History in the News... Mahtowa means BearWe have a winner for August’s History Question: “What does the name Mahtowa mean?”
By: Rachael E. Martin, Pine Journal
We have a winner for August’s History Question: “What does the name Mahtowa mean?”
Sharon Ableiter of Cloquet answered, “The name Mahtowa means Bear.” Sharon came to the museum to claim her prize, any book of her choice from our bookstore. She chose the book “Stories of a Century: Cloquet Centennial Book of Reflections 1904-2004.”
Others also responded: The name Mahtowa is formed from the Dakota Sioux “Mahto” and the last syllable of the Ojibway “Makwa,” each meaning “a Bear.” The source of this information is Warren Upham’s book, “Minnesota Geographic Names,” published by the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul in 1920. Look on page 75.
Another responder added that the name Mahtowa was originally spelled “Mattawa” and meant “meeting of the waters,” where the Mattawa River meets the Ottawa River in Canada, a point passed by Native Americans during migration west. There is a meeting of the waters at Mahtowa. The Moose Horn River and Park Lake Creek meet just northwest of the town of Mahtowa.
According to the book, “A History of Mahtowa” by S. Hjalmar Swanson, the author asked some Ojibway people in Sawyer if they knew the meaning of the word. They said Mahtowa is not a Chippewa word, which supports Warren Upham’s claim that it is a composite word with both Dakota and Ojibway components.
Swanson also adds that when the railroad was built in 1870-1871, English names were given to the various stations and communities between White Bear and Duluth with only one exception, Mahtowa. He concludes that the name Mahtowa must precede building the railroad.
Mahtowa is the name of a township and a village in the township. The village of Mahtowa was settled in 1875 with a station of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Later a post office was established in 1898.
Did you know that there is only one Mahtowa in the United States? And it is right here in Carlton County, Minn.
Here’s the September History Question: What was the first county seat of Carlton County?
If you know, send your answer by Oct. 8 to CCHS, 406 Cloquet Ave., Cloquet, MN 55720 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The lucky winner drawn from the entries with the correct answer will receive a free book from our bookstore. The winner’s name and the answer to the History Question of the month will be in next month’s History in the News article.
That wraps up History in the News for September 2010. Have a great day today. Remember that today is tomorrow’s history.