Saturday, September 15, 2012

America: Freedom …and Free Land - Part II

One of the more interesting aspects of family history research is being able to put your ancestors’ actions and movements into perspective with what was happening in history at the time. For example, both of my paternal great-grandparents owned the land they lived and farmed on primarily because of two Congressional acts: the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Dawes Act.

The Dawes Act

What really caught my attention on my paternal great-grandparents’ homestead documents was that both homesteads were on “ceded Chippewa Indian Lands.” I’m embarrassed to say that it had never occurred to me to question why their farms were so near or possibly on the Fond du Lac Reservation, until I saw that stamped on their documents.

“Ceded Chippewa Agricultural Lands
Opened  AUG  15  1905”

After doing some research, I found it was the Dawes Severalty Act, passed in 1887, that
opened up Indian lands to white settlers.  Sponsored by U.S. Senator H. L. Dawes, the act was “designed to encourage the breakup of the Indian tribes and promote the assimilation of Indians into American Society. It was the major Indian policy until the 1930s. Dawes' goal was to create independent farmers out of Indians — give them land and the tools for citizenship.”1


Senator H. L. Dawes


Each head of an Indian family was given 160 acres of farmland or 320 acres of grazing land. “The remaining tribal lands were to be declared ‘surplus’ and opened up for whites. Tribal ownership, and tribes themselves, were [supposed] to disappear.”1

“In the eyes of supporters, this law would ‘civilize’ the Indians by weaning them from their nomadic life, by treating them as individuals rather than as members of their tribes, and by readying them for citizenship.”2

For the most part, Minnesota’s Chippewa and Dakota
tribes weren’t interested in farming or raising animals, such as cattle or chickens. “Although generally well intentioned, the law undermined Indian culture, in part by restricting their hunting rights on former reservation lands. Much of the best reservation land eventually passed into the hands of whites.”2

My paternal great-grandparents benefited from both the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Dawes Severalty Act. Did yours?



The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

For information on the Homestead Act of 1862, read my blog published Aug. 31, 2012.

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On This Date in Minnesota History: September 15

September 15, 1905 – Wooden pontoon [Stillwater] bridge across the St. Croix burns. Two people die of injuries from the fire.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 14

September 14, 1805 – Lieutenant Zebulon Pike left Fort Bellefontaine on August 9, 1805, with orders to find the source of the Mississippi. On [this date], he reached the Mississippi Valley near island number 72 (on his map), which would one day be Winona, Minnesota, and recorded his impressions in his log.”

Lieutenant Zebulon Pike

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 13

September 13, 1977 - The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company Building, also known as the Great Northern Implement Company and the American Trio Building, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on this date.1 "A warehouse building in downtown Minneapolis, it was designed by [the] locally notable firm Kees and Colburn and shows strong influences of noted architect Louis Sullivan. The arches in the top floor windows are modeled after Louis Sullivan's designs, which in turn were influenced by Henry Hobson Richardson's Richardsonian Romanesque style. The corners of the building are subtly chamfered in at the bottom and rise toward a flaring cornice at the top, echoing John Wellborn Root's design of the Monadnock Building in Chicago.

The building has now been converted to loft apartments.”2


Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company Building, also known as the Great Northern Implement Company and the American Trio Building

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain September 13, 2012, as long as acknowledgement included.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 12

September 12, 1883 – Minnesota’s 21st Governor, Theodore Christianson, was born on this date in Lac qui Parle Township, Minn. "More Ted, Less Taxes” was his “campaign promise when he ran for governor in 1924. ‘Tightwad Ted,’ as he was affectionately dubbed, kept his word. During his administration, he limited taxes and cut expenditures at every level of state government.”

Governor Theodore Christianson

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 11

September 11, 2001 - Thomas Edward Burnett, Jr., “was flying home from a business meeting when terrorists took control” of United Flight 93, “presumably with the intent of crashing it into a target in Washington, D.C. Burnett used his cell phone to call his wife [Deena] four times. During their conversations he told her of the happenings on board the plane and she told him of the attacks on the World Trade Center. His last call to his wife ended with Burnett saying, ‘We're going to do something. I've got to go.’”  He was born May 29, 1963 in Minneapolis and died on this date in Shanksville, Somerset County, Pa.

The plaque that rests beneath the memorial flag dedicated to Burnett in Bloomington, Minn.

In Memory of
Tom Burnett, Jr.
September 11, 2001 Hero
Who Exemplified The Courage Behind Our Flag
Flagpole Donated By
Bloomington Rotary

Monday, September 10, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 10

September 10, 1988 – “Minneapolis Sculpture Garden opened, home of the famous sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry by Coosje van Bruggen.”

Spoonbridge and Cherry by Coosje van Bruggen
Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Sept. 10, 2012, as long as acknowledgement included.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 9

September 9, 1907 – “The safe in the Soudan [Minn.] postoffice was blown open and its contents stolen. The robbers secured between $450 and $500 worth of stamps, and about $10 in cash, the greater part of which was pennies. The robbers gained entrance to the building by prying open a window.”
Tower Weekly News; Loot Postoffice, Soudan Postoffice Safe Blown Open and Contents Stolen, Robbers Escape”; September 13, 1907; p. 1.