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Devil's Chair, 1910.

Devil's Chair, 1910.
Chisago Census Information
Estab:  September 1, 1851
Parent Counties:  Washington, Ramsey
Chisago county with county seat

Southeast region of Minnesota Southwest region of Minnesota Northwest region of Minnesota Northeast region of Minnesota Central region of Minnesota

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Chisago County

Established September 1, 1851, and organized October 14 of that year, this county bears a name proposed by William H. C. Folsom of Taylors Falls, who wrote of its organization and the derivation of the name as follows (Fifty Years in the Northwest, 1888, pp. 298-99 and 306):
"The county takes the name of its largest and most beautiful lake. In its original, or rather aboriginal form, it was Ki-chi-sago, from two Chippewa words meaning 'kichi,' large and 'saga,' fair or lovely. For euphonic considerations the first syllable was dropped.
"This lake is conspicuous for its size, the clearness of its waters, its winding shore and islands, its bays, peninsulas, capes, and promontories. It has fully fifty miles of meandering shore line. Its shores and islands are well timbered with maple and other hard woods. It has no waste swamps, or marsh borders. When the writer first came to Taylor's Falls, this beautiful lake was unknown to fame. No one had seen it or could point out its location. Indians brought fish and maple sugar from a lake which they called Kichi-saga sagiagan, or 'large and lovely lake.' This lake, they said, abounded with 'kego,' fish. . . .
"The movement for the organization of a new county from the northern part of Washington commenced in the winter of 1851-52. A formidable petition to the legislature to make such organization, drawn up and circulated by Hon. Ansel Smith, of Franconia, and the writer, was duly forwarded, presented and acquiesced in by that body. The writer had been selected to visit the capital in the interest of the petitioners. Some difficulty arose as to the name. The writer had proposed 'Chi-sa-ga.' This Indian name was ridiculed, and Hamilton, Jackson, Franklin, and Jefferson, were in turn proposed. The committee of the whole finally reported in favor of the name, Chisaga, but the legislature, in passing the bill for our county organization, by clerical or typographical error changed the last 'a' in 'saga' to 'o,' which, having become the law, has not been changed."

In Frederic Baraga's A Dictionary of the Ojibway Language the second of the two Ojibwe words, saga, used by Folsom to form this name, is spelled sasega, or sasegamagad, being defined, "It is fair, it is ornamented, splendid." In pronunciation, this name Chisago has the English sound of Ch, and it accents the second syllable, preferably with a as in father (but in prevailing use taking the broad sound as in fall).