Why Does This Blog Exist?

You never know what you'll find here - anything with genealogical or historical value is fair game. This blog will be updated as I clean out my office, go through boxes and piles, or find pertinent items at antique shops. In the meantime, I hope you find something of interest here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

St. Paul – Chapter IX – Jonathan Carver

 (From “St. Paul Location-Development-Opportunities” by F. C. Miller, Ph. D., Webb Book Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minnesota, 1928)

Difficulties are tilings that show what men arc.

Jonathan Carver was born in Connecticut in 1732. He was of good parentage, received a good education, and served with distinction in the French and Indian War. After peace had been made, he resolved to explore the new territory acquired by Great Britain. Accordingly, he left Boston in the summer of 17GG and arrived at Green Bay in the early fall of the same year. Entering the Fox River in a canoe, he went up that river to its well-known portage (Portage, Wisconsin). Carrying his canoe over the small stretch of land, he continued his voyage down the Wisconsin River to its junction with the Mississippi. After rowing up the Mississippi he arrived at the site of St. Paul some time in October, most likely at the foot of Indian Mounds Park.

Carver, who understood the Indian character better than many oilier explorers, had no difficulties with the natives. Indeed his relations with them were very friendly, and there is little doubt that the Indians themselves showed him their cave. This cave is in a steep St. Peter sandstone bluff immediately or almost immediately below Indian Mounds Park.

At present, the approach to the cave is rather difficult, as the switching tracks of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railway are just in front of the cave. The only practical method of approach seems to be a switch-back tunnel (which, let us hope, will soon be built) from the park above.
Carver says that "about thirty" [about ten miles by land or twenty by river is more accurate] "miles below the Falls of St. Anthony is a remarkable cave of an amazing depth. The Indians call it Waka-Teebe, that is, the 'Dwelling of the Great Spirit.’  The entrance to it is about 10 feet wide, the height of it 5 feet."

These dimensions were presumably true when Carver saw the cave. At present the entrance is an unsightly, more or less circular, opening about five feet in diameter. Carver found the entrance by "ascending a narrow steep passage that lies near the banks of the rivet*." Dining the construction of the tracks of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway and those of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railway, the entrance was doubtless demolished, and the present entrance must be some thirty to forty feet back of the original entrance.

Carver says further, "The arch within is nearly fifteen feet high and about thirty feet broad. The bottom of it consists of fine clear sand. About twenty feet from the entrance is a lake, the water of which is transparent and extends to an immeasurable distance, for the darkness of the cave prevents all attempts to acquire a knowledge of it. I threw a small pebble towards the interior parts of it with my utmost strength. I could hear that it fell into the water, and, notwithstanding it was of so small a size, it caused an astonishing and horrible noise that echoed through all those gloomy regions. I found in the cave many Indian hieroglyphics which appeared very ancient, for time had nearly covered them with moss, so that it was with difficulty that I could trace them. They were cut in a rude  manner upon the inside of the walls which were composed of a stone so extremely soft that it might be easily penetrated with a knife, a stone everywhere to be found near the Mississippi."

There is no doubt that Carver had been a great friend of the Indians. Still, there is some doubt concerning the grant of land reported to have been made to Carver and his lawful heirs. The tract of land said to have been given to Carver embraced a considerable and  valuable stretch of land on the east bank of the Mississippi to the south end of Lake Pepin.  In the appended deed a detailed description of the land grant may be found.

The preface of the 1781 London edition of Carver's book contains the following "deed."   "To Jonathan Carver, a chief under the most mighty and potent George the Third, King of the English......in return for the many presents and other good services done by the said Jonathan to ourselves and allies, give grant and convey .... the whole of a certain tract of land, bounded as followed: (viz) from the fall of St. Anthony on the east bank of the Mississippi, nearly southeast, as far as the south end of Lake Pepin, where the Chippewa river joins the Mississippi, and from thence eastward, five days travel, at twenty English miles per day, and from hence north six days travel, at twenty English miles per day, and from thence again to the fall of St. Anthony, on a direct straight line......reserving for ourselves and heirs the sole liberty of hunting and fishing on land not planted by the said Jonathan, his heirs and assigns, to which we have affixed our respective seals at the great cave, May the first 1767.

Jawnopawjatin his mark.
Otohtongoomlisheaw   his mark."

The grant included all that part of Minneapolis east and south of the St. Anthony Falls, all St. Paul, (except the West Side, or Riverview), Stillwater, Eau Claire, and many other towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In 1848, a grandson of Jonathan Carver visited St. Paul in order to obtain some record of the deed, or some evidence that might throw light upon the matter. The search was in vain and, upon appealing to Washington, the commandant of Fort Snelling was ordered to make an investigation. The adverse report of the commandant induced Congress to take no action in the matter.

In his book (Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America in the Years 1766-67-68. London, 1781) Carver reports an Indian funeral oration which he claims to have heard, most likely, in Indian Mounds Park and which furnishes the background for a beautiful poem by the German poet Frederick Schiller. This poem found such favor among English-speaking people that two English poets, Sir Edward Bulwer and Sir John Herschell, and one American poet, E. A. Bowring, translated it into English. We give here a few verses of Sir John Herschell’s version, slightly altered.

See, where upon the mat he sits
Erect before his door,
With just the same majestic air
That once in life he bore.
But where is fled his strength of will,
The whirlwind of his breath?
To Manitou to whom lie sent
The peace pipe's mounting wreath.

The hatchet place beneath his head.
Still red with hostile blood;
And add, because the way is long,
The bear's fat shanks for food.
The scalping knife beside him lay
With paints of gorgeous dye,
That in the land of souls his form
May shine triumphantly.

The cave was located by Lieutenant Pike in 1806 and by Featherstonehaugh in 1835. Both explorers were prevented from entering by fallen debris that blocked the entrance. Nicollet seems to have entered it in 1837, as he reports that Carver's description of the cave was correct. In 1867, the Minnesota Historical Society celebrated the centennial of Carver's Grant of Land and a committee of the society among whom was Father John Ireland entered the cave to a depth of 112 feet, to a point where another cave some   hundred feet up-river was discovered, separated from Carver's Cave by a small stream. In 1913 the Mounds Park Improvement Society, under the leadership of J. H. Colwell, tried to explore the cave thoroughly and open it to the public as an adjunct or rather main point of attraction of Indian Mounds Park.

This serious attempt failed because the exploration was stopped by high water and other physical obstacles. On account of its mysterious character and historical interest it is very probable that the cave will be further explored and that easier access will be provided.

By what route did Carver reach the Mississippi?
How was lie received by the Indians?
Where is the cave that was named for him?
Try to make a trip to it.
What grant of land was made to Carver?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

St. Paul – Chapter VIII – Earliest Explorers

(From “St. Paul Location-Development-Opportunities” by F. C. Miller, Ph. D., Webb Book Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minnesota, 1928)

Westward the course of empire takes its way.
—Bishop Berkeley

There is no doubt that a number of explorers traversed the site of St. Paul in the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth century. Few of them did more than merely roam through the territory. Only brief mention of the prominent ones will be made.

In April, 1700, Charles Le Sueur, with nineteen companions, sailed from the mouth of the Mississippi River as far north as the Falls of St. Anthony. Instead of remaining here, however, he continued up the Minnesota River.

In the fall of 1773 Peter Pond, accompanied by two traders, came up the Mississippi from Prairie du Chien to the mouth of the Minnesota, which, like Le Sueur he ascended and where with his men he wintered. Their object was to trade with the Indians. Neither Pond nor Le Sueur left any impressions on the future of St. Paul.

Major Stephen H. Long, in the summer of 1817, together with a few adventurers, arrived from Prairie du Chien at St. Anthony Falls. These men were in search of a site for a military post. The major wrote a glowing account of the scenery and "the thunder of the cataract." He, too, examined Carver's Cave. He selected the present site of Fort Snelling, which within two years was occupied by a military detachment.

Giacomo C. Beltrami, in 1823, arrived at Fort Snelling on his way north, hoping to discover the source of the Mississippi. Concluding that the source of the river was to be found in Red Lake, he returned to Fort Snelling. In 1835 George W. Featherstonehaugh arrived by the river at Fort Snelling.   He was a geologist and in search of minerals. In the same year George Catlin visited Fort Snelling. He made paintings of the Indians and made a trip to their pipestone quarries at Pipestone.

As far as St. Paul is concerned, Hennepin alone should have further mention.

La Salle, originally a fur trader at Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario, conceived the bold idea of exploring the Mississippi River.   Having obtained the consent of Louis XIV, he set out in 1679 on his exploring expedition with a crew of about thirty men among whom was  Father Hennepin. Crossing Lake Huron, he entered Lake Michigan and arrived at Green Bay.   After some serious mishaps, he continued his voyage southward, and, after having overcome many obstacles and difficulties on lakes, rivers, and land, he eventually arrived at a place on the Illinois River not far from the present site of Peoria, Illinois, where he erected Fort Crevecoeur (Broken Heart) in January of 1680.   Here Father Hennepin was commissioned to explore the upper Mississippi and, if possible, to reach the source of the Father of Waters. With two companions he sailed to the mouth of the Illinois River, entered the Mississippi, and proceeded northward towards its headwaters.  After having passed the mouth of the Wisconsin River, the whole party was taken prisoner by the Sioux.   The Indians and their captives continued their trip northward on the river to a little inlet some five miles below St. Anthony Falls.    This stopping place was very likely somewhere on the present site of St. Paul. From St. Paul Hennepin was taken by his  captors upon an Indian trail to a village on Lake Mille Lao.   After a short time the Indians, going upon their fall hunt, left their prisoners in the village. One of the Frenchmen stayed voluntarily with the Sioux; Father Hennepin, however, and his other companion obtained a boat and went down the Mississippi River until they heard the tremendous roar of a great waterfall. Stopping their boat, they proceeded on land and beheld the largest waterfall in the whole course of the mighty Mississippi. Father Hennepin named this beautiful fall "The Falls of St. Anthony" in honor of St. Anthony of Padua. According to
the records kept by the bold explorer, the famous falls were discovered in 1080 on or about October 1.

Jonathan Carver and Lieutenant Pike, on account of their still closer connection with the city, will be the subjects of special chapters following.

What Indians occupied the former site of St. Paul?
Tell about Hennepin's discoveries and experiences.
Where has his name been preserved as a memorial?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Josiah Elam West of Stearns County, Minnesota

The history of his life is almost the history of St. Cloud, as he came here within a few months after the town had its beginning and it continued to be his home until his removal by death. There was no hour when he was not loyal to its interests or when his best  efforts were not given to its growth and development. There was no prominent undertaking during all these years with which he was not identified or in which he did not take a leading part. Born December 12, 1833, in Green county, Ohio, he remained there until a lad of six years when his parents removed to Piqua, Ohio, where he lived until 1846, when being left an orphan at the age of thirteen years, he went to Spring Valley, Ohio, where for the next two years he worked in a woolen mill and brick yard. Removing to Logansport, Ind., he made that city his home for three years, clerking in a store, while the next three were spent at Bloomington, Ill., part of the time as clerk in a store and part of the time as laborer in a brick yard; then still moving westward he reached Minnesota in 1854, stopping at St. Anthony Falls, where he put up ice in the winter and ran a restaurant the remainder of the time, always ready to do anything rather than be idle.

In 1855 he came to St. Cloud and still taking hold of whatever job was to be had instead of waiting for something easy to turn up worked for several years in a sawmill and a brick yard. Later he became a general merchant, and during the subsequent years was at different times a dealer in lumber, a real estate agent and a builder. St. Cloud has today more than a score of buildings he erected during his active life.  Two of the more important enterprises which he carried to completion, or which were especially due to his energy and enterprise, were the West House, a fine three-story hotel, which burned after it had passed from his ownership, and the dam across the Mississippi river which  generates the power that not only lights the city and propels the cars on the street railway but keeps in motion the machinery of most of our manufactories. The success of this last undertaking crowned one of the ambitious purposes of his life and was due to his persistence and indomitable energy.

His father, Caleb West, was born in Connecticut, December 27, 1796, and his mother, Elizabeth Elam, April 14, 1799, in Virginia, their marriage taking place November 25, 1819, in Green county, Ohio. The father was a cabinet maker until 1839, after which he kept a hotel, and here possibly may be discovered an inherited trait which inspired the son with a desire to provide St. Cloud with a fine hotel. Both parents made Ohio their home until their death, the father passing away October 10, 1845, and the mother only a few months later, January 12, 1846.

In the matter of education his opportunities were limited, being confined to a few months now and a few months again in the primitive schools of the communities in which his boyhood days were spent, ceasing entirely with six months in a school at Logansport. But what was lacking in these earlier opportunities he made up largely by a keenness of observation, a ready assimilation of facts, a good deal of after reading and a retentive memory, so that he had a good general knowledge of current affairs and was able to grasp readily and comprehensively such situations as required prompt decision and action. Captain West was patriotic to the core and promptly translated his patriotism into active service. August 15, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company I, largely a St. Cloud company, of the Seventh Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and remained in active service until the close of the war, being mustered out August 16, 1865. During this time he was promoted successively to the office of sergeant the month following his enlistment; to be second lieutenant April 1, 1864, and to the captaincy of his company May 26, 1865, and had the unusual record for these three years of not having been off duty by reason of sickness a single day and was absent on furlough only two weeks.   He was with his regiment during General Sibley's Indian campaign in the summer of 1863, going South that fall and participating the following year in the battle of Tupelo, Miss., in the Oxford raid and the burning of that city; the skirmish at Tallahatchie river; the pursuit of General Price through Arkansas, when a march of three hundred miles, from September 17 to November 24, was made on ten days' rations; on the chase after General Rice through Missouri; at the battle of Nashville; in the pursuit of General Hood; and at the siege of Mobile was under fire almost continuously from March 25 to April 8, 1865. After his return home and to civil life Captain West was appointed postmaster at St. Cloud, serving from April 15, 1869, to March, 1886, and again from March, 1890, to March, 1894, making a total of twenty-one years. From 1870 to 1883 he was a trustee of the Soldiers' Orphans Home, and from 1883 to 1887 was a director of the St. Cloud Library Board and its president.

Captain West was married at Bloomington, Ill., in October, 1854, to Alcetta Francis Mason; at Clearwater, Minn., November 26, 1878, he married Emma Cambell; and July 9, 1896, he married Mary Martha Cambell whose death preceded his by but a few months. There were born as the result of his first marriage three sons, Willis Mason, November 15, 1857; Paul, September 2, 1860; and Max, November 11, 1870. The eldest of these, Willis M., is a member of the faculty of the University of Minnesota; the second, Paul, is a practicing physician located at Roseland, Louisiana; Max, the youngest, died in December, 1909, at Washington, D. C, where he had been engaged for some time in the service of the government as an expert examiner in the Bureau of Corporations.

Captain West had been in feeble health for some months, gradually wasting away, until the end came Thursday, November, 1911, when he had almost completed his seventy-eighth year. The funeral services were held the following Sunday afternoon, in the Presbyterian Church, under the direction of the Grand Army of the Republic. With his death St. Cloud lost one of its most enterprising and progressive citizens. He was ever on the alert to discover what could be made to aid in the growth and development of his home city, and his time and energies and means were freely given toward making all such enterprises a success. Coming to St. Cloud in the days when pioneering meant privation, when the demand was for stout hearts and willing hands, he was ready to meet whatever situation presented itself and make the very best of circumstances. Always buoyant and hopeful, he inspired his fellow citizens with his own confidence and set an  example of progressiveness which was contagious. He loved his country, giving to its service three of the best years of his life, and he loved its flag. He was possessed with a burning desire to have the children of the country grow up to love and honor the emblem of the nation's unity and glory, and it was through over-zealous efforts in this direction that he contracted a sickness which doubtless hastened his death. It was one of his final requests that his coffin should be draped with the flag whose stars and stripes he had so devotedly followed through days of darkness and peril, and that his remains should be borne to their last resting place by his fellow comrades in arms. His memory will long be cherished as that of a good citizen and a brave soldier, and of the Association of Old Settlers he was a most active, valuable and devoted member, whose loss will long be severely felt.

(from “History of Stearns County, Minnesota” by William Bell Mitchell, 1915)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

St. Paul – Chapter VII – The St. Paul Bedrock

(From “St. Paul Location-Development-Opportunities” by F. C. Miller, Ph. D., Webb Book Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minnesota, 1928)
Thou sure and firm-set earth.

Glacial drift, as explained before, consists of clay, sand, gravel, and boulders.   Under the glacial drift is solid rock. In some places the solid rock is only a few inches below the glacial drift.   In other places it is several hundred feet below.   This solid rock is called bed rock.   Bed rock is found everywhere upon the land and even on the sea bottom. It has been calculated by scientists to be between 40 to 50 miles thick.   All the loose  material that we call clay, sand, gravel, and boulders is nothing but broken-up or decayed bed rock.   In St. Paul bed rock can be seen along the banks of the Mississippi, the channel of Phalen Creek, some of the streets that run from Pleasant Avenue to St. Anthony Hill, on Oakland Street, and in other places.   On the West Side (Riverview) there are many places where bed rock can be seen, especially on South Wabasha Street.

Wherever the bed rock comes to the surface, so that it can be seen, we speak of it as an outcrop. In the places just mentioned there are such outcrops.

In St. Paul there are only two kinds of bed rock that crop out. The topmost layer is Trenton limestone, and the one under it is St. Peter sandstone. The Trenton limestone has recently been divided into three distinct layers: Galena limestone, Decorah shale, and Platteville limestone.

From 10 to 12 feet of Galena limestone, consisting of limestone and shale, can be seen on both sides of the St. Paul Gorge, but particularly at the south side of the High Bridge near the brickyard.   The Galena limestone is largely a conglomerate (cemented pebbles) of black-coated limestone pebbles. This structure goes to show that the original unbroken limestone was softened and more or less broken up by the weather. The rock pieces were then rolled along on the bottom of flowing water, and, being knocked both against one another and the rocky river bed, lost their corners and sharp edges and became rounded. The cement that fastened the pebbles together is dissolved limestone.

In the lower part of this formation are many fossils, among others corals, which are extinct. The fact that corals are found in the Galena limestone shows that at the time  when the limestone was laid down the site of St. Paul was covered by a sea.

Fossils are nothing else but imprints,   impressions or traces of ancient animals or plants in bed rock.   When these animals or plants died, thousands of years ago, the rock in which they are now found was still soft.   The dead animals and plants fell on the soft rock and made an imprint of themselves in it.   In case the animals and plants were left uncovered by sand, mud, or clay, they decayed and left nothing but their bones.   The bones also decayed if exposed to the weather for a long time.   If, however, the animal or plant was covered up air-tight with clay or sand of some depth, the mold of the plant or animal was preserved and filled with mineral matter by water to form a perfect cast.    The fact that these are marine plants and animals is conclusive evidence of the presence of a sea at the time of formation.

Decorah shale crops out on both sides of the St. Paid Gorge. The largest outcrop is near Pickerel Lake, not far from the south end of the High Bridge. The formation is some 50 to 60 feet thick (wherever it has not been removed) and consists largely of shale (compact layers of clay), though the shale is intermixed throughout by layers of limestone. The whole formation, especially the limestone, is rich in animal fossils, thus proving the presence of a former sea.

The Platteville Limestone is about 30 feet thick, and is practically all solid limestone, except its lowest layers, in which it gradually changes into shale. It is exposed on both sides of the St. Paul Gorge and is found in St. Paul proper from Wabasha Street along West Seventh Street to Fort Snelling. Marine life was abundant when this rock was formed in a somewhat shallow sea. Marine algae (a low order of plants) are very common. The animal life included many crawling, swimming, and burrowing wormlike creatures.

The St. Peter sandstone about 150 feet thick is immediately under the Platteville limestone. It is a very white sandstone, consisting of well-rounded sand grains that are barely cemented together. This rock is, therefore, rather porous and easily breakable. It is one of the purest, most unmixed rocks of this vicinity, being more than 99% pure silica, from which glass is made. The rock comes to the surface near Wabasha Street Bridge on both sides of the river,near Carver's Cave, Indian Mounds Park, and various other parts of the St. Paul Gorge. Numerous fossils of marine mollusks (shell animals) are found in this formation, among others the well-known orthoceras. The fossils found, however, are mere imprints, as their shells (fossil shells are sometimes preserved with very little change) have been dissolved by waters coming from the surface above in the same way as all other limestone matter which had been originally in the rock. Good places for finding the fossils are Dayton's Bluff, Highwood, and South St. Paul.

Below the St. Peter sandstone there are many layers of limestone and sandstone, indicating that wherever there is limestone the site of St. Paul was under a sea about 2,000 feet deep, and that wherever sandstone is found the site presented a shoreline. The fact that there are these different layers of bed rock indicates that wherever limestone is found the site was sinking and wherever sandstone is found it was rising. Thus this site  has been repeatedly a moderately deep sea, a shallow sea, and land. These changes must have occupied millions of years.

The abundance of glacial drift in St. Paul furnishes an almost limitless supply of sand and gravel, so necessary for building houses and for the construction of highways. All
the sand and gravel necessary for the making of mortar, cement, and concrete is abundant, as shown by the many large and small gravel and sand pits in and about the city. The red glacial drift, brought here by the next to the last ice invasion, is best for building purposes, because it is practically free from limestone pebbles and broken-up shale.

The shale deposits of the Galena limestone and Decorah shale are used for the manufacture of brick and tile. Platteville limestone has been extensively quarried for building purposes along both banks of the St. Paul Gorge, especially in the West Seventh Street district. Before the use of cement for foundations, Platteville limestone was about the only material used for this purpose in St. Paul. In the Wahasha-West-Seventh-Street district, Platteville limestone is covered with little or no glacial drift and excavations for cellars must be blasted out of the formation.

As the sand grains of the St. Peter sandstone are round and polished, the rock is not very suitable for cement work. It is, however, extensively used for molding sand in iron foundries and as such furnishes a commercial article of some importance. It has also been found suitable for the manufacturing of sand-lime brick. As it is practically free from iron and lime, it can be used to great advantage for the making of fine glass and pottery.  This sandstone is used by the Ford plant to manufacture glass for automobiles.

The lowest bed rock is granite, which must at one time have been molten. The different layers of limestone and sandstone on top of the granite have been formed in later geologic times from igneous rocks (granites and lavas) such as outcrop respectively at St. Cloud and Taylors Falls. The original rock was gradually broken up by such various forces of Nature as water, ice, and freezing.

Within more recent times the whole region has been subjected to several ice invasions. As shown before, the most striking events that took place during and after the ice age are, first, the deposition of glacial drift and glacial hills; second, the formation of a number of lakes; and, third, the work of River Warren in producing the River Warren Falls, the St. Paul Gorge, the lakes in St. Paul and vicinity, and the many rock terraces of the city.

Describe the principal kinds of bed rock.
In what order do they lie?
How could the lower rocks crop out?
What evidence is there that St. Paul was once covered by a sea?
Try to find places where the three kinds of rock may be seen.