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Asahel Gunn Jr.
Lucy Root Gunn
Isaac Morley
Lucy Gunn

Editha Morley


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Editha Morley

  • Born: 25 Jan 1818, Geauga County, Ohio
  • Died: 30 Mar 1893, Clitherall, Otter Tail County, Minnesota at age 75
  • Buried: Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Clitherall, Otter Tail County, Minnesota, Plot: # 41

bullet  Noted events in her life were:

General History: Fergus Falls Daily Journal, 1865, Clitherall, Otter Tail County, Minnesota. CUTLERITE COLONY SETTLED AT CLITHERALL IN MAY, 1865

Only seven years after Minnesota became a state in 1858 the first permanent settlement was made in Otter Tail County. A group of Cutlerites, a branch of Latter Day Saints, arrived on the north shore of Clitherall Lake May 6, 1865. Settlements were made earlier at Otter Tail City and Dayton Hollow but Indian outbreaks kept them from becoming permanent.

No other group in the county has left such a complete record of early days as the Clitherall group. Noteworthy histories written by F. L. Whiting, Alta Kimber and Hallie M. Gould have been preserved by the Otter Tail County Historical society.

Religious motives led the settlers north from Mills County, Iowa. Originally they were part of a religious body generally called Mormons. The founder and leader was Joseph Smith. After his death in Illinois in 1884 the church became scattered and no one was recognized by me whole group as the leader. Brigham Young led a large faction to Utah in 1817. At a place called Winter Quarters, near the present site of Omaha, several groups became dissatisfied and were cut off from the church. Among them were the families who later moved to Clitherall.

Leader of a branch called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was Alpheus Cutler. The Cutlerites, besides being persecuted for their religious belief, were unpopular near the Missouri border because they were against slavery. The Cutlerites also felt they had a mission to preach the gospel to the Indians and plans were made for migration of the colony, between 35 and 40 families.

Father Cutler died before their departure and Chauncey Whiting was made the leader. A vanguard of seven familie with 41 in the group set out in September, 1884. In the group were Mr and Mrs. F. L. Whiting and their five children, Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Fletcher and five children, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Burdick and son Kary, Mr. and Mrs. John Fletcher, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Whiting, his sisters Cormelia, Mr. and Mrs. Marcus Shaw, Lewis Denna, Erastus Cutler, James Badliam and DeWitt Sperry. The wives of Deanna Cutler, Bedham and Sperry stayed in Iowa until the second migration.

With oxen or horses the seven families started north on a journey of over 700 miles in the face of winter. Due to weather they decided to stay at Red Wing until spring.

Three men, F. L. Willing, S. J. Whiting and I. 0. Denna, left for Crow Wing Nov. 3. They conferred with the Rev. John Johnson, an Indian who gave friendly assistance, and returned to Red Wing.

The whole group started north April 6 the next year. A blizzard struck a few days later and raged for three days. Their covered wagons were their only shelter but they all withstood the storm. Roads were blocked but warm rain fell as if in answer to their prayers. A deserted lumber camp provided quarters after a day's march. One day their trail led through a burning forest. Surrounded by hazards, they kept going, repaired a burned bridge and got to safety.

At Crow Wing Mrs. S. J. Whiting and Mrs. Shaw decided to stay and wait for the second migration. On April 14, the day Lincoln was shot, Mrs. Whiting gave birth to a son.

The band reached Otter Tail Lake and found Otter Tail City abandoned. Then they camped overnight on the north shore of Battle Lake before deciding on settlement at Clitherall May 6.

"The pioneer committee," according to F. M. Whiting's memoir's, received information through the gift of prophecy while in fervent supplication to God, that this was the place for the location of the church."

Before they built shelters the colony broke up 60 acres of prairie soil and put in crops. Their log cabins had dirt or puncheon floors and the roof's were covered with hand-sewn shakes.

The second colony of 23 families left Manti, Iowa, the last of May and arrived at the new settlement July 31.

This area of the county had been the disputed hunting ground of the Sioux and the Chippewa and the Clitherall settlers were warned of the risk involved. Deciding to make a treaty, they met with 37 Indian chiefs at Crow Wing and an agreement was signed. The treaty with the same provisions for both parties was never broken.

Lewis Denna, one of the members of the Clitherall colony, was an Oneida chief from New York who had cast his lot with the Mormons and gone with them to Ohio and finally to Minnesota. His wife was a white woman and the only Indian custom he retained was wearing long hair. He was buried in the old Clitherall Cemetery.

The closely knit colonists were almost entirely independent economically. They imported flour the first year but after that only iron had to come from an outside source.

Four homesteads were used in common. Labor, tools and produce were shared. Wild game furnished meat. Maple trees on the north shore of Battle Lake provided sugar, syrup and vinegar.

Nearly every home took part in some kind of manufacturing\emdash wagons, cloth, shoes, tools or tinware. Clitherall chairs can be found today in many homes where they are cherished as antiques.

The first store was one room in S. J. Whiting's homewhere shoes and dry goods were sold. A bear paw nailed to the gate post indicated bear meat was available at Hyrum Murdock's tavern.

St. Cloud, 100 miles away, was the nearest post office at first. Later it was carried one winter from Alexandria by dog sled and Indian. Mail went to Otter Tail City when settlers relocated and eventually a stage made regular trips.

Before the railroad came in 1881 and the town moved northeast a short distance, Old Clitherall had 40 to 50 buildings. The Otter Tail Historical society preserved one building at the site of the old town but later it blew down.

Clitherall was the first township organized in the county Oct. 24, 1868. The township had the first school in the county. First teacher in the winter of 1867 was Zeruah Sherman. A daughter of one of the settlers, she had attended college in Iowa. Her salary was $16 a month paid by subscription and she had 30 pupils.

Clitherall Lake was named for Major George B. Clitherall, Unlted States land agent at Otter Tail City from 1858 to 1861. His name was found carved on a tree near the lake. He was a native of Alabama and an advocate of slavery. He joined the Confederacy at the beginning of the war.

The community of temporate, industrious, law-abiding people Clitherall was the first town- gave the county its first auditor, S. J. Whiting; the first two county superintendents of schools was Wm. Corliss and E. E. Corliss and two members of the first county board, Marcus Shaw and Chancey Whiting.

Norwegian Immigrants followed the Cutlerites to Catherall township and came in numbers about 1870. They too endured fierce winters, grasshoppers and Indian scares while helping develop the conty.

Camp Corliss on Clitherall Lake was one of the first summer resorts in the county. While descendants of early settlers are scattered many of them come each summer to the beauty spot where their families settled over 90 years ago.

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