We’re back with 5 more influential people plucked from Morrison County’s history, but first, an explanation of why last week’s 5 were important:
6. Father Francis Xavier Pierz – Catholic priest who came to Minnesota in 1852 from Austria. He started missions at Belle Prairie, Swan River, Sobieski, Sauk Rapids, St. Cloud, St. Joseph, St. Augusta, Leech Lake, and Rich Prairie, which was later renamed Pierz in his honor. He urged people to move from his home area to Minnesota and many did, including Father Joseph Buh, for whom Buh Township was named. In 1862, Father Pierz was one of the people critical in stopping the uprising planned by Kwi-wi-sens (see below). Father Pierz served as the first resident pastor of St. Joseph’s parish in Pierz. He returned to Austria in 1873 and died in 1880 at the age of 95.
7. Chief Hole in the Day I (Pugona-geshig) – Objiwe chief and warrior – He played a pivotal role in the Governor Lewis B. Cass expedition of 1820. Pugona-geshig and his brother Songa-cumig inherited the role of chief from their father in 1825 after he died following the signing of the Prairie du Chien peace treaty. Pugona-geshig was chief of a north-central area in Minnesota, including Gull Lake and the Morrison County area. As chief, Pugona-geshig was involved with the signing of several treaties. He died in 1847 near Royalton, MN, while on a return trip from a meeting with government officials at Prairie du Chien. His final resting place is on the bluff north of Little Falls.
8. Chief Hole in the Day II (Kwi-wi-sens) – Kwi-wi-sens was the son of Pugona-geshig and inherited the position of Ojibwe chief upon his father’s death. Like Pugona-geshig, Kwi-wi-sens was involved with several treaty negotiations. He was considered to be a great orator, another trait he shared with his father. During treaty negotiations to establish Ojibwe reservations, he tried to convince the U.S. government to grant citizenship to the Ojibwe. Unfortunately, he also worked to keep metis, or mixed-blood, Indians off the White Earth Reservation, which created ill will in the Ojibwe community. Kwi-wi-sens also attempted to mount his own uprising against European/American settlers in central Minnesota in August of 1862, in concert with Chief Little Crow’s Sioux Uprising in southern Minnesota. His efforts were blocked by several people, including a group from his own tribe. Kwi-wi-sens was shot in 1868 by members of his tribe because of some of his controversial activities.
9. William Whipple Warren – Part Ojibwe, French, and English, Warren was a descendant of a fur trading family and grew up in a unique position to understand the mix of cultures in early Minnesota. He was taught both the English and Ojibwe languages as a child and became an interpreter between the Ojibwe and U.S. government during treaty negotiations. He served on the Territorial Legislature in 1851. He spoke extensively to his tribal elders in order to learn the history of his people. He was urged to write down these stories, which he did while living in Morrison County between 1851 and 1853. His manuscript became the book, “History of the Ojibway People,” one of the most important books ever written about the Ojibwe. William Warren died in 1853 at the age of 28.
10. William Aitken – Aitken was a fur trader who had a fur post at Swan River (also called Aitkinsville) in Morrison County. This community was on the east side of the Mississippi River, a few miles south of Little Falls. Both the city of Aitkin and Aitkin County were named for William Aitken.
And now to introduce 11-15:
11. Captain Napolean Jackson Tecumseh Dana
12. Henry M. Rice
13. James Green
14. Captain John Blair Smith Todd
15. John Irvine
Before we leave you to ponder these influentials, we’d like to give a shout-out to Tom West and Terry Lehrke at the Morrison County Record. Terry contacted us for help on putting together a list of Morrison County influentials for the paper, which appeared last week. That’s what led us to coming up with our list of 150. In this week’s Record, Tom West, editor and general manager of the paper, acknowledged our contribution to the effort in his column. Thanks for thinking of us, Terry and Tom. We’re glad to be of service.