Was St. Paul really called 'Pig's Eye?' One archivist has doubts

Pierre Parrant
As legend tells it, fur trader Pierre Parrant – nicknamed “Pig’s Eye” – was the first European resident in St. Paul.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

As legend tells it, fur trader Pierre Parrant — nicknamed “Pig’s Eye” — was the first European resident in St. Paul.

Some say the man owned a bar and wore an eye patch. Others say he lived in a cave, smuggled in liquor and lost his land in a foot race.

Stories say the city of St. Paul was originally named “Pig’s Eye,” in honor of Parrant. In fact that’s the story you’ll often find in local history books and travel guides. It’s even on the city’s Wikipedia page.

But not everything you’ve heard about the history of St. Paul is true. Matt Goff is an archivist and librarian. He recently did some digging into the story of Parrant for the Ramsey County Historical Society — and he says many of the stories told about Pig’s Eye for the past 200 years are just stories, not history. Host Cathy Wurzer recently spoke with Goff.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation. 

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