A Rock for the Pond Brothers

In the 1830′s Samuel and Gideon Pond helped set up missions at Chief Cloud Man’s Dakota village on the shore of Lake Calhoun. The Pond brothers came from Connecticut in hopes of converting the Dakota to Christianity and New England farming practices. They also devised a Dakota alphabet and began translating the Bible into a written Dakota language so they could teach the tribe how to read it. Under constant threat of attack from the Ojibwe, Chief Cloud Man moved his village to the Minnesota River Valley in 1839.

 

In 1877 Colonel William S. King built a grand pavilion on the same spot The Pond’s cabin once stood As part of the opening pomp and circumstance, he called upon Gideon H.Pond to tell the story of his former home and mission. The pavilion was sold to L.F. Menage, who converted it to a hotel. The hotel was later destroyed by fire. Here’s is how Gideon remembered his time on the lake,

“Just forty-three years previous to the occurrence above alluded to, on the same beautiful site, was completed a humble edifice, built by the hands of two inexperienced New England boys, just setting out in lifework. The foundation stones of that hut were removed to make place for the present Pavilion, perchance compose a part of it. The old structure was of oak logs, carefully peeled. The peeling was a mistake. Twelve feet by sixteen and eight feet high were the dimensions of the edifice. Straight poles from the tamarack grove west of the lake, formed the timbers of the roof, and the roof itself was of the bark of trees which grew on the bank of what is now called “Bassett’s Creek,” fastened with strings of the inner bark of the bass-wood. A partition of small logs divided the house into two rooms, and split logs furnished material for a floor. The ceiling was of slabs from the old government saw mill, through the kindness of Major Bliss, who was in command of Fort Snelling. The door was made of boards split from a log with an ax, having wooden hinges and fastenings, and was locked by pulling in the latch string. The single window was the gift of the kind-hearted Major Lawrence Taliafekro, United States Indian agent. The cash cost of the building was one shilling, New York currency, for nails used more and about the door. “The formal opening” exercises, consisted in reading a section from the old book by the name of Bible, and prayer to Him who was its acknowledged author. The “banquet” consisted of mussels from the lake, flour and water. The ground was selected by the Indian chief of the Lake Calhoun band of Dakotas, Man-of-the-Sky, by which he showed good taste. The reason he gave for the selection was, that “from that point the loons would be visible on the lake.” The old chief and his pagan people had their homes on the surface on that ground, in the bosom of which now sleep the bodies of deceased Christians from the city of Minneapolis, the Lake Wood cemetery, over which these old eyes have witnessed, dangling in the night-breeze, many a Chippewa scalp, in the midst of horrid chants, yells and wails, widely contrasting with the present stillness of that quiet home of those who slept the years away.That hut was the home of the first citizen settlers of Hennepin county, perhaps of Minnesota, the first school room, the first house for divine worship, and the first mission station among the Dakota Indians.”