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, Business, government, History, Intercession, Israel, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, railroad, State Government

Nelson Becomes Governor

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Jan 4, 1893 to Jan 31, 1895
Norwegian immigrant Knute Nelson becomes the state’s 12th governor in 1893, the first Scandinavian to hold the office. A fighter for farmers’ interests against the railroads and grain merchants, he resigned in 1895 to run successfully for the United States Senate, where he remained until 1923.*

Thank You for the life of Knute Nelson and his leadership in Minnesota. He became a prominent leader roughly 25 years after becoming a citizen. Negative attitudes about Scandinavians were tempered by his success.
Looking back at his career, the area of greatest contention were probably those issues concerning railroad interests. On one hand, the rails offered new markets to farmers and also supplied them with manufactured goods from the east. This relationship fueled western land development, and modernized communities along the way.

However, like all new technology, railroads were often the vehicle of economic bondage for immigrant settlers, and greedy for Native Americans’ land. Farmers became dependent on the rails to bring grain to market, but having a product with limited shelf life, were subject to the manipulations of the market and shipping costs charged by the railroad companies.
But how did the railways effect the Native Minnesotans? It is understandable that a sitting Governor wants to further the economic growth and standard of living in his state, but at what cost? These questions point to his writing of the Act cited below:

“The Nelson Act of 1889 was a United States federal law intended to relocate all the Anishinaabe people in Minnesota to the White Earth Indian Reservation in the western part of the state, and to expropriate the vacated reservations for sale to European Americans. [1]
Approved by Congress on January 14, 1889, the Nelson Act was the equivalent for reservations in Minnesota to the Dawes Act of 1887, which had mandated allotting communal Indian lands to individual households in the Indian Territory, and selling the surplus. The goal of the Nelson Act was to consolidate Native Americans within the state of Minnesota on a western reservation, and, secondly, to encourage allotment of communal lands to individual households in order to encourage subsistence farming and assimilation. It reflected continuing tensions between whites and American Indians in the state. Especially after the Dakota Conflict of 1862, many Minnesota white residents were eager to consolidate the reservations, reduce the amount of land controlled by Indians and make the surplus available for sale and settlement by European Americans.
Minnesota congressmen Knute Nelson pushed for the allotment of Ojibway lands in Northern Minnesota and sale of “surplus” to non-Natives. He and others intended to force the Ojibway to relinquish most of their reservation lands. The intention was to relocate the peoples to the westernmost White Earth Reservation. All would receive individual allotments, with the remainder to be available for sale to European Americans. These actions were illegal and violated the treaties which the US had made with the tribes, but the government proceeded anyway. The Red Lake Band of the Ojibway were able to keep the southern portion of their Reservation.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Act_of_1889

Father, this story brings to mind the desire of King Ahab for his neighbor’s vineyard.

1 Kings 21:1-16
New International Version (NIV)
Naboth’s Vineyard
1 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”
3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”
4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”
6 He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”
7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:
“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”
11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”
15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

These verses tell of an authority figure who is complicit in the annexation of his neighbor’s land. The part that stands out to me are the words of verse 3; “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” Naboth did not want to sell away an inheritance.
Lord, there are many nuances that I do not know about this Act. I don’t know the Governor’s heart, his motivations, or the pressures on him. I simply see an action that is typically the breeding ground of bitterness and contention.
Will You forgive the injustice of this Act towards Native Minnesotans, their inheritance, property, and generations’? Will you release them from any binding counter-judgments that may hold them captive from receiving an inheritance from You? Will You reverse any curses on the lands specifically mentioned in this Act, and restore a right relationship between all Native Minnesotans and government?
Will You teach this state to have neither a tyranny of the majority or the minority? Will You enable us to neither feel the shame of asking for the help of our state, nor shame those who have graciously helped? Will You teach us about boundaries, property, lands, and inheritance?
Will You give honor to the just actions of Knute Nelson, his heritage, and generations? Will You forgive us in our judgments of the humanity and motive conflicts within our own natures’? Will You give us internal peace, contentment, and satisfaction in our hearts so we do not want another’s possession?

*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!

** For more depth on Governor Knute Nelson see the “Biographical Directory of the United States Congress”. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=n000040

***More on property rights of the ancient Middle East. https://tifwe.org/resource/ownership-and-property-in-the-old-testament-economy/

 

 

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19th Century, Business, History, Intercession, Jesus, Mining, Minnesota

Gunflint Trail 1893

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The American Realty Company and the Gun Flint Iron Company rejoice at the completion of the Gunflint Trail. They will use it to transport iron ore from inland mines to Grand Marais, where it can be moved by ship.

The area lies on the eastern edge of the Mesabi Iron Range, but proves to be less rich in iron-ore deposits than prospectors had originally hoped. In the end, the road is used more by logging trucks and later by tourists.*

Thank You, Messiah, that You encourage and allow us to dream, and the strength to fulfill even part of those dreams. Lead me on the path of Your thoughts on the Gunflint Trail of Minnesota. What will You reveal today?

I share the joy of the American Realty Company and the Gun Flint Iron Company of the completion of this task. How could they know that their important ore trail would also become a logging trail, or one of the most lovely roads leading people to the peace of the Boundary Waters? How will You repurpose this road in the future?

I will assume that the motive of a realty company building a road is to create access to land, and make it usable for the needs of that generation. This hits a past and present wound; our judgement(s) of others’ land use. Each generation tends to judge or blame or assess the actions of the ones before.

So, here I will start; Lord, this piece of ground known as Minnesota is Your property. All treasures above, below, or on the surface of its boundaries belong to its Creator! Forgive our offense to You by judging the motives of this generation in 1893. Forgive our offense to You through the many battles fought in our courts over Your property. Our vision is short-sighted. We lack mercy. We hate what our brother does with the ground You’ve allotted him, and we sue him. We despise the generosity of resources You give to our sister, and we steal it from her!

Will You remove these curses on the Gun Flint Trail? Will You bless it thoroughly? Will You break the cycle of judgment between those who want it for recreation, those who want it completely undeveloped and pristine, and those who want to use its resources?

Our state government has accrued land, or limits the use of privately held land through regulation. What are Your thoughts on that, Lord? Is that simply, “nothing new under the sun” because that is the way of authority? Is it a wise idea to set aside land for future use, and does it truly increase ‘sustainability’? Are we like the servant who buries our talents, in this case land resources, because we refuse to utilize them?

*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!

** Need a primary source? Peruse the “Cook County Herald”? https://www.loc.gov/newspapers/?q=grand+marais+minn

***More on the Gun Flint Iron Company? http://www.padwrr.ca/iron.html

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19th Century, Agriculture, Civics, education, farming, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, law, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government, Treaties

The General Allotment Act (Dawes Act)

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Feb 8, 1887
Congress enacts legislation that allots 160-acre tracts of land to heads of households of American Indian families. The rest of the reservation land is thrown open to non-Indian homesteaders. Eventually, Native-held lands are reduced by more than two thirds.*

“The Dawes Act had a negative effect on American Indians, as it ended their communal holding of property by which they had ensured that everyone had a home and a place in the tribe. It was followed by the Curtis Act of 1898, which dissolved tribal courts and governments. The act “was the culmination of American attempts to destroy tribes and their governments and to open Indian lands to settlement by non-Indians and to development by railroads.”[27] Land owned by Indians decreased from 138 million acres (560,000 km2) in 1887 to 48 million acres (190,000 km2) in 1934.[3]
Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado was one of the most outspoken opponents of allotment. In 1881, he said that allotment was a policy “to despoil the Indians of their lands and to make them vagabonds on the face of the earth.” Teller also said, “the real aim [of allotment] was “to get at the Indian lands and open them up to settlement. The provisions for the apparent benefit of the Indians are but the pretext to get at his lands and occupy them….If this were done in the name of Greed, it would be bad enough; but to do it in the name of Humanity…is infinitely worse.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawes_Act

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Messiah, there is such a gap between intent and actions. One the one hand, the Dawes Act points to a desire to respect the property of Native Americans. On the other hand, it ‘gives’ them title to land if they accept the conditions. Is this freedom, or fiefdom?
First, as a human being and fellow Minnesotan, I want to acknowledge our sin of envy. We are not content with what we have. Lord, forgive us the envy contained in the Dawes Act of Native lands! Will You heal the whole inheritance of envy, and heal the lands that were annexed unjustly?
Second, I want to acknowledge the mixed motives of our hearts! I acknowledge the honest desire of many at this time that Native peoples assimilate and become one people with the United States, and with Minnesota. Many were motivated by a desire to share ‘common ground’ figuratively and literally with Indians. As in “I’m a simple Norwegian farmer who is trying to start a new life in America. What does my Indian neighbor have against me? I used to hunt and fish with him. I’m not a land man for the railways, or a representative of the Department of the Interior, but their actions make me the bad guy to my Indian neighbors.”

Many Natives did not want to not feel the pains of being a foreign enclave in their homelands. While they resisted many aspects of Western Culture, they also admired and even craved some of its fruits: new technologies and techniques, trade for useful products, positive interactions with new neighbors, etc. They seemed to both admire and fear the new culture in their land. Some Natives willfully accepted new ways, and others did not.

Lord, have mercy on these hearts! Some on both sides of this divide, whether Immigrant or Indian, wanted to take a chance and embrace. Some were repelled by clashing with another culture. Lord forgive how we have feared our brother’s ways, and rejected what You have to teach us through him! Lord, forgive us our hesitancy to trust! Will you restore us to chesed? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesed

Next, I want to acknowledge that both cultures succumbed to the “power men” within them. There were plenty of Minnesotans’ willing to capitalize on the imbalance of power the Dawes Act gave them! Too many tried to moralize the outright theft of property! They claimed desires to civilize native peoples to gain public approval for their land grab. Nothing changes. They are still among us. However, I mourn before you this day, and acknowledge this offense against my Native brothers! Have mercy! Will You reverse this curse? Will You restore these injustices?

Lastly, I want to acknowledge the counter judgments that some Native peoples made in response to these ‘land grabbers’. They chose to meet offense with counter offense, perhaps not learning from their own tribe to tribe, or First Nation to First Nation acts of offense and or war. It is clear to see these fruits yielding a harvest of separation even today in our state. Will You forgive these counter judgments? We have offended You first! Have mercy!

Will You have mercy on our natural desires for vengeance stemming from the Dawes Act? Will You give us a new common inheritance as Minnesotans’? Will You take the bitter roots from our hands so that we can recieve from You? When we must disagree, will You teach us to do it with understanding, clarity, and respect?

*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, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government

Red Lake Reservation Created

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“The Red Lake and Pembina bands cede some land but retain a large portion and refuse to move anywhere else. Because this land is never ceded, it remains to this day as purely Indian land.”*

This makes me think of the example of land use You revealed to us through the children of Israel.** Each son, and therefore each tribe, was given specific lands in covenant with You and each other. They had the sense of private property, yet this land was redeemed back to You and tribal ownership in 7 or 49 year cycles. (See Leviticus 25) You offered them both a sense of place and of grace, avoiding the “boom-bust” cycles of our Westernized concepts of private property!

Thanks that Red Lake is “purely Indian land.” Thanks for all lands everywhere that have remained free from our collective contention! Bless this land today, Holy Spirit, in Your grace and truth. Bring Your life to this land and Your people whether of the Red Lake or Pembina bands! Surely, in You, all humanity will have a plan and a place to have a home!

*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!
**http://www.bible-history.com/geography/maps/map_canaan_tribal_portions.html

Map-Canaan-Twelve-Tribes

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19th Century, Culture, Faith, History, Intercession, Jesus, law, Minnesota, State Government

Slavery in Court 1857

Dred Scott

Dred Scott

Dred and Harriet Scott, slaves who lived at Fort Snelling in the 1830s, claim they became free in Minnesota, where slavery was illegal. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that, because they returned to Missouri where slavery is legal, they are still the property of their owners.

In 1836, the African American slave Dred Scott was brought to Fort Snelling by his owner, Dr. John Emerson. While at the fort, Scott married another slave, Harriet. Later, Emerson moved to St. Louis, taking his slaves, the Scotts, with him. In 1846, Dred Scott sued for his freedom. He claimed that, since he had been taken to live at Fort Snelling–at the time part of Wisconsin Territory, where slavery was prohibited–he was a free man.

In March 1857, after 11 years of trials and appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court declares that because Scott isn’t a citizen of Missouri (a slave isn’t allowed to be a citizen), he’s not entitled to sue in its courts; and that slaves are property and that no law can deprive a person–that is, a white slaveowner–of his rights to life, liberty, and property.*

Christ have mercy! We often want privileges under the law for ourselves, and not for others. This is not Your example. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John 1:1,2 Jesus, You submitted to the limitations of this world. You went from the total freedom of heaven to living in Satan’s jurisdiction. You know what it’s like to have Your rights curtailed! Thank you that You are able to relate to everyone who has endured under slavery, and that You never knelt to hatred of authority.

Firstly, bless Dred and Harriet Scott, their generations, and their dwellings in Jesus’ name! Thanks for giving him the boldness to challenge the system. Forgive our system for allowing human beings to ever be classified as ‘property’! May we inherit a heart to challenge falsehoods and misbeliefs of our state.

Secondly, forgive Missouri and the U. S. Supreme Court this offense against You, and the inalienable rights You’ve freely given to all people, everywhere, at all times. You made all men in your image! You’ve made all women in Your image! Is not an affront to one an attempt at mutiny? You are our God, and we are Your people!

Third, forgive the judgment made against the Scotts’, and counter judgments made towards Minnesota, Missouri, or the U.S. in general. Will You release us from our heritage of bitter judgments and curses into the way of forgiveness and blessing?

*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

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