Morrison County Influentials: 46-50

The Influentials from last week:

41. Wheaton M. Fuller (1862-1908) – This was the freebie from last week because I mentioned some of his accomplishments in the description for his wife Clara. To recap for those of you just tuning in: Wheaton Fuller purchased the Little Falls Transcript at the age of 19 (c. 1881) and ran it for 27 years (until his death). “In 1892 he organized the Transcript Publishing company and began publication of the Daily Transcript.” (LFDT, Oct. 31, 1908) Prior to this, the Transcript had been a weekly publication. In addition to his work with the newspaper, Wheaton “served one term in the lower house of the state legislature and one term in the state senate.” ((LFDT, Oct. 31, 1908). He died at the age of 46, at which time his wife took over the operation of the newspaper.

42. Major Ashley Cutler Morrill (1830-1904) – Ashley Morrill came to Morrison County in 1861 to work as a clerk for Ojibwe Indian Agent Major Lucius Walker. After Walker committed suicide a year later, Morrill was appointed to take his place. It was with this position that he was given the title “Major.” After serving a term as Indian Agent, Morrill moved to Minneapolis and worked in the lumber industry. While in Minneapolis, he served a term in the State Legislature as a senator for the 25th District (not the Morrison County area). Even though he was not in the area for a number of years, he still maintained business interests in Morrison County, specifically in the Little Falls Manufacturing Company, in which he had acquired most of the stock issued by the company. He and his second wife (his first wife had died while the couple was in Minneapolis) decided to move back to Morrison County. The move had been made at the urging of Morrill’s second wife, who had been the widow of Arthur Garden, a friend of Morrill from his Indian Agent days. Morrill and his wife built a large and magnificent home at the confluence of the Little Elk and Mississippi Rivers. This home burned in 1894 and was replaced by another magnificent home. Morrill constructed a flour mill at his Little Elk site. It was later purchased by Alfred Tanner and moved into Little Falls. Major Morrill donated a piece of property in Little Falls to the Franciscan Sisters so they could build their convent. Some of this land includes that upon which St. Gabriel’s Hospital and St. Otto’s Home now sit. (Sources: LFDT, May 6, 1904, LFDT, April 5, 1894, other documents in MCHS Morrill Family File)

43. Jenny Lind Brown Blanchard (1873-1965) – Jenny Lind Brown was a teacher. She came to Little Falls from Pennsylvania at the behest of her brother, L.D. Brown, who owned a drugstore in Little Falls. L.D.’s first wife had died in childbirth, leaving L.D. a daughter named Gladys to raise. Jenny took on this task and then became a teacher in Little Falls. In 1906 she married Arthur Palmer Blanchard, an attorney who was partners with Charles Lindbergh, Sr. In 1909 or 1910, Jenny became the librarian at the Carnegie Library in Little Falls, a position she held until 1933. During her tenure, she expanded the library’s services, including adding a children’s room. She “served as president of the Minnesota State Library association, helped organize and was president for two years of the Lake Region library club.” (LFDT, March 1958) Jenny was also involved with the Musical Art Club, establishing the literary section of the organization and serving as president from 1918 to 1925.

44. Jonathan O. Simmons (1821-1890) – Jonathan O. Simmons is one of those names that crops up often in the early history of Morrison County. Given that, you’d think our Simmons Family File would be bursting with information on the guy, but it’s not. Complicating matters is the fact that there were several Jonathan Simmons – J. O. named one of his sons Jonathan and there was a Jonathan III. According to Nathan Richardson, J.O. Simmons moved with his family to Little Falls in 1856. The more I look through Richardson’s history, the more confused I get about J.O. and his son Jonathan. From the History of the Upper Mississippi Valley, it indicates that J.O. ran a mercantile business for two-and-a-half years after he came to Little Falls and then ran a hotel for one year. He left Little Falls, presumably with his family, in 1861, then returned in 1867 for two years. He left again for three years and returned to Little Falls. Richardson indicates that J.O. became a homeopathic physician in 1875. Simmons held several public offices, including Coroner, Justice of the Peace, Probate Judge, County Attorney, and Register of Deeds.

Here’s the confusing part. One of the Jonathan Simmons served as a senator in the Minnesota State Legislature. From what I can make out in Richardson’s history, the state senator was Jonathan Simmons (1850-1896), the son of J.O. He was elected in 1879 and would have been only 29 years old when he was senator. If this was the case, it was this Jonathan Simmons who assisted Richardson on two very large projects, establishing the Little Falls & Dakota Railroad and writing a petition on behalf of the Mille Lacs Band of Objiwe in order to assist the band in dealing with timber thieves. I can’t be entirely sure of this, since Richardson also wrote the following in his 1896 mayoral inaugural address:

“Before closing, I deem it my duty to note the death of Honorable Jonathan Simmons, who passed from time to eternity, in this city on the 4th inst. he was an old resident of Little Falls and did much to advance the material prosperity of this city. During the years of 1887 and 1888 he occupied the position of president of the village council, being the two years just prior to the change of Little Falls from a village to a city government, which position he filled in a manner that was conducive to the best interest of the town and that was creditable to himself.” (pg. 153, A Big Hearted Paleface Man)

See, it’s the “old resident” part of Richardson’s statement that has me confused. When Jonathan Simmons (the second) died in 1896, he would have been about 46 years old. Until this can be sorted out, I guess we’ll have to consider this Morrison County Influential entry as a two-for-one deal.

45. Hans Henry Gosch (1865-1933) – Who hasn’t heard of Gosch’s grocery store in Randall, Minnesota? Hans Henry (his father was Hans, as well) was one of those do-everything kind of guys. In 1901/02 he started Gosch’s grocery store – a business which continues to operate to this day, albeit in a different building from the original. According to Hans’ daughter Maryellen (Gosch) Hughes, Hans “taught himself photography, became the village (Randall) photographer.” Along with these occupations, Hans also invented a road drag, a device to smooth rough dirt roads. He had the invention patented in 1921 in Canada.

Whew! That was quite a bit of research, especially with the Jonathan Simmons confusion. Time for five more names:

46. Alfred Tanner

47. Dr. G. M. A. Fortier I

48. Edward Morey

49. Barney Burton

50. Clarence Johnston

4 Replies to “Morrison County Influentials: 46-50”

  1. My husband & son, both named Jonathan Simmons are direct decendants of the men named Jonathan Simmons that you write about. They have inherited the family bible.The first Jonathan Simmons documented in the Bible was born in 1752.A newspaper article documents his death. He was a physician and a democrat. His son, Jonathan was a mayor of Little Falls. His son was a US Senator for Minn. Beach & Tanner are surnames also mentioned in the Bible.

  2. Hi, Janet – Thanks so much for telling us more about the many Jonathan Simmons (hard to make the name more plural!). The two that lived in Morrison County definitely need more research. I’ve only had occasion to touch upon some of their history through my research of Nathan Richardson.

    We have a box of original papers from the family in our collections. If you’re ever in the area, you should stop in and ask to see it.

    Would you and your family be interested in providing us copies from the Bible for our collections? The Tanner family was very influential in our area, as well. It doesn’t surprise me that their is a connection between the families.

    -Mary Warner

  3. I live in Texas and just bought a handful of books from an estate sale, all from the 1850s-1890s, most of them signed by a J. Simmons from Little Falls, Minn.

    One book is pretty neat because it says “Jonathan Simmons from his father J.O. Simmons Little Falls January 1 1887”.

    Every book also has a stamp in it, Simmons Little Falls Minn

  4. Hi, Mark – Those books sound intriguing, especially the 1887 one. What are the subjects or titles of the books?

    Mary Warner
    Executive Director

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