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Wild Rice, North Dakota, USA - Founding of Wild Rice

In the 1840's this area of the Dakotas was only occupied by buffalo hunters and fur traders. Most of these were French Catholics and one early missionary who ministered to them was Father Lafleche who wrote in 1856 about celebrating Mass at Wild River (now the Wild Rice River).

With settlers moving into the Dakota Territories, the US Government established Ft. Abercrombie on the west bank of the Red River in 1858 to provide a military presence for their protection. This became a trade center and a native and white population grew up around the fort. In 1865 Father Genin stopped there for three days to administer to the Catholic soldiers and civilians in the vicinity of the fort while on his way to St. Boniface, Manitoba. In 1867 Genin was based at Ft. Abercrombie and started to make his plans for a permanent mission to the natives which he hoped to build near the junction of the Red and Wild Rice rivers. In September 1868 he wrote to Bishop Tache in St. Boniface that his house at Wild Rice River was almost complete. At about that same time, a party of missionaries arrived from St. Boniface, guided by Ulphie Cossette who had just completed a commission with the Hudson's bay Company and had been discharged at Winnipeg. Ulphie Cossette went on to Quebec but returned the next summer, along with his wife and two of his brothers, to claim the homestead land adjacent to Father Genin's Holy Cross mission. Father Lafleche had left the Dakotas and was now Bishop of Trois Rivieres. His promotion of the good land to be found at the Wild River resulted in more French Catholic settlers from Quebec arriving each year. The first white child born in Cass county was Ulphie Cossette's daughter, Marie Flore, born at Wild Rice on March 21, 1870. His wife died the next year and was the first settler to be buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery.

In 1870, Cossette built the first log cabin church for Genin but it burned down the next year. Unfortunately, as the area became settled, Father Genin turned his missionary attentions further away and so the next church which Cossette started to build in 1872 was only completed in 1876, delayed by the priest's absences from his developing flock. ~cossettewildrice/ cossettewildrice/ wildrice_northda

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