Kittson County Historical Society
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Research into who and when did the first pioneers arive, what age were they, and where did they come from.
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EARLY PIONEERS
Anyone interested in the early pioneer history of Kittson County has trouble establishing who they were and when they arrived. It is quite common to hear people mentioning the fact their grandparent or great grandparents were pioneers in this county. Many speak of their family’s arrival in the county in or around the turn of the century, namely 1900. How can we find/learn the facts.
A detailed examination of the early Kittson Censuses makes one focus attention on the 1905 Census. This census was special in that they asked when you first arrived in Minnesota and when you first arrived in the County. This census contained the names of over nine thousand residents.
Keep in mind that his was a 1905 Census. By extracting the name of each person on this census that had been in the county twenty-five (25) or more years, we get a list of two hundred and twenty people. This list is not perfect but it gives us a start in learning more about the early pioneers.
I have attached a graph titled NUMBER OF PIONEERS BY YEAR – 1867 – 1880. Please note that the graph indicates very few pioneers arrived from 1867 to 1877. The first time five arrived was in 1876. The following year, 1877, only four arrived.
In 1878 we see the first big jump of twenty-eight new arrivals. The next two years we see sixty-seven and then ninety-five. Since the graph was established to determine the beginning of the early pioneers it is now obvious that it began in 1878.
If your family arrived in 1900 or later, they were certainly pioneers but more than two hundred people made up the early pioneers. A man arriving in 1905 would have little trouble meeting people who had already been in the County more than twenty-five years.
The next graph will deal with the age of the Early Pioneers.
In the graph and comments I posted yesterday I tried to establish that the ”Early pioneers” began to arrive in 1878. I limited the graph to 1880 because the numbers increased so rapidly in the years that followed that it makes the names and numbers harder to understand and deal with.
The second graph is labeled, “Pioneers by age group – 1855 – 1880.”
The next logical question is, what was the age of the early pioneers? If we examine the people who arrived from 1855 to 1880 (as recorded in the detailed 1905 census) we discover the following.
During the years referred to above, twenty two early pioneers were actually born in Kittson County.
Again, during these years, seventy four early pioneers arrived age one to age twelve. They were obviously in the care of their parents or an adult. In most cases their parents will be included in the older age groups that follow.
Keep in mind that at the time of the 1905 census all these children would be from twenty five to as much as thirty seven years old. (Add twenty five years to whatever was the age of the child on arrival.)
In some instances some of the parents would have died between their arrival and 1905. That being the case we are missing the names of the people that died but should be included as an early pioneer. It will be difficult to determine who they are but it could be done by examining the censuses prior to 1905.
The third category is the teenagers, ages 13 to 19. Most will have arrived with parents but some of the oldest may arrived without adult supervision. There were only nineteen of them and they could have been included with the children but we arbitrarily grouped the teenagers in their own category.
The next age group is 20 to 29 and lists a total of 57. I suspect that at least half of this group arrived with children already counted. More than fifty percent more adults are in this age group so it is safe to say most of the pioneers were in this group.
The age 30 to 39 contains only 28 people, or half the earlier group. Being a pioneer was not as attractive to this age group as by this point in their life, most of them would be settled elsewhere.
The next age group is 40 to 49 and at a total of 15 it again drops by almost fifty percent. At this point in life people of this age group are probably well settled in life and not prepared to start all over again on the frontier.
The last group list only four people aged 50 and over. This is not surprising and it appears people of this age came with younger members of their family and in many cases contributed money to the enterprise rather than hard labor.
What I found surprising was the fact that so many adventurous early pioneers came to the wide open spaces with young children. If we take the eighteen and nineteen year olds and add them to the adult group it becomes reasonable to say that of the pioneers that arrived in Kittson County, prior to 1880, half of them were children.
A special thanks to Jackie Edkins for joining the group EARLY PIONEERS. Joining a group means that you automatically get an email notifiying you of any new posts on that topic. It is a great way to stay current with topics that interest you.
The latest graph relates to the 28 pioneers that arrived in 1879. This was the first real jump in the so called Early Pioneers. It is interesting to note that almost a third,(10), of them came from Canada, and were born in Canada.
Swedes made up twenty five percent of the total with six. The numbers that follow are small and usualy are made up of members of single families.
We can identify the names of each of these early groups and more interestingly we can see the exact township they settled in. It would be possible to follow the numbers and determine which areas of the county were settled first. We have already established the largest percentage of the Early Pioneers settled in the township of St.Vincent or in the town itself.
Amazing work, Glenn. This could help with a project I'd like to start doing a 'family tree' for Kittson County (I just posted on my blog here more about that - see blog for more about what I hope to do...) May I share your graphs with St. Vincent Memories facebook group members? I know many would really find them interesting but are not members here. I will once again remind them of this group and encourage them to join...
Hi Trish - You certainly may use the graphs and information. When I have some spare time I hope to provide addition information regarding the early pioneers. I must point out that Marcy Johnson has already created a family tree based on the people who lived/live in Kittson County. She has been working on this for a number of years and the list of people exceeds seventy seven thousand people. That is 77,000 people.
This particular Family Tree data base is stored on one of the museum computers and can be accessed at the museum by members of the public.
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