Donnelly, Ignatius (1831–1901)

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.

Ayer, Elizabeth Taylor (1803–1898)

Elizabeth Taylor Ayer's life spanned nearly the entire nineteenth century. In an era when women rarely had professional careers, her work as a teaching missionary gave her more status and independence than most women enjoyed.

Sibley, Henry H. (1811–1891)

Henry Hastings Sibley occupied the stage of Minnesota history for fifty-six active years. He was the territory's first representative in Congress (1849–1853) and the state's first governor (1858–1860). In 1862 he led a volunteer army against the Dakota under Taoyateduta (Little Crow IV). After his victory at Wood Lake and his rescue of more than two hundred white prisoners, he was made a brigadier general in the Union Army.

Thompson, James (ca.1799–1884)

James Thompson was born into a life of slavery in Virginia around 1799. He overcame the hardships of that life to work as a capable English-Dakota interpreter for Methodist missionary Alfred Brunson. After winning his freedom in the 1830s he became a respected citizen of the city of St. Paul known for his accomplishments more than his skin color.

Macbeth, Florence Mary (1889–1966)

Mankato-born Florence Macbeth won international acclaim as an operatic soprano during the 1910s and 1920s. Known as "the Minnesota nightingale," Macbeth made hundreds of concert and recital appearances during her career. She toured the U.S. with the Chicago Opera Company for fourteen years before retiring from singing in the 1930s.

Smith, Lena Olive (1885–1966)

Lena Olive Smith was a prominent civil rights lawyer and activist during the 1920s and 1930s. She made major contributions toward securing civil rights for minorities in the Twin Cities. Smith began fighting for the rights of others when she became the first African American woman licensed to practice law in Minnesota in 1921. She was the only African American woman to practice law in the state until 1945.

Van Cleve, Charlotte Ouisconsin Clark (1819–1907)

Charlotte Ouisconsin Clark Van Cleve was the child of a military family and a crusader for the rights of disadvantaged people in Minnesota and beyond. Born during her parents' journey to help build the future Fort Snelling, she lived to see a fledgling community grow into an urban center.

Rolette, Joseph (1820–1871)

Joseph Rolette was a fur trader and politician during Minnesota's territorial period. A colorful character in his time, Rolette is remembered for the drastic action he took to prevent the removal of Minnesota's capital to St. Peter.

Wahl, Rosalie (1924–2013)

Rosalie Wahl was a pioneering figure in Minnesota law during the second half of the twentieth century. She became the state's first female Supreme Court justice at a time when there were no women on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Von Rovigno, Count William Rudolph Martinovich (1882–1971)

Count William Rudolph Martinovich von Rovigno was born a European nobleman but became a big-game hunter, worldwide traveler, bronco-buster, wilderness guide, and friend of "Buffalo Bill" Cody. After falling in love with Minnesota's North Woods, he lived and worked in the state as a game warden, forest guard, and wilderness advocate.

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