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William Rainey Marshall
     This county (Marshall County, Minnesota), established February 25, 1879, was named in honor of William Rainey Marshall, governor of Minnesota. He was born near Columbia, Missouri, October 17, 1825; but his boyhood was spent in Quincy, Illinois, to which place his parents removed in 1830. At the age of fifteen years, in company with his older brother Joseph, he went to the lead mines of Galena, where he worked several years and learned land surveying.
     In 1847 he came to St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, and in 1849 to Minnesota, settling at St. Anthony Falls and opening a general hardware business, with his brother Joseph. For Franklin Steele and others he surveyed the St. Anthony Falls townsite, his plat being dated October 9, 1849. Two years later he removed to St. Paul, which thenceforward was his home, and became its pioneer hardware merchant. In 1855 he founded a banking business, which failed in the financial panic of 1857; and subsequently he engaged in farming and stock-raising, and brought to Minnesota its earliest high-bred cattle.
     Marshall was commissioned in August, 1862, as lieutenant colonel of the Seventh Minnesota regiment; aided in the suppression of the Sioux outbreak, and-in the expedition of 1863 against the Sioux in North Dakota; and afterward served through the civil war in the South, being promoted colonel of his regiment in November, 1863, and brevetted brigadier general March 13, 1865. He was governor of Minnesota during two terms, 1866-70, being "one of the best chief magistrates the state has ever had." In 1876-82 he served as the state railroad commissioner.
     In 1893 he was elected secretary of the Minnesota Historical Society, of which he had been president in 1868; but he resigned in 1894, on account of ill health, and went in hope of recovery to Pasadena, California, where he died January 8, 1896. An obituary sketch, by Rev. Edward C. Mitchell, was published in the eighth volume of this society's Historical Collections (1898, pages 506-510, with a portrait); and the thirteenth volume of this series, "Lives of the Governors of Minnesota," by General James H. Baker, published in 1908, has a more extended biography (pages 145-165, with a portrait), including extracts from his addresses and messages as governor.

[Source: "Minnesota geographic names: their origin and historic significance" By Warren Upham; Minnesota Historical Society, 1920 - Sub. by K.T.]

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