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Fur trader's story to be told at Wadena library

Have you ever met a fur trader? Go to the Wadena City Library at noon on Friday, Feb. 12, and you can go back to the 1800s and meet one!

Using props, artifacts, and costumes, one of the Minnesota History Players will engage you in the interesting life story in Minnesota history of George Nelson.

Imagine yourself back in the 1800s, and George Nelson, fur trader, comes to be with you. He made his living in the fur trade working as a clerk for the XY, the Hudson's Bay and the North West companies from 1802 to 1823. Because he also recorded the daily work and life of the fur trade, you can learn about it.

Nelson had an excellent education and could have gone into many different careers, but the "adventurous voyageurs" and western wilderness lured him into the fur trade. So he signed a five-year contract with the XY Company when he was 16 years old as an apprentice clerk and was right away put in charge of a small fur trade outpost. In this way, he began his 20 year career in fur trading.

Nelson's life included many interesting events. He was severely burned when a keg of gunpowder exploded in his camp. The next year he married Maryann, a member of the Ojibwe Loon Clan from the north shore of Lake Superior. She and George had eight children and remained married until her death in 1831. When he died in 1859, Minnesota had only been a state for a year. The journals he wrote during his fur trading years leave a fascinating picture of one part of Minnesota's history.