20th Century, Culture, Environment, Faith, Great Lakes, History, Humor, Labor, Logging, Minnesota, outdoors

Paul Bunyan is “born” 1914

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1914
Paul Bunyan, the mythical lumberjacking giant who logged off most of North America, is created as an advertising gimmick by the Red River Lumber Company in Minneapolis.*

There’s something that makes me smile just reading the name, “Paul Bunyan”. His name is synonymous with the North Woods of Minnesota. For the past 100 years, most midwestern kids have heard about him at camp, at a summer cabin, or sitting around the campfire.

I won’t bore you with the breadth and depth of research as to the origins of his legend, but report a few quick facts. His stories came from the oral tradition of logging camps. They were most commonly credited to William B. Laughead writing promotional material for the Red River Lumber Company. Some researchers think his legend started with the French Canadian folk tales of Paul Bon Jean or Tit Jean. Bunyan phonetically is similar to the Quebec expression for surprise; “bon yenne”.**

So here begins my prayer, Lord, thanks for the legend of Paul Bunyan! Help me reflect on his folktales, and find their blessing.

Christ, I thank You for Your masterful parables. You chose to allow those who were looking for meaning to catch it, and for those listeners who were not, to breeze over its intent for their heart and remain relationally open to You. Stories seem to have a magic to get past our trip wires, and speak deeply and gently to us.

I thank You for the good these tales did for the loggers. They entertained, distracted from boredom, aches and pains, and maybe even planted seeds of inspiration. Who wouldn’t want to be the ultimate mans’ man in those rough work conditions? Paul laughed at fear and the elements, did an impossible workload each day, ate mountains of food, and maybe even created some mountain ranges playfully wrestling his giant blue ox. (Wink wink!)

So today, Creator of the Forests, I thank You for the gifts of hyperbole, folklore and camp stories. I thank You for the relationships born of telling and listening to “tall tales” like Paul Bunyan in Minnesota. I thank You for an example, though fictional, of a huge, happy man loving his hard work in Your outdoors!

May You enable this State to take to heart and to practice the rule of Saint Benedict to pray and work; “Ora et Labora”.**** May You bless us to practice contentment in our work until You come. May we forever return to You the free, yet costly gift of doing our best!

 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23 ESV

 

*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/Paul_Bunyan
***https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pray_and_work
****http://biblehub.com/colossians/3-23.htm

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19th Century, abolition, African American, History, Indian, Men, Minnesota, Native Americans, News, women

Abolitionist Newspaper 1857

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1857
“Jane Grey Swisshelm, an outspoken critic of slavery and unequal treatment of women, moves to Minnesota in 1857 and publishes the St. Cloud Visiter newspaper. Mobs twice destroy her printing office, but she continues her courageous crusade for equal rights with the “St. Cloud Visiter” later renamed the “St. Cloud Democrat.” *

Jane G. Swisshelm was a pioneer in all senses of the word: in travel, in her passionate writings, and inwardly. She saw observed the cruelty of slavery when she lived in Kentucky. She lost her mother in Pennsylvania, and shortly afterwards, her husband lost his business. She moved to the Midwest to start over, joining her sister nearby. **

Already a established as a strong voice for abolition during her decade in Pittsburgh, she became the editor of a newspaper named the “St.Cloud Visiter”. Though owned by a Democrat, (who in those days were not usually abolitionists), she insisted on representing the paper as such. In effect, she offended local Democratic sensibilities resulting in the destruction of the “Visiter’s” offices and printing presses. ***

In the following decade, she aimed her pen at the Dakota Nation of Minnesota. Originally a supporter of Native Americans, the Dakota War of 1862 and their atrocities of unprovoked attacks on their neighbors changed her mind. Incensed by Native attacks, she even lobbied the Federal Government that more strident measures be taken against them. ***

Today, we thank You for voice of Jane Swisshelm, and her commitment to vigorously and forthrightly speak her mind. Her story is a cautionary tale that no individual, tribe, or nation gets it right all the time. Irregardless of passion, we all have an incomplete picture of the truth.

American politics of her day may shock modern ears; Republicans led the charge in the abolition of slavery, and the vast majority of slave states held to Democratic politics. Will You forgive us our over-identification with partisan politics in this era, and our failure to unite to oppose the evils of slavery? Will You forgive us our sins of partisan rhetoric, and more specifically to Swisshelm where her words unnecessarily broke relationship with our Southern brothers and sisters?

Next, we fail to understand much of the context of her era, and may draw some wrong conclusions from the women’s rights movement. Certainly, some 19th Century women suffered harsh abuses at the hands of men, often without hopes for a legal redress of their grievances. (We praise You that most of these legal issues are corrected, and that American women have known exceptionally high-status and equality when viewed through the lens of human history.)

Yet, our preset-day perspective may cause us to miss the ways that 19th Century male-female relationships were strong. Children trusted that their fathers’ were committed to provide for them. Wives trusted that their husbands’ love meant shelter and protection. Families busy with survival did not have lots of time to deal with legal or political issues, and often for them, it made sense to trust dad with that role.

Jesus, thanks that You have made us to be free. Will You forgive the city of St. Cloud and Minnesota any infringement of the freedom of Jane Swisshelm? Will You free us from her sinful judgment’s against those she opposed; broadbrushing all men, those who disagreed with her method of abolition, and promoting punishment against the Dakota? Thank You that Minnesota has raised awareness of the status of women and those in bondage through her voice! Thank You that even her words of judgment against the actions of a few hundred Dakota, as harsh as they may be, record the specifics of broken relationships. Will You enter into these rifts, bring humility, and restore to us a place in Your Land-Clear-Blue-Waters? Amen.

http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** Swisshelm, Jane Grey. Half a Century. Chicago: Jansen, McClurg, and Company, 1880.
*** Webster, Eric W. “Swisshelm, Jane Grey (1815–1884)”. Internet. https://www.mnopedia.org/person/swisshelm-jane-grey-1815-1884

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19th Century, Culture, education, Faith, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans

Lake Harriet Mission School July 19, 1836  

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Six students attend the opening of the Lake Harriet Mission School for the Dakota, founded by the Reverend Jedediah D. Stevens. An early example of education within the boundaries of present-day Minnesota, the school was sponsored by the Presbyterian Missions Board and taught by the founder’s niece, Lucy C. Stevens, in a cabin built by Gideon H. and Samuel W. Pond.*

Good Teacher, thank you for the benefits of the Lake Harriet Mission School for the Dakota. Thank you for the heart of providing education to all! It’s so good to share what we know and have it received.

It is not easy to be the first. It takes boldness to reach out across cultural lines. On one side of this picture we have Dakota students who are reaching out to Stevens. Conversely, he is stepping out of his comfort zone to meet and teach members of an unfamiliar culture. Will You bless both sides of this exchange? Will You remember their boldness and trust to know each other? Each group is an exploratory party of sorts. May we never forget what its like to be an alien!

Lord, I also want to acknowledge our separations that may begin as academic pride. We assume our knowledge will change our ‘underprivileged’. We often fail to pass on wisdom (good judgment), and even foster an academic culture that hesitates to recognize the merits of wisdom. As moderns, we cringe at even the word ‘judgement’, although one could argue that good judgment is the root of justice?!

I feel prompted to acknowledge the potential judgments of Stevens and Williamson against the Pond brothers, and perhaps a spirit of competitiveness. Lord, will you forgive any heritage of academic  or religious pride stemming from  them forward to us if this is the case? Will you forgive the stinging pain of criticism towards or counter-judgments from the Ponds, the Dakotas, these first six students, or any other pertinent unaddressed party? Will You free the land  of Minnesota from these judgments, and bring the blessing of humility that we all have betrayed You, Your peoples, and our selves? Will You make us humble teachers and students of the “knowledge” You have revealed to us? Amen.

*The current URL is www.dipity.com/Minnesota/History/Minnesota-History/ and only works if typed, not pasted, in browser. It is worth the effort!

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