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Reminiscences of Pioneer Days in St. Paul by Frank Moore

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received a wound in the thigh, disabling him from further service
during the battle. After Capt. Munch was wounded Lieut. Pfaender took
command of the battery, and he had a horse shot from under him during
the day. On the morning of April 7, Gen. Buell having arrived, the
battery was held in reserve and did not participate in the battle
that day. The First battery was the only organization from Minnesota
engaged in the battle, and their conduct in the fiercest of the
struggle, and in changing position in face of fire from the whole
rebel line, was such as to receive the warmest commendation from the
commanding officer. It was the first battle in which they had taken
part, and as they had only received their guns and horses a few weeks
before, they had not had much opportunity for drill work. Their
terrible execution at critical times convinced the rebels that they
had met a foe worthy of their steel.

* * * * *

Among the many thousands left dead and dying on the blood-stained
field of Pittsburg Landing there was one name that was very dear in
the hearts of the patriotic people of St. Paul,--a name that was as
dear to the people of St. Paul as was the memory of the immortal
Ellsworth to the people of Chicago. Capt. William Henry Acker, while
marching at the head of his company, with uplifted sword and with
voice and action urging on his comrades to the thickest of the fray,
was pierced in the forehead by a rebel bullet and fell dead upon the
ill-fated field.

Before going into action Capt. Acker was advised by his comrades not
to wear his full uniform, as he was sure to be a target for rebel
bullets, but the captain is said to have replied that if he had to die
he would die with his harness on. Soon after forming his command into
line, and when they had advanced only a few yards, he was singled out
by a rebel sharpshooter and instantly killed--the only man in the.
company to receive fatal injuries. "Loved, almost adored, by the
company," says one of them, writing of the sad event, "Capt. Acker's
fall cast a deep shadow of gloom over his command." It was but for
a moment. With a last look at their dead commander, and with the
watchword 'this for our captain,' volley after volley from their guns
carried death into the ranks of his murderers. From that moment but
one feeling seemed to possess his still living comrades--that of
revenge for the death of their captain. How terribly they carried out
that purpose the number of rebel slain piled around the vicinity of
his body fearfully attest.

The announcement of the death of Capt. Acker was a very severe blow to
his relatives and many friends in this city. No event thus far in the
history of the Rebellion had brought to our doors such a realizing
sense of the sad realities of the terrible havoc wrought upon the
battlefield. A noble life had been sacrificed in the cause of
freedom--one more name had been added to the long death roll of the
nation's heroes.

Capt. Acker was born a soldier--brave, able, popular and
courteous--and had he lived would undoubtedly been placed high in rank
long before the close of the rebellion. No person ever went to the
front in whom the citizens of St. Paul had more hope for a brilliant
future. He was born in New York State in 1833, and was twenty-eight
years of age at the time of his death. He came to St. Paul in 1854 and
commenced the study of law in the office of his brother-in-law, Hon.
Edmund Rice. He did not remain long in the law business, however, but
soon changed to a position in the Bank of Minnesota, which had just
been established by ex-Gov. Marshall. For some time he was captain of
the Pioneer Guards, a company which he was instrumental in forming,
and which was the finest military organization in the West at
that time. In 1860 he was chosen commander of the Wide-Awakes, a
marching-club, devoted to the promotion of the candidacy of Abraham
Lincoln, and many of the men he so patiently drilled during that
exciting campaign became officers in the volunteer service in that
great struggle that soon followed. Little did the captain imagine at
that time that the success of the man whose cause he espoused would so
soon be the means of his untimely death. At the breaking out of the
war Capt. Acker was adjutant general of the State of Minnesota, but he
thought he would be of more use to his country in active service and
resigned that position and organized a company for the First Minnesota
regiment, of which he was made captain. At the first battle of Bull
Run he was wounded, and for his gallant action was made captain in
the Seventeenth United States Regulars, an organization that had
been recently created by act of congress. The Sixteenth regiment was
attached to Buell's army, and participated in the second day's battle,
and Cat. Acker was one of the first to fall on that terrible day,
being shot in the identical spot in the forehead where he was wounded
at the first battle of Bull Run. As soon as the news was received in
St. Paul of the captain's death his father, Hon. Henry Acker, left for
Pittsburg Landing, hoping to be able to recover the remains of his
martyred son and bring the body back to St. Paul. His body was easily
found, his burial place having been carefully marked by members of the
Second Minnesota who arrived on the battleground a short time after
the battle. When the remains arrived in St. Paul they were met at
the steamboat landing by a large number of citizens and escorted to
Masonic hall, where they rested till the time of the funeral. The
funeral obsequies were held at St. Paul's church on Sunday, May 4,
1862, and were attended by the largest concourse of citizens that
had ever attended a funeral in St. Paul, many being present from
Minneapolis, St. Anthony and Stillwater. The respect shown to the
memory of Capt. Acker was universal, and of a character which fully
demonstrated the high esteem in which he was held by the people of St.

When the first Grand Army post was formed in St. Paul a name
commemorative of one of Minnesota's fallen heroes was desired for the
organization. Out of the long list of martyrs Minnesota gave to the
cause of the Union no name seemed more appropriate than that of the
heroic Capt. Acker, and it was unanimously decided that the first
association of Civil war veterans in this city should be known as
Acker post.


* * * * *

The terrible and sensational news that Abraham Lincoln had been
assassinated, which was flashed over the wires on the morning of
April 15, 1865 (forty years ago yesterday), was the most appalling
announcement that had been made during the long crisis through which
the country had just passed. Every head was bowed in grief. No tongue
could find language sufficiently strong to express condemnation of the
fiendish act. The entire country was plunged in mourning. It was not
safe for any one to utter a word against the character of the martyred
president. At no place in the entire country was the terrible calamity
more deeply felt than in St. Paul. All public and private buildings
were draped in mourning. Every church held memorial services. The
services at the little House of Hope church on Walnut street will long
be remembered by all those who were there. The church was heavily
draped in mourning. It had been suddenly transformed from a house of
hope to a house of sorrow, a house of woe. The pastor of the church
was the Rev. Frederick A. Noble. He was one of the most eloquent and
learned divines in the city--fearless, forcible and aggressive--the
Henry Ward Beecher of the Northwest. President Lincoln was his ideal

The members of the House of Hope were intensely patriotic. Many of
their number were at the front defending their imperiled country.
Scores and scores of times during the desperate conflict had the
eloquent pastor of this church delivered stirring addresses favoring
a vigorous prosecution of the war. During the darkest days of the
Rebellion, when the prospect of the final triumph of the cause of the
Union seemed furthest off, Mr. Noble never faltered; he believed that
the cause was just and that right would finally triumph. When the
terrible and heart-rending news was received that an assassin's bullet
had ended the life of the greatest of all presidents the effect was
so paralyzing that hearts almost ceased beating. Every member of the
congregation felt as if one of their own household had been suddenly
taken from them. The services at the church on the Sunday morning
following the assassination were most solemn and impressive. The
little edifice was crowded almost to suffication, and when the pastor
was seen slowly ascending the pulpit, breathless silence prevailed. He
was pale and haggard, and appeared to be suffering great mental agony.
With bowed head and uplifted hands, and with a voice trembling with
almost uncontrollable emotion, he delivered one of the most fervent
and impressive invocations ever heard by the audience. Had the dead
body of the president been placed in front of the altar, the solemnity
of the occasion could not have been greater. In the discourse that
followed, Mr. Noble briefly sketched the early history of the
president, and then devoted some time to the many grand deeds he had
accomplished during the time he had been in the presidential chair.
For more than four years he had patiently and anxiously watched the
progress of the terrible struggle, and now, when victory was in sight,
when it was apparent to all that the fall of Richmond, the surrender
of Lee and the probable surrender of Johnston would end the long war,
he was cruelly stricken down by the hand of an assassin. "With malice
towards none and with charity to all, and with firmness for the right,
as God gives us to see the right," were utterances then fresh from the
president's lips. To strike down such a man at such a time was indeed
a crime most horrible. There was scarcely a dry eye in the audience.
Men and women alike wept. It was supposed at the time that Secretary
of State Seward had also fallen a victim of the assassin's dagger.
It was the purpose of the conspirators to murder the president, vice
president and entire cabinet, but in only one instance did the attempt
prove fatal. Secretary Seward was the foremost statesmen of the
time. His diplomatic skill had kept the country free from foreign
entanglements during the long and bitter struggle. He, too, was
eulogized by the minister, and it rendered the occasion doubly

Since that time two other presidents have been mercilessly slain by
the hand of an assassin, and although the shock to the country was
terrible, it never seemed as if the grief was as deep and universal
as when the bullet fired by John Wilkes Booth pierced the temple of
Abraham Lincoln.


* * * * *


* * * * *


As the sun was gently receding in the western horizon on a beautiful
summer evening nearly a century ago, a solitary voyageur might have
been seen slowly ascending the sinuous stream that stretches from the
North Star State to the Gulf of Mexico. He was on a mission of peace
and good will to the red men of the distant forest. On nearing the
shore of what is now a great city the lonely voyageur was amazed
on discovering that the pale face of the white man had many years
preceded him. "What, ho!" he muttered to himself; "methinks I see a
paleface toying with a dusky maiden. I will have speech with him." On
approaching near where the two were engaged in some weird incantation
the voyageur overheard the dusky maiden impart a strange message to
the paleface by her side. "From the stars I see in the firmament, the
fixed stars that predominate in the configuration, I deduce the future
destiny of man. 'Tis with thee. O Robert, to live always. This elixer
which I now do administer to thee has been known to our people for
countless generations. The possession of it will enable thee to
conquer all thine enemies. Thou now beholdest, O Robert, the ground
upon which some day a great city will be erected. Thou art destined to
become the mighty chief of this great metropolis. Thy reign will be
long and uninterrupted. Thou wert born when the conjunction of the
planets did augur a life of perfect beatitude. As the years roll
away the inhabitants of the city will multiply with great rapidity.
Questions of great import regarding the welfare of the people will
often come before thee for adjustment. To be successful In thy calling
thou must never be guilty of having decided convictions on any
subject, as thy friends will sometimes be pitted against each other in
the advocacy of their various schemes. Thou must not antagonize either
side by espousing the other's cause, but must always keep the rod and
the gun close by thy side, so that when these emergencies arise and
thou doth scent danger in the air thou canst quietly withdraw from the
scene of action and chase the festive bison over the distant prairies
or revel in piscatorial pleasure on the placid waters of a secluded
lake until the working majority hath discovered some method of
relieving thee of the necessity of committing thyself, and then, O
Robert. thou canst return and complacently inform the disappointed
party that the result would have been far different had not thou been
called suddenly away. Thou canst thus preserve the friendship of all
parties, and their votes are more essential to thee than the mere
adoption of measures affecting the prosperity of thy people. When the
requirements of the people of thy city become too great for thee alone
to administer to all their wants, the great family of Okons, the
lineal descendants of the sea kings from the bogs of Tipperary, will
come to thy aid. Take friendly counsel with them, as to incur their
displeasure will mean thy downfall. Let all the ends thou aimest at be
to so dispose of the offices within thy gift that the Okons, and the
followers of the Okons, will be as fixed in their positions as are the
stars in their orbits."

After delivering this strange astrological exhortation the dusky
maiden slowly retreated toward the entrance of a nearby cavern, the
paleface meandered forth to survey the ground of his future greatness
and the voyageur resumed his lonely journey toward the setting sun.

* * * * *


After the lapse of more than four score of years the voyageur from the
frigid North returned from his philanthropic visit to the red man. A
wonderful change met the eye. A transformation as magnificent as it
was bewildering had occurred. The same grand old bluffs looked proudly
down upon the Father of Water. The same magnificent river pursued
its unmolested course toward the boundless ocean. But all else had
changed. The hostile warrior no longer impeded the onward march of
civilization, and cultivated fields abounded on every side.
Steamers were hourly traversing the translucent waters of the great
Mississippi; steam and electricity were carrying people with the
rapidity of lightning in every direction; gigantic buildings appeared
on the earth's surface, visible in either direction as far as the
eye could reach; on every corner was a proud descendant of Erin's
nobility, clad in gorgeous raiment, who had been branded "St. Paul's
finest" before leaving the shores of his native land. In the midst of
this great city was a magnificent building, erected by the generosity
of its people, in which the paleface, supported on either side by the
Okons, was the high and mighty ruler. The Okons and the followers of
the Okons were in possession of every office within the gift of the
paleface. Floating proudly from the top of this great building was an
immense banner, on which was painted in monster letters the talismanic
words: "For mayor, 1902, Robert A. Smith," Verily the prophecy of the
dusky maiden had been fulfilled. The paleface had become impregnably
intrenched. The Okons could never be dislodged.

With feelings of unutterable anguish at the omnipresence of the Okons,
the aged voyageur quietly retraced his footsteps and was never more
seen by the helpless and overburdened subjects of the paleface.


* * * * *

When I was about twelve years of age I resided in a small village in
one of the mountainous and sparsely settled sections of the northern
part of Pennsylvania.

It was before the advent of the railroad and telegraph in that
locality. The people were not blessed with prosperity as it is known
to-day. Neither were they gifted with the intellectual attainments
possessed by the inhabitants of the same locality at the present time.
Many of the old men served in the war of 1812, and they were looked up
to with about the same veneration as are the heroes of the Civil War
to-day. It was at a time when the younger generation was beginning to
acquire a thirst for knowledge, but it was not easily obtained under
the peculiar conditions existing at that period. A school district
that was able to support a school for six months in each year was
indeed considered fortunate, but even in these the older children were
not permitted to attend during the summer months, as their services
were considered indispensable in the cultivation of the soil.

Reading, writing and arithmetic were about all the studies pursued in
those rural school districts, although occasionally some of the better
class of the country maidens could be seen listlessly glancing over a
geography or grammar, but they were regarded as "stuck up," and the
other pupils thought they were endeavoring to master something far
beyond their capacity.

Our winter school term generally commenced the first week in December
and lasted until the first week in March, with one evening set apart
each week for a spelling-match and recitation. We had our spelling
match on Saturday nights, and every four weeks we would meet with
schools in other districts in a grand spelling contest. I was
considered too young to participate in any of the joint spelling
matches, and my heart was heavy within me every time I saw a great
four-horse sleigh loaded with joyful boys and girls on their way to
one of the great contests.

One Saturday night there was to be a grand spelling match at a country
crossroad about four miles from our village, and four schools were to
participate. As I saw the great sleigh loaded for the coming struggle
the thought occurred to me that if I only managed to secure a ride
without being observed I might in some way be able to demonstrate to
the older scholars that in spelling at least I was their equal. While
the driver was making a final inspection of the team preparatory to
starting I managed to crawl under his seat, where I remained as quiet
as mouse until the team arrived at the point of destination. I had not
considered the question of getting back--I left that to chance. As
soon as the different schools had arrived two of the best spellers
were selected to choose sides, and it happened that neither of them
was from our school. I stood in front of the old-fashioned fire-place
and eagerly watched the pupils as they took their places in the line.
They were drawn in the order of their reputation as spellers. When
they had finished calling the names I was still standing by the
fireplace, and I thought my chance was hopeless. The school-master
from our district noticed my woebegone appearance, and he arose from
his seat and said:

"That boy standing by the fireplace is one of the best spellers in our

My name was then reluctantly called, and I took my place at the
foot of the column. I felt very grateful towards our master for his
compliment and I thought I would be able to hold my position in the
line long enough to demonstrate that our master was correct. The
school-master from our district was selected to pronounce the words,
and I inwardly rejoiced.

After going down the line several times and a number of scholars had
fallen on some simple word the school-master pronounced the word
"phthisic." My heart leaped as the word fell from the school-master's
lips. It was one of my favorite hard words and was not in the spelling
book. It had been selected so as to floor the entire line in order to
make way for the exercises to follow.

As I looked over the long line of overgrown country boys and girls I
felt sure that none of them would be able to correctly spell the word.
"Next!" "Next!" "Next!" said the school-master, and my pulse beat
faster and faster as the older scholars ahead of me were relegated to
their seats.

At last the crucial time had come. I was the only one left standing.
As the school-master stood directly in front of me and said "Next," I
could see by the twinkle in his eye that he thought I could correctly
spell the word. My countenance had betrayed me. With a clear and
distinct voice loud enough to be heard by every one in the room
I spelled out "ph-th-is-ic--phthisic." "Correct," said the
school-master, and all the scholars looked aghast at my promptness.

I shall never forget the kindly smile of the old school-master, as he
laid the spelling book upon the teacher's desk, with the quiet remark:
"I told you he could spell." I had spelled down four schools, and my
reputation as a speller was established. Our school was declared to
have furnished the champion speller of the four districts, and ever
after my name was not the last one to be called.

On my return home I was not compelled to ride under the driver's seat.


Pioneer Press, April 18, 1908:--Frank Moore, superintendent of the
composing room if the Pioneer Press, celebrated yesterday the fiftieth
anniversary of his connection with the paper. A dozen of the old
employes of the Pioneer Press entertained Mr. Moore at an informal
dinner at Magee's to celebrate the unusual event. Mr. Moore's service
on the Pioneer Press, in fact, has been longer than the Pioneer
Press itself, for he began his work on one of the newspapers which
eventually was merged into the present Pioneer Press. He has held his
present position as the head of the composing room for about forty

Frank Moore was fifteen years old when he came to St. Paul from Tioga
county, Pa., where he was born. He came with his brother, George W.
Moore, who was one of the owners and managers of the Minnesotian. His
brother had been East and brought the boy West with him. Mr. Moore's
first view of newspaper work was on the trip up the river to St. Paul.
There had been a special election on a bond issue and on the way his
brother stopped at the various towns to got the election returns.

Mr. Moore went to work for the Minnesotian on April 17, 1858, as a
printer's "devil." It is interesting in these days of water works and
telegraph to recall that among his duties was to carry water for the
office. He got it from a spring below where the Merchants hotel now
stands. Another of his jobs was to meet the boats. Whenever a steamer
whistled Mr. Moore ran to the dock to get the bundle of newspapers the
boat brought, and hurry with it back to the office. It was from these
papers that the editors got the telegraph news of the world. He also
was half the carrier staff of the paper. His territory covered all
the city above Wabasha street, but as far as he went up the hill
was College avenue and Ramsey street was his limit out West Seventh
street. There was no St. Paul worth mentioning beyond that.

When the Press absorbed the Minnesotian in 1861, Mr. Moore went with
it, and when in 1874 the Press and Pioneer were united Mr. Moore
stayed with the merged paper. His service has been continuous,
excepting during his service as a volunteer in the Civil war. The
Pioneer Press, with its antecedents, has been his only interest.

While Mr. Moore's service is notable for its length, it is still more
notable for the fact that he has grown with the paper, so that
to-day at sixty-five he is still filling his important position as
efficiently on a large modern newspaper as he filled it as a young man
when things in the Northwest, including its newspapers, were in the
beginning. Successive managements found that his services always gave
full value and recognized in him an employe of unusual loyalty and
devotion to the interests of the paper. Successive generations of
employes have found him always just the kind of man it is a pleasure
to have as a fellow workman.

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