A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a reporter at our local newspaper. Because of the State’s Sesquicentennial, she wanted to know who we would list as the top 10 most influential people in Morrison County. She listed five or six people who are ALWAYS listed among the most influential. The first thing I told her upon replying was that 10 was too low a number. We have had many more influential people than 10. Off of the tops of our heads, staff could list at least 40 influential people, and we weren’t thinking very hard. The next thing I asked was, “Influential how?” Do we only count people if they are influential on a world-wide scale (i.e. “famous”), or can we count people who were influential in the sphere of county life?
For us, those who were influential on the local level are just as important as those who found greater fame. When it comes right down to it, we aren’t particularly keen on reducing our history to 10 important people because it gives the public the impression that nobody else did anything. That’s just hogwash. We figured we could come up with a list of 150 influential people to match the fact that Minnesota is in its 150th year. (Our list is currently up to 80, with another 20-some potentials awaiting analysis.)
Here’s what we’re going to do. We’ll present to you our list of 150 in groups of 5 or 10 every week on Skimming the Cream. They won’t be in any particular order, certainly not in relative order of importance. We’ll give you 5 to 10 names one week, so you can try to figure out how they were influential, and the following week, we’ll explain how those folks were influential and give you another 5 to 10 names to add to the list. Once we are through with our 150 Morrison County Influentials, we’ll create a web page that lists them all (probably in alphabetical order).
Here are the first five on our list:
1. Zebulon Pike
2. Joseph Nicollet
3. Frederick Ayer
4. Elizabeth Ayer
5. Elizabeth Hayes (Mother Mary Ignatius of Jesus)
Feel free to tell us how you think these people were influential in the comments section. Also, let us know who you think has been influential on a local, state, national, or world-wide level who has ties to Morrison County.