James J. Hill fit the nickname “empire builder.” He assembled a rail network—the Great Northern (1878), the Northern Pacific (1896), and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (1901)—that stretched from Duluth to Seattle across the north, and from Chicago south to St. Louis and then west to Denver. He was one of the most successful railroad magnates of his time.
Mary Theresa Mehegan Hill, wife of railroad builder James J. Hill, lived in St. Paul from her arrival as a young child in 1850 until her death in 1921. She witnessed the city’s evolution from a small settlement on the Mississippi River to an important center of commerce.
Carver County's history is documented in the records of its cities, city agencies, and government center. Schools, school districts, churches, and civic groups have archives as well. Four historical societies call Carver County home. These are the Chanhassen Historical Society, the Chaska Historical Society, the Watertown Area Historical Society, and the Willkommen Heritage and Preservation Society of Norwood Young America.
The Hmong first arrived in Minnesota in late 1975, after the communist seizure of power in Indochina. They faced multiple barriers as refugees from a war-torn country, but with the help of generous sponsors, have managed to thrive in the Twin Cities area, a region they now claim as home. Today, many Hmong promote the economic, social, and political diversity of the state.
The Hmong Health Care Professionals Coalition (HHCPC) is a partnership of Hmong public health experts based in St. Paul. Since its founding in 1995, the HHCPC has grown to become a central health resource for Minnesota’s Hmong community. Its members and volunteers conduct research, educate patients, develop best practices, and provide leadership to other health groups.
The Hmong New Year in St. Paul is a unique annual event encapsulated into a weekend celebration held at the end of November. Since 1977, Hmong people have gathered in the city to meet, eat, celebrate the harvest, and enjoy cultural performances. Though the event is rooted in the agricultural history of the Hmong people and their religious traditions, it has found a new expression in St. Paul—the home of one of the largest communities of Hmong outside Southeast Asia.
In 1855, a federal treaty moved the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) people from their reservation near Long Prairie to a site along the Blue Earth River. The Ho-Chunk farmed the area's rich soil with some success, but drew the hostility of white neighbors who wanted the land for themselves. Though they did not participate in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, they were exiled from Minnesota during the conflict's aftermath.
In 1848 the U.S. government removed the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) from their reservation in the northeastern part of Iowa to Long Prairie in Minnesota Territory. The Ho-Chunk found the land at Long Prairie a poor choice to meet their needs as farmers. In 1855 they were moved again, this time to a reservation in southern Minnesota.
After New York City schoolteacher Harriet Duncan came to Minnesota in 1868, she became an advocate for temperance and women's suffrage. She was president of the Minnesota Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) for seventeen years and urged the WCTU to work on behalf of women's rights more broadly.
The world's most iconic home thermostat was created in Minneapolis. The Round, designed by engineer Carl Kronmiller and designer Henry Dreyfuss, was introduced in 1953 by the company then known as Minneapolis-Honeywell. The Round became both a sales mainstay and a world-renowned piece of industrial art.
With the rapid growth of the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis in the mid-nineteenth century, the need for a reliable form of public transportation became apparent. Horse-drawn streetcars provided the answer and sparked the growth of what would become one of the most extensive streetcar systems in the country.
Young Red Wing newspaper editor Lucius F. Hubbard backed his words with action when he enlisted as a private in the Fifth Minnesota Volunteers during the Civil War. He emerged from the fighting as a general and a war hero, and became wealthy through wheat marketing, milling, and railroads. He was elected governor in 1881.
Centralized hydroelectric power came on for the first time in the United States in downtown Minneapolis on September 5, 1882. Minnesota Brush Electric Company produced the power, beating a similar effort in Appleton, Wisconsin, by twenty-five days.
When Alfred T. Andreas chose Minnesota as the subject for his new atlas, the state was only fifteen years old. Andreas's publication of An Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Minnesota changed the way state atlases were written, illustrated, and distributed. The atlas also put the social and cultural landscape of early Minnesota literally on the map.
From 1883-1915, Imdieke Brickyard in Meire Grove produced bricks using traditional European methods. Residents supported this business venture by purchasing materials to create structures that represented their German culture.
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.
Built in less than a year, the Industrial Exposition Building in Minneapolis housed the city's first Industrial Exposition in 1886 and the Republican National Convention of 1892. It dominated the Mississippi riverbank east of St. Anthony Falls for decades.
Inyan Ceyaka Otunwe (“Village at the Barrier of Stone”), also called Little Rapids or simply Inyan Ceyaka, was a summer planting village of the Wahpeton Dakota. Located near present-day Jordan on the Minnesota River, the village was occupied by the Wahpeton during the early 1800s, and likely before. Burial mounds indicate that Paleo-Americans—possible ancestors of the Dakota—lived at the site as early as 100 CE.
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.
"If not fully satisfied, your money cheerfully refunded." We take statements like this for granted today, but when twenty-eight-year-old entrepreneur Joseph Ray (J.R.) Watkins of Plainview, Minnesota, put that message on a bottle of his Red Liniment, he was a trailblazer.
Sitting on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and the city of St. Paul, the 36,500-square- foot, forty-two-room James J. Hill House stands as a monument to the man who built the Great Northern Railway. It remains one of the best examples of Richardsonian Romanesque mansions in the country.
On his second visit to the region, French explorer Pierre Charles Le Sueur arrives at the mouth of the Blue Earth River. At this site he builds Fort L'Huillier, named for a chemist in France who had told Le Sueur that the blue clay found at this location on his first trip was rich in copper. Le Sueur travels with two tons of the clay to New Orleans, leaving nineteen men to continue operations. Unfortunately, further testing shows that the clay contains no copper, and when Le Sueur returned to the Blue Earth River the fort had disappeared. In 1907 A.