Emile Julien Amblard, known as the "Duke of Clearwater Lake," became one of Coney Island's leading residents. He bought his first piece of land there in 1893. The western edge of the island and a building in Waconia would become his passion for the next twenty-one years.
Dedicated in 1909, the red brick synagogue of Virginia's B'nai Abraham congregation was called the most beautiful religious building on the Iron Range. In the early twentieth century, the synagogue was the heart of Virginia's Jewish community. A declining congregation forced the synagogue to close its doors in the mid-1990s. However, community support and renovations have made B'nai Abraham a center of Virginia's cultural life once again.
Often, the first structure built by Finnish immigrants to Minnesota was a sauna. That was the case with the Barberg-Selvälä-Salmonson sauna in Cokato—the oldest savusauna, or smoke sauna, still existing in Minnesota and likely in the United States.
Since 1952, the Citizens League has had a major impact on public policies in Minnesota. A group of civic leaders had the idea of inviting leaders from different parts of the community to the table to solve big policy issues. This meant bringing together lawmakers, union leaders, heads of Minnesota companies, and experts from universities and industries. As a group, these experts and leaders would study an issue and then write a research paper they could all agree on. Then they would do the political work required to make their conclusions a reality.
Part of a Danish settlement near Tyler, the Danebod church and folk school have been a center of Danish-American life for over a century. Danebod is a Danish word meaning "one who mends or saves the Danes." The Danebod community is home to programs that preserve, teach, and celebrate Danish-American culture on the Minnesota prairie.
Ghost towns convey a certain image, thanks to popular culture. Despite this portrayal, ghost towns are simply former towns, places settled and then abandoned for a variety of reasons. Every state in the United States has them and they are part of the history of a region, including Carver County.
Wendelin Grimm was born October 18, 1818 in Kulsheim, Baden, Germany, to Valentine and Marie (Adelmann) Grimm. He grew up in a farm rich area of southern Germany, learning important crops and farming practices. In 1845, Grimm married Julianna Segner (born June 15, 1821) of Steinback, Baden, Germany. The Grimms chances to own a farm were limited by the land inheritance practices of the time. Farming and crop prices were under pressure, and their future in Germany looked grim. With a growing family to support, sons Frank and Joseph and daughter Ottilia, Wendelin and Julianna looked to America for their family's future.
During the early twentieth century, the population of the Iron Range was among the most ethnically diverse in Minnesota. Tens of thousands of immigrants arrived from Finland, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Canada, England, and over thirty other places of origin. These immigrants mined the ore that made the Iron Range famous and built its communities.
Born in County Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1838, John Ireland came to St. Paul with his parents in 1852. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1861, and by the time he was appointed archbishop of St. Paul in 1888, he was one of the city's most prominent citizens.
Liang May Seen was the first woman of Chinese descent to live in Minnesota. After escaping from a brothel in San Francisco, Liang learned English, married, and moved to Minneapolis, where she was a leader in the Chinese immigrant community until her death in 1946.
The Czechs that came to Roseau County beginning in the 1890s were some of the first European Americans to homestead on land in northwest Minnesota. Czech fraternal lodges were created in America by immigrants to promote their welfare, maintain cultural traditions, and satisfy social needs. Lodge Boleslav Jablonsky was one such lodge.
Swedish immigrant Hans Mattson was a prominent immigration booster and politician. Working for the state and for private companies, he recruited many Swedish and Norwegian immigrants to Minnesota during the late nineteenth century. He was also the first Scandinavian elected to Minnesota office. During his lifetime, Colonel Mattson was one of the best-known Swedish Americans in United States politics.
Mennonites arrived at Mountain Lake in 1873. Mennonites are a Protestant Christian group with sixteenth century European origins. Their name refers to Menno Simons, who was a Dutch religious reformer. Simons preached a fundamentalist, more literal interpretation of the Bible. He also emphasized the importance of adult baptism. Along with these beliefs, Simons promoted a simple way of life similar to Jesus Christ and the apostles. As part of his creed, he stressed the importance of Christian brotherhood, pacifism, and the primacy of family in Christian life. The tenet of pacifism played a significant role throughout Mennonite history.
Tired of ethnic discrimination as well as dangerous working conditions, low wages, and long work days, immigrant iron miners on the Mesabi Range in northeastern Minnesota went on strike on July 20, 1907. It was the first organized strike on the state's Iron Range.
State militia soldiers fought many wars against Britain, Mexico, and American Indian nations to take land for the United States. The federal government rewarded them with military land warrants—certificates that could be redeemed for up to 160 acres of U.S. public land. The warrants were quickly sold and then traded on Wall Street to land agents in the country’s western territories. The agents made huge profits from selling and loaning them to struggling farmers. In Minnesota, German immigrants used land warrants to buy Dakota land, start farms, and found the town of New Ulm.
By 1880 Goodhue County held within its borders four significant Euro-American immigrant enclaves: Minnesota's largest group of Swedish settlers and the second largest assembly of Norwegians, as well as one of the most densely populated German tracts. There was also an Irish colony at the county's center. The settling of Goodhue County serves as a case study of the state's early immigration patterns.
Nininger, a small town built quickly in 1856 and abandoned only a few years later, was located twenty-five miles south of St. Paul near present-day Hastings. The story of its rise and fall is typical of many of the boom towns that sprang up in places like Minnesota Territory during the mid-nineteenth century. It shows both the high hopes of the area’s newcomers and the despair they felt when their communities failed.
Eric Norelius traveled to the Minnesota territorial town of Red Wing in 1855. He planned to meet with groups of immigrant Swedes looking for a Lutheran minister to lead them. The twenty-one year-old churchman thus began a six-decade ministry that served the state's Swedish Lutheran population.
Constructed in Minneapolis in 1919, the Northeast Neighborhood House (NENH) served both as a portal into American society for newly arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe and as an advocate for the neighborhood's underprivileged. It is a notable example of a social institution created solely for the betterment of the disadvantaged.
Andrew Peterson was born Anders Petterson on October 20, 1818, on a farm in Sjöarp, Västra Ryd, Östergötland, Sweden. His family had financial ties to the church, so he and his brother received a better education than many farmers of the time. He had interests in music, and experimental agricultural and farm techniques.
In 1904, immigrant baker Arvid Peterson gave a Swedish-styled cracker a modern American name and introduced the country to Ry-Krisp. For decades, Minneapolis was the one and only location where the product was made.
Virginia's Socialist Opera House was one of many halls built in communities across the nation where concentrations of Finnish immigrants had settled. Used for dances, gymnastic performances, and stage plays, the halls also provided meeting places for like-minded Finns, many of them laborers who embraced socialist ideals.
When Czech and Slovak immigrants moved to Minnesota in the late nineteenth century, they carried with them the idea of a Sokol—a social, cultural, and gymnastics society that combined physical and mental education. The St. Paul Sokol has served as a community center for more than one hundred years.