Sunday, May 21, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: May 21

May 21, 1839 - Donald McDonald receives the first steamboat shipment of cargo to the settlement that would become St. Paul. Six barrels of whiskey are delivered to McDonald's shop, the "Half-Way House," in Fountain Cave.    

“Fountain Cave, a landmark known as early as 1811, was named for the sparkling creek that flowed from its mouth and continued some 375 feet through a ravine to join the Mississippi River about 140 feet downstream from this marker. The cave attracted such noted explorers as Stephen H. Long in 1817, Henry R. Schoolcraft in 1820, and Joseph N. Nicollet in 1837 – all of whom described it in their journals.

“Before the land east of the Mississippi was opened to settlement, Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant, a vagrant voyageur who sold whiskey illegally to soldiers ad Indians, in 1837 staked a claim where the ravine met the river. Here in 1838 he built a saloon – a small hovel that was the first building on the site of what is now St. Paul. He was followed during that year by several refugee settlers who had been ousted from the Fort Snelling military reservation.

“For many decades tourist visited Fountain Cave to view its pure white sandstone walls and mysterious interior chambers. Through the years debris accumulated to block its entrance. Construction of a highway [Shephard Road1] in the early 1960’s made it necessary to fill in most of the ravine, so that there is now no visible indication of where the cave is located.”


Fountain Cave 


If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.


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