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This Day in Minnesota History

January 11, 1945

Nellie Stone Johnson, union organizer and activist, is elected to the Minneapolis library board, the first African American ever elected to a citywide post in Minneapolis.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 11, 1954

The state historical society recognizes ethnographer Frances Densmore for "distinguished service in the field of Minnesota History." Densmore, a Red Wing native, was one of the first ethnologists to specialize in the study of American Indian music and culture and is perhaps best known for her field recordings of Ojibwe songs.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 11, 1956

The dwellings in Swede Hollow, a St. Paul immigrant neighborhood, are burned after the city health department declares them contaminated.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 11, 1970

Norman E. Borlaug, University of Minnesota alumnus and crop researcher, receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his research in hybridizing wheat to increase crop yields. Borlaug is known as the father of the green revolution.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 11, 1971

The first Minnesota Renaissance Festival opens at Lake Grace in Jonathan. One of the largest of its kind, the festival now operates from a permanent encampment near Shakopee.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 11, 1992

The Mall of America opens to a gala ceremony, an unexpected parking crunch, and an estimated 150,000 shoppers, who, as the Star Tribune would comment, "took a vacation from recession and bought." Standing on what was the site of Metropolitan Stadium, the "megamall" is the largest in the United States.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 11, 1999

Duluth's state representative Willard Munger dies. He had served over forty years in the Minnesota House and was known as an advocate for environmental protection.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 11, 1999

St. Paul native Paul Molitor announces his retirement from baseball, having spent his final three seasons with the Minnesota Twins. His career hits numbered over 3,000, most of them from his years with the Milwaukee Brewers.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 11, 1999

After sixteen month of often bitter protest, four oak trees sacred to the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community are cut down to make way for the rerouting of Highway 55 in Minneapolis.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1806

James Shields is born in Ireland. He would be a U.S. senator for three different states: Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri. After moving to Faribault in 1855, he would be one of the first two senators selected by the state's legislature, and while in office he would encourage Irish immigration to Minnesota. Shieldsville in Rice County is named for him. He died in 1879.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1816

Willis A. Gorman is born in Flemingsburg, Kentucky. He would be appointed second territorial governor of Minnesota in 1853 and would later serve in the legislature, command the First Minnesota Regiment in the Civil War, and be St. Paul's city attorney from 1869 until his death on May 20, 1876.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1829

Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Taylor ends his command at Fort Snelling, which had begun May 24, 1828. He would later lead the U.S Army in the war against Mexico, and "Old Rough and Ready" would take that fame to the White House. Taylor is the only U.S. president to have spent a significant amount of time in Minnesota.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1838

Iowa Territory is formed, including in its claim present-day Minnesota west of the Mississippi River, which was called Clayton County. Henry H. Sibley serves as justice of the peace for the county, but this part of Minnesota would be left without a government when Iowa became a state in 1846.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1840

Governor James D. Doty of Wisconsin Territory (which includes part of the future Minnesota) writes to the U.S. secretary of war protesting an extension of the Fort Snelling military reservation and asking how the federal government can take land "by the simple declaration that it is necessary for military purposes" and without consent of the territorial legislature. The protest is in vain, and military authorities eventually expel "squatters" living in the fort area, causing many of them to move to the site that will become St. Paul.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1869

Norwegian newspaperman Paul Hjelm-Hansen leaves Alexandria to travel to the Red River by oxcart. Hjelm-Hansen had been hired by the State Board of Immigration to publicize the advantages of settling in western Minnesota. His letters, published in a number of Norwegian newspapers, encourage many emigrants to settle here. In 1924 the Norwegian-Danish Press Association of America presented the Minnesota Historical Society with a plaque in his memory.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1872

Rutherford B. Hayes, between terms as governor of Ohio, spends the morning in St. Paul visiting the state capitol and "other places of note in the city." He would serve as U.S. president from 1877 to 1881.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1873

Rocky Mountain locusts cross into Minnesota and begin destroying crops in the southwestern part of the state. Relief efforts are organized to keep the settlers from starving. The locusts return for the next four years, finally leaving in August 1877.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1876

The Minnesota Forestry Association is formed to work for the passage of conservation laws to protect the state's forests. At one time boasting 10,000 members, the association would prove so successful that state agencies and civic groups would take on its activities, and in 1948 the group would vote itself out of existence.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1877

Duluth, having suffered a loss of population, reverts from a city back into a town.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1881

The balloon Great Northwest , piloted by Samuel A. King and carrying eight passengers, ascends from Minneapolis. Their plan to travel to the Atlantic Coast garners national attention, but the flight is a failure, with a forced landing before the balloon reaches St. Paul.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1882

Five craft unions and two Knights of Labor Assemblies form the St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly, the first centralized labor organization in the state.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1883

The Little Sisters of the Poor establish their convent in St. Paul. The Sisters began as a Hospitallers Order in Saint Servan, Brittany, France, dedicated to serving the elderly poor and infirm, and they maintain convents and hospitality houses all over the world.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1883

Theodore Christianson is born in Lac qui Parle Township. From 1925 to 1931 he would serve as the twenty-first governor, but he was only the second one to be born in the state. He would also write a five-volume history of Minnesota. He died on December 10, 1948.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1888

A major blizzard strikes the state, hitting western Minnesota especially hard and causing the deaths of between 100 and 150 people, many of them children on their way home from school.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1889

DeWitt Wallace is born in St. Paul. Wallace would found Reader's Digest in 1922, and his family's fortune has benefited many educational and performing arts associations.

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