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.

In 1823, he married 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); and Lorenzo Taliferro Prescott (c. 1839 – January 2, 1869); as well as a daughter, Lucy Prescott Pettijohn; and two more children.[clarification needed]

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 Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery in Minneapolis, as were his wife and son.

His papers are in the Minnesota Historical Society library.[4]



  • 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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