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 Minnesota Counties

The history of the U.S. state of Minnesota is shaped by its original Native American residents, European exploration and settlement, and the emergence of industries made possible by the state's natural resources. Minnesota achieved prominence through fur trading, logging, and farming, and later through railroads, and iron mining.

The earliest known settlers followed herds of large game to the region during the last glacial period. They preceded the Anishinaabe, the Dakota, and other Native American inhabitants. Fur traders from France arrived during the 17th century. Europeans moving west during the 19th century, drove out most of the Native Americans. Fort Snelling, built to protect United States territorial interests, brought early settlers to the area. Early settlers used Saint Anthony Falls for powering sawmills in the area that became Minneapolis, while others settled downriver in the area that became Saint Paul.

Minnesota gained legal existence as the Minnesota Territory in 1849, and became the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858. After the upheaval of the American Civil War and the Dakota War of 1862, the state's economy started to develop when natural resources were tapped for logging and farming. Railroads attracted immigrants, established the farm economy, and brought goods to market. The power provided by St. Anthony Falls spurred the growth of Minneapolis, and the innovative milling methods gave it the title of the "milling capital of the world".

New industry came from iron ore, discovered in the north, mined relatively easily from open pits, and shipped to Great Lakes steel mills from the ports at Duluth and Two Harbors. Economic development and social changes led to an expanded role for state government and a population shift from rural areas to cities. The Great Depression brought layoffs in mining and tension in labor relations but New Deal programs helped the state.

Native American inhabitation
Some of the oldest stone tools found in Minnesota. The oldest known human remains in Minnesota, dating back about 9000 years ago, were discovered near Browns Valley in 1933. "Browns Valley Man" was found with tools of the Clovis and Folsom types. Some of the earliest evidence of a sustained presence in the area comes from a site known as Bradbury Brook near Mille Lacs Lake which was used around 7500 BC. Subsequently, extensive trading networks developed in the region. The body of an early resident known as "Minnesota Woman" was discovered in 1931 in Otter Tail County. Radiocarbon dating places the age of the bones approximately 8,000 years ago, near the end of the Eastern Archaic period. She had a conch shell from a snail species known as Busycon perversa, which had previously only been known to exist in Florida.

Ojibwa women in canoe, Leech Lake, 1909

Several hundred years later, the climate of Minnesota warmed significantly. As large animals such as mammoths became extinct, native people changed their diet. They gathered nuts, berries, and vegetables, and they hunted smaller animals such as deer, bison, and birds. The stone tools found from this era became smaller and more specialized to use these new food sources. They also devised new techniques for catching fish, such as fish hooks, nets, and harpoons. Around 5000 BC, people on the shores of Lake Superior (in Minnesota and portions of what is now Michigan, Wisconsin, and Canada) were the first on the continent to begin making metal tools. Pieces of ore with high concentrations of copper were initially pounded into a rough shape, heated to reduce brittleness, pounded again to refine the shape, and reheated. Edges could be made sharp enough to be useful as knives or spear points. Archaeological evidence of Native American settlements dates back as far as 3000 BC; the Jeffers Petroglyphs site in southwest Minnesota contains carvings thought to date to the Late Archaic Period (3000 BC to 1000 BC). Around 700 BC, burial mounds were first created, and the practice continued until the arrival of Europeans, when 10,000 such mounds dotted the state. By AD 800, wild rice became a staple crop in the region, and corn farther to the south. Within a few hundred years, the Mississippian culture reached into the southeast portion of the state, and large villages were formed. The Dakota Native American culture may have descended from some of the peoples of the Mississippian culture. When Europeans first started exploring Minnesota, the region was inhabited primarily by tribes of Dakota, with the Ojibwa (sometimes called Chippewa, or Anishinaabe) beginning to migrate westward into the state around 1700. (Other sources suggest the Ojibwe reached Minnesota by 1620 or earlier.) There were also the Chiwere Ioway in the southwest, the Algonquian A'ani to the west, and possibly the Menominee in some parts of the southeast as well as other tribes which could have been either Algonquian or Chiwere to the northeast, alongside Lake Superior (possibilities include the Fauk, Sauk, and Missouria). The economy of these tribes was chiefly based on hunter-gatherer activities. There was also a small group of Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) Native Americans near Long Prairie, who later moved to a reservation in Blue Earth County in 1855. At some early point, the Missouria moved south into what is now Missouri, the Menominee ceded much of their westernmost lands and withdrew closer to the region of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the A'ani were pushed north and west by the Dakota and split into the Gros Ventre and the Arapaho. Later tribes who would inhabit the region include the Assiniboine, who split from the Dakota and returned to Minnesota, but later also moved west as American settlers came to populate the region.

Ruins of old Fond du Lac trading post on the Saint Louis River in 1907

European exploration
In the late 1650s, Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médard des Groseilliers were likely the first Europeans to meet Dakota Native Americans while following the southern shore of Lake Superior (which would become northern Wisconsin). The north shore was explored in the 1660s. Among the first to do this was Claude Allouez, a missionary on Madeline Island. He made an early map of the area in 1671. Around this time, the Ojibwa Native Americans reached Minnesota as part of a westward migration. Having come from a region around Maine, they were experienced at dealing with European traders. They dealt in furs and possessed guns. Tensions rose between the Ojibwa and Dakota in the ensuing years. In 1671, France signed a treaty with a number of tribes to allow trade. Shortly thereafter, French trader Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut arrived in the area and began trading with the local tribes. Du Lhut explored the western area of Lake Superior, near his namesake, the city of Duluth, and areas south of there. He helped to arrange a peace agreement between the Dakota and Ojibwa tribes in 1679.

A painting of Father Hennepin 'discovering' Saint Anthony Falls.

Father Louis Hennepin with companions Michel Aco and Antoine Auguelle (aka Picard Du Gay) headed north from the area of Illinois after coming into that area with an exploration party headed by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. They were captured by a Dakota tribe in 1680. While with the tribe, they came across and named the Falls of Saint Anthony. Soon, Du Lhut negotiated to have Hennepin's party released from captivity. Hennepin returned to Europe and wrote a book, Description of Louisiana, published in 1683, about his travels where many portions (including the part about Saint Anthony Falls) were strongly embellished. As an example, he described the falls as being a drop of fifty or sixty feet, when they were really only about sixteen feet. Pierre-Charles Le Sueur explored the Minnesota River to the Blue Earth area around 1700. He thought the blue earth was a source of copper, and he told stories about the possibility of mineral wealth, but there actually was no copper to be found. Explorers searching for the fabled Northwest Passage and large inland seas in North America continued to pass through the state. In 1721, the French built Fort Beauharnois on Lake Pepin. In 1731, the Grand Portage trail was first traversed by a European, Pierre La Vérendrye. He used a map written down on a piece of birch bark by Ochagach, an Assiniboine guide. The North West Company, which traded in fur and competed with the Hudson's Bay Company, was established along the Grand Portage in 1783–1784. Jonathan Carver, a shoemaker from Massachusetts, visited the area in 1767 as part of another expedition. He and the rest of the exploration party were only able to stay for a relatively short period, due to supply shortages. They headed back east to Fort Michilimackinac, where Carver wrote journals about the trip, though others would later claim the stories were largely plagiarized from others. The stories were published in 1778, but Carver died before the book earned him much money. Carver County and Carver's Cave are named for him.

Until 1818 the Red River Valley was considered British and was subject to several colonization schemes, such as the Red River Colony. The boundary where the Red River crossed the 49th parallel was not marked until 1823, when Stephen H. Long conducted a survey expedition. When several hundred settlers abandoned the Red River Colony in the 1820s, they entered the United States by way of the Red River Valley, instead of moving to eastern Canada or returning to Europe. The region had been occupied by Métis people, the children of voyageurs and Native Americans, since the middle 17th century. Several efforts were made to determine the source of the Mississippi River. The true source was found in 1832, when Henry Schoolcraft was guided by a group of Ojibwa headed by Ozaawindib ("Yellow Head") to a lake in northern Minnesota. Schoolcraft named it Lake Itasca, combining the Latin words veritas ("truth") and caput ("head"). The native name for the lake was Omashkooz, meaning elk. Other explorers of the area include Zebulon Pike in 1806, Major Stephen Long in 1817, George William Featherstonhaugh in 1835, and John Pope (military officer) in 1849. Featherstonhaugh conducted a geological survey of the Minnesota River valley and wrote an account entitled A Canoe Voyage up the Minnay Sotor. Joseph Nicollet scouted the area in the late 1830s, exploring and mapping the Upper Mississippi River basin, the St. Croix River, and the land between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. He and John C. Frémont left their mark in the southwest of the state, carving their names in the pipestone quarries near Winnewissa Falls (an area now part of Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone County). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow never explored the state, but he did help to make it popular. He published The Song of Hiawatha in 1855, which contains references to many regions in Minnesota. The story was based on Ojibwa legends carried back east by other explorers and traders (particularly those collected by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft).

All of the land east of the Mississippi River was granted to the United States by the Second Treaty of Paris at the end of the American Revolution in 1783. This included what would become modern day Saint Paul but only part of Minneapolis, including the northeast, north-central and east-central portions of the state. The western portion of the state was part of the Spanish Louisiana since the Treaty of Fontainebleau, in 1762. The wording of the treaty in the Minnesota area depended on landmarks reported by fur traders, who erroneously reported an "Isle Phelipeaux" in Lake Superior, a "Long Lake" west of the island, and the belief that the Mississippi River ran well into modern Canada. Most of the state was purchased in 1803 from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Parts of northern Minnesota were considered to be in Rupert's Land. The exact definition of the boundary between Minnesota and British North America was not addressed until the Anglo-American Convention of 1818, which set the U.S.–Canada border at the 49th parallel west of the Lake of the Woods (except for a small chunk of land now dubbed the Northwest Angle). Border disputes east of the Lake of the Woods continued until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. Throughout the first half of the 19th century, the northeastern portion of the state was a part of the Northwest Territory, then the Illinois Territory, then the Michigan Territory, and finally the Wisconsin Territory. The western and southern areas of the state, although theoretically part of the Wisconsin Territory from its creation in 1836, were not formally organized until 1838, when they became part of the Iowa Territory.

Fort Snelling

Fort Snelling was the first major U.S. military presence in the state. The land for the fort, at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, was acquired in 1805 by Zebulon Pike. When concerns mounted about the fur trade in the area, construction of the fort began in 1819. Construction was completed in 1825, and Colonel Josiah Snelling and his officers and soldiers left their imprint on the area. One of the missions of the fort was to mediate disputes between the Ojibwe and the Dakota tribes. Lawrence Taliaferro was an agent of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. He spent 20 years at the site, finally resigning in 1839.






In the 1850s, Fort Snelling played a key role in the infamous Dred Scott court case. Slaves Dred Scott and his wife were taken to the fort by their master, John Emerson. They lived at the fort and elsewhere in territories where slavery was prohibited. After Emerson's death, the Scotts argued that since they had lived in free territory, they were no longer slaves. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court sided against the Scotts. Dred Scott Field, located just a short distance away in Bloomington, is named in the memory of Fort Snelling's significance in one of the most important legal precedents in U.S. History. By 1851, treaties between Native American tribes and the U.S. government had opened much of Minnesota to settlement, so Fort Snelling no longer was a frontier outpost. It served as a training center for soldiers during the American Civil War and later as the headquarters for the Department of Dakota. A portion has been designated as Fort Snelling National Cemetery where over 160,000 are interred. During World War II, the fort served as a training center for nearly 300,000 inductees. After World War II, the fort was threatened with demolition due to the building of freeways Highway 5 and Highway 55, but citizens rallied to save it. Fort Snelling is now a historic site operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. Fort Snelling was largely responsible for the establishment of the city of Minneapolis. In an effort to be self-sufficient, the soldiers of the fort built roads, planted crops, and built a grist mill and a sawmill at Saint Anthony Falls. Later, Franklin Steele came to Fort Snelling as the post sutler (the operator of the general store), and established interests in lumbering and other activities. When the Ojibwe signed a treaty ceding lands in 1837, Steele staked a claim to land on the east side of the Mississippi River adjacent to Saint Anthony Falls. In 1848, he built a sawmill at the falls, and the community of Saint Anthony sprung up around the east side of the falls. Steele told one of his employees, John H. Stevens, that land on the west side of the falls would make a good site for future mills. Since the land on the west side was still part of the military reservation, Stevens made a deal with Fort Snelling's commander. Stevens would provide free ferry service across the river in exchange for a tract of 160 acres (0.65 km2) at the head of the falls. Stevens received the claim and built a house, the first house in Minneapolis, in 1850. In 1854, Stevens platted the city of Minneapolis on the west bank. Later, in 1872, Minneapolis absorbed the city of Saint Anthony. The city of Saint Paul, Minnesota owes its existence to Fort Snelling. A group of squatters, mostly from the ill-fated Red River Colony in what is now the Canadian province of Manitoba, established a camp near the fort. The commandant of Fort Snelling, Major Joseph Plympton, found their presence problematic because they were using timber and allowing their cattle and horses to graze around the fort. Plympton banned lumbering and the construction of any new buildings on the military reservation land. As a result, the squatters moved four miles downstream on the Mississippi River. They settled at a site known as Fountain Cave. This site was not quite far enough for the officers at the fort, so the squatters were forced out again. Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant, a popular moonshiner among the group, moved downriver and established a saloon, becoming the first European resident in the area that later became Saint Paul. The squatters named their settlement "Pig's Eye" after Parrant. The name was later changed to Lambert's Landing and then finally Saint Paul. However, the earliest name for the area comes from a Native American colony Im-in-i-ja Ska, meaning "White Rock" and referring to the limestone bluffs nearby.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are collectively known as the "Twin Cities". The cities enjoyed a rivalry during their early years, with Saint Paul being the capital city and Minneapolis becoming prominent through industry. The term "Twin Cities" was coined around 1872, after a newspaper editorial suggested that Minneapolis could absorb Saint Paul. Residents decided that the cities needed a separate identity, so people coined the phrase "Dual Cities", which later evolved into "Twin Cities". Today, Minneapolis is the largest city in Minnesota, with a population of 382,618 in the 2000 census. Saint Paul is the second largest city, with a population of 287,151. Minneapolis and Saint Paul anchor a metropolitan area with a population of 2,968,806 as of 2000, with a total state population of 4,919,479.

Home of Henry Hastings Sibley
Henry Hastings Sibley built the first stone house in the Minnesota Territory in Mendota in 1838, along with other limestone buildings used by the American Fur Company, which bought animal pelts at that location from 1825 to 1853.[51] Another area of early economic development in Minnesota was the logging industry. Loggers found the white pine especially valuable, and it was plentiful in the northeastern section of the state and in the St. Croix River valley. Before railroads, lumbermen relied mostly on river transportation to bring logs to market, which made Minnesota's timber resources attractive. Towns like Marine on St. Croix and Stillwater became important lumber centers fed by the St. Croix River, while Winona was supplied lumber by areas in southern Minnesota and along the Minnesota River. The unregulated logging practices of the time and a severe drought took their toll in 1894, when the Great Hinckley Fire ravaged 480 square miles in the Hinckley and Sandstone areas of Pine County, killing over 400 residents. The combination of logging and drought struck again in the Baudette Fire of 1910 and the Cloquet Fire of 1918.

Logging pine 1860's–1870's
Saint Anthony, on the east bank of the Mississippi River later became part of Minneapolis, and was an important lumber milling center supplied by the Rum River. In 1848, businessman Franklin Steele built the first private sawmill on the Saint Anthony Falls, and more sawmills quickly followed. The oldest home still standing in Saint Anthony is the Ard Godfrey house, built in 1848, and lived in by Ard and Harriet Godfrey. The house of John H. Stevens, the first house on the west bank in Minneapolis, was moved several times, finally to Minnehaha Park in south Minneapolis in 1896.




Minnesota Territory

Stephen A. Douglas (D), the chair of the Senate Committee on Territories, drafted the bill authorizing Minnesota Territory. He had envisioned a future for the upper Mississippi valley, so he was motivated to keep the area from being carved up by neighboring territories. In 1846, he prevented Iowa from including Fort Snelling and Saint Anthony Falls within its northern border. In 1847, he kept the organizers of Wisconsin from including Saint Paul and Saint Anthony Falls. The Minnesota Territory was established from the lands remaining from Iowa Territory and Wisconsin Territory on March 3, 1849. The Minnesota Territory extended far into what is now North Dakota and South Dakota, to the Missouri River. There was a dispute over the shape of the state to be carved out of Minnesota Territory. An alternate proposal that was only narrowly defeated would have made the 46th parallel the state's northern border and the Missouri River its western border, thus giving up the whole northern half of the state in exchange for the eastern half of what later became South Dakota. With Alexander Ramsey (W) as the first governor of Minnesota Territory and Henry Hastings Sibley (D) as the territorial delegate to the United States Congress, the populations of Saint Paul and Saint Anthony swelled. Henry M. Rice (D), who replaced Sibley as the territorial delegate in 1853, worked in Congress to promote Minnesota interests. He lobbied for the construction of a railroad connecting Saint Paul and Lake Superior, with a link from Saint Paul to the Illinois Central.

In December 1856, Rice brought forward two bills in Congress: an enabling act that would allow Minnesota to form a state constitution, and a railroad land grant bill. Rice's enabling act defined a state containing both prairie and forest lands. The state was bounded on the south by Iowa, on the east by Wisconsin, on the north by Canada, and on the west by the Red River of the North and the Bois de Sioux River, Lake Traverse, Big Stone Lake, and then a line extending due south to the Iowa border. Rice made this motion based on Minnesota's population growth. At the time, tensions between the northern and the southern United States were growing, in a series of conflicts that eventually resulted in the American Civil War. There was little debate in the United States House of Representatives, but when Stephen A. Douglas introduced the bill in the United States Senate, it caused a firestorm of debate. Northerners saw their chance to add two senators to the side of the free states, while Southerners were sure that they would lose power. Many senators offered polite arguments that the population was too sparse and that statehood was premature. Senator John Burton Thompson of Kentucky, in particular, argued that new states would cost the government too much for roads, canals, forts, and lighthouses. Although Thompson and 21 other senators voted against statehood, the enabling act was passed on February 26, 1857. After the enabling act was passed, territorial legislators had a difficult time writing a state constitution. A constitutional convention was assembled in July 1857, but Republicans and Democrats were deeply divided. In fact, they formed two separate constitutional conventions and drafted two separate constitutions. Eventually, the two groups formed a conference committee and worked out a common constitution. The divisions continued, though, because Republicans refused to sign a document that had Democratic signatures on it, and vice versa. One copy of the constitution was written on white paper and signed only by Republicans, while the other copy was written on blue-tinged paper and signed by Democrats. These copies were signed on August 29, 1857. An election was called on October 13, 1857, where Minnesota residents would vote to approve or disapprove the constitution. The constitution was approved by 30,055 voters, while 571 rejected it. The state constitution was sent to the United States Congress for ratification in December 1857. The approval process was drawn out for several months while Congress debated over issues that had stemmed from the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Southerners had been arguing that the next state should be pro-slavery, so when Kansas submitted the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution, the Minnesota statehood bill was delayed. After that, Northerners feared that Minnesota's Democratic delegation would support slavery in Kansas. Finally, after the Kansas question was settled and after Congress decided how many representatives Minnesota would get in the House of Representatives, the bill passed. The eastern half of the Minnesota Territory, under the boundaries defined by Henry Mower Rice, became the country's 32nd state on May 11, 1858. The western part remained unorganized until its incorporation into the Dakota Territory on March 2, 1861.

Civil War era and Dakota War of 1862

Minnesota strongly supported the Union war effort, with about 22,000 Minnesotans serving. The 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry was particularly important to the Battle of Gettysburg. Governor Alexander Ramsey happened to be in Washington D.C. when Ft. Sumter was fired upon. He went immediately to the White House and made his state the first to offer help in putting down the rebellion. At the same time, the state faced another crisis as the Dakota War of 1862 broke out. The Dakota had signed the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux and Treaty of Mendota in 1851 because they were concerned that without money from the United States government, they would starve, due to the loss of habitat of huntable game. They were initially given a strip of land of ten miles north and south of the Minnesota River, but they were later forced to sell the northern half of the land. In 1862, crop failures left the Dakota with food shortages, and government money was delayed. After four young Dakota men, searching for food, shot a family of white settlers near Acton, the Dakota leadership decided to continue the attacks in an effort to drive out the settlers. Over a period of several days, Dakota attacks at the Lower Sioux Agency, New Ulm and Hutchinson, as well as in the surrounding farmlands, resulted in the deaths of at least 300 to 400 white settlers and government employees, causing panic in the settlements and provoking counterattacks by state militia and federal forces which spread throughout the Minnesota River Valley and as far away as the Red River Valley. The ensuing battles at Fort Ridgely, Birch Coulee, Fort Abercrombie, and Wood Lake punctuated a six-week war, which ended with the trial of 425 Native Americans for their participation in the war. Of this number, 303 men were convicted and sentenced to death.
Mass hanging in Mankato, Minnesota.
Episcopal Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple pleaded to President Abraham Lincoln for clemency, and the death sentences of all but 39 men were reduced to prison terms. On December 26, 1862, 38 men were hanged by the U.S. Army at Mankato—the largest mass execution in the United States. Many of the remaining Dakota Native Americans, including non-combatants, were confined in a prison camp at Pike Island over the winter of 1862–1863, where more than 300 died of disease. Survivors were later exiled to the Crow Creek Reservation, then later to a reservation near Niobrara, Nebraska.
A small number of Dakota Native Americans managed to return to Minnesota in the 1880s and establish communities near Granite Falls, Morton, Prior Lake, and Red Wing. However, after this time Dakota people were no longer allowed to reside in Minnesota with the exception of the meritorious Sioux called the Loyal Mdewakanton. This separate class of Dakota did not participate in the Dakota War of 1862, since they were assimilated Christians and instead decided to help some of the missionaries escape the Sioux warriors who chose to fight.

Farming and railroad development
After the Civil War, Minnesota became an attractive region for European immigration and settlement as farmland. Minnesota's population in 1870 was 439,000; this number tripled during the two subsequent decades. The Homestead Act in 1862 facilitated land claims by settlers, who regarded the land as being cheap and fertile. The railroad industry, led by the Northern Pacific Railway and Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad, advertised the many opportunities in the state and worked to get immigrants to settle in Minnesota. James J. Hill, in particular, was instrumental in reorganizing the Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad and extending lines from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area into the Red River Valley and to Winnipeg. Hill was also responsible for building a new passenger depot in Minneapolis, served by the landmark Stone Arch Bridge which was completed in 1883. During the 1880s, Hill continued building tracks through North Dakota and Montana. In 1890, the railroad, now known as the Great Northern Railway, started building tracks through the mountains west to Seattle. Other railroads, such as the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad and the Milwaukee Road, also played an important role in the early days of Minnesota's statehood. Later railways, such as the Soo Line and Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway facilitated the sale of Minneapolis flour and other products, although they were not as involved in attracting settlers.

Oliver Hudson Kelley played an important role in farming as one of the founders of the National Grange, along with several other clerks in the United States Department of Agriculture. The movement grew out of his interest in cooperative farm associations following the end of the Civil War, and he established local Grange chapters in Elk River and Saint Paul. The organization worked to provide education on new farming methods, as well as to influence government and public opinion on matters important to farmers. One of these areas of concern was the freight rates charged by the railroads and by the grain elevators. Since there was little or no competition between railroads serving Minnesota farm communities, railroads could charge as much as the traffic would bear. By 1871, the situation was so heated that both the Republican and Democratic candidates in state elections promised to regulate railroad rates. The state established an office of railroad commissioner and imposed maximum charges for shipping. Populist Ignatius L. Donnelly also served the Grange as an organizer. Saint Anthony Falls, the only waterfall of its height on the Mississippi, played an important part in the development of Minneapolis. The power of the waterfall first fueled sawmills, but later it was tapped to serve flour mills. In 1870, only a small number of flour mills were in the Minneapolis area, but by 1900 Minnesota mills were grinding 14.1% of the nation's grain. Advances in transportation, milling technology, and water power combined to give Minneapolis a dominance in the milling industry. Spring wheat could be sown in the spring and harvested in late summer, but it posed special problems for milling. To get around these problems, Minneapolis millers made use of new technology. They invented the middlings purifier, a device that used jets of air to remove the husks from the flour early in the milling process. They also started using roller mills, as opposed to grindstones. A series of rollers gradually broke down the kernels and integrated the gluten with the starch. These improvements led to the production of "patent" flour, which commanded almost double the price of "bakers" or "clear" flour, which it replaced. Pillsbury and the Washburn-Crosby Company (a forerunner of General Mills) became the leaders in the Minneapolis milling industry. This leadership in milling later declined as milling was no longer dependent on water power, but the dominance of the mills contributed greatly to the economy of Minneapolis and Minnesota, attracting people and money to the region.

Industrial development

Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway ore docks loading ships, 1900–1915.
At the end of the 19th century, several forms of industrial development shaped Minnesota. In 1882, a hydroelectric power plant was built at Saint Anthony Falls, marking one of the first developments of hydroelectric power in the United States.[76] Iron mining began in northern Minnesota with the opening of the Soudan Mine in 1884. The Vermilion Range was surveyed and mapped by a party financed by Charlemagne Tower. Another mining town, Ely began with the foundation of the Chandler Mine in 1888. Soon after, the Mesabi Range was established when ore was found just under the surface of the ground in Mountain Iron. The Mesabi Range ultimately had much more ore than the Vermilion Range, and it was easy to extract because the ore was closer to the surface. As a result, open-pit mines became well-established on the Mesabi Range, with 111 mines operating by 1904. To ship the iron ore to refineries, railroads such as the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway were built from the iron ranges to Two Harbors and Duluth on Lake Superior. Large ore docks were used at these cities to load the iron ore onto ships for transport east on the Great Lakes. The mining industry helped to propel Duluth from a small town to a large, thriving city. In 1904, iron was discovered in the Cuyuna Range in Crow Wing County. Between 1904 and 1984, when mining ceased, more than 106 million tons of ore were mined. Iron from the Cuyuna Range also contained significant proportions of manganese, increasing its value.

Mayo Clinic 

Statue of Dr. William Worrall Mayo near the Mayo Clinic in Rochester
Dr. William Worrall Mayo, the founder of the Mayo Clinic, emigrated from Salford, United Kingdom to the United States in 1846 and became a medical doctor in 1850. In 1863, Mayo moved to Rochester, followed by his family the next year. In the summer of 1883, an F5 tornado struck, dubbed the 1883 Rochester tornado, causing a substantial number of deaths and injuries. Dr. W. W. Mayo worked with nuns from the Sisters of St. Francis to treat the survivors. After the disaster, Mother Alfred Moes and Dr. Mayo recognized the need for a hospital and joined together to build the 27-bed Saint Marys Hospital which opened in 1889. The hospital, with over 1100 beds, is now part of the Mayo Clinic, which grew out of the practice of William Worrall Mayo and his sons, William James Mayo (1861–1939) and Charles Horace Mayo. Dr. Henry Stanley Plummer joined the Mayo Brothers' practice in 1901. Plummer developed many of the systems of group practice which are universal around the world today in medicine and other fields, such as a single medical record and an interconnecting telephone system.





County County Seat

Date  Formed

Orgination Origin of Name
Aitkin Aitkin 1857 Pine County and Ramsey William Alexander Aitken 1785 - 1851, early fur trader with Ojibwe Indians
Anoka Anoka 1857 Ramsey County Dakota word meaning both sides
Becker Detroit Lakes 1858 Cass and Pembina County George Loomis Becker former state senator and third Mayor of Saint Paul 1856-1857
Beltrami Bemidji 1866 unorganized territory, Itasca, Pembina, Polk Counties Giacomo Beltrami, Italian explorer who explored the northern reaches of Mississippi River in 1823.
Benton Foley 1849 One of nine original counties; formed from residual St. Croix County, Wisconsin Territory. Thomas Hart Benton 1782–1858), former United States Senator from Missouri (1821-1851)
Big Stone Ortonville 1862 Pierce County Big Stone Lake located in the County
Blue Earth Mankato 1853 Unorganized territory, Dakota County Blue Earth River that flows through Minnesota
Brown New Ulm 1855 Blue Earth County Joseph Renshaw Brown (1805-1870), member of Minnesota territorial legislature (1854-55) and prominent pioneer
Carlton Carlton 1857 Pine and Saint Louis Counties Rueben B. Carlton (1812-1863), early settler and state senator (1857-1858)
Carver Chaska 1855 Hennepin and Sibley Counties Jonathan Carver (1710–1790), early explorer and cartographer of the Mississippi river.
Cass Walker 1851 Dakota, Pembina, Mankahto, Wahnata Counties Lewis Cass (1782–1866), senator from Michigan (1845–1857) and U. S. Secretary of State 1831 - 1836
Chippewa Montevideo 1870 Pierce and Davice counties Chippewa River that flows through Minnesota
Chisago Center City 1851 Washington and Ramsey Counties Chisago Lake located in the County
Clay Moorhead 1862 Pembina County Henry Clay 1777 - 1852 Kentucky statesman and ninth U. S. secretary of State 1825 - 1829
Clearwater Bagley 1902 Beltrami County Clearwater Lake and River both are located in the state.
Cook Grand Marais 1874 Lake County Civil War veteran Major Michael Cook of Faribault who was territorial and state senator 1857 - 62
Cottonwood Windom 1857 Brown County Cottonwood River
Crow Wing Brainerd 1857 Ramsey County Crow Wing River
Dakota Hastings 1849 One of nine original counties from the Dakota language after a local tribe meaning Allies
Dodge Mantorville 1855 Rice County Henry Dodge 1782 - 1867 Twice governor of Wisconsin
Douglas Alexandria 1858 Cass and Pembina County Stephen Arnold Douglas (1813-1861), former United States Senator from Illinois (1847-1861)
Faribault Blue Earth 1855 Blue Earth County Jean-Baptiste Fairbault (1775-1860), early settler and fur trader
Fillmore Preston 1853 Wabasha County Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), thirteenth president of the United States (1850-1853)
Freeborn Albert Lea 1855 Blue Earth and Rice Counties William S. Freeborn (1816-1900), member of the Territorial Legislature
Goodhue Red Wing 1853 Wasbasha and Dakota Counties James Madison Goodhue, the first newspaper editor in Minnesota
Grant Elbow Lake 1868 Stevens, Wilkin and Traverse Counties Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), eighteenth president of the United States (1869-1877)
Hennepin Minneapolis 1852 Dakota County Father Louis Hennepin (1626-1705), early explorer of the Twin Cities area in the 17th Century
Houston Caledonia 1854 Fillmore County Sam Houston (1793–1863), the second and fourth president of the Republic of Texas and seventh governor of Texas
Hubbard Park Rapids 1883 Cass County Lucius Frederick Hubbard (1836-1913), ninth governor of Minnesota (1882-1887)
Isanti Cambridge 1857 Ramsey County Division of the Dakotas called the Izatys, meaning [those that] dwell at Knife Lake, after where they resided.
Itasca Grand Rapids 1849 One of nine counties formed from residual La Pointe County, Wisconsin Territory Lake Itasca source of the Mississippi River located in northwestern Minnesota
Jackson Jackson 1857 Brown County Henry Jackson member of the first territorial legislature and the first merchant in St. Paul
Kanabec Mora 1858 Pine County From the Ojibwe language Kan-a-bec-o-si-pi meaning Snake River which flows through the county
Kandiyohi Willmar 1858 Meeker, Renville, Pierce, Davis, and Stearns Counties From the Souix language for "buffalo fish"
Kittson Hallock 1879 Pembina County Norman Kittson (1814-1888), businessman and mayor of Saint Paul (1858-1859)
Koochiching International Falls 1906 Itasca County From the Ojibwe language Gojijiing Place of inlets which was the Cree name for Rainy Lake and Rainy River
Lac qui Parle Madison 1871 Redwood County French phrase meaning "lake which talks"
Lake Two Harbors 1856 Itasca County Lake Superior which forms one of its edges
Lake of the Woods Baudette 1923 Beltrami County Lake of the Woods located in the county
Le Sueur Le Center 1853 Dakota County Pierre-Charles Le Sueur 1657-1704), fur tradser and early explorer of the Minnesota River Valley
Lincoln Ivanhoe 1873 Lyon County Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), sixteenth president of the United States (1861-1865)
Lyon Marshall 1871 Redwood County Nathaniel Lyon (1818–1861), United States Army general killed during the Civil War
McLeod Glencoe 1856 Carver and Sibley County Martin McLeod early pioneer and member of the territorial legislature (1849–1856)
Mahnomen Mahnomen 1906 Norman County Ojibwa word meaning "wild rice".
Marshall Warren 1879 Kittson County William Rainey Marshall (1825-1896), fifth governor of Minnesota (1866-1870)
Martin Fairmont 1857 Fairbault and Brown Counties Morgan Lewis Martin (1805-1887), delegate to Congress from Wisconsin Territory
Meeker Litchfield 1856 Davis County Bradley B. Meeker (1813–1873), Associate Justice of the Minnesota Territorial Supreme Court (1849–1853)
Mille Lacs Milaca 1857 Ramsey County Mille Lacs Lake, a lake located within the county
Morrison Little Falls 1856 Benton County William & Allan Morrison, fur trading brothers
Mower Austin 1855 Rice County John Edward Mower (1815–1879), member of the Minnesota territorial legislature in the 1850s
Murray Slayton 1857 Brown County William Pitt Murray (1825–1910), Minnesota statesman and member of the territorial legislature (1852–1855) and 1857
Nicollet St. Peter 1853 Dakota County Joseph Nicholas Nicollet (1786–1843), early explore and cartographer of the Upper Mississippi River
Nobles Worthington 1857 Brown County William H. Nobles, member of the Minnesota territorial legislature in 1854 and 1856
Norman Ada 1881 Polk County Early Norwegian, also known as Norman, settlers
Olmsted Rochester 1855 Fillmore, Wabasha, and Rice Counties David Olmsted first mayor of Saint Paul and member of territorial legislature (1849-1850)
Otter Tail Fergus Falls 1858 Pembina, and Cass Counties Otter Tail Lake in the county
Pennington Thief River Falls 1910 Red Lake County Edmund Pennington b. 1848, executive of the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad
Pine Pine City 1856 Chisago and Ramsey Counties Giant forests of Eastern White Pine and Red Pine and Red Pine that flourish in the county
Pipestone Pipestone 1857 Brown County Name of a sacred Dakota quarry of red pipestone found in the county
Polk Cookston 1858 Pembina County James K. Polk (1795-1849), eleventh president of the United States (1845-1849)
Pope Glenwood 1862 Pierce and Cass Counties John Pope (1822–1892), United States Army general during the Dakota War of 1862
Ramsey St. Paul 1849 One of the nine orginal counties formed from residual St. Croix County Alexander Ramsey (1815-1903), second governor of Minnesota (1860-1863)
Red Lake Red Lake Falls 1896 Polk County Red Lake River that flows through the county
Redwood Redwood Falls 1862 Brown County Redwood River that flows through the county
Renville Olivia 1855 Nicollet, Pierce, and Sibley Counties Joseph Renville (1779-1846), interpreter for early explorations of the Louisiana Purchase
Rice Faribault 1853 Dakota and Wabasha Counties Henry Mower Rice (1816-1894), former United States Senator from Minnesota (1858-1863)
Rock Luverne 1857 Brown County Large rocky plateau located within the county, known as "the mound."
Roseau Roseau 1894 Kittson, Beltrami Counties Roseau River and Roseau Lake, both of which are located nearby
Saint Louis Duluth 1855 Itasca County Saint Louis River that flows through Minnesota
Scott Shakopee 1853 Dakota County Winfield Scott 1786–1866), United States Army general who served from (1808–1861)
Sherburne Elk River 1856 Benton County Moses Sherburne (1813–1873), Associate Justice of the Minnesota Territorial Supreme Court 1853 - 1857
Sibley Gaylord 1853 Dakota County Henry Hastings Sibley (1811-1891), first governor of Minnesota (1858-1860)
Stearns St. Cloud 1855 Cass, Nicollet,Pierce and Sibley Counties Charles Thomas Stearns 1814-1888), early settler of St. Cloud and member of the Minnesota territorial legislature (1849-1858)
Steele Owatonna 1855 Rice, Blue Earth,Le Sueur Counties Franklin Steele (1813-1880), early settler of Minneapolis and developer of Saint Anthony Falls
Stevens Morris 1862 Pierce County Isaac Ingalls Stevens (1818 - 1862) first governor of Washington Territory (1853 - 1857)
Swift Benson 1870 Chippewa County Henry Adoniram Swift (1823-1869), third governor of Minnesota (1863-1864)
Todd Long Prairie 1855 Cass County John Blair Smith Todd commander of Fort Ripley (1849 - 56) general in the Civil War delegate in Congress from Dakota Territory (1861 and 1863 - 65) governor of Dakota Territory (1859 - 71)
Traverse Wheaton 1862 Pierce County Lake Traverse that is located in the county
Wabasha Wabasha 1849 One of the nine orginal counties Named after M'dewakanton Dakota Indian Chief Wabasha III
Wadena Wadena 1858 Cass and Todd Counties Wadena Trading Post, in turn for a Ojibway word meaning "a little round hill".
Waseca Waseca 1857 Steele County Dakota word meaning "rich and fertile"
Washington Stillwater 1849 One of the nine orginal counties formed from residual St. Croix County,Wisconsin Territory George Washington (1732-1799), first president of the United States (1789-1797)
Watonwan St. James 1860 Brown County Woton River a river that flows through Minnesota
Wilkin Breckinridge 1858 Cass and Pembina Counties Alexander Wilkin (1820-1864), Minnesota politician and soldier killed in the Civil War
Winona Winona 1854 Fillmore and Wabasha Counties Named after Wee-No-Nah, Sister or Cousin of Chief Wabasha III
Wright Buffalo 1855 Cass and Sibley Counties Silas Wright (1795-1847), former United States Senator from New York (1833-1844)
Yellow Medicine Granite Falls 1871 Redwood County Yellow Medicine River that flows through Minnesota



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