A local Bottineau man is working with an organization in Minnesota to the preserve the land and history of the local community’s namesake, Pierre Bottineau.

A local Bottineau man is working with an organization in Minnesota to the preserve the land and history of the local community’s namesake, Pierre Bottineau.

The local individual is Tim Brosseau and he has spent a great deal of time in his life learning about Bottineau, because he finds him to be an intriguing man for a number of reasons.

“Pierre Bottineau was a man of his time as a guide, making agreements amongst
people of different cultures, and a facilitator in the advancement of settlement,” Brosseau said. “He played an important part in these areas when it comes to Minnesota and North Dakota.”

Brosseau is original from Red Lake Falls, Minn., which is where Bottineau spent the last 20 years of his life. It is this land in Red Lake Falls that Brosseau is attempting to preserve in the history of time.

“Bottineau settled in Red Lake Falls in the 1870s and died there in 1895,” Brosseau said. “He was the founder of Red Lake Falls and owned land there, which was part of his pension that was given to him by the state of Minnesota for the work he did in the state as a guide for surveyors of the railroads, road crews and settlements.

“He was also an interpreter and spoke around seven languages. People called him the Walking Peace Pipe because he was a real life ambassador in making people come together.”

In his retirement, Brosseau has been going back and forth to Red Lake Falls to not only visit family but to be part of a number of historical organizations that have dealings in Bottineau’s life, one of which is The OXBOW Louisville Foundation at Old Crossing, which is currently working on preserving the land that was once owned by Bottineau.

“We are trying to make this land known and available for historical and cultural studies,” Brosseau said. “We want people to know what was going on in this part of the world when it was settled and Pierre’s part in it.”

An individual who plays an important of the OXBOW organization is Virgil Benoit, a retired professor of French from UND who now makes his home in Red Lake Falls and owns the land that Bottineau owned.

“This is all spearheaded by Virgil,” Brosseau said. “Virgil actually spoke at the dedication of the Pierre Bottineau statue at the courthouse and is familiar with all things Bottineau.”

“Since Virgil has been a historian and lecturer of Pierre Bottineau, he thought it would be significant to keep the land.”

Brosseau said that little is known about the land Bottineau owned, but OXBOW does know that Bottineau built a red brick house on the land, had a cistern near the brick house and a child who died and was buried on property in an unmark grave.

When it comes to the land, it has changed ownership two or three times since Bottineau’s death in 1895, and it has been utilized as farm land at times since that date.

It appears, too, that the brick house was bulldozed sometime in the 1950s and pushed over a cliff into a river bed.
“We surveyed the land and believe we have found the house that was pushed over a cliff and into the river,” Brosseau said. “That wasn’t unusually in those days because once the water becomes high in the spring of the year the debris floats away.

“We did find some bricks and metal fittings from the chimney there, and we believe these are the bricks from Bottineau’s house because we know that no other brick buildings were built in that area.”

The group has also found the foundation of the house, along with the cistern that was near the foundation, but have not yet located the child’s grave.

As the work continues in Red Lake Falls, Brosseau said that OXBOW will continue to bring new light to the land.

“We are beginning to place Pierre Bottineau’s land together,” Brosseau said. “We want to fill in the stories a little bit more.”