Pioneer businessman Franklin Steele builds a sawmill at the falls of Saint Anthony. By 1856, there are eight mills at the falls.*
May I sit with You and observe this chapter of life in my state? Mr. Steele came here through the invitation of the man who would become his brother-in-law; Henry Hastings Sibley, a prominent Minnesotan. He staked an advantageous claim on the east bank of the St. Anthony Falls. Soon, he established a partial dam, sawmills, and a crew upriver to supply him logs, and commence a successful business. **
Digging further, this is what I found:
“But Steele surreptitiously staked the first claim on the choicest land before sunrise on the first day of legal settlement.” *** Is there nothing new under the sun? Once again, a man becomes successful through an inside scoop, and bending the rules to his advantage. We, indeed, are people of mixed motives, bearing both good and bad fruit!
Will You forgive his offense to You in making an illegal claim? Will You forgive his offense to all parties affected in his day whether Native, immigrant, loggers, and sawyers? Will You restore the losses of Steele’s contemporaries?
Yet, we too sometimes exhibit the same heart as Steele; we try to grow beautiful things from ugly roots! We often esteem the shrewd, and shun those led by conscience. We are so in love with success stories that we brush past those whom our heroes stepped on and over in the process. Will You forgive us our “illegal claims” today?
Precisely because I am a man with a mixed up heart like Franklin, I am drawn to Your mercy! Through Your kindness, I can offer honest thanks for the accomplishments of others with on-again/off-again hearts. Thanks for providing ample waterpower in Minnesota! Thanks for the resources of wood! Thanks for Franklin Steele who put together an enterprise to use both for the betterment of Minnesota!