[These are state related. Make sure and check the individual county sites for biographies which relate specifically to one county]
John Joseph Abercrombie
Source: Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, Volume 14; Minnesota Biographies (1655-1912) published 1912; page 3; transcribed by FoFG mz
ABERCBOMBIE, JOHN JOSEPH, soldier, b. in Tennessee, 1802; d. in Roslyn, N. Y., Jan. 3, 1877. He was graduated at West Point, 1822; captain, 1836; served in the Florida and Mexican wars, and was brevetted lieutenant colonel; was in Minnesota at the beginning of the civil war, through which he served, and was brevetted brigadier general
at its close. Fort Abercrombie, N. D., on the Red river, adjoining Minnesota, was named in his honor.
William Ellery Almy
Source: Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, Volume 14; Minnesota Biographies (1655-1912) published 1912; page 11
ALMY, WILLIAM ELLERY, soldier, b. in Washington, D. C, Nov. 9, 1856; d. in San Juan, Porto Rico, Aug. 1, 1901. He was graduated at the U. S. Military Academy in 1879; served from Minnesota in the war with Spain; attained the rank of major in 1899.
Source: Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, Volume 14; Minnesota Biographies (1655-1912) published 1912; page 13
ANAHWANGMANNE, SIMON, a Sioux of the Wahpeton band, was an early convert to Christianity under the teaching of Rev. S. R, Riggs; was friendly to the whites during the outbreak of 1862, and aided in rescuing white captives; was a scout with Gen. Sibley's troops in 1863; died on the Sisseton Reservation, South Dakota, in 1891.
Seba Smith Brown
Source: Progressive men of Minnesota. Published by The Minneapolis Journal (1897) submitted by Diana Heser Morse
The first shot fired by the American patriots to emphasize their determination to be freed from the tyranny of Great Britain was from a gun held in the hands of Captain David Brown, the great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch. He lived at Concord, Massachusetts, and commanded the Concord minute men on April 19, 1775, when, at the North Bridge the regulars poured their first volley across the river into the ranks of the farmer boys and instantly killed Captain Davis, of the Acton company. Captain Brown, raising his own gun to ready, gave the command, "Fire!" at the same time firing his own gun and bringing down the first Britisher in the War of the Revolution. The gun he used that day is now in good condition at the old homestead in Baldwin, Maine. This branch of the Brown family is traced back to Thomas Brown, who was born in 1651, and died in 1718. His son, Ephraim, was born in 1689, and was married to Hannah Wilson. Their youngest son, of a family of eight children, was Captain David Brown. He married Abagail Munroe and twelve children were born to them. Their son, Ephraim, was the grandfather of Seba S. Brown. He was born at Concord, but when a young man moved to Maine and settled upon and cleared from the heavy woods the farm upon which Cyrus Shell Brown, the father of Seba, was born. Cyrus was born in 1802. He was a thrifty and frugal farmer; a man of good judgment and absolute integrity, held in high esteem by his neighbors. He was a colleague of the late James G. Blaine in the Maine legislature in 1862. His wife, Mary, was born in 1805 in Parsonfield, Maine. She was the daughter of Major Paul Burnham and Comfort Pease. Their son, Seba, was born August 7, 1841, on the old farm at Baldwin, Maine. The lad followed the usual vocation of farmers' boys of that period--worked on the farm during the summers and attended the district school in the winters. This he did until he was eighteen years of age. During the next three years he studied in Gorham Academy, paying his own expenses in part by teaching in the winters. When President Lincoln issued his call for men in 1862, Seba was at his books; these he left with his room mate, and, receiving a blanket from his mother, which she had woven, he started out to serve his country. He joined Company K, Twenty-fifth Maine Infantry, as a private, and was chosen by his comrades as second lieutenant. During the next nine months of his service, however, he received rapid promotion; was commissioned first lieutenant and then captain of his company. With it he served in the Army of the Potomac; but was detached for picket duty at Chantilly, Virginia, during the summer of 1863. In November of that year the regiment's term of service having expired, Mr. Brown left the army and came to Minnesota. His first winter here he spent in the pineries, swamping and tending sled for a salary of thirty-five dollars a month. From that time to the present Mr. Brown has been engaged in the lumbering business in some form or other. In 1889 he was appointed by Governor Merriam as surveyor general of logs and lumber for the second district of Minnesota. The fact that he is now serving his fourth term in this office is an indication of his competency to hold this responsible position. He has always been a Republican. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and of the Loyal Legion; also of the Masonic body. October 17, 1877, he was married to Ann Elizabeth Anderson. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Brown, of whom only two are living, Cyrus Shell, aged twelve, and Roy Stuart, aged seven.
Source: A History of the State of Oklahoma, by Luther B. Hill – Vol. II – Published 1910. Transcribed by D. Donlon
He has lived in Oklahoma City since 1892, and for many years was known among a wide circle of friends as a traveling salesman, is now engaged in conducting some large mining interests in the Colorado field. As president and general manager of the Little Bernice Mining and Milling Company, of Custer County, Colorado, and as one of the directors of the New Bull Domingo Mining and Milling Company, in the same county (the latter being a lead and silver proposition), he has been instrumental in developing some first-class properties and in placing them within the control of his Oklahoma City friends. Notwithstanding the location of the mines, the properties might well be considered an Oklahoma affair, since Mr. Link and his financial associates have promoted them.
Mr. Link was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1860, and after being educated in that city became identified at an early age with mercantile pursuits, being located for several years in St. Louis and Kansas City. For eleven years he traveled in the interests of the Cudahy Packing Company, also several years for the McCord-Collins Company wholesale grocers. His territory was Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and other portions of the southwest, and the acquaintance formed with the substantial business men of this section was a very important factor in his success when he took up independent business. He gave up all other business connections in 1905 in order to devote his entire time to the promotion of his mining interests in Colorado. He had made exhaustive study of mining, not only from the geological and scientific standpoint, but from the standpoint of the practical business man conducting mining on a legitimate basis the same as in any other business. He has applied strict business principles and management to every feature of his business, from the work of the prospector to the organization of the company, establishing the plants and installing machinery, and as a result his enterprises have proved financially successful and have brought a large number of investors to pin their faith in his sound judgment and methods. He has a high standing in the business circles of Oklahoma City.
At Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Link married Miss Delphine H. Howard, a native of Minnesota, but who was reared in Wisconsin. In their pleasant home in Oklahoma City they have a family of four children: Hortense, Delia, Louise, and Harry H.
A. L. Mohler
Source: Progressive men of Minnesota. (Shutter, Marion Daniel, 1853-ed.) Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Journal (1897) transcribed by Vicki Bryan
A. L. Mohler has probably been connected with the railroad service in the Northwest as long as any other man now engaged in that line of business. His business career has been a continual advance from the bottom to the top. A record of his career shows that he has earned his promotion from one stage of responsibility to another by fidelity to his trust and the possession of superior business ability. A. L. Mohler is of Swiss descent on his father's side, and on his mother's side of Welsh origin. His father's ancestry came to Pennsylvania in 1650 and his mother's to Maryland in 1692. Both families were members of that persecuted and yet sterling people, the Quakers. The subject of this sketch was born in Euphrata, Pennsylvania, May 6, 1849. His educational advantages were those of the common school, supplemented by a business training in a commercial college. He grew up on the farm and entered the railroad service as a warehouse office clerk for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad at Gait, Illinois, in 1868. In 1870 he was made station agent of the Rockford, Rock Island and St. Louis Railway at Erie, Illinois. His business methods attracted the attention of his superiors and the next year he was given a clerkship in the department of operating accounts in the auditors' office of the same road. Soon afterwards he transferred his services to the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Minnesota, now the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern and was employed in the service of that company from 1871 to October, 1882. During that time he served two years as pioneer agent and traveling agent, two years as chief clerk in the general freight department, from which he was promoted to the position of assistant general freight agent. After one year in that office he was promoted to the position of general freight agent and continued in that office for six years. In 1882 the old St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba, now the Great Northern Railroad, was extending its business rapidly into the Northwest and needed just such men as A. L. Mohler for the best promotion of its interests, and October 9, of that year, he was offered the position of General Freight Agent. He occupied this office until March 1, 1886, when he was transferred to the position of land commissioner: a very important office in the service of that company, as it had large tracts of land to dispose of. The tide of immigration poured in the Northwest and settled along the lines of the Great Northern Railroad. Mr. Mohler continued in this position until January 15, 1887, when he was returned
to the freight department as General Freight Agent and held that position a little over a year. April 1, 1888, he was appointed General Superintendent of the whole line and in October of the same year was promoted to the position of Assistant General Manager. A year later, or September 1, 1889, he was promoted to the position of General Manager of the Great Northern and Montana Central Railroads as successor to Allen Manvel, the deceased president of the A., T. & S. F. He held this position until December 1 1893. In July 1894, the Minneapolis and St. Louis reorganized and, restored from the hands of the receiver to its stockholders, called Mr. Mohler to the position of general manager, the office which he now holds, and under whose direction this excellent property is enjoying a constantly increasing prosperity, and has paid the first dividend in the history of the old or new organization. Mr. Mohler is a splendid example of a self-made man, one who has demonstrated his ability to seize the opportunities which come to men of industry and merit, and by an exhibition of self-reliance and perseverance he has achieved the best which his chosen profession has to offer.
Cyrus Little Smith
Source: Progressive men of Minnesota. Published by The Minneapolis Journal (1897) submitted by Diana Heser Morse
C. L. Smith was born at Dover, Wayne County, Ohio, January 22, 1845. John R. Smith, his father, was a farmer, and while Cyrus was still a small child his parents removed to Southern Michigan, settling in an unbroken wilderness. There were no schools on the Michigan frontier in those early days, and Cyrus was taught to read by his mother. As the country settled up, schools of a poor quality began to be established, and at the age of eleven the boy secured his first four months' schooling. This was in a little log school house, where presided a Baptist preacher. The seats were oak slabs with stout wooden pins for legs. He attended this school for two winter, learning the rudiments of reading, spelling and arithmetic. During these two terms he had but one book of his own, the arithmetic. In 1858 he went to Southern Indiana and worked in a nursery for the next years. When the war broke out in 1861, Mr. Smith enlisted, though only sixteen years of age. He became a member of Company E, Eleventh Michigan Infantry, and served three years and two months, principally in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. Among the noted battles in which the participated were those of Stone River, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Mission Ridge and the battles before Atlanta. Soon after being mustered out of the service he came to Minnesota, in October, 1845, and engaged in selling trees and shrubbery for an Eastern nursery company. At the same time he began planting and experimenting on his own account, and in this way proved his inborn taste for horticultural affairs. Mr. Smith frankly admits a financial failure at the nursery business, the principal cause being poor health. He suffered from diseases contracted in the army, which prevented him from working out doors a large part of each year, but he acquired considerable practical experience in nursery and gardening matters which he turned to account in newspaper and literary work. For all this time he has been largely engaged with horticultural and agricultural papers, and addressing farmers at institutes and other gatherings throughout the state. At the same time he has not abandoned farming and gardening, but has cultivated a tract of forty acres, where he raises various trees and a variety of crops, largely for experimental purposes. As a Republican Mr. Smith has been especially active since 1885. During these later years he has done much aggressive work for the Republican party. His observation of the condition of the farming classes and the common people for many years have convinced him that, notwithstanding all the mistakes made by the party of his choice, its principles and policies have been for the best interests of the people. During the Fish-Donnelly regime of the Populist party, Mr. Smith was state organizer of Republican League Clubs, and made an aggressive campaign against the Populistic influences. He frequently met the enemy on the stump and was active and successful in joint debates. Mr. Smith was one of the organizers of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society in 1866. He served as secretary of the State Forestry Association for four years and a member of the executive committee for six years. He has been a member of the State Dairymen's Association since its organization, and on January 25, 1895, was appointed assistant dairy commissioner of the State Dairy and Food Commission of Minnesota. Mr. Smith rendered valued service in preparing the Minnesota forestry exhibit for the World's Fair in 1893. He took an active part in the first farmers' institute held in the state, and aided in securing their establishment as a permanent state institution. Since 1891 he has been agricultural editor of the Farmers' Tribune.
Charles Arnette Towne
Source: Progressive men of Minnesota. (Shutter, Marion Daniel, 1853-ed.) Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Journal (1897) transcribed by Vicki Bryan
Charles Arnette Towne is the representative in Congress of the Sixth District of Minnesota. Until the adoption of the money plank of the platform at St. Louis, June 18, 1896, he was an ardent Republican, cherishing as one of the proudest events in his family history that his father cast his first ballot in 1856 for Fremont and Dayton, the first standard bearers of the Republican party. Mr. Towne was born November 21, 1858, on a farm in Oakland County, Michigan, the son of Charles Judson Towne and Laura Ann Fargo (Towne). His father was a farmer, whose life was uneventful and devoted to the rearing of his family and the faithful performance of his duties as a citizen. The American line of the Towne family is traced to John William and Joanna Blessing Towne, who landed at Salem, Massachusetts, in 1636. Among his numerous descendants have been Salem Towne, the author of school text books in general use a generation or two ago, and Henry M. and A. X. Towne, both of whom became prominent in the present generation as railroad men. On the mother's side the ancestry embraced branches of the Mason and Lawrence families, prominent in the Colonial history of this country. Charles Arnette began his education in the common schools of Michigan, and is a firm believer in the value of influences which that democratic institution exerts in the shaping of motives and sympathies and in the formation of character. He entered the University of Michigan in 1875, but was not able to pursue his studies continuously on account of poor health. He was graduated, however, in June 1881, from the academic department with the degree of Ph. B. He belonged to no secret college societies. He was elected orator of his class in the senior year, and delivered in that capacity at graduation an address on civil service reform. He also lectured on that subject in the winter of 1880 and 1881 at the university, as part of the lecture course in which ex-Governor Austin Blair, Professor Moses Tyler, Judge T. J\l. Cooley and Hon. Sherman S. Rogers participated. After graduation Mr. Towne declined several offers of professorships, but accepted an appointment as chief clerk in the department of public instruction at Lansing, Michigan. In that capacity, and in a similar one in the state treasury department, he remained until the fall of 1885. In the meantime he had prosecuted the study of law, and, with a natural aptitude for public speaking, had participated in state and national campaigns, an experience which he began as early as the campaign of 1876. In 1884 he was talked of by the newspapers and politicians as a suitable candidate for congress from the Fifth District of Michigan. He made no effort to secure the nomination, however, regarding himself on account of his youth as not properly equipped for the office. He was then twenty-five. In April 1885, he was admitted to the bar and began the practice of law at Marquette in March 1868. In March 1889, he moved to Chicago, where he continued the practice of law until June 1890. He was then much impressed with the future of Duluth, and in August of that year located in that city, where he still resides.
His professional career has not been long, but it has been a successful one, involving various important litigations. He is a member of the firm of Phelps, Towne & Harris, formed January 1, 1895, and composed of H. H. Phelps, L. C. Harris and himself. Mr. Towne never held any office prior to his election to Congress, although at different times solicited to become a candidate. He was elected to Congress in 1894, and his career as a member of that body has been a brilliant one. Mr. Towne has been an ardent advocate of bimetallism, and no speech delivered in the House of Representatives on that side of the
money question during the first session of the Fifty-fourth Congress attracted nearly as much attention as his, an effort which at once aroused interest in him as one of the most brilliant orators in the house and among the foremost advocates of the financial views which he holds. Mr. Towne is largely a self-made man, for, while his father, out of the scantiness of his limited resources, and out of his great genius for economy, furnished from the proceeds of his labor a large part of the money necessary to pay college expenses, and while some assistance was received from Dr. C. P. Parkhill, of Owosso, Michigan, whom Mr. Towne honors in memory as one of the grandest and noblest characters he ever knew, much of the money necessary for the prosecution of his studies was earned by himself as a school teacher and in other ways. Mr. Towne was married April 20, 1887, to Claude Irene Wiley, at Lansing, Michigan. They have no children.
MEMOIR OF HON. DAVID OLMSTED.
BY J. F. W.
[circa 1874 --- no other publishing info is available]
Submitted to Genealogy Trails by Karen Seeman
Some considerable time has elapsed since the death of the subject of this sketch,
and it might appear that the Historical Society is culpably tardy in doing this justice to his memory. But the
delay has arisen solely from inability to procure the material requisite to prepare a memoir complete enough to
be worthy of the subject. His career subsequent to his arrival in Minnesota was, of course, quite well known to
the old settlers, and could have been easily written up; but the portion particularly needed was the events of
his early life, before settling in this State. The writer has been in quest of these for several years, but until
very recently has been unable to secure sufficiently full and accurate particulars of Mr. Olmsted's younger days,
to warrant the publication of a memoir. From his brother, Page Olmsted, Esq., of Monona, Iowa, and from other sources,
the writer has at length secured data and facts that enables him to place on record in these Collections, a brief,
but it is thought, correct memoir of one of the best and purest public men connected with the history of Minnesota-regretting
only that the task bad not fallen to one more competent.
David Olmsted was born in Fairfax, Franklin county, Vermont, May 5th, 1822. His father, Timothy Olmsted, was descended from some of the earliest Puritan colonists of Connecticut. In May, 1824, the residence of the family was completely destroyed by fire, with most of its contents. This was a serious misfortune for Mr. Olmsted's family, as their means were limited, and it was only by some years of hard labor and strict economy that the loss was made good. It was an event that closely affected the subject of this memoir, as it deprived him in a considerable degree of the education which he would otherwise have had, and he was able to obtain but a limited amount of school tuition. He had a mind active and quick, however, and made good use of such opportunities as he had, while the loss of schooling was in a great measure compensated by other advantages. His mother was a woman of unusual intelligence and discretion, and to her home training he was doubtless indebted more than to any other source, for the knowledge he acquired during his boyhood.
In the spring of 1838, at the age of 16, he left home with the approbation of his parents, his sole means consisting of $20 in money, to seek his fortune in the great West. By stopping occasionally to work when his means were exhausted, he reached Chicago in about a month. From Chicago he went to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, where he entered the employ of a Mr. Lathrop who was keeping a hotel. During the fall of that year the hotel was burned in the night, and Olmsted with several other inmates, narrowly escaped by jumping from the window of an upper story, losing all their effects.
Late in the fall of that year, young Olmsted went to Grant county, Wisconsin, where he entered 40 acres of Government land, lying on Grant river, about six miles north of Potosi. Here he lived for some months in the rude style of the mining region, keeping "bachelors hall" with a friend named Willis St. John. In the fall of 1839 his brother Page visited him, and chanced to find him very ill with bilious fever, the region at that time being very sickly. After his recovery, the Olmsted brothers went to Prairie du Chien, and remained there for several months.
In July, 1840, they started on foot on an exploring tour through the then unsettled portion of northern Iowa, on the waters of Turkey and Yellow Rivers, looking for a desirable place to settle. Their outfit consisted of a blanket and gun for each, and as much provisions as they felt able to carry. They spent about two weeks in examining the country, traveling over a considerable distance. They finally selected a spot about thirteen miles west of the Mississippi River, now named Monona, where, without a team or other help, they erected a comfortable log cabin. At this time there were but very few white settlers nearer than Prairie du Chien, on the east, and none whatever on the west of their location. The Winnebago Indians then possessed the country in the immediate vicinity north and west of the claim selected by the young pioneers, and the Olmsteds found it to their advantage to occasionally traffic with them, and consequently learned considerable of their character, customs and language-a fact which was probably the cause of David Olmsted becoming subsequently connected with the Indian trade on a large scale.
Less than one year after making their settlement, the Olmsted brothers disposed of their joint claim, and each took a new one in the same neighborhood. Up to this time the Winnebagoes had been their only neighbors west and north, and but one white settler east or south nearer than seven miles; yet by treating the Indians with perfect fairness they had won their confidence, and only on one occasion did the Indians show any signs of enmity. This was about November, 1840, when seven young Indians came to the cabin occupied by the brothers, about sunset, and made threats to burn the cabin. The Olmsteds at once bolted the door of their cabin, when the Indians commenced trying to break it down. Fortunately at this juncture Mr. Harman Snyder, who had been for several years employed as government blacksmith among the Winnebagoes, came along, and being influential with the tribe, and speaking their language perfectly, he persuaded them to desist from their attack. Had he not done so, probably the Olmsteds would have been murdered. This is but an instance of the dangers and risks to which all who lived in the Indian country in those days were subjected. When in liquor the savages would, perhaps, attack their best friend.
The same trait was exhibited frequently by the Sioux. Dr. Williamson, an influential missionary to the Sioux at Kaposia, respected and beloved by them, was frequently compelled to barricade his house, to save his life from the drunken attacks of those who, when sober, were his warm friends and supporters.
David Olmsted continued improving his farm during the next three years, when, in the fall of 1844, being now twenty-two years of age, he sold his claim to good advantage, and embarked in the Indian trade, near Fort Atkinson, Iowa, as clerk for W. G. and G. W. Ewing, licensed traders to the Winnebagoes. In the fall of 1845, Mr. Olmsted was elected from the District in which he lived (Clayton county), as a member of the Convention to frame a Constitution for a State Government in Iowa. The Convention assembled in May, 1846, at Iowa City. It consisted of thirty-three members. On May 18th the instrument was completed and signed by the members, and being adopted by the people, gave birth to the great and flourishing State of Iowa. We might mention as a fact, showing the primitive modes of traveling in Iowa, at that day, that a prominent citizen of Minnesota, [Hon. L. B. Hodges,] saw Olmsted on his way to the Convention, riding a barebacked mule, with a rope halter. Mr. H. further states that so youthful was the appearance of young Olmsted when he was elected, that many of his constituents thought he was not of age, but said they "would send him anyhow," as he was so much esteemed.
In the fall of 1847, Mr. Olmsted, in company with H. C. Rhodes, purchased the interest of the Ewings in the Winnebago trade, and in the summer of 1848, when the Indians were removed to Long Prairie, Minn., he accompanied them. The Winnebagoes had, in October, 1846, made, at Washington City, a Treaty, by the terms of which they agreed to abandon their old possessions in the soon-to-be State of Iowa, and remove to a new reservation procured for them in the Chippewa country, in the year 1848. But when the time for their removal arrived, they seemed very reluctant to go, and it required all the diplomacy and influence of Gen. J. E. Fletcher1, their agent, accompanied by the presence of U. S. troops from Fort Atkinson, with the threat of coercion, to
1 Jonathan Emerson Fletcher was born at Thetford. Vt., 1806. He removed to Ohio when a young man, but afterwards nettled at Muscatine, Iowa, In 1839, and went to farming. In 1846 he was appointed by Prest. Polk agent for the Winnebagoes, and remained In that position for 11 years. During this period he resided at Fort Atkinson, Iowa, Long Prairie, and Blue Earth, Minn. He returned to his farm at Muscatine in 1858, and died April 6,1872. He left a wife and eight children, several of whom were born In Minnesota. A memoir of him In the Muscatine Journal says: 'He was a man of marked and noted character -a man of talent, energy and industry, actuated at all times by truth, right and Justice."
induce the savages to start. At Wabasha Prairie (now Winona) they made another stand, and having purchased that spot from Wabasha, the Dakota chief, seemed determined to resist to bloodshed any attempt to move them a step farther. The situation was now critical. The first drop of blood hastily spilled would have led to a bitter war.1 An express was dispatched to Fort Snelling for more troops, which soon arrived under command of Capt. Seth Eastman. This, with the dragoons from Fort Atkinson, a company of volunteers from Crawford county, Wis., and two pieces of artillery, made quite a formidable force. The Winnebagoes began to reconsider their first hasty resolves, and the defection of a part of their number under an influential chief, added to the arguments and persuasion of Mr. Olmsted, Hon. Henry M. Rice, George Culver, and others who were present, finally convinced them that resistance would be unwise and ruinous, and they proceeded on their journey. The value of the services that Mr. Olmsted rendered in quieting the revolt can hardly be overestimated. Perhaps no man living had more influence with the tribe than he. They trusted him implicitly. Had he given any encouragement to their rebellious conduct, or said one word to urge them on, a long and bloody war with the tribe would have desolated the frontier.
On arriving at Long Prairie, Mr. Olmsted, with his partner, established a trading post which was continued for several years.
Soon after settling here, Mr. O. met with an adventure which well illustrates the dangers and casualties to which the pioneers of a new country are exposed. Believing that the road, or trail, from Long Prairie to Sauk Rapids (which was very circuitous) could be shortened by a new route, he started on horseback in company with an old Frenchman named Dechoquette to survey and mark out a new route. At that time the region was a perfect wilderness; no surveys had been made, and Nicollet's map was the only one they had. This was really of no use to them, and after proceeding some distance they became involved in a labyrinth of tamarac swamps, marshes, sloughs and jungles, until, at the end of the second day, they were utterly lost, and had not the faintest idea of where they were, or how to retrace their way. They now turned their horses loose, and endeavored to pick their way out, but without success. They floundered about in the swamps for seven days longer, wet, torn by briers until they were almost naked, and suffering the pangs of hunger. During this time all the food they had was a morsel of meat, and two sunfish caught in a stream. They finally reached Sauk river, where a friend who had gone in search of them providentially found them, more dead than alive. During the last two days of their wanderings, Dechoquette's sufferings had driven him partially insane, and when they were found, neither could walk. Mr. Olmsted's naturally strong constitution was very seriously impaired by the sufferings and hardship of this adventure. It was some time before his strength was measurably restored, and there is no doubt that it was the main cause of his early death at the age of 39, when he should have been in the prime of life.
The Territory of Minnesota was created March 3d, 1849. On July 7th, Gov. Ramsey issued a Proclamation dividing the Territory into Council Districts, and ordering an election for members of the Legislature, on August 7th. Mr. Olmsted was elected a member [for two years] of the Council from the Sixth District, which was constituted as follows: "The Sauk Rapids and Crow Wing Precincts of the county of St. Croix, and all the settlements west of the Mississippi, and on and north of a due west line from the head waters of said river to the northern line of the Territory." In the absence of any surveys or well known natural lines, this was the only way in which such a district could be described. The Legislature assembled on September 3d, and Mr. Olmsted was chosen President of the Council. The next session of the Legislature was not held until January, 1851. It is unnecessary to add that Mr. Olmsted took a prominent part in both sessions. His fellow members and the public soon came to respect and esteem him as an honorable and reliable man, and a faithful public officer. His good sense, well-balanced judgment and practical views on all subjects that came up gained him much influence, and though modest and even taciturn, not thrusting himself forward incautiously, many selected him as one worthy of a higher position-indeed, one for which he was soon named.
In 1851, Mr. Olmsted married a Miss Stevens, daughter of Judge Stevens, of St. Albans, Vt., by whom he had a son and daughter, both now residents of Minnesota. Soon after this, finding that the profits of the Indian trade were becoming so small as not to justify remaining in it any longer, he disposed of his interest in it, and removed to St. Paul, where he not long afterwards purchased of Col. D. A. Robertson, proprietor of the Minnesota Democrat, the newspaper establishment known by that name. Mr. Olmsted became proprietor on June 29, 1853, and remained publisher of the same until September 2, 1854. Without having much, if any, experience as a writer for the press, prior to his assuming the editorial chair, he nevertheless had good success in that capacity. His clear, logical mode of thought, mature judgment and practical common-sense views of every subject, gave his plain, terse writing a force and influence that many more polished writers could not have commanded. The paper largely extended its influence and circulation under his control, and was changed to a daily in May, 1854. In September, 1854, he sold out to the late Charles L. Emerson, on account of his failing health. His connection with the Democrat had made him widely known and popular with the people of the Territory.
In the spring of 1854, Saint Paul having been incorporated as a city, Mr. Olmsted was elected its first Mayor, a position which he held for one year.
In 1855 Mr. Olmsted removed to Winona, then a village of a few houses, and devoted his energies to building up that now flourishing city.
During the summer of 1855, Mr. Olmsted was brought prominently before the people of this Territory as a candidate for Delegate to Congress. On July 25, the first regular Republican convention was held in Minnesota, and Hon. Wm. R. Marshall nominated for Delegate. The same day, the Democratic convention met, and nominated Hon. Henry M. Rice. During the proceedings, a portion of the delegates objecting to the tenor of certain resolutions passed, withdrew, and forming a new organization, placed Mr. Olmsted in the field. Thus there was a sort of "triangular" contest, three candidates, each with a leading journal advocating his claims, and a party of earnest friends supporting him. Many of the readers of this paper will remember the warmth of the contest.
But they will fail, I think, to remember that during the entire campaign David Olmsted either said or did anything unfair or dishonest, or allowed his friends to do so, to aid his cause. The wing of the party which placed him in the field, however, was too feeble in strength to give him any chance of success, and Mr. Olmsted really received the smallest vote of the three candidates, though he came out of the contest with popularity unimpaired and honor untarnished.
In the fall of 1856, Mr. Olmsted's health began to decline quite rapidly, and he was advised to spend the winter in Cuba, which he did, but it failed to check the progress of the disease which was consuming him. His strong constitution and tenacity of will resisted the rapid inroad of the destroyer somewhat, but he felt that the end could not be far off. He therefore returned to Minnesota, and after visiting his relatives at Monona, Iowa, and Winona, came to St. Paul to see his friends here. It was his last visit, and was taken advantage of by them to secure the portrait which now hangs in the City Hall. In October he returned to his old home in Franklin Co., Vermont, to remain at his mother's house until the final summons should come. He was soon after reduced so low as to be unable to leave the house, and indeed much of the time confined to his bed. When in this stage, though suffering great physical pain and debility, he wrote frequently to his friends here. His letters dated during this period breathe an air of resignation and even cheerfulness, but evidently conceal a sadness when speaking of his wish to see his old friends in Minnesota once more.
Death came to his relief after months of suffering, on Feb. 2, 1861. The news was received with sincere regret by his friends in Minnesota, and the press paid generous and warm tributes to his worth and integrity. Saint Paul Lodge No. 2, I. O. O. F., and Ancient Landmark Lodge No. 5, F. A. M., of which he was a valued member, passed heartfelt resolutions of regret, and the "Old Settlers Association" of Minnesota at their next annual reunion, placed on their records an appropriate eulogy. On the map of our State his name is well bestowed on one of our most flourishing and populous counties. Perhaps I can do no better, to show the estimation in which he was held, than to quote some of the tributes paid to his memory by those who knew him most intimately. One of his friends thus truthfully sketched his character in a communication to the St. Paul Pioneer:
"David Olmsted had a mind of peculiar order. His leading characteristics were firm integrity, honesty of purpose, adhesion to friends, charity for opponents, a retentive memory, good common sense, and sound judgment. He was brave, but never rash; and was as modest as brave. No man ever saw him excited. Grateful for favors, he would rather grant than receive them. Originally a Democrat, then a conservative Republican, firm in his own principles, always respecting the views of others, he was never a partisan, but always a patriot. Often absorbed in deep thought, even to absentmindedness, and without a polished address, he nevertheless won the hearts of all by his kind, straightforward and manly conduct."
A clergyman who attended him in his last illness, writes:
"He died in the faith of Christ, and in communion with his church. He died in peace." Another clergyman, who knew him intimately, writes: "A loftier disdain, as stern and calm as it was lofty, of the base in character, I have seldom seen in any man, nor a warmer appreciation of simple honesty and singleness' of heart in others."
Capt. Sam. Whiting, (then of Winona) paid the following touching elegiac tribute to his friend:
Vermont! thy green hills shroud in gloom
Thy noblest son has met his doom;
Pass'd, In his manhood's pride and bloom,
Away from earth;
Let us, 'round Olmsted's early tomb,
Recall his worth.
In Minnesota's earliest year
He sought her hills, a pioneer,
Full of ambition-void of fear
And wily plan:
One such as high and low revere-
An honest man.
Well may thy stroke, O Death, appal,
When thus earth's best and worthiest fall,
Unterrified he heard thy call,
And sank to rest.
His spirit soars above the pall,
Among the blest.
Revered and loved while here on earth.
Thou man of pure and sterling worth,-
Though lone and cold thy homestead hearth,
Though from us torn,
Our loss is but thy blissful birth
To endless morn.
Olmsted! thou'rt sleeping with the dead,
Yet o'er thy low and grassy bed,
The sweetest rose shall rear its head,
To deck thy tomb;
And on each sighing zephyr shed
Its rich perfume.
Thy burial spot is hallowed ground,
And oft thy friends shall gather round,
Their joy subdued-their grief profound,
As each shall tell,
His virtues, who, beneath the mound,
Is sleeping well.
Yes, David Olmsted! though the sighs
Of friends bereaved for thee may rise,
Thy soul, beyond yon radiant skies,
Has reached that shore,
Where all of human sorrow dies
Such is an imperfect sketch of one whose name must always be honorably associated with the history of Minnesota. Mr. Olmsted was a self-made man. Starting in life a poor boy, unaided by friends, with but little of the education bestowed by schools, he was literally "the architect of his own fortune."
Settling on the frontier, among a rude population, in a region almost a wilderness, with nothing but energy and industry, guided by unswerving principle and honor, he pushed his way to reputation and friends, to position, and-in some degree- to wealth. He had some peculiar traits of character which tended to gain for him that popularity which he enjoyed to such an enviable degree. He was emphatically a man of the people. Without seeming to court the good will of others, he had a quiet, natural suavity of manner that insensibly attracted men to him, and made even the humblest citizen in his presence feel himself a friend. There was something winning in the kindly tones of his voice, and the cordial clasp of his hand, and one felt impressed with its sincerity. And it was sincere. No man had more strongly the feeling of Fraternity than David Olmsted.
These traits, added to his exemplary character, his ability, and untarnished honor, made him beloved by his friends and respected and esteemed by all brought into contact with him, as perhaps no public man in our State has been, before or since. Even in times of the warmest political excitement, (and the rancor of territorial politics can scarcely be appreciated by oar recent settlers,) he escaped detraction and slander. Or if not entirely, twenty years have now almost obliterated the animosities and differences that separated men into hostile parties in those days, so that all will now forget the resentments of the past and unite with me in laying a wreath upon the grave of one, on whose monument History, with impartial hand, must carve the tribute-"a good and true man."
St. Paul, March, 1874.