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La Crescent Area Historical Society to unveil historical markers

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The La Crescent Area Historical Society will unveil two outdoor historical markers on Thursday, Oct. 14, and Saturday, Oct. 16. Both markers tell the story of an 1832 land survey, the first in Houston County.

Nathan Boone, son of Daniel Boone, was the deputy surveyor ordered by the government to mark the boundaries of the Neutral Ground, with the northeast corner in what is now La Crescent. With Boone was a seven-man crew plus representatives of the Dakota and Sauk peoples and an Indian agent.

The markers feature a full color poster with text, pictures, and maps. The marker on Shore Acres Road, along the Wagon Wheel Trail, will be unveiled at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14. That poster shows the true location of the northeast corner of the Neutral Ground at N62 degrees 20 minutes E 300 feet from the marker. A similar marker on Skunk Hollow Road will be unveiled at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16. It shows where the north line of the Neutral Ground crosses Skunk Hollow Road.

The Neutral Ground was a large swath of land that separated the hunting area of some Dakota peoples to the north from the hunting area of the Sauk and Meskwaki peoples to the south. It was 40 miles wide with the northeast corner in La Crescent and the north boundary stretching southwest into Iowa’s midsection. It included areas of Houston County that became La Crescent, Brownsville, Caledonia, Eitzen, Hokah, and Spring Grove.

An indoor banner commemorating the 1832 survey and also containing text, pictures, and maps, will be on display at the History Center at 328 So. 3rd St. in La Crescent from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, with project leaders available to answer questions. Accessible parking is available behind the buildings and on Oak Street.

Separately, the Houston County Historical Society, a project partner, will announce a date when its Boone land survey display will open.

In addition, the La Crescent Public Library, another project partner, has a special display of books that were used in the research for the Historical Society’s project. The books will circulate after the marker unveilings. Information about the 1832 survey also will be posted on lacrescenthistory.org and its Facebook page.

Don Thesing, president of the Historical Society, said that he, Richard Walter, and Mary McLaughlin spent the past year consulting experts to prepare the in-depth research that led to the project funding. They were able to draw on the expertise of two project advisors: Gwen Westerman, a scholar of Dakota history and language and a professor in English at Minnesota State University, Mankato; and Don Borcherding, a licensed professional surveyor with 45 years’ experience in land surveying, survey research, and survey history.

Thesing further credits the City of La Crescent and La Crescent Township for their early involvement and support. As a result, he has heard from local organizations and groups interested in walking or biking to the markers.

The Boone survey project is made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

In accepting the grant, the La Crescent Area Historical Society agreed that any views, findings, opinions, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project are those of the Historical Society and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.

Thesing further credits the City of La Crescent and La Crescent Township for their early involvement and support. As a result, he has heard from local organizations and groups interested in walking or biking to the markers.

The Boone survey project is made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. In accepting the grant, the La Crescent Area Historical Society agreed that any views, findings, opinions, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project are those of the Historical Society and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.

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