History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How a surname like "Wadsworth" gets around

Move over, Paul and Babe? How about an old Egypt motif? The King Ramses statue presides.
The Wheaton mallard looks trite next to a novelty associated with Wadsworth, Illinois.
What would prompt my curiosity about Wadsworth IL? It's the hometown of our public library director, Melissa Yauk.
Wadsworth includes the pyramid house, the largest 24-karat gold-plated object ever created. You might think it's a tourism plum. But we learn there are "no more tours" of this lavish place. It's the home of an Armenian garage builder name of Jim Onan. Where does one apply to become a garage builder?
We in Morris are brainstorming how to develop tourism. What a push we would get with some unique item like this. The house includes a replica of King Tut's Tomb.
Wadsworth is a relatively young community. The cheery website informs us it's "celebrating 50 years!"
We normally expect cities to the east to have a longer history than Morris. Development poured toward the west, reminding me of what I once read in Mad Magazine about Midwesterners, that "we're descended from the people who headed west and didn't make it." Of course we found many points in between to be quite fine.
The push of European civilization came through here using the Wadsworth Trail. It didn't displace Native Americans because I have always heard there were no permanent Native American settlements here. Yes we're pristine - the pristine prairie, what we hold up as an object of pride for Prairie Pioneer Days.
We all love the prairie although I wish the meadowlarks would come back. I remember the yellow-ish birds and their distinctive sound from my childhood. Hunters celebrate the pheasant - I pine for the meadowlark.
There's no connection between "our" Wadsworth (the name) and the one in Illinois. Our Wadsworth was a U.S. Civil War general: James. Wadsworth IL is named for Julius Wadsworth who was on the board for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, which passes through town.
I have written about the Wadsworth Trail on both my websites. It passed by Wintermute Lake just to the north of here. The Wadsworth Trail ended up at Fort Wadsworth, later to be re-named Fort Sisseton. I don't know why the name change was called for. Maybe celebrating Union war heroes was seen as contradicting the grudging spirit of reconciliation after the war.
Eventually we were supposed to return all captured Confederate battle flags. One in Minnesota got overlooked and it's quite celebrated, having been seized in the battle of Gettysburg. Someone in Minnesota must have had fingers crossed behind his back when the legislation was enacted for returning the flags. You might remember there was a plea to Governor Jesse Ventura for our captured flag to be returned to Virginia, not to any government entity there but to a re-enactors group. Government wouldn't touch such a thing.
Anyone wishing to commemorate the Southern Civil War cause today is left on their own to do so.
Ventura with his standard bravado said "no dice" on the flag. I'm really not sure about this stance. If the U.S. government in its wisdom made a decision on this, it might be best to just get rid of that piece of (very delicate) cloth. "We won," so who cares? Let those re-enactors run their drills as a hobby. Actually Civil War re-enacting is a fascinating pastime. There is a "hardcore" division in which they'll actually eat rancid bacon.
I suspect few people with familiarity with Fort Wadsworth have delved into who, exactly, James Wadsworth was. He lacked military experience when the Civil War started but that was common. He was commissioned major general in the New York state militia in May 1861, and later became brigadier general. He was at the battle of First Manassas.
The scope of the conflict grew and became more grim. Roger Ebert once scolded the makers of a Civil War movie, "Gods and Generals," because it took a "nostalgic" view of the Civil War. Nostalgia implies we should feel some warmth. Nothing could have been more hellish than the U.S. Civil War.
General Wadsworth gained distinction partly because he looked after the welfare of his men with such things as rations and housing. He had a minor role in the Battle of Chancellorsville which is considered a Confederate victory. In reality, any major standoff that included lots of casualties was a loss for the South because they couldn't afford to lose men.
General Wadsworth was more involved in the Battle of Gettysburg which is the most storied Civil War battle. Both sides were torn apart (with the "rifled gun" having become the norm) and the Union was declared victor.
Wadsworth's division bore the brunt of the Confederate attack on July 1, the first of the three days of battle. The idea wasn't to overcome the Confederates at this point. The Union manpower was limited. So the idea, under the leadership of Wadsworth and famed cavalryman John Buford, was to "hold out" vs. the attacks from the west and north. Of prime importance was to buy time to bring up forces to hold the high ground south of town.
Sam Elliott played Buford in his typical rustic way in the movie "Gettysburg." We didn't see Wadsworth. I remember former University of Minnesota-Morris Chancellor Jack Imholte regretting we didn't see the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment represented in the movie. Imholte wrote a well-known book about that regiment.
Unfortunately we lost General Wadsworth in the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. The war was grinding to its inevitable conclusion. General Wadsworth received a posthumous brevet promotion to major general on May 6, 1864. The fort in South Dakota was named for him that same year. Wadsworth, Nevada, was also named in his honor.
In my posts about the Wadsworth Trail, I noted that when I was a child I always thought of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow when hearing about the trail. I also attended the elementary school in west Morris named "Longfellow." It's an office building now, no longer needed as a school since the boomers' heyday is long past. Do we as a society ever want to go through that again? (The oldest boys could throw a rubber ball all the way onto the roof.)
I remember as a kid getting familiar with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha." He wrote lyric poems and I'm sure could have penned something endearing about the Wadsworth Trail. One could easily imagine a Louis L'Amour novel, like maybe "Wadsworth Trail Sunset."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was known for stories of mythology and legend. He gave us "Paul Revere's Ride" and "Evangeline."
Sarah Palin told us Paul Revere rode to "warn the British" that we had guns. Hmmm.
I remember when a child in Morris wrote about how century-old stories from Morris history had a depressing tone, and he made up his own example: "Farmer Bob buys cow, gets run over by a train." We laughed at the newspaper office about that, not at the child but with him, because it was parody. I'm reminded of this when reading about how Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's second wife died. She died in 1861 after sustaining burns when her dress caught fire. The 19th Century could indeed be a grim time.
Can you imagine the kind of challenges travelers to the west experienced along the Wadsworth Trail? And today we're worried about drivers wearing their seat belt.
Morris was established (as a tent town) in 1871. But my goodness, it wasn't until 1962 that our librarian Yauk's hometown of Wadsworth IL came into being. When discussing this town with the now-defunct "City Connections" publication, she recalled it having a population of about 500, making it quite Mayberry-like. The website today says it has a little over 3000 population.
That pyramid house sounds like something that might even be beyond Mitt Romney's means (rimshot). Only in America? The house covers 17,000 square feet and has six stories. We can marvel at a triple-pyramid garage and 64-foot tall statue of Ramses.
Yes, such a novelty would be quite the tourist attraction for our Morris. Too bad we never had a Ralph Englestad type of benefactor minus the Nazi baggage. (You'll recall the late Englestad as the guy who funded the Grand Forks hockey palace with so many Fighting Sioux logos, it will take herculean efforts to ever remove all of them.)
As I have written before, Morris does quite fine with certain assets attracting people. Events at UMM and the Lee Center have filled the bill well. So, the giant mallard or statue of Ramses are probably just not needed. There's a nice bald eagle chainsaw sculpture about six miles north of Morris, at the Boettchers'.
We're trying to resurrect Perkins Resort on Perkins Lake (or Pomme de Terre Lake, or whatever it's called), but the brakes could be put on that by neighborhood conflict. Let's all just relax and rely on the attributes we have such as the Morris Public Library.
Because it reflects 1970s architecture, no way will the library building be considered distinctive. One of the most memorable cartoons by the late Del Holdgrafer was about the "Indian mounds" in front. Let's remember that both the library mall and UMM campus mall were flat at one time. Those humps of soil, or "mounds," probably reflected 1970s ideas too because you could argue they're pointless (i.e. from the pointless decade).
Del Sarlette and I remember hippies flying kites on the UMM campus mall each spring - a true harbinger. Those were some real "Zonkers" (from Doonesbury).
All this civilization was made possible by the Wadsworth Trail and the victorious efforts of military men like James Wadsworth.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow could write a poem.
Let's add a footnote about what the Internet surname database tells us about "Wadsworth": "This unusual and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is a locational surname deriving from the place called Wadsworth near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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