Friday, April 23, 2010

Neglecting Hospitality

Moreau Centre was the first town in what's now Fox County. Pierre Moreau founded the town in 1838, when the Iowa Territory was organized. All that's left of it now is a small cemetery and a few foundations.

I asked a historian or two: and nobody seems to know a great deal about Pierre Moreau, the town's founder, and only a little more about Moreau Center. On the other hand, there are a few stories.

Moreau Centre was on one of the Red River Cart trails and grew. Slowly. Then, in 1858, Minnesota became a state, By 1860, it had a post office, a church, and a school. A few years later, the town almost became a center of trade and industry in the region.

One of those historians, David Schmidt, says this is one of those stories that everyone apparently heard from someone else. Still, I think it makes a good story:

It was well after sunset when a dapper clerk at the Moreau Centre Hotel heard dogs barking outside. Then a snow-caked man strode in the door and up to the desk. The aroma accompanying him identified him as the dogsled driver.

This disreputable-looking person wanted a night's lodging.

The clerk sniffed and informed this man that he might find accommodations in the stable, down the street.

Next year surveyors came through, marking the railroad's route. Well away from Moreau Centre.

That disreputable-looking person was James J. Hill, making a personal inspection of possible routes for his enterprise.

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