Tricounty News

History Matters - Old St. Anne's Pass legends

(This is the first of a four-part series about the "Old St. Anne's Pass" legends all between 1865 and 1940). You may have heard the claim that three people can watch an accident and each person reports a different cause of what happened. The stories from Old St. Anne's Pass do exactly that. This is a four*part series about legends that have been passed down between generations. Not only were the original stories controversial, but each generation that had participated, may have altered their version. This is why it is so important for today's elders to tell their stories to the youth. These stories do not claim to be the view of any church or religion. In fact, they have been denounced by religious leadership since the beginning. The Old St. Anne's Pass legends began on April 9th 1865. In short, Mary Surratt made a confession to a traveling Priest about plans to kill the president Abraham Lincoln. The Priest was on his way to St. Joseph, Minn., and from the moment he left Washington City, assumed the plot was in place. On the morning of April 14, 1865, the priest met Maine Prairie resident Johann Beckers at the St. Paul train depot. Possibly under the assumption the president was already dead, the Priest disclosed the horrible news to Johann. That Priest continued on to St. Joseph through St. Cloud, and arrived late afternoon. The reason why this is so significant to Old St. Anne's Pass is because the priest and Johann Beckers became friends and together they helped establish the Old St. Anne's church and cemetery. The priest was originally buried in the Old St. Anne's church cemetery before his remains were moved. To most scholars and professional historians, the priest was nothing more than a myth. He did not exist and there is no credible evidence he knew Mary Surratt, John Wilkes Booth or anyone else in Washington City. And yet, on May 10, 1865, a secret regiment of Union troops rode into St. Joseph and interrogated almost the entire village in regards to their knowledge of the plot to kill President Lincoln. It is only assumed that the Union troops were not interested in priests and likely skipped over non-residents of St. Joseph at the time of their interviews. The basis for these statements again is legend. Maine Prairie residents Johann and Elizabeth Beckers were gathering supplies in St. Joseph housed temporarily by priests during the troops visit. It was likely fate that none were interviewed. Additional details exist regarding this legend on file at The Stearns History Museum. ********** We have member Dan Becker to thank for this week's column, with more to follow. Please let us know if you have something you want to share for this column. ********** HOLIDAY POTLUCK: Tuesday, Nov. 27, from 6:30-8 p.m. in Kimball's historic city hall. Come and join us for our first holiday potluck social gathering to discuss what's been happening over the past summer months, followed by an informal meeting. Bring your ideas on what topics you would like covered or what speakers we might be able to obtain for the year 2008. Bring a dish to pass. Beverages and eating utensils will be provided. All are welcome. Bring a friend. No charge. We look forward to this time of fellowship, so hope you can come. ********** Each year, dozens of residents and visitors journey to Kimball to immerse themselves in an exciting chapter of our history. The life-changing events that took place here more than 100 years ago defined us as a community. Today, the values and ideals that gave impulse to those events still bind us together as the Kimball area. Thanks for your continued support through membership. As you know, the responsibility for preserving Kimball belongs to all of us. Through your support, future generations will also have an opportunity to learn about our history and about the men and women who had the courage to leave such rich legacies. You can find The Kimball Historical Society at Box 100, Kimball, Minn. 55353, or at (320) 398-5743, (320) 398-5250 or (800) 252-2521. ********** "History is the Future."