This Day in Minnesota History

January 6, 1860

On the same day that Minnesota votes for Abraham Lincoln for president, a horse race in Freeborn County determines the county seat. Albert Lea and Itasca had both been vying for the honor, and corruption and vote buying ran rampant. Adding to the excitement, an Albert Lea racehorse, Old Tom, had been put up to run a race against Itasca's best. The businessmen of Itasca had secretly bought an Iowa racehorse named Fly, the plan being to encourage Albert Lea's folks to bet on Old Tom, win their money, and then buy votes for Itasca.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 3, 1998

Former professional wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura wins the gubernatorial election. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican candidates split much of the vote, and Reform Party candidate Ventura, who had been mayor of Brooklyn Park and host of a radio talk show on KSTP in the Twin Cities, takes the prize. Ventura would later switch his affiliation to the Independence Party of Minnesota, and his administration would focus on education and tax reform.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 3, 1831

The one and only Ignatius Donnelly is born in Philadelphia. He would arrive in Minnesota in 1857 and build a mansion at Nininger, near Hastings. He would also serve as first lieutenant governor of the state and as a representative in the legislature and Congress.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 2, 1993

Sharon Sayles Belton is elected mayor of Minneapolis. She is the first African American and the first woman to hold the office. Having previously worked for the State Department of Corrections and as assistant director of the Minnesota Program for Victims of Sexual Assault, Belton would tout a family-centered platform and administer numerous successful community programs, including the annual youth-oriented event, "Dancin' in the Streets."

This Day in Minnesota History

January 10, 1855

Henry W. Longfellow publishes The Song of Hiawatha. Although the poet never visited Minnesota, his poem depicts locations such as Minnehaha Falls and inspired some of the state's place names, including Bena, Nushka, Osseo, Ponemah, and Wabasso.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 10, 1851

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet open a school for girls in St. Paul, enrolling fourteen pupils and holding classes in the former Chapel of St. Paul. Originally named St. Mary's, their school would eventually be known as St. Joseph's Academy.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 6, 1948

Mary Ann Courteau, who later became known as singer and songwriter Mary MacGregor, is born in St. Paul. In 1976 she recorded the pop song "Torn Between Two Lovers," which became a number-one hit the following year. She married Paul D. MacGregor on November 13, 1971, but they later divorced.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 9, 2006

The Minnesota Immigration with Dignity March draws more than 30,000 people who support extending legal status to undocumented workers. Championing family reunification and comprehensive reform, immigrants and their supporters march from the Cathedral of St. Paul to the capitol.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1946

The Minnesota Historical Society accepts a grant from the Weyerhaeuser family to establish the Forest Products History Foundation. Initially located in St. Paul, the foundation evolves into the international organization known as the Forest History Society. Now located in Durham, North Carolina, the society's mission remains the same: to preserve and interpret the documents of forest and conservation history.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 15, 1875

Bishop Thomas L. Grace dedicates the Church of St. Michael in Stillwater, with Father John Ireland presiding. The press of the day acclaims it as the finest church in the state.

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