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.
Lawrence Taliaferro, tired of bribery attempts by crooked individuals, steps down as Indian agent at Fort Snelling, a position he had held since 1820. Indians and whites alike esteemed him for his honesty and intelligence, and his diaries of life at Fort Snelling provide a detailed record of frontier Minnesota. He died on January 22, 1871, aged eighty-one.
Thomas B. Walker is born in Xenia, Ohio. After making his fortune in lumber, he would plan and develop the Walker Art Gallery, which opened in 1894. He would also play an instrumental role in the creation of the Minneapolis Public Library. He died in 1928.
Father Lucien Galtier dedicates his log church to "St. Paul, the apostle of nations." This name is deemed superior to "Pig's Eye," the community's previous moniker, and St. Paul is incorporated as a town on this date in 1849. The log structure later serves as the first school of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and in 1856 its logs are dismantled, numbered, and hauled up the hill to the St. Joseph's Academy construction site. Unfortunately, the plan to rebuild the chapel as a historic site had not been communicated to the workmen, who use the logs to warm themselves and their coffee.
The legislature establishes funding for the territory's public schools. By decree of the Northwest Ordinance, one section in each township had been set aside to support a school, and in Minnesota these lands are not sold for short-term cash but are rented out to provide a steady and long-term cash flow. Martin McLeod authored the bill, which Territorial Governor Alexander Ramsey would consider his administration's most important piece of legislation.
At the Minnesota Historical Society's first annual meeting, the Reverend Edward D. Neill gives a lecture, the Sixth Regiment's band provides music, and a grand ball is held in St. Paul's Central House.
Cass and Chisago Counties are created. Cass is named for Lewis Cass, governor of Michigan Territory, who explored the upper Mississippi in 1820 and negotiated several Indian treaties. Chisago is named for the lake, a contraction of the Ojibwe name for the lake, Ke-chi-sago, meaning "large and lovely."
At the Washington Navy Yard, Susan L. Mann christens the steam frigate Minnesota with a bottle of Minnesota water. On April 6 of the previous year, Congress had authorized construction of this ship and, coincidentally, the frigate Merrimac , which, rebuilt as a Confederate ironclad and renamed the Virginia, would attack the Minnesota during the Civil War.
The territorial legislature incorporates the St. Peter Company, which is authorized to engage in milling and waterpower work and to develop real estate. The company's stockholders hope to move the state capital to St. Peter, but their efforts are thwarted (see February 27). James J. Hill would purchase the company's charter in 1901, hoping that its real estate powers would prove useful to the Great Northern Railway.
Minneapolis is approved for a town government by the territorial legislature. It would become a city ten years later. The legislature also forms three counties: Lake County, named for Lake Superior; McLeod County, named for Martin McLeod, a fur trader and member of the territorial legislature; and Pine County, named for the extensive pine forests of the region or perhaps for the Pine River and Pine Lakes.
The first issue of Ignatius Donnelly's newspaper, the Emigrant Aid Journal , is published in Philadelphia. This publication encourages recent immigrants to move to Nininger, a town Donnelly had founded on the Mississippi River downstream from St. Paul. Although 1,000 people live there at its peak, the town would eventually fail. Incidentally, the editor of the Emigrant Aid Journal is A. W. MacDonald, who would later edit Scientific American .
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.