In 1851 Bishop Joseph Cretin needed help to preach the Catholic faith to the growing St. Paul community. In July of that year he asked the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Missouri to assist him. Mother St. John Fournier and three Catholic sisters traveled to the city in the fall and quickly influenced the health and welfare of the region.
During World War I, African American Minnesotans wanted to serve their state and their nation. Historically, however, the U.S. military had been racist in its recruiting. It allowed African Americans to serve only in segregated units. Facing this institutional racism, the African American community of Minnesota asked Governor J.A.A. Burnquist to form an all-African American battalion of the Minnesota Home Guard. The Sixteenth Battalion became the first Minnesota-recruited African American military unit in state history.
The Sixth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry performed crucial frontier service during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 and into 1863. Their first experience in the South involved horrible attrition due to disease. Yet the regiment held together, and they took part in one of the final Southern campaigns in 1865.
Alice Gustava Smith, better known by her students and readers as Sister Maris Stella, taught English at the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) in St. Paul for nearly fifty years. During that time she also published books of verse that built her reputation as a skilled and spiritual poet.
Lena Olive Smith was a prominent civil rights lawyer and activist during the 1920s and 1930s. She made major contributions toward securing civil rights for minorities in the Twin Cities. Smith began fighting for the rights of others when she became the first African American woman licensed to practice law in Minnesota in 1921. She was the only African American woman to practice law in the state until 1945.
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.
The Soudan Mine, which opened in 1884, is located at the western edge of the Vermilion range, about two miles northeast of Tower. It was the first iron mine in the state, and its first ore shipment in the summer of 1884 marked the beginning of the state's mining industry.
Donald Dayton, head of Minneapolis-based Dayton's department stores, teamed up with designer Victor Gruen to create a comfortable, convenient setting for Minnesota shoppers. In 1952, Dayton and Gruen unveiled their plans for Southdale, the nation's first enclosed, weatherproofed mall.
Split Rock Lighthouse opened in the summer of 1910 to guide bulk ore ships sailing near Lake Superior's rocky coast. By 1940, its picturesque North Shore setting had made it one of the most visited lighthouses in the United States.
On October 5, 1869, water seeped and then gushed into a tunnel underneath St. Anthony Falls creating an enormous whirlpool. The falls were nearly destroyed. It was years before the area was fully stabilized and the falls were again safe from collapse.
St. Joseph’s Academy traces its origins to 1851, when the first Sisters of St. Joseph opened a school for girls in a log cabin on the banks of the Mississippi. One hundred and twenty years later, the final St. Joseph’s Academy High School closed its doors. Today, its buildings on Marshall and Western Avenues are on the National Register of Historic Places and still in use.
St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral was completed in 1906. It is the home church of a small community of Rusyns (also called Ruthenians or Carpatho-Ruthenians) who immigrated to Minneapolis from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the late nineteenth century.
The St. Olaf Christmas Festival is an annual music celebration that began in 1912 and has been performed regularly since then by St. Olaf College students. Widely broadcast and telecast, it is regarded as one of the premier choral events in the world.
At its centennial in 2012, the St. Paul Curling Club was the largest curling club in the United States, with over 1200 members. Club members have competed in national and international competitions, including the Olympics. Despite ebb and flow in its popularity over the years, the club has long been a place to play and promote the sport of curling in the Twin Cities.
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.
The St Paul Union Depot Company was incorporated in 1879 by the railroads serving St. Paul. The company was created for the purpose of building and operating a single, jointly owned railroad passenger terminal. The first depot opened in 1881. It was destroyed by fire in 1884 and then rebuilt. The depot received an addition in a 1900-1901 remodeling project.
When St. Paul's High Bridge opened in 1889, only one bridge in the United States surpassed it in height and length. Built of wrought iron and designed for wagons, the High Bridge served mainly cars and trucks. It was demolished in 1985 after ninety-six years of service.
Expert Essay: Professor of history Annette Atkins, author of Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out, argues that "the Cities" and Minnesota's other urban and rural centers have made the state more than flyover country.
The St. Peter Armory was the first state-owned armory built in Minnesota. Architecturally, the structure is an excellent example of Minnesota's so-called "early period” armories, all of which predate World War I. The building is also important because it served as a center of military and social affairs in St. Peter.
Founded in 1888, St. Peter Claver Church was the first African American Catholic Church in Minnesota. The parish was created by St. Paul’s African American Catholic community and an Archbishop who vowed to “blot out the color line.”
On March 29, 1998, a tornado swept through southern Minnesota, devastating the town of St. Peter. Residents had only about ten minutes to take shelter once they heard the warning sirens just after 5:00 p.m. Propelled by 150-mile-an-hour winds, the tornado cut a mile-wide swath through the town of 10,000, causing scores of injuries and one fatality when a young boy was swept out of his family's car. In terms of its severity, the St. Peter tornado ranks with other destructive storms including those that tore through the Twin Cities metro area in 1965 and again in 1981.
Susie Williamson Stageberg is known as the "Mother of the Farmer-Labor Party." The Red Wing activist spent a lifetime fighting for unpopular political and social causes. She strongly opposed the merger of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor Parties in the 1940s.