18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Sugar Beets and Migrant Labor

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Beta Vulgaris

1917 to 1919
Labor shortages in the U.S. during World War I and political unrest in Mexico draw many Mexican workers north to the sugar-beet fields of the Red River and Minnesota River valleys. Many return year after year; others move to the Twin Cities to find permanent jobs.*

As a backstory, the sugar beet came to prominence in 18th century Silesia through experiments subsidized by Frederick William III (the King of Prussia) to extract sugar. These findings were furthered by scientists Andreas Marggraf and his star pupil Franz Karl Achard. Their work led to the selection of ‘Weiße Schlesische Zuckerrübe’, meaning white Silesian sugar beet, and boasted about a 6% sugar content.**

The Red River Valley of northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota had perfect conditions for the growing of this specis of beta vulgaris. Mexican migrant workers entered the scene just as local sugar beet growers and the American Crystal Sugar Company had need for their hand-harvested crop. The Great War had commandeered local labor, leaving room for displaced Mexicans.

Jim Norris, a local expert on these relations, stated the following in his book “North for the Harvest”:
“Though popular convention holds that corporations and landowners invariably exploited migrant workers, (the author) reveals that these relationships were more complex. The company often clashed with growers, sometimes while advocating for workers. And many growers developed personal ties with their migrant workers, while workers themselves often found ways to leverage better pay and working conditions from the company.”

And so, Lord of the Harvest, we find ourselves in a triune relationship; the company, the farmers, and the field workers. We invite Your illumination of these events, and Your insights. Come and lead our meditation!

We thank You for beta vulgaris and the sweet taste it brings to our lives. We thank You for the research done for centuries that yielded such fine results, and provided an alternative to sugar brought into existence by the slavery of the sugar cane fields! We thank You that You provided opportunity for Mexicans amidst the tragedy of the Great War!

Next, we thank You for Your example of a three-sided relationship creating balance. Your roles incorporate our experience of simultaneously living out three roles, yet being one person. We are mothers, daughters, and wives simultaneously! We are fathers, sons, and husbands at the same instant!

Therefore, we can find security that companies, farmers, and fieldworkers can play three roles that serve one united purpose in sugar beets or the production of any commodity. Will You be the guardian of these relationships in Minnesota? Will You forgive our offenses to You in our imbalances in these relationships?

Will You forgive us as field workers for negating the needs of our farmers to produce results without fail? Will You forgive our farmers their dehumanization of laborers? Will You forgive those that own the company of their drive to power and market position? Will You forgive us as farmers and field workers our fearful judgments of Wall Street? We do not know the pain of finding a buyer or fair price for huge quantities of a perishable product. Have mercy on us!

May we find sweetness in being a three-legged stool! May we see the imbalance should we remove one leg of our relationships! May we be one in purpose regardless of position: migrant, farmer, or president!

 

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_beet
***Dig deeper on the impact of migrant workers in Minnesota and the Midwest in this excellent book. “Mexican Workers, Growers, and the Sugar Beet Industry” by Jim Norris
http://muse.jhu.edu/book/5421

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19th Century, 20th Century, Business, Environment, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Shipping, Transportation

Split Rock Lighthouse Opens

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Jul 31, 1910
Shipwrecks from a mighty 1905 November gale prompted this rugged landmark’s construction. The construction was an engineering feat in such a remote location. The lighthouse was completed by the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1910.*

Why is it that pain elicits an active response that “normal” life doesn’t? Why is it that we do not neglect action after a certain level of loss? Why do we wait to become creative problem solvers?

Will You guide this writing to elucidate the reader to the level of shipwrecks in this era of iron ore, grain, lumber, and fish shipments across Lake Superior and the Great Lakes? In a single season of November 1905, there were 78 fatalities and 29 disabled or destroyed ships.** When one adds in the frigid water, rocky coastline, and tendency of these shippers to overload their vessels it is easy to empathize with the concerns of sailors.

In response, United States Steel Corporation lobbied Congress to build a lighthouse with a foghorn. This effort was executed by engineer Ralph Russell Tinkham of the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment. All building materials had to be hoisted up the 110 foot cliff from lakeside either by steam-powered derick, or
railed up on a freight tram. Workers spent 13 months living and working on the cliff in tents with a brief respite during the coldest months of winter.

This day we remember the names of these lost vessels and their unnamed crews to You, Lord of All Seas: the A.C. Adams, Alice Vivian, Amboy, Bob Anderson, Lotta Bernard, A. Booth, E.T. Carrington, Charley, City of Winnipeg, Comet, Belle P. Cross, F.L. Danforth, Donna Marie, Duluth, Elgin, Samuel P. Ely, U.S.S. Essex, Fayling, E.P.Ferry, Fiorgyn, Thomas Friant, F.W. Gillet, R.F.Goodman, Criss Grover, Harriet B, George Herbert, Hesper, B.B. Inman, Isle Royale, John H. Jeffrey Jr., J.C. Keyes, Lafayette, Lewie, Liberty, Madeline, Madeira, Mary Martini, May Flower, Mentor, Niagara, Benjamin Noble, Oden, Onoko, Osprey, G. Pfister, Rebel, George Spencer, Ella G. Stone, Stillman Witt, Stranger, Robert Wallace, Thomas Wilson, and the Six Dredge Scows.

Will You forgive any judgments of these lost seamen, their wives, families and friends, and employers towards each other and towards You? Will You cleanse Superior and the Great Lakes of its vast depths of unforgivenness? Will You especially release the pain caused by the urgency of the timber, iron mining, and taconite industries to expedite these shipments to world markets? Will You forgive us our industriousness that broke with Your Sabbath? We have missed Your wisdom when we work too much.

We remember also the efforts of Ralph Russell Tinkham and his construction workers. We thank You for their superhuman efforts to build Split Rock Lighthouse. Will You bless them, their progeny, and those who follow in their footsteps? Will You give us strength and acceptance when we face storms beyond our control? Will You make us beacon and horn today to lead our peers away from the rocks and towards safe harbor?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**http://www.mnhs.org/splitrock/learn/shipwrecks

***http://www.mnhs.org/places/nationalregister/shipwrecks/list.php

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19th Century, 20th Century, Environment, History, Intercession, Jesus, Logging, Men, Minnesota

Lumbering Maximum 1900

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At the height of the lumbering era, 40,000 lumberjacks are cutting timber in the north woods. Minneapolis is the sawmill capital of the world, cutting enough lumber to fill 65,000 freight cars. But Minnesota is running out of pine; within twenty years the lumber industry will be dead in Minneapolis.*

This interesting oral history by Jim and Bernard Pearson describes the day-to-day lives of the men logging in Northern Minnesota during this era.

“The Pearsons showed their audience old tools of the logging camps.  There was the pickaroon the camp blacksmith made from a worn-out ax which was used to pull logs by hand.  There was also a grub hoe for removing brush by hand, a broad as to square up logs for building log structures, a cant hook for turning logs, and a come-a-long for lifting logs by hand.

The cutting of the logs was done in the winter when sleds could be used to pull the logs from the woods to a river to float them downstream to a sawmill in the spring when the water ran fast.

Loggers didn’t rely just on the frozen ground to sled out the logs, according to the Pearsons, but constructed troughs of ice for the runners.  The troughs were made by hooking a plow to the side of a sled to make troughs in the snow in which water was poured to form ice.  These troughs had to be continuously built up throughout the winter, the Pearsons said.
The Pearsons also talked about the care of horses, which were vital to the logging.  Jim told how some of the loggers would carry a ballpeen hammer to tap snow out of horseshoes.

“My uncle especially loved animals, and his horses were very big,” Jim recalled.  “If any teamster (driver) mistreated his horses, they went down the road (were fired) so fast they didn’t now what happened.”

(Jim) described the lumberjacks as hard working and very honest individuals, who had always given their best.

But Bernard, during the interview last week, also portrayed some of the lumberjacks and logging camp operators as not so honest.

Bernard said, for example, that in the worst camps, the operator would hire someone to gather up workers for the winter season that included dropping a knock-out pill into a man’s drink in a saloon.  “The next thing the man would know he was in a logging camp way up north,” said Bernard.  “There were rascals on both sides.” “

Stottrup, Joel. “Logging White Pine.” Princeton Union-Eagle, May 1993. Web. 20 June 2013. <http://www.baldwintownship.govoffice.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC%7BB61F42FB-82B1-4356-B678-16C2642C1ED2%7D&gt;

Father, a lot of time and thought has gone into recording the history of the wealthy and powerful “lumber barons”, but it seems not much is known about the men who actually did the work. Will You guide the author into the stream of Your thoughts on the subject? Will You give us a new frame of reference for these Minnesota loggers, and the effect of this massive harvest of trees?

As for the workers, the physicality of their respective jobs inspires awe: cutting huge trees down by saw or axe, squaring logs by hand, loading them on sleds, and moving them to the river. Once at the river, prepped logs were managed on their journey south by the “river pigs”. These were crews of men men who were responsible to float the logs to their proper destination at a plethora of sawmills.

As with many things, logging seems simple in principle, but requires incredible endurance, skill, and risk in practice. Eternal Father, will You honor those who poured their soul into this labor? Will You remember their broken blisters, and aching backs? Will You remember those who took joy in working outside, all day, in the numbing cold?
Will You bless them and their inheritance from this era, to the present, and on to the future?

Another thought, men often feel validated in their masculinity by performing an epic task together. They sail into the unknown, each man privately harboring reservations, but going beyond those self-imposed limitations by the strength that comes when men are part of a team. Lord, thank You for past loggers’ example of this teamwork. Will You strengthen the bonds of men, and forgive us for emasculating our brothers? In the present, we may sit in judgement of these people for their contribution to exhausting magnificent forests through clear-cutting. “What were they thinking? Didn’t they know they were acting like shock troops executing millions of innocents? Why would you kill mother earth over a job?” However, we have the historical vantage point of witnessing that natural resources can be used up, and that human interaction with the environment may yield unseen and unintended consequences.

As a witness to such present attitudes, the author wishes to address with You our use of the term “exploitation” as it applies to past Minnesota logging. Will You forgive us the casual use of this label? Will You forgive us if we unfairly apply present environmental and economic standards on our forbearers? Will You forgive our common humanity in Minnesota of viewing Your forests, that You graciously allow us rights of temporary stewardship, as “our forests” or “our property”? We do not often think of property rights as a continuum of which we are a temporary subset.

Truly, we all are parties in “exploiting” Your forests! We breathe air daily! We live in houses of wood. We write with pencils of wood on paper of cellulose. We use toilet paper, and simultaneously write graffiti on the walls criticizing the “exploiters” of the environment! We apply standards to others that we do not apply to ourselves! We fail to see the log in our own eye, and browbeat others about the speck of sawdust in theirs!

Furthermore, contemporary history does not often enter the mindset of these predecessors. Perhaps in their age, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people exercised a different logic than ours. They had a much stronger sense of agriculture than those who buy 2×4’s at the lumberyard, or food from a grocery store. If they wanted food, they had to plant it, tend it, and harvest it.

When their corn reached fruition, they harvested it, and took everything. When they saw forests full of mature trees, they brought in the harvest. Is it possible that they trusted that such a generous yield would surely supply their generation?

In the life experience of most of these workmen, most commodities gathered locally were used locally. Is it possible that such workmen did not conceive of the national or international cravings for the White Pine of Minnesota? Were the men working in these logging camps aware that they tree they just felled was to become a floor joist in an English factory? If they were aware, did that make their labor change from “sustainable” to “exploitive”? Hear my questions, Lord, and forgive us all our attempted harvests without Sabbaths of Your forests!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

 

 

 

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19th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Intercession, Jesus, livestock, Minnesota

Butter Capital 1899

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Steele County proclaims itself the “butter capital” of the world, a title it advertises into the 1920s. With 24 cooperative creameries among its 17,000 residents, it’s the leading dairy county in the state.*

Thank You for this southern Minnesota county, Lord! Thank You that they had a sense of purpose in making butter. Throughout history, You have exhorted believers to identify with their work. ‘Avodah’ is the transliteration of the Hebrew word for worship and work. The root word means to work or to serve. (http://ag.org/top/church_workers/wrshp_gen_avodah.cfm) The word “worship” in English could accurately be described as “worth-ship”, and the people of Steele County seemed to understand this sacrament.

Father, will You bless Steele County, its land, people, animals, and all who make butter in this state? Will You honor their heritage of taking joy and pride in doing this task, and working to refine their craft? Thank You for creating such perfect pastures, weather, and seasons for raising healthy bovines!

Forgive us who do not comprehend the labor involved, or excellence of our dairy industry. We simply spread butter on our toast, put cream in our coffee, and do not acknowledge the myriad of right choices that were made to ensure a quality end product. Thank You for the dairy farms! Thank You this day for the dairy farmer who rarely takes a vacation and is extremely committed ’round the clock to his (or hers) cows’ health and the milking schedule! Will You give honor to these men and women, boys and girls, who choose this of life of dedication? Will You continue to give them Your creativity and imagination for all aspects of dairy farming, and butter production in Minnesota? May they forever love butter, but not shirk You by worshipping a new kind of “golden calf”!  Amen!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

*Learn more about the dairy farmers of Steele County and Minnesota? https://mnprairieroots.com/tag/steele-county-butter-capitol-of-the-world/

 

 

 

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19th Century, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, Politics, State Government

Lind Becomes Governor

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Jan 2, 1899 to Jan 7, 1901
John Lind takes office as the state’s 14th governor on January 2, 1899.

Lind, an outspoken political maverick, campaigned zealously for adoption of a more equitable tax burden, enlightened concern for the sick and poor, and direct elections of state officials. Although most of his efforts to change society failed, Lind paved the way for subsequent reform and Minnesota’s transition from an agrarian to an industrial society.*

Thank you for the struggles of John Lind. Thank you for all Minnesotans’ who have bucked at the limitations of the two-party system. Thanks for his heart that was tender to others that wrestled with the giants of their time, and usually lost.

Why this struggle? The people knew Minnesota had riches: excellent dairy pastures, productive farmland, timber, iron ore and minerals, thousands of lakes, and a waterway that crossed half a continent. What was there to complain about? Commodities are valuable if they can reach the markets that have need for such resources. What if the “middlemen” ate them alive with storage fees, transportation costs, and sales commissions? Or what if the laws of one’s business were written by giants for giants?

Lord, I don’t know many details of these Lind years, but I see this conflict as a worthy subject to acknowledge to You. Will you forgive our judgements of the land hunger of the giants of timber, iron, farmland speculators, and railroads that began on January 2, 1899 and still prevail? Will You also forgive the land hunger of Minnesotans’ that displaced the Anishinaabe (Chippewa, Objibwe)?

Anishinaabe Reservations
The seven Anishinaabe reservations include: Grand Portage located in the northeast corner of the state; Bois Forte located in extreme northern Minnesota; Red Lake located in extreme northern Minnesota west of Bois Forte; White Earth located in northwestern Minnesota; Leech Lake located in the north central portion of the state; Fond du Lac located in northeast Minnesota west of the city of Duluth; and Mille Lacs located in the central part of the state, south and east of Brainerd.
All seven Anishinaabe reservations in Minnesota were originally established by treaty and are considered separate and distinct nations by the United States government. In some cases, the tribe retained additional lands through an Executive Order of the President. Six of the seven reservations were allotted at the time of the passage of the General Allotment Act. The Red Lake Reservation is the only closed reservation in Minnesota, which means that the reservation was never allotted and the land continues to be held in common by all tribal members. Each Indian tribe began its relationship with the U.S. government as a sovereign power recognized as such in treaty and legislation. The Treaty of 1863 officially recognized Red Lake as separate and distinct with the signing of the Old Crossing Treaty of 1863. In this treaty, the Red Lake Nation ceded more than 11 million acres of the richest agricultural land in Minnesota in exchange for monetary compensation and a stipulation that the “President of the United States direct a certain sum of money to be applied to agricultural education and to such other beneficial purposes calculated to promote the prosperity and happiness of the Red Lake Indian.” The agreements of 1889 and the Agreement of 1904, Red Lake ceded another 2,256,152 acres and the Band was guaranteed that all benefits under existing treaties would not change. http://www.indianaffairs.state.mn.us/tribes.html

Will You forgive our claim to Your land also known as Minnesota? Will You forgive our claim to Your intellectual property: air, water, plants, minerals, animals, weather, day, night, and people? You have given enough for all! You let us play with Your building blocks! Let us be worthy builders!

Father, help us deal with our pain that drives our anger. You have said in Ecclesiastes that there is:
“A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; “

We often see anger as only negative, or as the expression of an emotion that separates us. Yet, it is the expression of anger that often lets others know that our boundaries have been crossed. There is an anger that is mad at separation.

Will You bless Governor Lind for expressing this kind of anger; the anger at injustice? Lind was known for having a temper. According to an article on the front page of the Moose Lake (Minnesota) Star on January 17, 1901: “Ex-governor John Lind after having freed himself from the duties of governor last Thursday walked down to the Dispatch office in St. Paul and administered to Editor Black a well-deserved licking. For a one armed man John Lind can make some telling blows once in a while.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lind_(politician)

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

 

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19th Century, Architecture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, State Government

Capitol Construction 1898

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Alexander Ramsey, the 83-year-old first territorial governor of Minnesota, lays the cornerstone of the new state capitol. The building is completed after eight years of construction and a cost of $4.5 million. It is occupied in 1905.

The building has been designed by local-architect-made-good Cass Gilbert, who also laid out the U of M campus and will draw up tall buildings in New York City.*

Capitol buildings are symbols. They are designed for utility, but also to exude the authority and permanence of the state, the government, and the people they represent. Gilbert saw us as inheritor’s of Greek and Roman forms of representational government, and designed a capitol that reflected those influences.

It is easy to imagine that the farmers and loggers looked up and wondered, “What does all that marble have to do with lumber? The rotunda looks like a grain silo, but nothing is in it!?!” ‘Permanence’ to Gilbert may have looked like ‘opulence’ to citizens of the North Star state. Most were still recovering from the Panic of 1893.

“The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893.[1] Similar to the Panic of 1873, it was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing, resulting in a series of bank failures. Compounding market overbuilding and the railroad bubble was a run on the gold supply. The Panic of ’93 was the worst economic depression the United States had ever experienced at the time.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1893

In any regard, Lord, will You honor the heart of the architect Gilbert? Will You bless those Minnesotans’ who follow in his passion for designing our buildings and structures? Will You bless the workmen who provided their excellent labor and skill to create such a building?

Lord, will You forgive any judgments of the cost of the building during a time of economic struggle? Will You forgive the politicians’ their excesses and pride in their workplace? Like the silo analogy, will You fill the rotunda with Your substance and vision, and not just a grandiose view?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Delve into the life of Cass Gilbert. http://www.cassgilbertsociety.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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19th Century, Archaeology, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Science, Uncategorized

Ohman Discovers Runestone 1898

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Olaf Ohman turns up a stone on his farm near Alexandria and sparks a controversy. What appears to be ancient Norse writing on the stone indicates that Viking explorers reached Minnesota in 1362–130 years before Columbus’ voyage. Many scholars dismiss the Kensington Runestone as a hoax, but the debate continues.*

Father, what to make of this Rune Stone controversy? Some analysts have stated that it is an expertly contrived joke or hoax, but others still maintain authenticity. I believe that You are sovereign. It is not beyond You to save a tablet from view in a glacier, and deliver it to Ohman’s field at the right time. It is not beyond You to introduce us to new discoveries that remake the rules of science and history.
Forgive us! We do not know too much, but far too little! Yet, sometimes, our pride blocks our receptivity to a view that challenges our formed perceptions! Even great scientists must do battle with their normalcy bias.

Lord, You know Ohman’s heart! If he erred on the side of regional or ethnic pride, will You forgive and expose that motivation? If he was an honest man who made an amazing discovery that was distasteful to scholarship and rejected, will You also bring their judgments’ of him to light? If he was a master practical joker who went to his grave snickering, will You forgive anyone who was hurt by his hoax? That said, will You bless and honor the man’s sense of humor if insincere? We need more funny people in this state, as well as those open to mystery!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**Visit the museum in Alexandria, MN? https://www.runestonemuseum.org/runestone/
***Evidence that the Rune Stone is a forgery?
http://scienceblogs.com/aardvarchaeology/2011/11/16/kensington-runestone-fakers-si/
****Evidence pointing to the stone’s authenticity?
http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/arch/kens/kens.htm

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