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The speaker is an 80-year-old White man with a grade school education from Aitkin, Minnesota; he was recorded in 1968.
4:03-6:47


County: Aitkin
State: MN

Commentary:
As the fur trade diminished, interest in the area around Aitkin in central eastern Minnesota turned to timber. Aitkin, located on the Mississippi River, was a good spot to develop a transportation center. The railroad brought supplies, and the men and supplies were transported via steamboat north to the timber or pinery camps. As lumbering slowed, goods and services were supplied to the settlers who were interested in the fertile lands. Aitkin, today two hours north of Minneapolis by car, is a town of about 1,800 on the Mississippi River with many lakes nearby. It is thirty miles northeast of Brainerd. It now boasts of the only stoplight in Aitkin County, of which it is the county seat. At the time when the speaker came to Aitkin, around 120 years ago, conditions were quite different. It took over three days to cover the roughly 120 miles from Hutchinson, west of Minneapolis, to Aitkin.
Inf: Came here in a covered wagon, but the circumstances aren't what they were. The reason for that was that uh my uh, grandfather and two uncles were farmers in Hutchinson area and uh they moved up here. Grandfather bought a place on the south side of Farm Island Lake. And the two uncles bought on top of the hill, south of Bennettville uh down there. And uh, they came up for the reason that uh if they shipped their furnit-, household goods, and farm machinery and livestock by rail, it would have to be shipped from Hutchinson to Minneapolis. And then changed over to the Northern Pacific -- that was Great Northern or Milwaukee -- Hutchinson to Minneapolis. Then it had to be, be transferred to the uh Northern Pacific and shipped to Brainerd. And then from Brainerd changed to the line again over to Aitkin. And then they had to load all this stuff and go the twelve or fourteen miles by wagon out, Bennettville.

So, I remember granddad and the two uncles were talking it over and uh, granddad said, "Well," says, "We have to load all this stuff in wagons anyway at Aitkin, haul it out," so he said, "Why not load it here at Hutchinson, and uh, three days we could make the trip up there." And he says one of the boys can, can drive the cattle along.

In those days of course, that was no problem. Just took more than three days with the, with the trip, for the trip when the cattle were transported. But that's the reason they did it. And so we came up here and my mother drove a single, had everything. We shipped our furniture and stuff up here by freight, but mother brought the horse and buggy out. She drove all the way out. I rode in the covered wagon. Boy, I was proud of that all my life.

[FW: Right].

So that's how it happened, you know.

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