Thompson, Clark Wallace (1825–1885)

Clark W. Thompson was a businessman and politician who founded the town of Wells, Minnesota, in 1870. As Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Superintendency during the US–Dakota War of 1862, he was involved in crooked business practices and corrupt political dealings—a man of industry who used his position and power to build wealth at the expense of Native populations.

Blumenfield, Isadore “Kid Cann” (1900–1981)

In the annals of Minneapolis crime one man occupies the place held by Al Capone in Chicago and Meyer Lansky in New York and Miami: Isadore Blumenfeld, also known as Kid Cann. He was a lifelong criminal who made fortunes in liquor, gambling, labor racketeering (all protected through political corruption), and real estate. Only late in life did he serve more than a year in prison. He retired in Florida and died rich.

Olesen, Anna Dickie (1885–1971)

The first female nominee of a major party for the US Senate, Anna Dickie Olesen was a celebrated orator and passionate social reformer who became one of the most prominent Democratic women of the early twentieth century.

Arneson, David Lance (1947‒2009)

David Lance Arneson was a game designer from St. Paul who collaborated with Ernest Gary Gygax to publish the famous tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) in 1974. Although the D&D property changed hands in 1997, and the game’s mechanics have evolved, its core wouldn’t be what it is today without Dave Arneson.

Jaques, Francis Lee (1887‒1969)

Francis Lee Jaques emerged from rural Minnesota in the 1930s and 40s to become a nationally known wildlife artist. After two decades at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, he returned to his home state to paint a much-loved series of habitat dioramas at the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum. His images of Minnesota are a valuable record of the state’s natural history.

Rice, Henry Mower (1816‒1894)

As a trader, businessman, treaty negotiator, and legislator, Henry Mower Rice played a crucial role in Minnesota’s statehood and the development of St. Paul. At the same time, Rice was responsible for policies that benefited himself and his business partners at the expense of Minnesota’s Indigenous populations.

Van Lear, Thomas (1869–1931)

The only Socialist mayor of Minneapolis (1917–1919), Thomas Van Lear was a machinist and influential union leader. Socialist opposition to World War I proved a major factor in his failure to win reelection in 1918, after which he retired from politics. A talented writer and orator, he later helped found and lead the short-lived Minneapolis Daily Star.

Christiansen, F. Melius (1871‒1955)

Norwegian immigrant musician F. Melius Christiansen founded the St. Olaf College Choir in 1911. Through his career as a conductor, composer, and arranger, he established the preeminent Lutheran a capella (unaccompanied) choral tradition in America.

Laughy, Joseph Linwood (1897‒1917)

Joseph Linwood Laughy was born in 1897 and moved to Baudette, Minnesota, in 1915. In April 1918, four days after the United States entered World War I, Linwood signed up for the Navy. After serving only five months, he was killed in an accident, making him the first victim of the war from the Baudette area.

Taliaferro, Lawrence (1794‒1871)

Lawrence Taliaferro, the wealthy scion of a politically connected, slave-owning Virginia family, was the US government’s main agent to the Native people of the upper Mississippi in the 1820s and 1830s. He earned the trust of Dakota, Ojibwe, Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), Menominee, Sauk (Sac), and Meskwaki (Fox) leaders through lavish gifts, intermarriage, and his zeal for battling predatory fur traders. In a series of treaties, he persuaded these leaders to cede tracts of land in exchange for promises that the government would later break.


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