Rev. J. Calhoun was a highly-cultured gentleman, a Presbyterian clergyman, and one of those urbane men who add force and dignity to any opinion. His wife was Gen. Lowrie’s only sister. He preached gratuitously in St. Cloud, and Border Ruffianism and Slavery gained respectability through their connection, when he and his wife made that fatal plunge off the bridge in St. Cloud—a plunge which sent a thrill of horror through the land. I accompanied my sympathetic, respectful obituary notice, with the statement that the costly cutter wrecked, and the valuable horse instantly killed, were both purchased with money obtained by the sale of a woman and her child, who had been held as slaves in Minnesota, in defiance of her law, and been taken by this popular divine to a Tennessee auction block.
The accident was entirely owing to the unprecedented and unaccountable behavior of that horse, and people shuddered with a new horror on being reminded of the price which had been paid for him—bodies and souls of two citizens and the honor of that free State.
The culture which the pale faces introduced into that land of the Dakotas was sometimes curious. The first sermon I heard there was preached in Rockville—a town-site on the Sauk, twelve miles from its confluence with the Mississippi—in a store-room of which the roof was not yet shingled. The only table in the town served as a pulpit; the red blankets from one wagon were converted into cushions for the front pews, which consisted of rough boards laid on trussles. There was only one hymn book, and after reading the hymn, the preacher tendered the book to any one who would lead the singing, but no one volunteered. My scruples about psalms seemed to vanish, so I went forward, took the book, lined out the hymn, and started a tune, which was readily taken up and sung by all present. We were well satisfied with what the day brought us, as we rode home past those wonderful granite rocks which spring up out of the prairie, looking like old hay-ricks in a meadow.
There were people in our frontier town who would have graced any society, and with the elasticity of true culture adapted themselves to all circumstances. At my residence, which adjoined the Democrat office, I held fortnightly receptions, at which dancing was the amusement, and coffee and sandwiches the refreshments. At one of these, I had the honor to entertain Gov. Ramsey, Lieut.-Gov. Donnelly, State Treas. Shaeffer, and a large delegation from St. Paul; but not having plates for seventy people, I substituted squares of white printing paper. When Gov. Ramsey received his, he turned it over, and said:
“What am I to do with this?”
“That is the ticket you are to vote,” was the answer.
In our social life there was often a weird mingling of civilization and barbarism. Upon one occasion, a concert was given, in which the audience were in full dress, and all evening in the principal streets of St. Cloud a lot of Chippewas played foot-ball with the heads of some Sioux, with whom they had been at war that day.