Saturday, September 19, 2009

There is History - Even on the Tundra

I went to a very local auction this morning. It was at a little farmstead, and bed and breakfast, just outside of Kingston, MN on the north bank of the Crow River. That is close enough to be in the same zip code as Flannery Bay.

I have been moving piles and piles of stuff from stashes to my new storage, so attending another auction makes no sense at all, but it is my primary social event of the week. Recently in moving the piles I found a little book, "The Condensed History of Meeker County". I have been reading the book off and on for the past couple of days. Kingston is in Meeker County and is one of the earliest settlements in the area, utilizing the power of the Crow River to grind the settlers' wheat in the Kingston mill.

I just read about the 1862 Sioux Indian Uprising on the Minnesota frontier. The Sioux were encouraged by the departure of regular Army units and Minnesota Volunteers to fight the Civil War. Our part of the tundra was the eastern edge of the Sioux lands. The Sioux having been pushed from the north and east by the Chippewa who had guns and steel from their contacts with the Europeans. Kingston, Forest City and Meeker County were the western edge of the Big Woods that extended all the way east to the Atlantic. West of here the Tall and Short Grass Prairies, the land of the buffalo and the great plains Indians extended to the Rocky Mountains. The local Sioux, now owners of the richest casino in Minnesota, were the last of the woodland Sioux, not the mounted warriors who wiped out Custer 14 years later.

Anyway, I just read about the settlers abandoning their homesteads and fleeing east to Kingston Mill. There they erected a wooden fort centered on the mill. The settlers withstood many days of attacks, lead by the Sioux chief, Little Crow.

The auction site was on the edge of the old mill site. The battle occurred on the same ground that we were now pursuing antiques. On County Road 2 as I drove from Kingston to Flannery Bay, there is an old highway sign, overgrown by vines and brush, marking the point where Little Crow was killed about a year later by two men from Hutchinson who were out hunting blueberries. It seems that Little Crow returned to Minnesota from exile in Canada to steal horses so he could join the Lakota on the Prairie.

I was really pleased to know these events, to find the book and to spend a beautiful late summer day looking in the face of our local history.

Mr. Flannery

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