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Pembina in MN

3/7/2004:

There was a time when a portion of what are now North and South Dakota, including Pembina, was governed by Minnesota Territory, which organized in 1849. Postmaster Norman Kittson, a rather somber-looking man, served as Pembina County Senator, and fur trader Jolly Joe Rolette – also a somber-looking man – served as Representative.

To reach their legislative sessions, the two men had to travel by dogsled. Charles Cavileer, who we talked about yesterday, recorded the day the two men left town.

“Joe had a fancy carryall. His dogs were of the best, flaunting gaudy ribbons, red cloth housing and pretty tinkling bells, while Kittson’s team was rigged in his own style, neat but not gaudy.”

While the Pembina representatives had fairly uneventful terms, Jolly Joe gained considerable attention when he “mislaid” the bill that would have moved the capital to St. Peter; it’s Rolette who’s credited with making sure St. Paul remained the capital of Minnesota.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm