Back in time: The Mosier Cigar Store Indian languishes in a basement – will it ever be displayed again?

BY BRENT PETERSON – GAZETTE COLUMNIST

The Mosier Cigar Store Indian stands in front of the Lowell Inn in 1935. (Photo courtesy of the Washington County Historical Society)

The Mosier Cigar Store Indian stands in front of the Lowell Inn in 1935. (Photo courtesy of the Washington County Historical Society)

In 1882 Bryon Mosier took a partner into his cigar store business. This partner, from Chicago, stood 7 feet 9 inches tall, weighed about 350 pounds, was a Native American and carried a tomahawk in his right hand. This “silent partner” stood outside Mosier’s store on Main and Chestnut streets for more than 40 years. In that time, he scared drunken lumberjacks and was swept away in at least one flood.

This partner was a cigar store Indian. It was carved from two pieces of pine. One piece formed the entire body and head of the statue, and the other piece formed the right arm and tomahawk. On the crate in which the Indian stood, there was an inscription which read: “I greet you for the tribe to the ‘Friendly Valley.’ That’s my job since 1882.”

In 1888 Byron Mosier constructed a new building on the corner of Main and Chestnut streets. An architectural firm out of Minneapolis was hired to design the new building, and in early August 1888 the Mosier Bros. were in their new building with the Indian standing guard outside. The building is now the site of Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop.

Over time the statue would get worn and would have to be re-varnished. In April, 1927, the Stillwater Messenger newspaper reported that the cigar store Indian “Has New Feathers,” and the Indian was once again “on the job” after receiving a new coat of varnish and bright colors.

Want to read more? Check out the print edition of the Gazette for Jan. 10, 2014, available at newsstands through Tuesday, Jan. 14, or at our office, 1931 Curve Crest Blvd., Stillwater. Brent Peterson is the executive director of the Washington County Historical Society.

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