With our next series of exhibits and programs focusing on Minnesota in the 1800s, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the Civil War veterans who settled in the area in the last quarter of the 19th century. Here are just a few.
James M. Gates was a successful and enterprising agriculturist who settled in Deer Creek Township. Born in Indiana, he later came to Minnesota and in 1864 he enlisted in Co. E. 8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry and was sent to the Indiana frontier. After six months of service, he became ill and for several months was a sufferer of “fever and inflammatory rheumatism. He partially recovered and was sent south, but a return of the malady compelled him to go to the hospital again, where he remained until he was mustered out in 1865.” After the close of the war, Gates returned to Rice County, Minn., where he farmed until coming to Otter Tail County in 1882.
A.D. Waite came to Minnesota at an early age. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the 1st Minnesota Cavalry, a regiment engaged in Indian fighting. He came to Otter Tail County between 1880 and 1885 and settled in the town of Inman.
James Davis, a native of New York, was a drummer boy in Company K Fourth Regiment, Volunteer Infantry throughout the Civil War. In 1878, the Davis family came in covered wagons drawn by oxen and horses to the new territory and unplowed fields of Otter Tail County, and to the rigors of pioneer life. They had no home to move into, but the pioneers were hospitable and compassionate and the John Young family took the Davis family in until their crude log house on the bank of the Dead River could be thrown together. Later they built a frame house in Amor Township.
Edmund Wright was the first settler in the area of Wrightstown, a small community six miles west of Bertha. He came with his wife and family in wagons pulled by horses and oxen in 1873. He was an ordained Baptist minister and also a surveyor. He had been a chaplain in the army during the Civil War, enlisting in 1862. He had marched from Fort Ripley to Fort Abercrombie and decided to come back to this area of Minnesota when the war ended.