A history of the city of Saint Paul, and of the county of Ramsey, Minnesota

This work was prepared at the request and advice of a number of friends, who believed that the writer had the material at hand and the opportunity to prepare it, better than any one else who was likely to undertake it. There seemed, too, a necessity' for such a work. The old pioneers of our city and State were, one by one, passing away, and the events of our early history, if not soon gathered and placed on permanent record, would be lost. The names even, of those who first planted their cabins oh the site of our city, were fast becoming lost and forgotten; and their worthy acts, their labors, their adventures, the privations and struggles of frontier life, and other events in the earliest days of our city, were rapidly fading from the memory of the little group of pioneers who survived. Even what manner of men they were, whence they came, their personal history, particulars which will interest those who come after us more, perhaps, than they do the present generation, were matters known to so few, and scattered in fragments among widely distant households, it was almost a sealed book to some of the pioneers themselves.

It needed, therefore, some one who was, by occupation and taste, interested in such a work to perform it since it was certain to be both laborious and unremunerative some one who would hunt up from the various sources the lost and forgotten threads which, little by little, might be woven into the record of the founding and early days of our goodly city. It was this work that, in a rash moment, I was induced to undertake, little foreseeing into what a labyrinth of troubles I was about to plunge. (At first, however, I should say, only a pamphlet was projected.)


Table of Contents

1. The Pre-Historic period 9-17
2. The Discovery of the Northwest 18-25
3. Jonathan Carver and his Explorations 26- 37
4. The First Settlement of Minnesota 38-56
5. The Treaties of 1837 57-63
6. The First Settlement of Saint Paul 64-76
7. Events of the year 1839 77-98
8. Events of the years 1840 and 1841 99-116
9. Events of the year 1842 117-125
10. Events of the year 1843 126-139
11. Events of the year 1844 140-148
12. Events of the year 1845 149-152
13. Events of the year 1846 153-163
14. Events of the year 1847 164-176
15. Events of the year 1848 177-202
16. Events of the year 1849 203-222
17. Events of the year 1849, continued 223-246
18. Events of the year 1850 247-264
19. Events of the year 1850, continued 265-283
20. Events of the year 1851 284-308
21. Events of the year 1851, continued 309-320
22. Events of the year 1852 321-332
23. Events of the year 1853 333-347
24. Events of the year 1854 348-355
25. Events of the year 1855 356-361
26. Events of the year 1856 362-368
27. Events of the year 1857 369-378
28. Events of the year 1857, continued 379-383
29. Events of the year 1858 384-387
30. Events of the year 1859 388-391
31. Events of the year 1860 392-397
32. Events of the year 1861 to 1865 398-419
33. Events of the year 1865 to 1870 420-439
34. Events of the year 1871 to 1875 440-454
35. A Quarter Century's Retrospect 455-458
Appendix 459-465


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On March 10, Maj. Plympton addressed a long letter to the War Department, mainly in reference to the lines of the Reserve, and the settlers thereon, rehearsing the troubles the settlers had given him by selling liquor to the soldiers, and urging their expulsion. The surgeon of the fort, Dr. Emerson, also addressed the follow^ing letter to the Surgeon General:

"Fort Snelling, April 23, 1839.

"Sir: As a friend to the soldier and temperance in the- army, I am induced to make to you, as head of the department to which I have the honor of belonging, a statement of our situation at this post. Since the middle of winter we have been completely inundated with ardent spirits, and consequently the most beastly scenes of intoxication among the soldiers of this garrison and the Indians in its vicinity, which, no doubt, will add many cases to our sick-list. The whisky is brought here by citizens who are pouring in upon us and settling themselves on the opposite shore of the Mississippi River, in defiance of our worthy commanding officer, Major J. Plympton, whose authority they set at naught. At this moment, there is a citizen, once a soldier in the Fifth Infantry, who was discharged at this post while Col. Snelling commanded, and who has been since employed by the American Fur Company, actually building on the land marked out by the commanding officer as the Reserve, and within gunshot distance of the fort, a very extensive whisky shop. They are encouraged in their nefarious deeds in consequence of letters received by them, as they say, from Saint Louis and Washington, mentioning that no Reserve would be acknowledged by the proper authority. If such is the fact, (which I doubt very much,) I can only say that the happiness of the officers and soldiers is at an end at Fort Snelling.

"In my humble opinion, the immediate acton of the Government is called for, to give us relief in pointing out the military Reserve, which ought not to be less than twenty miles square, or to the mouth of the Saint Croix River, especially as the Indians are allowed by treaty to hunt on it. I am certain, if the honorable Secretary of War knew our situation, not a moment's time would be lost in turning the wretches off of the Reserve, who live by robbing the men of the garrison of health, comfort, and every cent they possess. Pardon me, sir, if I err in writing so, but I feel grieved to witness such scenes of drunkenness and dissipation where I have spent many days of happiness, when we had no ardent spirits among us, and, consequently, sobriety and good conduct among the command. May I presume to ask you to use your influence with the proper authority to mark out the Reserve, and rid us of those harpies or whisky-sellers who destroy the health of the soldiers, and, consequently, their usefulness to their Government and country.

"With great respect, I have the honor to remain your obedient servant,

"J. Emerson,

"Surgeon U. S. A.