Bemidji or Bermidji?

Minnesota Ave Looking South

The trading post was running well in 1894 when Merian Carson wrote to Washington City and applied for a postal office for their store. Weeks later Carson received approval, but there was a major mistake. The government gave him a permit for the Bermidji post office, with the addition of an “r” in the first syllable. Evidently, the name had been incorrectly recorded at the Postal Service Office in Washington City. One can only chuckle considering the number of people who, even yet, call the town Bermidji. This was not easy to change, and the postal service did not correct the spelling to Bemidji until a strong letter was sent from the Governor’s office. Somehow, considering the cold temperatures associated with the town, the spelling of B-E-R-M-I-D-J-I seemed appropriate!

Two newspapers started publishing in 1896. The Bemidji Pioneer printed their first copy in April and later that spring the Beltrami Eagle moved into town from Buena Vista. The Pioneer chose to use Carson’s spelling, Bemidji and the Eagle used the spelling of the Postal Department Bermidji.

Icefront Taylorcraft

Even with the official correction, the town’s name is often misspelled. A Triangle bus that made daily runs to Bemidji in 1948 had its destination painted in big letters over the front of the bus. However, Bemidji was spelled BERMIDJI. Anyone who deals with the general public will tell you that to this day, the name often is mispronounced or misspelled!