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Hallock courthouse, 1910

Hallock courthouse, 1910
Kittson Census Information
Estab:  March 9, 1878
Parent County:  Unorganized Territory
Kittson 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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Kittson County

Forming the northwest corner of this state, Kittson County was established by being thus renamed, March 9, 1878, and by reduction from its area, creating Marshall County, February 25, 1879. Previously it had been a part of Pembina County, one of the nine large counties into which the new Minnesota Territory was originally divided, October 27, 1849. It was named in honor of Norman Wolfred Kittson, one of the leading pioneers of the territory and state. He was born in Sorel, Canada, March 5, 1814; came to the area that afterward was Minnesota in 1834, and during four years was engaged in the sutler's department at Fort Snelling; was later a fur trader on his own account and became manager for the American Fur Company in northern Minnesota; engaged in transportation business, at Fort Snelling, Pembina, and St. Paul; was a member of the territorial legislature, 1851-55, and mayor of St. Paul, 1858; became director of steamboat traffic on the Red River for the Hudson's Bay Company in 1864; and established a line of steamers and barges known as the Red River Transportation Company, whence he was often called "Commodore." He died suddenly, May 10, 1888, on a railway train in his journey of return to Minnesota from the East. The Cathedral of the Archdiocese of St. Paul is built on the site of his home.

With the adoption of the present name of Kittson County, the former Pembina County ceased to exist in Minnesota, but it is still represented by a North Dakota county bearing that name, on the opposite side of the Red River. It was first the name of a river there, was thence applied to an early fur trade post at the junction of this stream with the Red River, was given in 1849 to the great Pembina County, and later to the town that became the county seat of its part in Dakota Territory, near the site of the old trading post. William H. Keating wrote, in his narrative of Maj. Stephen H. Long's expedition in 1823, that it was derived from the Ojibwe word for the fruit of the bush cranberry, "anepeminan, which name has been shortened and corrupted into Pembina." This tall bush (Viburnum opulus) is common along the Pembina and Red Rivers, as also through the north half of Minnesota, and its fruit is much used for sauce by the Ojibwe and the white people. Edward D. Neill translated the name as follows (History of Minnesota, p. 868): "The Pembina river, called by Thompson 'Summer Berry,' was named after a red berry which the Chippeways call Nepin (summer) Minan (berry), and this by the voyageurs has been abbreviated to Pembina."