This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1857

Wendelin Grimm moves to Carver County. Grimm begins experimenting with what he called Ewiger Klee, or "everlasting clover," in the next year, developing a winter-hardy strain of alfalfa. Fed to cows, this alfalfa would be critical to the dairy boom in the Upper Midwest. Local schoolteacher Arthur Lyman describes Grimm alfalfa in a speech to the State Agricultural Society on January 12, 1904; with this publicity it soon becomes a major American crop and the leading variety of alfalfa until the 1940s. A monument to Grimm was erected on his old farm in Laketown Township in 1924.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1859

The steamboat Anson Northup begins working on the Red River. In an effort to cash in on the lucrative Red River valley trade and to improve connections with Fort Garry (now Winnipeg), St. Paul businessmen offered a $2,000 prize to the first boat to deliver a cargo to Fort Garry. Mr. Anson Northup traveled with his Mississippi steamer North Star up the Crow Wing River as far as possible. Then he dissembled the 90-by-24-foot boat and began the overland trip with sixty-four horses and a crew of sixty men.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1860

The state's first book-quality paper, manufactured at the Cutter and Secombe paper mill in St. Anthony, is used in The Minnesota Farmer and Gardener, an agricultural magazine.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1869

Black residents of Minnesota hold a grand convention in St. Paul's Ingersoll Hall "to celebrate the Emancipation of 4,000,000 slaves, and to express...gratitude for the bestowal of the elective franchise to the colored people of this State."

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1870

The Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad inaugurates rail travel between St. Paul and Duluth.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1873

St. Paul character "Old Bets" dies at age eighty-five. The Dakota woman was a familiar sight in early St. Paul and made her living by begging and charging tourists who photographed her.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1878

On an unusually balmy day, the steamer Aunt Betsy carries a load of passengers from St. Paul to Fort Snelling. Crowds line the Jackson Street landing, the bluffs, and the Wabasha Street Bridge to watch, and the passengers carry palm-leaf fans to stave off the heat.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1880

An act of Congress places Fort Ripley Military Reservation in the public domain, making the land available for settlement. The fort, located on the Mississippi River below the mouth of the Crow Wing River, had been established in 1849 and was abandoned by the army in 1878.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1881

The first state capitol building burns. Three hundred people escape safely, but the building, including the law library, is a total loss. Luckily, most of the Minnesota Historical Society's artifacts are rescued from the basement. A second capitol is built on the same site, a square block bounded by Wabasha, Cedar, Exchange, and Tenth Streets, but is later replaced by the present capitol.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1886

St. Paul's first Winter Carnival opens, hosting competitions in curling, skating, and ice polo and boasting the first ice palace in the United States. Built in Central Park, the palace is 140 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 100 feet high. The Winter Carnival suggests that those Minnesotans who do not enjoy complaining about their winter may actually enjoy the season.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1887

The Northwestern Publishing Company is incorporated in St. Paul as a general job order printing office, with the subsidiary enterprise of publishing the Western Appeal (which would became The Appeal in 1889), a weekly African American newspaper that had first appeared in 1885. Editor John Quincy Adams later calls it "A National Afro-American Newspaper" and intends it to be a bold and active paper printing articles that an oppressed people want to read.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1893

Workers nail the final spike in the 818 miles of track stretching from Pacific Junction, Montana, to Everett, Washington, completing the Great Northern Railroad and connecting St. Paul to the Pacific Ocean.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1894

A forest fire kills 413 people and burns 160,000 acres of timberland around Hinckley. Railroad engineer James Root saves more than 100 people by loading them onto train cars and driving through the blaze. The devastation of this fire convinces many of the importance of forest conservation.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1896

Three-quarters of Red Lake Indian Reservation land--the region north and east of Thirteen Towns (Badger, Brandsvold, Chester, Columbia, Eden, Fosston, Hill River, King, Knute, Lessor, Queen, Rosebud, and Sletten) in Polk County--is opened to white settlement.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1899

The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions , authored by Thorstein Veblen, is published. A graduate of Carleton College, Veblen earns recognition as a dynamic economist and social theorist, and his book remains influential today.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1908

At the urging of Dr. Richard O. Beard, the Board of Regents for the University of Minnesota authorizes a nursing curriculum, the first college-associated school of nursing in the country. The school opens March 1, 1909, with Bertha Erdmann as director.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1918

Residents of Hibbing begin moving its buildings so that the iron ore deposit located beneath the town can be mined.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1921

Patrick Des Jarlait is born on the Red Lake Reservation. He would paint colorful, stylized images of Ojibwe traditional life.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1922

A nationwide walkout by railroad shop craft and other employees includes 8,000 workers in the Twin Cities. The strike ends in defeat for the workers, with scab labor permanently replacing many of them, but the new Farmer-Labor Party's assistance during the strike encourages the workers' support of the party in later elections, making the Farmer-Labor Party, rather than the Democratic Party, the principal opposition party in Minnesota for many years.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1923

Twin City Savings and Loan Association is chartered, a $7 million institution that would assist thousands of area families in becoming homeowners.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1924

Six hundred women attend a Women's Safe Driver Automobile School at the YWCA, sponsored by the St. Paul Pioneer Press , the St. Paul Association Safety Division, and the Dunwoody Institute.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1926

Sauk Centre's Sinclair Lewis declines the Pulitzer Prize for the novel Arrowsmith , saying that awards inhibit creativity and make writers lazy. He would, however, feel differently a few years later.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1927

Harper and Brothers publishes the first English edition of Ole E. Rolvaag's Giants in the Earth , a novel of Norwegian settlement on the Great Plains. Rolvaag, a professor at St. Olaf College, wrote the original text in Norwegian.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1929

The first celebration of Kolacky Day in Montgomery occurs. A kolacky is a Czechoslovakian pastry filled with fruit. At first the festival was only a day long, but in 1975 the celebration was scheduled for late July and extended into Kolacky Days, complete with music, dancing, art displays, and a parade.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 1, 1931

The Interstate Bridge in Stillwater opens, replacing a wooden one built in 1876.

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