Social Life in Early Koochiching County

Next: The Homesteaders

Despite the nearly impassable roads and the vast distances between settlers, the pioneers were not to be denied their social life. Even in the most remote areas there was a social life, however simple it might be. In the earliest days perhaps the most common, in all parts of the county, would be just walking many miles to visit a neighbor. One could always be assured of a warm welcome, food and an invitation to spend the night if the distance was far.

The school buildings were often the center of much of the social life. Here were held church and Sunday School services, box and pie socials, Christmas and Halloween parties, 4th of July celebrations, picnics and various club meetings. As early as 1904 we read of 4th of July celebrations complete with parades, bands and fireworks. Sleigh rides were popular, as were house and barn building bees. Dancing in the various homes was almost a weekly Saturday night event. Often people would walk up to 8 or 10 miles to attend. During the winter months horses and sleighs were the mode of travel. Each family supplied food and by some strange coincidence there was usually someone present who was adept at fiddle-playing and was willing to oblige until the early morning hours. Whole families attended these affairs; the young on becoming tired, were bedded down on a pile of coats and jackets in a corner. The horses were unhitched, covered with blankets and provided with hay and feed. With the breaking of day each family piled into their hay-filled sleigh, and with drooping eyes and bodies weary from a night of fun and merriment wended their way to their wilderness home.
Better Travel Conditions
As roads were improved and means of travel became easier the social life became more varied. Communities sprang up, halls and churches were built, movie houses came into existence and various clubs, lodges and other organizations came into being.

Old Settlers Picnic 1931 Grand Mound, Laurel

Settlers sitting under trees, having a picnic
As early as 1913 we have records of a Woodman Lodge with a membership of between 40 and 50 being in existence at Fairland, Minnesota, a remote community in the northwestern part of the county.

Life for the pioneers was hard but rewarding. Close friends, trusting neighbors and many willing helping hands were joys to be remembered and cherished.

Next: The Age of Mining