H. Beaulieu. — Detroit Record. 

Mrs. West. 

Clement A. Beaulieu came to White Earth in the fall of 1873, 
and took charge of George A. Morison's trading post, but two years 
afterwards moved to the new agency and established a store of his 
own where he was in trade for several years. He took his land on 
Fish Lake in Norman County, but always had a renter there work- 
ing his farm, while he and his family resided at the agency in Becker 
County until the time of his death in 1893. Mr. Beaulieu was a 
prominent man here, and had great influence with the Indians and 
chiefs. He took an active part in the treaty made in 1889. He was 
a close friend of Hon. H. M. Rice. 

Mrs. Julia A. Spears. 

26o A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Among Mrs. West's papers I came across the following clipping 
from the Detroit Record of January 27th, 1893: 

Mr. Bazil H. Beaulieu, an old and respected pioneer of Wisconsin 
and Minnesota, has been commissioned by the Commissioner of Indian 
Affairs a judge of the court of Indian offenses at this agency. Mr. Beaulieu 
was tendered his commission and officially notified of his appointment 
by Agent C. A. Rufifee on Monday. He is the proud possessor of a 
document sear and yellow with age, it being one of the three justice 
of peace commissions issued by the first territorial governor of Wisconsin, 
Mr. Beaulieu being one of the three persons appointed to execute the 
duties of that then honorable position, his field being Brown County, 
in 1836. 

As the name. Bazil H. Beaulieu, was identical with that of the 
Bazil H. Beaulieu who came from Montreal in 1804, and believing 
that in 1836 he would be too young a man for the Bazil H. Beaulieu 
of 1804, I wrote to Theodore H. Beaulieu of White Earth for infor- 
mation, and received the following reply : 

White Earth, Minn.. Oct. 22,, 1905. 
Hon. a. H. Wilcox, 

Frazee, Minn., 
My Dear Sir: 

Replying to yours of the i6th inst., concerning the identity of Bazil H 
Beaulieu, who came from Montreal, Canada, and settled at Lac du Flam- 
beau, Wis., the then territory of Michigan, in 1804, etc., you are respect- 
fully informed that this person was my father's uncle and a granduncle 
of mine. There were two brothers, Paul and Bazil Hudon de Beaulieu 
Paul was my father's father and my grandfather; Bazil Hudon de Beaulieu 
was the father of the late Col. Clement H., Paul H., Henry H. Beaulieu and 
was also the father of Mrs. Catherine Beaulieu Fairbanks (Mrs Robert 
Fairbanks), Mrs. Margaret Beaulieu Bisson (Mrs. Martin Bisson), Mrs 
Oustave Borup, deceased, and Mrs. Julia Beaulieu Oakes; the latter being 
the only surviving child of the said Bazil Hudon de Beaulieu. She i. at 
present at this agency and is now 94 years of age, and still hale and hearty 
My fatlier, the late Bazil H. Beaulieu, the second, was the onlv son of 
Paul Hudon de Beaulieu, and is the person referred to' in the Record 
clipping. My grand uncle Bazil was stationed at Lac du Flambeau as 
an Indian trader, and my grandfather Paul was at Vermillion Lake and 
also Red Cedar (now Cass Lake), some time between 1830 or 1840 (I am 
not clear as to date.) My grandfather removed to Navareno (now Green 
Bay Wis.), and settled there. Later on he purchased large tracts of land, 
as also the old Stockbridge agency sawmill and grist-mill from the Govern- 
ment on the south side of the Fox River and where is now built the flour- 
ishing city of Kaukauna, Wis. Sometime about 1848 my father also re- 
moved to Green Bay, and on the death of my grandfather he fell heir to 
all of the property, he being the only child. Our family removed from 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 261 

Kaukauna, Wis., about 26 years ago and settled at White Earth, Minn. 
Both my grandfather and grandmother are buried at the old French or 
mission cemetery at Green Bay, Wis. My mother and father sleep in 
St. Benedict's mission cemetery. White Earth, Minn. 

Appreciating the interest you manifest in the history of the sturdy 
pioneers, who braved the wild and woolly days of yore, and helped to 
carve the crude paths of this grand commonwealth, I have the honor, dear 
sir, to remain, 

Very respectfully, 

Theo. H. Beaulieu. 

Outpost at White Earth. 

Alexander Henry in his journal says: 

Sept. 20th, 1802. 
I sent Michel Langlois with a clerk and five Indians to build at Red 
Lake. This is an overland post, and required horses to transport the 
property. W^e have enough for all purposes, and a new sort of cart 
which facilitates transportation. They are about four feet high and per- 
fectly straight; the spokes are perpendicular, without the least bending out- 
ward, and only four to each wheel. 

Oct. 15th, 1802. 
Duford followed Langlois to Red Lake River, high water over the 
plains prevented their reaching Red Lake and they built at White Earth. 

Rev. John Johnson or Enmegahbowh. 

In 185 1, the Rev. Dr. Breck, a great missionary, whose name must 
be known to every reader of the Soldier, began a mission at Leech 
Lake, among the Ojibwa Indians of Minnesota. This mission, from 
various circumstances, had only a partial success, and in the winter of 
1855-56 troubles with the government agents roused the Indians to such 
madness that Dr. Breck was forced to leave, and the mission buildings 
were burned. 

Two years later the Rev. Mr. Peake went to Crow Wing to establish 
another mission, and a young Indian deacon. John Johnson, his Indian 
name Enmegahbowh, came to assist him. This man had been a catechumen 
under Dr. Breck, and had been baptized by him. He must have been 
born to some position in his tribe, as he had been set apart for a "Medicine 
Man" in youth, and his Indian name, EiiiiicgahbozvJi, meant "The man who 
stands by his people," a significant name, which in time proved to be a 
true one. 

In 1861 Mr. Peake resigned the mission into the hands of Enmegah- 
bowh. Crow Wing was then a settlement of very bad repute on the 

262 A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 

frontier. Tn 1.S62. the year of the Sioux outljreak. Hole-in-the-day. a lead- 
ing Ojibwa chief, a bad man, full of craft and cunning, collected five hun- 
dred warriors, and prepared for a general massacre of the white people. 
Enmegahbowh, having prevented, by his influence, some other bands 
from joining these, was made a prisoner, but succeeded in escaping, and, 
through the midst of great perils, made his way to Fort Ripley, and by 
his timely information, such measures were taken that bloodshed and a 
more fearful massacre than that of the Sioux were prevented. 

For a few years the mission work seemed at a stand still. From 
Canada Enmegahbowh received earnest invitations to go where comfort 
and hopeful work awaited him, but Bishop Whipple encouraged him, 
standing in the forefront for an unpopular cause and a hated people, and 
Enmegahbowh would prove the fitness of his name — he would not desert 
his people. 

At last the government made new arrangements, and seven hundred 
Ojibwas were moved to what is called the White Earth Reservation, a tract 
thirty-six miles square in northern Minnesota. Of these seven hundred 
about one hundred and fifty were French half-breeds, or Roman Catholics. 
Amongst the remainder Enmegahbowh labored earnestly, the government 
now aiding in the work by encouraging the Indians in civilized ways. A 
steam sawmill was built at White Earth Lake, where Indians were taught 
to run the machinery, and from which lumber was furnished for building 
purposes. Eastern churchmen assisted the mission, and a church and par- 
sonage were built. 

At the time of the consecration of the church in August, 1872. quite 
a party of the clergy and laity, through the kindness of Bishop Whipple, 
were enabled to visit White Earth. 

The consecration was on Thursday. Friday morning, the chiefs sig- 
nified to the bishop their wish to meet him in a council, which was there- 
fore held, that afternoon, on the hillside in front of the church. It was a 
picturesque scene — the lovely landscape, the sunlight glancing through the 
tall oak trees on the bishop and Enmegahbowh, who sat in the centre, 
the chiefs and five or six clergymen grouped around. Behind the bishop 
three chairs were placed for the ladies of the party — the first time, I think, 
that ladies were ever admitted to an Indian council. 

The chiefs spoke in turn, as they had themselves arranged, and were 
interpreted by Enmegahbowh. — Christian Soldier. 

Mks. Spears. 

The Rev. John Johnson was born in Canada and died at White 
Karth on the 12th of June. 1902, at the ag-e of 95 years. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 263 

Peter Parker. 

Peter Parker, the present janitor of the industrial school at Pine 
Point, a full-blooded Indian and a soldier of the Civil War, says : 

I drove one of the ox teams that hauled the baggage belonging to 
the Indians who comprised the party that arrived at White Earth on the 
14th of June, 1868, under the leadership of Truman Warren. 

Paul Beaulieu had gone on ahead in charge of another party; gov- 
ernment employes who went to open a farm for the Indians and do some 

We first saw Paul Beaulieu at White Earth; there is where his party 
and ours first met. 

James Warren and George Van Valkenberg came in July. 

Fred Peake was the first storekeeper at White Earth (he and Joe 
Wakefield were partners), Robert Fairbanks worked or run the store 
for him. Peake was a white man. George Fairbanks started a store a 
little later on and John Beaulieu worked for him. Robert Fairbanks 
started his own store a little later. 

The building where James Whitehead undertook to arrest Boanece at 
White Earth in Feb., 1S73, was the Gains Johnson building. 

My daughter was the first white girl born at White Earth. 

Petkr Parker. 

Fred Peake and his brother Giles built the store in Detroit now 
owned and occupied by Tver Grimsgard, in the spring of 1872. 

First Catholic Priest at White Earth. 

Father Genin, the Catholic priest who brought in Sitting Bull 
from Canada, was the first priest that made regular trips t(^ this 
reservation, but Father Tomazine was the first priest who located 
here, and I might say, started the first mission. 

Gus. H. Beaulieu. 

The Fairbanks Family. 

Robert Fairbanks was born at Sandy Lake, Minn., on the 21st 
day of September 1825. When he was quite young he was sent to 
Fredonia, New York, to be educated, and at the age of twenty he was 
employed at the headquarters of the American Fur Company at La 

264 A Pioneer History of Becker Countv. 

Pointe, Wisconsin, as clerk. In 1846 he married Catherine Beaulieu 
the youngest sister of C. H. and Paul Beaulieu. He remained at 
La Pointe until 185 1, when he removed to Crow Wing with his fam- 
ily where he remained in trade for a number of years, where he had 
a comfortable home and family of seven children, four sons and 
three daughters. 

In 1868 he removed to White Earth with his family, where he 
had taken charge of the store belonging to Joseph Wakefield, which 
he ran for a year, when he opened up a store of his own which he 
ran until he died. Benjamin Fairbanks and George A. Fairbanks 
were sons of George Fairbanks, Sr., a brother of Robert Fairbanks, 
who was born at Sandy Lake, ^Nlinn., on the 26th day of August, 1827. 
He was for many years a prominent trader at Leech Lake, Crow 
Wing, and White Earth, where he moved his family in 1878, being 
one of the first traders at that place. 

George A. Fairbanks, Jr., was born at Crow Wing on the loth day 
of August, 1851, and went with his parents to White Earth in 1868, 
and succeeded his father in trade, in which he remained until his 
death on the 19th of November, 1891. 

Ben. Fairbanks was born at Crow Wing, Nov. 4th, 1853. 

jMrs. Julia A. Spears. 

Frank M. Campbell. 

Frank M. Campbell, of White Earth, was born in Green County, 
111., on the 27th day of January, 1832, and came to Crow W^ing, 
i\Iinn., in 1855. He came to White Earth in Sept., 1868, and has 
lived there ever since. He says he thinks he is about the only white 
man who has lived in Northern Minnesota 50 years without drinking 
any intoxicating liquor. 

He is the father of George M. and William F. Campbell, of 
White Earth. 

The former was born at Crow Wing June 29th, 1859, and Wil- 
liam was born at the same place on the 12th of March 1865. 

Mr. Frank Campbell took the census of all of Becker County in 

Mr. Campbell died January 29th, 1907. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 265 

Building on the Reservation. 

Nearly all the public buidings constructed on the reservation 
from 1 87 1 till 1878, were built under the supervision of Charles P. 
Wilcox, whose home was then at Detroit, but who now lives in Pasa- 
dena, California. He says : 

I went to White Earth in the spring of 1871. The agent at that 
time was E. P. Smith, and had been there but a few months. 

My first work on the reservation was to superintend the construction 
of a church and parsonage for the Episcopal Church as ordered by Bishop 
Whipple, and the same year I also built a schoolhouse for the government. 
Then followed the rebuilding and enlarging of the sawmill at White 
Earth Lake in 1872, and the building of a large barn, and boarding-house 
for the schools. An industrial hall for the government, and a hospital 
for Bishop W^hipple followed, and a flour mill at White Earth Lake. 
Next was a dam and sawmill at the Wild Rice River about 18 miles 
north of the agency, then a large school building near the agency, and 
a church building at Wild Rice. The latter by order of Bishop Whipple. 
My last work was the construction of a water power grist-mill on White 
Earth River, about five or six miles north of the agency. This was about 
the year 1877. 


A I'lONKEK IllSToK^' ol" lilXKI'.R CoL'XTV. 



Allan Morrison, Sr. 

Allan Morrison, a younger brother of William Morrison, was 
born at Teerebonne, near Montreal, Canada, June 3d, 1803, and re- 
ceived a common school education in his native village, which 
prepared him for a clerkship in a country store. 

Being a lad of uncommon physical development and activity, he 
did not take kindly to indoor life, and his brother William having 
made his first return visit to Canada in 1820, he was easily induced 
to accompany him to what the French Canadians called "Lcs pays 
d'cn Hant" or The Upper Countries. 

The delays incidental to the settlement of their father's estate 
prevented them from starting with the returning boats and canoes, 
and they were compelled to start much later ; so late in fact, that win- 
ter overtook them before the journey to the far north was half over. 

After staying some days at one of the trading posts, to give 
time for the ice to thicken, they started on afoot and it was not long 
before they had to use snow shoes, traveling being made so much 
easier with them after the snow got to be six or eight inches deep. 

A Pione;er History of Becker County. 267 

Their route from Montreal, was up the Ottawa River to a por- 
tage into Lake Nipissing, and thence via Georgian Bay to Saulte Ste. 
Marie, via Manitou Island, and thence on the ice of Lake Superior 
to old Superior, Wisconsin, which they reached in February, 1821. 
There he signed articles of engagement with the American Fur 
Compau}', for a five years' apprenticeship and in due course of 
time was given a small outpost to manage, and later on was 
placed in charge of the trading post at Red Lake, Minnesota. 

About 1825 he married Charlotte Louisa Chabrille, a mixed 
blood Chippewa born at (lid Fort William, on Lake Superior ; by 
her he had several children, the only ones now surviving being Mrs. 
Mary A. Sloan of St. Cloud. Mrs. Caroline Grandelmyer and Miss 
Rachel Morrison of Brainerd, and John George and Allan Morrison 
of White Earth. All have allotments of land on the White Earth 
Indian Reservation, where John, George and Allan built substantial 
homes on their farms. 

During the many years he was engaged in the fur trade, Allan 
Morrison was successively in charge of nearly all the American Fur 
Company's trading posts in Northern Minnesota, and finally he 
settled down at Crow Wing, on the Mississippi, an important post, 
where he represented the interests of the late Henry M. Rice, during 
the period that gentleman engaged in the fur trade in the upper 
Mississippi country. 

He was a member of the Territorial Legislature of Minnesota, 
and Morrison County was named for him ; was also postmaster at 
Crow Wing, Minnesota, for several years. 

Leaving Crow Wing in the fall of 1874, he removed to White 
Earth, Becker County, where he resided to the time of his death, 
November 21, 1876, and where he was buried in the Catholic ceme- 

Geo. a. Morison. 

John George Morrison. 

John George Morrison, son of Allan and nephew of William, 
was born at Lake Winnebegoshish, Minnesota. April 29th, 1843, 
where his father was managing a trading post for the American 
Fur Company. 

He attended the Mission Schools at Crow Wing and Belle Prairie. 
Minnesota, for a few years, but was compelled to quit school on ac- 


A rioxKivR History of Becker County. 

count of his father's ill health ; he soon became the mainstay of the 
family and so continued until his brother Allan became old enough to 
take his place. 

While yet a mere boy, he carried on some trading with the 
Indians around Gull Lake and towards Leech Lake, and became quite 
popular with them ; during the Indian outbreak he was chosen by 


Governor Ramsey and the Indians themselves to carry messages be- 
tween the two camps and in that capacity rendered valuable services. 
After the Civil War, in 1865, the United States government, de- 
siring to ascertain the true conditions and feelings of the Indian 
tribes, organized, at all Indian agencies, bodies of scouts, whose 
mission was to enquire into and report the causes of troubles and dis- 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 269 

satisfaction among the Indians. These scouts were chosen from 
among the intehigent and loyal mixed bloods, and were placed under 
the supervision of the military authorities. 

Upon the recommendation of the officer then in command at 
Fort Ripley, John George Morrison was placed in charge of the 
scouts at the Crow Wing Agency, and so remained until the corps 
was disbanded. July 3rd, 1863, he married Margaret Elizabeth 
Fairbanks, daughter of Robert Fairbanks and Catherine Beaulieu. 
Ten children were born to them ; six in Crow Wing and four near 
White Earth Agency. Two lived only a few years, the others are, 
with the exception of his daughter ]Mrs. Julia A. Spears, (the sec- 
ond ) , who lives at Red Lake, all members of the Wliite Earth Reser- 
vation, and- possess valuable landed interests there. He removed to 
the White Earth Reservation, from old Crow Wing, on the Missis- 
sippi, in the fall of 1874, and some years afterwards entered the gov- 
ernment service and occupied several positions, being successivelv 
captain of Indian police and judge of the court of Indian offenses, 
and later government farmer, which position he held until the 
winter of 1892-3. In the fall of 1893, he removed to Red Lake, 
and has since successfully carried on hotel keeping and trading. 

George A. Morison. 

George A. Morison, nephew of William and Allan Morrison, was 
born in St. Hyacinthe, Province of Quebec, Canada, October 4th, 
1839; his father being Donald Geo. Morison and his mother M. A. 
Rosalie Papineau, daughter of D. B. Papineau, and niece of the Hon. 
Louis Papineau, the talented leader of the French element in Canada, 
and the principal instigator of the Canadian rebellion of 1837. 

Morison attended common schools until nearly ten years of age, 
then went to college for five years in his native village, rounding up 
his education with a four year term in a large village store. 

He visited the west in 1858 and 1859, spending several months 
in Old Superior, Wisconsin, in Crow Wing on the ^lississippi, and 
also at Long Prairie, the old agency for the Winnebago Indians. 

That was in the early days, when travel was by canoes or over 
Indian trails, and the trip from Superior to Crow Wing was made 
in a birch canoe, up the St. Louis River to Floodwood River, wdiich 
was followed nearly to its source, thence over a portage into Prairie 

2/0 A I'loxKEK History of Ceckkr County. 

River, which fiows into Sandy Lake, and thence into the Mississipi 

He returned to Canada in November, 1859, where he remained 
a few years. In May 1865, he landed in St. Paul, Minnesota, and 
lived in Little Falls and Crow Wing during the next three or four 

He started in business at Leech Lake in January, 1869, and in the 
fall of the same year came to White Earth annuity pa\ment with a 
stock of goods which he eventually closed out to Wm. W. McArthur, 
then a licensed Indian trader there. In August. 1870, Morison and 
McArthur combined their business and carried on trading in the 
Indian country, under government license, at Leech Lake, Red 
Lake. White Earth and Otter Tail, under the above firm name, dis- 
solving co-partnership in August, 1871 ; Morison retaining all trad- 
ing posts in the Chippewa countr\-, except that of Otter Tail, where 
McArthur continued in business. Morison remained in the Indian 
trade until July, 1880, and made his heaquarters at White Earth 
Agency during the last five years of his career as an Indian trader. 
He. however, continued to live on the reservation, wdiere he carried 
on farming and stock raising, on a small scale, with his cousin Allan 
Morrison, Jr. 

In the fall of 1882, he in company with Arnold A. Ledeboer, also 
of White Earth, opened a general store at Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, 
(at that time a very much boomed town), but owing to a series of 
bad crop years, low prices, and general dull times, the venture was 
not successful and they closed their business in 1887; Morison re- 
turning to White Earth. 

In 1894, he entered government service at White Earth Agency, 
and later, in January 1896, was stationed at Red Lake Sub-Agency, 
as reservation overseer, a position he held until July ist, 1901. 
when he returned to White Earth. Since January, 1905, he has 
formed part of the office stafif at the agency, having charge of the 
allotting of land under the provisions of the "Steenerson Act." 

Ry an Indian wife he has one son, Allan F. Morison, born Febru- 
ary 6th, 1882. He has been in the government Indian service for 
a number of years and is now attached to the agency ofiice force. 

It will be noticed that William and Allan ^lorrison wrote their 
names with two r's, while Geo. A. Morison wTites the name with 
only one r, as did a long line of ancestors before him. This differ- 
ence in writing the name, was brought about in a curious manner. 

A PioxEiJR History of Becker Couxtv. 271 

When William Morrison joined the Northwest Fur Company, he 
had to sign articles of engagement, as they called it at the time, to 
serve for five years, and the notary who did the writing, wrote the 
name Morrison, as did other branches of the family; when W'illiam 
came to sign, he called the notary's attention to the error in spelling, 
but was told that it mattered little, to sign it as written and it would 
be just as good. Several years later when Allan IMorrison, his broth- 
er, came to Lake Superior, he also had to write his name as his 
elder brother did, and hence the change in their manner of writing 
the name. In the Island of Lewis, Scotland, which is the cradle of 
the family, the name has been spelt for a thousand years or more, 
with only one r, thus, Morison. 

Donald McDonald. 
r^Irs. Duncan IMcDougal, who lives on the White Earth Reserva- 
tion a little north of the village of Richwood says : 

My father. Donald IMcDonald. was born in Canada about the year 1790. 
He came to Otter Tail Lake about the year 1850 or 1851 as near as I can 
remember, and died at White Earth in iSgo, and was about 100 years old 
as near as I can tell. I was born at Sandy Lake in 1831. 

My father had a store at Detroit Lake and traded with the Indians 
for about one year. I was not there with him, but as near as I can 
remember and find out, it was near where Detroit connects with some 
other lake. I was not married at the time so it must, I think, be more 
than fifty years ago. 

The U. S. land oi^ce was opened at Otter Tail Lake in 1859 and was 
moved to St. Cloud in 1861, at the beginning of the Sioux outbreak. Wm. 
Sawyer, of Ohio, was the receiver. Major J. B. Clitheral. of Alabama, was 
the first register, T. Mills the second, and Oscar Taylor the third register. 

Mrs. Mary McDoug.\l Foster. 

John Rock, a Pine Point Indian, who was born at Floyd Lake in 
Detroit Township in 1844, says: 

McDonald built his store at Detroit Lake on the little prairie, a little 
west of the Pelican River inlet when he was ten years old. He thinks he 
traded there about two years. 


In the history of such a man as the Rev. J. A. Gilfillan, of White 
Earth, for instance, there is a mass of material which would afTord inspira- 
tion for the mission writer at long range such as no published statistical 
reports could faintly suggest. Mr. Gilfillan's life has been one of the most 
heroic and self-sacrificing in all the history of missions — home or foreign. 

272 A PioxKER History of Becker County. 

Privation, exposure, separation from friends, isolation from the world — 
these are but suggestions of what such a man must endure. 

Many a time while the newspaper man was in the woods did he hear 
of "Father" Gilfillan. You could hardly find a man in all the vast un- 
settled reservations of Minnesota who does not know this man. You 
can hear many and many a story about him, but you will not hear one 
that is not settled in a foundation of good will. He came to America 
from England when quite young. A quarter of a century ago he was 
rector in a small church in Duluth. Thirty-two years ago, he went into 
the pine woods, and there he has been ever since, a mission worker among 
the Indians. 

Some years ago, Mr. Gilfillan fell heir to a large fortune, left him by 
relatives in England. There were many thousands of dollars which came 
to his hand. A large amount of this has been expended already, but, so it 
is said, enough yet remains to net an income of about $12,000 a year, and 
this amount is annually being spent. And how? In doing good among 
the Indians. A large block of his fortune was spent for them, and now, 
save for the needs of himself and family, the major portion of his income 
goes to aid the Indians. 

A quite interesting and, in one sense, amusing experience was told of 
his generosity. Mr. Gilfillan had bought a car load of seed potatoes, 
which he w^as going to give to the Indians to plant. He had the potatoes 
sent up to the reservation by team, but was himself delayed in getting 
there. When he reached home, a week or so later, he found that the 
tribe had made rather more immediate use of the potatoes than he had 
anticipated — they had eaten up the whole car load. 

Mr. Gilfillan is one of the most modest of men, speaks in the most 
unassuming manner of his work, and has never a word of complaint over 
his isolation from the world, or the privations to which he is put. — Minne- 
apolis Journal. 

Clipping- from the first number of the first volume of the first 
ne\vs])aper ever i^rinted on the \\'hite Eat-th Reservation : 


"A Higher Civilization; The .Mainlcname of Law and Order." 
GUS. H. BEAULIEU, Publisher. TH EO. H. BEAULIEU, Editor. 



With lliis ninnljcr we make our bow to the public. The novelty of a 
newspaper published upon this reservation may cause many to be wary in 
their support, and this from a fear that it may be revolutionary in character. 
Our motto will undeceive such. We propose to remain true to this 
motto, true to the standard of social and individual morality it would ex- 
press. W'e shall aim to advocate constantly and without reserve, what 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 273 

in our view, and in the view of the leading minds upon this reservation, is 
the best for the interests of its residents. And not only for their interests, 
but those of the tribe wherever they are now residing. 

The main consideration in this advocacy, will be the political interests, 
that is, in matters relating us to the general goverment of the United 
States. We shall not antagonize the government, nor act in the presenta- 
tion of our views in any way outside of written or moral law. 

We intend that this journal shall be the mouth-piece of the community 
in making known abroad and at home, what is for the best interests of 
the tribe. It is not always possible to reach the fountain head through 
subordinates, it is not always possible to appeal to the moral entiment 
of the country through these sources, or by communications through the 
general press. 

Hence we establish TJie Progress as an organ, and an organ only 
in this sense. 



A Decision of the Judge and the Verdict of an Intelligent Jury, Maintains 
the Freedom of the Press on the Reservation! 

Oct. 8th, 1887. 
In the month of March last year, we began setting the type for the 
first number of The Progress and were almost ready to go to press, 
when our sanctum was invaded by T. J. Sheehan, the U. S. Indian Agent, 
accompanied by a posse of the Indian police. The composing stick was 
removed from our hands, our property seized, and ourselves forbidden to 
proceed with the publication of the journal. We had, prior to this time, 
been personally served with a written notice from Mr. Sheehan detailing 
at length, surmises beyond number as to the character of The Progress, 
togther with gratuitions assumptions as to our moral unfitness to be upon 
the reservation, charging the publisher with the voicing of incendiary 
and revolutionary sentiments at various times. We did not believe that 
any earthly power had the right to interfere with us as members of the 
Chippewa tribe, and at the White Earth Reservation, while peacefully pur- 
suing the occupation we had chosen. We did not believe thre existed a 
law which should prescribe for us the occupation we should follow. We 
knew of no law which could compel us to become agricuuturists, pro- 
fessionals, "hewers of wood and drawers of water," or per contra, could 
restrain us from engaging in these occupations. Therefore we respectfully 
declined obeying the mandate, at the same time reaching the conclusion 
that should we be restrained we should appeal to the courts for protection. 
We were restrained and a guard set over our property. We sought 
the protection of the courts, notwithstanding the assertion of the agent, 
that there could be no jurisdiction in the matter. 

The U. S. district court. Judge Nelson in session, decided that we 
were entitled to the jurisdiction we sought. 

The case came up before him, on jury trial. The court asserted and 
defended the right of any member of a tribe to print and publish a news- 

274 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

paper upon his reservation just as he might engage in any other lawt'ul 
occupation, and without surveillance and restrictions. The jury before 
whom the amount of damage came, while not adjudging the amount asked 
for, did assess and decree a damage with a verdict restoring to us our plant. 

By referring to the date on the first page of this issue, our readers 
will observe that we made our bow, or rather, more strictly, we began to 
bow, but a heavy hand was laid upon us, and we have not been able to 
resume the perpendicular until now. In another column, we give a de- 
tailed account of the proceedings which arrested our work, together with 
the subsequent events which issued in our being able to finish the bow 
began so long ago. Our editorial back is straight once more, and we 
return to the work we laid out for ourselves so many months ago, with 
vigor and courage in no wise abated, and with renewed determination to 
advance the interests of the reservation, and the welfare of the Indian 
in general. 


Kind readers, many of you have looked for our coming long and 
patiently, and now that we are with you and you have looked us over, you 
may feel that your yearning was unfitting the occasion; to such we would 
say, that the long time which has elapsed since we first attempted to 
launch our little craft, which was attended with difficulties, the rough 
blustering breezes, the general unfavor of the weather, the unnecessary 
quarantine we were subject to, and the time employed in dry dock, etc., 
somewhat disorganized our material and we have had to alter our once 
set course to suit circumstances. 

Now that we are once more at sea, fumigated and out of quarantine, 
and we issue from dry dock with prow and hull steel-clad tempered with 
truth and justice, and with our clearance registered, we once more box 
our compass, invite you all aboard, and we will clear port, set sails to 
favorable breezes, with the assurance that we will spare no pains in guiding 
you to a 'higher civilization." 


On Aug. i8, 1896, Senator Knute Nelson, accompanied by the famous 
French traveler and explorer, Paul du Chaillu, arrived on a visit to the 
Chippewa Indians of the White Earth Reservation. During the day tlie 
gentlemen drove around and visited the different places of interest al)out 
the agency. 

The next day a large delegation of the Chippewas, head men and 
members of the reservation assembled at the agency office for a "l)ig smoke 
and to make good inedicine" and to smoke the pipe of peace and welcome 
the great father's councilor and his distinguished friend, the great hunter. 
The late lamented chieftain. White Cloud, acted as master of ceremony, 
and his choicest native oratory, through an interpreter, made the address 
of welcome, and which was responded to in feeling words of appreciation 
by the senator. Paul du Chaillu, a small, sparsely built and grizzled 
Frenchman, was then introduced as the "big hunter, from the land of the 

A Pioneer History ok Becker County. 275 

Win-de-go-cannibals," and he entertained the assemblage with some very 
interesting recitals, illustrating, by motion and gestures, some of his ex- 
citing and perilous experiences in hunting the gorilla, lion and tiger, 
and hair-breadth escapes from cannibals, etc., greatly to the amusement 
of his audience. "Yes, my friends," said he, "you shall have a good 
school building if it lies in my power to provide one." — Minneapolis Tribune. 
—Feb. 4th, 1897. 
Mrs. West. 

Chapter XIX. 


The county was organized by a special law approved March ist, 
1 87 1. This law authorized the governor, Horace Austin, to appoint 
a board of county commissioners, three in number, for Becker Coun- 
ty. The commissioners appointed were John Cromb, John F. Beav- 
er, and Chris. Gardner, and their terms of office were to continue un- 
til the beginning of the year 1872. The Tyler Hotel at Detroit was 
the place appointed for their first meeting, which occurred on the 
23rd day of June, 1871. They were sworn in by David Pyle, a no- 
tary public. 

At this meeting David Pyle was appointed county auditor to 
serve until the first Monday in March 1872. Previous to 1882, the 
terms of all county auditors and treasurers commenced on that day. 
At this same meeting Charles E. Churchill of Burlington Township 
was appointed sheriff and Archibald McArthur, of Detroit, register 
of deeds, to serve until the beginning of the year 1872. 

The next meeting of the board was held at the store of S. B. 
Pinnev. on the Sherman farm, at Oak Lake, on the 5th day of July. 
The next meeting was held the 15th day of August. There was then 
a vacancy on the board caused by the death of Mr. Gardner, and 
William G. Woodworth of Detroit was appointed to fill his place. 
The county board on the 24th day of September, 1871, for the 
first time, divided the county into commissioners" districts. The 
first district was made up of the southern tier of townships running 
the entire length of the county, from east to west with Lake Park 
added to it. The next tier of townships north, excepting Lake Park, 
comprised the second district. The three northern tiers of town- 
ships, twelve of which were on the White Earth Reservation, made 

276 A Pioneer History oI'^ Bij^cker County. 

up the third district. An entirely new board was elected in the fall 
of 1871. 

On Jan. 2nd, 1872, the new board of county commissioners held 
their first meeting. There were present commissioners L. G. Steven- 
son, first district, and W. H. H. Howe, second district. A. J. Haney, 
who had been elected from the third district, had left the county. 
The various meetings of the county board up to this time had been 
held sometimes at Detroit and more frequently at Finney's store on 
the Sherman farm, on the shore of Oak Lake, but on the 13th day 
of March, 1872, they met at Oak Lake City, by the big cut on the 
Northern Pacific Railroad. At this meeting there was a full board ; 
J. E. Vangorden having been appointed to fill the vacant place in the 
3rd district. The next meeting was held at Detroit on the 8th of 
June, 1872. On Tuesday, Sept. loth, 1872, the board again met 
at Detroit. When the legislature passed the bill organizing Becker 
County and designating Detroit as the place at which the county 
commissioners should hold their first meeting, it was generally 
understood that that act of legislature fixed the county seat at 
Detroit. It was currently reported in those days that many years 
before, a townsite had been surveyed out at Detroit Lake and 
named Detroit, and that circumstance was supposed to have had 
its influence with the authorities in appointing that place for the 
county seat. The law, however, did not require the county officers 
to remain at the county seat until three years after the county was 
organized. Court was always to be held there, but to transact 
business with any one of the county officers, you must hunt him 
up by going to his residence in whatever part of the county his home 
might be. 

The county treasurer and the sherifif and sometimes the coroner 
however, frequently reversed this rule and took pains to hunt some 
of the other fellows up, whether they wanted to see them or not. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 2'/'j 

Chapter XX. 


In presenting the histories of the different townships of Becker 
County I have undertaken to arrange them in the order in which they 
were first settled, but in a few instances I have deviated from this 
rule to avoid too much skipping around over the county. 


On the 27th of May, 1857, the survey of a townsite was made 
at the third crossing of the Otter Tail River, where the village of 
Frazee now stands, and the plat was recorded at St. Cloud, as Becker 
County was at that time attached to Stearns County for recording 

It was claimed that the land covered by this townsite was held 
by half-breed script, but the title was never perfected. The script 
was undoubtedly "lifted" some time afterward and other land 
taken with it, and this land reverted back to the U. S. government. 
The certificate of the plat is signed by N. P. Aspinwall, surveyor. 
He was an uncle to Wm. Aspinwill, who now operates a store at 
Pine Point. 

I have a certified plat of the townsite in my possession at the 
present time. The townsite is bounded and described as follows : 
"Commencing at an oak tree at the southwest corner of said town- 
site, and running thence north, crossing the Otter Tail River and De- 
troit Lake, five thousand two hundred and eighty feet, thence 
running east, crossing the Otter Tail River, two thousand nine 
hundred and fifty-eight feet, thence running south five thousand two 
hundred and eighty feet, thence west two thousand nine hundred 
and fift}-eight feet to the place of beginning." 

The names of the proprietors were A. P. Aspinwall, F. Campbell, 
Donald McDonald, George McDougal and D. Shoff. 

Frank AT. Campbell, of White Earth, now a man over seventy 
years of age, informs me that he is the F. Campbell mentioned as 
one of the proprietors, and Donald McDonald the old Otter Tail 
Lake fur trader was another. The townsite was one mile long north 
and south and three hundred and ten feet more than half a mile 


wide from east to west, and contained about three hundred and fiity- 
eight and one-half acres of land. 

Judging from the topography as shown on the plat, the town- 
site would very nearly fit the west half of Section 35 in the present 
township of Burlington, except that it was somewhat wider. The 
west line must have been near where the bridge across Town Lake 
now stands, and the east line very near the railroad bridge crossing 
the Otter Tail River, the north end near the Commonwealth Com- 
pany sawmill, and the south end some distance south of the residence 
of Edward Briggs. 

The plat shows one hundred and thirty-one blocks, with streets 
to correspond. Even the big marsh along the river south of Frazee 
between the railroad bridge and the outlet to Town Lake is mapped 
into blocks and lots with great precision. 

In the written description Detroit is said to be located at "the 
southern end of a beautiful lake called Detroit Lake at the third 
crossing of the Otter Tail River, twenty-two miles northwest of 
Otter Tail City. This place is on the direct route between Lake 
Superior and Pembina. The face of the country to the west con- 
sists chiefly of beautiful prairies and lakes, while on the east there 
are large bodies of hard and pine wood timber. There are two 
water powers at this place capable of running a grist and saw- 
mill." The narrow place on the Otter Tail River where the Com- 
monwealth Lumber Company has built its bridge near its sawmill is 
marked on this plat as "Mill Property." The other mill site is 
marked below^ the outlet of Town Lake. 

Patrick Quinlan. 

I will here insert a short article, written by Patrick Quinlan, the 
first white settler in Burlington Township, giving an account of 
himself and the first settlement of the tow^nship. 

RiciiwooD, December 26, 1903. 
I was born in Canada close to the village of Norwood, on the 15th 
day of February. 1836. My father and mother were Irish. I lived and 
worked on my father's farm until I started west. The railroad was built 
only to the lead mines beyond Galena. III. I arrived in St. Paul in May. 
1854. St. Paul was a very small village at that time. I stayed one night, 
took the steamboat at St. Anthony the next day and came to Sauk Rapids. 
No Minneapolis or St. Cloud at that time existed. I started for Long 
Prairie, and it was Winnebago Agency at that time. The first man I 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 279 

worked for lived down below Big Lake and he was a new settler, by the 
name of Foiles. I worked two months and a half at twenty dollars per 
month and I never got my pay. He accidentally shot himself, and his wife 
promised to pay me, but I never troubled her about the money. It was 
a bad start, however, as I lost a good deal of my wages afterwards. For 
three or four years before the war when a man got his money, very often 
it was no good, no one would accept it. Every man that was doing any 
business had what was called a bank detector. I worked for a man named 
Bonfield, who lived at Rice Lake near St. Anthony. He was in the lum- 
ber business and paid me a hundred and twenty dollars and the money 
was no good. In the year 1859 a man on his way to Red River offered 
me twelve dollars a month if I would go and help him through and work 
for him through the winter which I did, commencing the spring of i860. 
I got a chance to work as watchman on the first steamboat on the Red 
River owned by Mr. Burbank, of St. Cloud. The boat was built by Mr. 
Anson Northrup at Georgetown and after working on the boat a while 
I got tired of the business and a man came and offered me twenty dollars 
a month to go with a party out to the Blackfoot country. They were going 
to trade for horses, so I started with them in a party of eight. After trav- 
eling some days we found ourselves among the buffalo. After traveling 
through that country and seeing so many bufifalo, I thought they would al- 
way^s remain. We struck the Blackfoot trail close to Bear Paw Mountain, 
and followed the trail northwest four days before we overtook the Indians. 
During the time we were following the Indian trail we saw many buffalo 
that the Indians had killed and left without taking any part of them for their 
own use. There were also a great many wolves. When we got within about 
two miles of an Indian camp we met some Indians who were going out 
on a hunt. Our boss treated them to some whisky which they liked very 
much and one of them asked for some whisky to carry to his friend who 
was out hunting. Our interpreter asked him how he could carry it. He 
said he could carry it, and he doubled up the tail of his leather shirt, 
poured in the whiskey, tied a string around it and so started off. We soon 
arrived at the camp, and I was surprised to see so many horses and we 
got quite a number and started for Fort Gary. While on our return trip 
three of us concluded to run bufifalo one evening, and so we started out 
after a large herd and we managed to kill one large bull which we shot 
over twenty times before he fell. We found it very inconvenient to load 
our guns while on horseback. While coming through the Assiniboine 
country the Assiniboines took some of our horses from us. We were 
out on that trip something over two months, more than half of the time 
we lived on buflfalo meat alone. 

In the fall of 1862 I came back to St. Cloud with a wagon train 
belonging to Mr. Burbank of that place. We expected to have trouble 
with the Sioux Indians, but we did not. From 1862 to 1868 I remained 
at Crow Wing a good part of the time and worked for the government. 
I came to Becker County, ]\Iay 28th, 1868, and built a cabin near where 
Frazee now stands. The land was not surveyed at that time and the 
railroad company beat me out of three forties of my claim, that part 
which was on Section 35. The land now belongs to Edward Briggs. I 

28o A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

built my house on what is now the southwest quarter of the southwest 
quarter of Section 35, a little cast of the Otter Tail River. 

In June, 1868, Mr. Henry Way and Mr. Sherman came but went on to 
Oak Lake, west of Detroit where they put up hay to use the next winter. 
The next person after myself to settle in Burlington township was Charles 
E. Churchill. He came about the first of June, 1870, the same year the 
railroad was surveyed. I helped him build his house, hauling the logs 
with my team. His house was built on the west side of the river, nearly 
opposite where it intersects the lake (in what is now Schebaher's field). 
The next newcomers were William Chilton, T. W. Chilton and William 
Redpath, who came some time in June 1870. Jim and Redpath soon went 
back but about the 20th of August returned and James Chilton and James 
Winram came with them. When I came the nearest settlers were at Rush 
Lake; Otter Tail City was the nearest store. When I came onto the 
place I paid two dollars and twenty-five cents a bushel for ten bushels of 
potatoes at Otter Tail City. Flour was seven dollars per sack, pork thirty- 
five cents per pound. During the first winter I had to carry my flour, 
pork and other supplies on my back from Otter Tail City. It was im- 
possible to go with oxen the snow was so deep and no road. The first 
summer I was there I put up about thirty tons of hay and thought I 
could sell it to parties who were hauling supplies to White Earth for 
the Indians who had been removed there that summer by the government: 
but as soon as cold weather set in they hauled all their supplies around 
by Leech Lake, and I was unable to sell any hay. I started from Otter 
Tail City one day about the middle of February on Indian snowshoes. 
I had about eighty pounds of flour and other stuff on my back. Night 
overtook me not far from where Perham now stands. It was cloudy and 
dark and I got lost. After wandering about for a long time I came to 
the Oter Tail River about a mile below the crossing and walked up until 
I came to the crossing, then I knew where I was. But there was an open 
space in the ice so I had to step into the water. The space was not very 
wide and the water only a little above my knees. The night was not cold 
and I traveled about a mile, and finding myself pretty tired, stopped 
and rested. When I started I discovered that I was unable to carry my 
pack, so I had to leave it until next day. I arrived home sometime after 
midnight a very tired man. 

William Thompson was my first neighbor. He came up the next sum- 
mer and located where Thomas Keys now lives in Otter Tail County. 

There were lots of ducks, chickens and other game at that time and I 
shot a large bear. When I first saw her she had a large cub with her. 
I did not have my gun with me then. It was at the north end of the 
grove, near where Edward Briggs now lives, and they were going to that 
rocky hill west by the river. So I went home and got the gun, which 
was loaded with shot and I added a bullet into each barrel and started 
after her. Hunting around for some time in the brush, I heard her run, 
but I could not see her owing to the density of the brush. After running 
a little way I saw her as she went west toward the river. I took a short 
cut, but when I arrived was not sure whether she was ahead of me or not. 
So I walked about watching very carefully for some time and was sur- 





282 A I'loNHKK History of Becker Couxtv. 

prised all at once to see her standing on her hind feet about six feet 
away from me. I aimed at her breast and pulled the trigger, but the gun 
did not go of¥. It seemed to scare her and she got down and walked away 
sideways a few feet with her head turned toward me. I pulled the other 
trigger, the gun went off and she fell, and I loaded that barrel again be- 
fore I went to where she was lying. She was dead. I found that I had shot 
her between the eyes. I could not find the cub. I shot some other 
game; two wild cats, some mink and one red fox. 

After living there four years and losing my claim. I concluded to 
move to White Earth. So I found a claim that suited me north of the 
Bufifalo River. I took the land in my wife's name and we are still living 
on the same land. My health has been very poor for some time and I 
do not expect to get rich, but I am content. I do not think it best 
to trouble you any more. 

Yours truly, 


Patrick Ouinlan died at his home near Rich wood the loth of 
March, 1905. \\'iniam G. Chilton built on the land now occupied 
by his heirs. His cabin stood on the west bank of the Otter Tail 
River close to his old bridge forty or fifty rods above where the 
planing mill now stands. 

James G. Chilton built on Section 15 on the same land where 
he now resides. James was for several years a sailor on Lake 
Ontario in his younger days, and served a term in a military com- 
pany in Canada and was on the Northern Pacific R. R. survey. 

T. \\\ Chilton built on Section 27, near the ttppcr end of Town 

James Winram located and built on Section 14, down near 
the tamarack swamp, opposite where Tim. Chilton's hotise now 

William Redpath built a house a little west of where the Ittmber 
platform of the big sawmill is now. He afterwards sold his claim 
to Charles M. Campbell, who proved up on the sotith tier of forties 
of vSection 26 where the steam mill and lumber piles now stand. 
C. M. Campbell came to Becker County in May, 1872. 

The next settler after those mentioned by Ouinlan who came into 
the township was John Graham, who came in October, 1870, and 
selected the land where he now resides, and went back for his family 
and returned with them August 25th, 1871. Then came Patrick 
O'Neil wdio was then a beardless youth but seventeen years old ; 
he came on the 4th day of December, 1870. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 283 

Next came Luther Weymouth and Chris. Gardner on the tenth 
of December of the same year. Mrs. Weymouth came in March, 

Early in the spring of 1871 Weymouth and Gardner built and 
opened up a hotel on the south side of the river, near where the 
present Perham road starts to come down the hill towards the 

Johnson Wilson, late in the year of 1870, selected a place on the 
northwest quarter of Section 20, wdiere David Graham now re- 
sides. Pie built his house the next summer in a fine spruce grove, 
but the trees have since all been destro3'ed by the winds and 
storms. There was a fine little prairie covering several acres of 
land, a little east of his house at that time. 

In 1 87 1 there was c|uite an influx of settlers into the township. 
August Trieglaff and Anthonv Komansparger came about the first of 
June and located on Section 24. The Trieglafi:' bo\'s now own 
both farms. 

In the spring of this same year Robert McPhee and family 
located on the northwest quarter of Section 10, and, about the 
same time, James ^Maxwell settled on Section 28 with his family, 
where the Richmonds now reside. 

William Hoffman came into Burlington Township in June, 1871, 
from Fort Madison, Iowa, and the following spring took a home- 
stead on the northeast quarter of Section 22. He is a veteran of 
the Civil War, and still resides in the vicinity. 

1. J. Collins came to this county in 1871, but went back to New 
York and returned with his family on the i8th of May, 1872, and 
located on the southeast quarter of Section 34. 

Roscoe Dow located on Section 20 on the 25th of June, 1871. 

E. L. W' right came from Vermont and located on the south- 
west quarter of Section 10, in May, 1872. 

Wm. Hehrhold and family came to Burlington about the 15th 
of October, 1873, from iMissouri and settled on Section 28, where 
they still reside. 

In May, 1871, William Austin located on Section 32, on what 
is now known as the John Brigg's farm. He usually went by the 
name of "Billy Chicken." 

Mr. John Chilton moved into this township from Canada in the 
year 1873 and located on Section 14. He was accompanied by his 
wife, his son John R. Chilton, and three single daughters, one of 





A PioNEiiR History of Becker County. 285 

whom afterwards married William Redpath. The other two daugh- 
ters married Patrick O'Xeil and James Scott, two prosperous farm- 
ers who still live in the neighborhood. 

Another daughter, Mrs. C. W. Campbell and husband came into 
the township in 1872, and still another, Mrs. John Cummer, came 
with her husband from Canada in 1884. 

John Chilton, Sr., was born in \^ermont and died in Burlington 
Township on the 26th of November, 1886, aged 75 years. 

Mrs. James Chilton was the first white woman to settle in 
Burlington, arriving on the 4th dav of December, 1870, and her 
son, Guy Chilton, was the first white child born in the township. 
He first saw the light in James G. Chilton's log cabin, which stood 
on Section 15, on the i6th day of April, 1872. 

The first death in the township was that of Chris. Gardner, which 
occurred about the loth of August, 1871. Mr. Gardner was a 
member of the board of county commissioners at the time of his 

The person who taught the first school in Burlington Township 
was Miss Nellie F. Brigham, of Richwood, now Mrs. C. H. Potter, 
of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. She says: "I think I may safely claim 
the honor of having taught the first school in Frazee. I began my 
school there about the 20th of May, 1874. The school numbered 
seventeen pupils and I can recall them all by name now if necessary. 
The schoolhouse was a new structure. I boarded at the Thompkin's 
Hotel. It is a source of great pleasure that I am numbered with 
my two sisters among the earliest instructors of Becker County." 

The first marriage in the township was that of T. W. Chilton 
and Amelia Rider on November 24th, 1873, by the Rev. J. E. Wood, 
of Detroit. 


The following article written by William W. Howard will 
imdoubtedly be read with much interest, especially by some of 
the first settlers in the western part of the county. He was the 
compassman for George B. Wright, the U. S. government sur- 
veyor, who had the contract for surveying the township lines ly- 
ing between the 9th and loth standard parallels and the 5th and 
6th guide meridian, which includes Silver Leaf, Height of Land, 
Grand Park, Plolmesville, Erie, Burlington, Lake View, Detroit, 

286 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Ricluvood. Ilamden, AudutxMi. Lake Eunice, Cormorant, Lake 
Park, Cuba and six townships in Clay County and seven in Otter 
Tail. Air. Howard ran all these town lines for George B. Wright 
and then ran the section lines in Lake Park. Audubon, Lake \"ie\v 
and lUirlington. He began in the eastern part of this work in 
April, 1870, and finished about the middle of the next winter, 
among his assistants were John A. 1'.. McDonell and William 
McDoncll, of Lake Eunice. In 1871, he was sent out by the North- 
ern Pacific Railroad Company as one of its laud examiners, and in 
August I joined his party and remained with him until winter. 

In 1883, Vvdiile I was county auditor, I was authorized to pro- 
cure a set of certified plats of the townships of Becker County, 
and I employed Mr. Howard to do the \vork. The bound volume 
of government phts in the office of the register of deeds at Detroit 
is the work of Mr. Howard. 

St. P.\ul, AItw., Feb., 22, 1897. 
A. H. Wilcox, Esq.. 
Fk.^zee, Minn., 

Dear Old Friend:— You have asked me to give some account of my 
knowledge of our experience with Bachinaiui. It was early in the sea- 
son of 1870 that I left Minneapolis for the then une.xplored region of 
Becker County, George B. Wright having a government contract to run 
the township lines of twenty-four townships, extending north and west 
from Gormantown in Otter Tail County. Our outfit consisted of an ox- 
team, covered wagon, two tents, and the genera! outfit of a government 
survey where the country was mostly prairie and could consequently he 
reached by wagon. 

The old Red River trail ran through the timber from the Otter Tail 
to Oak Lake, and from Thompson's at the first mentioned point, to 
the three log houses at Oak Lake, comprising nearly all there was of 
civilization in the whole region. 

Our first line north landed us in a tamarack swamp, about one and a 
half miles east of where Frazee now stands, and our experienced camp-man 
and cook declared after some exploration that the way ahead was im- 
passable for team, if not for man. For want of knowing anything better 
to do, I sent a man back to civilization to consult George B. Wright, and 
not to be idle we started to subdivide Town 138, Range 39, Gormantown, 
trusting to get a contract for it when the township was finished. 

After about ten days of work, we were in the northwestern part of the 
town one afternoon, when, through the stillness of the forest, came float- 
ing on the air, a peculiar sound, indeed, for that country, but familiar to 
any one who had ever been on a survey with George B. Wright. "Who- 
o-pe," faint, and long drawn out. but most unmistakably George B's voice. 
'V on may be sure we were all alert, and shout after shout was answered 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 287 

back, though where he was or how he got there was a mystery. Soon 
the call came nearer, and it was not long before we saw a birch canoe 
coming up the river. We had by the merest chance happened to be just in 
the vicinity of the Otter Tail. In the canoe were "George B.," a half- 
breed — Charlie, the Indian, Bachinana or Neeche. The canoes were 
to take the place of our wagons, and the half-breed and Indian the place of 
the oxen, propelling the canoes, where available, and carrying our burdens 
on their heads where canoeing was impracticable. 

Packing a load of 100 lbs. by a strap over the forehead was a novelty 
to me then, and I well remember what I thought of the advice of one 
wiser than I, viz: "if the packs are not heavy enough to start with put in a 
few rocks." 

We reorganized our "survey" on that line, and managed to "swamp" 
a road for the team up the east side of the river to within about a mile 
of Height of Land Lake, and using that as our base of supplies, we run lines 
east and north by aid of the canoes and packers. With varying success 
we worked north until we reached Height of Land Lake, and after run- 
ning our line east across the lake, we found ourselves about a mile and a 
half east of the lake, at night fall, so we had to make camp for the night 
as best we could. We constructed a rough bough shelter and pitched our 
mosquito tents under it. These latter being a small square tent of mos- 
quito netting, six feet long, two feet wide and three feet high, suspended 
by the four corners on boughs stuck in the ground. By carefully get- 
ting under these tents we were safe for a while from the millions of mos- 
quitoes, that make life almost intolerable in a new country. 

Of course we had to be very guarded in our movements for a very 
slight strain on the mosquito netting would tear it and thus defeat its 
purpose. And "thereby hangs a tale." I was lying next to Joe Deloria, 
a French boy, who having been brought up among the half-breed Indians, 
could talk Chippewa, to which tribe Neeche belonged. About the time we 
were beginning to thing of sleep, it began to rain, and though our boughs 
were poor shelter it was enough to tempt the Indian and he crawled in be- 
tween Joe and myself. Being pitch dark, I did not see him and supposed 
it was Joe rolling over and thereby causing a big strain on my tent, placing 
it in imminent danger of tearing; my only hope of saving myself from be- 
ing devoured by the insects on the rest of the trip lay in having Joe get 
oflf my tent, so I called out sharply to him to do so, but Neeche under- 
stood not, so I reinforced my remarks with a threat of a "punch" if he 
did not lie over. Any one who has had to lie out in the woods all night 
at the mercy of mosquitos in a wet season knows what my provocation 
was. So I gave him a powerful dig in the ribs with my elbow, my back 
being to him. I never was noted for obesity and I suspect my elbow was 

Great was my surprise to hear only a deep grunt in place of the torrent 
of profanity I expected. Then I discovered that I had unknowingly and 
perhaps unjustly struck the revengeful Indian; as he had probably not been 
aware of his encroaching on my bed, nor had he understood my call and 

288 A Pioneer History oe Becker Couxtv. 

threat. Howevtr. I had saved my netting and got some sleep despite the 

But when we turned out in the morning, the half-breed informed us that 
Neeche was going home. "White man had struck him." He said if I had 
used a hatchet (it might have saved some lives later if I had) it would not 
have been so bad, but to be struck with the fist "like a squaw" was too much 
for Chippewa pride. But by dint of coaxing and explanations and promises 
of a pair of buckskin leggings I had in camp, we pursuaded him to stay, 
notwithstanding he had donned his war paint, and was got up in great shape 
in his wTath. But he did not get over it as long as he was with us. When 
later we got out near the Red River trail, and met frequent bands of Chip- 
pewas, he would rehearse the whole afTair with no good will towards me. 
Indeed had I then known what kind of an Indian he really was, I doubt 
very much if I would have given him so much chance to do me harm. He 
told later that there were three white men he meant to shoot before he 
died; two he did shoot, I believe, perhaps I was the third. I remember 
I was a little suspicious of him and when running the line between Ranges 
39 and 40, Town 140, now Grand Park and Holmesville, I wanted to get 
my canoe into Tamarack Lake. It was in Height of Land Lake at the time. 
and I had understood the Indians to say that there was a good sized stream 
running from Tamarack Lake and emptying into the Otter Tail River near 
the reservation line, I started with my two Indians for Tamarack Lake by 
that route, and after paddling hard a whole day, we found ourselves in 
Flat Lake, one half of which lies on the reservation, instead of in Tamarack 
Lake. The mistake had arisen through a confusion of names on the part 
of the Indian and half-breed. 

I was anxious to reach Tamarack Lake that night, so in order to make 
sure of its location and identity, I left the half-breed to get supper and 
about sundown with Bachinana for a guide, started down tlie canoe trail 
due south to see if the next lake was really Tamarack Lake. I guess that 
was the l)est chance he ever had ii lie meant me any harm, but with a 
vivid remembrance of the ignominious "dig in the ribs" in mind, I com- 
pelled him to go in advance all the way, and carried my hatchet in my 
h;nd, knowing that a hatchet inspired more wholesome fear in an Indian, 
than would a revolver. 

I will confess to a feeling of satisfaction, not to say relief, when I heard 
he had gone to the "happy hunting ground." 

When in the mood for it he was for an Indian a good worker, but his 
reputation was to work only a short time until he got money enough to 
indulge in what seemed to be a ruling passion — gambling. He had very 
little regard for hutnan life. It was only by the superior strength of his 
antagonist that we escaped a tragedy in our camp a few weeks later and 
just before he left us. Our party, comprising at that time two more half- 
breeds, one, Peter, being a very powerful fellow. One night the gambling 
in their tent seemed to be more boisterous than usual, and Neeche pitted 
against two brothers, lialf-brcer's, lost everything even to the shirt on his 
back, when in anger, out to the wagon he rushed, and seized a gun. Noth- 
ing but Peter's superior strength saved him, but he managed to discharge 

A Pioneer History of Ueckek County. 289 

tlie gun in the air, during the struggle. We concluded it best to take all the 
firearms into our tents after that for our own safety. He left us soon after 
this, some time in July, I think, mainly because he had earned some $30 
and wanted to have a good time with it. I learned that he soon lost it all 
at gambling. 

Sometime in the fall the old man Carlson, living in the northwest 
part of Audubon Township, was called out of his home by the burning 
of his hay stacks one night, and shot by this same Indian. 

Of his subsequent career I think you are better informed than I am. 
Except for this passion for gambling, and his readiness with his gun when 
incensed, he was very tractable and mild for an Indian. 

William W. Howard. 

This Indian, Bachinana, is the same one who shot Gunder 
Carlson in October, 1870, as related in the history of Audubon 

James Winram Shot by an Indian. 
By J.\mes Winr.\m. 

Fr.azEE, ^Iinx., October 16, 1905. 
In the summer of 1870 when at work on the Northern Pacific 
Railroad survey helping to run the preliminary lines east of the 
IMississippi, I learned that the country near Otter Tail River and 
Detroit Lakes was a good location to make settlement. In the 
month of August, 1870, I left Sauk Rapids, which at that time 
was the end of railway communication, and in company with 
William Redpath and James G. and Timothy Chilton started 
across the country on foot, and after about six days' travel 
we reached what is now the township of Burlington, Becker 
County. Thinking we had gone far enough, we each of us se- 
lected claims and helped each other to get out logs and raise 
log houses besides putting up a few tons of hay. In the latter 
])art of September I walked to Crow ^^'ing and went to work on 
a government survey near Willow River and Sandy Lake. After 
we got through I walked back and found that during my absence 
of about three months the railroad company had located their line 
within two miles of my claim and the township had been sub-divided 
into sections. I now went to work on the house I had commenced 
a few months before and moved into it. New settlers began to 
come in and amongst them a family named Robert McFee, who had 
located about a mile from me. Mr. McFee's family consisted of 
himself, his wife and one infant child. I, being unmarried at the 

290 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

time, Mr. McFee proposed and I consented that he should move his 
family into my house as it would be more convenient for him while 
he was getting his own ready. By this time, I had got about two 
acres broken and fenced and in the spring of 1871 planted it to 
potatoes and other vegetables. About this time it began to be 
rumored that the Indians were growing restless and liable to make 
trouble, although at that time I did not feel much alarmed as I did 
not think they would molest us, but one day in the early part of 
June, 1 87 1, a man named Wilson, who was hunting a pair of stray 
oxen, came by my house and told me that the body of a man had 
been found in the brush near Rush Lake, with every indication that 
he had been killed by Indians. Mrs. McFee said she was not afraid 
of Indians ; she had lived in Wisconsin and they never troubled 
them there. 

One afternoon in the middle of June, I had occasion to go about 
a mile east of the house where I was making some shingles. McFee 
himself was at work about a mile northwest at his own house. 
There was a drizzling rain, and after I thought I had been in it long 
enough, I left for home. Before I reached the house I saw an 
Indian standing at the door with his gun in his hand, but as that 
was not an unusual occurrence, I did not think much about it until 
I got close by. I then noticed Mrs. McFee was unusually excited, 
she said she was glad I had come because she was afraid of this 
Indian and wished me to send him away. I told her she was 
perhaps alarmed without much cause, but at all events when I had 
got through washing my hands I would do as she requested. I had 
picked up the wash basin while she was telling me, and was not 
suspecting any trouble. I then turned to the Indian, whose name 
I afterwards learned was Bachinana, and told him to get off of 
the premises, but he did not seem to want to go, so I took him 
by the collar and gave him a push. He was now about six feet 
from the door of the house on the outside, and again he stood 
still without moving any further. I now noticed he had a knife 
in a sheath in front of him, and I was entirely unarmed, and things 
began to take on a serious aspect. The thought suggested itself 
to me of attempting to disarm the Indian, but at that time I did 
not know that he had been guilty of any misbehavior, and if I 
could succeed in getting him away, it would probably make less 
future trouble. So I gave him another push, and he now started 
briskly down the hill until he got about fifty feet away from me. 

A Pione;er History of Be;cker County. 291 

He then wheeled about and brought his gun to his shoulder. 
When he made the motion to turn around, I knew what to expect, 
and I knew also that it would not be of any use to try and get 
into the house or even to dodge around the corner, so I made a 
dash down hill towards him, intending that if his gun should miss 
fire or he should miss me, to take chances in a hand scuffle in 
which I thought the chances would be in my favor. This sudden, 
and to him unexpected movement on my part, seemed to confuse 
him some and I was about four feet from the muzzle of his gun. 
He turned half round to get away, when he fired, the charge of 
shot shattering my arm from nearly the wrist to the elbow, and a 
few scattering shots going into my side. The Indian ran away, 
and as far as I could see did not look back. I then returned to the 
house, Mrs. McFee was terribly frightened, and now told me for 
the first time how insolent and threatening the Indian had been. 
He had drawn his knife across her baby's throat while it was 
asleep, and terrified her in other ways. I was growing weaker 
from the loss of blood, and proposed going to Weymouth's house 
about three miles down the river to see if I could get something 
done for my arm ; but Mrs. McFee said if I left the place, the In- 
dian might come back and kill her ; so I suggested that she herself 
should go for her husband, who was in the opposite direction to 
which the Indian had gone, and get him to stay with her. This 
she did. I now found I was getting faint from loss of blood, and 
it was with some difficulty that I was able to stand. I tried to stop 
the blood by tying cloth bandages around my arm, but did not ap- 
pear to have any success. I then took a towel and bound it twice 
around my arm above the elbow, put in a stout stick and twisted 
it as much as I could bear. This appeared to have the desired 
eft'ect. I then locked the house door, and sat down on the floor, 
after getting my revolver in which I found there were two charg- 
es, and waited for McFee to come. If the Indian should come 
first, it was my intention to shoot him, if I could, when he enter- 
ed the house. McFee came as soon as he could, finding the door 
locked, he called to me and I told him to break in the door. I 
could not get up. He lost no time in going down to Weymouth's 
who sent up a team and some men. They lifted me into a wagon 
and took me to his place. It was months before I recovered, 
and when I did I was crippled for life ; although the arm was 
saved, it was with the loss of six inches of the radius bone, and 

292 A Pioneer History of Uecker County. 

otherwise so badly shattered that it has since been of Httle use 
to me. In closing this narrative, I will say that I was surprised 
at the kindness shown to nic at that time by those who had only 
known me for a few months at the most, and some not that long. 
It was done with so little display that it appeared to me that 
they did not want each other to know they were making any sac- 
rifices for my sake. 

James Winram. 

After shooting Winram, he took to the deep woods and was not 
seen about the settlements for several months, although efforts were 
being constantly put forth to secure his arrest. This, however, 
was not accomplished until March of the following year, when he 
was disposed of in a summary manner, as related further on by 
Patrick Quinlan, one of the parties to the tragedy. 

Bachinana Holds up Paul Sletten. 

Mrs. Luther Weymouth relates the following. 

Early in the summer of 1871 the Northern Pacific Railroad Company- 
was building its road through the township of Burlington. Paul C. Slet- 
ten was then foreman of a crew of men who were grading near the cross- 
ing of the Otter Tail River, and was boarding at the Weymouth hotel on 
the hill, a little south of the river. His family was then living on their 
homestead at Oak Lake, so Paul bought a pony of Bachinana to ride 
back and forth Saturday nights and Sundays to and from his home. When 
on one of his home trips, and while in the thick of the woods east of De- 
troit Lake, who should he meet in the road but Bachinana himself. He 
stood square in the middle of the road with a double barreled shotgun in 
his hands, both barrels of which were cocked, and ordered Paul to get off 
his horse. Paul was unarmed at the time and was not long in obeying 
orders. He dismounted, whereupon the Indian took off the saddle, threw 
it at Paul, mounted the pony and rode away. This was about the time he 
shot James Winram. and he was never seen again in the vicinity. 

AfDfr.ox. Minx., October. 16, 1905. 
Mk. W 1 1. cox: 

Mrs. Sletten says that she remembers well that Paul was held up by 
Indians and his horse taken, but she does not know so much about the 

As near as she remembers it occurred as follows: 

Paul had bought a saddle pony from some Indians at the railroad camp 
somewhere east of Detroit. He w-anted to use the pony on his trip back 
and forth between the camp and home. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 293 

Mr. Brackett. the contractor, had loaned him a saddle. 

On his way home through the Detroit woods after dark a band of 
Indians surrounded him, pulled him ofif his horse and took possession 
of the animal. They started to take the saddle ofT, but he protested that 
if they took the horse, they might as well keep the saddle too. 

They could not see any use in the saddle, so placed it on Sletten's 
shoulders and pointed up the road. 

There was nothing to do hv.t make the best of a bad situation, and he 
came home late at night with the saddle strapped to his back. 

A. O. Netland. 

The Shooting of Bachinana. 

By Patrick Quinlan. 

Some time abotit the middle of March, 1872, an Indian called 
at my house and said that Bachinana would pass by that even- 
ing on his way to Pine Lake, but expected that he would stay 
all night at the Indian camp down in the woods, west of Rice 
Lake. Later in the evening I saw an Indian pass over the rail- 
road bridge at Frazee and concluded it was Bachinana. As soon 
as I could I went to Hobart station to notify John Lisk, who had al- 
readv spent some time hunting for Bachinana but Lisk said, "It is 
dark and I am not sure that I would know him, I wish you would 
go with me." So I went with him and we called at Rogan's to 
get information as to where the Indian crossed Rice Lake. He 
said he knew, and taking his gun started with us. After going 
a short distance Rogan stopped and said he wanted to know if 
there was any fighting to be done, and Lisk said he thought there 
would be. After crossing Rice Lake and traveling about two 
miles west in the woods, we met two Indians. Rogan and Lisk 
being in advance of me they met the Indians first and laid hands 
on the first one, while the other one left the trail and seemed anx- 
ious to avoid us. I saw that his calcuiation was to circle and 
come into the trail behind me, therefore I stopped, because I 
concluded by his actions that he was the one we were after. The 
snow was very deep and he could not travel very fast. So when 
he was coming near the trail, I went back and laid hold of him. 
He had a gun, he said he had no whisky. I told him I wanted 
to know who he was. It was pretty dark and he had on a blanket 
cap which with the darkness prevented me from getting a good 
look at his face and he kept turning his face away from me. After 

294 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

a short struggle he became very angry, and said I must let him 
go. I told him, no, I must see who you are." After we had 
scuffled some time, Lisk came up behind me and grabbed the 
Indian on the shoulder and threw him backward full length on 
the snow. Rogan was behind me, and he shot the Indian as 
quick as he fell ; therefore I did not see it. I was sorry that he 
was killed the way he was though I was satisfied that he was a 
dangerous character. 

After his death he was buried on the narrow ridge between the 
Northern Pacific Railroad and the Otter Tail River, a little east 
of Frazee down towards the railroad bridge. He was buried by 
Thomas Murphy, in charge of the Northern Pacific gravel train. 
His grave is now nearly obliterated. Bill Rogan was arrested 
and given a hearing and held for trial, but was afterwards released 
under bonds. About the 25th of August, 1873, he was re-arrest- 
ed and lodged in jail at St. Paul. He afterward stood his trial 
at Fergus Falls and was acquitted. 

Irving John Collins. 

Irving John Collins came to Becker County May i8th, 1872, 
from Monroe County, New York. He was accompanied by his 
wife and son Henry, then only one and a half years old ; also David 
Wellman and his wife. After visiting for some time with Captain 
D. ly. Wellman, he took a soldier's homstead in the town of Burling- 
ton, Section 34, 138, 40. where he has lived continuously up to the 
present time. 

There were no bridges over the Otter Tail River and Collins 
used to ford the river. All business to and from the farm was 
done by ox team or on foot across the river, or by boat. The 
nearest depot was in Hobart Township, Otter Tail County. 

The first Sabbath school was organized in Captain Well- 
man's residence by Missionary Mason, and David Wellman was 
elected superintendent. The next summer it was removed to 
the upper room in Mr. Hendry's store, and was removed in 1874 
to Frazee into the little public schoolhouse standing on the 
ground now occupied by the palatial residence of Gotlieb Baer. 
Mr. Collins was superintendent ; Leonard Ashley, secretary ; and 
Robert Carson took an active part. About twenty was the regu- 
lar attendance. 


296 A PioNEEr< History of Becker County. 

Mr. Collins discovered that liis land, overlooking the Otter 
Tail River, was rich in Indian lore, and some very rare treasures 
of Indian relics were found in the grounds, such as arrow heads, 
hammers, pieces of pottery and one extra large mound led to 
the belief that this was one of the old and famous Mound Build- 
er's cities or camping grounds. Xumerinis piles of cooking stones 
were foimd where he now has his home. 

In 1873-4 there was an Indian scare, and all the residents 
of the village congregated in one building in town. Leonard 
Ashley came over and implored ]Mr. Collins to come with his 
family into the barracks, but he thought he could defend him- 
self and family, and he kindly refused the invitation. 

The cause of the scare was a party of Sioux Indians going 
through to White Earth for a visit with the Chippewas. They 
went through Collin's farm passing the house on their prancing 
horses and decked in feathers and paint. They would jump 
off their ponies and with their scalping knives cut ofif the long 
grass as if they were scalping an enemy. 

Mr. Collins served his country as a soldier in Company I, 
Thirteenth New York Volunteer Infantry, and belongs to the 
Detroit Post. 

He is considered an expert farmer and machinist and owns 
one of the best farms near Frazec. I lis c(irn won a prize at the 
?t. Louis Exposition. 

He is an active Christian and a trustee and meiuber of the 
First Methodist Episcopal church. 

J. A. B. Smith. 

The bridge built across the Otter Tail River in this county 
was built in 1869 by Patrick Quinlan. It was built at the foot of 
the hill where the Perham road is now located, about ten rods south 
from where the new bridge across the Otter Tail River has since 
been built. The river then ran along the foot of the hill in what 
is now the old slough, all the way from the railroad to a point sev- 
eral rods west of the Perham road. After building this bridge he 
built a corduroy road along what was then the north side of the 
river to the long narrow ridge on the east side of the railroad ly- 
ing between the railroad and the river. When the railroad was 
built a year or two afterwards, they changed the bed of the river 
to its present location. 

A PioNKER History of Becker County. 297 

The old Red River trail which had been the only thoroughfare 
through this part of the country for years, entered Becker County 
between the two lakes on Section 36, near where Herman Fisher 
now lives, passed by the Albertson place and crossed the Otter Tail 
River between where the lower dam and the bridge on the Silver- 
leaf road have since been built. There had never been any bridge 
across the river and the crossing was frequently attended with 
considerable difficulty, especially at the beginning of winter when 
ice was forming, so Ouinlan conceived the idea of building a cut- 
off road, bridging the river and charging toll for all travelers pass- 
ing over his bridge. After he had finished the bridge, he opened 
up a new road from a point on the Red River trail, a little south 
of where Thomas Keys in Otter Tail County has since lived. The 
road ran on the west side of the oak grove in Edward Brigg's 
field south of his house, and came down to the river at the foot of 
the hill exactly where the road enters the marsh at the present 
time. The old road is still to be seen where it came down the 
hill over in the timber west of the present road. 

This was about the time the Northern Pacific explorers and 
surveyors commenced traveling up and down the country, and 
while they were delighted at having a bridge to cross on there 
was a lot of kicking done when it came to paying toll. After 
having several quarrels and getting but little toll he dropped the 
whole business and never covered the bare poles on his corduroy 
v^-est of the river. The place where this bridge was built has 
since been nearly filled with sand and gravel washed down from 
the hill, although there is a small bridge there at the present time. 

When the railroad company changed the bed of the river they 
built a new wagon bridge a short distance below the railroad 
bridge and for many years all the travel from the south went 
around the horseshoe bend, along the foot of the railroad embank- 
ment. The road was changed to its present location in the winter 
of 1897 and 1898. 

The bridge across Town Lake was built in 1883, by Luther 
Weymouth, with a state appropriation of $600. 

The "Hodder" bridge across the Otter Tail, on Section 2, was 
built in 1886 by Rudolph Boll with money furnished by the town 
and county. The bridge across the Otter Tail below the lower dam 
was built in the summer of 1889 by R. L. Frazee with a state 

298 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

On the 9th day of Aiii^ust, 1872, a petition was granted by the 
board of county commissioners to detach Township 138, Range 
40, from the township of Lake Mew and organize the same into a 
new township to be called Burlington. The township was so named 
from the city of Burlington in the state of \>rmont, by Airs. E. L. 
\\'right, a Vermonter, whose husband took a leading part in the 
organization of the township. 

The first township election was held on the 26th day of August 
of that year at the house of Wm. G. Chilton. 

The first set of township officers were : Chairman of board of 
supervisors, E. L. Wright ; supervisors, Charles E. Churchill and 
Patrick Quinlan ; clerk, James G. Chilton. Roscoe Dow was 
elected justice of the peace at this election, but did not qualify. 

At the annual town meeting in March, 1873, the supervisors 
elected were E. L. Wright, chairman ; Charles E Churchill and I. 
J. Collins, supervisors ; James Chilton, town clerk ; James Max- 
well, assessor. 

Arthur Crissy. 

In the winter of 1872-3, R. L. Frazee opened up his first lumber 
camp in Becker County, on Section 14, in the town of Erie. Among 
the men employed in his camp was a man named Arthur Crissy, a 
native of Maine, a man about thirty-five years of age, of robust 
constitution and perfect health and full of general good humor, and 
who prided himself on being the best ox teamster in Becker County. 

The exact date when he left Becker County I cannot give, but 
I found him at Bismarck in Dakota territor}^ in the fall of 1874. 

The next time I saw him was in the summer of 1878 in the same 
place where he kept a little candy and tobacco store. Since I had 
last seen him, he had lost both feet and was walking on his knees. 
He had met with a terrible misfortune in the spring of 1876, and I 
will endeavor to relate it as he told it to me as near as possible. 

A few miles below Bismarck is Sibley Island wdiich contains 
twenty or thirty acres of land. On the west side of the island is 
the Missouri River, and on the east side is a narrow channel about 
four rods wide, which is full of water, when the river is high, but 
most of the time it is nearly dry. 

I am quite familiar with this island, as we tied up our steamboat 
alongside of it over night in the spring of 1862, and in 1874 I 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 299 

surveyed it for the government. The river bottoms here extend 
east for four or five miles, on a dead level. 

Sibley Island at that time was covered with a heavy growth of 
Cottonwood timber, and in the winter of 1875-6, N. P. Clark, of 
St. Cloud, Minnesota, put in a wood camp on the island. This camp 
consisted of a log cabin for the men and two log stables for the 
oxen, of which they had twenty or thirty. With the disappearance 
of the snow in the spring the camp was broken up, but Crissy and 
two other men, one of which was named Kelly, were retained to 
take care of the oxen. They had not remained there many days 
before the ice in the river broke up and an ice gorge commenced 
to form a short distance below the island. In a day or two the water 
in the channel on the east side began to raise, and in a short time 
was up level with its banks. 

At this time they found they could have made their escape to 
the high ground, but they decided on account of the oxen to remain 
another day, confident that Clark or his agent at Bismarck would 
send orders for them to come away w^th the cattle before night. 
That night, however, the water rose rapidly and by the next morn- 
ing escape was impossible. They were driven out of their cabin 
and made their escape to the roof. The night before they had 
taken the precaution to turn out the oxen from their stables, and 
that day the oxen were all swimming around among the trees, and 
they were themselves on the top of the cabin, where they expected 
to remain in safety with their bedding and some provisions, until the 
the flood subsided. In this, however, they were disappointed. By 
the middle of the afternoon, the water was two feet deep on the roof 
of the cabin, where they were standing. They now commenced 
shouting for help. It was several miles to high land on their side 
of the river, so there was no hope of relief from that direction, but 
Fort Lincoln was on the opposite side of the river, and as it was 
afterwards discovered there were some soldiers within hearing dis- 
tance, but the gorge of ice made it impossible for them to cross the 
river. Their only hope now was to reach some of the cottonwood 
trees, the nearest of which was several rods away from the cabin. 
They had kept the upper part of their clothing dry, and the 
problem now was how to reach the trees without getting wet all 
over. It was not long, however, before the opportunity came. One 
of the oxen came swimming close to the cabin and Kelly mounted 

300 A I'loxKEK History oi- Heckhk County. 

it. wliicli took hini to a small tree that stood about twenty feet above 
the water. Soon afterwards another ox drifted by in close prox- 
imity to the cabin and Crissy and his com])anion were soon astride 
the ox, which they easily guided h) a good sized cottonwood tree 
with numerous limbs for climbing and seats, and they were soon 
out of reach of the flood. Night quickly set in, their provisions and 
bedding had all floated away and their wet clothing began to freeze. 
and their lower extremities were soon benuml)ed with the cold. 
They began to call for help in turns. Towards morning Kelly was 
heard to utter a cry of despair and almost instantly he relaxed his 
hold and fell into the water and was never seen or heard of again 
by his companions. This had a very depressing effect on Crissy's 
companion, wdio was sitting on the same limb of the tree with Crissy. 
It was not long before he too dropped from his seat, and in falling 
he caught Crissy by both ankles with his hands, clinging to them 
with a grip like that of a vise. Crissy was a large powerful man, 
but it was fully an hour before he could release himself from his 
companion's icy grasp. During all this time the man was insen- 
sible and his own strength was fast becoming exhausted. At last 
Crissy, by an almost superhuman effort, relaxed the man's grip, and 
he fell into the water and was seen and heard no more. Crissy 
having managed to keep some matches dry, lit his pipe and alter- 
nately smoked and shouted for help. The next day the sun warmed 
him u]) so that he was comparatively comfortable, but the second 
night was colder than before and his feet began to freeze. The 
second morning he felt as if he could hold out no longer, but the 
Sim arose and put new life into him and he determined to hold on 
another day if possible, and should no help coiue to give up the 
struggle for life. 

The third night set in colder than before. At dark a thin skim 
of ice commenced to form on the water. The icy coldness had now 
left his feet and legs and lu' felt drowsy. He was just on the 
point of falling asleep when the scnmd of human voices and the 
strokes of an oar fell upon his ears. Relief was at hand ! A boat 
manned by soldiers from Fort Lincoln had come to his rescue. He 
was lifted into the boat and taken across the river where he found 
that in attcm])ting to walk he was unable to stand on his feet. I le 
was taken to the hosi:)ital at the fort where he became delirious 
and kuew nolhii^ii' for more than a week. In the meantime his 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 301 

legs were amputated just below the knees. He managed to get 
around fairly well for many years and finally died at Bismarck in 
the winter of 1896-7. 

James Winram. 

James Winram was born on the Isle of Man, February i6th, 
1843. ^is parents moved that same year to Liverpool, where his 
boyhood days were spent until he was fourteen years of age, when 
in the year 1857 he shipped on board a sailing vessel bound for 
Calcutta, going by the way of the Cape of Good Hope. Upon his 
return from this voyage he made a voyage to Australia, after which 
he made four more voyages to India and China. These voyages 
took about five years of his life in all, and the strange sights that 
he saw, and the many adventures which he can relate would almost 
rival the stories of Sinbad the Sailor. 

A Stabbing Affray. 

On the 2d of May, 1874, Sol. Wells stabbed Bill McDonald at 
Webb's cabin. After nearly cutting ofif his thumb, he stabbed him 
in the thigh and in his back, inflicting serious but not fatal wounds. 
Old Sol. was a wild-eyed son of Erin who homesteaded the land 
on Section 18, where the village of McHugh has since been built. 
He was killed by the cars near his own home some time about the 
year 1888. 

An old chum and countryman of his by the name of "Billy" 
Lamb homesteaded the southwest quarter of Section 18. 

August Trieglaff, Sr. 

August Trieglafl^. Sr.. was born in Falkenberg, Germany, on the 
15th day of August, 1831. 

He came to America in the spring of 1870 and to Becker 
County about the first of June, 1871. and took a homestead on 
Section 24, where he spent the remainder of his life. Mr. Trieglafif 
was comparatively a poor man when he came to this country, but 
l:»v untiring industry and rigid economy, he became one of the 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 303 

prosperous men of Becker County. He was a man of sound business 
judgment, decided in character and strictly upright and honest in 
all his transactions with his fellow men. 

Mr. Trieglaff died on the 25th day of June, 1897, leaving his 
wife and five sons and two daughters to survive him. The sons 
are William Trieglafif, August Trieglaff, Carl Trieglaff, Robert 
Trieglaff and Albert Trieglafif. The daughters are Mrs. Joseph 
Frick and Mrs. Michael Warter. 

Wm. G. Chilton. 
By George E. Tindall. 

William G. Chilton was born on a farm near Kingston, Ontario, 
Feb. 1 2th, 1846. 

He became a sailor at the age of seventeen and continued as such 
upon the inland lakes and rivers for six summers, after which he left 
in company with a friend, Wm. Redpath, for the distant West reach- 
ing Minnesota in 1870. From Little Sauk near St. Cloud their 
journey was by ox team there being no railroad west of that place 
at that time. He settled in Becker County and filed on the land 
that now forms the homestead upon which he built one of the first 
houses in the county. He also assisted in the construction of the 
first sawmill erected in these parts, on the Otter Tail River, and 
afterwards sold it to R. L. Frazee. It was most interesting to 
listen to a recital of his adventures with the Indians, "perils by 
sea," narrow escapes in blizzards, experiences in privations, and 
other hardships incident to a pioneer's life, all of which contributed 
to make him the man he was in courage and enduring power. 

At the age of twenty-nine he visited his old home in the East and 
was happily married to Miss Katherine Rutledge, and as a result of 
this union there were born unto them four children, Addia, Mabel, 
John and Almena, all of whom lived to mourn the loss of their 
mother in May, 1883. 

His second wife was Mrs. Ellen Moulthrope, of Detroit, by 
whom seven children were born, five of which are still living; 
namely : Timothy, Ella, Katie, Howard and Gordon. 

Mr. Chilton died on the 26th day of August, 1902. Three 
brothers and four sisters survive him, namely : James, Timothy 
and John, and IMrs. John Gummer, Mrs. Patrick O'Neil and Mrs. 

304 A PiONKER History of Bi'X'kkr Couxtv. 

Scott, all of whom live in this vicinity, and Airs. Charles Camjjhel 
of Redlands. California. 
Mrs. West. 

Samuel Pearce. 

Samuel Pearce was born at Sherborne, Dorsetshire, England, on 
the fifth day of April, 1832, and was married to Miss Elizabeth 
Warr on the first day of December, i860. 

They were the parents of eight children, all of whom are still 
living. Their names are as follows : Thomas Pearce. ]\Irs. Eliza- 
beth Morse, William Pearce, Samuel Pearce, Mrs. Angelena Gifford, 
Robert Pearce, Charles Pearce, Flossie Pearce. 

About the middle of March, 1873, Mr. Pearce. accom]:)auie(l by 
Thomas, his oldest son, left his home in England in company with 
about one hundred and fifty other people comprising what was called 
the Yeoville Colony, destined for Hawle}-. Clay County, Minnesota. 
They arrived at their destination on the 13th of April. Xot taking 
a fancy to the bleak prairies of Clay County, at the close of a hard 
winter, and as he was well pleased with what he saw of Becker the 
day before while passing through, he came back to Frazee on foot 
the next day and afterwards took a homestead on Section 2, of 
the township of Burlington, where he resided until the time of 
his death. The family came a year or two later ; as soon as he 
was able to work and earn money to pay their passage. In addition 
to his original homestead he added over 200 acres more to his farm, 
making it one of the finest and best cultivated in Burlington Town- 
ship. Mrs. Pearce and her son Charles are still living on the old 

Mr. Pearce died on the first day of December. 1901. 

Brutal Murder Near McHugh. 

In Fall of 1905. 

A most horrible discovery was made yesterday afternoon by Bert 
Morton, a boy living near AIcHugh, four miles east of Detroit. While 
out rabbit hunting the boy discovered a peculiar trail through the brush. 
His curiosity excited, he followed it up, and found that it led to a brush 
pile in a near-by swamp, and that under the brush heap lay the dead body 
of a man. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 305 

Word was sent to the sheriff, who in company with County Attorney 
Schroeder, Marshal Bert Clement, Dr. Frasier and Marshal John Hurley, 
of Frazee, visited the place last night. They found the body, but were 
unable to identify it. In the absence of the coroner from the county the 
body was brought to Detroit at an early hour this morning. 

The man evidently was a Finlander, and a harvest hand on his way 
home from Dakota. Apparently a shotgun had been placed close to the 
man's head and fired, as the head was horribly mutilated. 

After the shooting the body had been dragged feet first by a horse, 
from the scene of the crime to the hiding place. This was plainly apparent 
from the trail that was left, and also from the condition of the body. 

A letter was found upon the body, but so saturated with blood that 
it was hardly legible. A portion of the address upon the envelope ap- 
pears to be L. R. Satzwedel, Leonard, N. Dak. The letter is written in 

The murdered man was apparently of that nationality and about 20 
to 25 years old. His hat, coat and shoes were missing. He wore a navy 
blue shirt; blue overalls; a neck muffler and chest protector, striped red 
and black. In his pocket was found a steel handled knife upon the side 
of which were the words "Easy Opener." — Detroit Record. 

A Finlander by the name of Charles Huotari was convicted of 
this fotil crime at the March term of court, 1906, and sent to the 
penitentiary for hfe. The name of the murdered man was Jacob 

Village of Frazee. 

For nearly three years after the Northern Pacific Railroad was 
built, the nearest station was at Hobert, a long mile on the other 
side by the Otter Tail River. 

In the summer of 1872 a company consisting of Absalom Camp- 
bell, Charles ^L Campbell, William G. Chilton and T. W. Chilton 
built a dam and sawmill on Section 26, near where the Nichols, 
Chisholm Lumber Company's sawmill is now located. After oper- 
ating their mill for a few months they sold the property to R. L. 
Frazee. As soon as Frazee had secured this valuable mill site he 
made a purchase of all the land on Section 35, lying west and north 
of the river, and proceeded to lay out a townsite on the north side 
of the railroad, including a part of Sections 26 and 35. The sur- 
vey of this townsite was made in the summer of 1873 by W. C. 
Darling. He next began to negotiate with the railroad company for 
the removal of the depot from Hobart, and as an inducement in that 


A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

direction, he gave them half the lots in his new townsite. The re- 
moval was gradually accomplished, the depot building not being 
brought over until some time after a temporary station had been estab- 
lished at the new townsite. Finally, on the 25th day of October, 


1874, the depot building was loaded on two flat cars and brought 
across the river and dumped off at the new station on the north side 
of the track. 

Thomas Murphy, now of Sanborn, North Dakota, claims the 
honor of being in charge of the removal. In the spring of 1873 Mr. 
Frazee enlarged the Chilton sawmill and in the fall of the same 
year built a flour mill adjoining his sawmill, and both mills did a 
flourishing business for many years. In the spring of 1874 an ugly 
hole was cut in his mill dam by the high water in the river and it 
was with considerable difficulty that it was finally repaired. A 
lot of his saw-logs floated off down the river and were sold to 
parties below. 

A PioNKER History of Becker County. 307 

In 1 88 1 he built the big, new dam at the east end of Front 
Street and moved both mills down to the new dam that same 
fall. The flour mill, however, was considerably enlarged and when 
completed was the finest flour mill in northern Minnesota. These 
mills both burned down on the 14th day of October, 1889. The 
cost of these mills, dam included, was about $60,000, and were 
insured for $15,000. 

In the spring of 1890 he sold all his mill property to A. H. 
Wilcox, who repaired the dam and rebuilt the sawmill on the old 
foundations that same year. He carried on the manufacture of 
lumber until January, 1897, when he sold out to the Common- 
wealth Lumber Company, who built a new steam sawmill on an 
extensive scale near where the Campbell mill was built in 1872. 
This mill, however, is outside the village but close up to the hne. 

The first house in the village of Frazee was built by James G. 
Chilton on the rear of what are now lots 11 and 12, block 14, where 
Chris. Johnson had a laundry a few years ago. This house was 
built in the summer of 1872 of lumber sawed at the Campbell sawmill. 

In the fall of 1873 S. M. Thompkins came down from Oak Lake 
and built what is now known as the Frazee Hotel or Briggs' House. 
This hotel was opened up for business about the first of December, 
1873. The next October Luther Weymouth moved his hotel over 
from Hobert and set it up on the south side of the railroad a little east 
of where the passenger depot now stands. Some of the passenger 
trains stopped regularly at the Weymouth House for meals, Mrs. 
Weymouth was a very popular landlady in those days. Her meals 
were the subject of much flattering comment far and wide. The 
box-elder and the willow trees growing there at the present time 
were planted in the rear of the new hotel by Mrs. Weymouth herself. 
This new hotel hurt the business of the Thompkins' house to a 
serious extent. As an inducement to draw railroad passengers 
to his house Thompkins built a broad, high walk from the depot 
in a straight line to his hotel, over the big hole where Baer's block 
and the Windsor Hotel now stand. One of the first buildings 
erected — as I remember, was the one now owned by Dr. S. S. Jones 
and used by him as a drug store. It was built by a little Jew 
whose name I have forgotten, in 1873, for a dry goods store. 

The Cummer flour mill was brought up from New York Mills 
on the 9th of August, 1898, and rebuilt at the lower dam, where 

3o8 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

it did service until the 3rd of June, 1903, when it was totally 
wrecked by the washing away of the west end of the dam. 

In the summer of 1904 the Stelzner flour mill was built by Mr. 
C. J. Stelzner, who soon afterwards sold a half interest to James 
Scott. Leonard Ashley was the first station agent at Frazee. 

In the fall of the year 1898 the railroad company moved the 
passenger depot from the north side of the track, in the rear of 
Baer's brick block, to the south side near where it now stands, and 
since that time have used the old side track on the south side of the 
main line of the railroad for the main line. The building was 
moved by Charles Wagner, of Detroit. 

It should ever be born in mind, however, that much of the real 
estate in Frazee is bounded, and the descriptions start from the 
center of the main line of the railroad, and that the original main 
line is the third track north from the passenger depot since the 
double track was laid, or the track that runs next to the freight depot, 
being the most northerly of the three tracks between the two depots. 

Incorporation of the Village of Frazee. 

On the sixth day of January, 1891, the board of county com- 
missioners of Becker County adopted the following resolution : 

Resolved; on receiving and reading the petition of A. H. Wilcox and 
thirty-four others, residents upon the lands and premises in said petition 
described, praying that a time and place be appointed when and where 
the electors actually resident upon said described premises, may vote for 
or against the incorporation of said premises, and said petition being in 
due form, it is further resolved, that the electors, resident on said premises 
shall meet at the Briggs Hotel on said premises on the loth day of 
February, A. D. 1891, at 10 o'clock, a. m., and that Edward Gummer, 
George Combs, and W. Baer are hereby appointed to act as inspectors at 
said meeting, and that copies of said petition and notices of said meeting 
be posted as provided by law. 

The proposition to incorporate the village received nearly a 
unanimous vote and the first election of officers was held at Baer's 
store on the loth of March, 1891, when the following officers were 
elected : President, A. H. Wilcox ; trustees, William Baer, 
Clement Mayer and Robert Alexander; village, recorder, John 
Briggs; treasurer, John S. Comstock ; justices of the peace, John 

A PioNjjiiR History of BiiCKER County. 309 

Neuner and Lewis D. Hendry ; constables, John D. Clary and 
Arnold Kohnen. 

The incorporation took in the following territory : The south 
half of the southwest quarter of Section 26 and all of Section 35, 
Township 138, Range 40, except the south tier of forties and the 
west tier of forties. 

Hon. R. L. Frazee. 

Randolph L. Frazee, for whom the village of Frazee was named, 
was born at Hamden Junction, Vinton County, ( )hio, on the 3rd day 
of July, 1841, and came to Minnesota in September, 1866, locating 
first ten miles north of St. Cloud. In the fall of 1868 he removed to 
Otter Tail City where he built a sawmill and flour mill which he 
operated until the spring of 1872, when he built a side track and saw- 
mill where Xew York ^lills station is now located. This place was 
then called Frazee's Mills. He sold out here in the fall of 1872 and 
bought the Campbell-Chilton mill at Frazee. 

A history of his milling operations has already been given in 
the history of Frazee Village, so I will pass them over. In the 
fall of 1873 he built for his first residence the house in block 2 
of his first addition, which stands just a little west of where L. D. 
Hendry now resides. That same fall he erected a building on 
Front Street, since known as the Louck's Hotel, which he used as 
a store for the next four years. That same fall, 1873, he built 
a warehouse on the north side of the railroad track which he used 
also for an ofiice and in 1876 added a large store building to it, 
which was about 24 by 80 feet in extent ; the same building that was 
used for many years as a store by Baer Brothers. In the fall of 
1874, says Mr. Frazee, "I graded a sidetrack alongside of my 
w^arehouse and furnished ties for the rails, and then prevailed on 
C. W. Mead, the general manager of the Northern Pacific Railway 
Company, to move the depot over from Hobert. There were strong 
objections to the removal made by the Lake Superior and Puget 
Sound Townsite Company, who owned the townsite at Hobert, and 
also by David Wellman, who had just recently surveyed out an addi- 
tion thereto ; but Mr. Mead told me to keep quiet until they had sub- 
sided somewhat, and that he would send a crew some evening and 

3IO A Pioneer History of JJkckek Couxtv. 

make quick work of the removal. The crew came up on Saturday 
evening and by Sunday night the depot was at Frazee, safe and 

Mr. Frazee represented Becker County in the ^Minnesota legis- 
lature during the session of 1875, and in 1883 was the Democratic 
candidate for lieutenant governor running considerably ahead of his 
ticket, but was defeated by Charles A. Gilman, of St. Cloud. 

In 1890 Mr. Frazee removed to Pelican Rapids in Otter Tail 
County, where he resided until the time of his death, which occurred 
on the 4th day of June, 1906. 

He was one of the wealthiest men in northwestern Minnesota, 
but although usually fortunate and properous in business matters 
his business pathway was not always a smooth one. 

Mrs. Frazee and four sons and two daughters survive him. They 
are Charles, William, Harry, Clifford, Mrs. May McArdle and ]\Iiss 
Cora Frazee. 

Luther Weymouth. 

Luther Weymouth was born in the town of Abbot. Maine, on 
the 15th day of October, 1833. On the i6th day of June, 1855, he 
was married at Stillwater, Maine, to Miss Abbie C. Porter, who 
was born at Fredrickton, New Brunswick, on the 31st of Septem- 
ber, 1838. 

In September, 1858, Mr. Weymouth started for California, going 
by way of the Isthmus of Panama and located at Mariposa. Here 
he opened a boarding house, housing and feeding eighty-eight men 
who were in the employ of General John C. Fremont, who, two 
years before, had been the Republican candidate for president of 
the United States. About once a week he had for a guest at his 
table, a lady who was at that time the most popular woman in the 
free states, and the idol of the Republicans of the whole land, Mrs. 
Jessie Benton Fremont, wife of General Fremont, and daughter 
of Senator Thomas H. Benton, of Missouri. Mrs. Fremont always 
came on horseback accompanied by her daughter. 

General Fremont was at that time the proprietor of the famous 
Mariposa Spanish land grant, a tract of land as large as an ordinary 

Weymouth returned to Maine after an absence of nearly three 
years with several thousand dollars in gold. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 311 

For several years after his return he was engaged as steward 
on a steamboat plying on the Penobscot River between Old Town 
and Lincoln. 

He came to Becker County on the loth of December, 1870, and 
that same w^inter built a hotel on the brow of the hill on the south 
side of the river near where Mrs. Martin now lives. He afterwards 
opened up a hotel at Hobart where the Northern Pacific station was 
located, but when the station was moved to Frazee, Weymouth came 
with it and brought his hotel with him, building and all, on the cars. 

His hotel was re-established a few rods east of where the passen- 
ger depot now stands, where he and Mrs. Weymouth did a thriving 
business for several years. 

Mr. Weymouth was the first postmaster at Frazee, bringing the 
office with him from Hobart. 

For several years he was justice of the peace for the town of 
Burlington and many stories were in circulation years ago, relating 
to his short-handed methods of administering justice and his utter 
disregard for red tape. 

On one occasion a woman came in from the country and com- 
plained that her husband had been pounding her, and asked to have 
a warrant issued for his arrest. The warrant was issued but they 
could not find the constable. He had gone from home. Weymouth, 
however, could not allow so trifling an obstacle as that to stand in 
the way of the administration of justice, so he took the warrant 
and served it himself, arresting and bringing the offender to town 
in his own conveyance. He gave him a speedy trial, with no other 
witness than his wife, found him guilty of assault, fined the prisoner 
ten dollars, which he promptly paid. Weymouth then handed the 
ten dollars over to the offender's wife, who went home rejoicing, 
highly pleased with Judge Weymouth's method of conducting court, 
and dealing with wife beaters. 

Mr. Weymouth died on the 26th day of August, 1885. 

Leonard Ashley. 

Leonard Ashley, the first depot agent at Frazee, was born in 
the town of Wilton, Saratoga County, New York, on September 
25th, 1845. 

His father was of English and Irish descent and his mother was 
Scotch. His parents afterwards moved to Groton, New York, where 

312 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

he received an academic education. He learned telegraphy and 
went west with his brother as far as the Rocky Mountains, working 
at different places, but finally came back as far as Hobart, as the 
station was then called, and became the first ticket agent at that 
place, and when the depot building was moved over to Frazee in 
1874, he came with it and so became the first agent at Frazee, which 
position he occupied until the time of his death. He also held the 
ofiice of town clerk during all his residence at Frazee. 

He was married on (3ctober 8th, 1874. to i\Iiss Thomsena Hed- 
den of Garden City, New York. 

Mr. Ashley died at his home in Frazee on the 31st of March, 
1882, survived by his wife who died several years later. They were 
the parents of Misses Jessie and Agnes and Paul Ashley. 

Jessie Ashley. 

The First Newspaper in Frazee. 

The first newspaper in Frazee was printed on the 23rd day of 
December, 1896. The name of the paper at that time was the Park 
Region, and the editor was A. Delacy Wood. 

I here insert a part of his salutatory opening, and also a few items 
from the first number of the paper : 


We shall dispense with the customary lengthy salutatory and make a 
brief, plain statement of the mission and platform of the Frazee Park Reg- 
ion. This journal has been established as a purely legitimate business en- 
terprise, the material having been bought by the proprietor for that purpose, 
there being no obligation, mortgage or political debt to meet. We have faith 
in the future of Frazee, and this rich region of northern Minnesota, with 
its sparkling lakes, musical streams and great natural advantages, and shall 
do all in our power to aid in the work of progress and development. 
The Park Region has not been started as a boom sheet or political jour- 
nal but is here to zealously advocate and defend the best interests of our 
village and county. 

In politics the Park Region will be independent, free from bias, not 
bigoted or narrow-minded — and will, at all times, evince a spirit of re- 
spect and consideration for those friends and contemporaries who may 
honestly differ with us on the great national issues of the day. Local 
and county matters, however, will receive special attention at our hands. 
Suffice it to say, the Park Region will endeavor to be a journal of local 
advocacy and general news, and we ask for the hearty co-operation of 
all our citizens, irrespective of political affiliations. The Park Region 
will always endeavor to stand loyally for justice and right. 

A. De Lacy Wood. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 313 


Frazee is now assuming proportions that justify the claim of its orig- 
inal founder, Hon. R. L. Frazee, that it is destined to be one of leading 
towns in northern Minnesota. This thriving village contains a population 
of about 400, and is pleasantly situated on the Otter Tail River and on 
the main line of the Northern Pacific Railroad, 200 miles from St. Paul 
and 55 miles from Fargo, and is located in the midst of the famous 
picturesque Park Region of Minnesota which has brought forth glowing 
words of praise from the leading descriptive writers of the country. 

Fifteen beautiful lakes are situated within live miles of this place, all 
abounding with fish, consisting of bass, pickerel, pike and rock bass. 
With the sparkling waves and healthful breezes of these fine lakes, with 
the primeval forest rising grandly in proximity, there is scarcely a prettier 
or more romantic region in the North Star State, — a region, greatly 
favored by the generous hand of nature, that would beggar description 
from the most graphic pen. This point is bound to become a popular 
summer resort just as soon as its advantages are known abroad. 

This place has been incorporated about six years and ]Mr. A. H. Wilcox 
has been president of the council since that time with the exception 
of one term, which ofificial preferment is certainly a handsome recognition 
of his sterling worth as a citizen, business man and neighbor. A number 
of public improvements are contemplated the coming year. 

Many lumbermen do not seem to realize the great pine forests tribu- 
tary to Frazee that can be easily floated down the Otter Tail River. 

Those who have thoroughly investigated this district are loud in their 
praises of the quality and quantity of the timber that is standing, waiting 
to be cut and floated down from the White Earth region to the big mill 
that will soon be located at Frazee. It is roughly estimated that there is 
over 200,000,000 feet of choice pine directly tributary to this rising young 

Frazee is surrounded by a rich farming section, which is thickly 
settled by a thrifty class of farmers, most of whom do their trading here. 

In all probability a large flouring mill will be erected here, while 
electric lights, water works and factories are among the possibilities of 
this flourishing section of the justly famous Park Region of the Golden 
Northwest. May the brightest hopes of our citizens be fully realized. 

It is rumored that Baer Bros., our enterprising merchants, intend to 
erect a large brick store building next spring on their fine corner lot. 

A. H. Wilcox has leased his sawmill here for one year to Minneapolis 
parties with privilege of buying. 

The Northern Pacific Railway completed its many improvements in 
the vicinity of Frazee for i8g6 by constructing a three-span iron bridge 
across the Otter Tail River here. The bridge was placed in position IMon- 

State Bank of Frazee — Organized Jttly ist, 1897. 

First ofificers : Charles W. Higley, president ; A. H. Wilcox, 
vice president ; L. W. Oberhauser, cashier. 

314 -^ Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Converted into the First National Bank of Frazee on Nov. 2, 
1903. A. H. Wilcox, president ; T. R. Daniel, vice president ; L. 
W. Oberhauser, cashier 

Baer Brothers brick block was built in the summer of 1898, and 
L. D. Hendry's block was built the same year. 

Captain D. L. Wellman. 


Captain D. L. Wellman is a veteran of the Civil War and the 
originator of the celebrated Wellman Saskatchewan Fife wheat, 
which at one time sold as high as ten dollars a bushel. 

Senator Nelson once told me that he did his thinking and dream- 
ing in the Norwegian language, but that when it came to talking 
business he preferred the "King's English." 

Capt. Wellman does some of his thinking and all his sleeping and 
dreaming and eating in Otter Tail County, but when it comes to 
talking and transacting business, he prefers Becker County for his 
field of operations. For the last thirty-six years he has been con- 
sidered the link that binds the two counties together, but not the 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 315 

"missing link," for he has never been missing on a single occasion 
during all that period of time. 

Although the captain is an Otter Tail County man by resi- 
dence and force of circumstances, he is a Becker County man by 
choice and long continued hal)it. and is therefore clearly entitled 
to a place among us. 

Since the above was written, and on Feb. 21, 1907, Capt. Wellman 
died suddenlv, at his home near Frazee. 

Chapter XXL 


By Mrs. Jessie C. West. 
The following interesting account of the first settlement of De- 
troit Township is from the pen of Henry Way, nov^ of Osage, who 
was one of the pioneer party : 

In 1865 a colony composed of sixteen families left Iowa and arrived 
in Otter Tail County, July 31, 1865. There were no white settlements in 
that county at that time. We settled at Battle Lake, remaining there three 
years. From Otter Tail Lake to Dayton, over that vast expanse of country 
now covered with cities and towns and past where Fergus Falls now 
stands, there was not a white settler nor a house. As I was a farmer by 
occupation I desired to find a good range for stock where there was an 
abundance of grass, good water and some timber. Having been informed 
by the Indians and half-breeds of the immense cattle range north, five of 
us started out in search of it. We came past what became Otter Tail City, 
then occupied by some mixed bloods. We forded the Otter Tail River 
three times, which brought us to the present location of Frazee City, where 
we found a man named Butler, who claimed that the land was all taken 
by script, and who told us it was still fourteen miles to the "land of promise." 

We camped there that night, he promising to go with us the next 
day and show us the land, rich with strawberries, and only waiting for the 
cows to come to have them with cream. We reached Oak Lake, June 28, 
1868, and were so well pleased with the country that we took our claims 
without getting out of the wagon. L. D. Sperry, A. W. Sherman and 
myself each took a claim at Oak Lake, Mr. Sherman taking the one which 
was since the county poor farm. We at once commenced improvements — 
that is, we started foundations for our houses and left them for the buz- 
zards to roost on and hold our claims until we returned. We then re- 
turned to our families in Otter Tail County. Mr. Sherman came back 
and built a house and put up hay; I also built my house and the next 
spring came with my family. When we were at Battle Lake we had to 
go to Cold Springs, nine miles this side of St. Cloud, for our flour, and 
to Sauk Center for our groceries and all things used by farmers. This 





A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 317 

was 108 miles, and took us from eight to ten days to make a trip. After- 
we arrived in Becker County we did all our trading and milling at Alex- 
andria, distant 100 miles. My friends, think of it; what would you think 
of starting out with an ox team, 100 miles, for a box of matches or a pound 
of tea? Why, I think you would say, "Give me the Northern Pacific Rail- 
road to make the trip with." 

Mr. Sherman was on his farm during the winter of '68, and during 
my absence they got out of provisions; Paul Beaulieu. of White Earth, 
called, and, learning their situation and sympathyzing with them, promised 
them a sack of flour before the setting of another sun; and he was as good 
as his word. All traffic was carried on then with dog sleds, and our mail 
(what we had), was sent from Otter Tail City by the hand of some Indian. 

In the spring of 1869 a party of men in the employ of the Northern 
Pacific Railroad Company came through from St. Cloud. They came with 
supplies, and made my place their headquarters. At that time it seemed 
almost impossible for a railroad to be built through a country without 
inhabitants. During the summer of 1870 we were surprised to see the 
emigration that was coming in. In the year of i86g we were surprised 
to see a train of buggies and wagons coming into our neighborhood. There 
were fifteen of them and they called at my place and wanted to buy a 
sheep. We sold them one, and one of the men informed me they were 
looking for a place to locate a railroad. This man was Mr. Eugene Wilson, 
of Minneapolis. There was also Rev. Mr. Lord, of New York City, who 
invited us to come to their camp at 10 o'clock a. m.. as he would hold 
a meeting. We went, and listened to a good sermon. Then we had 
dinner with them, it being Sunday they did not travel. Gov. Smith, of 
Vermont, was then president of the company; there were senators and 
ex-senators from other states, and physicians for soul and body, and also 
Carleton Coffin, the great newspaper correspondent, who justly entitled 
this the Park Region. 

Mrs. West. Henry Way. 

The place that Mr. Way selected for his homestead was at the 
north end of Oak Lake, on the southeast quarter of Section 7. 
In 1870 he sold his improvements to Mrs. Barbara Stillman, after 
which he located on Section 20 in what is now Audubon Town- 
ship. L. D. Sperry lived there much of the time during the early 
seventies, and Elias Nason lived there in 1885. It now belongs to 
J. Isaacson. 

Almon W. Sherman located on the west shore of Oak Lake, on 
the place that afterwards became the poor farm, and is now (1905), 
the residence of L. O. Ramsted. 

L. D. Sperry selected for his homestead, a place on the west 
shore of the lake in the northwest quarter of Section 7. After 
living there for a year or two he rented his house to a man by the 
name of Sterling, and the first store ever opened up in Becker 



Five generations of the first white women who settled in Becker County. 

A Pioneer History of Beckej^ County. 319 

County, to trade with white people was begun in this house, Sperry 
hving in the meantime on his mother-in-law's place (Mrs. Still- 
man's), at Oak Lake. 

The old White Earth and Red River trail passed close to both 
these houses. Byron Wheeler since owned this place, and lived there 
for several years, in the same house where the store was kept. 

About the middle of December, 1870, Jedediah Anderson started 
a small store in a vacant house belonging to Mrs. Sherman on Sec- 
tion 18. close to the west shore of Oak Lake, in Detroit Township, 
and two or three days later another store was opened up by S. B. 
Pinney, with Ole A. Boe for clerk, in another vacant house belong- 


ing to Mrs. Sherman, so by the beginning of the year 1871 there were 
three full fledged stores running full blast, in what is now Detroit 

C. A. Sherman or Alma Sherman as he was usually called, took 
for his claim the east half of the northwest quarter, and the west 
half of the northeast quarter of Section 19. 

Samuel J. Fox located on Section 15 where John O. French 
now resides, but the time of his location is uncertain. French savs 

320 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

that he was Hving' there when the Northern Pacific Railroad survey- 
ors camped at Floyd Lake in August, 1869, but he is not sure whether 
he had a liousc or not. He also says that he saw Max N'annose and 
Leon Vannose there at Floyd Lake also, but saw no houses. As 
all three of these men were living- with Chippewa women, the 
probability is that they were all living in wigwams, prior to the 
summer of 1870. At any rate, Henry Way is confident that none 
of them wintered there during the winter of 1869 and 1870. All 
three of them, however, had good log houses in the summer of 
1870. The Vannoses both built their houses near the southwest 
corner of Floyd Lake, on Section Sixteen. 

In the meantime John ( ). French settled upon and commenced 
a residence on the farm at Floyd Lake, in the summer of 1870 
where he has lived ever since. 

Melvin ]\L Tyler located on the northwest quarter of the nortli- 
west quarter of Section 34 on the 28th day of July. 1870, and built 
the first section of what was afterwards enlarged and became the 
Tyler Hotel, that stood for so many vears on the north side of the 
railroad, near the Pelican River. 

About the first of September Archibald Mc Arthur took a claim 
on the north shore of Detroit Lake, on Section 35, where the 
little prairie comes down to the lake a little east of the Pelican 

The next settler was Deacon Samuel P. Childs, who came from 
Alexandria and selected the southwest quarter of Section 2^, on the 
30th day of September, 1870. ^Ivs. Childs and the rest of the family 
came on the 22(\ of May, 1871. 

William W. Rossman located on the east half of the northwest 
quarter of Section 34, which afterwards became the Holmes Addition 
to Detroit, sometime in ( )ctober 1870. He had been living for several 
months in Lake Eunice, being one of the three first settlers in that 
township. This land is now right in the midst of the village, and 
takes in the Holmes school building. 

Many of the early settlers will probably remember Michael 
Dalton, who lived for several years on what was since the C. P. 
Bailey farm; the northeast quarter of Section 32. Dalton located 
on this place in October, 1870, and Clarence McCarthy settled on 
the southeast quarter of Section 32 at the same time. Late in the 
fall of this year, Samuel J. Fox took the west half of the southeast 
quarter and the west half of the northeast quarter of Section 34, 


¥. B. CHAPIN. 

1- irst Depot Agent. 

First while bov born in Detro't. 

2)22 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

and built a house on what is since known as the Fox Hill. A large 
part of the village of Detroit is now built on the old Fox property, 
including the Frazee and Holmes Addition and the Holmes Second 
Addition, taking in the Hotel Minnesota and the court house. 

In November, 1870, I selected the northwest quarter of Section 
6 for a homestead, but did not make any improvements until late 
in January, 187 1, at which time I built a log house, and Andrew' 
Tong built a house on the northeast quarter of Section 6 that same 

Josiah Richardson took the northwest quarter of Section 22, 
some time in the summer or fall of 1870. 

Charles Tyler I think located on the south tier of forties of Sec- 
tion 26, since known as the Brook's farm, in the fall of 1870. 

These were about all the settlers in Detroit Township before the 
advent of the New England Colony in the spring of 1871. 

History of the New England Colony. 

Mr. Thomas J. Martin of Lake Eunice gives the following ac- 
count of the origin of the New England Colony : 

At the close of the Civil War, Congress passed a law giving to every 
soldier, sailor and marine 160 acres of land, which could be taken under 
the homestead act. In 1870 the Northern Pacific Railroad Company 
commenced to build its road through Minnesota, and in the winter of 1870 
and '71 Charles Carleton Coffin, war correspondent and reporter for the 
Boston Journal, who in 1869 had accompanied a party of Northern Pacific 
officials and engineers over the proposed route in northwestern Minne- 
sota, gave a series of lectures in Boston, which were listened to by large 
audiences and were published by all the prominent newspapers of the day. 
The result of the land grant and these lectures was the holding of a large 
meeting in Boston in the spring of 1871 and an association was formed, 
known as the Gale Association of Ex-Soldiers and Sailors. 

Mr. Coffin was present at these meetings, and vividly pictured out 
the possibilities of the Northwest. Committees were appointed to visit 
the different states where government lands could be obtained, and Frank 
B. Chapin, Calvin K. Day, William H. H. Howe, Thomas J. Martin and 
Sanderson were appointed a committee to visit Minnesota. 

Sanderson, Day and Chapin came to St. Cloud and there purchased a 
lumber wagon and came the rest of the way with their team. Mr. Day 
was accompanied by his wife and daughter. The other two members of the 
committee, Howe and Martin, were accompanied by Millard Howe and 
Frank Barnes, L. C. Averill and wife, two young men, Tucker and Kimball, 
and the wife and two children of T. J. Martin. They came by way of the 
lakes to Duluth, then a town of 300 inhabitants, then to Crow Wing on the 
cars, remaining there the guests of James Campbell, late of Richwood, 

324 A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 

who kept a liotel at that place, until they could procure wagons to transport 
them to Detroit. They arrived in Detroit ^lay 22. 187 1, where they met 
Mr. Chapin and Mr. Day. who were staying at Tyler's Hotel, it being the 
only house near the line of the railroad. 

On our way through Otter Tail City we formed the acquaintance of Mr. 
and Mrs. E. G. Holmes, who have done so much for the prosperity of 

We found the following ex-soldiers living near Detroit, viz.: William 
W. Rossman, Josiah Richardson, Derrick and John O. French. The 
colony was soon increased by the arrival of Charles H. Sturtevant and 
Martin H. Garry. 

The first store in the village was built by E. G. Holmes and John H. 
Phinney in Tyler Town in August of 1871. 

In the fall of 1871 Capt. William F. Roberts came as an agent for the 
New England Colony, which had purchased all the railroad land in the 
township of Detroit, and proceeded to put up a building known as the 
New England House, which has since been enlarged to the present Waldorf 
Hotel. In the spring of 1872 a large number of ex-soldiers came to Detroit. 
Among them were George Wilson, Col. George H. Johnston, Edgar M. 
Johnston, L. D. Phillips, James T. Bestick, Robert Carson, George A. 
Learman, Milo S. Converse, George L. Brackett, George W. Grant and 

On the l:;ack of this certificate is jirinted the articles of incorpo- 
ration, which are too lengthy to pnl)hsh in fnll, hut the preamhle 
reads as follows : 

Whereas. It is proposed to form an association under the foregoing 
title for the purpose of promoting and aiding emigration of persons who 
served in the late war, and others, and the settlement of families on the 
present uncultivated land of the West (and more especially at present, on 
lands in the neighborhood of the town of Detroit Lake, Becker County, 
Minnesota,) in such manner as to induce considerable companies to go 
and settle in the neighborhood of each other, and thus create a community 
for mutual protection and encouragement, and the early establishment of 
schools, churches, and other needful institutions of society: 

And ll'licrcas. It has been determined that the most convenient 
method of managing the matters aforesaid will be to put all the lands, 
moneys, and property of every description which shall be contributed, or 
may be acquired in the promotion of the matters aforesaid, in the hands 
of one person, to be held by him in trust, and managed for the promotion 
of the business: 

And Whereas, Colonel George H. Johnston, of Boston, ^Massachusetts, 
has been chosen to act as such trustee for the present, and until his 
successor shall be chosen: 

A'oti', Therefore, I, the said George H. Johnston, in consideration of the 
premises and one dollar in hand paid, do by these presents accept said 

A Pioneer History of Becker Couxtv. 325 

Trust, etc., etc. Then follows eleven articles for the government of the 
Trustee and the Association. 

In Witness Whereof, I, the said George H. Johnston, have hereunto 
set my hand and seal, this fourteenth day of June, A. D. 1871. 

George H. Johnston. (L. S. ) 

This association was separate from, and independent of the Gale 
or Xew England Colony, mentioned by T. J. ^lartin in a preceding 

They acquired all the odd numbered sections of land in Detroit 
Township, and laid out the original townsite of Detroit on the south 
half of Section 2". Colonel Johnston served in the capacity of trustee 
for several years at the end of which time for some unknown reason 
the whole of this valuable acquisition came into his hands, and in 
1883 a large part of it went into the hands of Henry S. Jenkins. 

During the spring and earl}- summer of 1871 the following set- 
tlers located on land in Detroit Township : 

Frank !>. Chapin, Calvin K. Day and William H. H. Howe, 
on Section 26, J. C). Crummet on the east half of the southeast quar- 
ter of Section 34. 

Isaac N. Thomas on the southeast quarter of Section 28, James 
Hickey on the northeast quarter of Section 28 and Dewit C. Heald 
on the northwest quarter of Section 28. 

Swan Anderson on the southwest quarter of Section 22, and 
Charles E. Herbert on the northeast quarter of Section 22. 

?\Iillard F. Howe and Frank Barnes and Henry Aliller on Sec- 
tion 14. 

Frank A. Johnson on the southwest quarter of Section 6, and 
Gus. Turnwall on the southeast quarter of Section 6. 

Nelson Heath on the southwest quarter of Section 2. 

Mellville H. Davis on the southwest quarter of Section 8, and 
James Blanchard on the west half of the east half of Section 8, and 
a settler on the east half of the east half of Section 8, whose name 
I have forgotten. 

On Section 10 George Vose and John Anderson. 

C. P. Wilcox on the southeast quarter of Section 18, and Cyrus 
A. Rollins on the west half of the south quarter of Section 18. 

Charles O. Quincey on the southeast quarter of Section 24 and 
Charles \\\ Rand on the southwest quarter of Section 24. 

326 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Israel James Hanson on the southeast quarter of Section 30, 
Alfred Staigg" on the northeast quarter of Section 30, and John 
Lethenstrom on the northwest quarter of Section 30. 

Hannah Collins was living on the southwest quarter of Section 36. 

There was also a settler on Section 20, whose name I have for- 
ten, perhaps two. 

In December, 1871, Lester C. McKinstry, William P. AIcKinstrv 
and Hosmer H. Wilcox took claims on Section 4. 

E. G. Holmes sent his store to Detroit in August, 1871, it being 
the first store opened in the village, and in the fall of 1S72 located 
there permanently. 

The following from the Detroit Record, May 25th, 1872. 

A pioneer association has been organized at Detroit, a meeting of 
which was held at Tyler's Hotel on Thursday of this week. (The 
association has for its object the mutual benefit of its members.) 
Mrs. West. 

A large majority of these settlers were members of the New 
England Colony and many others located in the village belonging 
to that colony. In the spring and summer of 1872 another stream 
of emigrants poured into Detroit from Boston and other parts of 
New England, and in 1873 the influx of settlers was kept up, al- 
though there was quite a falling off as compared with the two 
previous years. The newcomers, how-ever, were not all from New 
England, probably one-fourth of the whole population coming from 
other parts of the country. 

Among the New Englanders who came in 1871 were Robert 
Buchanan, Thomas Louden, Alexander Louden, W. C. Roberts, 
George E. Jepson, Millard F. Howe, Frank Barnes, L. D. Phillips 
and many more whose names I have forgotten and have not space 
to mention if I could remember them all. Many more came in 
1872, and in the spring of 1873 the following came to the village: 
Charles W. Dix, A. S. McAlister, and from other parts of the 
country came J. H. Sutherland, S. N. Horneck, A. J. Clark, Carl- 
ton Curry, Jasper B. Hillyer and Charles Cochran or "Scotty" as he 
is familiarly called. 

Col. George H. Johnston came to Detroit in the fall of 1871 
but went back to ]^>oston, returning in the spring of 1872 to remain 
permanently. Robert Carson came with him as private secretary 
and remained with him for several vears. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 327 

John A. Teague first came to Detroit about the 20th of May, 
1872, but after remaining there a day or two went on to Glyndon 
where a village was just started. About the first of May he took 
a preemption on a quarter section of land on Section 14, in Hawley, 
in Clay County, where he lived until 1874 when he came to Detroit 
and engaged in the drug business, in which he remained until 1906 
when he became a full-fledged dry goods merchant. Mr. Teague 
has made a success in business aiTairs since he came to Becker County. 

W. J. Wood came to Detroit with his parents July, 1872. He 
was then budding into manhood, and went by the name of the big 
Wood boy. 

Some of the members of this colony were lacking in staying- 
qualities, for in the year 1873 they began to scatter away and their 
numbers have continued to dwindle down by removal and death 
until of the three hundred or more who came at diflferent times, 
there is now but a handful left. 

The colony may be said to have undergone a severe and thorough 
sifting process, and those who remain represent the No. i Hard 
kernels of wheat, a fair illustration of the "survival of the fittest." 

Many of the worthy colonists have fallen by the wayside, and 
their bones are now mingling with the soil of Becker County, others 
have made Detroit a way station on their journey to other regions, 
but a majority of them returned at an early date to their old homes 
in New England from whence they migrated. 

M. V. B. Davis came to Becker County with Mrs. Davis about 
the middle of the seventies and located on a farm in Lake Eunice, 
but finding a rural life too dull for his energetic temperament he 
finally located in the village of Detroit and engaged in the boot and 
shoe business in which he has been eminently successful. 

A. E. Bowling, another gentleman who has made a small fortune 
as a boot and shoe merchant, came to Detroit from Michigan 
April 15, 1879, with his young wife and his circumstances now 
indicate what industry and frugality will accomplish. 

Horace Bowman came here first in 1874 but remained but a short 
time. He came again in 1879 with Mrs. Bowman, after the death 
of his father-in-law and engaged in business with his brother-in-law, 
S. N. Horneck. 

Among the pioneer women of Detroit who are still living here 
are Mrs. F. B. Chapin, Mrs. C. K. Day, Mrs. C. O. Ouincy, Mrs. 
J. E. Wood, Mrs. E. G. Holmes, Mrs. W. C. RobertsfMrs. S. N. 

328 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Ilorneck, .Mrs. Charles Craigie, .Mrs. S. B. Childs, Mrs. C. H. Sturte- 
vant. Mrs. K. Rnmery. Mrs. Geo. Wilson and ]Mrs. J. E. Bestick. .Ml 
these came in the early seventies. 

Mrs. S. X. Horneck died in February 1907, since the above was 

Organization of Detroit Township. 

Detroit Township was organized on the 29th day of July, 1871, 
and the first township election was held at Tyler's Hotel on that date. 

The township officers elected that day were : 

W. S. WoodrniT, chairman of supervisors ; C. .A.. Sherman, super- 
visor ; S. J. Fo.x, supervisor ; .\rchibald Mc.A.rthur, town clerk ; 
S. B. Childs, treasurer; Willaim W. Rossman. justice of peace: 
John O. French, constable ; Z. Sutherland, constable. 

When the township was first org^anized it took in all of what 
is now the townships of Detroit, Lake \'iew, Burlington, Erie, Height 
of Land, Silver Leaf, Everg-reen, Toad Lake, Spruce Grove, Wolf 
Lake. Green V'alley and Runeburg. When Lake \'icw was organized 
the next spring-, all of the south tier of townships were detached 
from Detroit and attached to Lake \'iew, and when Burlington was 
organized later on, everything east of Burlington became a part of 
that township, and everything east of Detroit still remained a part 
of Detroit, and when Richwood was organized, everything east of 
that township became a part of Richwood. 

There was considerable non-resident pine land scattered over 
these eastern townships, and they came in for their share of township 
taxation, which in man\- cases was enormous, and which finally led 
to a lawsuit in 1876 with the result that these unorganized townships 
were cut loose from the organized towns and all farther taxation 
discontinued except for state and county purposes. 

First General Election in Detroit. 

The first general election in Detroit Township was held at 
Tyler's Hotel on the 6th day of November, 1871. Millard Howe, 
who was one of the judges of that election says: "The first elec- 
tion in Detroit was held at Tyler's Hotel in November, 1871. The 
election board were : Judges : Frank Barnes, Millard Howe and 

A PioNKER History of EJecker County. 329 

either Isaiah Delemater or Wilham G. Woochvorth, I do not re- 
member which, and the clerks were Charles Doell and either Dele- 
mater or W'oodworth. We played a game of seven-up to see who 
should carry the election returns out to Dr. Pyle's house who then 
lived two miles west of where the village of Audubon is now. Pyle 
was then county auditor, appointed by the county commisioners. 
I got beat, so the next morning I started out for his place on foot 
by the way of the Oak Lake Cut. A little west of the cut I came 
across Dennis Stack who showed me where Pyle lived. 

Millard F. Howe. 

Following close upon the heels of the New England Colony was 
another colony coming from Buffalo, New York and from Dunville, 
Canada. In the summer of 1872 a man by the name of Whitson 
C. Darling, hailing from the last named town arrived at Detroit 
and after looking the county over returned to the East and began 
the organization of a colony with which to people the vacant land 
in the vicinity of Detroit. Our friend Alfred Meilie in his history 
of Erie Township gives us further light on the inside workings of 
Darling and his colony. 

On the 29th of March, the first instalment of this colony 
arrived from Buffalo, and consisted of Mrs. Caroline Trimlett and 
her son William, now one of the merchants of Detroit, then a beard- 
less boy ; ]\Ir. George Neuner and wife and two striplings of boys, 
John Neuner, now of Frazee, and Frank Neuner of Erie Township 
But few more came for the next two or three years and the flood 
of emigration did not fairly set in until the spring of 1876, when 
it began in earnest, and for the next three or four years bid fair 
to rival the X'ew England Colony of 1871, 'yz and 'y^, in the num- 
ber of emigrants it sent to Detroit and the surrounding coimtry. 
They came to the number of about three hundred from Buft'alo and 
Canada in about equal numbers, those coming from Buff'alo being 
mostly Germans, while those coming from Dunville, Canada, were 
mostly native born Canadians of English or Irish descent. Some of 
the Germans located in Detroit but a majority of them took home- 
steads in Erie Township. The Canadians mostly settled on land in 
Lake View, Detroit and Burlington. They were nearly all honest 
and industrious and possessed of excellent staying c[ualities, as 
they and their children now constitute a large part of the population 
of Erie and Lake View, with a good sprinkling of them in Detroit 
and Burlineton. 

330 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

The first white child born in Detroit Township was a daughter 
of Henry and Jane Way, who was born on the north shore of Oak 
Lake in July, 1870. This child died in infancy. 

The first white boy born in Detroit must have a notice. He was 
born Wednesday, the 24th of July, 1872, and his mother was ]\Irs. 
J. O. Crummett. This is Frank Crummett. 

The first death in Detroit Township and in Becker Covmty was 
Almon W. Sherman, who died on the west shore of Oak Lake on 
the 30th day of December, 1869. 

The first people married in Detroit Township were John An- 
derson to Mary St. Clair, by Squire Rossman on the 15th of Feb- 
ruary, 1872. They were married at the home of Samuel J. Fox 
wdio was then living on Fox Hill, now in the heart of the village 
of Detroit. ]\Iiss St. Clair was of mixed blood. 

Clayton Gould and Dee Sherman were the first couple married 
in the township where both parties were fully of white blood. They 
were married at the home of her mother, ^Irs. Almon Sherman, 
at Oak Lake on the loth of September, 1872. 

Henry Way. 

Henrv Wa^• was born at Muncie. Delaware County, Lidiana, on 
the 8th day of October, 1838. He was married to Jane A. Sherman 
on the 7th of November, 1858, in what is now Fremont County, 

Mr. Way is a veteran frontiersman. Born on the frontier, he 
has ever since kept in the vanguard of civilization, having been 
successively one of the pioneers of Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. In 
1865 he was a member of the first band of white people to take up 
their residence in Otter Tail County and he now (1905) enjoys 
the proud distinction of being the oldest white resident in Becker 

As has already been stated, Mr. Way settled in Detroit Township 
on the 28th of June, 1868, and in the summer of 1870 changed his 
residence to Section 20 of what is now Audubon Township. He 
here secured 240 acres of what I consider the best land in Becker 
County, and has been one of the most successful farmers in his 
section of the country, and he was one of the first to demonstrate 
the fact that apples could be successfully raised in our latitude. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 331 

Mr. Way now resides in the village of Osage, and was one of 
the originators, and is now one of the proprietors of the flouring 
mill at that place, a structure of which the people of that village 
are justly proud. 

A. W. Sherman. 

Almon W. Sherman was born at Monkton, Chittenden County, 
Vermont, on the 9th day of May, 1803, and was married to Lois H. 
Cutler on the 14th of May, 1835. 

Mr. Sherman came to Otter Tail County, Minnesota, on the 19th 
day of May, 1865. There were sixteen families in the party, and 
they were the first settlers in Otter Tail County. After residing in 
that county for three years he in company with four other men 
came to Becker County, arriving on Section 18 in Detroit Township 
on the 28th day of June, 1868. His farm was afterwards purchased 
by the county for a poor farm, but for several years past has been 
the home of Lars O. Ramstad. Mr. Sherman built a house and 
wintered with his family during the winter of 1868 and 1869 at 
Oak Lake, with no neighbors nearer than White Earth in one 
direction and the Otter Tail River in the other. 

The winter was long and cold, and provisions were scarce and 
on one occasion, had it not been for unexpected assistance from Paul 
Beaulieu they would have sufifered from hunger. 

Mr. Sherman died at Oak Lake, on the 30th day of December, 

Mrs. Lois Cutler. 

Mrs. Lois Cutler was born at Lebanon. Grafton County, New 
Hampshire, on the 24th day of September, 1788, and was married 
to Alpheus Cutler in 1808. Her maiden name was Lathrop. Mrs. 
Cutler came into Becker County with her son-in-law, A. W. Sherman 
in the year 1868, it being then a wilderness. There were no houses 
north of Rush Lake a distance of forty miles from where they 
settled. They were visited by the Northern Pacific Railroad ex- 
ploring party in the summer of 1869. In this party were Gov. Smith, 
Senator Wiildom and others, and much surprised they were to meet 
on the frontier, the sister of a verv rich and noted banker of Wash- 

T,T,2 A PlONKKK MiSToKV oF ril'X'KKk CnrxTV. 

ington City, as Mrs. Culler assured them slie was the sister of J. H. 
Lathrop of that city. It was her of whom Charles Carletoii Coffin, 
who was with this expedition wrote, as the woman "who had kept 
on the tide of emigration from New York to Nebraska, and thence 
north to this place, and whose locks once whitened with age: had 
under the rejuvenating influence of the .\orthwcst become l)lack 

She was a member of the church of Latter Day i^aints. and a 
very exemplary one for forty-six years. She firmly believed that 
at one time a daughter of hers was miraculously healed by the im- 
position of hands by the ordained elders of the church. 

Her husband, Alpheus Cutler, a soldier of the War of 1812, 
stood high in the councils of their church. 

Mrs. Cutler died at the home of her grandson C. A. Sherman, 
at Oak Lake, on the 23rd of March, 1878. 

Mrs. Lois Sherman. 

Mrs. Lois LL Sherman, wife of Almon W. Sherman and daughter 
of Mrs. Lois Cutler, was born at Lisle, Broome County, New York, 
on the 2d day of March, 181 1. When twenty years of age, after 
two years of sickness, during which time she was nearly helpless 
and unable to leave her bed, she was almost instantaneously and 
permanently restored to health, by an ordained elder belonging to 
the church of which Joseph Smith was the head, who was then 
holding meetings in the neighborhood. 

For several years, during the early seventies. I lived a near 
neighbor to these people, and many times I have heard the story 
of this marvelous transaction from the lips of both Mrs. Cutler and 
Mrs. Sherman. They were both women of sincerity, veracity and 
intelligence, and I was never in the least disposed to doubt the 
truth of their statement. This was the beginning and the foundation 
of their faith in and connection with the church of Latter Day Saints, 
to which they and their posterity for five generations have most 
loyally and faithfully adhered, and bv which in the course of events 
they and their kindred became the chief corner stone of that church 
when it was organized at Oak Lake in the summer of 1875, and 
which now (1905) has a membership of more than 100 souls in 
Becker Countv. j\Irs. Sherman came to Becker Countv with her 

A Pionee;r History oi" BiiCKE;R County. 333 

husband in 1868 and died at their old homestead on the shores of 
Oak Lake, on the nth day of April, 1880. 

Mrs. Jane A. Way. 

Mrs. Jane A. Way was born in Hancock County, Illinois, on 
the 14th day of April, 1842. She was the daughter of Almon W. 
and Lois H. Sherman and is the wife of Mr. Henry Way who came 
to Becker County in the summer of 1868, and she is entitled to the 
honor of being the oldest white settler in point of residence of her 
sex now living in Becker County. 

Mrs. Way has had her full measure of frontier life, having braved 
the dangers incident to the settlement of a new country in three 
or four different states. 

She has been the mother of seven children : viz., Henry A., 
Pliny A., Lois Dora, Nellie C, Fanny R., Clara D. and Arra Ann. 
Of these seven, only Nellie, Fanny and Arra survive. All three 
are married. 

Mrs. Way is now enjoying the fruits of a busy and eventful 
life with her husband at Osage, in a quiet and comfortable home, 
surrounded by everything necessary to make life comfortable in 
her mature vears. 

Cutler A. Sherman. 

Cutler A. Sherman, son of Almon W. and Lois Sherman, was 
born December 6th, 1848, at Silver Creek. Mills County, Iowa. In 
July, 1865, he came with his parents to Battle Lake in Otter Tail 
County, Minn., and in the fall of 1868 came with them to Detroit 
Township. He resided here on the shores of Oak Lake for about 
fifteen years, when he took up his residence at Clitheral in Otter Tail 
County, where he was accidently killed by the upsetting of a load 
of wood on which he was riding, on the 4th day of November, 1885. 

John O. French. 

Johnny French, as he is familiarl\- called, was born at New 
Market, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, on the 31st day 
of October, 1842. Probably no other man in Becker County has 
had a more adventurous career, or been through more dangers 
than he. 

334 ^"^ Pioneer History of Becker County. 

At the beginning of the Civil War he enHsted in the First 
Minnesota Regiment of V^olunteers, and remained with his regiment 
until the close of his three year term of enlistment. He says he 
never missed a meal or a single battle. He was at the first battle 
of Bull Run, Antietam and all the other bloody battles in which 
the First Minnesota was engaged, including the famous charge at 
Gettysburg, in which two-thirds of the men in his regiment were 
either killed or woiftided. 

Murdock Pattison, of Cormorant was in this charge. French 
had his clothing pierced with bullets in three different battles but 
never received a scratch himself. 

In 1864 he enlisted in Brackett's Battalion and crossed the plains 
in Sully's expedition against the Sioux Indians, and took part in 
the bloody battle of the Bad Lands, which was fought on the ninth 
and tenth of August, 1864. Clem. ]\ layer of Frazee. was also in 
this battle. 

French went with the first Northern Pacific Railroad exploring 
expedition as assistant guide and was an assistant in the party of 
engineers that located the line through Becker County. 

He is now (1905) the only man living in Detroit Township who 
was living there previous to the spring of 1871. 

Extracts from the Otter Tail City Record. 

W. F. BaIvL, Editor, E. G. Holmes. Proprietor. 

August 5th, 1871. — E. G. Holmes & Company have sent a stock of 
goods to Detroit. The goods were hauled in heavy wagons, drawn by 
nine ox teams. There were only two houses in Detroit at that time. 

September 30th, 1871. — E. G. Holmes & Company have established a 
store at Detroit Lake, endeavoring to keep pace with the developments 
of the Northern Pacific Railroad. 

December 2nd, 1871. — Mr. Giles Peake has opened a new store at 
Detroit City, in Becker County. 

The cars are running regularly on the Northern Pacific Railroad as 
far west as Oak Lake. 

February 24th, 1872. — Captain Roberts of the Boston Colony is just 
completing a new building for a hotel, on the new townsite. 
Mrs. West. 

Extracts from the Detroit Record. 

The first publication at Detroit was on the i8th of ]\Iay, 1872. 
The editor at that time was William F. Ball, the first newspaper 
man in the countv, a Virginian, but one who lovallv served his coun- 





336 A PioxEER History of Becker County. 

try in the Union army for three years, the most of which time he 
with his command was chasing after Quantrell in Missouri. Ar- 
kansas and the Indian Territory. E. G. Holmes was the proprietor. 

Mr. Ball says : 

I was born at Danville, Montour County, Pennsylvania on the 15th 
day of June, 1843. 

My father was a Virginian, and his home was in Fairfax County, Va. 
He was a Methodist minister (there were four brothers, all Methodist 
ministers), and a member of the Baltimore Conference. He had been 
stationed at Danville, where I was born, but transferred back to Virginia 
soon after my birth, so I never knew Danville as a home. This was 
something like being "born at sea," and I have always called myself a 
Virginian. The old homestead in Virginia was right near "Ball's Cross 
Roads," only a couple of miles from the bank of the Potomac, and right 
across from Washington. Ball's Cross Roads, Ball's Bluff, and all those 
places in which Ball appears in that vicinity, take their names from my 
father's family. I mention all this to explain why I, born in Pennsylvania, 
always call myself a Virginian. 

Mr. Ball edited the Record until about 1877 when he went away 
and a year or two aferwards settled in Fargo. N. D., where he has 
become one of the first attorneys in the state. He was at one time 
mayor of Fargo. 

May 25th, 1872. — Thirty-seven houses could be counted in Detroit 
from one spot. 

May 25th, 1872. — A pioneer association was organized at Detroit. 

June 2d 1872. — Myriads of young grasshoppers swarm on the prairies 
in every direction, and much anxiety is felt by the farmers in consequence. 

June 23d 1872. — Captain Daniel Coney, brother of Ex-Governor Coney, 
of Maine, has completed his residence near Floyd Lake, about three miles 
from town, and removed to that delightful spot this week. (The Byron 
Wheeler place.) 

July 7th, 1872. — Rev. Mr. Wood will preach tomorrow at McKenzie's 
Hall at 10:30 o'clock, followed by Sunday school and Bible class; service 
also at 3 p. m. 

The first brick chimney in Detroit, and we believe in Becker County, 
was put up last week by Mr. W. W. Rossman, who erected two on his 
home. Let it be recorded! 

W. F. Ball, Esq., having moved to Detroit, has resigned the office of 
clerk of court of Otter Tail County. 

Norcross brothers have just finished burning their first kiln of brick 
and finished them as samples. Their bricks are of excellent quality for 
either outside work or a cellar wall. (W. A. Norcross had a hand in 
making these bricks). 

July 20th, 1872.— Charles J. Wright is added to A. H. Wilcox's force of 
men examining the Northern Pacific Railroad lands in Becker County. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 337 

He assisted in the United States survey of this county two years ago, and 
on arrival at Detroit, Tuesday last, observed that something had happened. 


On Friday evening the 19th inst., a few brethren met, agreeable to 
previous notice, at the home of Rev. Mr. Wood to consider the propriety 
of constituting themselves into a church of Christ, in fellowship with the 
Baptist denomination. After due consideration, they agreed imanimously to 
take this important step and adopted articles of faith and a covenant and 
invited a number of brethren temporarily in the vicinity, to constitute a 
council for recognition. — Record, July 2y, 1872. 

On Sunday morning, this council, representing the First Baptist 
Church of Duluth, the Fourth Baptist Church of Boston and the American 
Home Missionary Society, together with the delegates from the newly 
organized church, and finding the proceedings in every way regular and 
proper, resolved to proceed with the recognition. This was fulfilled in the 
evening service in the following order, viz.: 

Sermon and prayer of recognition by the Rev. J. E. Wood of the 
American Baptist Home Mission Society; hand of fellowship by Brother 
J. S. Campbell of the Duluth church; charge to the church by Brother 
G. H. Johnston of Boston. Then was fully organized the first church of 
Detroit, and the first Baptist church west of Duluth on the Northern 
Pacific Railroad. 

July 2^, 1872. — There is only one flour mill in Becker county, and that 
is hardly entitled to be called a mill — the old government mill at White 
Earth of very small capacity. The grain crop of this county for the 
present year would afford plenty of work for a good mill. 

At the county commissioners' meeting, Saturday, June 8th, W. H. 
H. Howe was appointed to employ a surveyor to lay out the White Earth 

D. F. Bradley, of Pembina County, Dakota Territory, applied for a 
license to run a ferry across the Red River, opposite the mouth of the 
Pembina river, which was ordered permitted. 

August 12. — Bishop Whipple held his first service here, at the freight 
depot. Charles H. Rand saw a bear near his claim shanty this week, two 
miles from Detroit. 

On September 30, 1870, S. B. Childs came to Detroit with a horse 
team from Alexandria. 

Archie McArthur was then hauling out logs for his house on Sec- 
tion 35, just west of the mouth of the Pelican River on Detroit Lake, 
when S. P). Childs canie in. The little back building of Tyler's 
hotel was all that existed then ; the roof was covered wdth shakes. 

Aug. 3d, 1872. — George E. Wheeler has opened a blacksmith shop at 

The cellar for R. L. Frazee's residence is completed. 

338 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

White Earth road has 2,800 feet of marsh road to be corduroyed, 2,100 
feet in one string. Swan Olund and J. P. Engberg of Richwood have 
the contract. The read will be ready by October ist. 

"Remember it is the Pioneer store of Detroit." E. G. H. & Co. 
As the grasshoppers took their flight "looking toward the sun they 
seemed like drifting snow, from over 100 to 500 feet upwards." 

August 17, 1872. — Congregational council. The organization of a 
church at Detroit. (On Monday afternoon and evening last a Congrega- 
tional council met at McKenzie's Hall. We are informed that the services 
were very impressive and interesting, and there were present at the meet- 
ings the following clergymen: Revs. C. C. Salter, Duluth; C. H. Merrill, 
Mankato; Richard Hall, Superintendent of Congregational Home Mission- 
ary Society, St. Paul; C. M. Terry, St. Paul; C. Pickett. St. Cloud; A. 
Fuller, Rochester; C. M. Saunders, Waukegan, 111.; S. H. Lee, Cleveland, 
Ohio; E. O. Williams, Glyndor; H. A. Gates, Detroit Congregational Mis- 
sionary, on N. P. R. R. ; J. E. Wood, Missionary for Baptists on the N. P. R. 
R. ; Rev. Richard Hall, of St. Paul, acted as moderator. The sermon was by 
Rev. S. H. Lee, Columbus, Ohio, and the right hand of fellowship extend- 
ed by Rev. E. S. Williams, of Glyndon. 

A church was organized and eleven members were received into the 
same. Several others were only prevented by reason of not having got 
their letters from homes in the east. 

Aug. 24, 1872. — R. L. Frazee's residence is nearly built. The main 
building is 24x36 and 16x24. 

Fred Peake is erecting a large store near the New England House to 
be occupied by his brother. 

Rev. McKinstry, of Colfax, (now Audubon,) in this county, is 
visiting Detroit this week for the first time. He made us a freindly call. 

August 31, 1872. — Frazee and Holmes have this week surveyed and 
platted the 40 acre tract bought of Mr. Fox, and are now ready to sell 

September 2, 1872. — Mr. Kimball Hayden, wife and two children ar- 
rived in town this week from Boston. Mr. Hayden has taken a claim in 
the Detroit woods, (now Erie Township,) purchased lots in town for build- 
ing in the spring, and we understand is to be connected with the sawmill 
soon to be erected here. 

September 7, 1872.— On Sunday last, the telegraph office at Detroit 
was removed to the new depot, since which time the trains stop at that 
place. The new buildings are very convenient and comfortable, and Frank 
Johnson has now everything in order. 

September 14, 1872.— S. B. Childs this week marketed the first load of 
oats raised in Detroit Township. In looking to the great future, this is the 
first rain drop of a great shower. Mr. Childs has threshed his wheat, which 
yields 20 bushels to the acre. 

September 14, 1872.— E. G. Holmes and wife, the latter just returned 
from New Jersey, are stopping at Mr. Tyler's, and from this time on will 
make Detroit their residence. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 339 

September 14, 1872. — E. G. Holmes & Co. are erecting a new store 
22x60 on lots recently purchased near the railroad depot. 

Judge Reynolds is building a story and a half Gothic home, 16x26, on 
land recently purchased of Mr. Fox, which will be finished about Novem- 
ber 1st. 

February ist, 1873. — Rev. I\Ir. Christ the first resident Methodist 
preacher in Detroit arrived April 5th. 1873. The following arrived on the 
train last Saturday, March 29th, 1873. Mrs. Trimlett and son; George 
Neuner, wife and two boys. The party is stopping at Tyler's hotel, and it 
is rumored that Mrs. Trimlett has leased the house and will rent the hotel 
the present season. 

May 31. 1873. — The Congregational church is now completed and 
services will be held there on each Sabbath morning and evening. It is a 
very neat and pleasant chapel, and reflects credit both to our new but fast 
growing town, and those through whose instrumentality it was erected. 

Mr. George W. Grant from Peabody, Mass., arrived Tuesday, June 7, 
1873, Ex- Vice President Schuyler Colfax, visited Detroit on the nth of 
August, 1873, and pronounced the Park Region the most beautiful coun- 
try he ever laid his eyes on. 

October. 1873. — School was divided, and C. W. McConnel was made 
principal. Mrs. Sutherland was retained as teacher of the primary depart- 
ment. The schoolhouse cost $2,500. 

August 30, 1874. — Work on the mill dam on Pelican River is steadily 
progressing. Squire Rossman has charge of the work. The raceway, 
flume and bulkhead are to be put in next week. It is the intention of the 
parties interested to have the mill up and equipped this fall, probably in 
October. The contract for furnishing all the lumber for this work and also 
for the mill building has been let to J. E. Van Gordon, one of the pro- 
prietors of Richwood sawmill. 

September 6, 1874. — Protect your grain and hay stacks by plowing 
around them in good season. Keep down the prairie fires this fall. Save 
all the prairie burning for a concerted attack on young grasshoppers that 
will without fail make their appearance next spring. 

September 5th, 1874. — H. A. Bowman of Bufifalo, New York is at the 
Wilson House. 

September 5th, 1874. — A large black bear has been seen hy different 
parties in the Detroit woods east. It visited the home of Samuel Hamilton. 
D. G. Webster, of Lake View, saw one near his home, and some little girls 
saw one near Detroit Lake. 

If the citizens hope to save the prairie grass for the young grasshoppers 
in the spring, they will need to organize. A strip should be burned on 
either side of the railroad track through every town. 

September 12, 1874. — On Saturday last there was unloaded from the 
Northern Pacific freight train at this place, a handsome church bell for the 
Catholic church at White Earth. The bell was cast at the St. Louis Bell 
Works; weight about pounds and costing $400. 

October ist. 1874. — Once more we call the attention of the people of 
Becker county to the almost vital importance of keeping down the prairie 
fires this fall. Keep them down at whatever cost, and then fire the grass 

340 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

simultaneously in all directions on some day next spring and more will be 
dene toward driving out the grasshoppers than can possibly be done in 
any other way. We have only noticed the light of one or two fires thus 
far and they were a goodly distance off, and perhaps out of this county. 
But even those were one or two too many. Not one foot of ground should 
be burned over this fall. Once more then we say, "Keep down the prairie 

George H. Reynolds, son of Judge Reynolds of this place has formed 
a copartnership with the Hon. Knute Nelson of Alexandria. Mr. Reynolds 
graduated from the law department of the Michigan University with honors 
last spring. He is a young man of fine natural ability with economical 
habits, and starts in the world with bright prospects before him. We wish 
him abundant success in all his undertakings. 

September 9, 1876. — John French with a party of friends last week in 
one day killed 105 prairie chickens. 

Mrs. West. 

After W. F. Ball, A. J. Clark, George H. Johnston, L. Ed. David- 
son, Arthur Linn and George D. Hamilton have successively pub- 
lished the Record. Mr. Hamilton bought the Record in the fall of 
1878 and since that time has made it one of the best and most 
prosperous county papers in the State of IMinnesota. 

The first sermon preached at Detroit was by Charles Doell. 
who ])retcnded to 1)e a preacher. This was late in the summer 
of 1871. He had an audience of about a dozen. Just before this 
he preached in Lake View at C. H. Sturtevant's place. He after- 
wards fell from grace. 

Father Gurley preached in Detroit soon afterwards, at the 
Hemsley house, since known as the Brook's farm. Josiali Dele- 
meter, a yotmg attorney tried to start "Old Hundred" ; he tried it 
twice and failed, so he had to preach without any singing. 
Mrs,. West. J. O. Cruminiett. 

Friend Wilcox. — The old store that you refer to that was moved from 
Otter Tail City in 1871 was built into a dwelling house and has been owned 
for the last eight or ten years by the late M. S. Converse. 

I started the first bank in Detroit in the spring of 1872, and Mr. R. L. 
Frazee was associated with me. Bowman and myself started the bank of 
Detroit on July ist, 1875, and the Hotel Minnesota was built in 1883 and 
opened on July ist, 1884. 

Respectfully yours, 

E. G. Holmes. 

Becker County Agricultural Society. 

On the 13th of August, 1872. the Becker County Agricultural Society 
was organized at a meeting held at McKenzie's Hall, with the following 

A Pioneer History of' Becker County. 341 

named persons as members: viz.: George H. Johnston, J. E. Wood, James 
B. Chapman, Wm. C. Roberts, Robert B. Carson, N. M. McFadden, Giles 
Peake, Geo. Martin, M. M. Bradley, Wm. F. Ball, W. W. Rossman, F. 
L. Woods, A. J. Farnsworth, F. B. Chapin, A. J. Underwood, C. P. 
Bailey, Geo. E. Wheeler. D. Eldridge, L. S. Cravath, W. H. H. Howe, James 
McKenzie, Isaiah Delemater, Thomas Louden, Alexander Louden, John 
Watson, Edgar M. Johnston, George A. Norcross, C. K. Day, Charles E. 
Brown. L- D. Philipps, James T. Bestick, H. N. Gates, M. M. Tyler, Charles 
W. Rand. Wm. W. Hemsley. David Pyle, J. Van Gordon, L. G. Stevenson, 
Charles H. Sturtevant, T. J. Martin, Oliver Taylor and George B. Hibbard. 

The following were elected the first officers of the society: 

President, F. B. Chapin; Secretary, W. F. Ball. 

The first Becker County Fair was held at Detroit on the 5th day of 
October, 1872. — Dctrcit Record. 

Charlie Sturtevant says there was a grove of young poplar trees 
growing in the street in front of McKenzie's store (now Horneck 
and Bowman's), in 1872. 
Mrs. West. 

How Detroit was Named. 

Archie McArthur informed me many years ago that Detroit Lake 
received its name in the following way : A Catholic priest, who was 
a Frenchman, and whose naine was then familiar but now forgot- 
ten, in traveling through the country camped for the night on the 
north shore of what is now Detroit Lake, in plain sight of where 
the long bar stretches across the lake. The water in the lake was 
low, and the dim outline of the bar as it stretched across the lake 
was glimmering in the light of the setting sun, when our reverend 
father exclaimed to some of the attendants, "See what a beautiful 
Detroit" ; Detroit, so I am informed by French scholars, is the 
name in their language of a narrow place in a lake, but in this in- 
stance referred to the bar reaching across the lake. 


When the people of Detroit began to build up their village they 
discovered that they were nearly surrounded by lakes and impass- 
able swamps. 

The old Red River trail passed around the east side of the village, 
and by tortuous windings afforded a tedious outlet to the northwest 

342 A Pioneer IIistorv oe Becker County. 

and the southeast. In order to get to White Earth, or Oak Lake, 
or Audubon, you were obhged to go around by F. B. Chapin's, and 
thence around by the house that A. I. Smart afterwards built, thence 
by where John O. French now Hves, and thence by the north end of 
Oak Lake. To go east or southeast to Frazee or Erie, you would 
be obliged to go to the north shore of Detroit Lake and cross the 
Pelican River where it flows into the lake and travel in places be- 
yond there on the gravelly beach of the lake. To the west or south- 
west there was only one outlet, and that was around by the south- 
east shore of Lake St. Clair, crossing the outlet where it leaves the 
lake. You could go south by passing around the west end of Detroit 
Lake after the outlet was bridged, but before that the crossing was 

The people of Detroit, however, went at the road problem with 
commendable energy. Their first move was to vote a large issue of 
bonds, and the money was expended with equal liberality outside 
the township as well as at home. They built at a heavy expense, and 
unassisted as far as I know, the entire road from Detroit to White 
Earth via the village of Richwood. These roads while expensive 
were the making of the town. From their construction it received 
an impetus that it has kept up to the present day. 

School District No. i. 

On the I2th day of March, 187J. a petition was granted by the board 
of county commissioners to create School District No. i, and in April the 
first legally created school district in Becker County, was organized by 
electing W. W. Rossman, director; \V. H. H. Howe, clerk, and C. K. Day, 

The first common school in a legally created school district on the 
line of the Northern Pacific Railroad, west of the Northern Pacific Junc- 
tion was opened at Detroit on July 2d. 1872, at McKenzie's Hall, with Miss 
Lottie J. Frank, of Duluth, as teacher. Her school continued for three 
months with fifteen pupils. 

In February, 1873, the Baptist church was rented and school moved 
there under the management of Miss Amelia Brigham (now Mrs. J. H. 
Sutherland). School continued there five months. 

In the fall of 1872 arrangements were made for the erection of a 
suitable school building. 

August 30th, 1873. — The new school house at Detroit is all completed 
but painting. — Detroit Record. 

Mrs. West. 

A Pioneer Historv of Recker County. 343 

\Mien School District No. i was first created it took in all of 
Detroit Township and a few fractional sections around the northern 
part of Detroit Lake in Lake View. Soon afterwards all of the 
present townships of Erie, Height of Land, Toad Lake, Wolf Lake 
and Green Valley were added to District No. i. The levying 
of heavy taxes on lands in these unorganized townships led to con- 
siderable litigation and but little money was collected and in con- 
junction with the township taxes led to a lawsuit which was decided 
adversely to the district in 1876 and 1877. 

When R. L. Frazee was in the legislature in 1875, he secured 
the enactment of a law confining the size of school districts to one 
tow'Uship of land, or an equivalent thereto. 

If you will examine the map of School District No. i, which 
takes in nearly all of Detroit Township and a small part of Lake 
View, you will observe a notch or two in the western border, where 
some one has broken out of the district and taken several quarter 
sections of land along with them. 

In the year 1873, the settlers in the vicinity of Oak Lake began 
discussing a scheme to organize a new school district, to be made up 
of the northwest quarter of Detroit Township. They were, how- 
ever, soon reminded by the people in the village that they were in 
School District No. i, and were there to stay. They were also 
further informed that in order to establish a new district it would 
be necessary to obtain a majority of all the voters in the district on 
a petition, and as nine-tenths of them lived in and around the village 
this was out of the question. A law was, however, found by which 
they could be set off as individuals, one at a time, to an adjoining 
district, by the county commissioners by proving that they lived near- 
er another schoolhouse than the one in which they were then 
located, and that their land joined the other district. Accord- 
ingly three or four families living in Sections 7, 8 and 19 were 
set off and attached to District No. 19, or what is now District 
No. 39, in Audubon Township. Soon afterwards, Andrew Ben- 
son in Section 30, was set off in the same way. 

The people in the village watched these proceedings with feelings 
of anxiety. They had just lost five townships through the opera- 
tions of the Frazee law and now the one township that remained was 
in danger of dissolution. 

They were at their wits end, and finally as a last resort, they 
appealed to F. B. Chapin, who was always considered the Solomon 

344 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

of Becker County in matters relating to schools and school districts, 
to see if he could not devise some scheme to prevent the further 
disintegration of what territory they had left. 

Chapin took the matter under advisement, and after playing 
a few games of checkers to sharpen his wits, hit upon the device of 
an independent school district, and in the spring of 1878 the machin- 
ery of the reorganized district was put in operation, a permanent 
king row was established along the line of Audubon Township, and 
the holes around the borders efifectually plugged. 

An independent school district is like Shakespeare's reference to 
"that undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveler returns." 
It is an easy matter to get into an independent school district, but 
by an ingenious device of the machinery, you can never get out. 

Thanks to the sagacity of F. B. Chapin and the workings of the 
independent school district law. School District Xo. i, remains in- 
tact to his dav. 

Detroit boasts that it had the first grain warehouse built on the 
Northern Pacific Railroad west of Duluth. It was built by J. H. 
Sutherland, for thirteen years judge of probate in our county. He 
completed it ready for business in August, 1873. It was the forerun- 
ner of the elevator system in northern Minnesota. The first load 
of wheat was bought from Mr. Peabody of Pelican Lake, September 
4th, 1873. Wheat was brought to this warehouse from points at a 
long distance. From Fergus Falls, Elizabeth, Norwegian Grove 
and Pelican Rapids. During the fall Mr. Sutherland shipped over 
25,000 bushels. The building was occupied by C. M. Campbell in 
1893 as a grocery store, and is now Pelican saloon, in front of the 

The first two car loads of wheat ever shipped from Becker County. 

C. H. Graves and Company, 

Commission Merchants, 
Agents for the Onondaga Salt Com., of N. Y. 
Duluth, September 13th, 1873. 
J. H. Sutherland, Esq. 
Detroit, Minn. 
Dear Sir: 

We report car No. 116 containing 2,2'] 55-60 bushels No. 2 wheat (went 
No. 2 because it weighed only 57 lbs., but was otherwise good.) 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 345 

327 55-60 bushels at $1.06 is $347-59 

Paid freight $49- 19 

Inspection 15 49-34 

Net to you $298.25 

We have received bill of lading on car No. 1272, but the car has not 
arrived yet, probably will come in to-night, on this we advance you 


Total $578.25 

Sent to you by express lith inst $300.00 

Sent to you by express 13th inst, this day 278.25 

Total $578.25 

Yours truly, 

C. H. Graves & Co. 
Enclosed please find rules of inspection. 

DuLUTH, September, 15, 1873. 
J. H. Sutherland, Esq.. 
Dear Sir: — 
Car No. 1272 received yesterday. 

339 25-60 bushels of No. 2 wheat at 1.06 $359-79 

Paid freight 50.92 

Inspection 15 51-07 

On which we advanced 280.00 

Leaving due you balance $28.72 

Which we will send with next package of currency. Wheat is tumbling 
down fast, and we are obliged to reduce price to $1.10 for No. i, $1.05 for 
No. 2, 95 cents for No. 3. We will, however, pay you former prices on any 
cars shipped today or tomorrow, so as to save you from loss and allow 
you to adjust your buying prices to the market. 

Yours truly, 
Mrs. West. C. H. Graves & Co. 

Oak Grove Cemetery. 

The first move towards locating a Protestant cemetery at De- 
troit was made on the 24th day of April, 1874. 

The citizens who took the lead in the matter were Judge Reuben 
Reynolds, Col. George H. Johnston and Rev. J. E. Wood. 

At the meeting held on the above date, it was decided to purchase 
ten acres of ground of Col. Johnston, who ofifered it at a low figure. 

346 A Pioneer History of Becker Couxty. 

to be located in the southeast corner of the northeast c^uarter of the 
northwest quarter of Section 2"] of Detroit Township. 

I was employed to make the survey, and Swan Anderson and 
Russel Davis, a nephew of Mrs. Wilcox, were employed as my as- 

At the request of Judge Reynolds, who was clothed with au- 
thority to arrange for the survey of the grounds, it was decided that 
the blocks and lots, and streets and alleys should all be laid out in 
circles and winding curves, of various shapes and sizes to conform 
to the lay of the land, the driveways and walks to occupy the low- 
est ground, while the burial lots should occupy the more elevated 
locations, by which there would be a gentle slope from all the lots 
towards the alleys and walks. 

Owing to the intricate nature of the survey in la\ing out so 
many curves and circles the progress of the work was slow and 
tedious. A large part of the ground was covered with dense hazel 
brush, which also hindered the progress of the survey, so that two 
weeks were required to complete the work, but the plat of the 
survey made a beautiful map when finished. I wonder if the plat 
is still in existence. 

The first memorial service ever held in Detroit, I think, was held 
in a grove on these cemetery grounds, on the 30th of May, 1874. I 
was engaged in this survey at the time, but suspended my work for 
awhile and listened to an address delivered by Judge O. P. Stearns, 
of Duluth. The only other person I now remember as being present 
on that occasion was Miss Amelia Brigham, now ]\Irs. J. H. Suther- 
land, who was then the teacher of the Detroit school. She was one 
of the singers. 

To the best of my recollection there were no graves there at that 
time to decorate, but there were two or three in the neighborhood 
that received appropriate attention. 

The burial of the dead in the new cemetery began immediately 
after it was surveyed, but as it was not enclosed for several years 
the stakes at the corners of the lots were knocked down, or had 
rotted away so that by 1880 but few of the lots could be located, 
and in the fall of 1882 a new survey was made by C. G. Sturtevant, 
by which all blocks, lots, streets and alleys were located on the 
right angled plan, which was much easier and more quickly done 
than laying out so many curves and circles. 

The Methodist church in Detroit was dedicated June 23d, 1879. 

A Pjonekr History of Becker County, 347 

The Shooting of Harry Byron. 

On the 2d of September, 1873, A. J. Clark shot Harry Byron, 
a saloon keeper, in the head, while engaged in a quarrel in John 
McLelland's office, inflicting a painful but not dangerous wound. 

Byron was around again in the course of a week, and Clark was 
arrested and tried for assault with a dangerous weapon, but escaped 
conviction. This shooting occurred in the building now belonging 
to M. V. B. Davis, and used by him as a shoe store. 


The first election in the Village of Detroit was held March 3, 1881, and 
the officers elected were A. Brooks, president; George H. Johnston, E. 
G. Holmes, and James Hickey, trustees; Robert B. Carson, recorder; W. 
J. Wood, treasurer; C. P. Wilcox, assessor; C. K. Day and W. W. Ross- 
man, justice of the peace and Carlton Curry, constable. The village at 
that time included the whole township. 

The city charter was adopted February 23. 1903; election was held 
March 31, 1903, and the ofTficers elected were as follows: Mayor. E- W. 
Davis; clerk, C. G. Sturtevant; treasurer, W. J. Morrow; assessor, W. C. 
Trimlett; justices. W. W. Rossman and George W. Taylor; aldermen, 
1st Ward. James Hickey, J. T. Reed and O. P. Morton; aldermen, 2d 
Ward, Casper Wackman, A. Skeoch, Jr., and R. W. Moore; aldermen. 3d 
Ward, C. F. Snell. Frank Johnson and L. J. Norby. 

Chas. G. Sturtevant. Recorder. 

Detroit Tov^^nship and Village Separation. 

A petition of the majority of the legal voters of the township 
of Detroit having been filed with the board of county commis- 
sioners asking that a special election for said township be called for 
the purpose of voting upon the question of detaching all of said 
township except Sections 27 and 34 from the village of Detroit, the 
said board called said election accordingly, setting the same for 
Feb, 15th, 1902. The election was held on said day, and it was 
voted to detach said territory. This left the 34 sections unorganized 
territory and they were organized in the usual manner by the board 
of county commissioners, and April 5th, 1902, designated for the 
holding of the first township election. At that election J. W. Cough- 
lin was elected chairman of supervisors, and Byron Wheeler and 
Fred Riebhofif, supervisors ; James Casey, town clerk ; E. Swick, 
treasurer; John Isaacson, assessor; A. M. Hoghaug and Carl Weiss, 
justices of the peace ; John Brink and C. Kraft, constables. 

348 A PioxiiKR History oi' Becker County. 

The John Convay Murder. 

The murder of John Convay, village marshal of Detroit, occurred as 
a result of a feud existing between one John W. Kelliher. alias Big Red or 
Reddy, and one Howard, alias Bulmer, both gamblers and fancy men for 
house of ill-fame. After repeated quarrels and knock-downs these men met 
again on the evening of June 22, 1886, at a saloon in the Masonic Block 
and resumed hostilities, and finally about one o'clock in the morning of 
Wednesday, June 23, the two men, Howard being backed by a gambler 
named Frank Bennett, alias Burns, alias McCormick, met in front of the 
Masonic Block and resumed their ((uarrel; the village marshal. Convay. 
hearing the disturbance came up and attempted to quiet them; the testi- 
mony of the few who were present goes to show that the three were very 
abusive and seemingly anxious for a light; finally Bennett made a move 
toward Reddy, whereupon Reddy fired; at the shot Bennett jumped quick- 
ly to one side and fell flat on the ground, no doubt with the intention of 
misleading Big Red into the belief that he was hit, in order to prevent 
another shot being fired. The marshal seeing Bennett drop, made a rush at 
Big Red, probably with the intention of placing him under arrest, when the 
big ruffian stepped back a pace or two and taking deliberate aim at the officer 
sent a bullet crashing through his heart. Without a word poor "Jack" 
staggered and fell into the arms of Bennett. Reddy did not wait to learn 
the result of his shots, but hurried away. The fatal missile had done its 
work most effectually, having entered the breast slightly to the left, 
passing through the heart and causing instant death. The town was 
aroused and instant search for the murderer begun. Two men, John 
Boutell and George Foster were stationed near the house occupied by 
Big Red's mistress; near daybreak they heard a noise in the underbrush 
near the house and on investigation found the murderer lying on the 
ground, his coat thrown over his head; he had evidently been sleeping 
where he lay, doubtless overcome in part at least from the effects of liquor. 
He was at once placed under arrest and turned over to Sheriff J. H. Phin- 
ney, and was placed in the county jail, where he remained through the day. 

But little business was done in Detroit that day. Men were to be 
seen in small groups in every part of the town, upon the streets, in the 
stores, saloons and alley-ways earnestly discussing the tragedy, and 
the many threatening countenances were ample indications that further' 
developments might be expected, while many appeared anxious, appre- 
hensive and excited, as though waiting for and fearing some terriblei 
event. At precisely ten o'clock in the evening, several taps were made 
upon the fire bell in quick succession, and the fierce yell which immediately 
followed, breaking harshly upon the oppressive stillness, was ample evidence 
that this was the understood signal for an execution by Judge Lynch. 
Farmers for many miles around had been coming into town all day, and 
many men arrived by the evening train from points both east and west; 
the town was thronged with men and at the ringing of the bell a mass 
of humanity surged toward the court house; a sledge hammer was brought 
into use; the sheriff and jailer were overpowered and the keys to the 
jail taken from them, and Kelliher was quickly brought face to face 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 349 

with his unlawful but determined executioners; a rope was thrown over his 
head and the cry "go ahead" was given; with probably fifteen men having 
hold of the rope, and pulling with frenzied zeal the mob left the jail and 
ran wildly down the street leading west, to the house that had been 
occupied by Big Red as a bagnio, and in a twinkling the rope had been 
thrown over the limb of an oak tree, and the body of Big Red was 
swinging in the air; the victim was doubtless dead long before the tree 
was reached, or if not dead certainly unconscious. The scene was one 
of wildest confusion, but all had been done so quickly and so effectually 
that the terrible afifair could scarcely be realized, but the deed over, the 
excited crowds melted away and in a short time the village streets were 
practically deserted. 

Ghorge D. Hamilton. 

The Rev. H. C. Hamilton Dudley. 

The Rev. H. C. Hamilton Dudley was born February i8th, 182 1, 
at Vershire, Orange County, Vermont. In the spring of 1873 he 
came to Detroit as a missionary of the Protestant Episcopal church 
for the northwestern part of the state. He was sent by Bishop 
Whipple and was sustained by the American Church Missionary 
Society. Mr. Dudley had formerly been a minister of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church at Johnstown, New York. 

Mr. Dudley moved to Detroit, May 2nd, 1873, and held his 
first service May 25th, in the Baptist Church. Soon after this he 
leased the property known as the Tyler's Hotel intending to hold 
services in one of the large rooms until a church could be built. A 
room was fitted up for a mission chapel. He afterwards held 
services in Peake Hall, and occasionally in the Baptist and Congre- 
gational churches. Much of his work was outside of Detroit, 
preaching at various towns along the line of the Northern Pacific 
almost daily. His last sermon was preached at Wadena while suf- 
fering from a severe cold resulting in pneumonia from which he died 
at Detroit, May 5th, 1875. 

The burial service was conducted by the Rev. Frank R. Mills- 
paugh, then rector at Brainerd, and the Rev. James Gurley, on the 
8th of May, when there was a terrific rain storm. 

For some time previous to his death, public speaking had been a 
painful task. He writes, "My lungs are bleeding every day. Like 
my old valise, I am simply a wreck." 

A few hours before his decease he said, "I have fallen with my 
armor on." 

350 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

He was buried at Detroit, but his remains were afterwards taken 
East bv his wife. One who knew him in the mission work at ]\Ioor- 
head writes, "His death was a great blow to us all. He was a 
broad-minded, whole-souled Christian gentleman." 

Mrs. West. 

The Rev. H. N. Gates. 

I was born, May 31st, 1820, at Fowler, St. Lawrence County, 
N. Y. When I was about four years old my parents moved to 
Canada, so that from the time I was four until I was twenty years 
old I was an inhabitant of Canada. In 1839, I came to New York 
State and in 1840 I began my preparation for the ministry, and 
entered Union College in 1843, and graduated in 1846. I was mar- 
ried to Miss Mary Chaney, September, 15th, 1846. She was the 
daughter of the Rev. John and Margarette Chaney and was born 
October 9th, 182 1, and died September 23rd, 1890. I studied the- 
ology at East Windsor Hill now Hartford Theological Seminary, 
and graduated in July, 1850, and entered the Home Missionary 
work immediately going to the Yankee Settlement, Iowa, now 
Edgewood, where I labored four years. 

In giving an account of the organization of the church of De- 
troit, I hardly know where to begin my narrative as it would be of 
but little public interest. Suffice it to say that my commission from 
the society was dated January ist, 1872, with instructions to con- 
tinue with the road till it should reach Puget Sound. Having con- 
ferred with Colonel Johnston, who was then in Boston, we determined 
to pitch our tent at Detroit City, then in embryo. We made our 
way to our destination and arrived at Detroit February nth, 1872. 
Our landing was literally on a snow bank, the train stopping op- 
posite Mr. Tyler's hotel to which Colonel Johnston had kindly di- 
rected us. Mr. Tyler kindly took us in for the night, but on inquiry 
if we could be boarded for two or three weeks, Mr. Tyler said it 
would be impossible for him to keep us beyond that night as his 
house was full already. On inquiry, Mr. Tyler could not think of 
any place where we could be boarded, but after diligent inquiry we 
discovered that a ]\Irs. Day would take us for a few days. So in 
the afternoon of Saturday we took up our abode for a few days 
at Mr. Day's. The next day being Sabbath, and not having an 
appointment and few knowing of our arrival, we rested at Mr. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 351 

Day's- During the week following' I looked over the field and 
made arrangements for regular preaching on each alternate Sab- 
bath, the first meeting being held in the unfinished hotel kept by- 
Mr. Roberts. With occasional interruptions, I held services at 
Detroit every alternate Sabbath, Brother Wood of the Baptist 
church, alternating with me. On the Monday following our second 
Sabbath, having failed to find any place to board in Detroit, we 
started on the back track for Brainerd, hoping to secure accommo- 
dation there, but having spent a whole day, assisted by the town 
agent we could not find any place where we could lay our heads, 
so we continued our way eastwards ; and arrived at Duluth on 
Wednesday morning. The search there for a boarding place re- 
sulted the same as at Brainerd, except that we found accommoda- 
tions at the Bay View Hotel, at the moderate rate of $18 a week. 
So I made the hotel the base of my operations, preaching at Brain- 
erd and Detroit on alternate Sabbaths. 

About the first of April, having had a little cabin erected in the 
woods, on a claim which I had made, we returned to Detroit and 
for about four months the cabin in the woods was our headquarters. 

Having proved up on my claim and the traveling into the woods 
having become very bad, we boarded at Mr. Day's while I built a 
house in the village, preaching as heretofore at Detroit and Brainerd, 
and occasionally visiting and preaching at all the points of pros- 
pective importance along the road, as at Wadena, Perham, Hobart, 
Oak Lake, Audubon, etc. 

Mrs. West. H. N. Gates. 

Reuben Reynolds. 

Reuben Reynolds was born at Covington, Genesee County, New 
York, on the 25th day of April, 1820, where he remained with his 
father's family on a farm until his sixteenth year, when they moved 
to the state of Michigan. At the age of nineteen he purchased of his 
father his time and commenced to work on a farm for small wages 
to earn sufficient money to pay his father and go to the district 
country school, and within the short period of four years had by 
his tireless industry and indefatigable labor paid his indebted- 
ness to his father and received education sufficient to enter the 
ministry of the Methodist Church, where he almost at once ac- 
quired a great reputation as an evangelist. His intense earnest- 

35^ A Pioneer History of Becker Couxtv. 

ness and great power as an extemporaneous speaker made him 
famous as a revivalist through all Michigan. 

In 1855 he came to Minnesota with his family in a covered 
wagon, and settled at Rochester in Olmstead County, where he re- 
mained until the spring of 1870, when he moved to northern Min- 
nesota, first settling" at Alexandria, from which place in 1871, he 
moved to Otter Tail City, and a little later, wdien the new land 
district was created, moved to Oak Lake, and a few months later 
to Detroit. During his residence at Oak Lake and Detroit he 
held the position of receiver in the United States Land Office. 
Judge Reynolds did not commence the study of law until after 
he was forty years of age, but aided by his studious habits and 
vast amount of general information he soon became a fine law- 
}er. and in the field of advocacy he had few equals. Governor 
Hubbard appointed him judge of the district court, wdiich posi- 
tion he held at the time of his last illness, which terminated his 
life, March 8th, 1889. 

Mrs. West. Mrs. R. Reynolds. 

Dr. Dexter J. Maltby. 

Dexter J. Maltby, M. D., the pioneer physician of Detroit, was 
the son of Calvin and Minerva (Woodward) Maltby, a native of 
Watertown, Jefferson Count}-, N. Y. He was born April 25th, 
1843. I'he Maltbys early settled in Rhode Lsland, and the great 
grandfather of Dr. Maltby was in the Revolutionary army. His 
father went into the second war with the mother country at the 
age of seventeen, and was in the battle of Sackett's Harbor, lie 
was educated in the graded schools of \A'atertown, and had begun 
the study of medicine when the Civil War broke out. In the fall 
of 1861 he enlisted as a private in the 94th New York Infantry, 
serving a part of the first two and a half years as a hospital stew- 
ard. He was in eight pitched battles, and received only one or 
two very slight wounds. At the battle of Gettysburg he was 
taken prisoner, paroled, and released at the end of three days. In 
April, 1864, Mr. Maltby went before General Casey's military 
examining board and was commissioned lieutenant, but before 
the papers reached him he was taken prisoner at the battle of 
Weldon R. R.. Petersburgh, Mrginia, and was six months in 
Libby prison and at Salisbury, X. C. On March ist. 1865, he 

A PioxERR History oi^ BkckKR County. 353 

^vas sent directly to the camp parole hospital near Annapolis, 
Md., where he had typhoid fever, and where he remained until 
after Lee's surrender. On leaving the service Lieut. Maltby 
returned to Watertown, resumed his medical studies, continuing 
them until early in 1871. At that time he received a certificate 
from a medical examining board and came directly to Detroit, 
reaching there on April 19th, 1871. At that time there were four 
tents, a frame store and log hotel in the place, and but four 
settlers in the vicinity. His practice that season was largely 
among railroad men at Oak Lake. 

He married Lizzie H. Hays of Watertown, New York, 
February 2nd, 1866. They had three children, Jay H., Mabel and 
Anna. Dr. Maltby died at Detroit on the 8th day of June, 1880. 

^iRS. West. 

Frank A. Johnson. 

Frank A. Johnson, the first station agent at Detroit, came 
West with the Northern Pacific Railroad and took a homestead 
on Section 34, and on the completion of the road to this point 
was appointed telegrapher and ticket agent of the company. 
He was considered one of the best agents in the company's 
service. He took a leading part in public matters and was 
master of the Masonic Lodge at Detroit for many years. He was 
a man of strong convictions and of honor and integrity. Mr. 
Johnson died at Detroit on the 26th of December, 1882. 

John Harding Phinney, 

John Harding Phinney was born December 28th, 1S21, at 
Champlain, Clinton County, N. Y. He was married to Martha 
Brockway, September 4th, 1867, at Rockford, Illinois, by the 
Rev. Henry N. Goodwin, to whom v/ere born five children — -May. 
Lizzie B., Eva L., Nelly L. and John H. 

He came to Becker County in 1871 and located on Summit 
Avenue, Detroit. 

John H. Phinney was very promin.ent in all social and public 
affairs. He was at first engaged in business with E. G. Holmes, 
opening the first store in the village of Detroit. He was engaged 
in various branches of trade, until his election as sherifif in the fall 

354 -^ Pioneer History of Becker County. 

of 1879, which office he held for seven years. He took an active 
part in all matters of public interest and in the improvement of 
the city he was one of the foremost. In the early days the people 
endured some of the hardships of the frontier, living in real log 
houses, plastered with mud, with holes and cracks in the floors wide 
enough to see all that was going on down below. Our first tele- 
graph station was a mere rough shanty. The depot was soon built 
and immediately afterwards Bishop Whipple held his first service in 
one part of it, confirming Mrs. W. F. Ball and Mrs. George Wilson. 
Mr. Phinney died on the first day of May, 1890. 
Mrs. West. 

Mrs. J. H. Pixney. 

Colonel George Henry Johnston. 

Colonel George Henry Johnston, the founder of the town of 
Detroit, was born at Boston, Mass., May 5th, 1832, the son of 
William and Susanna Caines Johnston. His grandfather George 
Johnston came from Scotland about 1810 and settled in Boston. 
His maternal grandfather Thomas Caines came from England 
and introduced the manufacture of flint glass in this country, 
starting the enterprise in South Boston when that part of the 
city was largely devoted to cow pastures. He was educated in 
the common schools of Boston. In 1850 he began to learn from 
his father the trade of a glass manufacturer. He worked at the 
business until he became of age, and was clerk for a few years 
in the Boston post office. He started the Sufifolk glass works 
in 1855 ^^^ sold out to his father-in-law, Joshua Jenkins, who 
still carries on the business, the only works of that kind now 
in operation in the city (1879). ^^ May, 1861, Mr. Johnston 
entered the army as ist Lieutenant of Company "E," ist 
Massachusetts Infantry and was promoted to adjutant after the 
first battle of Bull Run. In 1862 by appointment of the 
President, he was promoted to captain and adjutant general, 
and a little later was promoted to lieutenant colonel and adjutant 
general for gallantry at Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Glendale and 
Malvern Hill. He was in thirty-two engagements and received 
only two very slight wounds. He was honorably mentioned 
four times by the commanding officer for bravery and skillful 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 355 

maneuvering on different occasions, and was breveted colonel 
at the close of the war. He resigned a short time before Lee's 
surrender on a surgeon's certificate of disability. After recover- 
ing, Colonel Johnston was in trade for a short time at Norfolk, 
Va., then returned to Boston and engaged in the building and 
real estate business. In 1871, he came to Minnesota to select 
lands for the New England Colony and after extensive examina- 
tions selected 10,000 acres in Becker County, buying all the odd 
numbered sections in Detroit Township. In 1874 Colonel 
Johnston built a flour mill on Pelican River, one mile from 
town and was in the mercantile business in Detroit for about 
one year, selling out in the fall of 1877. He was in the city 
council of Boston for several years, but in Minnesota he kept 
out of political office. For two years he was department com- 
mander of the G. A. R., at Detroit, resigning in 1877. He was 
a trustee of the Baptist Church, Detroit. He married Aman- 
da M., daughter of Joshua Jenkins, Feb. i8th, 1859. G. H. John- 
ston was connected with Suffolk glass works and ran for mayor 
of Boston on the Prohibition ticket. He was a policeman in 
South Boston for some time, and went to the front with the ist 
Massachusetts Regiment and made $25,000 in trading with the 
rebels. The foregoing was given to me by Henry S. Jenkins, of 
Boston. December loth, 1892. 
Mrs. Jessie C. West. 


Saturday, April 27. 1889. Col. George H. Johnston, who has for some 
time been affected by heart trouble, died suddenly at 7:15 last evening at 
his residence, 2023 Stevens avenue. He was sitting at the supper table, 
when he fell back and died instantly. 

Col. Johnston was prominently known in Masonic and Grand Army 
circles in the state, and was past grand commander of the state G. A. R. 

Col. Johnston was a man of literary tastes, an excellent parliamentar- 
ian, and well known as an extemporaneous speaker. He was prominently 
connected with the Republican party of this state, having been a member 
of the state central committee and chairman of the memorable convention 
of the fifth district which nominated Kindred for congress. — Minneapolis 

George Wilson. 

George Wilson was identified with the history of Detroit, 
building and opening the Wilson House in 1872 and retained 
possession until his death. 

356 A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 

lie was an active and honored member of Alt. Tabor Lodge, 
joining in 1873, and there are but one resident and two non-resi- 
dent members who have l)een so long in fellowship with this or- 
der. He served during the Civil War for four years in the 28th 
New York and 43d Indiana Infantry, and at the close of the war 
for three years in the regular army. He was an honored member 
of F. C. Choate Post, G. A. R., at the time of his death. Few 
men were so well known in the countr}- as ^Ir. Wilson who by 
his Cjuiet, unassuming manner, integrity and steady industrious 
life, made countless friends. — Detroit Record. 

Mr. W ilson was a native of Canada, and died on the 6th dav 
of December, 1895, in the 53d year of his age. Mrs. Wilson and 
a son, Frank Wilson, still survive. 

Mrs. Wilson is a full blood native American woman, and 
enjoys a distinction of which any person might well be proud ; 
of being a niece of both Hole-in-the-day and ^^'hite Cloud, two 
celebrated chiefs of the Chippewa nation. 

Capt. Isaac M. Thomas. 

Capt. I. AI. Thomas was born in the county of Cardigan, 
Wales, on Christmas Day in the year 1823. and came to America 
in the year i86r. He was for several years in the cop]:)er region 
on the south shore of Lake Superittr. He came to Becker Coun- 
ty in the spring of 1871 and his family came to Detroit on the 5th 
of June, the same year. He will be remembered as the man who 
ran the water tank and pumped the water for the Xorthern Pacific 
Railroad Company for more than twent}' }-ears. He died on 
the 1 2th of February, 1896. 

Charles Wocdman Dix. 

Charles W'oodman Dix was a native of Boston, Mass., where 
he was born July 26th, 185 1. He lived with his parents in Bos- 
ton until 22 years of age, wdien on account of poor health he 
came to Detroit and resided here until his death ; he was engag- 
ed in mercantile trade here for manv \ears ; was postmaster for 
about ten years : has held various public positions of trust and 
responsibility, and in 1896 was elected for the third term as vil- 
lage recorder. ( )n June 17th, 1877, he was united in marriage 

A PioNiJER History of Becker County. 357 

to Lillie E. \\ood, (laughter of the Rev. J. E. Wood, the pioneer 
minister of the gospel of this entire section of country. He was 
a member of the Unitarian Society of this village and has been 
one of the active members of that society for years. He was 
one of the pioneer members of Alt. Tabor Lodge. A. F. & A. 
M.. in which he always took great interest, and of which he was 
past master. Socially Air. Dix has always enjoyed great popular- 
itv, being personally known to nearly every resident of the coun- 
tv. Air. Dix died on the 27th day of August. 1896. 

George D. Hamilton. 

Joseph E. Furber. 

Air. Furber was one of the pioneers of Detroit, and no man 
was more highly esteemed than he, in this community. A native 
of AVolfborough, N. H., where he was born Alay 13. 1840, he was 
among the great army who cast their fortunes in the West soon 
after t'lie war, and in 1868 he settled in the then small town of Alin- 
neapolis, afterwards going to Chicago, where he remained about 
two years; later to Afilwaukee, from which city he came to De- 
troit' where, in partnership with Geo. N. Seaman, he engaged in 
the mercantile business in 1875, estabhshing the business in 
wdiich he has ever since been engaged, though several changes 
have taken place in the personnel of the firm, which, at the time 
of his death consisted of Joseph E. and his brother James C. Fur- 
ber. He was a conservative business man, Init invariably honor- 
able, and during the nearly quarter of a century in which he was 
engaged in trade here we doubt if a question can be raised as to 
the fairness of the treatment which any patron has received at 
his hands. Joe Furber, as he was familiarly known, was one of 
those men who leave many friends, no enemies, and none to say 
aught but that which is in his praise. He was a single man, and 
for years made his home with his aged mother and his two sis- 
ters, the Alisses Bessie and Eva Furber. 

Air. Furber died at Detroit, on the 2st of Alarch. 1897.— Z^c- 
froif Record. 

AIrs. West. 

Samuel N. Horneck. 

Samuel N. Horneck was a native of Ireland, born in Old Ross, 
County of Wexford, November 13th, 1826, the son of John and 
Sarah' (Boyce) Horneck. He came to America in 1848 and went 

358 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

to Buffalo, N. Y., where he engaged in mercantile business, re- 
maining there nineteen years. He went to Franklin, Pennsylvania 
and from there came to Detroit, Minnesota, in 1873. He was ap- 
pointed postmaster by Cleveland in 1885. He married Anna 
E. Mooney, daughter of G. V. and Eliza (Shaw) Mooney of 
Buffalo, N. Y., December 12th, 1854. He had one son Philip, 
who died in 1892. Mr. Horneck died April 6, 1900. — Detroit 

Mrs. West. 

Mrs. Jessie C. West. 

Mrs. Jessie C. West was born on the 9th day of January, 1849. 
Her life began amid those best associations which have hallowed 
so many a New England home, and there her early years were 
spent, surrounded by the beauty of Berkshire hill and vale of which 
she was never tired of speaking. 

At Pontoosuc, a suburb of Pittsfield. Mass., she first saw the 
light of God's world, the fourth daughter of George and Matilda 
Campbell ; and only a few years passed ere she became a member 
of the Congregational Church of Pittsfield under the pastoral care of 
the Rev. Dr. John Todd, a pastor whose memory she lovingly 
cherished through all the years of her life. 

She came to Detroit with her husband, John K. AA'est. in 
October, 1881, and spent the remainder of her days in that village. 

Mrs. West was a woman of refinement of mind and heart, 
possessing considerable will-power in facing and overcoming ob- 
stacles and difficulties, and a buoyancy of spirit which brightened 
thought and act and made an atmosphere of light around her. She 
loved her home and all about her. 

Externally an attractive and comfortal^le looking house, stand- 
ing in its well ke])t grounds, you no sooner entered the Oaken- 
wald residence, and looked into the eyes of its mistress, saw her 
cheery smile and heard the ringing of her voice, than you were 
conscious that the true home spirit dwelt there. 

When she came to Detroit there was much mission work to 
be done, and she at once entered into it heart and soul. During 
her first year there she helped to organize seven Sunday schools, 
one of which became a flourishing church. She was in full sym- 
pathy with the work of the Salvation Army and was a frequent 
contributor of funds for their support. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 359 

This work and her missionary labors required much journey- 
ing in the neighborhood, and in this she found recreation. She 
loved the country-side ; hill and vale, lake and forest each had 
its charms for her. Skillful in handling a team, with a companion 
of her travels she was often on the road, and was ever welcome 
when they drew into some farmer's yard or stopped at some hum- 
ble dwelling, either among the white settlers or among the Indians 
on the White Earth Reservation. — Memorial Booklet 

Mrs. West took a deep interest in the settlement of Becker 
County and in the growth of Detroit City. With the help of Mrs. 
J. H. Sutherland, she was the organizer and the historian of 
the Pioneer Settlers' Union of Becker County, and during her 
last years was the life and soul of that organization. She had 
long been engaged in collecting and arranging material for a 
history of Becker County, and it is doubtful if such a history 
would have been published for years to come had it not been for 
the zeal and energy of Mrs. West in giving it a beginning. The 
material collected by her was the nucleus around which the pres- 
ent work has grown to completion. 

She was Becker County's representative at the Columbian Ex- 
position at Chicago in 1893. 

Mrs. West died on the 25th day of January, 1903, and was 
buried amons: her native Berkshire Hills. 

William C. Roberts. 

William C. Roberts was a native of Boston, Mass., where 
he was born May 12, 1835, ^''^'^l received his education in that city, 
where he attended school until he was 16 years of age. After 
completing his education he engaged in the commission and fruit 
business in Boston, until the outbreak of the war. In 1862 he 
enlisted in the 44th Massachusetts Infantry, and after serving 
nine months as a private he was promoted to the rank of sec- 
ond lieutenant for bravery at the battle of Rawles Mills, N. C. 
He was assigned to the 55th Massachusetts Colored Infantry 
and remained in that regiment from 1863 until September, 1865. 
He was promoted to first lieutenant in June, 1864, and later to 
the rank of captain, and at the close of the war was presented 
with a brevet commission by the President. He participated in 
many battles and skirmishes. The 55th was the first regiment 

360 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

to enter Charleston, at the evacuation. In front of Charleston, on 
Folly Island, he received a sunstroke and contracted malarial fever. 
He was detached from his regiment and sent to Branchville, S. C, 
with his company in June, 1865, where he had charge of the contracts 
between the planters and the negroes. He was mustered out with his 
regiment in September, 1865, at Charleston, when he returned to Bos- 
ton and engaged in business. He remained in that city until 1871, and 
during that time he was a member of the Boston city council. 
He was connected with different military organizations of the 
city, and was one of the committee on building the army and 
navy monument on Boston Common. 

In 1 87 1 Capt. Roberts removed with a Boston colony to Min- 
nesota and settled in Detroit. He erected the first hotel in 
this village, known as the "New England House." which for 
many years figured prominently in the affairs of the town. The 
house, rebuilt, still stands and is known as the Waldorf. Mr. 
Roberts assisted in laying out the original plat of the town. 

Capt. Roberts was married on May 7, 1866. to ]\Iiss Mary F. 
Bowker, and to them were born sixteen children fourteen of whom 
are living. Last fall, Mr. Roberts entered the soldiers' home 
where he thought to spend his last years in ease and quiet, 
but the end came much quicker than he expected, and he died in the 
home in which he so richly deserved a place on Dec. 25, 1904. — 
Detroit Record. 

George W. Taylor. 

George W. Taylor was born in \'ermont on the loth day of 
July, 1833. In 185 1 he married Miss Sarah A. Ashley who died 
at Detroit on the 15th of August, 1905. 

Mr. Taylor came to Detroit with his family in 1876, which 
village he made his home during the rest of his life. He was 
for several years connected with the Minnesota Agricultural 
Society, and was for a long time a justice of the peace in Detroit. 

Mr. Taylor died at Detroit on the 8th day of October, 1905, 
survived by two daughters, Mrs. George Dimond and Mrs. 
Everett Davis, both of Detroit. — Detroit Record. 

A PiOiXEER History of Bkckkr County. 361 

Carlton Curry. 

Carlton Curry was a native of Ontario, Canada, where he was 
born July loth. 1826. 

]\Ir. Curr}- came to I\Iinnc^^ota in 1856, settling;- in ( )lnistea(l 
Count}'. In 1864 he enlisted in Company C, 9th Minn. Inf. in 
which he served until the close of the war and he was honorably 
discharged June 2d, 1865. 

Mr. Curry came to Detroit May 26ih, 1873, and he has lived 
here continuously for thirty-two years. For many years he was 
engaged in the liver}' business, in which he was the pioneer in 
this section. He was, until \ery recent years, a man of robust 
constitution, and he was a prominent figure in the early history 
of the town. For many }'ears, and in the strenuous pioner days 
of the village, he was the peace officer of the town in the capac- 
ity of marshal, for which he was exceptionally well cjualified. 
He died in the Swedish hospital, in Minneapolis, on Saturday, 
March 25th, 1905. — Detroit Record. 

Rev. John E. Wood. 

John E. A\"ood w^as a native of Gloucester. Rhode Island, 
where he was born April 14th, 1825. His youth and young man- 
hood were spent in the vicinity of his birthplace. In 1850, at 
Mystic, Conn., he married Miss Annie E. Burrows, wdio with 
two sons and a daughter survive him. They are W. J. Wood 
and Mrs. L. E. Dix, of this city, and F. E. Wood, of Bucklin, 
Kans. Another daughter, Mrs. May Johnston, died in Califor- 
nia several years ago. 

At the age of twenty-five years Mr. Wood entered the minis- 
try, and in this calling" he successfully directed his energies for 
nearly half a century. He held a number of pastorates in his 
native state, and in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Early in 
his career his attention was turned in the direction of politics, he 
being elected a member of the Massachusetts legislature in 1855 ; 
but after serving one term he returned to the pulpit and was 
thereafter called to the pastorates of Xew Bedford. Providence 
and Groton. 

Early in the year 1862, when it became apparent that the 
civil war was to be more than a passing unpleasantness, and the 
president called for 300,000 more men to defend the Union, John 
E. Wood took such action as has been characteristic of his whole 


A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

life. He had been stationed at Groton, Conn., for several years, and 
we quote from a local newspaper of that time the following which 
shows his capacity, in his young and vigorous manhood, as a man of 
action and a leader of those with whom he was associated. The 
article referred to recites the prompt action on the part of the 


citizens of Groton in raising their cpiota in res])()nse to the Presi- 
dent's call, and adds : 

The war commiUee called on Rev. John E. Wood, a popular Baptist 
minister of the town, whose patriotism and proverbial energy were well 
known, to open a recruiting office to insure men of the right stamp. Par- 
son Wood, after sleeping over the proposition one night, concluded the call 
of his country was the call of God; he left his flock, flung out the stars 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 363 

and stripes at Mystic, and the last we heard of him he had 100 men, the 
best blood of Groton, if physical bearing and the highest social, moral and 
religious standing have any weight. Rev. Mr. Wood, when his company 
was full, was unanimously chosen captain and enters the 21st regiment with 
the benediction of a multitude of admiring friends, and we believe they will 
not disappoint their expectations. 

Mr. Wood went to the front with his regiment, the 21st 
Connecticut, and the following year he was dicharged for dis- 
ability, by order of Major General Sumner, near Falmouth, Va., 
and thereafter he resumed his pastoral work in New England, 
in which he continued until 1871. 

With the building of the Northern Pacific Railroad a new 
empire was to be opened. This frontier work appealed to Mr. 
Wood and his exceptional qualifications for effective service be- 
ing recognized he was appointed missionary for the Baptist so- 
ciety, his field covering the entire line of the Northern Pacific 
Railroad. He came with his family to Duluth in 1871, and ever 
since that time he has been identified with the growth and devel- 
opment of the Northwest. As Northern Pacific missionary, 
which position he held for three years, until 1874, he established 
churches at many of the towns as they sprung up along the line 
of the railroad, among these being Brainerd and Detroit. On 
July 2d, 1872, he removed to Detroit with his family and estab- 
lished his church there, at that time the frontier of civilization and 
progress in the new Northwest. 

In 1874 he was appointed general missionary for the Baptist 
church in Minnesota, continuing in that capacity until 1878. In 
the years following his work was varied. He was called to the 
pastorate of the Detroit church, and later to that of St. Cloud, 
and in whatever field his lot was cast he was an earnest laborer 
and a tower of strength in the cause of his Master. 

He performed the first marriage ceremony ever solemnized 
in Becker County, in October, 187 1, and he has probably joined in 
wedlock more people than any other minister in this state. 

Mr. Wood died at Detroit on the ist of February, 1905. 

George D. Hamilton. 

William W. Rossmas. 
Wm. W. Rossman was born in Clinton County, New York, 
Aug. 27th, 1829. His mother was a sister of Bishop Hedding 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church. His youth and young man- 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 365 

hood were spent in his native state where he was employed in his 
father's woolen mill, and later took up the trade of millwright. 
In 1853 he came West, locating in Wisconsin, where he remained 
three years, then removing to Glencoe, Minnesota. On the out- 
break of the Indian war he took part in that conflict, afterwards 
serving as a private in Company E, 153rd Indiana Infantry for seven 
months, and was discharged on account of poor health. On the 
29th of May, 1870, he came to Becker County and located in Lake 
Eunice Township and came to Detroit three or four months 
afterwards and took a government homestead on the east half 
of the northwest quarter of Section 34 of that township, on what 
now comprises a large part of the residence portion of the city. 
During his long residence in Detroit Mr. Rossman held various 
county, village and city ofifices, and took a prominent part in the 
progress of the town during its pioneer period. He was most 
congenial by nature, and made friends of all with wdiom he came 
in contact. 

Mr. Rossman was for many years a member of the Masonic 
fraternity, and also of the G. A. R. post from the time of its or- 

Mr. Rossman was married at Glencoe in 1858 to Mary Jane 
McClelland, who with four children, one son and three daugh- 
ters survive him. 

The family lived here over thirty years, and removed to Spo- 
kane two years ago. His son Frank Rossman has for the last 
twenty years been an esteemed citizen of Park Rapids, Hubbard 

Mr. Rossman died at Spokane Falls, Wash., on the 8th day of 
July, 1906. 

Myla Seamans Converse. 

Myla Seamans Converse was born in Schroon, Essex County. 
New York, March 19th, 1843. Mr. Converse was a descendant 
of Deacon Edward Converse the minister in charge of the con- 
gregation that was brought to this country by Gov. John Winthrop. 
in 1620 as governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and is of 
Norman French descent. Pie moved with his father, in March, 
i860, to Webster, Mass.. where he was employed in S. S. Slater 
and Son's woolen mill till 21st of May, 1861. He enlisted for 
three years or during the war in Company I, 15th ^Massachusetts 


A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Volunteers, and served throughout the war. The first engage- 
ment in which he participated was the battle of Ball's Bluff, 
V^a., in October, 1861. In that battle his brother William Frank- 
lin Converse was captured, and afterward died in Libby Prison, 
Richmond, Va. In March, 1862, the regiment in which Myla S. 
Converse was enlisted went to Harper's Ferry, Va., crossed the 


Potomac at Harper's Ferry and went to Winchester, Va., with 
General Shields. After General Stonewall Jackson was driven 
out of Winchester, his division. Gen. John Sedgewick in com- 
mand, returned to Washington ; took steamers at Washington, 
going down the Potomac to Fortress Monroe, Va. From Vir- 
ginia they went to Yorktown where the division was assigned 
to the Second Army corps then commanded by Gen. E. V. Sum- 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 367 

ner. After the evacuation of Yorktown they went to West Point, 
Va., on the York River, by steamers, where they disembarked 
and had an engagement with the enemy. From there they took 
the boat again and went to White House Landing where they dis- 
embarked, crossed the peninsula to the Chickahominy where 
they took part, together with the First Minnesota, in building the 
great Grape Vine Bridge on which General Sumner moved his 
corps across to the opposite side of the river to reinforce the left 
wing of the General Casey's army on the 31st of May, 1862, dur- 
ing the battle of Fair Oaks. In this engagement about four 
o'clock in the afternoon, the 15th Massachusetts arrived on the 
field and immediately became engaged. At about half past four 
Converse was severely wounded in his right thigh, the thigh 
bone being broken, and just as he was to be carried from the 
field he received another wound through the right hand. He 
was sent back with others of the wounded to White House 
Landing where he took a steamer for Philadelphia. He was 
in a hospital on Wood Street near 226. Street from about the 6th 
or 7th day of Jime, 1862, until the latter part of July when he 
received a furlough and went home for thirty days. 

He reported again to his company for duty at Sharpsburg, 
Va., on the morning after the battle of Antietam. From there he 
went with the Army of the Potomac to Falmouth, Va., where his 
regiment participated in the battle of Frederick City, Va., fought by 
General Burnside. After this engagement the wound in the leg 
gave Mr. Converse some trouble in regard to marching, and he 
enlisted in the First L'nited States Cavalry, under an order from 
the AA'ar Department, for the term of three years. He was as- 
signed to Company E. He accompanied the company to the front 
where the first Cavalry was assigned to what is known as the Re- 
served Brigade of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, 
then commanded by General Stoneman. Their first engagement 
was at Kellysford, Va., on the 17th day of March, 1863. This was 
at the beginning of General Stoneman's raid. Their other engage- 
ments were at Beverly's Ford, June loth, 1863 ; Goose Creek, June 
19th; Upperville, June 21st; Gettysburg, July 3rd; Williamsport, 
Md., July 6th: Boonesville, July 8th: Falling Water. July 15th; 
Manassas Gap, Md., July 21st; Brandy Station. August ist, and 
August 3rd: at Mine Run, Va., Dec. 5th: on General Custer's 
raid, Feb. 28th and 29th, 1864: at Spottsylvania, May 7th; in the 

368 A ProNEER History of Becker County. 

Wilderness, Ya.., Alay 8th ; on General Sheridan's raid, MaY 9th 
to 14th; at Beaver Dam, ATay loth ; Yellow Tavern, Mav nth: 
Chickahominv River, May 12th, (here again he received another 
slight wound on his right arm just below the shoulder, which, 
however, did not lay him up from service); Horseshoe Shop 
May 28th; at Cold Harbor, May 30th and 31st; at Brevilian Sta- 
tion, June 1 2th ; at Deep Bottom, July 2Sth ; at Newton, Aug. 12th 
Sheperdstown, Aug. 29th; at Winchester, Sept. 19th ; at Willford, 
Sept. 23rd ; at Waynesboro. Sept. 28th ; at Edinburgh. Oct. 8th 
and 9th ; at Cedar Creek, Oct. 19th ; on the Gordonsville raid, 
Dec. 20th to 28th; on the Loudon \'alle}' raid, Jan. 5th to 8th, 
1865 ; at Waynesburgh, Mar. 21st ; Dinwiddie Court-House March 
30th; at Five Forks, \^a., April ist, April 2d and April 3(1, i8f)5; 
at Evergreen Station, April 8th ; at the surrender of General Lee's 
army of Appomattox, April 9th, 1865. 

These engagements are copied frc^m the back of his discharge, 
which discharge he received from Company E. first United States 
Cavalry, approved l)y A. G. l^rackett. Colonel commanding first 
United States Cavalry, also attested and approved by Major Gen- 
eral Philip S. Sheridan, commanding Department of the Gulf. 

He was detailed in the spring of 1865, just before the surren- 
der of Lee's army, to report to General Sheridan's headquarters, 
then being a sergeant of Company E, to take command of orderlies : 
went from A\'ashington to New Orleans with General Sheridan 
when he went down to take command of the Department of the 
Gulf. He was mustered out at New Orleans on the 17th day of 
December, 1865. 

He came to Becker County in the spring of 1872 and settled 
in Lake Eunice Township where he resided for many years. 

His first wife to whom he was married on December 26, i860, 
was Mary Emerson of Thompson, Connecticut, who died in Lake 
Eunice, February 27th. 1881. 

He held the office of military storekeeper during the adminis- 
tration of Governors Nelson and Clough when he was displaced 
by Gov. Lind on the first of January, 1899. 

Mr. Converse was married the second time to Mrs. Grace 
Nuttle on the 24th day of June, 1883. 

The last few years of his life were spent in the village of De- 
troit where he died on the 9th of November. 1905. He leaves 
surviving him his wife and two sons. Philip S. Converse, present 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 369 

register of deeds, Becker Co., Minn. ; W. F. Converse, assistant 
chief deputy inspector of grain, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Philip S. Converse. 

James T. Bestick. 

James T. Bestick was born October i6th, 1840, at Henderson, 
Granville county, North Carolina. He moved to Massachusetts 
when about five years old, settling in South Braintree. He re- 
ceived his education in the common schools of that town, nuit- 
ting school at the age of fifteen and went to work in a boot manu- 
facturing shop. Was a member of the Braintree Light Infantry, 
Company C, 4th regiment AI. V. M. At the breaking out of the 
rebellion he went with his regiment to Fortress Monroe. Leav- 
ing home April i6th, 1861, he arrived at Fortress Monroe and 
went on guard April 20th. Went from Fortress Monroe to New 
Port News and after serving three months returned home and 
remained at home about a year. August 6th, 1862, he re-enlisted 
in Company E, 14th Massachusetts, afterwards the ist Mass. H. 
A. He took part in all the campaigns of his regiment until June 
22nd, 1864, when before Petersburg he was captured and about 
two hundred of his regiment were taken by way of Pjelle Isle, 
Libby Prison, Lynchburg and Danville, to Andersonville, arriv- 
ing there July 12th, 1864, and was removed from Andersonville 
to Florence, S. C, in September, 1864. He remained a prisoner 
until February 26lh, 1865, when he was paroled at Wilmington, 
N. C. He v/as sent home and discharged at Boston, March 30, 
1865. During his incarceration he was reduced in weight from 
^53 to 98 poiuids, was nearly blind and afflicted with scurvv. Be- 
fore enlisting the second time he was married to Miss Hannah 
W. Raymond, leaving his wife at home with his parents. After 
partly recovering his health he went to work at his old trade. In 
the spring of 1872 he removed with his family to Detroit, Min- 
nesota, arriving here April 9, 1872. He built a small house and 
moved into it early in June and claimed to be the first man to 
move into a dwelling house on the original townsite of Detroit. 
He took up the business of shoemaking which he followed for 
a number of years. After coming to Detroit he has followed 
various avocations, shoe making, carpenter, cooper, was in the 
grain warehouse with J. H. Phinney and was his deputy sheriff 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 371 

I for three years. He held various offices of trust : supervisor, con- 

stable, assessor, v^'as a member of the board of education for elev- 
ij en years, deputy clerk of court under L. C. McKinstry, deputy 

I auditor under A\'. J. ^Morrow, and in the fall of 1892 was elected 

j judge of probate of the county, re-elected in 1894 without op- 

position. He was superintendent of the Oak Grove cemetery 
from its organization in 1883 until his health failed. He was a 
member of the Lakeside band from its organization until 1890. 
He was a charter member of Lakeside Lodge 105, L O. O. F. 
He became a member of the G. A. R. in 1867 and retained his 
membership ever since until his death which occurred the 22nd 
of August, 1906. 

James T. Bestick is survived by his wife, one son, Elmer J. 
Bestick, of this city, and one daughter, Mrs. Chas. Liscom, of 
Kansas City. 

George D. Hamit,ton. 





A PioNKiJR History of Buckkr County. 373 

Chapter XXII. 


By Petkr a. O. PktersoxX. 

The first settlers in Aiululjon Township, were Christen An- 
derson, John F. Beaver and Fred. Johnson. Beaver and Ander- 
son were both married men and their wives came with them, and 
they were tlie first white women to settle in what is now Audu- 
bon Township. There was also an infant girl in the Anderson 
family when they came. Her name is Annie. 

Neither the township or section lines had been run in this 
part of the county, so none of these settlers had any means of 
knowing what section they were living on for a whole year. 

These three settlers came to this township on the 28th of June, 

Christ. Anderson took what is now the west half of the west 
half of Section 6; John Beaver the east half of the southwest 
quarter and the west half of the southeast quarter of Section 6; 
Fred Johnson located on the southeast quarter of Section 7. 

Soon after this time a man by the name of Talmage, a single 
man of eccentric character squatted on what is now Section 20, 
and after living there less than a year in a dugout, left the coun- 

( )n the 6th of September. 1869, Buckley B. Anderson came in- 
to the township with his wife and a family of eight children, five 
of whom were fully grown, and settled on what are now Sec- 
tions 17 and 20. The oldest daughter of the Andersons, who is 
the wife of Jackson Burdick came with her husband and three 
children in the same party with the Andersons. Burdick took 
his land also on Sections 17 and 20. 

B. B. Anderson opened u]) a store about the first of November, 
1870. at his residence, which was the first store in what is now 
Audubon Township. Harvey Jones who came with the xA^nder- 
son's located on the southeast quarter of Section 18. Jones soon 
afterwards sold his improvements to David Beverage who came 
sometime in the fall of 1869. and took another claim on Section 
34, in Lake Park Township, about a year afterwards. 

374 -"^ Pioneer History oe Becker County. 

Dr. David Pyle took a claim which inchided a part of Sections 
i6 and 17 and brought his family in the spring of 1870. 

M. L. Devereaux was in this township during the winter of 
1869 and 1870 but took a homestead on Section 10 of Lake Park 
the next year. His land is now a part of the celebrated Canfield 

The following settlers came to Audubon Township in about 
the order in which they are named : 

Elling Carlson, Section 6, June 20th, 1870; Gunder Carlson, 
Section 6. June 20th. 1870; Martinus Johnson, Section 9, June 
23rd, 1870; Sevald Reep, Section 5, June 24th, 1870; Jens Simon- 
son, Section 16, June 24th, 1870; Andrew Jensen, Section 17 
June 24th, 1870; Simon Jensen, Section 16, June 24th, 1870: I. 
T. Knudson, Section 16, June 25th, 1870; Chris. Olson, Section 
18, June 26th. 1870; Ole Peterson, Section 4, June 30th, 1870; 
Peter A. O. Peterson, Section 4, June 30th, 1870; John O. John- 
son, Section 30. June 30th, 1870; Andrew Olson, Section 16, 
July 4th, 1870; Jacob Anderson, Section 13, July 6th, 1870; Erick 
P. Skeim, Section 15, July 6th, 1870; Louis Thompson, Section 14. 
July 6th, 1870; Martha M. Quigne, Section 14, July 6th, 1870; 
Brede Arneson, Section 14, July 15th, 1870; Ole Larson, Section 
23, July, 1870; Gustave Erickson, Section 27, Aug. 28th, 1870; 
Lars Knudson, Section 34, Aug. 28th, 1870; Joseph R. Marshall, 
Section 30, Aug. 28th, 1870; William Robinson, Section 30, Aug., 
1870; Walter R. Gregory, Section 20, Aug., 1870; Moody Cook, 
Section i, 1870; A. M. Beaver, Section 6, Sept. ist, 1870; John 
Gulbranson, Section 8, Sept. ist, 1870; Henry J. Larson, Section 
10, Oct. 8th, 1870; Paul C. Sletten, Section 24, 1870; Guy Good- 
rich, Section 24, March, 1871 ; John Cook, Section 22, April, 1871 ; 
F. K. Small, Section 16, April, 1871 ; L. C McKinstry, Section 12, 
April 25th, 1871 ; James G. McGrew, Section 10, May ist, 1871 ; 
Rasmus Boyer, Section 6. May ist. 1871 ; Hans H. GHnstad, 
Section 26, June, 1871 ; Gilbert Rosten, Section 26, June 15th. 
1871 ; Jacob Fargerlie, Section 26, June 15th, 1871 ; Halver Grunt, 
Aug., 1871 ; Ole Danielson, Section 28; A. S. Danielson, Section 
28; William McKinstry, Jr., Section 12, June, 1871 ; T. Longtine, 
Section 31, 1871 ; William P. McKinstry, Sr., Sept. 10, 1871 ; Sivert 
Reep, 1871 ; John Larson, Section 2, 1871 ; Carl Stave, Section 24, 
1871 ; Ole Boardson, Section 12, 1871 : P. P. Wall, Section 12, 
May 1st, 1871; Willis Smith, Section 2, 1871 : Malcolm McDonald, 

A PioxEER History of Becker Couxty. 375 

Section 2, 1871 ; Olof Erickson, Section 28, 1871 ; Nels N. Elton, 
Section 21, May 22nd, 1872; Michael Oschner, Sept., 1873. 

Elling Carlson, who was one of the first to come into the town- 
ship in the snmmer of 1870, selected his claim and returned to 
his former home, leaving his brother, Gunder Carlson in charge 
of both claims and remained away until the spring of 1871 when 
he returned to Section 6 of this township with his family. 

Andrew Olson's family did not arrive until the spring of 1871. 

Christen Anderson one of the first three settlers of this town- 
ship was born in Norway, February 19th, 1835, came to xA.merica 
in 1865, and died about the 20th of November, 1906. 

John Beaver was about the same age of Chris. Anderson, but 
came to America several years sooner and was a soldier in our 
Civil War. He was a member of the first board of county com- 
missioners of Becker County, and was the first clerk of the dis- 
trict court elected by the people. 

Mr. Beaver died of consumption May 17th, 1873. 

Fred Johnson was born in Norway, and came to the United 
States when young. He is still living in the township. 

Sevald Reep was born in Norway on the 13th day of Febru- 
ary, 1835, came to America in 1866. He died May 4th, 1879. 

The first child born in Audubon Township was Olaus Reep, 
son of Sevald Reep, who was born on the 29th day of July, 1870. 

The first death in the township was that of Mrs, John F. 
Beaver, who died about the first of March, 1870. 

The first marriage in the township was that of John Mason 
to Annie L. Larson, who were married at Oak Lake Cut on the 
30th day of January, 1872, by James G. McGrew, justice of the 
peace. Mason was a saloon keeper and afterwards lived for sev- 
eral years at Lake Park. 

The first school in the township was taught by Nancy M. 
Comstock in the fall of 1871 in a log building on the land of 
Henry Way on Section 20. 

On the 30th of September, 1871, the board of county commis- 
sioners declared all of Township 139. Range 42, or w'hat is now 
Audubon Township, established or created into one school dis- 
trict, to be known as School District No. i. The legal voters 
of the district proceeded to organize by electing a board of school 
officers and hired a school teacher who began a term of school 

376 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

that fall, it being the first school taught in Becker County, out- 
side the White Earth Reservation. 

It was afterwards discovered that the creation of the school 
district was illegal, as there had been no petition presented to the 
board, and the creation of the district was annulled, and Detroit 
Township made District Xo. i. 

The township was organized on the 19th day of August. 1871. 
and the first tow^nship election was held at the house of John F. 
Beaver at that date. 

Walter R. Gregory was chosen moderator, and John Cook and 
B. B. Anderson judges of election. They were sworn in by 
David Pyle, a Notary Public. 

The following township officers were elected: 

A\\ R. Gregory, chairman of board of supervisor;^ : David 
Pyle, John Cook, supervisors ; Henry J. Larson, town clerk ; Buck- 
ley B. Anderson, assessor; Guy H. Goodrich, treasurer; Jacob 
Anderson, F. K. Small, constables ; James G. McGrew, Henry 
Way, justices of the peace. 

The township was organized under the name of Windom ; in 
January, 1872, changed to Colfax; in September, 1872, changed 
to Oak Lake and on January 2d, 1881, changed to Audubon. 

The Northern Pacific Railroad Company surveyed its line 
through the township in the fall of 1870 and towards the close 
of the year a camp and supply station were established at Oak 
Lake Cut, the former by Mr. Brackett the contractor and the 
latter by Fletcher and Bly, who had the contract to suppl}' 
the grading crews. Hubbard and Raymond also put in a 
stock of goods in the spring of 1871. A hotel built of logs 
was also erected that same winter. During 1871 and also to 
some extent in 1872 while the railroad was being built, con- 
siderable business w'as transacted by different establishments 
in the different lines of trade, many of them being sheltered 
in tents. 

After stations were established at Detroit and Audubon, 
business gradually fell awav and the place was discontinued 
soon afterwards. 



378 A Pionee;r History of Becker County. 

Village of Audubon. 

The townsite of Audubon was surveyed out in the summer 
of 1872, at which time a railroad station was established and 
placed in charge of a man by the name of Rothplatz. Henry 
Larson built a hotel the same summer, the first in the village. 
The Northern Pacific Railroad Company opened up an office 
for the sale of their lands in this vicinity late in the year 1872 
and placed it in charge of L. S. Cravath. 

B. B. Anderson erected a building and laid in a small stock 
of goods early in the fall of 1872, it being the first store in the 
village. He was followed later in the fall by E. Newman and 
O. J. Johnson, who bought his stock of goods and added to it; 
he in turn sold it to Thomas W. Dunlap and Michael Gillespie 
and also added to the store building. 

Frank Lacross established a general store in June, 1873, ^^^ 
he in turn sold it to Thomas W. Dunlap and Michael Gillespie 
in 1875. 

The Audubon Jounial was started in the fall of 1873, by P. P. 
and O. G. Wall. 

The Congregational church was begun in the fall of 1872, 
and was dedicated in 1873. 

The village of Audubon was incorporated by special law, approved 
Feb. 23d, 1881. 

The first set of village officers were : 

Michael Gillespie, president; R. B. White, recorder; Benjamin 
Hemstock, Walter Drew and Mike Oschner. trustees. 

The Rev. Mr. Watleson conducted divine service in the 
house of John Beaver on November 6, 1870. This being the 
first divine service ever held in the township, preliminary steps 
were taken to organize a Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church 
at the time. Rev. B. Hagboe, who came in the suiumer of 1872 
was the first resident preacher, but no church was l^uilt until the 
summer of 1874. 

The State Bank of Audubon was organized earlv in Feb., 1907. 
The officers are S. A. Netland, president, and A. O. Netland, 

P. A. O. Pktersox. 

Henry J. Larson, who preempted the principal part of the 
townsite of Audubon says : I located on the southwest quarter 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 379 

of Section 10 of what is now Audubon Township on the 30th of 
November, 1870, and sold to the Townsite Company. The 
survey of the townsite of Audubon was commenced in the first 
days of May, 1872, and a small house or box office was made 
ready for a telegraph office about the same time. The present 
passenger depot was made read}^ about the 20th of September 
of that same year. 

How Audubon Received its Name. 

About the middle of August, 1871, Mr. Thomas H. Canfield 
came through on a tour of inspection, and with him was quite 
a party of aristocratic looking people, and they camped where 
the Audubon depot now stands. The prairies were then covered 
with flowers and lilies, and there were several ladies in the party 
who were filled with admiration at the beauty of the surround- 
ing country, and I remember that one lady asked Mr. Canfield 
if a railroad station could ever be established there that it be 
called Audubon. Another man took out a memorandum book 
and noted down this request. 

I afterwards learned that the lady was a niece of John J. 
Audubon, the great American naturalist. 

H. J. Lauson. 

Oak Lake Village. 

In 1871-72 there was a thriving village at the Old Oak Lake 
Cut on the northeast quarter of Section 24 of the present town- 
ship of Audubon. 

The village grew up simultaneously with the progress of the 
work of excavating the long deep cut on the Northern Pacific 
Railway at that place ; it being several hundred feet in length 
and twenty feet or more in depth, and was the heaviest job of 
excavating on the Northern Pacific Railway between Duluth 
and the Missouri River. 

Work was begun in this cut about the beginning of the winter 
of 1870; the exact date I am unable to give. I was there on the 
2ist of January, 1871, and George M. C. Bracket, the contractor, 
was there at work with about forty men, engaged in excava- 
ting the frozen ground at the east end of the cut. I was there 
again on the loth of February and work was in progress at 


both ends of the cut, and there was quite a sprinkhng of tents 
on the south side. 

I was there again on the 20th of April, and the ckister of 
tents was assuming- the appearance of a thriving village. Fletch- 
er and Bly were running a big store, and were the general sup- 
ply agents of the Xorthwestern Construction Conipanv. and 
were doing a rushing business. This is the same "I'ncle Loren" 
Fletcher who has represented the city of .Minneapolis in the 
United States congress for se\'eral years past. In this store at 
that time were Guy Goodrich and Tim Chilton, who were work- 
ing in the capacity of clerks, dealing out groceries, calico and 
tobacco to Indians, scjuaws, graders and tenderfeet alike. 

In May, 1871, N. K. llul:)bard and J. H. Raymond opened 
up another store, which did a flourishing business for the next 
two years, and soon afterwards R. li. Abraham opened up still 
another, which he moved to Lake Park later on. 

P>v the first of August the south side of the cut had become 
a lively village of tents, and it was said there were 400 peojile 
living there at that date. The structures, however, were not 
altogether tents, as there had been some logs and considerable 
lumber used in their construction. There were now two hotels 
in operation ; one owned and operated by James !M. Crummy 
and L. D. Burger and the other by S. M. Thompkins, and that 
same summer a boot and shoe store was started by a man b}- 
the name of Marshall, wdio afterwards moved his store to Bis- 
marck, and towards the close of the year S. B. Pinney moved 
his store over from Sherman's, 1)\- the lake, which made four gen- 
eral stores running in the little \illage about the time the rails 
were laid to the cut. 

There was a'so the usual accomi)animent of saloons, gam- 
blers, sports, toughs, confidence men and fast women, such as 
are usually found congregated together on the outskirts of civiliza- 
tion, wherever there is an}- unusuallv large gathering of men with- 
out families. ( )ne large tent was used for a dance hall, and various 
other "doings" of a n-iysterious character were said to be carried 
on in that tent, as a consecjuence of which it was shunned by all 
timid people. 

Conspicuous among the gang of outlaws that infested the 
town were two superfine cut-throats of the first water. The 
name of one was Fhang, a polished expert of the light fingered 

A ProNEER History of Becker County. 381 

craft, who claimed to be a native of Dublin. Ireland, and the 
name of the other was Shumway. After the Northern Pacific 
Railway was completed to Aloorhead in the fall of 1871 this 
pair of land pirates changed their quarters to that village much 
to the relief of the people of Oak Lake. On the 25th of April, 
1872, Shang" shot and mortally wounded Shumway, who after 
he was wounded attempted to shoot Shang, but instead shot 
and killed an innocent b}'stander, a barkeeper by the name of 
'I'hompson. Clay County had only just been organized and no 
county officers had yet been appointed. The newly appointed 
county commissioners met immediately and appointed James 
Blanchard sheriff of Clay County and his first official act was 
to arrest the murderer Sliang. At a preliminary hearing after 
Shum way's death, Shang was released on a nominal bond and 
was never prosecuted, it being the general opinion that he had 
rendered Moorhead a good service in ridding it of Shumway, 
although Shang was if possible the worst villain of the two. 

The first political meeting in Becker County was held about 
the 25th of C^ctober, 1871. Governor Austin made a speech at a 
Republican meeting" at Oak Lake Cut, and during the progress of 
the meeting, a Norwegian by the name of L T. Knudson, who 
lived on Section 16, Audubon, was badly injured for life by a blow 
on the head with a revolver in the hands of an Oak Lake gambler 
called Blink}^ Jack. Jack's dog had a fight with a dog be- 
longing to Jacob Anderson and the owners of the dogs had a 
row over the dogs but were separated. Jack was not satisfied 
and afterwards started to hunt up Anderson and have it out. 
He came across Knudson and taking him for Anderson struck 
him on the head several times with his revolver. He was 
knocked senseless and thought to be dead for awhile, but was 
finally restored and is suffering from the hurt until this day. 

Jack was tried at the November term of court and sentenced 
to pay $400 fine or a year in jail. As there was no jail in the 
countv, the sheriff', Charles E. Churchill, could do no better than to 
take him home with him, but after boarding with him for a 
couple of weeks Jack skipped out. 

In the month of October, 1871, the work in the big cut w^as 
finished, and the small army of graders moved on to the West, 
but the little village continued to thrive. The place was easy 

382 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

of access, as there were good natural roads leading to it from 
all the principal points of the compass except the east. 

It cost Detroit several thousand dollars to construct as good 
roads as those leading to the cut, which did not cost a dollar. 

The oflficials of the Northern Pacific Railway Company from 
the start had anticipated the securing of a townsite at this place, 
and with it the construction of a permanent railway station. 
A part of this same plan was to locate the Detroit station on the 
shore of Detroit Lake, near where Mr. West's ice house now 
stands, and in accordance with the same plan there would be no 
station between Oak Lake and Lake Park. 

In the summer of 1871 the officials of the Northern Pacific 
Company commenced negotiating with L. D. Burger, who had 
now become the sole proprietor of the land where the depot 
grounds were wanted, for the purpose of purchasing the whole 
or at least a half interest in the proposed townsite ; but believing 
that the company would eventually be obliged to establish a 
permanent station at that point, Burger became exceedingly 
independent, and placed an extravagent price on his land. I 
have heard him say more than once that he had got the rail- 
road company where the hair was short ; that they had got to 
come to his terms, and they had got to pay for it besides. 

In the fall of 1871 a temporary station and telegraph office 
was established at the west end of the Oak Lake Cut, and an- 
other at Detroit, down in Tjdertown, near the Pelican River, 
and as the Northern Pacific officials were anxious to establish 
a permanent station at Detroit as early as possible, and as they 
were somewhat discouraged in their efforts to secure a satis- 
factory location at Oak Lake, they decided to locate the Detroit 
depot one block w*est of where the depot buildings now stand 
after the original townsite was laid out by Col. Johnston in the 
winter of 1871 and ''J2. 

The people at Oak Lake, however, did not lose heart, but 
still believed that with its favorable location and its present flour- 
ishing condition, the village was destined to remain the metrop- 
olis of the Park Region. 

The railroad officials still kept up negotiations with Burger 
during the whole of the year 1872, notwithstanding they had 
located a permanent station at Detroit, less than five miles away, 
but Burger was as stubborn and exacting: as ever. "You have 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 


got to come to my terms and you know it" he would say when- 
ever the subject was mentioned. 

In the month of July the United States Land Office was 
opened up at Oak Lake, and the merchants, hotel keepers and 
saloon keepers still continued to do a thriving business, and 
these prosperous conditions served to make Burger the more 
exhorbitant in his bargaining with the railroad company and 
also tended to keep up the courage of the people generally who 
were doing business in the village. 

^ ^^^ III 



Finally the railroad officials became tired of dallying any longer 
with a scheme that promised no satisfactory outcome, and in the 
spring of 1873 moved the temporary station from Oak Lake to 
Audubon, where a townsite had just been laid out by the Lake 
Superior and Puget Sound Townsite Company. This proved the 
final undoing of Oak Lake. Everybody moved away but Burger 
and his family; the land office was moved to Detroit that same 
year, and for many long years afterwards all that remained of the 
once prosperous village was the old log hotel and barn, and a big 

384 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

patch of Canada thistles, that were scattering- their winged seeds 
of pestilence through the surrounding country. 

Frank Palmer, a native of X'ermont, was the telegraph operator 
at Oak Lake station. 

W. J. Morrow, the present popular cashier of the Alerchants 
National Bank of Detroit, came to Oak Lake Cut early in the 
spring of 1871, and after remaining there a year or two stayed in 
Audubon for awhile, and in 1876 took a homestead on Section 
28, in Hamden Township, where he resided until he was elected 
clerk of court in 1879. when he removed to Detroit, where he 
has resided ever since. 

MiNOT, N. D.. Jan. 5tli, 1906. 
A. H. Wilcox, Esq., 

Frazee City. Minnesota. 
Dear Sir: — The Mr. S. B. Pinney that you refer to is unquestionably 
the Pinney that died here in Minot. He was an early settler down at 
Oak Lake, as I believe they called it in the early days when Tompkins 
kept his keg saloon. He certainly resided along the Northern Pacific 
Railroad between Oak Lake and Fargo, and then after a while, he moved 
up to Fargo and resided there until about five years ago. when he came 
up here to Minot. He had two sons and one daughter, — I believe that is 
all of the family. To all appearances, he never accumulated any property. 
He was not the owner of any real estate here, whatever, and very little 
household effects. He might have property somewhere else that I don't 
know of. He was a tall man — quite tall and slim. He died about the first 
of December, 1905. 

James Johnston. 

The Shooting of Gunder Carlson by Bachinana. 

In October, 1870, I was surveying the town of Hamden for 
the United States government, hi the early part of the evening 
of the 21 St day of that month, while camped in a grove on Sec- 
tion 17, we noticed a fire a few miles south of us. AA'e were 
a little surprised as it had snowed the night before and the 
grass was still wet, so we knew it could not be a prairie fire, 
but we did not know the cause of it until several days af- 
terwards. A Norwegian by the name of Gunder Carlson and 
one of his boys, were living a little south of the line between 
Hamden and Audubon. He had already erected a log house 
and stable, and had about thirty or forty tons of hay stacked 
near his stable. About dark while sitting in his house, he saw 
a light outside, and after going out into the doorvard, and 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 385 

while standing by an oak tree near his door with one hand over 
his eyes to shade them from the glare of the fire, he discovered 
that his own hay stacks were on fire ; and just about that time 
he was shot by someone hid behind the wood-pile. He, how- 
ever, had a glimpse of his would-be murderer, and could have 
recognized him afterwards. As the stable was in great danger 
of being destroyed, he sent his boy to the rear of the stable and 
had him crawl through a hole into the stable and turn out the 
oxen and the cows. He thought the Indian was still guarding 
the front door of the stable, but he succeeded in getting the 
cattle out without difficulty. The stable did not burn. 

The old man was badly hurt. The gun was loaded with 
buckshot, and the whole charge took effect in his side and 
arm. He and the boy succeeded in making their way down to 
Christen Anderson's, who lived two miles southeast of there. 
As soon as they were gone, Bachinana, for that was the In- 
dian's name, commenced to sack the house. He took some 
cofifee and sugar and clothing, a gun and a little money. 

Things were pretty badly torn up in the house, and he even 
smashed the glass out of the windows and splintered up the 
sash with his hatchet. Mr. Carlson's arm was rendered help- 
less as long as he lived. He had several buckshot taken out 
of his side and back, but some of them penetrated too far ever 
to be reached, and they finally caused his death about two years 

Billy Lamb. 

On the 17th of October, 1872, Dennis Stack came near kill- 
ing Billy Lamb at Oak Lake. I never heard all the details of 
the quarrel but during the aft'ray Stack gave Lamb an ugly cut 
across the abdomen with a knife, so that some of his bowels 
protruded. Lamb made his exit from the building where it 
occurred and made his way to a haystack where he was found 
some time afterwards in a serious condition. The cut was 
sewed up and he lived for twenty years afterwards. He showed 
me the scar the next February and it was an ugly one. Billy 
was an inofi'ensive son of Erin, and a veteran of the Civil War. 
Stack was also an Irishman, but a bad, quarrelsome man. 

** •fc**'*'"'"* * *'^'^' 





A PioNeKK History oi? Beicker County. 387 


Murdered By Indians Near Audubon, Becker County, Minnesota. — A Bio- 
graphical Sketch and Narrative. 

By Albion Barnard. 

January, 1893. 

Nothing in the history of Becker County, I venture to affirm, 
has touched more deeply and through a wider circle the chords 
of human sympathy and sorrow than the tragic fate, nearly 
twenty-one years ago, of the family whose name appears in the 
heading of this article. The tributes, especially to the memory 
of the father and mother, gleaned from the local weekly of De- 
troit, and the Minneapolis and Saint Paul dailies, at the time of 
the murder, are many, and attest the high appreciation of their 
worth by those wdio knew them best. These papers furnish also 
the details with much minuteness which make up the story of the 
eager pursuit, arrest, and formal trial, resulting in the conviction 
of one of the murderers. The subseciuent capture by soldiers at 
Leech Lake of an Indian reputed by his band to be the chief actor 
in the bloody drama, has never been made public. A recital here 
of the facts and incidents connected with this capture forms a 
needed supplement to the general narrative. 

On the seventh day of May, 1871, John Cook, closing a 
long and honorable service of the government, the last year of 
which as agent in charge of the new AAdiite Earth Indian Reser- 
vation, lying partly in Becker County, removed with his wife, 
three children and household goods to the township now known 
as Audubon. The names of the children were Freddie W., Mary 
E., and John W., aged respectively and in the order named, 
seven and a half years, six years, and ten months. He was 
accompanied 1)y Ca])t. F. K. Small, an eastern seafaring man 
and his faiuily, consisting of a wife, and two sons, one of seven 
and one of three years, the wife being a sister of Mrs. Cook. 
The location and acreage of the respective tracts of land upon 
which they settled and established claims imder the homestead 
law are determined with precision by the formula in use at the 
United States Land Office ; that of Cook being the west half 

388 A Pioneer Historv of Becker County. 

of the southwest quarter; and lots 7, 8 and 9 of Section 22, 
Township i3(; Xorth, Range 42 A\>st, aggregating i84-)4 acres. 
Tlie lots, I ma}' here remark, indicate a meandered lake upon 
which they border. Small's claim adjoining that of his friend, was 
partly in Section 22 and partly in Section 21. Upon these claims 
convenient farm buildings had been erected. They were of the 
type common to pioneer settlements on the prairies of the West. 
Rough or partially hewn oak logs from the nearest grove formed 
the foundation and walls of these small structures, the chinks 
being filled with adhesive mud. Materials for the roofs, doors, 
windows and inside finish were bought from a distant manu- 
factory. There was nothing about the exterior of these build- 
ings to attract the eye of a passing observer. A glance, however, 
at the interior of the dwellings would have disclosed evidence of 
thrift and culture on the part of their occupants. There were 
Brussels carpets upon the floors, neatly curtained windows and 
beds; silver tableware and jewelry of various kinds; costly ap- 
parel, books, periodicals, etc., as shown in a properly attested in- 

John Cook was born in the little town of Campton, N. H., 
in 1832. His wife, Diantha J., whose maiden name was Wash- 
burn, was a native of Welchville, Oxford County, ]\Iaine, her 
birth being eight years subsequent to that of her husband. The 
two were joined in marriage at Boston in January, 1863. In 
response to the call of the government he entered the navy in 
September, 1864, as assistant steam-engineer on the United 
States steamer. Little Ada, one of the Potomac squadron. Ad- 
miral Porter in command. After several months acceptable 
service here, the war having closed meantime, he removed to 
Rochester, in this state, and took up a claim. This was soon 
relinquished for a position offered him at Leech Lake as engi- 
neer in charge of the government mill and steamboat for the 
benefit of the Indians at that place. During five successive 
years he rendered faithful and efficient service at this post and 
was then transferred to White Earth. It was at this place he 
was presented to the reader at a specific date, in the two-fold act 
of resigning an important public trust and, with his friend Small, 
entering upon a plan for the accomplishment of a long cherished 
object. That object, I need hardly say, was the founding of a 
home for those who were dear to him by kindred ties. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 389 

In pursuance of this, he and Capt. Small had been attracted 
to a locality then far-famed as the park region of the Red River 
of the North. It comprises a part of the counties of Otter Tail 
and Becker, and may be described as a tract of land fifteen to 
twenty miles wide, lying immediately west of the great timber 
belt of northern Minnesota and constituting a portion of the 
watershed of the river named, on its eastern side. The visitor 
here sees a broad expanse of rolling prairie rising at intervals 
to summits of commanding view. The entire landscape appears 
studded with lakes and lakelets of crystal water, abounding 
with many varieties of fish, while groves of maple and oak alter- 
nated at that time with virgin fields ready for the plowshare 
of the pioneer settler. For long periods this region had been 
a favorite haunt of the buffalo (bison) and elk. Its grassy 
slopes had furnished luxuriant feed for countless numbers of 
these animals, to be, in turn, enriched by the droppings of their 
living forms and the flesh and bones of their dead. In more 
recent times it had been a borderland between the Chippewa of 
the forest belt on the east and his hereditary enemy, the wily 
Sioux of the vast prairie on the west. Here in the common pur- 
suit of a noble game they had met in many a fierce encounter. 
But these scenes, typical of a nomadic life and age, had suddenly 
vanished — in a day almost — to give place to those of peaceful, 
rural industry. A\'ith the first shriek of the iron horse in its 
approach from the east, the buffalo and elk had fled in terror, 
and a pioneer corps of hardy settlers had become a barrier be- 
tween these warring tribes of Indians. 

This delightful park region in question, with a soil of sur- 
passing fertility, was soon to be traversed by the Northern 
Pacific Railroad, in its extension westward. Located near the 
center of it. and within convenient distance of a prospective de- 
pot, my friends. — for thus I may call them — began their new 
home-life under the most auspicious conditions. Bouyant with 
health and hope and lacking no material comforts, a prosperous, 
happy future seemed, to a superficial observer at least, assured 
to them. But how narrow the scope of our finite minds. In 
the chain of cause and eft'ect. stretching into the infinite depths 
of that future, an Eternal Power has linked events which can- 
not be foreseen by us. 

390 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Nearly a year had now elapsed since Cook and Small had 
entered npon their new occupations as tillers of the soil. The 
last week in April had come with its sunshine and rain, covering 
with verdure and flowers the brown, dry prairie sod of winter. 
On Friday morning, the 27th of that month, Airs. Small sent 
her little boy to the home of her sister for a dish of milk. He 
speedily returned saying the house was burned "and nobody 
could be found." With anxious foreboding, Mrs. Small, in the 
absence of her husband at Detroit, hastened to the spot to find 
only two heaps of smoldering embers where had stood the 
dwelling and workshop. Peering into a hole half filled with 
partially charred debris, which indicated the place of the cellar, 
she beheld with a thrill of horror the blackened remains of 
human bodies. Doubt, which up to this moment had afforded 
a faint gleam of hope in her mind that somehow the lives of her 
sister and family had been preserved, now deepened into the 
certainty that all of them had here met an untimely death. Was 
it by the accidental burning of the house, or had some fiend in 
human form perpetrated a deed of atrocious cruelty? A few 
neighbors who had meantime been attracted to the smoldering 
ruins, began an investigation which resulted in finding clues 
which speedily led to the solution of this question ; a fresh im- 
print of a moccasin in the plastic soil near the ruins; an Indian 
knife near the workshop ; the failure after careful search to find 
any silverware or jewelry in the debris, or any trace of feather- 
beds, woolen blankets, clothing, and a large bundle of green furs 
known to have been in the building at this time; the fact, more- 
over, that two small parties of Indians, hunting and trapping, 
had been encamped in the near vicinity, this fact being made 
especially significant by their sudden disappearance on the morn- 
ing after the murder. It was ascertained further that two gal- 
lons of whisky had been sold to these Indians by some villainous 
white traders the day preceding that occurrence. On the other 
hand, suspicion had much reason for pointing to that swarm of 
vicious "roughs" which at that time accompanied the construc- 
tion of the Northern Pacific Railroad, keeping pace with its daily 
extension westward, as the agents in the commission of this 
diabolical crime. Any doubt, however, which may have lingered 
in the minds of some as to the authors thereof, was (|uickly to be 

A PioNEiCR History of Becker County. 391 

Hardly a week had elapsed when a young' Indian was seen 
at Sandy Lake on the Mississippi having in his possession 
several articles of women's clothing and jewelry. This being 
reported to United States Marshal Brackett, at Saint Paul, he at 
once engaged the services of James Whitehead, long a resident 
among, and thoroughly acquainted with, the Indians of the Upper 
Mississippi. Accompanied by Messrs. Preston and Holland of 
Brainerd, Whitehead, on the eleventh of May, proceeded to 
that lake and, by a little strategy, effected the arrest of the 
suspected party. During the journey to Aitken by canoe, he 
nearly escaped from his captors by diving into the water and 
swimming like an otter beneath the surface. His Indian name, 
Kah-kah-ba-she, is interpreted Bobolink. He was taken to St. 
Paul, and confined in the jail. A confession made by him 
charged one Mais-kah-\vah-l)e-tung by name, as the chief actor 
in the bloody drama, while admitting his own guilt iri a subordi- 
nate part. Many subsequent confessions were published in the 
papers at the time, but the sequel renders it prol)able that the 
first only is essentially correct. 

In January following the trial of Bobolink began at De- 
troit. The Wilson house served as a jail for the prisoner, and 
a hotel for the judge, counsel, witnesses and others. The court 
convened in a long, narrow hall, over a billiard saloon, south 
of the Northern Pacific Railroad track. Judge McKelvy of 
Saint Cloud presided, the counsel for the state being F. R. E. 
Cornell of Minneapolis, attorney general, while the counsel 
for the prisoner was Judge Reynolds of Detroit and Hon. D. O. 
Preston of Brainerd. The jurors selected from a panel of twen- 
ty-four were Joseph Simmons, E. Rummery, Frank Bullard, D. 
C. Norris, C. H. Sturtevant, Chas. E. Herbert, L. D. Philips, 
Kimball Hayden, C. M. Tyler, Miles Hannah, Edward Bullard 
and Frank M. Peaseley. Among the large number of wit- 
nesses who testified for the prosecution were Capt. and Mrs. 
Small. Doctors Pyle and Calkins, James Whitehead, Franklin 
Cook, city engineer of Minneapolis, and a brother of the mur- 
dered man, and several Indians. For the defense was the testi- 
mony of Doctors Sully and Maltby. With elaborate arguments 
by counsel, and a brief, impartial charge by the judge, the jury 
retired and after two hours' deliberation rendered a verdict of 
"Guilty of murder in the first degree," with the death penalty 

392 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

added. The courtroom was crowded and no outward sign of 
approval or disapproval was manifested. By our statute the 
governor of the state was empowered to fix the date for the exe- 
cution of this penalty. \\'hile awaiting in the St. Paul jail this 
act on the part of the governor. Bobolink died of some cause un- 

Meantime, as a consequence of this murder and that of the 
Johnson family, in Clay County, a few months previous, by 
Indians, a feeling of alarm had become general among the set- 
tlers of the Red River Valley. At several places stockaded 
buildings had been erected by them for refuge and defense. 
Governor Austin had issued a proclamation, warning the Indi- 
ans to keep themselves closely within the lines of their reser- 
vations, if they would avoid arrest by the military. He had also 
ofifered a reward of one thousand dollars for the person or per- 
sons proven to be guilty of the crimes in question. In order 
to ascertain the exact state of affairs that he might take all 
needful means for the protection of the alarmed settlers and 
thus allay their excitement, he sent Doctor Day of St. Paul, an 
expert in knowledge of Indian character, to investigate and re- 
port thereon. So well did the doctor perform this duty that all 
apprehension was speedily removed. 

This trial of Bobolink is noteworthy in several of its aspects. 
Held in what was then a frontier village, the judge and coun- 
sel ranked among the ablest of the state. The witnesses were 
chiefly intelligent and prominent in their respective circles, some 
of them having been summoned from distant localities. The 
jury proved their fitness by a verdict amply justified by tl:e 
evidence. Thus constituted, the court was a fit symbol of our 
highest civilization and in its procedure an exemplary illustra- 
tion of the best known methods of determining justice to per- 
sons charged with crime. As the ordeal of intelligent reascjn 
taking the place of that of savage ini]ndse and superstition, it 
furnished a needed and impressive object lesson in a frontier 
region, far-reaching in its influence. In striking contrast was 
the spectacle at Brainerd a few months before of two Indians 
accused of the murder of a girl of mixed blood, hanging from 
the limb of a tree on the principal street, while a lawless 
mob rent the air with shouts of exultation. Against one of 
these victims there was nothing that could be called proof of 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 393 

guilt, — only mere suspicion, which subsequent developments 
showed was groundless. Such brutal acts are a blot upon our 
boasted civilization and they will cease only when respect and 
the higher sentiment of reverence of law shall have found a 
place in the hearts of men everywhere. 

Soon after the trial at Detroit, vague hints and rumors of 
an Indian hiding himself closely near the Leech Lake Agency 
reached the ears of the government employes at that post. So 
significant a fact — for fact it proved to be — in connection with 
many circumstances known to them, warranted the conviction 
on their part that this Indian was an accomplice in the murder 
near Oak Lake. Thereupon the head chief of the Pillager 
bands in that locality was sought and a reward of one hun- 
dred dollars was paid him by Agent E. P. Smith for disclosing 
the name and hiding place of the suspected criminal. With a 
file of soldiers then at hand to aid him, the writer of this ac- 
count proceeded to make his arrest. The wigwam in which 
he was concealed was one of a dozen located on a tongue of land 
projecting far into the lake. To insure success, it was neces- 
sary to make the approach thereto covertly. So cautiously ad- 
vancing, the underbrush serving as a screen, w^e entered upon 
the base of the tongue. Then with a rapid sweep down the nar- 
rowing tract we prevented any message or cry of alarm reach- 
ing the party sought by his numerous friends on the watch. 
At the extremity called Pine Point, we surprised and captured 
the hiding Indian, though he was provided with ample means 
for defense or escape. He proved to be as we expected, the 
Mais-kah-wah-be-tung implicated by the confession of Bobolink 
in the murder near Oak Lake. 

The authorities of Becker County were at once notified by 
Agent Smith of this arrest. They were also assured by him 
that sufiicient proof would be furnished at a trial which they 
alone were empowered to give the arrested party, to insure 
his conviction. For some reason unknown to the writer, these 
authorities neglected or deemed it unwise to bring the Indian 
into court. Meantime he was confined at Fort Ripley and 
at the end of a year was set free, since the military could not 
legally hold him longer. 

I may add in conclusion that a circular plot of ground, two 
chains in diameter, inclosing the site of the burned buildinos 

394 A PioNKER History of Becker County. 

and the interred remains of the victims of a savage deed in- 
spired by the desire of plunder only, has ben set apart for a 
sacred and noble purpose. 

A claim upon the government preferred by the heirs of Cook, 
for property destroyed by the Indian murderers, has been ap- 
proved in the court of claims, and now awaits only an act of con- 
gress for payment. 

Dated January ist, 1895. 
Mrs. West. A. B. 

The claim for damages has since been paid. 

The following is from the ^linneapolis Tribune: 

The whole country is familiar with the horrible massacre of the Cook 
family — consisting of the father, mother and three children^which took 
place on Friday night, April 26th, at their home near Oak Lake in this 
state. As soon as the terrible event became known. Major Brackett, the 
successful detective, commenced work on the case, and his efiforts have been 
rewarded by the capture of the principal murderer, who with three others 
are now known to have committed the terrible crime, and as the three 
alluded to are well known, there is very little doubt but that they, too, 
will soon be brought to the halter. 

The Indian brought to St. Paul by Major Brackett on Saturday night 
goes by the name of Ka-ka-ba-she, or Bobolink, and he was first suspected 
as one of the murderers by John Lynde, a well known and respectable 
half-breed, who saw Bobolink at Sandy Lake, and who came from 
Oak Lake about the time of the murder, decked out in ladies' costume 
and flourishing a gold chain and other articles. When Lynde got to Aitken 
station, he notified the telegraph operator, who at once sent the facts to 
Brainerd, where the despatch reached Major Brackett on Tuesday of last 
week. The Major immediately secured the service of James Whitehead, 
an old trader among the Pillager Indians, to make the arrest, who with 
two trusty assistants repaired to Aitkin, where they were joined by 
Lynde, and all four proceeded to Sandy Lake where the Indians were 
camped. As soon as they reached Sandy Lake Whitehead alone went 
among the Indians and picked out Bobolink. He remarked as he took 
hold of him, "Come along — I want you!" Bobolink demurred, and for 
a time meditated resistance, but Whitehead was stern and inexorable; and 
amidst the shouts, execrations and hostile demonstrations of a hundred 
squaws, who attempted to rally the tribe to the rescue of Bobolink, 
Whitehead succeeded in getting away with his prisoner, who. fortunately, 
had in his possession at the moment of his capture, Mrs. Cook's cloak, 
gold chain and other articles, which were safely brought back to testify 
in immistakable language against the bloody and barbarous demon, and 
which will serve in a short time to hang him on a civilized gallows. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 395 


to John Lynde, the half-breed, and James Whitehead, for their action in 
bringing Bobohnk into Major Brackett's clutches. It is believed that no 
other man but Whitehead could have succeeded in the audacious enterprise 
of visiting the Indian tribe, and boldly dragging out one of their number and 
successfully getting away with him. He seems to have commanded both 
the respect and the fear of the whole tribe, and it seems almost amazing 
that he should have succeeded in getting out alive with his prisoner. But 
his promptness and extraordinary celerity of movement saved him, for had 
he dallied a moment or two longer, by which time the Indians, recovered 
from their surprise, would have overwhelmed him, and Bobolink and the 
principal circumstantial evidences which he carried with him would have been 
hidden away. Major Brackett, likewise, has reason to be proud of the part 
he has played in the interesting transaction. After reaching Sandy Lake, 
he took to the water, and 

by plunging into the lake and attempting to escape. Whitehead pur- 
sued his prisoner in the water, who dived every time his pursuer at- 
tempted to seize him, and he was only brought to time by Whitehead's 
striking him a telling blow on the head with an oar; then dragging him 
into the canoe, he got him safely to Aitkin, twenty miles away, when he 
took the train for Oak Lake, where the villain was examined before a 
justice of the peace and committed for trial". 


]\Irs. Small the sister of the murdered Mrs. Cook was shown the articles 
in possession of the captured murderer, all of which she recognized in an in- 
stant. For a moment she was overcome with anguish at the recollection of the 
sad fate of her sister. Then amidst her agonizing paroxysms of grief, she hap- 
pened to cast her eyes on the red demon, who was present, and whom she 
would certainly have slain on the spot if she had been in possession of a 
weapon. She was finally led away from the presence of the cause of her 
misery, and this melancholy scene closed. 

Mrs. Small was the first witness. 

She testified she resided within three-fourths of a mile of her sister, 
Mrs. Cook; their claims joined; last saw Mr. John Cook and family on 
the Sunday night before they were massacred; they were killed on Friday 
night, April 26th, 1872; Mrs. Cook's oldest boy, Freddie, on that even- 
ing brought milk to our house; he also brought me a note from his mother; 
it was sisterly in tone, and contained words of cheer and contentment. 

About half past ten on Saturday morning, I sent my boy over to 
my sister's for milk; he got nearly there, and returned to tell me the 
house was burned; I sent him to tell my sister and her family to come 
over to my house; he soon came back, saying nothing could be found 
of anybody; I then went myself to search for them. 

396 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

I looked into the cellar and saw the remains of human bodies; could 
not go into the cellar on account of fire which smouldered there; I sent 
my son after Mr. Larson; my husband was in Detroit, I telegraphed for 
him to come home immediately. Mr. Larson came, and with a pole re- 
moved some of the remains. I saw Mr. Cook's remains; all his ribs at- 
tached to the backbone were there; saw a skull near the body and a heart, 
not burned, lay near the ribs. My husband came home in the afternoon 
and we telegraphed to Mr. Franklin Cook at Minneapolis. 


Bobolink commenced by remarking that he had bad luck hunting, and 
was anxious to go by White Earth home- Arrived first at Little Sioux 
camp, southwest of Anderson's store. He took the direction prescribed 
by Boanece, and proceeded to Little Lake, where he changed his mind, 
and concluded to go by Anderson's store and Oak Lake. Just before 
reaching the store he met an old Indian by the name of Mais-kah-wah- 
be-tung, who after a few minutes' talk concluded to go with him and 
murder the Cook family. He refused at first, and he asked Mais-kah-wah- 
be-tung why he wanted to murder the Cook family. Mais-kah-wah-be-tung 
said plunder, that he had assisted to murder a Swede family, thereby 
getting many valuable things. 

After two sittings and talks he finally concluded to go with ^Slais-kah- 
wah-be-tung. They passed by the south side of the store and along 
the shore of a little lake in the direction of Mr. Cook's house, arriving at 
the tree near the house. There was a light in the window and they could 
see all that was going on in the house. They stopped some little time 
at the tree, the prisoner still hesitating to commit the crime, when 
Mais-kah-wah-be-tung upbraided him severely for cowardice, after 
which Mais-kah-wah-be-tung went up to the window and with his gun 
fired through at a man sitting on a chair in the room, and killed him. 
Then he told the prisoner Bobolink to keep watch on the outside 
so that no Americans might come and detect them. Mais-kah-wah-be- 
tung then went into the house and met a lady coming out of the other 
room of the house. He struck her one blow with his hatchet and killed 
her immediately. Defendant then told Mais-kah-wah-be-tung that he had 
done enough, and tried to frighten him to desist by telling him that 
the Americans were coming, but he paid no attention, but proceeded 
upstairs and commenced killing the children, and then proceeded to throw 
down such goods as he found. He took a light upstairs with him, 
which went out, when he struck a match and lit it again. The de- 
fendant said he only heard one short cry of a child when the killing 
was being done. After he was through upstairs he searched the house 
below, and brought out all that was valuable, making up two bundles. 
Defendant helped to pack them. After the packs were made up they 
started in the direction they came from. After getting some distance 
Mais-kah-wah-be-tung discovered he had left his hatchet, and said to de- 
fendant, you can go on, I'll go back and get my hatchet and then over- 
take you. He did so, and when he caught up with defendant Bobo- 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 397 

link looked back and saw that the house was all in flames — ]\Iais-kah- 
wah-be-tung having set it on fire. They then proceeded together to 
the place they first met. Then Mais-kah-wah-be-tung told him to be 
careful and not expose the goods for some time, lest their crime would 
be discovered thereby; as for himself, he would bury his goods until 
fall. They then parted, Bobolink going homeward and Mais-kah-wah- 
be-tung going west. 

The defendant crossed the line of railroad above Oak Lake, where 
he slept one night, then circled around, coming back to the railroad at 
Hobart. There he sold 100 rats, which was a part of the plunder taken 
out of Mr. Cook's chamber; he sold them to a white man. He then went 
by railroad down to station near Sandy Lake, his home. 

The day of the night of the murder he left Boanece's camp at noon, 
being the 26th of April. They got to Cook's house and began the murder 
about II o'clock at night. Mr. Cook sat dead on his chair and the 
woman lay dead on the floor, as the defendant saw them, when standing on 
the outside of the house and looking through the window near the door. 

I did not see the children at all; they were upstairs. Mais-kah-wah- 
be-tung said there were three children, two in one bed and one in another. 

Mrs. West. 

Henry J. Larson, who was then living where the village of 
Atulnbon now stands, was the first person, next to Mrs. Small 
to reach the scene of the murder. 

Henry Way came soon afterwards. 

Mr. Larson says : 

On the day before the murder I went from my place south, past Capt. 
Small's house, and after talking for a few minutes with Mrs. Small, went on 
down to Mr. Cook's place, arriving here about five o'cock in the evening. 
Cook was burning some rubbish around the house, and preparing to plant 
his garden. The Indians had already commenced to beat on a drum, and 
Mr. Cook made some remark about the probability of their being drunk 
from whisk}' obtained at Oak Lake. They danced and made loud noises 
most every night at their camp, about half a mile southwest from Cook's 

The next morning I noticed that Mr. Cook's house was gone and im- 
mediately started for the place, and when near there saw Mrs. Small 
coming from the opposite direction, and we proceeded to where the house 
had been. I at once went to the stable where the horse ani cow stood 
and found them undisturbed. At Mrs. Small's request I took the horse 
and rode to Detroit to inform Mr. Small and Moody Cook, and informed 
all I met." 

H. J. L. 

Directly after the murder Boanece was camped at Floyd 
Lake and made trips every day from his camp to Oak Lake 

398 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

village until the time of his arrest, always passing by my house 
at the north end of Oak Lake. A day or two after the murder 
he walked into the house, and asked for something to eat. 
I was away from home in the Wild Rice country at the time, 
and Mrs. Wilcox was alone. She gave him some bread and 
cold pork which he eat with a relish, and he gave her an 
agate. He was in no hurry to leave, after eating his lunch, 
and while sitting in the house a half grown kitten came in. 
Boanece picked it up and asked Mrs. Wilcox to give it to him. 
She asked him what he wanted it for, and he took out his 
knife and made a sign to skin the kitten by pulling its hide 
ofif over its head and leaving it nearly entire. He then took 
out his tobacco, and by motions gave her to understand that 
he wanted it for a tobacco pouch. He did not, however, get the 
kitten. Mrs. Wilcox says he had the wickedest looking eyes 
she ever saw in a human being. She had not yet heard of the 

Arrest of Boanece. 

Soon after the murder a drunken Indian at Oak Lake drop- 
ped a hint that Boanece was implicated in the crime. Boanece 
was then camped at Floyd Lake, near where John O. French 
was living. French was at the time running a butcher shop 
at Oak Lake and he proposed to Frank Morse who was liv- 
ing near him, that they go over and arrest him. French was 
one of the constables of Detroit Township at the time. They 
found five or six lodges at Floyd Lake, but there was no one 
in them but squaws and children, so they were obliged to go 
back without their man. 

A day or two afterwards Boanece happened to be at Oak 
Lake village, and French and L. D. Burger who was then 
deputy sheriff, decided that now was the time to capture him. 
They then started out in quest of the Indian. Burger had two 
navy revolvers strapped under his coat and French was also 
provided with a good weapon. 

They overtook Boanece just as he was leaving the village, 
near the railway station, which then stood at the west end of 
the big cut. There was a young, boyish looking Indian with 
him, of appearance so insignificant and innocent that they 
hardly took him into consideration. Boanece was armed with 

A Pioneer History of Becker County, 399 

a double barreled shot gun, and French asked him if he wanted 
to sell his gun, and at the same time took hold of the bar- 
rels and told him to let him see it. Boanece replied that it 
belonged to another Indian, and at the same time cocked both 
hammers and told him to let go or he would shoot him. Burger 
then seized the Indian and French took away the gun and 
they marched him up to Burger's hotel, where Burger hunted 
up a dog chain, with which they proceeded to shackle him. 
When they commenced, French handed the gun belonging to 
Boanece to the young Indian to hold, but by the time they had 
their Indian shackled he had skipped out gun and all. This 
young scamp proved to be Bobolink himself, who was after- 
wards convicted of the same murder. They took Boanece into 
the hotel where he was seated, and in a short time he arose 
and hobbled across the room to where Burger was standing and 
pointing his finger in his face with much emphasis told him 
that he would kill him if he ever got a chance, and then made 
the same remark to French. 

Then they ail went to supper, and while seated at the table, 
Louis Thompson, a Norwegian, living on Section 14, in Audubon 
walked up behind Boanece and deliberately took out his knife 
and cut off a lock of his hair. Boanece sprang to his feet, and 
seizing a knife from the table started for Thompson, his eyes 
flashing like balls of fire and the chain clanking on the floor of 
the dining room, but his feet were so hampered by the chain that 
Thompson made good his escape. Boanece was assigned to a 
room upstairs, and closely guarded, but during the night he managed 
to give them the slip and made his way down stairs, but the outside 
doors were all locked, so that he could not get out, but finally groped 
his way into a back room and partly hid himself by getting behind, 
and partly crawling into a large heap of potatoes that was lying on 
the floor, and it was only after a long search with a lantern that he 
was finally found. A few days afterwards he was taken to St. Paul 
and locked up a short time, after which he was brought back and 
given a hearing and released for want of evidence. 

.After his release Boanece dressed himself in fantastic array, 
an equipment of eagle feathers forming the principal part of his 
costume, and went to a photogapher and had his likeness taken. 

Bobolink who Was arrested at Sandy Lake by Whitehead, 
Preston and Holland had been confined in the Ramsev Countv 

400 A ProxEER History of Becker County. 

jail and was placed on trial January 15th, 1873. I was in Detroit 
at the time, and was occasionally in at the trial. Kimball Hay- 
den was the foreman of the jury, and during the trial was the 
best dressed man in the courtroom. I well remember his high 
silk hat and Prince Albert coat and the aristocratic air that he 
assumed. F. R. E. Cornell, who was the attorney general 
of the state, and who was prosecuting the case, took Hayden 
for an attorney when he first came, and inquired of him how 
many cases he had in court. The principal witness in the case 
was the prisoner himself, who acknowledged having a part in 
the murder, but accused Boanece and Mais-kuh-wah-be-tung of 
being the principals in the crime. Whitehead gave an account 
of the arrest of Bobolink at Sandy Lake, of his attempt to 
escape by jumping overboard while on their way down the 
river in a row-boat, of his subse((uent capture, and of their safe 
arrival at Brainerd. Judge Reynolds was the chief counsel for 
the prisoner and he was assisted by D. O. Preston of Brainerd, 
who assisted Whitehead to capture Bobolink at Sandy Lake. 
As there was no jail in the county. Bobolink was kept at the 
Wilson house in charge of Lars A. Larson, the sheriff. He wore 
shackles on both hands and feet. I was staying at the Wilson 
house myself at that time. Peter Schroeder, of Perham, the 
brewer, banker and mill owner, was working for his board at the 
Wilson house that winter. One evening after the night session 
of court was over Bobolink was left for a short time in charge 
of Schroeder and myself when he asked us something in Chip- 
pewa that we did not understand, so we called George W^ilson, 
the landlord to interpret for us, who said Bobolink wanted to 
know when they were going to "nepo" him. 

Mrs. F. K. Small, the sister of the murdered woman, Mrs. 
Cook, also stayed at the W^ilson house during the trial. Bobolink 
often complained of the savage looks the white squaw gave him. 
Bobolink died May 19th, 1873, in the Ramsey County jail. He 
was said to have starved himself to death. 

Soon after the murder of the Cook family, Boanece and K ab- 
a-ma-be were arrested on suspicion of being implicated in the 
crime, but after the arrest of Bobolink, he made a confession, 
charging Mais-kah-wah-be-tung with being the principal, and 
only party to the crime besides himself. Kab-a-ma-be had al- 
ready been released as there was not a particle of evidence 

A PioxKER History of Becker County. 401 

against him, and Boanece was now allowed to go home, although 
he was considered a bad Indian and it was generally believed that 
he was one of the guilty parties. 

During Bobolink's trial, however, he made statements im- 
plicating Boanece as one of the three parties to the murder. 

Sometime early in February, 1873, the Indian excitement 
broke out. afresh. It was reported that Boanece, who was of 
mixed Sioux and Chippewa blood and who was now wanted 
for complicity in this terrible crime "was hiding in the vicinity 
of the White Earth Agency. James Whitehead who had so 
bravely and skillfully accomplished the capture of Bobolink at 
Sandy Lake was selected to make the arrest. He accordingly pro- 
ceeded to WHiite Earth, taking with him a small posse of men. 
Henry Way took the party from Oak Lake Station to White 
Earth with his team, and went with him to assist in making the 
arrest. They found him at the house belonging to Gams John- 
son and with him were half a dozen other Indians, the most 
desperate and dangerous characters on the Reservation all en- 
gaged in the Indian gambling game of mocasin. Whitehead 
shook hands with Boanece and told him he wanted him to go 
with him. He said, "Allright. I will go as soon as I can get ready," 
and stepping back picked up a double-barreled shotgun already 
cocked, and pointing it in Whitehead's face told him he did not 
propose to be choked to death like a dog, and ordered him to 
leave the place. He had two or three more guns at hand ready 
for use, and the other Indians were also armed to the teeth, and 
gathered around him. ready to take a hand in the fight, so AMiite- 
head decided to postpone the arrest until he could simimon ad- 
ditional help. 

He accordingly sent word to the governor of the state, who 
on the 15th of February ordered out a company of militia, con- 
sisting of forty men under the command of Lieutenant Dresser, 
all of Brainerd. They arrived at Oak Lake Cut in the afternoon 
on the five o'clock train. All the teams in the village were pressed 
into service, and some of the farmers in the vicinity were called 
upon to lend a hand to help. I was staying that night at the 
home of C. A. Sherman, my wife being away in Iowa for the 
winter. Just after I had gone to bed, a couple of men came 
after Sherman, and he started ofif with his team to take a load 
of soldiers to White Earth. It was late in the evening before 


A PioNEiiR History of Becker County. 

the soldiers were loaded up, but tinall}- about eleven o'clock the 
teams started, six or seven together. The night was cold and 
storniv, the snow was deep and the roads badly drifted. Half 
the soldiers and some of the teamsters were drunk and by the 
time thev were well up into Richwood Township they were scat- 


tered over the prairie in all directions. Some of them had lost 
the road, and others were stuck fast in the snow. About mid- 
night they met a messenger from \\'hite Earth who brought word 
that Boanece was no longer there, but had left for parts unknown 
and the whole arm}- made a race liack to Oak Lake and took the 
first train for Brainerd. 

A PioNi;E;R History of Beckkk County. 403 

Extracts from the Audubon Journal. 

This paper was started in the fall of 1873 by P. P. and O. G. 

April 4, 1874. — A. K. Murray of White Earth, moved to Audubon last 

April II, 1874. — By a special act of the Legislature, passed in 1873, 
the village of Detroit voted to ta.x the township $5000 to corduroy the 
sinks about the village so that it could be reached. 

April 25, 1874. — When the county seat bill was defeated in the Senate 
last winter, the Detroiters hoisted flags and made other demonstrations 
of delight. Where are those flags now? 

Johnstonville is dumb on the county seat matter. The "Kunnel" and 
his "40 thieves" have gone into council, and an onslaught from any direction 
will not surprise us. 

"Look out for prairie fires. They begin to make their appearance 
at the north and west of us." — Detroit Record. 

To which the Audubon Journal replies : 

Yes, but there is no danger of them burning out the tamarack swamps 
near your place at this time of the year! 

May 30, 1874. — We are happy to inform the Record that the county 
seat of Becker County is now at Lake Park. 

We understand that the board of county commissioners will meet 
at the auditor's ofifice at Lake Park hereafter, that being the most convenient 
place for all concerned. 

Unpaid county orders now draw interest at 12 per cent, on and after 
July I, 1874, from date of filing until paid. 

July 18, 1874. — A cloud of grasshoppers from the British possessions 
passed over Dakota and into Minnesota, which reached from Moorhead 
to Mankato, a distance of 225 miles. 

Frank La Cross is putting up a new store building to accommodate his 
large and growing trade. 

August 28, 1874. — The fur trade has been lively during the past week. 
Rats brought as high price as 28 cents. Wheat 65 cents, oats 65 cents, 
and potatoes 40 cents. 

December 19, 1874. — The ice in Cormorant Lake is about two feet thick. 
Rats have fallen: — " 'Tis the saddest event of all the 'Glad New Year.' " 

Wheat is 70 cents and oats are 70 cents. Muskrats are 25 cents. 

The county seat in court. On the petition of Col. George H. Johnston 
of Detroit, Judge Stearns has issued a writ of mandamus, requiring the 
county commissioners of this county to provide offices for the county 
officers at the county seat or show cause why they do not do so. The hear- 
ing will be held on the 3rd day of February when it will be ascertained 
which is the county seat, the Detroit which was made the county seat in 

404 A PinxEUR History of Becker County. 

1857, or the Detroit which was not in existence until 1872, or some fifteen 
years after the act of legislature was passed locating the county seat. An- 
other warning to the people not to sign the Detroit petition for the abate- 
ment of state tax. We call on the people to be on their guard. 

January 23, 1875. — Rats are up again and everybody wears a smiling 
face. Wheat 75 cents, oats 65 cents, muskrats 28 cents and kits 17 cents. 

February 6th. — The case commenced by Colonel Johnston against 
the county commissioners which was heard by Judge Stearns on the 
3rd inst. was dismissed on motion of the attorney for the county. This is 
the third time the colonel has failed to enforce his demands against 
the county. He has failed in two suits to recover $i,300' for a jail that 
the county doesn't want, and one to enforce the commissioners to pro- 
vide offices for the county officers at his town, so that he can pay his taxes 
by simply walking across the street while nine-tenths of the citizens of 
the county have to go to nearly the extreme eastern side of the set- 
tled portion of the county to transact their business with the covmty 
officials at the colonel's town, and all this simply to gratify and con- 
tribute to the wealth of this self-important, old Yankee speculator. 

Bitter fight of Colonel Johnston against McGrew and Dixon and Tor- 
gerson for raising county attorney's salary to $800. Ever since the com- 
ing into this county of the hoard of Detroit refugees they have made 
it a point to constantly belie and insult the foreign born population liv- 
ing in this region. 

February 20th, 1875. — People are again urged to systematically burn 
the prairies to prevent grasshoppers spreading. At a meeting at this 
place it was decided to call upon the people of the different towns to 
appoint committees at their annual town meetings, whose duty it will 
be to arrange matters in regard to the burning of the prairies. If things 
are allowed to take their course, the people will have themselves to 
blame if again overrun with grasshoppers. 

March 13, 1875. — Committees have been appointed to burn the prairies 
to prevent the increase of grasshoppers. Thirty of these several mem- 
bers of the dififerent committees were in town this week, and informed 
us that they are determined to do all in their power to make the war 
upon the hoppers a success. 


No. I. — Colonel Johnston vs. the County Commissioners of Becker 
County, suit, attorney for plaintifif, W. F. Ball, County attorney. 

No. 2. — Colonel Johnston vs. the County Commissioners of Becker 
County, attorneys for plaintiff, W. F. Ball and R. Reynolds. 

No. 3. — Colonel Johnston vs. same for mandamus. 

People of Becker County: THESE THREE VAMPIRES ARE 

The farmers of Cormorant Township intend putting in their regular 
crops this coming spring and run the risk of having them destroyed by 
grasshoppers. If pluck and energy will in any way effect the result the 
Cormorant farmers are bound to make a raise. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 405 

Muskrat rates are as usual. 

Spring trapping promises to be lively. Trappers hereabouts are busily 
engaged at present building trapping boats and making other prepara- 
tions for the country rat campaign. — Audubon Journal. 

Mrs. West. 

The Rev. James Gurley. 

The Rev. James Gurley was born at Wexford, Ireland, in the 
year 1800. His parents left him with an aunt, when a very 
small child, while they went to England and then to America, 
where they settled at Sandusky, Ohio. Rev. James Gurley was 
15 years old when he came to America to live with his parents. 
^^'hile with them he became, like his father, a Methodist min- 
ister. At an early age he was married to a widow, Mrs. Wycouf, 
who had two children, a girl and a boy. He became a traveling 
minister and lived a number of years in Ohio, and had a large 
family of five boys and four girls. He owned a beautiful farm 
two miles from the city of Zanesville, Ohio, which he sold and 
invested in a portable sawmill at Pepin, Wisconsin. He still 
preached as well as looked after the sawmill. After a few years 
he moved his sawmill to Maxville, Wisconsin, and there traded 
it to a man to put up a building for a grist or flour mill, of which 
his son Benjamin owned a share. When living there in 1861 he 
adopted a daughter, Angelina Sankey, a girl about ten years old. 
About the same time, two of his sons went into the army. Benja- 
min went as captain of a company and Walter did a great deal 
of writing for army officers. They lived at Maxville a few years 
after the close of the war, and then traded the flour mill for a 
store at Wabasha, Minnesota, where his family resided for three 
years. The first year he preached whenever called on, the second 
year he was sent as chaplain to the Y. M. C. A. at Minneapolis, and 
the third year he was sent as a missionary to Brainerd. He be- 
came acquainted with a Richard Giffin and they came west to Becker 
County and took claims in the spring of 1871. By this time his 
store had failed in Wabasha. Farther Gurley located his claiin 
on the bank of a small lake on Section 18 of Audubon Township 
which he named Mission Lake, which is about half way between 
Audubon and Lake Park. Here he built a log cabin and made 
a garden and then returned by stage to Wabasha, where his 
family consisting of his wiie and adopted daughter had resided 

4o6 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

since buying the store, lie bought a team, and took the boat and 
went to St. Paul. He then drove through from St. Paul to Becker 
County, which took three weeks. On the way through the people 
were very kind ; all he had to do was to tell them that he was Father 
Gurley and a missionary for the Northern Pacific, and they were 
taken in free of cost, as mother and father. He came through 
without any accident, and settled on his claim in the latter part 
of July, 1871, and was the first resident preacher in the county. He 
held services or preached in Detroit and Oak Lake. His adopted 
daughter was married to Hamilton Kelly in the fall of 1872. In 
the same year he and his aged wife moved to Glyndon, from there 
to Audubon and thence to Detroit. Here they resided several 
years until his wife's health failed, then he took her back to live 
with their daughter Kate, or Mrs. Trimble, who lived in Bucyrus, 
Ohio, then he returned to Detroit, Minn. His wife lived for six 
months and died and was buried in the cemetery at Bucyrus, 
Ohio. His home was in Detroit, but he traveled along the North- 
ern Pacific Railroad from Moorhead to Detroit and preached un- 
til his health failed him. His daughter, Clara, or Mrs. Pomroy, 
who resided at St. Charles, Iowa, came up to Moorhead, where 
he was sick and took him back to her home, where he resided un- 
til his death. She had his remains buried alongside of his wife. 

In 1848, the Wyandotte Indians were removed from Ohio to 
their reservation in Kansas, and being opposed to slavery, they 
wished a minister from the North. At the annual conference of 
the M. E. Church in Cincinnati in 1848. volunteers were called 
for to fill the position and Mr. Gurley was chosen. The Southern 
people of Missouri and Arkansas being opposed to him on account 
of his anti-slavery preaching, conspired to kill him, but Mr. Gur- 
ley l)eing a Mason was taken under the care of members of 
that organization, and secretly gotten out of the territory during 
the night and his life spared and saved. The Masons placing 
him in a sleigh and covering him with buffalo robes, traveled 
sixty miles during the night to a place of safety. This is simply 
a little episode of his eventful life and is only one of a great 

Mrs. West. Walter Gurley. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 407 

Dr. David Pyle. 

Dr. David Pyle, who was the first auditor of Becker County, 
and also the first notary public, was born in Ohio about 1825. 
When a young man he went farther west, and located I think in 
Morgan County, Illinois. His wife was a native of Missouri. 

Sometime in the early fifties, he in company with a man by 
the name of John B. Morgan, with their families crossed the 
great plains with teams and wagons, by way of the South Pass 
on their way to the then territory of Oregon. When in what 
is now Southern Idaho, Morgan had some trouble with his family, 
and left them, going north with a party of Indians. I came 
across this same Morgan in 1862, on the headwaters of the Mis- 
souri, living with a Blackfoot squaw, and following the occupa- 
tion of Indian trader and wild rover. He was afterwards hung 
by a vigilance committee. 

The Pyle family proceeded to Oregon, where they remained 
for several years. The next I know of them they were living 
in McLeod County, Minnesota, where he was elected to the legis- 
lature in the fall of 1868. The next spring he was appointed gov- 
ernment physician to A\ bite Earth, and in the fall of 1869 took a 
homestead on Sections 17 and 18, in what is now Audubon Town- 
ship, where he removed his family in the spring of 1870. 

When the county was organized. Dr. Pyle was appointed 
county auditor, which ofifice he held until the first Monday in 
March, 1872. He was appointed notary public by Gov. Austin, 
on the 3d of December, 1870, and his commission was recorded 
in Douglas County, to which Becker was then attached, on the 
19th of January, 1871, and in Becker County on the loth of Janu- 
ary, 1872. 

Dr. Pyle left Becker County in the fall of 1873 with his family 
and went to northern Alabama, where he died somewhere about 
the year 1884. 

Captain Freeman K, Small. 

Freeman K. Small was born at Lubec, Maine, on the 6th day 
of June, 1837. WTien a boy he went to sea and passed through 
the dififerent grades, until he stood on the quarterdeck as master 

4o8 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

mariner, and for several years commanded vessels sailing" from 
the ])orts of Luhec and Eastport. Captain Small was married 
to ]Miss Jeanette Washburn, at her father's home on April loth, 
1862, but he continued to follow the high seas for several years 
afterwards. He traveled over a large part of the world, includ- 
ing two trips to Africa. Mrs. Small accompanied her husband on 
several of these trips, but concluding she was never intended 
for a sailor, she persuaded him to abandon his occupation as sea 
rover and take up his trade as carpenter and builder, which he 
had learned in his younger years. 

Mrs. vSmall writing from her home at Bradford. Mass., Dec- 
ember 3rd, 1905, says: 

]Mr. Small went to Leech Lake, Minn., in March, 1870, as carpenter and 
engineer of a steamboat on that lake, which was being run in the interest 
of the Indian farmers, by which they carried their oxen and plows to their 
different places around the lake. Our son Jake and myself went to Leech 
Lake in the following May. John Cook in the meantime was sent to White 
Earth from Leech Lake to look after the interests of the Indians there, and 
in July, 1S70, he got us transferred to White Earth with them. The follow- 
ing spring they took their homestead near Audubon and we went on our 
claim, which joined theirs, in April 1871, and lived there until Audubon 
became a railroad station when we built a house there and lived there 
several years. Aside from the trouble aiising from the murder of my 
sister's family, we enjoyed life out there very much, and often wished we 
had not come back so far east. 

W lun the Small family left Becker Count}- they took up their 
residence at Bradford, Mass., where he died on the 12th of March, 

Mrs. Small and two sons survive him. 

Mrs. F. K. SmalL 

Mrs. Jeanette ^^^ Small, wife of Capt. F. K. Small, and sister 
to Mrs. John Cook was born at Welchville, Maine, in the year 

Her maiden name was Washburn, and she is a relative of the 
celebrated W^ashburn family of Maine, that sent five brothers to 
Congress, four of whom were members of the House of Rep- 
resentatives at the same time. One of them afterwards a 
United States senator from Minnesota, another a governor of 
Wisconsin and still another. Elihu B. Washburn was minister to 

A Pione;er History of Becker County. 409 

France during" Lincoln's administration, and had it not been for 
his powerful influence and persistent efforts, it is doubtful if 
Gen. Grant would ever have been advanced to the head of the 
Union Army. 

Mrs. Small is the namesake of the wife of Elihu B. Wash- 
burn, whose name was jeanette. 

Paul C. Sletten. 

Paul C. Sletten was born in Kvam, Gulbrandsdalen. Norway, 
February 26, 1841. He was the second eldest of four brothers 
and having" lost his father through his early death, he soon struck 
out to work his own way through life. From the time he was 
fourteen years old he worked in different positions, meanwhile 
improving every opportunity for study and education. 

At the age of twenty-one he went to work on a government 
railroad then under construction at Hadeland, Norway. At this 
time he found opportunity for studying" civil engineering and 
also commenced to read English. In 1867 he was married to 
Kari Berger of Hadeland, Norway, and two years later emigrated 
to the United States, landing in New York July 13, 1869. 

These were the days nf the building" of the Northern Pacific 
Railroad and fortified with letters of recommendation and creden- 
tials from Norwegian government engineers (among them one 
from Chief Engineer Pihl), he soon obtained a responsible posi- 
tion with the Northern Pacific Contractors. 

In the fall of 1870 a railroad camp was established at Oak 
Lake and work continued there throughout the winter. Here he 
was joined bv his wife and at this time took as a homestead the 
northeast quarter of Section 24, Township 139, Range 42 where 
they established their residence. 

He continued with the railroad people until the road reached 
Bismarck in 1873 when he returned to his home. 

Oak Lake was during" the railroad construction days a lively 
trading post and the surrounding countrv began to develop rapidly. 

Mr. Sletten was a man of great natural ability, an indefatigable 
worker and soon became deeply interested in the upbuilding and 
welfare of the new and promising settlement, taking a prominent 
place among the sturdy pioneer residents of Becker County. He 
was employed as clerk and manager in stores at Oak Lake and 

4IO A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

later at Audiiljon, Minn, and after Becker County was organized 
he was in 1873 elected clerk of the District Court. 

In 1875 he received from President Grant the appointment as 
receiver of public funds of the United States Land Office at Detroit. 
He was reappointed to this position in 1879, the office then having 
been removed to Crookston. His family followed him there in 
1880. He retained his Becker County interests and was frequently 
seen among his numerous Becker County friends. He was on in- 
timate terms with many of the leading public men of his day and 
prominent in the councils of his party. In politics he was a staunch 
Republican and fought many hard battles for his party. In the 
famous Nelson-Kindred congressional campaign he threw his 
strength with the "Little Norwegian from Alexandria" and was 
credited with a good share of the Nelson victory. 

In 1883 he was again appointed receiver, thus having the honor 
of being appointed to the same office by three different presidents, 
but served only one year of his third term. He died at his Crookston 
home of inflammation of the bowels, July 8th, 1884. and is survived 
by the widow, Mrs. Kari Sletten and five daughters. 

The family later removed to their Oak Lake homestead where 
they built a comfortable home and continued to reside until 1902 
when they sold the farm and Mrs. Sletten established her resi- 
dence at Audubon, ]\Iinn. 

The surviving children are: Mrs. Josephine S. Bailey of Min- 
neapolis, Miss Caroline L. Sletten of Audubon, Mrs. Nicoline C 
Netland of Audubon, Mrs. Sophie W. Netland of Northfield, Minn, 
and Miss Cora P. Sletten of Audubon, Minn. 

A. O. Netland. 

Hon. James G. McGrew. 

James G. McGrew was Ijorn near Indianapolis, Indiana, De- 
cember 23, 1833, 'ii''*^! came to Freeborn County, Minn., in 1855. 
He enlisted in Company B, Fourth Minnesota Infantry, and w'as 
stationed at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota, during the summer of 1862, 
participating in the battle of Redwood, and in the defence of 
Fort Ridgley against the Sioux Indias, in which battle twenty- 
five of its members were killed and were buried near where the 
fort stood. Captain Timothy Sheehan and Lieutenant McGrew 
were the two heroes of the battle. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 411 

He was afterwards with his regiment in the siege of Corinth, 
the siege of Vicksburg and several other battles, remaining with 
his regiment to the close of the war, being mustered out in Ala- 
bama Sept. 6, 1865. 

He located in Fillmore County, and in 1868 was elected to the 
state legislature, and removed to Becker County in the spring of 
1871, taking a homestead on the southeast cjuarter of Section 10 
in Audubon Township. He was admitted to the bar in 1872 and 
in the fall of 1873 was elected to the office of county attorney, 
which office he held for four years. He removed to Crookston in 
1879. Mrs. West. 

Captain ]\IcGrew died at St. Paul on the 30th day of January, 

]Mrs. Hattie E. Goodrich of Oak Lake died on February 24th. in her 
37th year, followed by the death of her husband, Guy H. Goodrich, on 
December 6th. Mr. Goodrich was born in Attica, New York; came to 
Crow Wing in 1869; followed up the N. P. R. R. and came here in 1870. He 
was engaged with Fletcher & Bly Co., contractors- He took a farm at 
Oak Lake on which he lived until his death. Mrs. Goodrich was, in pre- 
vious years of her life, connected with the Baptist church at Milwaukee. 

On Nov. 22nd William McKinstry "fell on sleep." His had been 
an eventful life. Born at Westminster, Vt., on June 14th, 1795, he went 
as a 3'oung- man to western New York. He was ordained a deacon of the 
INIethodist Episcopal Church by Bishop Elijah Hedding, in the village 
of Perry, N. Y., September 24th, 1837, and became a circuit rider of 
that church on a salary of about $100 a year and necessary traveling 
expenses. For between twenty and thirty years he labored in western 
New York along the Alleghany River, and in northern Pennsylvania, spend- 
ing most of his time on horseback, traversing the country, fording rivers, 
holding camp-meetings, attending revivals, preaching and praying wherev- 
er he found opportunity, and dealing with the spiritual interests and ex- 
periences of all sorts of people. He came into Stearns County, Minn., in 
1867, and to Becker County in the fall of 1871. He passed away at 
the home of his son, L. C. ^IcKinstry, at Audubon, a good man and 
full of years of service for his Divine ]\Iaster in the ^lethodist Episcopal 

He died November 22, 1882. 

^Irs. West. Rev. Geo. W. Brownjohn. 

412 A PioNEKR History of Becker County. 

Chapter XXIII. 


The first settlers in Lake Park Township were George Os- 
borne and Daniel McKay, who came into the township in April, 
1870. They located on Section 36. and what has since been 
called the Jonas Errickson farm was one of their claims. They 
were both single men and left the conntry soon after they had 
pro\-ed np on their land. 

The next settler was John Cromb, who came into the town- 
ship on the 20th of May, 1870, and took np land on Sections 26, 
34 and 35. The same farm is now the home of John O'Day. 

^Irs. John Cromb came with him, and was the first white 
woman who settled in the townshi]). 

John Cromb. 

John Cromb was born in Perthshire, Scotland, on the 27th day 
of February, 1843, and came to the United States in June, 1S69. 
He came directly to Balmoral, Otter Tail County, Minn., where 
he remained until the next spring" when he came to Becker Coun- 
ty, locating- in Lake Park Township on the 20th day of ^lay, 1870. 

Mr. Cromb was a member of the first board of county com- 
missioners of Becker County, being appointed to that ofiice by 
Governor Horace Austin at the time of the organization of the 
county in March, 1871. 

He was the first county auditor elected by the people, which 
office he held until the fall of 1881 when he resigned to accept 
the appointment of register of the United States Land ( )fiice at 
Crookston, Minn., which ofiice he held until after the election of 
President Cleveland in 1884. 

Since that time he has been president of the Merchants' Na- 
tional Bank of Crookston. where he has resided since the fall of 

Mrs. F. M. Higley, now of Spokane Falls, Wash., who came 
to Lake Park ToAvnship early in June, 1870, says: 

We came to Becker County on the loth day of June, 1870. We had 
four children. There were ten others in the party; Harry Chamberlain, 





414 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

wife and one child; John Higley, wife and three children; James N. Cham- 
berlain and Charlie Morgan. Abner and John Chamberlain did not come 
at that time. 

I think Wash. Dixon came a little later than we. He was not with our 
party. We came a few days after John Cromb, George Osborne and Dan 

We left St. Charles, Minn., on the loth day of May, with ox teams 
and covered wagons, arriving in what is now Lake Park Township just 
one month from the time we started, the loth of June. The weather was 
very rainy, and as we had to cook by camp-fires it was rather unpleasant 
at times, but on the whole we had rather an enjoyable time. Flora Moore 
taught the first school in Lake Park Township. 

Mrs. Frank M. Higley. 


Bv Christen E. Bjorge. 

Christen E. Bjorge is one of the old settlers of this county. He 
is a native of Norway, and was born in Ringibn, Gudbransdalen. 
on the 6th day of October, 1850. He is the son of Erick and 
Mary Bjorge. Mr. Bjorge. the subject of this sketch, remained in 
his native land attending school until 1867, and at the age of 
seventeen he emigrated to the United States and settled in Ver- 
non County, Wisconsin, where he remained for three years. To 
get a somewhat connected idea of Mr. Bjorge's history, I will in 
his own words give the following taken from the Becker County 
Journal : 

"To get a somewhat connected idea of what I am about to re- 
late it will be better to begin at the time I left Coon Prairie, Wis- 
consin, and started on my romantic search for land. The day 
dawned on which I decided to start ; the second day of May, 1870. 
Many friends were present to bid us good-by and wish us good 
luck on our journey. It was hard to bid these friends good-by, but 
our decision could not be changed ; we must look for a home but 
where we knew not. Still we would follow Greeley's advice and 
"Go West." The oxen bought for the occasion were hitched up 
and off we started sometimes at a gallop, sometimes in the road 
and sometimes out as they were unbroken and would mind noth- 
ing. Thus we journeyed until about to ascend a steep hill which 
leads from Coon Prairie to what was known as the Dutch Ridge. 
Before we reached the top, the oxen lost all patience and made a 
manoeuver which overturned the wagon and broke the tongue and 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 415 

finally they got loose. We lashed the broken tongue and continued 
our journey, arriving at La Crosse late that night, tired and dis- 
couraged by our first day's trip. We partook of a meager supper, 
crept into our wagon, and soon fell into a refreshing sleep. 

The next day we left La Crosse, crossing- the Mississippi on a 
ferry. On the Minnesota side the bank of the river was very 
steep and we came near having an accident. Our untrained oxen 
again showed their contrariness by backing up instead of going 
forward and another step backward would have plunged the whole 
outfit into the Mississippi, which here with majestic strength and 
splendor rushes by on its way to the gulf, ready to swallow and 
carry along whatever came in its way. But good fortune assisted 
us. The wagon was stopped by a projecting rock. We unhitched 
the oxen in a hurry, and drove them to the top of the hill. We 
had to unload and carry everything- up the hill by hand. A passer- 
by with a team of horses pulled the wagon up for us, and we again 
proceeded on our journey. We cast a last look back to bid our dear 
Wisconsin good-by. La Crosse lay calmly smiling in the rays of 
the rising sun, but a treacherous enemy, the Mississippi, stretched 
out between us. 

This early in the spring the pasturage for our oxen was poor, 
and consequently we had to proceed very slowly the first week so 
as not to tire our animals. To mention all the daily occurrences 
would take up too much space. But I thought it would interest 
both old and young to hear something about the "redskins" at 
this time when they were a constant menace to those breaking up 
the prairie or clearing the forest to get a home for themselves and 
their families. The young people of to-day can hardly imagine 
what the pioneers had to experience, sufifer and overcome. 

We moved slowly onward and arrived at Otter Tail City about 
the middle of June, and met several land seekers who I will men- 
tion individually. 

Martin Olson was just back from a trip to Becker County, 
where he had found a home and was to return with his family. 
Mr. Olson described the country with brightest colors, and all the 
company agreed to go and look it over. From Otter Tail City (at 
that time an insignificant Indian village) to Becker County, there 
were no roads, only Indian trails. To go over these roads with 
heavy loads was next to impossible in many places. In the 
southern part of Becker County we had to cross a swamp which 

4i6 A PioNEKR History of Becker County. 

caused us much trouble and hardship ; but cross it we must as we 
could discover no way around it. Consequently we had to bridge 
the swamp which took both time and strength, as the necessary 
materials had to be carried in. At last the bridge was finished, but 
it was not the best. Then seven or eight yoke of oxen were 
hitched to each wagon, and off we started across the swamp. Here 
it was necessary to hurry along the rear teams, and when these 
fell through the leaders were hurried on to pull out those which 
fell through the bridge. In this way we finally got everything 

The caravan proceeded slowly until we arrived at Detroit Lake. 
Here we drove along the beach until we came to a place where a 
stream flowed into the lake. To cross this stream was next to 
impossible. In the first place it was very deep and there were 
high banks on the other side which we could not climb. In order 
to cross we would either have to build a bridge or drive into the 
lake around the mouth of the stream. We decided to do the 
latter. We raised the wagon boxes so as to save our provisions 
if possible. The water, however, was deeper than we had antici- 
pated, and several got their baggage soaked. When in the stream, 
a yoke of our oxen lost all patience and seemingly thought it better 
to end their miserable existence by committing suicide. Where 
the water was deepest and onl}^ the oxen's horns were visible, they 
lay down and disappeared from sight. At this time good advice 
was appreciated. Chains were brought in a burr}', and with the 
aid of two yoke of cattle we saved both the oxen and the wagon. 
The poor animals that again saw daylight against their wills made 
a few grimaces, but otherwise seemed no worse off for their 
plunge bath. 

June 24th, 1870, we passed the site on which Detroit, our 
county seat, now stands ; the plains looked lonely and desolate. 
Who would at that time have thought that this would have been 
our county metropolis, and from its county halls justice would be 
dealt out to our people. We proceeded steadily though slowly 
further and further west, nearer and nearer to our goal. Four or 
five miles west of Detroit the country l)ecame more open, being 
mostly prairie with groves here and there, with lakes, full of fish, 
scattered in all directions. 

We soon arrived at the place where Lake Park is now situated. 
We halted and pitched camp, were satisfied with our surroundings 

A PioNivKR IlisTdUv oi" Becker County. 417 

and the beautiful Goshen we had taken possession of. Not least 
did the women enjoy the assurance that now their trials and suf- 
ferings were at an end, and they could view the future with hope- 
ful eyes. The trip had lasted nearly two months, and you need 
not wonder that we felt the need of a rest, a chance for a general 
cleaning up. The next morning we were all early on our feet, 
driven by the blood-thirsty, long-legged mosciuitoes which seemed 
to have no pity for the pale-faces who now made their conquest 
here. The day dawned clear and bright, and when the sun's 
rays caressed the tops of the trees, the numerous birds struck 
up a beautiful morning song, expressing their happiness and 
satisfaction at being able to live and Iniild their homes in this 
part of nature's domain. The land seekers breakfasted, and were 
soon ready to strike out for the choice of a home. Each started 
in his own direction, while the cattle were left at the camp to be 
cared for by the women and children. By nightfall most of the 
land seekers were back, and had found what they had sought, a 
home for themselves and theirs. 

All took up land near the timber. The party, among the first 
settlers of this township, scattered as one after the other got ready 
and moved his family and belongings to the place chosen for their 
future home. AA"e arrived at the place in Section 8 which be- 
came our home on June 28th, 1870. 

The first thing we did was to build a claim shanty, its size was 
ten by twelve feet, seven feet high at the ridge. I had half a 
window facing the south. The roof was composed of poplar poles 
and hay, with clay on top. It soon showed that we were not 
master builders, as all the rain that fell on the roof streamed 
through into what we called a bed. The bed was made from a 
couple of oak logs three feet long, laid six feet apart and covered 
with poles. There was no floor in the cabin, and when it rained 
there was little comfort within. Table we had none, but used a 
box which we had brought with us. We made stools out of oak 
logs, leaving a part of a limb on for a handle. There was little 
said about the necessary housefurnishing, as lumber and the neces- 
sary tools were not to be had. All we had was an old ax, and with 
such a tool it was hard to manufacture the furniture. In the 
summer of 1870 we broke a few acres wdiich were seeded in 1871, 
but the grasshoppers came and took it all ; the same happened in 
1872. In 1873, we had no grasshoppers but then we had a very 

4i8 A Pione;e;r History of Becker County. 

small area seeded. The reason for this was that so many were of 
the opinion that we would again be visited by the grasshoppers, 
and also that so many were too poor to buy seed wheat. In 1874-5, 
the grasshoppers again ravaged the country so that there was 
nothing left for bread for the poor farmers. When I say that the 
grasshoppers were so numerous that they stopped railroad trains 
you will perhaps doubt it, but it is a fact that the insects would 
alight on the rails in such numbers that the rails would become 
slippery, and the trains could not move. 

These continuous failures, together with other obstacles and 
disappointments, caused many to lose heart. This must be said 
of the Norwegian ; he is tough and determined to hold out ; at 
least that was the case here." During these years of privation 
few moved away to other localities, but most of the first settlers 
remained. Many will perhaps wonder how so many could hold 
out for such a length of time without getting any crops. It must 
be said that the railroad, the Northern Pacific, which runs 
through here was built to Lake Park in the fall of 187 1, and this 
gave the farmers a chance to earn a little, both by their own work 
and the work of their ox teams. If the Northern Pacific had not 
been built at that time I dare say everybody would have been 
starved out of Becker County. 

Even when we first settled here we lived in constant fear of 
the many Indians we had to mingle with. They had their homes 
on the White Earth Reservation, in Becker County. It soon 
became apparent that the Indians were not friendly to the whites, 
who were overrunning their hunting grounds. 

In the fall of 1870 the Indians set fire to a stack of hay belong- 
ing to a farmer named Gunder Carlson, and when he went out to 
investigate he was shot from behind by an Indian. Mr. Carlson 
received six buckshot in the back and died two years later from the 
effects of the wounds. In the fall of 1871 a family by the name 
of Johnson were killed by the Indians, and in the spring of 1872 
another family consisting of five persons were killed. These atroci- 
ties put fear and unrest in our minds, and made the situation very 

In May, 1872, a message was sent out that the Indians were 
gathered on the White Earth Reservation for a council. Their 
war spirit gathered strength as their meeting progressed. The 
Indians had even donned their war paint, and were dancing 

A Pionee;r History or" Becker County. 419 

the war dance. There was at that time a minister on the reser- 
vation, who sent the settlers word about the doings of the In- 
dians. When war-like rumors came out, the settlers of Lake 
Park Township gathered at Lake Park to discuss what had best 
be done. The most careful were chosen as leaders, and it was 
decided to build a fort on a little hill south of where our peace- 
ful little village. Lake Park, now stands, with extensions on each 
corner so that firing could be done along the sides of the fort 
from the inside, railroad ties were set upright in these ditches, 
and the dirt tramped in again. Port-holes were arranged here and 
there around the fort. Women and children were brought in- 
side the stockade. Some of the men were placed as sentinels 
while others were stationed at the port-holes to receive the ex- 
pected enemy. The settlers remained here for several days. 
Meanwhile there was nobody at home to care for the stock, so 
these animals were obliged to shift for themselves as best they 
could. The warlike Indians did not come. The reason was that 
the above mentioned minister had brought his influence to bear 
upon them. Their minister was a steadfast friend of the white 
settler and he, next to God, m'ust be thanked for our deliverance. 
When the settlers received the good news that all danger was 
over for the time being, each one proceeded to his own home. In 
1876 there was another fear of Indian uprising, but then, as before, 
it was frustrated by the peaceful ones who were more friendly 
to the whites. 

Thirty-five years ago nobody would have thought that at this 
time Becker County would become such an important county in the 
state. It is not only one of the handsomest counties in the state, 
but the farmers and the inhabitants are as a whole well-to-do, not 
to say rich. Especially in the western part we see on every hand 
well cultivated farms and substantial buildings. 

Large herds of cattle are now grazing where not many years 
ago herds of buflfalo were found. 

C. E. BjORGE. 

Mr. C. E. Bjorge was united in marriage to Miss Dina Hamre 
on the 28th day of October, 1875. Miss Hamre was born in 
Goodhue County, Minnesota, and was the daughter of John and 
Emily Hamre, both natives of Norway. Mr. and Mrs. Bjorge 
have been blessed with six children, Edwin, Julia, Annie, Oscar, 
Rhoda, and Leona. 

420 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

^Ir. Bjorge was appointed ])ostmaster at Lake Park under 
Cleveland's first administration. He conducted the ofifice with credit 
and satisfaction both to himself and all concerned. He was presi- 
dent of the village for a few years, then assessor of the township, 
and Avas census enumerator in 1880 and 1890. and clerk and 
member of the board of education. 

Mr. Bjorge is a man of good business abilities and qualifications, 
and has been successful in whatever business he has been engaged. 

Ole E. Bjorge. 

The Scandinavian peninsula has been conspicuous for the pro- 
duction of a strong, honest, energetic type of men, and has furnished 
some of the most progressive and enterprising of the settlers of 
the Northwest. 

They have helped to bring this region into a high state of 
development and civilization. They have proved themselves to be 
progressive, intelligent, and worthy citizens. The early settlers of 
Lake Park Township were mostly Scandinavians, and no more 
thrifty agricultural locality can be found in the Northwest. Ole 
E. Bjorge, the subject of this biographical sketch, was the first 
settler in the western part of Lake Park Township and has aided 
materially in its progress and development. 

Ole J. Bjorge was born in Ringibu, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway, 
September loth, 1845, and was raised on a farm in his native 
land. His father, Eric O. Bjorge, was born in Norway, March 
25th, 1 82 1, and died at Lake Park, Minnesota, December 20th, 
1902. His mother, whose maiden name was Mary Christenson 
Losness, was born in Norway, and died at Coon Prairie, Wiscon- 
sin, November 20th, 1869. The parents of Ole E. Bjorge were not 
people of wealth, and when only a young boy he was put to heavy 
work. On April 6th, 1866, he bade adieu to his home, parents and 
friends and set sail for America. The journey across the sea was 
made in a sail ship, and it took seven weeks to reach America. Mr. 
Bjorge was the first of the family to come to America, and was 
the means of the family settling in this country. In 1868, Mr. 
Bjorge was married to Mary H. Sandsness. Her parents, Mr. and 
Mrs. Halvor Sandsness,. were both born in Norway. She was born 
in Sandsness, Bjorsogton, Norway, November 14th, 1845. ^"^l came 

A PioNEUR History of Becker County. 421 

to America in 1866. Her parents are both dead; her father having 
died in Norway and her mother at Rushford, Minnesota. 

Three children have been born of this marriage, namely : Henry, 
born March 7th, 1871 ; Edwin, born May 17, 1878; and Minnie, 
now Mrs. H. Himrum, born December 8th, 1882. Ole E. Bjorge 
and his brother, Christen, arrived in Becker County, Minnesota, 
in June, 1870, coming all the way acoss the country from Wis- 
consin with an ox team and a covered wagon. Detroit then con- 
sisted of a few Indian tents, and the country was entirely without 
roads. Ole E. Bjorge and his brother, Christen Bjorge, both took 
claims in Lake Park Township. Ole built a house in Section 8, 
which was the first log cabin in the western part of Lake Park 
township. The first years were full of hardship, and all the farm- 
ing was done with oxen, and supplies had to be hauled a distance 
of over one hundred miles ; besides the grasshoppers destroyed the 
crops for several years. The Indians were a source of dread and 
caused a great deal of trouble and anxiety to the early settlers. The 
country was then filled with wild game, and the Indians looked 
with suspicion upon the invasion of the white man which would 
eventually decrease the size of the territory over which he could 
roam and hunt. Several families were massacred by the Indians 
in the adjoining townships, and the report helped to spread con- 
sternation among the settlers. It became customary for the settlers 
in the evenings to take a look around the country to ascertain if 
there were any suspicious Indians gathered around. One evening 
in the fall of 1871, as Ole Bjorge was spying around from the top 
of a hill to see if there were any Indians in view, he saw a large 
prairie fire in the north and against the flames he could plainly see 
a crowd of men coming towards his farm. In a moment, he heard 
several shots discharged in the same direction and Ole felt certain 
it meant an Indian outbreak, and he ran to the house and told the 
family that the Indians were coming and that they should run to 
the home of G. T. Johnson, which w^as only a few rods away. He 
then warned his father, Erick, and family, and they all rushed to 
the home of Mr. Johnson. Here they made preparations for self- 
defense. Johnson was stationed at the door with a gun and Erick 
held the powder horn and the bullet bag and Ole held an ax. The 
women and children were in the cellar. The house was surrounded 
with heavy timber on all sides and at a short distance below the 
house was a large slough filled with heavy grass. Ed. Bjorge, 

422 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

who was then a boy, crawled down the hill and hid himself in the 
heavy grass of the slough and in case of an attack by the Indians, 
Ed. would probably have been the only one to survive. There 
during that long and strenuous night stood the brave and fearless 
men, ready to sacrifice their lives, in a new and unsettled country, 
for the protection of themselves and families. Early in the morn- 
ing, while it was still dark, an object was discerned crawling up the 
hill toward the house. "There is one of the Indians," whispered 
Johnson, "and in a second he will be dead." He raised the hammer, 
put the gun to his shoulder, took aim to be sure of the object, and 
was ready to fire. "Wait," whispered Ole, "it looks like Ed." 
Johnson hesitated a minute and in the meantime it was discovered 
that it was actually "Ed." The night was cold and being chilled 
to the bones Ed. was unable to hold out in the slough any longer, 
and made up his mind to seek shelter in the house. It was a 
narrow escape from meeting a tragic death. Morning at last 
dawned and no Indians had been seen. Later it was learned that 
the men who had been seen on the prairie in the evening were not 
Indians at all but a number of railway men who had gone to attend 
a dance and on their way discharged their revolvers. 

Mr. Bjorge was a hard and efficient worker, and as the result 
of many years of labor he had converted the farm into one of the 
finest and most productive in Becker County. Additional land 
was acquired by purchase so that the farm now includes three 
hundred and sixty acres. 

A complete set of good and substantial buildings have been 
erected which have converted the farm into a home of more than 
usual comfort. 

In July, 1899, Mr. Bjorge was stricken with paralysis and died 
on the 9th of July of that year. He was buried in the cemetery of 
the Norwegian Synod at Lake Park. Mr. Bjorge was highly 
esteemed and respected by all those with whom he was acquainted, 
and the funeral was one of the largest ever held in the western 
part of Becker County. It must be said to his credit that he always 
intended that justice should be observed among men, and all his 
dealings were marked with the highest degree of honesty and in- 
tegrity. He stood for a "square deal." Politically he was a Dem- 
ocrat and attended numerous conventions of his party. He was 
a memljer of the Lutheran church, as was also his familv, and bv 

A Pione;er History of Becker County. 423 

his death the community lost a most worthy citizen and one of 
the pioneers of Becker County. 

Henry O. Btorge. 

Jonas Erickson. 

Jonas Erickson was born August i6th, 1848, in IModelford, 
Sweden. His parents were farmers. He came to America in 
1857 and settled in Iowa. He was married to Olava Aas, a native 
of Sweden. Their marriage has been blessed with six children, 
of which Lewis, Annie and Christian are still living. Three are 

On the nth day of June, 1870, he settled on his farm on Sec- 
tions 2 and 3 in Lake Park Township. 

On the 19th day of September, 187 1, he was elected chairman 
of the board of supervisors. On the 21st day of December, 1871, 
he was elected the first treasurer of School District No. 2, and on 
the 1 2th day of March, 1872, he was elected assessor in this town- 

Gustav Jacobson. 

Gustav Jacobson is one of the early settlers of this township. 
There are perhaps few who occupy a more prominent place than 
the gentleman whose name heads this sketch. 

Mr. Jacobson is a native of Norway. He was born in 1848. 
Came to America in the year 1866. In 1876 Jacobson was united 
in marriage to Miss Inga Olson, a native of Norway. Their 
marriage has been blessed with two children — Julius and Caroline. 
In the summer of 1870, he came to this township, and settled on 
Section 30, where he has carried on agricultural operations and 
has been one of the most successful farmers in this township. 

Oliver Taylor. 

One of the first settlers in the western part of Becker County 
was Oliver Taylor. Mr. Taylor was a native of the state of Ohio, 
being born there in the year 1828. While a boy he accompanied 
his parents to Indiana and in the early "fifties" went to Minnesota 
and settled in Kandiyohi County. In 1862, however, just before 
the Indian outbreak, he returned to Indiana. After a few years' 


A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

stay he again went to Minnesota and arrived in Becker County in 
the summer of 1870. He in company with two other gentlemen 
by the name of Clark and Haney first stopped at Richwood, where 
Mr. Haney located on the Buffalo River with a view of building a 
mill. Mr. Taylor left Richwood and took up a claim on Section 
2 of the township of Lake Park, where he remained during 
the following winter with nothing but his dog and horses for his 

O. I. BERG. 


companions. In the summer of 187 1, he brought up his family 
to live on the claim where they together endured the various trials 
of frontier life. In 1876 he sold his farm to Thomas H. Canfield 
and with his family moved to Tennessee, thence to Missouri, where 
his wife died in 1878. With his two daughters, he returned to 
Lake Park where they remained a short time, and then settled in 
Marshall County, Minn., and where he was elected the first audi- 
tor of that county. 

Mr. Taylor died in Lake Park Township on the fourth of 
November, 1899. 

George Goodrich came here in the summer of 1870 and settled 
on Section 14. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 425 

Gudm F. Johnson. 

Mr. Gudm F. Johnson was born in Norway, June nth, 1844. 
His parents were both Norwegians. He came to the United States 
in August, 1866, sta>-e(l a few years in Wisconsin and then moved to 
Minnesota. Mr. Johnson was married to Miss Anne E. Bjorge, May 
23rd, 1869. He arrived at Oak Lake, Becker County, June 28th, 
1871, and later in the same year purchased some railroad land in 
the western part of Lake Park Township. At the first town meet- 
ing held in the township of Lake Park, at that time called the town 
of Liberty, Mr. Johnson was elected on the board of township 
supervisors. He stayed in Becker County a short time, and went 
to Minneapolis in 1872. At Minneapolis he became associated with 
Mr. Jedde in editing and publishing a Norwegian weekly news- 
paper by the name of Budstckkcii. This was a Democratic organ, 
and for many years w^as the leading Norwegian newspaper in 
the state. 

Even Nelson. 

Even Nelson was born in Lillejord, Telemarken, Norway, June 
23rd, 1842. In 1859, Mr. Nelson, for the purpose of obtaining an 
education, entered a seminary and graduated from the same in the 
spring of 1861. In the- fall following he was given a position as 
school teacher, and followed this profession for a period of six years. 

In 1867, he was married to Birget Overson, w4io was also a 
native of Norway. She is a relative of Halvor Steenerson, the 
present congressman from this district. Mr. Nelson made up his 
mind to try his fortune across the sea, and shortly after his marriage, 
he and his wife started on their voyage to the United States, coming 
to Kashkenomghe Prairie, Dane County, Wisconsin. He remained 
there for three years. During this time he was engaged in teaching 
the Norwegian language in the adjoining Scandinavian districts. 
The homesteads in this district were all taken up, and as Mr. Nelson 
did not possess sufficient means to purchase land he made up his 
mind to go where he could obtain a free farm of his own. Con- 
sequently on the 17th day of May, 1870, he and his wife, in com- 
pany with several others, left Madison, Wisconsin, and on the 3d 
day of July arrived in the western part of Becker County. It will 

426 A PioxEER History of Becker County. 

be observed that the trip consumed one month and a half. This 
was due to the fact that the journey had to be made by the use of 
oxen, some of which were old and slow. And also to the fact 
that the long distance had to be traveled without any roads what- 
ever. Mr. Nelson took up a homestead on Section 30 of Lake 
Park Township, on which he still resides. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson 
have been blessed with a family of nine children, nearly all of whom 
are full grown and all are living. Four of them are married. Mr. 
Nelson has not been lacking in energy and thrift in the building 
up of a comfortable home. His farm, by successful cultivation, 
has been brought to a high degree of fertility, and the well-con- 
structed buildings bear evidence of success and prosperity. 

Johannes Bjornstad. 

Johannes Bjornstad was born in Norway in August, 1814, came 
to America in 1869. and in July, 1870, located on Section 24 of 
Lake Park Township, where he continued to reside until the time of 
his death, which occurred at the home of his daughter, Mrs. 
George Goodrich, on the 22d day of October, 1899. He was the 
father of Olof, Michael and John Bjornstad. 

M. Bjornstad. 

Mr. AI. Bjornstad is the owner of a fine farm in the eastern 
part of Lake Park Township. He is a Norwegian, born in 
Roken, Norway, September 29th, 1849. ^^^ his youth he decid- 
ed to leave his native country and emigrate to the United States 
and in June, 1868, he arrived in America. Inspired with the 
hope of finding a home of his own he proceeded to Minnesota 
and on the 4th day of July, 1870, arrived in Becker County. 
He took up a homestead in Section 13 of Lake Park Town- 
ship, where he still resides. On July 29th, 1873, Mr. Bjornstad 
was married to Miss Josephine Halvorson, and at the present 
time Mr. and Mrs. Bjornstad are the proud parents of twelve 
children, six boys and six girls, George, Joseph, Bendike, Wil- 
helm, Gabriel, Ferdinand; and Cornelia, Helena, Marie, Nora, 
Julia and Alma. Mr. Bjornstad has held several township of- 
fices such as supervisor, road overseer, and school director. In 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 427 

politics, Mr Bjornstad has been associated with the repubhcan 
party. He is also a member of the Norwegian Lutheran church. 
By active work and industry he has constructed on his farm 
large and comfortable buildings in which he and his family 
now enjoy the comfort and blessings of modern farm life. 

Olaus Bjornstad. 

Olaus Bjornstad resides on Section 13 in Lake Park Town- 
ship ; he has made farming his vocation, and is one of the 
most prominent farmers in the eastern part of the township. 
Mr. Bjornstad is a native of Norway, being born in Roken, 
Norway, February 21st, 1847. ^^ the age of tw^enty-four, full 
of vigor and strength with the hope of finding a place where he 
could use his energy to better advantage than in his native 
land, he made up his mind to go to America and after a success- 
ful voyage arrived in the United States in June, 1869. Having 
heard of the fertile land in Minnesota, Mr. Bjornstad proceeded 
westward in search of a home. He finally arrived in Becker 
County and on the 8th day of November, 1870, took up a home- 
stead in the eastern part of Lake Park Township. He worked 
on the road bed of the Northern Pacific Railway during the 
summer of 1871, and during the fall and summer of 1872 served 
as watchman on the fencing train of the Northern Pacific. Mr. 
Bjornstad was also engaged as clerk in the store of Holmes & 
Phinney in Detroit, and after serving in this capacity for one 
year and a half he moved out to his homestead. 

May 20th, 1875, he was married to Marie Beaver. As a 
result of this marriage nine children were born, most of whom 
are now full grown. Of these there are six girls, Clara, Thea, 
Selma, Olga, Inga and Holda; also three boys, John, Oscar and 

He has held many positions of honor and trust. In the 
fall of 1871 he was present at a meeting at which the organiza- 
tion of the township was affected and was elected one of its 
first officers. He served as county commissioner at the time 
of the building of the Becker County court-house and for many 
years he has served as a member of the board of supervisors, 
and also as a member of the school board. At the present time 
he is chairman of the board of town supervisors. He is a mem- 
ber of the Norwegian Lutheran church. 

428 A I'loxEER History of Becker County. 

Mr. Bjornstad has put up many fine and substantial build- 
ings on his farm which show evidence of the general prosperity, 
so characteristic among the farmers in the western part of Beck- 
er County. 

Andrew A. Houglum. 

Andrew A. Houglum was born at Arnefjord, Sogn, Nor- 
way, August 27th, 1855. H^s parents were of Norwegian birth 
and lived on a farm, but were in ])oor circumstances. In those 
days the people made their own clothing; the men wore knee 
pants and long stockings. Wooden shoes were of universal 
use. The children, as soon as they l^ecame of sufficient age, 
learned to make their own wooden shoes, and at the age of 
twelve Mr. Houglum made his first pair. In 1869, at the age 
of fourteen he in company with his parents left his home on his 
journey for America. Before they reached Bergen the steamer 
on which they were passengers struck on a rock, but fortunate- 
ly the ship was not seriously damaged. At Bergen they boarded 
a sailing ship, and at the end of three weeks landed safely in 
Quebec, Canada. From there they proceeded to Goodhue Coun- 
ty, Minnesota, arriving on the 15th day of June. Mr. Houglum 
heard of the fertile soil in the great Red River country, and in 
1871 in company with his brother started for Becker County. 
He took up a homestead in the western part of Lake Park Town- 
ship. His brother Ole also took up a homestead nearl)y ; he 
died some years ago. 

When Mr. Houglum left Goodhue County, all he possessed 
was fifty dollars. The journey to Becker County was made 
with oxen and was necessarily slow and tedious. He was mar- 
ried in 1883, ^iid as the result of his marriage eight children 
have been born. 

Mr. Houglum has always taken an active interest in the 
development of the western part of Becker County, and for 
many years has been a member of the board of supervisors for 
Lake Park Township. In politics he has been associated with the 
principles of the republican party. He is also a member of 
the Norwegian Lutheran church. 

Christen E. Bjorge. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 429 

Nels Nelson. 

Nels Nelson is a prosperous farmer residing- on Section 6 
of Lake Park Township. Mr. Nelson was born in Appelbo, 
Dalarne, Sweden, April 5th, 1837. He was married in Sweden 
when he was twenty-two years old, and at the age of thirty- 
three set sail for America with his wife and three children, ar- 
riving at New York, July 3d, 1870. From New York he pro- 
ceeded westward as far as Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he re- 
mained until the following- spring. Early in the spring he pur- 
chased a pair of horses and a bob-sleigh and with his family pro- 
ceeded toward the West. Arriving at Sauk Center, he left his 
family behind in a small log shanty and proceeded on the journey 
until he finally arrived at the place of John O. Johnson near 
Audubon. Being informed by Mr. Johnson that there were 
homesteads to be had, Mr. Nelson hurried back after his family 
and on the 4th day of April, 1871, they arrived sound and healthy 
in the northwestern part of Lake Park Township, where he de- 
cided to take a homestead. One month and four days were con- 
sumed in journeying from AA^isconsin to this place, because of 
snow-storms and the bad condition of the roads. The family 
had to walk nearly the entire distance. 

After a few years Mr. .Nelson acquired more land by pur- 
chase from the railroad company, so that his farm now comprises 
three hundred acres of the finest agricultural land. 

Mr. Nelson is a member of the Lutheran church, and has 
assisted in building one of the finest Lutheran churches in this 
part of the state. This church is situated in the northwestern 
part of Lake Park TowMiship, and has been constructed of brick 
and stone at the cost of twelve thousand dollars. This magnifi- 
cent edifice for religious worship stands as a living monument 
to the imtiring energy and the industry of the sturdy pioneers, 
who by the sacrifice of their labor and money have contributed 
to its construction. As has been related in the beginning of this 
sketch Mr. Nelson has been eminently successful in following 
the pursuits of agriculture. The numerous and well construct- 
ed buildings on his farm bear evidence of a successful and pros- 
perous life. 

430 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

John G. Norby. 
John G. Norby, one of the most successful and prosperous 
farmers of Becker County, resides on his farm in Section 5 
of Lake Park Township. Mr. Norby was born on the farm Ekern 
in Berum, Askers, Norway, November 17th, 1837. In 185 1, his 
father died and the following year Mr. Norby with his mother 
and five sisters and one brother removed to his grandfather's 
farm, Norby, where he lived until 1867. On June 21st, 1858, 
he was married to Thorena Larson. She was born on the 
I2th day of November, 1835, on a farm Okeri-Berum, Norway. 
On April 12th, 1867. Mr. Norby with his entire family consist- 
ing of his wife and five children, Gustav, Dorthea, Lousie, 
now Mrs. C. K. Ekern, Lars, Ludvig and Adolph, and also 
his mother and four sisters, took passage by steamship to the 
United States and arrived at Lansing, Allamakee County, Iowa, 
May I2th. He moved out to east Pain Creek Prairie to live 
with his brother-in-law Jens Okeri. During the summer he 
worked on the nearby farms, and was paid at the rate of one 
dollar per day. On May 14th, 1871, Mr. Norby, with his wife 
and six children, Henry Edward having been born in Fillmore 
County, started out with two yoke of oxen hitched to a prairie 
schooner, and one hundred and thirty-five dollars in his pocket 
to seek a home in the Northwest, and on the evening of June 
i6th arrived at the place of Ole E. Bjorge in the western part 
of Becker County. After looking over the land in various di- 
rections, Mr. Norby finally decided to locate on Section 5 in 
Lake Park Township and commenced at once the erection of a 
log cabin. In the fall he worked with his two yoke of oxen, 
in the cut of the Northern Pacific Railway, west of where the 
village of Lake Park is now located. The ^^^inter of 1871-2 
was cold and stormy and exceptionally hard, but the people, 
being all in the prime of life and full of strength and courage 
withstood the hardships remarkably well during these early 
years, which were filled with many hardships. The settlers were 
very sociable. During Christmas and other holidays several 
families were gathered together in the newly built log cabins, 
and spent the time in singing, story telling and various other 
amusements. During these years money was extremely scarce, 
but the people were full of energy, hope and happiness. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 431 

Mr. Xorby at v^arious times has added by purchase to the 
size of his farm, so that it now comprises an area of four hun- 
dred and twenty-five acres of as good agricultural land as can 
be found anywhere in the Northwest. Large and comfortable 
buildings have been erected, and on the farm may also be seen 
a fine herd of Red Polled cattle headed by thoroughbred sires. 

In politics Mr. Xorby has always adhered to the doctrines 
of the republican party ; he is a member of the Xorwegian 
Lutheran church, and is also one of the directors of the Becker 
County State Bank. 

Ingel Ukkestad. 

Ingel Ukkestad was born in Nannestad, X'orway, February 
7th, 1821. He came to the United States, July 12th, 1862, and 
after looking over the country in several localities he finally ar- 
rived in Becker County. He took up a homestead on Section 
4 in the township of Lake Park on the 6th day of July. 1871. 
Mr. Ukkestad was married to Marie Thoreson, April 27th, 1862. 
Three children have been born, John, Ludvig, and Albert. The 
eldest son John owns and operates a farm in the township of 
Cuba while Ludvig and Albert are attending to the manage- 
ment of the farm at home. 

For many years Mr. Ukkestad has been in feeble health 
and for that reason has been closely confined to his home. He 
is a member of the L'nited Lutheran church. 

L. W. Pederson. 

L. W . Pederson was born in Inderoen, Trondhjem, Xorway, 
January 23d, 1847. He left his native home in Norway, April 
25th, 1866, to seek his fortune in America. The ocean was 
crossed in a sailing vessel, and after a successful voyage he 
landed at Quebec, June 12th. Pie proceeded westward to Fill- 
more County, ^linnesota. In the winter of 1871 he proceeded 
northward in quest of a home, and arrived in the western part 
of Becker County on the 14th day of February that same year 
and took a homestead on Section 4 in the township of Lake 
Park. Mr. Pederson was married to Bergitha J. Engelstad on 
the 13th day of May, 1873. Mrs. Pederson died April 30th, 1901, 

432 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

and was buried at the Lutheran church cemetery at Lake Park. 
Mr. Pederson has held several positions of trust and honor. He 
served as the first clerk in school district No. i6, served in the 
capacity of assessor for the township of Lake Park during sever- 
al terms, and was also elected for many years as chairman of 
the board of supervisors. He acted as president of the Lake Park 
and Cuba Farmers' Insurance Company from the time it was 
organized until 1902. From 1875 to 1879 ^^^ served as county 
commissioner of Becker County. 

Mr. Pederson is a member of the Norwegian Lutheran 
church, and always took an active interest in religion. In poli- 
tics he has always been a staunch supporter of . Republican prin- 
ciples. On the 22d day of January, 1902, Mr. Pederson was 
married to Anna J. Skovdahl. As a result of this marriage two 
children have been born, Ingeborg Malena and Lydia Bergithe. 

Mr. Pederson conceived the idea of founding an orphans' 
home on his farm. With this idea in view additional buildings 
were constructed, and the Orphans' Home became an established 
fact. This institution is known as the Lake Park Orphans' 
Home. Mr. Pederson donated a portion of his farm to the 
support of this institution, additional land has been acquired 
by purchase, so that the property belonging to the institution 
comprises three hundred and sixty acres. At the present time 
in the neighborhood of one hundred children are cared for at 
the institution. The property is now owned by the United 
Lutheran Church. In 1902, Mr. Pederson moved to Halstad, 
Minnesota, where he purchased a farm and has since made his 

Erick S. Quam. 

Mr. Quam was born in Hafslo, Norway, July 20th, 1834. 
His parents were farmers by occupation. In 1862, Mr. Quam 
was married to Christie Stokkenoo, of Lyster, Norway. They 
emigrated to America, and arrived at Albert Lea, Minnesota, 
in the summer of 1870. After having lived in Albert Lea one 
year they set out to seek their fortune in a new country and in 
August, 1871, they located on Section 30 where they still live. 

Mr. Quam purchased the improved claim of Gulbrand Erick- 
son, and later filed on a homestead. The first few years were full 
of hardships. The grasshoppers destroyed the crops for several 

A PioNKER History of Becker County. 433 

years, and in 1875 a terrific hail storm ravaged the country. 
In 1872, the story was circulated that the Indians intended to 
kill the settlers, and in anticipation of this Mr. Quam took most 
of his personal effects with him and moved to Lake Park, where 
he and some of the other settlers commenced the construction 
of a fort to be used for the protection of themselves and families. 
Fortunately the Indian scare did not materialize. Mr. Quam 
is a member of the Lutheran church in which he has always 
been an earnest and conscientious worker. Mr. Quam is now 
the owner of a large and well cultivated farm on which have 
been erected costly and substantial buildings making a home 
where he may enjoy the cjuiet and comfort of life in his de- 
clining years. 

]\Ir. Jens P. Foss, of whom I have no history, came here in 
the spring of 1872, and settled on the southwest quarter of Sec- 
tion 16 (school land). 

O. I. Berg came here in the spring of 1872. 


The first township election was held at the house of M. L. 
Devereaux on Section 10, September 19th, 1871. John Cromb 
was elected moderator, AI. L. Devereaux, clerk; and Martin 
Olson, and Louis Johnson, judges of election. At this meeting 
the organization of the township was affected and it was named 
the township of Liberty. The following named persons were 
elected as the first officials of the new township. Supervisors, 
Jonas Erickson, chairman ; W. H. Chamberlain and G. F. John- 
son. M. L. Devereaux was elected town clerk ; Charles Smith 
treasurer; John Cromb and Jonas Erickson, justices of the peace 
and Frank Higley and Louis Johnson, constables. 

At a meeting held on the 21st day of October, 1871, the town- 
ship was organized into a school district called No. 2, with the 
following officers : M. L. Devereaux, clerk ; John Cromb, director 
and Jonas Erickson, treasurer. This district was set aside as 
illegally established. 

At this time there was no railway, and the nearest market 
place was over one hundred miles away. This was a long dis- 
tance to drive with oxen over poor roads to obtain the necessi- 
ties of life. In the summer of 1871, however, work was com- 

434 -^ Pioneer History of Becker County. 

menced on the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. 
A railroad station was established in the northern part of the 
township, and the name given to it was Lakeside. The building 
of the railroad put new life into the country. The settlers were 
given employment, money was put into circulation, stations 
were built, markets were opened, and the}- were enabled to 
sell their products to obtain the necessities of life and to procure 
the machinery so essential to successful cultivation and sub- 
jugation of the soil. The early years were full of hardships, the 
grasshoppers destroyed the crops and the settlers were in con- 
stant dread of the Indians. 

By reason of this many became discouraged, abandoned their 
homesteads and returned to older settlements. But neither the 
ravages of the grasshoppers nor the danger of being extermin- 
ated by the Indians could scare away the majority of the early 
and sturdy pioneers, who had crossed untrodden prairies, and 
unbridged streams, and penetrated wild forests for the purpose 
of providing homes for themselves and their families. 

In 1876, at the suggestion of the Rev. Dr. Hawley, the post 
ofifice known as Loring, the railway station, and the township 
were all merged into one name to be known as Lake Park. 
This was indeed a most fitting name, for to one who in summer 
time beholds the striking landscaj^e consisting of undulating 
prairies, green groves, blossoming fields and picturesque lakes, 
it presents the scenic beauty of a park. In fertility of soil this 
township is not surpassed by any in Becker County, nor per- 
haps in the entire Northwest. The land is not only adapted to 
the growing of grain such as wheat, oats, barley, and fiax, but 
during recent years, clover and corn have been raised with suc- 
cess. The country is therefore adapted to diversified farming; 
stock-raising and dairying have in recent years become import- 
ant industries. In the village of Lake Park are two creameries 
that are running with full capacity the year around. 

The stock farm of Thomas Canfield which is situated near 
the village of Lake Park is one of the finest and most up-to-date 
stock farms in the Northwest. On this farm Mr. Canfield has 
bred up from imported and domestic stock a fine herd of Short- 
horns that have captured many prizes at many fairs where 
they have been exhibited. On the farm ma}' be seen also the 
finest Yorkshire hogs in America, if not in the world. His 

A Pionee;r History of Becker County. 435 

Yorkshires took the championship at the World's Exposition 
at St. Louis, and at every other place where they have been 
exhibited they have carried off the highest honors. 

Many of the farmers in the vicinity have availed themselves 
of the opportunity of improving their stock by purchasing full- 
blooded sires at the Canfield farm. Lake Park is noted for its 
fine stock, and for this the farmers are indebted, to a large 
extent, to the energy and untiring efforts of Mr. Canfield, who 
has made it possible for them to obtain full-blooded sires of 
the highest bred type. 

An orphan home has also been built in the northwestern 
part of the township where dependent children can be cared for 
and educated. 

The village of Lake Park, with a population of 800, is a 
thrifty and prosperous town, and as an evidence of its thrift 
and prosperity may be cited the fact that there is not a single 
shanty in the village. 

Already some of the early pioneers have been laid to rest, 
and the time is not far distant when all of them will have ceased 
to count their homes among the living. They have done their 
duty and have done it well ;, they have been faithful and true. 
For their unswerving loyalty to those by whom they are survived, 
and devotion to country, the rising generation is deeply in- 
debted. They strove to make us and our country what we are 
and their efforts have not been in vain. The substantial roads, 
the fine school houses, and the towering churches bear the 
strongest testimony to their industry, their undying devotion to 
family, and their loyalty to country and to God. 

Henry O. Bjorge. 


The first minister to visit us was the Rev. T. Watleson. He 
conducted services on November 6th, 1870, and this as far as I 
know was the first religious service in this county. 

On the i6th day of INIay, 1871, a congregation was organized 
and named The Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation 
of Becker County. The trustees elected were Lars A. Larson, 
T. S. Hande and John Beaver. November 19th, 1872, a meeting 


A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

was held in Lake Park and the name of the congregation was 
changed to the Norwegian Evangehcal Lutheran Hay Creek 
Congregation of Becker and Clay Counties. At this meeting a 


call for a minister was issued, but the choice was left to the 
church council of the Norwegian Synod. 

Rev. K. Bjorge was called and held his first service the first 
Sunday after Trinity. He worked with several congregations in 
this and neighboring counties until 1888, when he accepted a 
call from Red Wing and Zumbrota. Rev. Bjorge had to put up 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 437 

with many hardships during his first years here. His congrega- 
tions were so scattered that in order to reach them he had to 
cross the prairies where roads and bridges were few at that time. 
But under these conditions be it said in Mr. Bjorge's favor that 
he was a faithful servant of the Lord. There are many who yet 
remember him with love and thankfulness, for his was always 
well meant counsel which he always sought to make impressive 
during the time he worked and suffered, during these pioneer 
days. As is often the case, we seldom understand when a person 
wishes his fellow men well, and this will also apply here. His 
reward will not be missing on the Great Day when it will be 
said. "Good and faithful servant thou hast been faithful over a 
few things ; I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou 
into the joy of thy Lord." 

The first child born in Lake Park Township was Henry O. 
Bjorge, who was born on the 7th day of March, 1871. He was 
the son of Mr. and Mrs Ole Bjorge. 

The first people to get married in Lake Park Township were 
Ole L. Berland and Betsy Olson, who were married on the 3rd 
of January, 1872, by L. G. Stevenson, justice of the peace. 

A child, Jens K. Sorenson, died in this township, September 
13th, 1871. This was the first death in the township. 

John Delaney died May 22d, 1872. Mons Johnson died Nov- 
ember 15th, 1872. 

With reference to the early deaths in the township John 
Cromb has this to say: 

I think that old John Delaney, who lived on what is now the John 
Horan farm was one of the first to die. He died of strangulated hernia. I 
remember his death well, being with him when it occurred, and afterwards 
made his coffin, as we had no undertakers in those days. We had funeral 
services at the house, however, Father Gurley officiating. We buried the 
old man in a grove facing the lake on my farm, where the body still remains. 

R. H. Abraham was appointed postmaster in the spring of 

Chris. E. Bjorge. 

438 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 


By F. M. Higley. 

There were two families by the name of Small and Cook, 
who had formerly been employed by the i^overnment at ^^'hite 
Earth, who had moved into the vicinity of Audubon and taken 
up claims. Sometime after the shooting of JMr. Carlson, the 
Cook family were all murdered in the night, their bodies thrown 
into the cellar, the house set on fire and all consumed. The 
intention was to have killed both families, as was afterwards 
learned, but for some reason the plan miscarried, to the intense 
satisfaction of Mr. Small and family. Although there were no 
horses in the country, the settlers having mostly arrived here in 
the old time prairie schooner with an ox team attached, the 
news spread like wild fire and the excitement and alarm which 
had been aroused by the crime became intense. The blood 
curdling deeds of those human wretches who butchered our 
people in 1862, at Lake Shetek, and other places were fresh 
in the minds of all, and there were some here who had actually 
passed through that awful ordeal and of course those scenes were 
revived in their minds with all of their attendent horrors. Some 
were in favor of immediate flight leaving everthing behind, while 
others who had spent all they had in getting here and getting a 
little home established disliked the idea of being driven out 
like a flock of sheep and losing all they possessed. In the 
neighborhood where I lived, four miles south of Lake Park, we 
got together, talked the thing over and decided to build a fort 
and undertake the protection of our families. All hands turned 
out and began its immediate erection. John Cromb sent to the 
governor for arms and ammunition, securing for the count}' forty 
stands of arms, "Springfield muskets," and 1600 rounds of cart- 
ridges which were distributed through the country, our neigh- 
borhood receiving ten guns. 

While we were busily engaged in our preparations of defense 
people of other sections of the country were not idle. Similar 
preparations were going on in Lake Park X^illage. The citizens 
of the village and surrounding country turned out and built a 
fort on the hill south of the depot made of railroad ties of which 
there were luckily plenty in town. Large numbers of the country 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 439 

people flocked to the new fort from far and near, it being- on the 
railroad offered greater inducements than our Httle country 
affair, and for a week or ten days, I suppose things were pretty 
lively. The material for ours had to be cut in the woods and 
hauled half a mile ; we cut logs twelve feet long, dug a trench 
three feet deep, putting them in on end and fitting them together 
close enough so a bullet would not pass between. We built 
quite a large log house inside for our Women and children, for 
we did not wish to be left up here in this new country, where such 
commodities were scarce, without our women. I remember 
one afternoon while we were working away leisurely a young 
man came riding up at break neck speed (and right here I must 
modify my statement in regard to the horses, for this young man 
did have a horse which was quite a curiosity at the time). He 
said the Indians were on their way to the settlements in full war 
dress scalping everything in their path, and he was going to leave 
the country. He advised us. to fly for our lives. We had a good 
sized gap in the last wall of our little fort to fill in, rather more 
than we expected to get done that afternoon, but I tell you all 
joking was then laid aside and the men went to work at a lively 
rate. I remember distinctly with what earnestness I tried to 
persuade this man to give up his notion to skip the country and 
turn in with us and help finish the gap in the wall, but to no 
purpose. His mind was made up ; he had seen enough Indian 
picnics in "62" to satisfy him and away he went, but he didn't go 
far, I guess, for he was back on his claim again all O. K., and 
afterwards secured a little body to go in partnership with 
him and help him improve it, and is now a prosperous farmer 
not a thousand miles from Lake Park. I must tell you that the 
report that he brought was a false alarm, not gotten up by him 
however, which his actions clearly indicated. AVe finished our fort 
that night and moved in pretty much the whole neighborhood. 
There were a few, however, who had come in from the East, and 
were not familiar with the redman's ingenuity in stirring things 
up and making it lively at short notice, who remained at home 
waiting for the cloud to burst, and if a raid had been made would 
have gone the way of the Cook family, but of course as they never 
came the laugh was on us. We slept in the fort one night and 
men, women and children piled in there as though they had been 
fired in with a shotgun. The next morning my wife said to me 

440 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

"let us go home. I had about as soon take my chances with the 
Indians." She had taken a terrible cold sleeping on the ground 
and felt as though if she stayed there she would die anyway. 
Our house was only about eighty rods from the stockade so we 
went. Some that lived farthest from the fort stayed a week or 
ten days. By that time we learned that the danger was over, 
although there was rnore or less apprehension for a long time, 
but we never had any more trouble. 

Mrs. West. F. M. H. 

Miss Flora Moore, now Mrs. Cyrus Curtiss, of Des Moines, 
Iowa, taught the first school in the township. Mrs. Sylvester 
Moore, her mother, writing from the home of Mrs. Curtiss, Nov. 
7th, 1906, says : 

I saw Flora to-day and she gave me some data with reference to 
her school in Lake Park Township. 

She says she commenced her school in June. 1872, the same year 
the first school was taught in Detroit. Frank Higley engaged her to teach 
the school. The school was taught in the house at the stockade on the 
Frank Higley farm. She taught three months, boarded at Mr. Higley's, 
had fifteen scholars and received her pay from Mr. Higley. 


By O. I. Berg. 

In January. 1872, Ole J. Weston, who was then section fore- 
man built the first shanty in Lake Park for his section crew. The 
next building was R. H. Abraham's basswood store building 
which he hauled up from Oak Lake with oxen in February, 1872. 
This was the first store in the village. 

Filing Carlson and Peter Ebeltoft erected a building and 
started a store in the spring. This was the second store in the 

S. B. Pinney and Charles B. Plummer built a store in the 
summer of 1872 which was the third one in the village. 

The first framed residence building was built by O. I. Berg 
in the fall of 1872. The place was then called Hay Siding. 

Hans Hanson started the first blacksmith shop, in the spring 
of 1873. Charles B. Plummer opened a hotel in 1874. Eight 
blocks of the original townsite were surveyed in 1873 by Joseph 
E. Turner by order of L. P. White, agent for the Townsite 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 441 

Company. The remainder of the village was surveyed by A. H. 
Wilcox in May, 1882, by order of Thomas H. Canfield, pro- 

R. H. Abraham was the first postmaster. 

The village was incorporated in March, 1881. The judges of 
the first election were appointed by the Secretary of State, Fred 
Von Bombach, and were, O. I. Berg, R. H. Abraham and Dr. 
J. O. Froshaug. The first election was held March 15th, 1881. 
Thirty-five votes were cast and the following village ofificers 
were elected : President, Thomas C. Hawley ; trustees, O. I. 
Berg, M. Mark, J. E. Chase; recorder, A. C. Dean; constable, 
L. E. Norby; justice, J. A. Bemis. 

The first railroad ticket agent was Thompson. 

The first small church was built by the Lutheran Conference 
in 1879. The Synod church was built in 1884. 

The first schoolhouse was built in 1875. The first school 
teacher in the village was Miss Delia Hawley. 


ml THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 1882. No. I. 


"According to the eternal fitness of things" every booming town in 
this most booming country has its advantages sounded through the medium 
of its newspaper. We have looked over the ground and have decided 
that it is time for Lake Park to show its hand, as it were, and take its 
place among other towns of its size, able and ready to support its own 
newspaper. We do not take this step hastily, for we have watched the 
steady and solid growth of the village for four years and know, therefore, 
what we do. Possessing the finest agricultural district in the state, already 
thickly settled by thrifty farmers, it is destined to advance by a rapid 
and substantial growth. 

It has been intimated that the Times has been established as a campaign 
paper in the present fight in progress in the fifth district. This assertion 
we wish to contradict at the outset and assure our patrons that we have 
come to stay and mean business. We may have our personal preferences on 
the subject, but the Times will take no part in the matter. It will always 
be in the interest of the growth and prosperity of, first the village of Lake 
Park; second the country surrounding. In short, the Times is to be a local 
paper in the full sense of the word. It is not owned or controlled by any 
political party or faction and all fears on this point may be put to rest at 
the outset. 

442 A PioxKiiR liisTuRV OF BACKER County. 

Lake Park, situated in the western part of Becker County, has the 
finest country tributary to it of any town in northwestern Minnesota. To 
the north the country is thickly settled for twenty miles and it includes 
the garden spot of Becker County. The famous Wild Rice Region, twen- 
ty miles northwest of Lake Park, finds its outlet here. No town in this 
part of the state has so large an area to depend upon for support and the 
quantity of grain which finds a market here is enormous and fully half 
of what Becker County produces. We have a gently rolling prairie with 
just enough timber to supply the farmers for years to come. Splendidly 
watered by the Buffalo River and its tributaries, which furnish the pure 
water free from alkali, the Buffalo valley, in point of excellence far sur- 
passes the Red and James River valleys. And that the town is alive to all 
these facts is shown in the marked improvements which are going on in 
every direction. Buildings are going up in every direction and it is safe 
to say that Lake Park is destined to become, in the near future, one of the 
largest and most flourishing cities in northwestern Minnesota. This year 
there will be harvested one of the finest crops ever secured in the county 
and the fact of Becker being the champion wheat growing county in the 
state will no doubt be demonstrated, as has heretofore been the case. 

H. P. Hamilton, Editor. 


Francis Marion Higley was born in Coudersport, Pa., Dec. 17, 1843. 
At nine years of age he, with his parents, moved to Warren, 111., and in 
1856 removed from that place to Olmstead County, Minnesota, where 
he spent his early manhood. November 5, 1861, at the age of eighteen 
years, he enlisted in the service of his country in company C, Brackett's 
battalion of cavalry, and was mustered out May 24, 1866, making a service 
of over five years. February 12, 1867, he was joined in marriage to Mrs. 
Elvira Bogue and in 1870 moved with his family to Becker County, arriv- 
ing here June 10, and has since made his home here. He died November 
4, 1899, of heart failure, at the age of 55 years, 10 months and 17 days. 

Mrs. West. Detroit Record. 


Thomas Hawley Canfield was born March 2nd, 1822, in the city of 
Arlington, Vermont. He was a descendant of Nathan Canfield. one 
of the pioneers of that state. A history of Mr. Canfield's life is to 
a large extent a history of the inception, inaugurartion and comple- 
tion of that great enterprise, the Northern Pacific Railway. Educated 
in his native state he early attracted the attention of prominent finan- 
ciers and business men, and after a few years of successful business 
life in the town of Williston, he became manager of the large manu- 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 


facturing and shipping firm of Follett & Bradley in Burlington, Vt. This 
firm was at that time changed to Follett & Canfield. About this time he 
also built the Rutland and Washingon Railway, of which he became presi- 
dent and lessee. Early in the fifties the idea of a continental railroad oc- 
curred to Mr. E. F. Johnson, then the foremost railway engineer in Amer- 
ica. Mr. Canfield, then about thirty years of age, was so convinced by Mr. 
Johnson of the practicability of such a road to the western coast, that he 


resolved to make it the business of his life and to devote his time, energies 
and talents towards the accomplishment of that object. The first active 
steps were taken in '52 when he, with Mr. Johnson, built the Chicago, St. 
Paul and Fond du Lac Railway, known now as the Chicago and Northwest- 
ern. The feasibility of continuing the road to the coast became more 
apparent as time went on. On account of opposition which was en- 
countered chiefly from Hon. Jefiferson Davis, then secretary of war, noth- 
ing could be accomplished at that time towards extending the road. War 

444 '^ Pioneer History of Becker County. 

breaking out about this time everything was at a standstill. In 1865, how- 
ever, a charter was granted to a Mr. Perham of Maine, who transferred 
it to a company of Eastern men, who appointed Mr. Canfield director and 
general agent of the company. Of the twelve original directors of the 
company two only were Minnesotans — William Windom and William S. 
King. And so it happened that fifteen years after its inception the plans 
were laid for the building and organization of the Northern Pacific Railway. 
But almost untold difficulties were thrown in the way of those interested by 
those who desired a southern or middle route to the coast, and but for the 
courage, faith and determination of those twelve directors there would have 
been no Northern Pacific road to-day. The project was ridiculed as im- 
possible; its advocates called it crazy and visionary; but they persevered in 
their efforts. Twice was the charter on the point of being lost, and the 
second time the bill amending it in some points was signed by the presi- 
dent one day only before the charter expired. The history of the actual 
building of the road would form a thrilling and exciting story of adventure 
and difficulty. Several expeditions conducted personally by Mr. Canfield, 
sometimes on horseback, sometimes on buckboards and wagons, traversed 
the country from St. Paul and Duluth across the Rocky Mountains to the 
very ends of the route. Through tracts of land inhabited by hostile Indian 
tribes; across almost unsurmountable obstacles the surveys were made, until 
finally in 1869 the route was finally determined upon, and the construction 
of the road commenced. At this time a company was also formed, having 
Mr. Canfield as president, called the Lake Superior and Puget Sound Town- 
site Company, which was empowered to buy lands, build boats and do most 
any kind of business to further the interests of the railroad company- This 
company under Mr. Canfield's direction located, platted and laid out along 
the line of the railroad the towns of Aitkin, Brainerd, Motley, Aldrich, 
Wadena, Perham, Audubon, Lake Park, Hawley, Glyndon and Moor- 
head, and later Fargo and Tacoma. In 1870 two expeditions were made 
on horseback by Mr. Canfield, accompanied by Gov. Smith from St. 
Paul to Dakota, passing through most of these towns. There was at 
this time only one house in Detroit, and thai a log one built by Mr. 
Tyler. For the next three or four years numerous expeditions were 
successfully made under the personal guidance of Mr. Canfield. for the 
purpose of perfecting the plans and efficiency of the undertaking. For 
twenty years he labored in the interests of the road until in 'jz^ when 
the bankruptcy of the road occurred, he resigned from the directorship 
and also from the presidency of the Puget Sound Land Co. During 
this same year he purchased about 3,000 acres of farming land in the 
neighborhood of Lake Park, where he spent for the remainder of his 
life most of his time. During the last twenty-five years, in fact ever 
smce he resigned from the railroad, he was ever closely identified with 
the growth and development of the Northwest. His name is associated 
with the history of the state and nation. In the words of his biographer: 
"He was a man of broad ideas, wonderful vitality and energy, uncon- 
querable will and indefatigable determination, and the history of the gigan- 
tic enterprises in which he was concerned demonstrate the characteristics 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 445 

of the man; of strictest integrity, kind and courteous, of extensive reading 
and observation, endowed with the keenest foresight and executive ability, he 
has indehbly impressed himseh' upon the history of the great undertakings 
with which he had been connected. ]Mr. Canfield was a member of the 
Episcopal church, holding the important position of the secretary of the 
diocese for over thirty years. He was delegate to the General Convention 
on five different occasions. 

Mr. Canfield died at Lake Park, on the l8th day of January, 1897. 

He was twice married. His first wife was Elizabeth A. Chittenden, 
great granddaughter of Thomas Chittenden, first governor of Vermont. 
She died in 1848, and he subsequently married Caroline A. (daughter of 
Rt. Rev. Bishop Hopkins of Vermont,) who, with three daughters, Emily, 
Marion, and Flora, and one son, Thomas H., still survive him. 

(A large part of the information contained in this notice is taken 
from a Life of Mr. Canfield published some years ago in Burlington, Vt. 

L. G. M.) 

Mrs. West. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 447 

Chapter XXIV. 


By C. M. Halgren. 
Assisted by W. W. McLeod and Severt Olson. 

The town of Cormorant was first settled in 1870. Dugald 
Campbell was the first settler. He came and settled in Section 
36, May i8th, 1870. Dugald Campbell was born in Glasgow, 
Scotland, August ist, 1819, and emigrated to St. John's, New 
r>runswick, in 1825 with his parents, where he lived until 1848, 
when he went to Massachusetts where he followed the sea for 
one year. In 1849 ^^^ came to Stillwater, Minnesota, where he 
followed the lumber woods in winter, and was a raft pilot on the 
jNIississippi River in the summer for six years. In 1859 l''^ ^^^^ the 
river, and settled on a farm in the town of Florence, Goodhue 
County, ^linnesota, where he lived until April 22nd, 1870, when 
he took his team and came to Becker County. Mr. Campbell 
was married to Julia Furman, ^larch 24th, 1861, at Red Wing, 
Minnesota, and of this union one son was born, Hubert B. Camp- 
bell, on Alay 20th, 1862. Mr. Campbell lived on his farm until 
his death which occurred March 13th, 1891. 

The next settler was Sandore Olson, who came to the town 
of Cormorant about June ist, 1870, and settled on the farm now 
owned by Murdock Pattison. Mr. Olson owned a farm at 
Evansville, Minnesota, at the time ; he stayed here until after the 
town was organized in 1872, and then sold out to Mr. Pattison 
and moved back to Evansville. 

The next three settlers were Nels Erickson, Knut Matson and 
Mats Xelson, who came here together June 8th, 1870. Nels Erick- 
son and wife Eliza moved here from Carver County by ox team. 
They have a family of five children, Mary, Eliza, Carrie, Erick 
and Daniel, their son Erick l)eing the first male white child born 
in the town. He was born December 25th, 1870. Their daugh- 
ter Carrie was nearly killed at or near the place where S. D. 
Riders farm is now in the town of Scambler. Otter Tail Coun- 
ty. As they were unyoking the oxen one night thev had 
one ox freed when the other turned quickly, swinging the yoke 


A Pioneer Historv of Becker County. 449 

which struck Carrie, knocking her down, and for a while they 
thought her dead, but she recovered, and afterwards married Ole 
Erickson, and is the niotiier of four boys and six girls. Ole 
Erickson is one of the early settlers; he came here in 1871. Air. 
Nels Erickson gives us some hard luck stories of his early days 
in this town and of the hardships endured by some of the early 
settlers, himself being among the number. He is one of the 
foremost farmers in the town. 

Knut Alatson is also one of the prosperous farmers. lie and 
his wife, Anna, also came here from Carver County. They have 
a family of eleven children, Mary, AFats, Julia, Ole, Erick, Carrie, 
Emma, Clara, Alina. and two died when babies. Julia Knutson 
was the first white girl l)orn in the town, December 8th, 1870. 

Mats Nelson settled on a farm on the south shore of Cor- 
morant Lake on which he lived until his death, January 29th, 

Severt Olson, Peter A. Severtson. A\'illiam Thompson, and 
Ole and Jonas Hoveland settled here on June 12th, 1870. 

Severt Olson moved by oxen and wagon from Wisconsin. 
He was married to his present wife by the Rev. Mr. Hagebo, 
November 24th, 1873, this being the second marriage in the town. 
They have two children, Oscar and Clara. Oscar vS. Olson was 
born May i8th, 1875. 

Peter A. Severtson was married to Gunheld Severtson on 
Nov. 15th, 1871, by Minister E. A. Berg, who lived about 15 
miles southeast of Fergus Falls ; this was the first marriage 
ceremonv in the town. They had a family of five children, 
Isaac, Zachariah, Josephine, Sena and Gena, of which all are 
living except Gena. 

Ole Hoveland was the first to die in the town, also the first 
one buried in the Lutheran graveyard. He was drowned in Lake 
Ida. May 31st, 1874. 

This seemed to be a very unlucky day, as there were nine 
persons drowned the same day at about the same hour: 

Two at a little lake was of Hawley. 

One in Buffalo River, four miles west of Lake Park. 

Two at Lorentz Olson's. 

Ole Hoveland in Lake Ida. 

One at Norwegian Grove. 

Two at Elizabeth. 


A Pioneer History of Becker County. 451 

Severt Hokland settled here July ist. 1870. Ole Erickson and 
Nels Estenson about Septeml)cr ist. 1870. (iabriel Hanson, 
Lorenz Olson and Andrew Erickson in the spring of 1871. Peter 
Anders in the summer of 1872. Tom Olson in 1875. Ole E. Olson 
is also one of the old settlers. He came here April ist, 1871. 
They had a family of six children, Isabel, Edward, vSimon, Henry, 
Olaus and Sarah. Their daughter Isabel was the second girl 
born in the town. Mr. Olson left Norway and went to Australia 
and worked in the gold mines as day laborer until he had ac- 
cumulated $1,800, which he invested in a mine of his own, from 
which he realized nothing. AMien he had lost all, he l)egan 
to work by the day until he had raised mone}' enough to take 
him to California, where he worked a while and became sick and 
his sickness cost him all he had before he was able to work again. 
He then came to Minnesota, got married and settled in Cormor- 
ant. Of his children, Edward and Olaus are both dead. Mr. 
She.rbrook married Isabel Olson. 

The first town election was held February, 26th, 1872. The 
first township officers were as follows: Chairman, Dugald 
Campbell ; supervisors, Samuel C. P. Brandt and Ole E. Olson ; 
clerk, David Merry ; assessor, Severt Hokland ; treasurer, San- 
dore Olson; justices, Dugald Campbell and David Merry; con- 
stables, Charles T. Hanson and Patrick Liddy. 

Severt Olson, Peter A. Severtson and Ole Hoveland had the 
first sawmill in the town, which consisted of an old fashioned 
whipsaw which they bought at Alexandria. They sold the lum- 
ber for the fioors of some of the first buildings that were built 
in Detroit, for which they received $30 per thousand. 

At first there was but very little land under cultivation, and so 
all the unmarried men would go south for having and harvest 
and would work on their farms here in the winter and early 
spring. It was often a hard matter to make both ends meet. 
The first crop that Severt Olson raised he worked nearly all 
summer for the seed and had to haul it from the southern i)art 
of the state. He did not get his grain threshed, but he had it 
stacked and ready, and had sent for the threshing machine when 
a prairie fire came along and burned up all his grain and his hay. 
He had worked on the Northern Pacific Railroad and had spent 
what money he made for a yoke of oxen, so he had to cut down 
a crooked tree, and make himself a pair of bob-sleds. He worked 

A Pioneer History of Becker County, 


in the woods northeast of Detroit all winter, and the next year 
when his t^rain got to he al)out a foot high the grasshoppers 
came and took every bit of it. The next year he got part of a 
crop and the grasshoppers took the rest of it. He had just 
enough to live on and had to buy seed for the next year again. 
He thought it strange that he should have such a small crop 
when his neighbors all around him had more per acre than he 
did, so he asked Peter Severtson why this should be, and Peter 
told him that if he had been a married man and had a family he 
would have needed more and would have got more, but as he 
was single he did not need it, and so did not get it. Severt 
got married the next year, and his crop was good accordingly. 


To show the scarcity of money we will relate a story of 
Peter A. Severtson, who took grist to mill at Alexandria in the 
fall after snow began to fall. Of course, it took quite a while 
to make the trip with the oxen, and he had to camp out at night. 
One night his coat caught fire and there was a big hole burned 
in the back when he awoke. He had no money to get it re- 
paired and none to buy a new coat with, so he had to get along 
the best he could the rest of the way to town and home again. 

Along about the year 1877, Charley Squires, Murdock Patti- 
son and W. W. McLeod built a dam and erected a mill at Cor- 

454 -^ PioxEER History of Becker County. 

niorant village. The name of the firm was [Murdock, Pattison 
& Co. This property changed hands until \\\ \^^ AIcLeod be- 
came a sole owner eventually. He ran it several years by water- 
power, and after that failed he \n\t in a steam plant and remo\ed 
the old burrs and put in a complete set of rollers which worked 
well for several years. It afterwards changed hands several 
times, each party taking what they could out of it, but most of 
them sinking some money, until lately it was purchased by Ber- 
thold Kroll, who was a man of experience, and he has so far 
given satisfaction and has secured a good trade. 

The first store was started about the time that the mill was 
built. The firm name was McLeod & Davis. They sold out 
to S. A. Halgren, October nth, 1880. 

The nearest post-office when the first setlers came was Fort 
Pomme de Terre. After the Northern Pacific Railroad was built, 
then Audubon was the nearest, then one was started at Pelican 
Lake. The citizens of this village wanted a post-office at Cor- 
morant, and sent in several petitions but they seemed to do no 
good, the neighboring villages working against it and it seemed 
impossible to do anything further. During the time that W. D. 
Washburn was stumping" the district for congress some of the 
patrons thought that it was an opportunity that they ought not 
to lose, so W. \\\ McLeod wrote to A\'. D. Washburn, stating" 
that there were a nund)er of voters here that would like to sup- 
port him in his campaign, but they were of the opinion that the 
favors should nc^t be all on one side as we were in need of a post- 
office. If he would use his infiuence in our behalf we would do 
what we could for him. In just nine days the commission came 
for John A. Davis as postmaster. 

Miss Jane Bardsley taught the first school in Cormorant. 
She afterwards became Mrs. John A. Davis. 

C. M. HalgrEx. 

y. Z 

c o 
■f. w. 

456 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Chapter XXV. 


By Simeon S. Buck. 

In the spring of 1870. W. W. Rossnian with myself and my 
brother WilHam left McLeod County for Becker County. We 
came with teams as there were no railroads at that time. We 
made the trip in about two weeks, and arrived at Cormorant 
Lake the ist of June and took claims on Section 29. The sec- 
ond day we went fishing and caught as fine a string of bass as 
you would wish to see. Rossman and I were cooks ; he would 
make the slaj^-jacks, and I would fry the lish and make the cofTee ; 
we built a log cabin and covered it with bark and sod and the 
floor was made of earth. This we thought was a good house, but 
the mosquitoes were awful that summer, and I expect we used 
some cuss words about them. Our nearest place to buy anything 
was at Alexandria, about 100 miles away, but we brought enough 
stutif to eat so that we got along with catching lish and shooting 
game until fall. Then we went back to McLeod County to get 
the families. We made the trip without any mishaps. John 
McClelland came l)ack with us. He located at Lake Eunice. In 
the fall of 1871 Sidney Buck was born, the first boy born in 
Lake Eunice. At that time we started the city at Buck's mills, 
and it has been starting ever since. 

I was born in Orange County, Vermont, in 1833, and came to 
Minnesota in 1851. I went to California in 1858, and was in New 
York City at the time of the completion of the Atlantic cable. 
There was a great blowout at that time. I came back to Minne- 
sota in i860 and was here during the Minnesota massacre in 1862. 
In McLeod County I saw a whole family that had been killed by 
the Sioux Indians, and all had their heads cut off. 

I came to Becker County and took a claim in what is now 
Lake Eunice Township on the 30th da}' of ]\Iay. 1870. 

In the year 1871 my brother William Buck and myself moved 
to Section 31, in Lake Mew Township, where we built a sawmill 
the succeeding year. S. S. B. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 




By John }*IcClelland. 

All history except that of wars is usually made up of little 
things, incidents, waifs floating" on the stream of time, seemingly 
of no account as they pass, hardly worthy of record, and yet in 
the fitful passage of a century, the historian looks back for those 
little incidents with the interest that would surprise us could we 
realize a tithe of their importance in the estimation of those who 
shall come after us. 

Lake Eunice was named by the United States surveyors in 
honor of Eunice McClelland, who was the first white woman to 
settle near the lake. She was the wife of John McClelland. 

The names of the first settlers were Simeon S. Buck, William 
Buck, William W. Rossman, John ^McClelland, Archibald B. Mc- 
Donell, Duncan McDonell, John A. B. McDonell, William AIc- 
Donell, Finlay McDonell, Donald J. McDonell, Anton Glaum, Jacob 
Gessel, John Turten, Eugene Early, J. Peter Johnson, L. G. Stev- 
enson, John Holstad, George W. Britt, William Wagner, John 
Nelson, John Germer, John Peterson, Nels Peterson, Ostra Olson, 

458 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Ole Alunson, John King and Thomas AIcDonongh, all of whom 
I think came in 1870. 

Among" those who came in 1871 were Thomas Bardslev, Alon- 
zo Fogg, John Dispennet, Thomas J. Alartin, Conrad Glaum, 
Peter Glaum, Conrad Glaum, Jr., Jacob Shaffer. Warren Horton, 
R. A. Horton. iVIyla Converse came in the spring of 1872, and 
George W. Grant, Andrew Rydell, John O. Nelson, \Vm. Blake 
and James Blake came in the spring of 1873. 

George ^^^ Grant was a veteran of the Civil War and the 
hero of many battles. In later years he has held many important 
positions in the Grand Army of the Republic. 

The lands in this town are much diversified, affording every 
facility for farming that the husbandman can desire. The west- 
ern and northern parts are generally timbered with oak, maple, 
linden, poplar, etc. The balance of the land is prairie with groves 
of timber skirting the lakes. The surface is gently undulating, 
and the soil a rich black loam. 

The first child born in the township was Sidney Buck, in 
October, 1871, son of William Buck, and is still a resident of 
Becker County. The first marriage was that of Alonzo Fogg 
to Miss C)rlora Britt, by W. W^ Rossman. justice of the peace, of 
Detroit. They now live in Washington. The first "husking bee" 
was at Mr. Britt's, where the boys got their pay for husking by 
kissing the girls every time they found a red ear of corn. 

The first death in the township was that of Jane McClelland, 
mother of John McClelland and Mrs. W. W. Rossman of Detroit. 

The first school in the town was a three months subscription 
school taught by Miss Orlora Britt. 

The first town meeting was held September 3rd, 1872, and the 
following officers were elected : Justices of peace, A. B. AIcDon- 
ell and R. A. Horton ; supervisors, William Buck, John Dispen- 
net and John Turten ; town clerk, John McClelland ; treasurer, 
John Bardsley ; assessor, Duncan B. jMcDonell ; constables, J. W. 
Horton and Charles R. Clockler. 

The first settlers of this township went through all the hard- 
ships incident to the settlement of a new country. Goods of all 
kinds were high and money scarce. Everything had to be hauled 
by wagons from Alexandria, about ninety miles, the first summer. 
In the winter of 1871, Fletcher & Bly, of Minneapolis, opened a 
store at the Big Cut, three or four miles west of Detroit on the 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 459 

Northern Pacific Railroad, after which goods could be obtained 
at a more reasonable price. At this time lumber was out of the 
question. The houses were all built of logs with sod roofs. 
Some had glass windows, and others had none. The more 
enterprising settlers had logs split and hewed on one side, 
which they laid down for their floors. Others spread hay on 
the ground, which had to be taken up every few days to prevent 
the fleas and mosquitoes from becoming too plenty. The fleas 
and mosquitoes will be long remembered by the early settlers of 
this township. 

Some time in April, 1872, while ]\Irs. John ]\IcClelland was 
out in the dooryard raking chips, two Indians suddenly appear- 
ed before her, and asked in Chippewa wdiere her husband was. 
Although taken by surprise she did not answer, but kept right 
on raking chips. Finally the other Indian asked in good English 
where her man was, and she told him he went to "Oak Lake." 
Almost before the words were out of her mouth the Indian said 
'"Good." This so frightened her that she was almost ready to run 
to one of the neighbors, but remembering the three children, 
she kept on with the rake, and showed as little fear as possible 
The Indians after conversing awhile in their native language, 
started in the direction of Oak Lake. This event took place 
shortly after the Cook family murder, about five miles north of 
here. It required a great deal of nerve to pass through such an 
ordeal at a time when it was thought a general uprising of the 
Indians might take place any day. 

A half crazy Dutchman by the name of Jacob Schaft'er came 
into the townshij) in 1871. Jake was naturally of a thieving 
disposition and would steal everything he could lay his hands 
on. He would steal from one neighbor and give to another, 
auAthing from an ox yoke to a load of lumber. C)n one occasion 
he was known to steal a load of lumber in Detroit and give it 
away before he got home. The last we heard of poor Jake he 
was dangling from the limb of a tree in Montana for stealing 

L. G. Stevenson was another queer specimen of humanity, 
who came here in 1870. "Steve." as he was called, was as cute 
as a fox, a first-rate neighbor, and a clever fellow all around. 
The first civil case tried in the township Steve was employed as 
counsel for the defendant and John McClelland for the plaintift". 

460 A PioxEKR History of Becker County. 

As the justice of peace before whom the case was tried was not 
very well posted in Blackstone, he was at a loss to know how to 
open the court. Steve told him to repeat after him what he 
should sa}\ "Proceed sir," said the justice of peace. "Hear }e, 
hear ye," said the justice of peace, "the justice court of Lake 
Eunice is now open, all persons having business in this court 
must appear and be heard. God save the Queen." "God save 
the Queen, be d— d if I'll do it," said the justice of peace, "there 
is something' not right about that. We don't have a Queen in 
this country." After a sharp skirmish by the attorneys it was 
decided to call ofif the Queen and the case went on trial. 

The plaintift" won the case, and as Steve did not tell the 
justice of peace how to close the court, the probability is, it 
is still open. Steve was for a long time the political Moses of 
this part of the country, and when the Republican party wanted 
to concentrate public sentiment and obtain full delegations from 
Becker Comity in the district conventions, they had but to call 
Steve, and the thing was fixed. Steve was a singular genius ; the 
world would not have been complete without him. 

Mrs. West. J<^hn McCi.klt.axo. 

Besides the characters in Lake Eunice mentioned by Mr. 
McClelland as noted for their peculiarities, there were others. 

A man by the name of Thomas McDonough took a claim on 
Section 22 in 1870, and afterwards sold his right to Alonzo Fogg. 
Tom had no fingers or thumbs on either of his hands, having lost 
them by hard freezing. He, however, could do almost any kind of 
work, was an expert horse teamster, and could handle the lines 
as skillfully as a man with a full set of fingers. 

A man by the name of Frank Yergens bought the northwest 
quarter of Section 23 from John King, who had pre-empted the 
place after a close contest with the Northern Pacific Railroad 
Company. The same place is now owned and occupied by Alfred 
Nunn. Yergens, or r3utch Frank, as he was usually called, was a 
peculiar specimen of the genus homo. Knickerbocker's descrip- 
tion of AA'outer \'an Twiller, the first I3utch Governor of New 
York, would ajjply equally as well to Dutch Frank. He was a 
man specially noted for the symmetry of his physical proportions, 
being exactly five feet six inches in height and six feet fi^'e inches 
in circumference. He was one of nature's noblemen, a man with 
a noble head — an immense head, a head that no ordinary neck 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 461 

could support, so nature came to his relief by placing his head on 
top of his backbone, squarely between his shoulders without any 
neck at all. 

One dark, rainy night he took old Uncle James Blake, who was 
making his way home on foot from Detroit carrying a brass clock 
that he was taking home to repair, into his wagon to ride but 
afterwards made him get out and walk the rest of the way through 
the mud because he could not play him a tune on the clock. 

Archibald McDonell. 

By Mrs. Jessie C. West. 

Archibald B. McDonell was born at Fort William, Shire of 
Argyle, Scotland, on the i8th of October, 1814. 

About the later part of June, 1870, Archibald B. McDonell 
and family composed of a wife and nine children, five sons and 
four daughters — Duncan the oldest of the boys was married a 
short time previous to leaving Canada, their former home — arrived 
in St. Paul. On the 22nd day of June, they went from St. 
Paul to Shakopee, Scott County, and remained there until the 
5th of July, when Mr. McDonell and three of his sons left for 
Becker County to seek new homes, leaving his wife, Donald, and 
Finlay, his daughters and daughter-in-law at Shakopee, until he 
and the boys could erect a home on the wild prairies. They 
went by way of Carver, Young America and Glencoe, stopping 
with some friends from Canada a few days, who had settled on 
some lands on the Buffalo Creek, McLeod County. Then they 
left for Pelican Lake and the proposed Northern Pacific Rail- 
road by way of Litchfield, Benson, Alexandria. Pom me de Terre, 
Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids and arrived at Pelican Lake on 
the 20th day of July, the whole country traversed between Pomme 
de Terre and Pelican Lake being destitute of any houses, except 
one on the west end of Pelican Lake, owned by Robert Scambler, 
but in every direction a covered wagon and a little group of 
children could be seen. P. S. Peabody had started to build a 
house on the north side of Pelican Lake, which A. B. ^McDonell 
and sons helped to finish by hewing out basswood slabs for floor 
and room meanwhile looking about the country between Pelican 
and Cormorant Lakes for suitable lands to take as homesteads. 
The most attractive land had been staked out by parties who 

462 A Pioneer History oe Becker County. 

went aht-ad of the "Boom" on purpose to sell their rights to the 
newcomers in a short time. Men, horses and oxen w'ere busy 
hauling logs for shanties, and plowing the prairie to get sods to 
cover the houses which made a very good and warm place to live 
in. The lands were not surveyed at the time when each man 
marked out the piece of land he intended to claim, but some time 
in the latter part of August, George l'>. Wright was sent by the 
government to survey the counties of liecker and Clay into town- 
ships and sections, which made a vast difference in the situation 
,of some of the homesteads, .\bout the first of September the 
other meml)ers of the McDonell family arrived at Pelican Lake, 
where A. B. McDonell had built a comfortable sod covered 
shanty after the fashion of the country. Before the cold weather 
set in not less than twenty families, composed of Swedes, Nor- 
wegians, Scotch, French, Irish Americans and Germans Avcre 
settled around Pelican and Cormorant Lakes. In the days of 
the early settlement at Pelican Lake, fish could be caught in 
abundance at any point around the lake by dropping the hook 
into the water. Bait was plentiful, frogs, horse-flies and grass- 
hoppers, and fishermen were sure of a pickerel, ])ike or black 
bass ever\- time his hook struck the water. P'ish and game ward- 
ens were unknown in the days of early settlement. At and around 
the Pelican country also partridges, prairie chickens, wild ducks, 
geese, ])elicans, swans and sand-hill cranes were in countless 
numbers. Inhal)iting the country then were deer, elk, common 
and jack rabbits, which went far in assisting the homesteader 
to stick to his claim during the seven years of grasshopper 
troubles. In the fall of 1870 and the winter of 1S71, the nearest 
market to the settlement was Alexandria in Douglas County, 
something over one hundred miles distant. Lintil the Northern 
Pacific Railroad was iDuilt, P. S. Peabody had a few staple arti- 
cles at from three to five five hundred per cent profit. Salt pork, 
25 cents per ])oun(l, tea from $1.00 to $1.50 per pound. Calico 
at 25 cents per yard and e\'erything else in proportion. But we 
must admit that it was about as easy to pay for the necessities 
of life in those days as it is to-day in 1894, as money was plentiful, 
work suflficient and good wages at any kind of labor, and the 
job hunted the man and not the man the job as it is now. Most 
of the settlers have passed away. 

A. B. McDonell died Nov. 27th, 1902. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 463 

John McClelland. 

The old settlers will doubtless nearly all remember John 
McClelland. He was the first register of deeds ever elected by 
the people of this county, and held the office for six years, and as 
he was always obliged to walk on his knees he was for a long' 
time a familiar figure in Detroit. He now lives in the state of 

By Robert McClelland. 

The story of suffering from cold and hunger of Dr. Ripley and John 
McClelland in the spring of 1856 resulting in the death of the former and 
the loss of his legs by the latter comprises a pathetic chapter in the 
history of the times. John McClelland had reached Glencoe prior to 
the month of March, 1856, but at what particular time whether in the 
latter part of 1855 or the early spring of 1856 cannot now be recalled. 
In the month of March 1856, Dr. Ripley of Shakopee, and John Mc- 
Clelland, then of Glencoe, were employed by Bell and Chapman to go 
to Cedar City a point now known on the Hutchinson and Litchfield road, 
about thirteen miles distant from Hutchinson and nine miles from Litchfield 
for the purpose of constructing a log house to be occupied as a temporary 
country hotel or stopping place for new comers, and also for the accommo- 
dation of others who might conclude to settle or engage in business at the 
new townsite which had already been, or which was about to be laid out at 
that point. The snow was rapidly disappearing at the time of starting, the 
weather was comparatively mild and the indications were that spring was 
near at hand. In view of the mild weather, moccasins which had been worn 
during the winter, were exchanged for boots, and the two men left Glencoe 
with supplies of food sufficient to last but ten days, at the end of which time 
their employers promised to send or come with additional supplies. 

Upon their arrival at the new townsite. they threw together a few 
logs for a shelter in which to live while engaged in the construction of 
the main or hotel building, supplying a cover for that portion of the 
shanty only, under which stood their improvised bed. After their ar- 
rival and within a few days a fierce snow storm prevailed and the 
weather changed to bitter cold. They remained fifteen days and until 
all their food except about a pound of dried apples and a cpiart of rice 
was exhausted and no one appeared with additional supplies. At the 
expiration of that time they started for Forest City. The snow was 
deep and drifted and their progress slow. They had matches with them 
and when night came they took shelter in a grove and started a fire. 

464 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

The next day they traveled until nearly noon, when they discovered tliat 
they were lost, and their matches having become damp in the mean- 
time they would not burn. They undertook to return to the shanty 
which they had left and to retrace their footsteps to the place they stopped 
the first night in the hope that the fire of the previous night had not 
died out, but in this they were disappointed, the fire was dead and they 
spent the second night tramping in and about the ashes in order to 
keep from freezing. When morning came they resumed their tramp 
and wdien within about seven miles of the shanty the doctor laid down 
exhausted from exposure, cold and hunger and said he could go no 
farther. He was urged and encouraged to make another eflfort, but 
finally gave up entirely, and as Mr. McClelland left him the doctor re- 
quested that in case the latter reached the shanty and was able to re- 
turn, that he do so. and bring back some matches. Shortly after the sep- 
aration Mr. McClelland fell through an air-hole while crossing the north 
fork of Crow River, got his feet wet, and they immediately swelled so 
that he had to cut ofif his boots, and the remainder of the way he walked 
in his stockings. Upon reaching the shanty an efifort was made to pro- 
cure water, from a nearby lake in which to bathe his feet to withdraw 
the frost, btit the lake was frozen to the bottom and no water could be 
procured. He then built a fire and as soon as his feet were placed near 
the fire he became wholly unable to walk. During the following eighteen 
days, and until relief came, he started a fire four times, only. His en- 
tire food supply during those 18 days, after three days on the road with- 
out a morsel of any kind of food, consisted of the remnants of dried 
apples and rice before referred to. John McClelland was brought to 
Glencoe and from thence taken to Shakopee, where both of his legs 
were amputated, one four and the other eight inches below the knee. 

Dr. Ripley's remains were found two months after the last separa- 
tion from my brother, about half a mile from the place where he was 
last seen alive, his hat hanging on a bush near by and a bottle partly 
filled with chloroform by his side. Lake Ripley, located near Litchfield 
gets its name from the circumstances narrated above, as well as the hotel 
in Litchfield by the same name. My brother's misfortune was the oc- 
casion of my father's removal from Indiana to McLeod county which 
occurred shortly thereafter, after a stay en route of about six weeks 
in Shakopee, where the family was detained in caring for brother John 
while recovering from his injuries, Glencoe was reached on the nth 
day of June, 1856. At the solicitation and with the assistance of friends 
my brother, shortly after the occurrences narrated pul^lished a small 
book or pamphlet entitled "Sketches of Minnesota," in which was in- 
corporated the story of his own and the doctor's suffering and the 
circumstances surrounding the latter's death. Miss Katie Gibson who 
has before been referred to as the first teacher in the log schoolhouse 
was understood to have been the doctor's afTianced at. the time of 
his death, and she visited my brother after we had removed to the farm 
to make inquiry as to whether the doctor had spoken of her before his 
and the doctor's last parting. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 465 

Loss of life or limb by freezing was not an unusual occurrence dur- 
ing those early Minnesota winters, due to the severit)' of the climate. 
Snow fell to the depth of from two to three feet and the thermometer 
registered from 30 to 40 below for weeks at a time, and owing to the 
dry, steady, cold atmosphere and the entire absence of any thawing, the 
great snow storms which prevailed, drifted into heaps, rendering travel 
with teams on the prairie, sometimes impossible, and at all times at- 
tended with danger. 

But notwithstanding the risks and dangers to which the early set- 
tlers were exposed life among them was not wholly monotonous, nor 
devoid of interest. They hoped for better things and enjoyed the an- 
ticipation. Hospitality and generosity one with another were among 
their commendable virtues. There were no church bickerings, nor so- 
ciety factions among them. They all joined together in whatever 
of pleasure or amusement the times ard circumstances afforded. 


Geo. W. Britt was born January 8th. 1811, at Litchfield. Elaine: came 
to Lake Eunice in 1870. 

Uncle Britt, as he was always called by his friends, was one of the 
first settlers in the town of Lake Eunice, and without doubt the first 
corn-husking bee in Becker County was held at his house. The writer was 
there and never will forget the hearty welcome he received and the splen- 
did New England supper that was spread for the hearty settlers. It was 
a supper never to be forgotten; no lack of food at that table. Uncle 
Britt was raised in the forests of Maine. When a young man he was 
a lumberman, a sailor and cruiser to locate pine lands in }ilaine and 
Canada. It was his boast that he had driven the rivers of Maine and 
Canada for 27 springs, and his accounts of some of those drives and 
varied experiences in the forests of Maine and Canada were very inter- 
esting. He was a very kind hearted man; no one needing food or shelter 
was ever turned from his door. 

He died at Lake Eunice .April 4th, 1893, from the effects of la grippe and 
old age. 

To Mrs. Jessie West, 
Detroit. Minn., 
Dear ;Mad.\.m: .At your request I give you these fevv- items of 
the early history of Becker County. I left Boston, Mass., on the 9th 
day of May, 1871, going by the cars to Newport, then by boat to New 
York, then via the Erie Railroad to Buffalo, where we took the boat J. 
R. Coburn for Duluth. We were in the first boat that left for Duluth 
that spring and were nine days in the passage, carrying a large amount 
of freight as well as passengers. It was a very pleasant trip. We stopped 
in all of the principal ports, and at last reached Duluth, where we 
found a new town. The principal street ran north and south, the build- 
ings were all one style facing the street with square fronts. There 


A Pioneer History of Becker Couxtv. 

were two elevators and tlie railroad station was one mile from the 
lake. There were no regnlar trains, the railroad being in the hands 
of the construction company. We remained at Duluth one week. Here 
we made the accjuaintance of the Rev. ^Ir. Gilfillan, who was a resident 
minister. We found the railroad in a bad condition. There were numer- 
ous trestle works which were dangerous. They did not dare to trust 
the engines over some of them, and so the cars were detached from the 
engines and pushed across the trestle and another engine took them on 
the other side. We reached Thompson the first day and had to remain 
there over night. Here my connection with the Grand Army of the Repub- 
lic was of benefit to us, for I found some comrades among the railroad 


men, and they gave us material aid. Thompson was a hard place; be- 
ing the beginning of the Northern Pacific Railroad, it was filled with 
railroad employes and that class of people that follow a railway crew 
Nearly every other building was a saloon or dance hall. Gambling was 
openly carried on, and the town could boast of its houses of prostitu- 
tion. In the evening, one would think bedlam was let loose. 

With profanity, screaming, ribald songs, and shooting, we passed a 
sleepless night. The next day, Sunday, we loaded our goods on a Hat- 
car and started for Brainerd. The day was warm and the sun was hot. 
The engine burnt wood, the sparks came and fell on us in showers, 
sometimes setting our clothing on fire. At last we reached a place 

A PioxEKK History of Becker County. 467 

called Aitkin. Here we had to leave the train and all o\ our heavy 
goods, for there was a sink-hole in the traek. and the train could not 
cross it. so we got our trunks on a handcar, and women and children, 
and in addition to our company, we were met here by Superintendent 
Hohart and some other officials of the company. We pumped that hand- 
car for about eight miles over a road bed that resembled a snake both 
in its wanderings up and down pitchings as well as its curvings. At last 
we reached the sink. Here the earth had entirely disappeared, the track 
held together, and we had a suspension bridge about half of a mile 
in length. I should think it was about ten feet to the water, and the 
rails hung down to within a foot of the w^ater at the center. When we 
got there we walked around, and they let the car go. It was carried 
by its own momentum down the incline and half way up the other 
side, where it was seized by men stationed there and pushed up the 
remainder of the way. Here we for the first time in our lives saw 
mosquitoes. I had previously met a few, but without any exception 
there were more to the square inch going round that sink-hole than I 
ever saw before, and this was our experience to be followed up by day 
and night, till cold weather put an end to them. After getting around 
the sink we entered a passenger train and in about one hour reached 
Brainercl. Brainerd was headquarters for the Northern Pacific Railroad, 
and the description of Thompson answers for Brainerd. Mr. Hobart 
directed us to go to the Pine Restaurant, and we found a most ex- 
cellent family, but there were no beds and we had to lay on the floor; of 
course, the mosquitoes and the eye watering smudge were there. Three 
days in Brainerd. and then wc took a train to Crow Wing River, that 
being as far as the iron rails were laid. We stopped two days with 
James Campbell, now a resident of Richw^ood, who kept a tent hotel 
at this place. Here we hired teams, and after three days of travel we 
reached Detroit Lake, camping where the small stream empties into 
the lake near the club house. The next morning we drove into Tyler- 
ville. We remained here a few days, and June 15th, I selected my present 
homestead. It hardly seems necessary to mention the struggles and 
hardships, loss of crops by hail and grasshoppers, as well as the make- 
shifts to get along. These experiences are common to all new com- 
munities, yet we experience pleasure in speaking of them. 

July Qth, 1871. — The following named persons met in the grove, 
where the Maple Grove schoolhouse now stands. Mr. and Mrs. David 
Mix, Annis Mix, Charles Mix, Capitola Mix, Frank Mix, Lillie Mix, 
Louise Mix, Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Averill, Mr. and Mrs. S. Woodwortn, 
Mrs. Sylvester Moore, Flora Moore, Henry Moore, Lecela Moore, Will- 
iam McD9nough, Edward McDonough, Mr. and Mrs. T. J. Martin, Pen- 
nell Martin and Charles W. Martin for the purpose of organizing a Sun- 
day-school. David ^lix was chosen superintendent, T. J. Martin as- 
sistant. Teachers, bible class, T. J. Martin; young ladies, Mrs. Moore; 
young men, S. Woodworth; infant class, Mrs. Mix. Sunday, July 23rd, 
we received a visit from Mr. Mason, Sunday-school missionary. He 

468 A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

said this was the first organized school he had found in the county and 
gave us five dollars towards a library. Whether Mr. Mason organized any 
other school earlier than this date. I do not know, but think we can take 
the credit of being the first. The name was the Maple Grove Sunday-school 


Religious services were held at dii^erent places in the county by 
the Rev. "'Father" Gurley. I think at that time he was a Methodist, but 
he became later on connected with the Episcopalians. The first religious 
service held in Maple Grove was in the fall by the Rev. Mr. Wood, of De- 
troit, who reorganized the Sunday-school on that day, and also united James 
Hanson and Annis Mix in marriage. November 8th, winter set in, the snow 
never disappearing entirely till May 3rd, 1872. On April 9th we gathered 
maple sap and made maple syrup, the first run of the season. On April 
13th, 1872, Marion Martin was born. 

Through some neglect on the part of the department officers, the 
Grand Army of the Republic lost its position in the National Encamp- 
ment and all G. A. R. work was at an end, as there was no department 
we could not work. So the members of the G. A. R., and old soldiers 
formed themselves into the Becker County Veteran's Association. 

In May, 1872, Mr. Norcross, uncle of William A. Norcross, of De- 
troit, started a brick-yard near where the Detroit House stands. Those 
pond holes near there are where he dug his clay. He made good brick 
earlier in the same season near Mud Lake, where another yard was 
started, Giles Peak furnishing the supplies for carrying on the work. 
In 1873 W. Norcross burned a kiln in the yard. His uncle started and 
also made brick east of the Pelican River on the Rand place. In 1875. 
a yard was started by Shaw and Kindred. In July of that year Kindred 
sold out to T. J. Martin. The first attempts were failures, but later 
they succeeded in making good brick. In 1880 Martin sold his interest to 
Shaw, who carried it on for two years more and then burned out. 

Thomas J. M.\rtin. 

Sylvester Moore. 

Sylvester ]\roore was born at Trunil)ull, Ashtabula County, 
Ohio, on the 31st day of December, 1820. In the year 1852 he 
was married to Miss INIary Jane Teachout at Darien, Walworth 
County, \\'isconsin. 

Mr. Moore came with his family to Becker County on the 
14th of June. 1871. He took a homestead on Section 12, in Lake 
Eunice, where he lived the remainder of his days. In the early 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 469 

days of this county he took an active part in the affairs of his 
town and county, and in tliis connection he earned and enjoyed 
the confidence and esteem of all. Sylvester jMoore was a man 
of unimpeachable character, honest in word and deed, well in- 
formed and a man whom it was a pleasure to meet and an honor 
to call a friend. 

Sylvester ^loore died on the 2nd of November, 1899. Mrs. 
]\Ioore and four children survive him. They were Mrs. S. B. 
Curtis, Airs. O. V. Alix, Henry Moore of Shell Prairie, and Leslie 
G. Aloore, of Lake Eunice. — Detroit Record. 
Mrs. West. 

Chapter XXVI. 


This township was organized in March. 1872, and the first 
township election was held on the 12th day of that month at 
the log cabin of A. B. Simmons on Section 10 of that township. 

The first set of township ofificers were: 

Chairman of board of supervisors, J. W. Brown ; supervisors, 
W. J. Martin, Eugene Holyoke ; township clerk, Stephen Wood- 
worth ; treasurer, Joseph H. Abbey; assessor; C. H. Sturtevant ; 

The first settlers were : 

Edward McDonough, on southwest quarter Section 18, in 
June 1st, 1870; William McDonough, on northwest quarter Sec- 
tion 18, in Sept. 5th, 1870; Lars Eckland, on nortliwest quarter 
Section 30, in Sept.. 1870; David Mix, on southwest quarter Sec- 
tion (), in October 1870. 

O. V. Mix, on Section 6. in Oct., 1870; S. B. Dexter, on north- 
west cjuarter Section 6. in May 30th, 1871 ; Sylvester Moore, on 
Section 6, in June 14th, 1871 ; Steven Woodworth. on northwest 
quarter Section 18, in June 14th, 1871 ; Joseph Abbey, on south- 
west quarter Section 14, in July ist. 1871 ; Charles H. Sturtevant, 
on southwest quarter Section 4, in August 5th, 1871 ; Marshall J. 
Lewis, on southeast quarter Section 10, in August 29th, 1871 ; 
J. B. Simmons, on northeast quarter. Section 10. in September 
loth, 1871 ; James W. Brown, on northeast quarter. Section 4, in 
1871 ; John Rutterman, on northeast quarter, Section 14, in 1871 ; 
George Martin, in 1871 ; John Whalen, on Section 14, in 1871 : 


A Pioneer History of Becker County. 

Anthony Miller, on southeast quarter, Section 12, in 1871 ; ■Martin 
H. Gerry, on northwest quarter. Section 4, in 1871 ; John McGil- 
very, on Section 22, in 1871 ; Harvey Judd, on northeast quarter, 
Section 8, in 1871 ; Charles Harvey, in 1871 ; Thomas Corbett. on 
northeast quarter, Section 20, in September, 1871 ; Eugene Hol- 
yoke, in 1871 ; Daniel Webster, on northeast quarter, Section 12, 
in 1871 ; James Dupue, Section 22, in 1871 ; Nels Munson, on 
southeast quarter. Section 6. in 1871 ; Thomas Glenn, on Section 
22, in 1871 ; W. H. Martin, on Section 22. in 1871. 


The township was first name(l Lakeville at the suggestion of 
Mrs. C. H. Sturtevant. l)ut there l)eing" another township by that 
name in the state, Mrs. Sturtevant suggested Lakeview and that 
name was chosen, as there were so many lakes in the township 
and so many pretty views from them. 

The first white woman to settle in Lakeview Township was 
Mrs. David Mix, who came into the township the 15th of May, 

The first white child born in Lakeview Township was Nellie 
Mix, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Mix, who was born on the 
24th day of August, 1871. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 471 

The first Lakeview people to get married were James Han- 
son and Miss Annis Mix, who were married by the Rev. J. E. 
Wood on the 22d of October, 1871. This was also the first mar- 
riage of white people in Becker County. 

The first people who died in the township were Mr. and Mrs. 
John Rutterman, an account of which is here given in an extract 
from the Detroit Record of June 29th, 1872: 

Mr. and Mrs. Rutterman, who lived alone on the south side of De- 
troit Lake came to Detroit in a "dugout" canoe on the 25th and left Archie 
McArthur's on tht-ir return Thursday evening at 7 o'clock the distance 
home being about three miles. ^Ir. McArthur's family saw the boat well on 
the way across the lake, then saw some indications of a storm and the wind 
blew so hard that they closed their door. They were seen still later by a 
.family at the engineer's headquarters on the lake shore. When the storm 
became severe, they closed their door and they saw the frail boat nearly 
across the lake by the south shore and in line from that point with Mr. 
.[Miller's house. Mr. and ]\Irs. Rutteman were accompanied by a small dog. 
and later in the evening some of the r^Iiller family saw the dog pass on its 
way home. The storm causing this accident, hung in the north and the 
northwest for some time, and then suddenly approached with a strong wind 
and grew dark. It is believed the Ruttermans had almost reached the 
shore by Miller's house when their frail boat capsized, and both were drown- 
ed, the dog alone reaching the shore. Next morning Mr. Miller found 
the canoe upset and Mrs. Rutterman's hat and basket on the shore near 
his house. This was the first suspicion of the fatal occurrence. ^Ir. 
Miller came directly to Detroit and a posse was organized to search for 
the missing. The lake was dragged with hooks on Wednesday and Thurs- 
day night aided by torches, but to no avail. Some parts of the lake were 
over eighty feet deep. Mr. Rutterman has resided here for about one year, 
and his wife since last November, and both were highly esteemed. Mr. 
Rutterman was about 42 and his wife 32. Both were born in Germany, 
coming to this state from Missouri. 

Mrs. Rutterman's body was found the first day of July and on the 
9th, INIessrs. Noble Sanders and another gentleman of Detroit found the 
body of John Rutterman floating in the lake not far from where Mrs. 
Rutterman's body was found. Coroner Brown assisted by Charles Doell 
took the bodies in charge and gave them burial on the eastern shore of the 
lake. Captain Doell's efforts and sympathy for the orphan children will 
not soon be forgotten by citizens and friends of the deceased. 

Mrs. West. 


A Pioneer History of Becker County. 


By Capt. Joseph Ai-.bky. 
I came to Becker County July ist, 1871, and took a pre-emp- 
tion on the southwest quarter of Section 14, of Lakeview Town- 
ship. Iniilt a good log house and cleared about twenty acres, the 
land being mostly covered with oak timber. In March, 1872, I 
went back to Michigan and got married, and brought my wife 
home to Becker County. We arrived in Detroit on the nth 


of April, a town then mostly of tents. When we got off the cars 
they were in a snow cut from eight to ten feet high on either 
side, with side cuts to get through into the city. My wife gave 
a sigh and asked if we had not about come to the jumping off 
place. W^e went straight home to Lakeview\ where we resided 
until November. 1873. being one of the pioneer families. 

W^e had pleasant times, being surrounded soon afterwards by 
other families, among which were those of Eugene Holyoke, M. 

A Pioneer History of Becker County. 473 

J. Lewis, J. B. Simmons and Thomas Glenn, the steam shovel 
man, also a man by the name of George Martin and another by 
the name of James Depue on the northwest qnarter of Sec