An ornate frontier imprint, owned and signed by the “Kit Carson of the Northwest”

St. Anthony Express Print, THREE HUNDRED SHARES, DAKOTA, LOCATED AT THE MOUTH OF THE SHAYENNE RIVER. St. Anthony, [Minnesota], 1859.
Broadsheet share certificate printed in blue and green, sheet size 7"h X 8 ½"w, accomplished in ink on both sides

An extraordinarily rare piece of western Americana, wonderful in many regards: as among the earliest available documents relating to the Dakota Territory, as an autograph from Bottineau, and as a ornate example of early frontier printing.

This broadsheet certificate for one share (#212), of three hundred issued, entitles the holder to land in the town of Dakota at the mouth of the Chayenne River in the future Dakota Territory (Dakota did not formally achieve Territorial status until 1861, though in 1858 settlers did establish a provisional government.) The share was to be “surrendered up to the Secretary when Deeds are executed and delivered, after division of the Lots, in accordance with the Rules of the Company.” The town does not exist today, and indeed may never have been laid out.

The certificate is a remarkably-refined example of early frontier printing, with the recto executed in two colors and bearing an ornate foliate border. It was produced in 1859 by the St. Anthony [Minnesota] Express Print company, which was active from ca. 1852-60 and one of the first printers in the Minnesota Territory.

It is made out to Pierre Bottineau (1817-1895), and the verso bears his April 15, 1859 endorsement to C. Stuart Webster, with the illiterate Bottineau signing with an “X.”

“Known as the “Kit Carson of the Northwest”, [Bottineaau] was an integral part of the history and development of Minnesota and North Dakota. He was an accomplished surveyor and his many settlement parties founded cities all over Minnesota and North Dakota….

BRM2175 Bottineau image
Bottineau in 1875

“He was also a renowned diplomat and translator, earning him the nickname “The Walking Peace Pipe”. He played a part in forging many treaties with Native American tribes. According to his obituary he spoke French, English, Dakota, Ojibwe, Cree, Mandan, and Winnebago.


“Pierre was born in a hunting camp on the buffalo trail near Grand Forks. His father Charles Bottineau was a French-Canadian Protestant, and his mother Marguerite… was half Dakota and half Ojibwe of the Lake of the Woods band….
“The U.S. government used Pierre and others like him to settle the [Upper Mississippi Valley] and help establish American sovereignty. Most mixed race, or Metis, lived as outcasts to both White and Native societies, but Pierre would soon use his many talents to become accepted as an American hero. His many invaluable services earned him celebrity status in his time. Upon his retirement, the United States Congress granted him a pension of $50 a month….


“Bottineau County, N, and its county seat Bottineau, ND are named in his honor….” (Wikipedia)


This example of the certificate was offered for sale by Goodspeed’s in 1972. Another (#210 of 300) sold at the Streeter sale. The Minnesota Historical Society holds three shares, all issued to Company Secretary M.M. Standish.

Streeter #2032 records another example of the certificate (#210 of 300), also made out to Bottineau and also endorsed by him on April 15, 1859 (though Streeter does not name the recipient). Not in OCLC or Marnie Ruth Martin, U.S. Historical Records Survey, Check List of Minnesota Imprints, 1849-1865.


Old folds, staining to upper margins intruding slightly into image