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Northfield Poet Laureate: Gleanings

The Northfield Poet Laureate is sponsored by the City of Northfield and funded by the Northfield Public Library and the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC), in partnership with the Northfield Arts and Culture Commission.

Gleanings: The First Collection of Poetry Published in Northfield

Gleanings was complied by Northfield resident Robert Watson and published by Joel Heatwole, the publisher of the Northfield News, in 1888. Many of the poems were reprinted from newspapers; several, though published anonymously, may been written by Watson himself.  

Robert Watson was born on September 8, 1825 in Dundee, Scotland, the son of William and Jessie McLeish Watson. He attended the public seminary (district school) in Dundee until 1837 when, following the failure of his father's linen business, the family immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1838 they moved to a farm near Parma, Ohio and he attended the Parma and Brooklyn Center academies. In April 1850 he and his younger brother William traveled to Minnesota, where they each claimed land in Cottage Grove, Washington County. That September he returned to Ohio for their mother and younger brother John, then traveled to Missouri to take a teaching position at the Rural Academy in Carlinville. He returned to Cottage Grove in April 1851. In 1855 he purchased a nearby farm, named it "Evergreen Hills," and moved his family there in the spring of 1857. He also taught school at nearby Stillwater during the winter of 1852-1853 and served in both the Minnesota territorial (1853-1854) and state (1865-1866) legislatures. In 1878 he moved his family to Northfield, Minnesota. Watson was one of the founders of the Northfield Improvement Association, and was largely responsible for the creation and landscaping of Oaklawn Cemetery. He died on April 16, 1913. (Source)