Small Jewish communities arose at the turn of the twentieth century in several southern Minnesota market towns. In each, Jews gathered for religious purposes. But it was only in Rochester that a formal synagogue, B’nai Israel, was established. The founding of Mayo Clinic in 1905 created a need for a local congregation that could serve Jewish patients. After almost a century of holding worship services in former residences, B’nai Israel built its first synagogue building in 2008.
Jane Williamson’s tombstone in the cemetery on the former Yankton Reservation in Greenwood, South Dakota bears a Daughters of the American Revolution marker identifying her as a descendant of a Revolutionary War veteran. Photograph by Lois Glewwe.
Dakota Indians at Williamson home (Pajutazee Mission) near Yellow Medicine, 1862. Jane Williamson is the third from the right in this photograph taken on Sunday, August 17, 1862, the day before the U.S. Dakota War broke out across the Minnesota prairies. The photo was taken by visiting photographer Adrian Ebell in front of the Williamson house at the Pajutazee mission. Others identified include, left to right: Margaret Poage Williamson, unknown child, Sarah Hopkins (Wanyahiyawin), Thomas Smith Williamson, unknown woman with child, Robert Hopkins (Caskedan), Jane Williamson, Samuel Hopkins, unknown woman.
Photogravure of Jane Williamson, undated. Reproduced in “What Israel Ought to Do,” a Sermon on Home Missionary Work in Minnesota, by Rev. Wm. C. Covert, October 12, 1899. Jane Williamson is the only woman pictured in this overview of Presbyterian missionaries in the early years of the Dakota Mission. The photograph from which this photogravure was made has never been located and its date is unknown.
Jane Williamson was a schoolteacher and anti-slavery activist in Ohio before coming to the Presbyterian Dakota Mission at Lac qui Parle in 1843. She spent the remaining fifty-two years of her life working with the Dakota people.
Ada Rubenstein (right), president of the Sholom Home board of directors, and a Sholom Home resident break ground for a new building during the late 1970s. Reproduced in And Prairie Dogs Weren’t Kosher? by Linda Mack Schloff (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1996), page 196. Use permission granted by Ann Regan.