History of Wabasha County
History of Wabasha City
CJ writes: "According to family history, David Bannister set out lights on the river
to guide boats away from the sandbars."
HISTORY OF WABASHA COUNTY
An Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Minnesota
Published by A.T. Andreas, 1874
Wabasha County was named in honor of a chief of the Sioux whose principal camping-ground was in this valley, on the Mississippi River. His nephew, Augustin Roque, was the first white settler in this vicinity, and yet he was only half white. His father was a Frenchman, and his mother a sister of the celebrated chief, Wapashaw. He was born at Prairie du Chien about the year 1767. He put up the first trading shanty in 1833. It was built on the west side of the slough, near the present residence of Patrick Riley. In 1836 Duncan Campbell built a shanty near that of Roque, and in 1838 Oliver Cratt, a government blacksmith, came down from Fort Snelling, and opened a shop on the Levee. Joe Buison came a few weeks later; Pierre Hartobese, a nephew of old Wapashaw, also built a shanty on the other side of the river. Old man LaBath put up a shanty for Baily in 1840. All these were in some way connected with the Indian trade, or were in the government employ.
No other buildings were erected until 1850, when Philo Stone bought some four acres of Oliver Cratt, and put up a neat cottage near the Levee. Warehouses were first built in 1854, by Messrs. Cramer &. Allen; in 1855. Campbell & Pendleton built another; in 1856, Hancock Bros. built one.
The Indians were very numerous and, for the most part, very peaceable with the whites; but their hereditary enemies, the Chippewas, were often made to feel their enmity and hatred. When an unfortunate Chippewa had ventured so near as to lose his scalp, the Sioux held a jubilee, and what is called a scalp dance. The last of these occurred in 1858, on the site of a dry goods store built by Allen, where now stands an ice house. The scalp was taken from the head of a Chippewa just below the ears and above the eyes; it was then stretched on a hoop, the inside painted, and then elevated on a pole, around which the redskins danced and jumped to the sound of yelling, screaming, and their native drums, etc.
In 1850 the population of the whole county was 243, while now it is estimated to be fully 20,000, and that of the city to be about 2,000. where there were only a few trading shanties. Nearly all of the old French traders here married Sioux wives. In 1837 the government set apart 450 square miles of territory for the benefit of the half-breeds. The land extended fifteen miles back and thirty miles on the river, from a point three miles below Wabasha to Red Wing. In 1857 the half-breeds and progeny received each 480 acres of land scrip from the government in place of their reserve land. This scrip made a nice haul for our old Frenchmen, and also for sharpers, who, in most cases, figured them out of it. Some ten or twelve old Frenchmen, settled at Wabasha, and received scrip for their wives and families.
Few of the old settlers remain on the ground; some have moved to outer parts, and others have gone to that land from whence no traveler returns. The hunting-ground of the red man has been turned into fields of grain and flowering gardens; a beautiful city now stands on the site of the old Indian camping ground, and the spires of several churches point heavenward from the valley which was, a short time ago, lighted by the council fires of the savage.
The Catholics built a small church as early as 1845; that little church, built of logs, was afterwards used as a printing office. The first paper ever published in Wabasha was printed there, and edited by-Sanderson. The first school district was organized on the 20th of November, 1855, and comprised an extent of territory of some thirty square miles; the school was taught by H. B. Potter. A private school had been taught a short time previous by Thomas Flynn. The first white child born in Wabasha County was Charles Hurd, a son of B. S. Hurd, on the 14th day of May, 1855.
The first Legislature of the state granted a city charter to Wabasha, and the first municipal election took place the following Spring. The city was first platted in 1854, in the name of Oliver Craft and Joseph Buison. South Wabasha was added in 1855, and in 1857 the Land Company's addition of some 300 acres. H. M. Rice, Frank Steel, and Charles Read were the principal owners.
The first meeting of the Common Council under the act of incorporation was held April 27, 1858. The Council was composed of W. W. Wright, Mayor; Charles W. Lyon, Recorder; Messrs. J. W. Downer, W. W. Prindle, W. B. Lutts, Aldermen; who held their office one year. In 1865 the charter was amended so that the aldermen held their office three years. In 1868-9 the charter was revised, which revision divided the city into two wards, with two aldermen elected in each ward, who held their office two years.
The Common Council under the present charter is composed of a mayor and four aldermen. The City Recorder is elected for one year, and is not a member of the Council. The present City Council is composed of W. T. Dugan, Mayor; J. B. Downer, Geo. A. McDougall, S. E. Drewry, Aldermen; F. J. Colliar, Recorder.
COUNTY OFFICERS: Anson Peirce, Treasurer; James G. Lawrence, Register of Deeds; W. H. Campbell, Auditor; Charles J. Stauff, Clerk of District Court; S. H. Smith, Sheriff.
THE FIRST SETTLERS OF THE COUNTY: Wm. McCloud, Wm. Roque, Seymour Fanning, Geo. Roberts, Geo. Fanning, Thomas B. Warring, Samuel Fanning, J. R.Warring, John Ritter, Wm. Pane, Isaac Roque (or York), Leroy McCloud, John Welch, John McClane, E. B. McCloud.
The City of Wabasha is located about seventy miles southeast of St. Paul. on the Mississippi River, with its broad, smooth waters forming the eastern boundary of the town, and marking the dividing line between Wisconsin and Minnesota; being a short distance below the foot of Lake Pepin. It is nearly encompassed by the high bluffs, which rise to the height of several hundred feet. The sunset, from Wabasha, is one of the most enchanting views that ever greeted human vision. Just at the outlet of the lake the river makes a bend which, from this standpoint, seems to bring the bluffs of Wisconsin and Minnesota very near together, leaving just space enough to see the sun in all its glory, as it sinks beneath the placid waters of the lake, and as its last rays rest on the bluffs on either side, lighting them up with a golden radiance, the heart is filled with rapture at the glorious prospect; the scene is beautiful beyond the power of pen to describe. It is worth quite a journey to visit Wabasha in the month of June to have just one look at this enchanting sunset.
The city has one flouring mill in full operation, running four run of stone, grinding out about 120 barrels of flour every twenty-four hours; and an agricultural implement manufactory and machine shop, manufacturing engines. threshing machines, wagons, and seeders; with foundries attached, employing from twenty to twenty-five men.
The number of acres of land cultivated, 98,858; No. acres of wheat, 62,822; No. bushels of wheat, 1,238,271; average per acre, 19.71; average sown, 15,015; bushels produced, 133,428; average per acre, 8.88; No. acres oats sown, 5,364; bushels produced, 154,305; average per acre, 28.76; average sown, 4,066; bushels produced, 133,727; average per acre, 32.89; average acres corn sown, 8,081; bushels produced, 259,804; average per acre, 32.14; average acres barley sown, 3,220; bushels produced, 19,330; average per acre, 28.36; average acres rye sown, 55; bushels produced, 1,500; average per acre, 27.27; average acres buckwheat sown, 159; bushels produced, 2,229; average per acre, 14.55. Potatoes, acres sown, 686; bushels, 91,621; average per acre, 133.55; beans, acres, 32; bushels, 446; average, 13.93. Flax, No. acres sown, 100; bushels seed produced, 720. Sugar Maple, No. gallons syrup, 30; pounds sugar, a00. Honey, No. hives bees, 798; pounds honey, 11,018. Hops. No. pounds in 1872, 5,943; No. pounds Tobacco, 380; apple-trees, 28,130; clover-seed, 381 bushels; apple-trees in bearing, 5,771; No. quarts strawberries, 11,999; No. sheep sheared, 1,147; No. cows, 3,624; No. pounds butter made, 229,424; cneese,4,669.
No. horses under 3 years, 1,235; over 3, 4,730; No. cows under 2 years old, 4,520; over 2 years, 5,029; mules and asses, 195; No. of fat and working cattle, 985; sheep, 1,414; hogs, 5,431.
The population in 1870 was 15,857 ; No. of scholars in 1870, 5,383; in 1873 No. scholars was 5,819; increase the past year, 101. No. districts, 99; No. districts reported, 88; not reported, 11. School-houses, log, 3; frame, 72; brick, 2; value, $105,496; No. built within the past year, 7; value, $2, 710. No. of persons between 5 and 21 years of age in the county, males, 2,954; females, 2,865. Whole number of pupils to winter school, males, 1,875; females, 1,570; average daily attendance in winter, 2,150; average length of winter schools in months, 3.38. No. teachers in winter, males, 51; females, 43; average wages per month in winter, $29. Whole number of pupils in summer, males, 1,518; females, 1,610; average daily attendance, 2,170; average length of schools in months 3.32. No. teachers, males, 12; females, 82; average wages per month, males, $54.75; females, $22.75. No. school terms in the year, 149; No. pupils enrolled, males, 2,010; females, 2,096; average per cent. of attendance, .70. No. of graded school districts, 1; scholars, 575; total in attendance, 329; per cent. of attendance, 57; grammar, 1; intermediate, 2; primary, 2; No. of weeks, 36; received for taxes collected, $723,900. Superintendent of Schools, Aaron G. Hudson, Post-office, Lake City.
PLAINVIEW is situated about twenty miles southwest of Wabasha, on a high point of land, and is surrounded by the most beautiful and fertile prairie that ever greeted the eyes of man, which, for raising wheat and other grain, can hardly be excelled. Messrs. E. B. Eddy, A. T. Sharp, Thomas Todd, William Beatman, and David Campbell were the first to break the soil of this beautiful prairie. These gentlemen left their homes in Ohio and Indiana in 1855, and started in pursuit of a home in the far-off Northwest. They at that time had not determined what spot they should select for their future home.
They crossed the Mississippi, and for several days pursued their journey up the river. On the 21st day of May they camped for the night upon a high eminence of land, just back of the river bluffs. They being so much elated with the beauties of the country, mutually agreed that this was the long sought for land, and declared their journey ended, and immediately proceeded to construct houses for their families, enduring all the deprivations of first settlers in an uncultivated land, where no foot had marked the ground save that of the moccasin-covered feet of the red man. With brave hearts they commenced cultivating the soil. Before the close of the mouth, by the arrival of David Ackley and Edwin Chapman, the settlement was increased to seven. The June following, A. P. Foster and Benjamin Lawrence, together with several families from Wisconsin, joined the little colony, and went to work with, a fixed determination that the colonization should be permanent. The Spring of 1856 brought heavy re-enforcements of good, substantial men. Before Fall, the settlement contained about thirty families. all very content with their new home.
The first thing to be considered was education, and so zealous were they in the cause that they at once proceeded to erect a school house, the boards of which were sawed by Mr. Boatman with a hand-saw, and the shingles made by E. B. Eddy, showing how cherishing the thought to them of a liberal education to the young. Before June the school house was completed, and twenty scholars placed under the instruction of Annie M. White, daughter of R. N. White. To Annie is due the honor of teaching the first school ever taught in Plainview. The same zeal in the direction of educational advancement has ever existed. Probably not a town in the Northwest, containing no greater population, has expended more in the cause of education than the people of this village. In 1887 they built a large and commodious school house, 50x75, two stories, containing six school-rooms, and a hall for chapel and other purposes, at a cost of $15,000. Each room is extensively furnished with the latest improved furniture, and is in every respect what a school building should be. It was first conducted as a common district school. In 1871 they organized an Independent School Board, and elected C. O. Landon Treasurer, O. Wilcox, H. P. Wilson, I. R. McLaughlin, and C. O. Landon as the Board, Prof. D. A. Lindsley, Superintendent. The average number of scholars at this date is 200. The first schoolhouse built in the town occupied a place upon Section 10, two miles and a half from Plainview. No village at that time existed, although a portion of the same section upon which the schoolhouse was built, was laid out into lots the same spring, and considerable effort was made to build up a town. They succeeded in getting a post-office established, which opened the next winter, Mr. A. P. Foster receiving the appointment as Postmaster. The name of this office was Greenville, (that being the name of the settlement).
A hotel was built the same year and occupied by Mr. Kerl. Business had already begun in town, and in consequence the imaginations of property holders had very much enlarged. Much to the disadvantage of Greenville, some seven interesting gentlemen laid out a village site during the Summer of 1865, on Sections 17 and 18. At the date of the transaction but one small building occupied a position on the village site. The first to erect a building in Centreville (now Plainview) after the village was platted, was O. Wilcox, who built and stocked a store which is now occupied by E. B. Eddy as a banking house, Mr. Wilcox having built a more commodious house for his mercantile trade, and he is still keeping the same in operation, and doing an extensive business.
Mr. Blackwell built a hotel soon after. In 1858, a post-office was opened at Centreville; this event changed the name of the town, there being a post-office in Winona by the same name. In consideration of its being on a high and prominent piece of ground, and in plain view of a large tract of surrounding country, the name was changed to Plainview. Since that time the town has made rapid advancement in wealth, and is now a thriving business village of over 1,000 inhabitance. A striking contrast is plainly visible when we compare the past with the present prospects of Plainview, and they are not indebted to Eastern capital to any extent for the improvements.
Among the most thorough, active, and wealthy business men of to-day are the first tillers of the soil, who came here without capital or financial credit, and have made their wealth from the resources of the country.
Plainview has three houses of worship; the Methodists built the first church at a cost of $4,000. In 1871 the Congregationalists built a neat. and commodious house. The Episcopalians have a small chapel, and they are all sustaining a good, flourishing Sabbath school. In 1856 Mr. Blackwell built a small hotel which has since been enlarged and made more commodious, and is under the proprietorship of John Bigham, and is now a pleasant home for the weary traveler.
LAKE CITY Of all the beautiful lakes of Minnesota, Lake Pepin is perhaps the most conspicious. Its surrounding scenery is magnificent, and has given to the lake a world-wide reputation for its rare and varied charms, which are unsurpassed even in this country, noted for its beauties. From the summit of the bluffs of Lake City is obtained the most enchanting view of the lake and the surrounding country. In the distance stands out in bold relief Maiden Rock, rendered immortal by the legend of the beautiful Wenona, who threw herself from its summit to the arms of death, rather than wed a warrior she could not love and surrender the one who had possession of her heart.
Only seventeen years since the whole of this section of country was the home of the red man, and no mark of civilized life was seen. But now, a busy, bustling city is seen, whose streets are crowded with active life and business. The first. to introduce civilization into this portion of Wabasha County was Mr. Jacob Boody, who made a a claim in the Fall of 1853. The following Spring his brother John and Abner Dwelle arrived and staked out their claims, Mr. Dwelle making his claim where now the lower part of the city is; built his house near where he now resides. Mr. Lyon, a wealthy gentleman from the City of New York, in 1871 built a beautiful block of brick which is now filled with business of various kinds.
Mr. Lyon is now building another on the opposite side of the same street, which will add materially to the appearance of the town. The post-office was established in 1856, and"H. F. Williamson appointed postmaster. The first town meeting was held on the 13th of May, 1856, at which time there was 103 votes polled, and the following named gentlemen were elected to the town offices: Charles W. Hackett, Chairman; Abner Dwelle, Samuel Daughty, Supervisors. The election was held at the city hall and the town was named Lake City by a vote of the people. At the election of 1859 11 votes were cast in favor of granting licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquors; 91 against it.
MAZEPPA Civilization was first introduced into the Township of Mazeppa in the month of February, 1855, by Ira B. Seeley, Joseph Fuller, Enoch Youngs, and G. C. Sleeper, who made claims on Sections 4 and 5. In April, Joseph Ford and his son Orville D. and Mr. G. Maxwell arrived, who were followed in May by Isaac Nichols and two other sons of Ford, Orville D. and Deville C., who came with their families and also brought with them the families of their father and brother. The same season John E. Hyde, Francis A. Slowell, and Elijah Lunt came, the whole making up quite a colony. The west half of Section 6 was laid out into a village plat by Joseph Ford and his son, Orville D., early in the Spring. This site included a splendid water-power on the Zumbro, where the mill now stands. Active arrangements were made to build up a village. Mr. Nichols made speedy arrangements for the erection of both saw and grist mills; both mills were commenced and the sawmill completed and put in operation during the winter. Another mill has since been erected some two and a half miles east of the village. In 1855 John Hyde built a store and stocked it with a general assortment of such goods as were always in demand with the pioneer settlers. When Mr. Seeley and his friends made their first visit to the town, they found a cave near the center of the town, where Trout Brook empties into the Zumbro River, which was fifteen feet high and twelve wide at its entrance, but diminishing in size as they advanced, being about seventeen feet deep. On the side of the cave were found many curious pictures of beasts and birds, rudely carved upon the rocks. Into the back part of this cave they took their horses, and then took up their own home inside until they could build themselves houses to live in. The cave made very comfortable quarters and was considered as a great prize at the time of discovery. The north branch of the Zumbro enters Mazeppa on the northwest corner, and runs down near the center of the town and empties into the main Zumbro which flows on entering the town of Chester. On the southeast quarter section there is, in addition to the water power at the village, another about a mile below, which is improved. Trout Brook also affords several fine powers. About one-fourth of the surface of the township is covered with timber; the balance is rolling prairie. In 1869 the Congregationalists built a very neat church edifice, 32x50 feet in size. The schoolhouse was built in 1858; it is a twostory, commodious building, in which is sustained a graded school of high order.
WABASHA – THE OLDEST CITY IN MINNESOTA
Wabasha is one of the oldest cities on the entire upper Mississippi River and has been occupied continuously since 1826. U.S. Government records and "The 2nd Treaty of Prairie du Chien" (1830) conclusively establishes Wabasha to be the oldest city in Minnesota, established 1830.
WABASHA'S CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE
Wabasha was named in honor of an Indian Chief of the Sioux Nation, Chief Wa-pa-shaw. This group of Indians' principal camping ground was in this valley on the Mississippi River. Chief Wapashaw had a nephew, Augustin Rocque, who was the first white settler in this area and yet he was only half white. His father, Joseph Rocque, was a Frenchman and his mother was the sister of the celebrated Chief Wapashaw. Augustin was born in Prairie du Chien sometime about the year 1795. Both Augustin and his father Joseph were fur traders and both were Indian interpreters in the service of the British. At the conclusion of the War of 1812, called the Blackhawk War in this area and between the years 1817 and 1823, Augustin, accompanied by a government appointee named Long, came up the Mississippi River and established his home with Wabasha's trading posts on the upper Mississippi River, extending his operation from the foot of Lake Pepin, up the Chippewa River as far as the Falls and down the Mississippi River into Turkey River and cedar River Counties in Iowa. At about the same time came half-breed Duncan Campbell. Both settled in the extreme western part of Wabasha on the Mississippi River, just north of Wabasha's St. Elizabeth Hospital.
Prior to 1830, treaties existed with the Northwest Indian tribes. However, in 1830, a second treaty with these tribes was held at Prairie du Chien. It is this treaty and the records maintained by the U.S. government plus trading posts and shanties established by Augustin Rocque that actually established Wabasha as the oldest town in Minnesota. At this treaty the Indian tribes represented were four bands of the Sioux, the Sacs, Foxes, Iowas, Omahas, Otoes, and Missouri Indians. They surrendered all of their claims to the land in Western Iowa, Northwestern Missouri and especially the country of the Des Moines River Valley. The Medawakanton Sioux, Wabasha's band, had a special article (no.9) inserted in the treaty for the benefit of their half-blood relatives.
The Sioux bands in council earnestly solicited that they might have permission to bestow upon the half-breeds of their nation the tract of land beginning at a place called the Barn, below and near the Village of Red Wing Chief and running back fifteen miles; thence in a parallel line with Lake Pepin and Mississippi River; thence fifteen miles to the Grand Encampment opposite the Beef River. The United States agreed to allow these half-breeds to occupy this tract of country, holding title in the same manner that other Indian titles were held. Certificates were issued to many half-breeds and there was much speculation in these certificates and litigation over them in subsequent years. In time "Lake Pepin" half-breed certificates became very valuable to the holders. The Second Treaty of Prairie du Chien (1830) was approved by U.S. Senate in February 1831, allowing the half-breeds to settle permanently and legally in the area specified.
After the treaty, Augustin Rocque built a larger trading shanty in 1833, again just north of Wabasha's St. Elizabeth Hospital and near the present residence of Patrick Riley (built 1870). To further historically substantiate the settlement of Augustin Rocque, a government military leader Weatherstonhaugh Found Augustin and his trading post here in 1935, and gives Augustin's Indian name as Wahjustahchay or The Strawberry.
After conclusion of another treaty with the Chippewa at Fort Snelling July 29, 1837 allowing whites to settle on the west side of the Mississippi River, General Dodge requested the Indian agent Taliaferro to select a delegation of Sioux and proceed to Washington to finalize terms of the treaty. Augustin Rocque accompanied the chiefs in consort with Alexis Bailly, Joseph LaFramboise, and Francois LaBathe. Along with them were H.H. Sibley, Alexander Rocque, and Alexander and Oliver Faribault representing the fur traders' interests.
The result of this treaty was the government set apart 450 square miles of territory for the benefit of the half-reeds. It is interesting that prior to these treaties every foot of the State except the little reservation about Fort Snelling had been barbaric rule and primeval conditions. A white man might not build his home anywhere in all the great expanse without permission of the Indians who held the land solely by the right of might.
In 1836, Duncan Campbell build a shanty near that of Augustin Rocque and in the Fall of 1838 Oliver Cratte was the first white man to settle in the area of the village of Wabasha. Cratte came down from Fort Snelling to open a government blacksmith shop on the levee. Joseph Buisson came a few weeks later and Pierre Hortobese, a nephew of old Chief Wapashaw, also built a shanty on the south side of the Zumbro River.
An elderly man named LaBatte, a skilled carpenter and riverboat pilot, put up a shanty for Alexis Bailly in 184-. All of these men were connected with Indian trade ore were employed by the U.S. government to assist the Indians and half-breeds.
Even though Augustin Rocque lived continuously within what is now the town of Wabasha since 1826, U.S. government records of what was called "The Second Treaty of Prairie du Chien" (1830) established conclusively Wabasha's heritage as the oldest town in Minnesota – Wabasha, 1830.
The city of Wabasha was not named until 1843, when it was called Wabashaw, after the old chief. The ceremony was performed by digging a hole in the ground on the levee, which is now between Alleghany and Pembroke streets, a bottle with a piece of paper giving an account of the event was placed in the hole, then a post was set up over it with a board nailed to it upon which was printed or written the name "Wabashaw". The "w" at the end was dropped in 1868 when mapmakers and published statutes had abandoned it.
Lumber and commerce were the main industries before the turn of the century, when steamboats moved up and down the Mississippi carrying supplies until the railroad replaced the need for them. The American Queen, Mississippi Queen and Delta Queen steamboats still run up and down the Mississippi, but carry passengers. Clamming was once of major importance to Wabasha. The first clammers on Lake Pepin were searching for pearls and discarding the shells. Experiments proved that shells could be utilized in the manufacturing of buttons and similar objects. In 1913, there were between 500 and 600 clammers who harvested 2400 tons of clams and 90 percent of the shells were available for manufacturing purposes. Lake City and Wabasha had button factories, but with the introduction of synthetic materials, the industry came to an end around 1940. Today Wabasha serves as the county seat of Wabasha County. It lies just south of the foot of Lake Pepin, half way between Winona and Red Wing. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Anderson House, which opened in 1856 claims to be the oldest operating hotel in Minnesota. It was the Hurd House and "rents a cat" as an option with a room.
In 1857, the completion of the first of five state roads was the Mendota to Wabasha road. It was 75 miles long at a cost of $538 per mile totaling $40,000 to build. Ten years later the Minnesota Central Railroad built its line alongside the road, running side-by-side much of the way. In 1871 Chicago and St. Paul Railroad was completed southward giving Wabasha communication with the cities of the east. By 1878 Wabasha had a population of 3000. They boasted a library, a button factory, parks, tuberculosis sanitarium and 6 passenger trains each way daily on the main line to Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul Railway.
Before the bridge was completed, Wabasha had a ferryboat that was pulled by a cable across the river into Wisconsin. In 1931, the first bridge was completed between Wabasha, Minnesota and Nelson, Wisconsin at a cost of $550,000 and was a toll bridge. It was torn down with the construction of a latest bridge. The dedication of the new bridge linking Wisconsin to Minnesota via Highway 25 was July 30, 1988.
In 1915 Wabasha claimed 9 lodges, 2 banks, 5 churches, 2 public school buildings with 88 high school pupils and 201 grade school children, St. Felix Parochial School with 230 enrolled in grades 1-12, Wells Fargo Express Company, Princess Theatre, Anderson Hotel, Fire Department with 2 trucks, Big Jo Flour Mill, health department, St. Elizabeth Hospital, 17 elevators, mercantile company, lumber company, boat yard, Catholic orphanage and Poor Farm.
Wabasha has two prominent churches. St. Felix Catholic Church was built on land donated by Augustin Rocque in 1862. It was given the name of the then pastor's patron saint, Saint Felix. In 1893, the church was completely destroyed by fire and nine months later the same year the new church was completed at a cost of $17,000. The three bells, which had been recast after the fire, received their second baptism and still serve the church today.
Grace Memorial Church was designed in 1899 by Thomas Irvine as a memorial to his wife. Emily Hills Irvine, and her parents, Reverend and Mrs. Horace Hills. Rev. Hills was pastor of the Grace Episcopal Church from 1872 until 1877. Irvine's only request was that the church be named Grace Memorial. The Church is similar in plan, materials and style to the 1894 Gothic design for St. Clement's Episcopal Church in St. Paul. It has stained glass windows and one was designed by Tiffany Studios in New York, which is titled Three Marys at Tomb.
The rare American Bald eagle thrives in the Wabasha area. Their nesting ground is the thousands of acres of wildlife area known as the Nelson Bottoms located directly across from the city of Wabasha. During the late fall, winter and early spring, it is common to see them soaring and diving for fish in the open water from the foot of Lake Pepin to the south of Wabasha. The Eagle Watch deck is located on the riverfront at the end of Pembroke Avenue. It is open to the public, but between November and March on Sunday afternoons between 1 and 3 pm, volunteers are on hand to point out the eagle and answer questions. The Eagle Watch Observatory is now in the planning stages and will be located at Beach Park. This building will be enclosed and have live birds of prey to view.
Wabasha, Minnesota is one of the few remaining true-to-life river towns. It has boating, camping, river recreation, golfing, skiing and ice fishing. The moves "Grumpy Old Men" and "Grumpier Old Men" were written by a young man who's grandfather lived in Wabasha. The major attraction to the city is the docking of steamboats. The parks, marinas and historic charm make Wabasha a great place to spend a day, a week or a lifetime.
Chief Of Sioux
Born About 1816 ~ Died April 23, 1876
From The 1884 Book
HISTORY OF WABASHA COUNTY (MN)
The picture of Wah-pa-sha was taken from a painting in the possession of the family of Alexis Bailly, Esq., now deceased. This is the chief the place was named after. He was a noted man inhis day, and was recognized as head chief of the River bands of Sioux. During the troubles with the Winnebago Indians, at Prairie du Chien, at an early day, Wah-pah-sha was invited by them to a council. After listening to the Winnebago chiefs, and what they proposed doing to the whites, Wah-pah-sha arose, and, pulling a hair from his head, blew it away, telling the council that if they harmed a white man he would blow them from the face of the earth as he had blown the hair. The chief with his band made their summer residence on what is now called "Sand Prairie," or, as it was called by the old voyageurs, "La Prairie au Cypre."
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