By Brent E. Frazier, mayor
City of Pelican Rapids

What are the roots?

The word root is defined as the part of the plant which attaches it to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches and fibers.

Just as a tree and a plant have roots, so do organizations, nations, communities, and people.

These roots lay the foundation of the beginning existence of such entities and thus grow on the series of events that will lead up to the current “snapshot in history.”

As a person traces their family tree, one will find many surprises and past unknowns, which are now revealed to the researcher.

These roots are our history and our branches from the past that we cannot change. If the past has not been encouraging and uplifting, we can now strive to build upon it in a positive and encouraging manner. Some other surprises of the past may become beneficial for the future, and some may be history that we want to share and “proclaim from the mountaintop.”

These roots trace back to our heritage, culture, and possibly “why we do the things that we do.”

We all can remember the years of our youth when we studied world history and American history. We learned of events that changed the world, such as; The Trojan War, The 1st Persian War, the establishment of Maoist China, the discovery of America, the invention of the automobile, and World War I and World II, to list just a few.

These events may have seemed somewhat unimportant to the young student at the time when we were then instructed to memorize dates, places, and people. Later on in life, when we tuned in to the radio and turned on the television, we heard the news of the current events that can be traced back to that early history or roots of the past from our history classroom.

With all events and happenings, we find the following branches of history; political history, diplomatic history, cultural history, social history, economic history, religious history, and intellectual history.

Pelican’s history explored in walking tour June 17

The Pelican Rapids Press building was among the stops on the June 17 walking tour of Pelican Rapids, presented by Chris Schuelke, executive director of the Otter Tail Historical Society.

The City of Pelican Rapids has very interesting roots that can be traced back to before its incorporation as a city on May 22, 1883.

On the Friday evening of June 17, Chris Schuelke, Executive Director for the Otter Tail County Historical Society, conducted a walking tour of downtown Pelican Rapids (between East Mill Avenue and 1st Avenue North West).

Mr. Schuelke told of the early history of Pelican Rapids, which included; stories of the first settlers, the first log cabin in Pelican Rapids in 1869, the history of our banking institutions and local businesses, the architectural features of downtown buildings, the shooting and death of a man on December 18, 1954, at the Pure Oil Station, the history of liquor sales in Pelican, the death of a horse in the 1958 Diamond Jubilee Parade, the first newspaper in Pelican Rapids, the origins of West Central Turkeys and immigration to our community, the Grand Hotel and characters such as swindler Lord Gordon Gordon and entrepreneur R. L. Frazee.

Much of this information had been previously made available to Mr. Schuelke by the labors of our local historian Ms. Marguerite Andrews.

Ms. Andrews conducted many past interviews with local citizens and “did her homework” by referencing past newspapers and written transcripts.

Community history also available at Pelican library

A lot, and much more information relating to the roots of Pelican can be found in the 1958 Pelican Diamond Jubilee book entitled “75 Years of Progress” and the 1983 Pelican Centennial book entitled “A Century At The Rapids.” Both of these books can be found at the Pelican Rapids Public Library for your visual and reading pleasure.

Yes, just as your family has its’ roots, so has the City of Pelican Rapids have its’ roots.

Please find out for yourself as these two books are very educational and great reading material for young and elderly alike.

Roots, roots, and roots. Everything, everyone, and every place have roots.

Pelican Rapids Press building dates to 1909; newspaper marks 125 years of continuous publication

(from the Otter Tail County Historical Society files, director Chris Schuelke )

Charles Cranston established the Pelican Rapids Press in 1897. He sold the paper to E.L. Peterson, who had come from Rice County.

The Press was not the first newspaper in Pelican Rapids. In 1882, A. DeLacy Wood started the Pelican Rapids Times. The Times had several owners until it was purchased by A.E. Rathbun. In his History of Otter Tail County, John Mason credits Rathbun with establishing the first newspaper in Pelican, which is not correct.

The Press was originally located in the basement of the post office, which is currently the Strand Hardware lot. E.L. Peterson had this building constructed in 1909 with J.P. Larson the contractor (note JPL on the front). Peterson purchased the mold for the concrete blocks, which were then made on site. When the building was finished, the mold was sold to a Mr. Gilbertson, who had a gravel pit on South Broadway. Gilbertson continued to make and sell this unique type of concrete block for some years.

The Press remained in the Peterson family until sold by the late Gary and brother Richard Peterson in 2002.