This Day in Minnesota History

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Today's Date: July 23

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1838

Father Francis Pierz, a Slovene priest, arrives at his post in Grand Portage. He remains there for a few months and then returns in 1841 to establish a mission on the Pigeon River. His later writings encourage Germans and Slovenes to immigrate to the "earthly paradise of Minnesota."

1851

Wahpeton and Sisseton Dakota bands sign the treaty of Traverse des Sioux, near St. Peter. Cloud Man and Sleepy Eyes are among the Dakota signers, while Alexander Ramsey and Luke Lea represent the United States, with missionary Stephen Riggs interpreting. Henry H. Sibley acts as agent for the fur traders, who had accumulated debts from the Indians. In the treaty, the Dakota relinquish title to their lands west of the Mississippi River, about 24 million acres, for $1,665,000 and a reservation for the Indians is set up in the Minnesota River valley. Soon, a similar treaty with other Dakota bands is signed at Mendota. Problems with treaty payments would be one of the causes of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

1872

A mob attacks the Brainerd jail, where two half-Ojibwe brothers, Te-be-ke-ke-sheck-wabe and Go-go-once, are being held for allegedly murdering a woman. The men are taken to a nearby pine tree and hanged in front of a crowd of 1,000. After the lynching, a rumor spreads among Brainerd's residents that angry Indians are planning to attack the town. Sheriff John Gurrell telegraphs Governor Horace Austin for help. Three companies of troops are sent out, arriving on July 25. The troops find the Indians in the woods picking blueberries, and the entire incident becomes known as the "Blueberry War."

1924

St. Paul's horse-drawn fire engines make their final run.

1943

Princeton-area farmer O. J. Odegard is the first to utilize the labor of Axis prisoners of war when he requests 100 Italian POWs for farm work due to the acute labor shortage in Mille Lacs County. Odegard is forced to pay the average wage for farm work, $3.00 per prisoner per day, and the prisoners and forty armed guards arrive from Camp Clark, Missouri, on September 5. Provided with kitchen facilities, the prisoners prepare their own food, and, in fact, they are such skilled cooks that their guards prefer their meals over standard army fare.