LeDuc, William Gates (1823–1917)

William Gates LeDuc played a variety of parts in Minnesota’s transition from territory to statehood. A “jack of all trades” who never found great success in one endeavor, he counted former presidents, governors, generals, and supreme court justices among his friends by the time of his death in 1917.

Strohfus, Elizabeth (Betty) Wall (1919–2016)

Elizabeth (Betty) Wall Strohfus fell in love with flying airplanes in the 1940s and became a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) during World War II. She fought for WASP veteran recognition in the 1970s, and from the 1990s until her death, she traveled across the country to tell her story and inspire others.

Zierke, Carl “Dutch Charley” (1828–1865)

In the late 1850s, Carl Zierke, arrived in Cottonwood County with his wife and three stepchildren. Known to some as “Dutch Charley,” Zierke witnessed key events in the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862. His memory is preserved in two Cottonwood County place names: Dutch Charley Creek and South Dutch Charley Park.

Prince (1958–2016)

Prince was a Minnesota-based singer, songwriter, musician, studio engineer, actor, director, dancer, and music legend. Over his nearly forty-year career, he sold more than100 million albums; he also won seven Grammys and an Oscar. He was the main creator of the “Minneapolis Sound,” a blending of rhythm and blues, funk, rock, pop, punk, and new wave that defined the music of the 1980s.

Molter, Dorothy (1907–1986)

Pennsylvania native Dorothy Molter spent over fifty years in Northern Minnesota, where she helped to run the Isle of Pines resort and provided nursing care for those in need. From the 1950s through the mid-1980s, she made batches of homemade root beer at her cabin on Knife Lake that drew thousands of tourists, anglers, and canoeists each summer and earned her the nickname “the Root Beer Lady.”

Schmidt, Henry (1882–1918)

Henry Schmidt’s dream of becoming a physician in his hometown of Westbrook, Minnesota, came true in 1910. His dream of opening a hospital, however, was postponed when he died during the 1918 influenza epidemic. Schmidt’s father was instrumental in opening Westbrook’s Henry Schmidt Memorial Hospital in 1951.

Blackmun, Harry A. (1908–1999)

Harry Blackmun was the third Minnesotan to serve on the US Supreme Court, after Pierce Butler (associate justice, 1923–1939) and Warren Burger (chief justice, 1969–1986), and he stayed the longest: twenty-four years. He was little known outside legal circles until he wrote the decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) that established Constitutional protection of abortion.

Klingensmith, Florence “Tree Tops” (1904–1933)

The first licensed female pilot in North Dakota and a pioneer of aviation, Florence “Tree Tops” Klingensmith made a name for herself in air racing circuits, winning several prizes and setting records. At a time when women were expected to stay at home, Klingensmith followed her own path.

Renville, Gabriel (1825–1892)

Gabriel Renville was a fur trader, a farmer, and the leader of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota from 1867 until 1892. Related by blood to multiple Dakota bands and mixed-ancestry families, he opposed Ta Oyate Duta (His Red Nation, also known as Little Crow) and other Dakota who fought against settler-colonists in the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862. His choice angered some of his relatives, who saw him as serving the interests of colonists. After the war, he was one of many who worked to reacquire land for the Sisseton-Wahpeton people.

Comstock, Solomon (1842–1933)

Solomon Comstock earned his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1869 but worked with railroads when prospects of finding a job in his chosen career path seemed dim. In Moorhead, he began a law partnership and traded in real estate with the Northwest Land Company. In the 1880s, he worked with James J. Hill’s Northern Pacific Railway to plat townships across Minnesota.


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