Philander Prescott

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Philander Prescott (September 17, 1801 – August 10, 1862) was the son of Dr. Joel Prescott and Phildelia Reed. He was a native of Phelps, Ontario County, New York. He headed west in the spring of 1819, stopping a few months in Detroit, Michigan, before continuing west to Fort Snelling.

He married in 1823 Na-he-no-Wenah (Spirit of the Moon), also known as Mary Ke E Hi,[1] daughter of Man-Who-Flies, a Dakota subchief who lived near Lake Calhoun. She was born around 1804–1806 and died on March 29, 1867, at Shakopee, Minnesota. They had sons, William Prescott, Hiram Prescott (born December 21, 1831 or 1832); Lorenzo Taliferro Prescott (c. 1839 – January 2, 1869) a daughter, Lucy Prescott Pettijohn, and two more children.

During his life on the frontier he served as a government interpreter of the Dakota language (including for the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux). He worked as a miner, a trapper, and on a steamboat on the Mississippi River. He also ran trading posts in several locations, and farmed.

From 1839 to 1862 he operated a trading post along the St. Croix River - its location became the town of Prescott, Wisconsin, named for him.[2]

He was killed at the Lower Sioux (or Redwood) Agency during the Dakota War of 1862;[3] he was buried in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery in Minneapolis, as was his wife and son.

His papers are in the Minnesota Historical Society [1] library.



  • The Recollections of Philander Prescott, Frontiersman of the Old Northwest, 1819-1862. Edited by Donald Dean Parker. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1966 full text of book here

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