Donaldson’s, also known as William Donaldson and Company and L. S. Donaldson’s, was a Minneapolis department store located on Nicollet Avenue and Sixth Street. Started by two immigrant brothers, the company grew to be one of the major retail chains in the Twin Cities, rivaling Dayton’s for much of the twentieth century.
Ignatius Donnelly was the most widely known Minnesotan of the nineteenth century. As a writer, orator, and social thinker, he enjoyed fame in the U.S. and overseas. As a politician he was the nation's most articulate spokesman for Midwestern populism. Though the highest office he held was that of U.S. congressman, he shaped Minnesota politics for more than thirty years.
African Americans Dred Scott and Harriet Robinson Scott lived at Fort Snelling in the 1830s as enslaved people. Both the Northwest Ordinance (1787) and the Missouri Compromise (1820) prohibited slavery in the area, but slavery existed there even so. In the 1840s the Scotts sued for their freedom, arguing that having lived in “free territory” made them free. The 1857 Supreme Court decision that grew out of their suit moved the U.S. closer to civil war.
The Duluth Armory has served as both a military training facility and an entertainment venue since its construction in 1915. Notable for its neoclassical design, the armory was central to the work of the National Guard and Home Guard. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.
In December 1891, the Duluth Street Railway Company opened an incline railway on the right-of-way of Seventh Avenue West. The company had received a charter from the state in 1881 to build a streetcar line for Duluth, and this railway was part of the larger system. The hillside was too steep for a regular rail line, and cable powered lines were often used in similar situations.
Admired for its jewel-like character, the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range depot at Endion was constructed in 1899. The depot was designed by notable Duluth architect I. Vernon Hill, and it is one of the last small passenger depots of its kind.
Famed author and lecturer Charles Eastman was raised in a traditional Dakota manner until age fifteen, when he entered Euro-American culture at his father's request. He spent the rest of his life moving between American Indian and white American worlds, achieving renown but never financial security.
Seventeenth Minnesota governor Adolph Olson (A.O.) Eberhart lived the classic American story of an immigrant who achieved success through hard work and ability. He graduated at the top of his class at Gustavus Adolphus College and was the youngest state senator in the 33rd legislative session.
From 1906 to the 1960s, Danish-born brothers Valdemar and Soren Egekvist built a model of immigrant enterprise. They applied Old World skills in a New World economy. Their chain of Minneapolis bakery stores ultimately led to nationally distributed baked goods.
In 1864, the officers and men of the Eighth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment traveled from Fort Ridgley deep into Dakota Territory and then returned to Minnesota. Next, they headed to Tennessee. From there, the regiment moved to Washington, D.C., North Carolina, and finally, back to Minnesota. During that final year of the Civil War, the Eighth claimed to have covered more miles and experienced more variety in its service than any other regiment in the Union Army.
In a special state senate election held in January of 2002, Mee Moua became the first Asian woman chosen to serve in the Minnesota Legislature and the first Hmong American elected to any state legislature. Her win in St. Paul’s District 67 made national news and had lasting political and cultural impacts on the Hmong community.
Organized in late 1864, the Eleventh Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the last infantry unit to be raised by the state. Though not involved in any major battles, the regiment performed a crucial service that helped to achieve ultimate Union victory.
On August 21, 1860, enslaved African American Eliza Winston was freed from her Mississippi slaveholder in a Minneapolis court. After being granted legal freedom, however, Winston faced white mob violence and was forced to leave the area. The event showed that although slavery was illegal in Minnesota, many white Minnesotans supported the practice when it economically benefited them.
In 1871 Minneapolis built the first public waterworks in Minnesota to pump water from the Mississippi River. The city's attempts to provide clean, safe water led to decades of efforts to improve and expand the waterworks.
The botched execution of William Williams was the last in Minnesota. After newspapers broke state law to report on the event, public opinion turned firmly against the death penalty, and it was repealed in 1911.
The Faribault Woolen Mill Company has statewide significance as one of the largest and oldest fully integrated woolen mills in Minnesota. The mill started as a small family-owned business in the nineteenth century and grew to become the largest and longest-surviving woolen mill in the state.
When the farmers of Traverse County founded Minnesota's first Farm Bureau, it signaled a new movement in Minnesota agriculture. In the century since its creation, the Farm Bureau has worked on the local, state, and national levels to support farmers and act as the "voice of agriculture" in America.
The Farmers' Alliance in Minnesota thrived from 1886 to 1892. During this time, the organization achieved the most progress toward its political goals in the state. These included greater regulation of the railroad industry as it impacted the wheat market, elimination of irregularities in the grading of wheat, and minimization or elimination of the middleman in the wheat trade.
The Farmers' Holiday Association was formed in 1932. The Midwestern organization successfully fought against farm foreclosures with novel strategies like penny auctions, but unsuccessfully lobbied Congress for a federal system that would pay farmers for their crops based on the cost of production.
In the 1880s, Minnesota farmers saw the need for education but resisted "book farming," or learning how to farm by reading instructional text. Farmers' institutes, lecture series that traveled to rural communities and taught practical farming skills, were popular alternatives in the 1880s through the 1920s.
The Father Louis Hennepin Bridge was built in 1855 to take advantage of the transport possibilities provided by the Mississippi River above St. Anthony Falls. It was the first bridge built to span the Mississippi river, and made crossing its length above the Falls much easier. The rushing rapids helped to create industry on the river and spurred a population boom that made Minneapolis the most populated city in Minnesota.
One of the most colorful characters on the scene in early twentieth century Minnesota was Wilford Hamilton "Captain Billy" Fawcett. He was editor and publisher of a bawdy men's humor magazine called Captain Billy's Whiz Bang. He was also a veteran of two wars, an Olympic athlete, a world traveler, a big-game hunter, and a resort owner.
When the Fergus Falls State Hospital opened its doors on July 29, 1890, it became the first state institution in northern Minnesota for patients considered insane. The hospital had a sprawling campus and large stately buildings, built according to the influential asylum plan developed by Philadelphia physician Thomas Kirkbride in the 1850s.