Saturday, March 2, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: March 2

March 2, 1962 - Terry Steinbach, former Oakland A's and Minnesota Twins catcher, was born on this date in New Ulm, Minn. He played on the All Star Team three times and in 1988 was voted the All-Star game MVP.,_Minnesota

Friday, March 1, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: March 1

March 1, 1932 – The baby of aviation hero (and Minnesota native) Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne was kidnapped on this date from the Lindbergh’s “20-room stone mansion in the secluded Sourland Mountains outside Princeton, N.J.”

The baby’s nurse discovered around 10 p.m. that 20-month-old Charles Lindbergh, Jr., was not in his second-floor room. “A note demanding $50,000—a huge sum at the time—was found in his place.”

Charles Lindbergh

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why Did Your Ancestors Immigrate to Minnesota?

I often wonder why my ancestors chose to immigrate to Minnesota, with its long, cold winters and humid, mosquito-filled summers.  But they came here, long before central heating or air-conditioning; before 4-wheel drive or paved roads and highways.


Those lovely Minnesota winters

They endured blizzards, fires, floods and tornadoes, but also found rich farmland, and an abundance of lakes, fishing, hunting and forests. What were they hoping to find? What were they expecting to find?


Horse drawn sled, northern Minnesota, early 1900's.

A huge industry for many early immigrants.

Many states had PR masters who wrote pieces for newspapers and brochures that were sent to Europe and Scandinavia extolling and glorifying the wonders of specific states, including Minnesota. In fact, on March 2, 1855, the Minnesota legislature “passed a measure providing for an emigration commissioner at New York which was reenacted in amended form at its next session. In pursuance of this law, the governor on March 16, 1855, named Eugene Burnand for the position thereby created.”3  pg. 79


Promotional copy such as the following from “Minnesota as it is in 1870,”4 was intended to make Minnesota sound like heaven on earth to prospective immigrants:

“From letters from almost every county in the State the same report has come of the abundance of fish in all the streams and lakes, "fish inexhaustible," "a world of fish," "fish by the wagon load." Instead of reiterating the same story in every county, we make this general statement as applicable to about every county in the State. They are caught in immense quantities, winter and summer.”4  pg. 180


Minnesota's State Fish: the Walleye

“We are at St. Paul, so near latitude 45 that we may say we are on that parallel. It is the latitude of Venice and of Southern France. St. Paul is a little south of the parallel and so is Bordeaux. We travel northwest four hundred and fifty miles to the boundary between the United States and the British possessions, before we reach the latitude of Paris. We do not think of the people in France as dwelling in a frozen region--why should we those of Minnesota?”4   pg. 123


   45th Parallel North runs through Minneapolis straight east through France

“No other country has such a domain. The plains of Bavaria and Hungary, upon which Central Europe relies for its grain, united, would not exceed in area a single county in Minnesota. The fine lands of Prussia have a thin soil, while the wheat fields of France have been cultivated for centuries, and are only kept in heart by constant application of fertilizers; but here the soil is in its virgin state, yielding such returns as are not obtained in any other land, unless it be in the San Joaquin and Santa Clara valleys of California.

The most fertile acre of the Ganges Valley in India will not yield a greater return than these of the Northwest. The Nile and the Yangteze--their fertility renewed by each annual flood--may vie with the uplands of Minnesota; but there are sections along this Red River of the North--along the Cheyenne and Mouse rivers of Dakota--which are not surpassed by the richest in the heart of China or on the Delta of the Nile!”4  pg. 96


Fields of grains in Minnesota

Do you know why your ancestors chose Minnesota?

LLet me help you find out what parts of history your family had a role in.








On This Date in Minnesota History: February 28

February 28, 1883 - In the spring of 1956, Herman Pelzer, a local St. Cloud electrician, found an old and yellowed piece of paper in the walls of the Grand Central Hotel. It turned out to be a page from the hotel’s 1883 register. Imagine his surprise when he read the name “Buffalo Bill”!

“Apparently William Cody, aka: Buffalo Bill, stayed the night at the Central House Hotel on this date. His first Wild West show wouldn’t take place until May 19, 1883, in Omaha, Neb., so this stop was prior to his show. The newspapers of the time didn’t mention his visit, and this registry is the only evidence that this famous man stopped in St. Cloud.”

 By Tim Lyon

Photo of the Central House Hotel where Buffalo Bill stayed, courtesy of the Stearns History Museum.

William Frederick (Buffalo Bill) Cody

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 27

February 27, 2001 - Rachel Anthony, 50, disappeared around 10 p.m. “at the end of her shift at Ultimate Liquors in Pine River, Minn. The weather was very cold that day, and Anthony had started her car to warm it up before her drive home. A police officer discovered the car still idling about 1 a.m. Upon checking the liquor store, he found the back door unlocked with Anthony's purse and coat still inside, but no signs of Anthony. Her body was found six weeks later in a ravine near Breezy Point, about 15 miles away.“ Her murder is still unsolved.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 26

February 26, 1998 – The Anne C. and Frank B Semple House, a “Renaissance Revival stone-and-brick mansion and carriage house designed by Long and Long, [was] built in 1899–1901 for a prosperous hardware merchant and his wife.”1 The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on this date.

“Its first owner, Frank Semple, was a partner in Janney, Semple, and Co., a wholesale hardware firm. The entry on Franklin Avenue has a balustraded entry porch with Ionic columns, a detailed Palladian window, and a rounded bay. The interior has a reception hall with mahogany paneling, a hardwood floor with marble inlays, and a frescoed ceiling. Interior spaces include a 1,000-square-foot (93 m2) living room and a ballroom.

The mansion is now available as a reception site for weddings and other events.”2


 Anne C. and Frank B Semple House
Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Feb. 26, 2013,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Monday, February 25, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 25

February 25, 1879 – Organization of Kittson County, Minn. “The county is named after Norman W. Kittson, an early fur trader & partner of the American Fur Company.”

Norman W. Kittson

Sunday, February 24, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 24

February 24, 1854 – On this date, Laura Ella Becker McLane became the first white child born in Stearns County, Minn.