Historic Long Prairie, MN
Long Prairie's history dates back to the time when the land was inhabited first by the Sioux/Dakota and then Anishinaabe/ Ojibwa Native American tribes. In 1845, the U.S. government selected the location known as Long Prairie as a site for a US Indian agency. The Winnebagos were brought to the area from Fort Atkinson, Iowa by the government to be a buffer between the two warring tribes. As to why they picked this particular location known as Long Prairie, that can be explained in a book called "Narrative of the march of Morgan's Mounted Volunteers from Fort Atkinson, Iowa, to Long Prairie, Minnesota, guarding removal of the Winnebago Indians" by William E. Reed. In the book, the author talks about the march reaching the east side of Osakis Lake. From there the march turned east and came to a deep, miry spring and made camp. The next morning, Sergeant Hume (the trail boss) took eight men and followed a trail to the northeast. The other two squads took left and right flanks. Hume, with his squad, struck out on a prairie when an elk jumped from the grass in front of him. Hume took chase and just as he was getting ready to fire, the elk jumped a little creek. Hume's horse didn't see the creek in the tall grass and dove in. Hume went head over heels and lied there after "rolling about two rods." His men rushed to his aid, and helped him into a wagon. They made camp as soon as they could find a convenient place to care for Hume, which happened to be on the Long Prairie River (the current site of today's Long Prairie). As the scouts came into this camp, they all became in favor of establishing the mission right there. However, earlier that summer some men were sent ahead to locate a mission place for the Winnebagos. While this camp stayed at the bend in the river, a man named Olmstead sent some men downstream (north) to locate these other men, as they "certainly must have found a better place than this." They started down the river and passed over sandy barrens, where there was a pine tree here and there and huckleberry's by the million, and found the men cutting wood and putting up hay. These men found little fish and game, so they ate huckleberry's by the hand fulls. They searched the country all around, but could find no other area as nice as Long Prairie, and by staying there it would save the expense of hauling lumber back up the river. When the men arrived back at camp, they took a bath in the river and while there, the author was "hallooed" by Captain Morgan to come up to the hill where a meeting was taking place. When the author made it up to the hill there was debate going on between the leaders about where in the country they should establish the mission, and they wanted to know his opinion. He stated that he "considered that this was the last time the Winnebagoes would be moved, at least in my day; that it was so far north; that the whites would never want this land for settlement....." The next morning they loaded up the wagons, picked huckelberry's, and located the mission where they first struck the Long Prairie river to take care of Hume. So in the end, it could be argued that the reason Long Prairie is where it's at today, is because a soldier got thrown from his horse while chasing an elk.The total population of Long Prairie in 1849 was approximately 3000, larger than Minneapolis and St. Paul combined, at that time. Annuity payments were made here under the U.S. government Indian Agency supervision and there were farming projects and a school. Discontented with their location, the Winnebago agreed to a second treaty and were removed back to southern Minnesota at Blue Earth after 1855, leaving behind lands which whites quickly acquired, including cleared fields and at least two mills.In the spring of 1860, A.D. Brower (for whom Browerville, MN is named) came into the area along with others for a 4th of July celebration. On the hill occupied by the court house, and large pole known as the "Liberty Pole" was erected to honor our nations birthday. The town of Long Prairie, for a time, was hence known as Liberty Pole. This pole was destroyed by a fire, and a second liberty pole was erected in 1869. This liberty pole remained in place until about the time the current court house was erected in 1883.
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