Welcome to Pig’s Eye, Minnesota!
By Eric Jayne
(This is a separate article from the April Fools’ spoof that appeared on this website April 1)
There’s a Birdseye in Colorado, Frogeye in Maryland, Hogeye in Texas, and even a Pigeye in both Alabama and Ohio. For a long time there was a Pig’s Eye in Minnesota until a Catholic missionary by the name of Lucien Galtier arrived on the muddy banks of the Mississippi River in 1840 to establish a Christian community. The following year, in 1841, Galtier successfully renamed Pig’s Eye to its current name of Saint Paul after he began the construction of the Church of Saint Paul. Sixty-six years later construction began on the Cathedral of Saint Paul—recently commissioned as the “National Shrine of the Apostle Paul” by the Vatican— which would finally be completed in 1958. If we take a moment to consider the Apostle Paul’s misogynistic teachings, the Catholic Church’s chronic issue with priestly pedophilia, and the adulation for American entrepreneurial small business ownership, we might want to consider restoring the name of the capitol city back to Pig’s Eye—or something more appropriate.
The big problem Galtier had with Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant (the city’s original namesake) is that Parrant made his success by selling whiskey at his popular tavern to local residents, travelers, riverboat workers, and soldiers at Fort Snelling. He stored and manufactured the distilled spirits at Fountain Cave in St. Paul (where Shepherd Road and Randolph Avenue intersect) before he was forced out of town shortly after Galtier’s arrival. Granted, Parrant may not have been peddling a wholesome product but it was arguably less toxic than the mind-controlling teachings of the Apostle Paul that Galtier proselytized.
In his epistle to the Corinthians, Saint Paul the Apostle taught that every woman was created for man while “man is the glory of God”; therefore, only women must cover their head while praying to God (1 Corinthians 11:3-9). He also commanded that women must remain silent in church and remain dutifully submissive to their husbands at all times. Paul reiterates this message of wifely obedience, sprinkled with warnings of sinful female treachery, to his apprentice Timothy (1 Timothy 2:11-14). Perhaps the most bloodthirsty and tyrannical teaching Paul sold to his followers came in his second epistle to the Thessalonians: “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
When compared to Saint Paul the Apostle’s apocalyptic fear mongering and misogynistic narrative, Parrant’s tavern seems quite commendable and righteous! Regardless, Galtier joined the long list of missionary settlers throughout human history to label a geographic location after a religious character. While it’s not clear what happened to Parrant after he left the city, some accounts suggest he ventured off into Canada where he died several years later. Meanwhile, Galtier went back to France for a couple of years before returning to the U.S. and serving at a church in Wisconsin where he died in 1866.
It’s important to note that the city’s name of “Pig’s Eye” was attributed informally by travelers and traders because Parrant’s tavern was so popular. The area was of course inhabited long before Parrant and other Europeans settled the area. The name “Minnesota” (which means sky-tinted water in the Dakota language) and many of the geographical domains within the state’s borders derive from Dakota and Ojibwe words. It’s hard to ignore the American Indian roots in Minnesota especially when one drives from Shakopee to ride the Hiawatha light rail into Minneapolis (minne is water in Dakota and polis is city in Greek) and visit Minneahaha Falls.
By following the American Indian theme, and borrowing the unique name of the local suburb White Bear Lake, maybe the city of St. Paul could be officially designated Sapamotowi—which is Dakota for Black Bear Water. Or maybe the best way to combat the 170 years of the Saint Paul moniker is to rename the city after the great Charles Darwin. Wouldn’t it be fun to live in “Darwin, Minnesota”?
(An alert reader of the hardcopy April MNA Newsletter pointed out that there is already a Darwin, MN . The small Minnesota town of Darwin is about 60 miles west of Minneapolis and is home to the famous “biggest ball of twine”)