November 4, 2013

Meet Pierre Bottineau

Posted in Bottineau, History, Life, Photos, Pictures tagged , , at 11:04 pm by stonebankblog

Would the Stone Bank exist if not for Pierre Bottineau? Maybe. Maybe not.

Bottineau, N.D., is named for Pierre Bottineau, a French-Canadian fur trapper, guide and surveyor. He is credited with founding cities across Minnesota and North Dakota.

Bottineau, ND

Pierre Bottineau spoke several languages, which made him invaluable to those he guided through the unsettled areas north and west of the Twin Cities.

What I find so interesting is that Pierre lived in the Twin Cities and traveled extensively across the region — as far as Bottineau County in far-way North Dakota and beyond. For those of us who know that 500+ mile drive on paved roads, it’s amazing to think how far this incredible man rambled.

Bottineau County ND

So, how far did he walk? A very long way. And he did it many times or rode horse.

I have read that he once owned (briefly) Nicollet Island in Minneapolis — won it in a card game. Today, I found a photo online that said that he also owned land in Lowertown in Saint Paul. This guy was really amazing.

Bottineau, ND

Photo shows Lowertown, Saint Paul in 1851 showing the land claim of Pierre Bottineau.

Well, no wonder we have a statue of Pierre Bottineau on the courthouse lawn in Bottineau (only about four blocks from the Stone Bank). Here is a link to a very good summary of Mr. Bottineau‘s life and accomplishments. He really is someone to admire.

Pierre Bottineau statue

The Pierre Bottineau statue graces the lawn of the county courthouse in Bottineau, N.D.

According the Wikipedia, Pierre Bottineau’s talents were invaluable to the U.S. government during the early settlement era, and when he retired, the U.S. Congress granted him a pension of $50 a month. He died in Red Lake Falls, Minn., at the age of 78.

He never saw the Stone Bank — but I am betting that he would have approved of our fine stone building. At least, I hope he would have. It’s a tangible connection between us and the pioneers who settled in Bottineau. It is truly humbling to think about how brave they were and how hard they worked to carve towns like Bottineau out of the prairie.

Restoring the Stone Bank is no walk in the park, but compared to what Pierre Bottineau and the pioneers lived — we are kind of walking in the park.

Thanks for taking the journey with us, and thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog. See you back here tomorrow.



  1. Mark H said,

    Love the blog entries! A Stone Bank fan and supporter, Mark H

  2. tuxedofiles said,

    He looks Acadian, Metis, perhaps.

    • I believe he was what we would call Metis. Here’s some information from his bio from the Red Lake County Historical Society:
      “Pierre Bottineau was born in 1817 in the Red River Country at Bear Point, near the mouth of the Turtle River. He was the son of Joseph (some accounts say “Charles”) Bottineau and Clear Sky, a Chippewa Indian woman, also called “Margaret”. Joseph, who was born in France of Huguenot ancestry, came to this country with his parents to enjoy religious freedom. After living in Boston for a time, he journeyed into the wilderness, and it was there that he met the Indian girl whom he married.

      Pierre inherited characteristics from both parents that served him well. He is described as being over six feet tall, weighing around 200 pounds. One old biographical sketch described him as having “piercing black eyes”, and adds that he was of “attractive appearance in spite of his swarthy complexion. He was naturally of manly instincts and gentlemanly deportment, polite, agreeable and of a kindly disposition, and always true to his word and to his fellow men.”

      • tuxedofiles said,

        I love the description of him. I thought I detected a mixed blood. Not bad as far as founding fathers go.

  3. When I was younger, I often heard him described as a “French-Canadian fur trapper.” It’s clear that he was so much more than that. He’s one of those people I want to meet when someone perfects the time travel machine. Can you imagine the stories he could tell?

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