Previous Page Search Again Next Page

In Crow Wing County as a whole, there were 237 Finns in 1900. After mining operations began, their number rose to 356 in 1910, and to 530 in 1920, but after that the figure began to drop, leaving a total of 244 in 1950, out of a county total of 30,875.

Otter Tail County

The northern part of Otter Tail County lies in the Red River valley, and in the eastern part of the county the Red Eye, Leaf and Crow Wing rivers have their sources. The county as a whole has 1,006 lakes. The treaties with the Indians, and the periods of unrest which followed the treaties, played an important role in the history of settlement in this region. According to the 1860 census, there were but 240 people in Otter Tail County, and this figure included not only white men but also those Indians "who had adopted civilized ways and manners." Of the white population, 37 had been born outside the United States : there were 14 Canadians, 8 Germans, 6 Irish, 2 English and 2 Scots. The county's richest man was the government land official in charge, who owned about $30,000 worth of lands himself. All put together, these early settlers owned 40 oxen, 24 head of cattle, 14 pigs and 9 horses.

Originally, the county seat was to have been Otter Tail City, on the northeast shore of Otter Tail Lake, but since the Northern Pacific refused to build its railroad through that location - supposedly because one farmer stubbornly refused to give up any of his land for such a purpose - the City never grew beyond the log cabin village stage and in time disappeared altogether. A lawyer who in 1870 had not previously seen the place but had intended to open his law practice in Otter Tail City has described his visit there: "All my expectations came to nothing, for my possible clients were limited to the following residents : the only merchant in the village, who kept the Indian trading post; two old Scots, McDonald and McDougall, who both had married Indian squaws and had children by these women, and at least one of these Scots earned his living by illegally selling whisky to the Indians; and lastly, the operator of the new sawmill and a few of the workers. This, then, was the county seat, but there were not even traces of a courthouse or any county officials." 4

Actually, Fergus Falls, which lies southwest of Otter Tail Lake, and which was established in 1871, became the county seat

4. Mason, John W. History of Otter Tail County. 1916.


Previous Page Search Again Next Page