Collections Carousel – Bison Bone, circa 1830

Bison Bone, circa 1838
Bison Bone, circa 1830 (1938.41.1)

One of the earliest additions to the collections of the Morrison County Historical Society (MCHS) was a bison bone that was donated to the organization in 1938 by John William (J. W.) Crossfield of Little Falls, Minnesota. The bone documents the presence of bison in the area that is now Morrison County. Once prevalent on the great plains of North America, with an estimated 30-60 million roaming the prairies at one time, the bison liked to feed on the rich grasses of Minnesota and Morrison County. Sitings of bison in the area were noted by early explorers such as Radisson, Groseillers, Keating and Pike.

John William (J. W.) Crossfield was born in 1861 to Johannes Ludwig and Maria Margaretha (Reimers) Kreutzfeldt. After coming to America in 1884, J. W. legally changed his name from Johannes Willi Kreutzfeldt to John William Crossfield. In 1887, he married Emma Horstmann, also a native of Germany, in St. Paul, Minnesota, and five years later they moved to Little Falls. J. W. and Emma had nine children – Emma, Herman, Bruno, Ray, Edmund, Otto, John, Louise and Charles. Emma died at the age of seven months. J. W. opened a real estate and insurance office in Little Falls in 1907 and became well-known in the local business community. He also established a reputation for raising fancy chickens, owning and operating the “Acme Poultry Farm” on the two lots adjoining his residence. Among the breeds he raised were White Wyandottes, Rose-comb Rhode Island Reds and Single-comb White Leghorns (Fuller, Clara. History of Morrison and Todd Counties, Minnesota.  Indianapolis, IN: B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc., 1915. 503.)

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