Possession of Roseau Stone is regained: Now at Roseau County Museum

Roseau County Museum Director/Coordinator Britt Dahl is pictured holding the Roseau Stone in her hand. To her right is Erik Moore, head archivist at the University of Minnesota.

Extensive evaluations and testings by University of Minnesota and Minnesota Historical Society professional personnel have resulted in conflicting opinions over the years as to whether it is the Roseau Stone or Rune Stone. This stone was discovered in the Roseau area circa in 1916 or 1918. (submitted photo)

“It’s never been proven that it’s natural, or that it’s actually been hand-inscribed,” Roseau County Museum Director/Curator Britt Dahl stated.

Dahl was referring to a small stone that was found by Jake Nelson, a resident of the Roseau, Minn., area found while he was working in his garden in 1916 or 1918. Along with the stone also found was an “Indian Club”, arrowheads, and a stone used to scrape hides.

This information reportedly comes from a conversation with the late Mike Holm, Minnesota Secretary of State and former Roseau resident, on April 24, 1926, and recorded in a memo by C.P. Bull of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and former faculty member of agronomy. Bull was also a former resident of Roseau County.

There are many theories about the origin of this small, smooth, one and one-half inch oblong sedimentary stone.

Many know it as the Roseau Stone while others lay claim to it being a Rune stone.

At some point between the discovery of the stone and 1927, Mike Holm came into possession of the stone

The stone was kept in a box with a record of transfers of possession between 1927 and 1939.

After passing thru several hands, in 1968 the Roseau stone was known to be in the possession of Professor Theodore Blegen.

Following the passing of Mike Holm in 1952 and Blegen in 1969, the Minnesota Historical Society packed up Blegen’s belongings and donated them to the U of M. Many people were unsure what happened to the stone, thinking it was lost, due to deaths and lack of or missing correspondence.

“In 2011 it was actually discovered in Blegen’s collection at the university by Steve Hilgren. They felt they were the rightful holders of the stone,” Britt remarked. “We did enquire about it – the plans were to look into who legally had the ownership but it wasn’t actively pursued. This last fall people started inquiring about the stone and saying we should get the Roseau Stone back, so I went to our board of directors. We talked to the Minnesota Historical Society, to Rep. Dan Fabian, and he talked with one of his contacts at the U of M who gave us the name of their head archivist, Erik Moore. We wrote Mr. Moore a letter and he then looked thru their paper work and correspondence letters. The U of M had several letters that we didn’t have and we had several letters that the U of M didn’t have.

“In one of the letters we had from 1973 was written to Mrs. Carl (Hazel) Wahlberg from Michael W. Holm, son of Mike Holm. In that letter he states, If the stone is still in St. Paul, I would have no objection to it being transferred to Roseau to be on display at the museum there.

“After reading that letter, the U of M decided it should go back to Roseau County because of the history of it. I drove to St. Paul on February 4 and brought it back with me. I didn’t want to ‘lose’ it again after the history of it being displaced – lost – destroyed – studied … you name it, after 95 years!” Britt said with excitement in her voice. “Now we are going to build an exhibit around the stone which will be ready in May or June, due to construction in the museum.”

To see the complete story, read the February 26 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

1 Comment

  1. Harvey Thorleifson on March 20, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    This is a Receptaculitid cross section. Try a Google image search for that. This piece of limestone, with a fossil, was carried from Canada by the continental ice sheet during the Ice Age

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