Memorial to Ray Allard
Photos: Ray Allard and the Faribault Cabin at Murphy's Landing at which he was frequently found
Ray died Sunday, May 21, 2000. He was one of the first members of the Mississippi Volunteers and a long time member of La Compagnie (La Compagnie de Hivernants de la Riviere St. Pierre). He was still traveling to events in his 70's and volunteering at Murphy's Landing in his 80's. My clearest memory of Ray is from the flag raising ceremony at Prairie du Chien roughly about 1989. He formed the color party along with Ben Pena, who was 13 or 14 years old. He was frequently noted at the meetings of La Compagnie for casting the lone dissenting vote---just to keep things democratic.
If anyone else who knew Ray wants to add their own memories, please let me know.
On May 5, 2001, the first Ray Allard Award was presented as part of the Minnesota History Day competition. The text for the award was written by Richard Williams:
In the Year 2000 an old man passed away after celebrating nearly ninety years of history. Ray Allard had been teaching, studying and making American history since the 1920s. He was not a formally trained historian, but he was an avid practitioner of the art of interpreting and appreciating history. He was gifted with his ability to share his enthusiasm with all levels and ages of people. He was especially fond of bringing a variety of educational programs into the schools. One day he might be a fur trade voyageur, the next a railroad engineer, or a ringmaster in a traveling circus. He looked like and sometimes did appear as Buffalo Bill Cody. When not sharing history in a school, he could be found volunteering his time and knowledge at Murphy's Landing and Historic Fort Snelling.
He prided himself on the number of historic sites and battlefields that he had been capable of visiting in his long lifetime. He could name every one and the year that he had visited the site. He was a veteran of the 3rd United States Infantry and the Minnesota National Guard. Often he would sing the marching songs that he had been taught by drill instructors from the Spanish-American War. Ray was too young for the First world War and too old for the Second. He had a deep appreciation of military history and tradition.
Ray loved to interpret early nineteenth-century fur trade and military history. He was an active participant in La Compagnie, a fur trade reenactment group, and the Mississippi Volunteers, a recreated War of 1812 militia.
Ray passed away before he accomplished his last heroic adventure. He desired to stand night guard duty at Valley Forge, in the middle of winter. He wanted to experience a taste of what these early defenders of American liberty had to suffer so that we can enjoy the freedoms we take for granted today.
Ray Allard would appreciate the efforts of everyone who participates in Minnesota History Day. He was a great lover of history; whoever wins the Ray Allard Awardhas earned a great title worthy of deep respect and great honor.
Be it therefore known, by all these presents, for Excellence in Early Nineteenth-Century History, the Upper Mississippi Brigade, 1812, this Fifth day of May in the Year Two-Thousand-One, proclaims the recipient the right and privilege of the Ray Allard Award.