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EARLY DAYS IN MINNEAPOLIS.^ 



BY DR. WILLIAM E. LEONARD. 



Along with the great flood of western immigrants caused by 
the discovery of gold in California in 1848, came a fuller tide 
of men and women into the Mississippi valley, pioneers of 
more substantial type than the hardy adventurers who went 
over the Rockies, — men who sought homes for their families, 
not sudden wealth for themselves. These came into the fertile 
prairies of Illinois and Iowa, from New York and New Eng- 
land, a generation later than the same class of worthy pioneers 
settled northern Ohio and Indiana. From 1848 to 1860 they 
streamed up the great river and its tributaries by hundreds 
and by thousands, settling in Minnesota and adjoining states 
and territories. Some authentic figures of comparison will 
make this remarkable influx more evident. 

In 1850 the town of St. Anthony was credited with 538 in- 
habitants, and there were a half dozen people on the west side. 
Only four years later that town had 3,000 citizens, if we in- 
clude the 500 then estimated to be on the west side; and on 
November 2, 1854, they asked the Legislature for a city char- 
ter, ''in order to manage their local affairs better," and to 
make a better comparison with St. Paul, which then claimed 
7,000 inhabitants. This charter was obtained in 1855. The 
''wild-cat currency" of '57, and the hard times of the two years 
following, checked this rather too rapid growth, but yet there 
were over 6,000 people at the Falls when the Civil War broke 
out. In 1849, when Minnesota w^as organized as a territory, it 
had 4,057 inhabitants, and 6,077 a year later ; after eight years, 
in 1857, there were numbered 150,037 souls, and 172,022 three 
years later, showing more than 4,000 per cent increase for the 
eleven years. 



*Read at the monthly meeting- of the Executive Council, May 11, 1914. 
This paper was illustrated with about sixty lantern views, loaned by 
Edward A. Bromley, photographer and journalist, whose extensive anti- 
quarian knowledge of the Twin Cities has also supplied much other aid. 
32 



498 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

As typical of the homes these sturdy settlers, built, I may 
mention the log cabin by Joseph Dean in 1849, just off the 
Shakopee road on the north bank of the Minnesota river. This 
** claim shanty" still stands in most excellent preservation, a 
hundred yards from the north end of the Bloomington bridge, 
being used as a storehouse for household goods, just as sub- 
stantial and dry a receptacle as a bonded warehouse. Mr. 
Dean's interests and home were transferred to the city of 
Minneapolis, where he became a leading lumberman and citi- 
zen. 

The Falls of St. Anthony were really the pivotal point in 
this region, for they promised a splendid water power, waiting 
development. Each settler in the new village of St. Anthony 
strove to make it the center of commercial activity. There was 
the ** Upper town," around the site of the Pillsbury mill, and 
extending along Main street as far up the river as to Third 
avenue north; and the lower or "Cheever town," the region 
now recently made part af the larger University campus, in- 
cluding Prospect, State, Church, Union, and Harvard streets. 
Near the site of the Elliott Hospital of the University, in front 
of his hotel, the Cheever House, Mr. William A. Cheever erected 
a wooden lookout tower, on the door of which a sign read ''Pay 
your dime and climb. ' ' He was on the stage route up the old 
Territorial road, and received many guests and dimes. But the 
following event as chronicled in the Minnesota Republican for 
Thursday, October 19, 1854, quite cut off Mr. Cheever 's chances 
for being the center of the town. 

The Regents have consummated the purchase of the Taylor & 
George property on the bluff above Cheever's, as a site for the Uni- 
versity buildings. They have obtained 25 acres at this point, which 
Is universally admitted to be the most beautiful location in the West, 
commanding, as it does, a magnificent view of the Falls, river, and 
country on the west of the river, and covered with large and stately 
oaks. The price paid was $6,000. 

Eighteen years later, as a student, I actually surveyed the 
old campus with rod and chain and found it to contain twenty- 
three acres and a fraction. The ''view of the Falls" is not so 
good since the apron was put in. Spirit island has disappeared, 
and the Great Northern viaduct, the Tenth Avenue bridge, the 
Pillsbury dam, and the railway freight bridge just below, have 



EARLY DAYS IN MINNEAPOLIS. 499 

been built, quite cutting off the outlook up the river. But the 
greater University campus, more than five times as large now, 
really affords fine river views. The value of this really beau- 
tiful site has gone up into several hundred times its original 
cost, evidencing the wisdom of those first Regents. Yet I must 
confess great sympathy with Dr. Fol well's plan once laid be- 
fore the Legislature, to set aside on upper Lake Minnetonka 
several hundred acres- for all the departments of the Univer- 
sity, and thereon to construct such stately buildings as are now 
being erected, but far away from the trains and noise of the 
city and in ideal setting of suburban beauty. 

The St. Anthony Express, the first newspaper at the Falls, 
founded in May, 1851, is remarkable for its high note of citi- 
zenship in its local items, as for instance: "Let us place Min- 
nesota University on a basis equal to that of Yale;" "Keep 
litter off the streets, improve your lots with shrubbery and 
fence, and build in good taste back from the sidewalk." It 
printed a series of "Letters to Young Ladies," after the style 
of the modern Ladies' Home Journal. 

No story of Minneapolis is complete without prominent 
mention of Col. John H. Stevens, who for Franklin Steele and 
himself located the first claim dwelling house on the west side of 
the river, a modest wooden building which I well remember in 
my boyhood, on the hillside some 100 feet from the river, where 
the recently discarded Union Station stood. Winding down to 
the river in front of his house, from the bridge road, after the 
ferry was superseded, was the road up which was hauled most 
of the water used for domestic purposes in the town. At any 
time during the day could be seen a flat cart backed into the 
river, one horse and one or more barrels, to be filled by dipping 
with a pail, completing the outfit. Later from this little shore 
line in front of Col. Stevens' house we venturesome boys would 
walk out on the logs, backed up from the mill pond below, to 
the boom line, some 75 feet. If we slipped and went between 
the logs, as we did occasionally, for the whole trick was a for- 
bidden one, we might come up between logs and be saved or hit 
our heads on one and stay under forever ! ■ The former expe- 
rience was mine, once only. Lower down the river, where the 
flour mill raceway now begins, was a shady, unfrequented high 
shore, where our fathers used to take us to teach us to swim. 



500 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

You know how this Stevens house, well preserved, built in 
1849 by Charles Mousseau (whose son is still on the police 
force) and Captain John Tapper, the ferryman, was purchased 
by the city and hauled by the school children of Minneapolis, 
on May 28, 1896, from Sixteenth avenue south and Fourth 
street to its present permanent and picturesque resting place 
in Minnehaha Park just north of the west end of the bridge 
leading to the Soldiers' Home. 

Colonel Stevens was always a factor in the growth of the 
city and the state, being especially enthusiastic and untiring in 
his devotion to intelligent agriculture. A beautiful bronze 
statue of him, in his long coat and slouch hat, stands at the 
foot of Portland avenue, placed there in his memory by his 
daughter, the late Mrs. P. B. Winston. 

The Minnesota Republican records that ''the Minnesota 
mill, Capt. Rollins owner, ground 36 bushels and 29 pounds of 
corn into flour in less than one hour." Such was the humble 
beginning of the greatest flour industry of the world. When, 
as a student in Philadelphia in 1876, 1 told that our city ground 
25,000 barrels of wheat flour daily, no one believed me ! Last 
year (1913) the Minneapolis production of flour was in round 
numbers over 17,000,000 barrels, averaging over 50,000 daily. 

Affairs boomed in the new town of ''All Saints," as the west 
side was known until Mr. Charles Hoag, November 5, 1852, 
devised the combination of Minnehaha, Dakota for "Laughing 
Water, ' * with the Greek affix, ' ' polls, ' ' a city, meaning ' ' Laugh- 
ing Water City" or "City of the Falls." This unique and 
euphonious name, although objectionably hybrid from a phil- 
ological view, has helped to make our city famous ; for it tells, 
even without the silent "h," long since dropped, just what 
and where it is. The town in Kansas that adopted our name 
has by no means the same right to it. Under date of November 
2, 1854, we read : 

In this promising town there are already built, and in process of 
building, fifteen stores, of which ten are open to trade, one hardware, 
one book-store, one extensive furniture establishment, one well sup- 
plied with carriages and chairs, and the balance pretty well filled with 
dry goods and groceries, etc. Minneapolis has also a sawmill, a black- 
smith shop, a Government land ofllce, a printing office, a post office, 
a land agency and surveyor's oflEice, one physician, three organized 



EARLY DAYS IN MINNEAPOLIS. 501 

churches with pastors, and about 500 inhabitants, with room for a 
good many more. It is directly opposite St. Anthony, and the two 
places are in a few weeks to be united by a complete and elegant wire 
suspension bridge. When that bridge becomes free and the two towns 
are incorporated into one, maybe there will be a city as large as any 
in Minnesota. 

This naive prophecy has been fulfilled, but not immediately. 
The bridge was not free until after the Civil War, for I myself 
later used its tickets, three cents one way or five cents over 
and back. The bridge was paid for by stock, the first issue 
being for $35,000, sold to the people of the two towns. "Six 
dwellings a week or 300 a year," is the rate recorded for the 
growth of Minneapolis, November 25, 1854. No wonder they 
could afford a bridge ! 

It is a pity that there is no picture of John Tapper's ferry, 
over which, up to January in 1855, all the citizens and the 
manufactured supplies for the little town were brought. 

There were many delays in completing the bridge. As early 
as December 14, 1854, E. H. Conner, the foreman, and the five 
or six men employed, first crossed the loose planking. Foot 
passengers were thereafter allowed to cross, but in January 
the bridge swayed in the wind so violently as to break up the 
planking, and it became necessary to place fresh wire guys to 
new piers on shore on each side The toll for crossing on these 
rather uncertain planks was one dime for each foot passenger 
each way. Not until January 23, 1855, was the bridge formally 
opened to travel, and the occasion was part of a brilliant cele- 
bration and dinner at the St. Charles Hotel. 

In the spring of 1855 the census of Hennepin county was 
taken as 4,100; and it is recorded, ''We have had an east- 
ern mail every day for four days. ' ' That spring was evidently 
an early one, for we read that Allen Harmon, whose claim was 
away out near what is now Twelfth street and Hennepin 
avenue, and who gave his name to Harmon Place, "had pota- 
toes in bud on the 30th of May, and new potatoes on June 24th. ' ' 

This new community, largely derived from New England, 
was not unmindful of the education of its youth. May 29, 1856, 
the Board selected the northwest half of block 77, where the 
City Hall now stands, as a site for the Union School House; 
and in 1857 this "double brick school house, the best school 



502 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

building north of St. Louis," was opened to scholars. It was 
built by Kobert E. Grimshaw, a contractor who came to Min^- 
neapolis two years before, the father of U. S. Marshal W. H. 
Grimshaw, Elwood G. of Deadwood, Mrs. James Hunt of Cali- 
fornia, Mrs. George W. Cooley, Mrs. Charles M. Jordan, and 
Mrs. A. E. Benjamin of this city. He designed it as an exact 
copy of a school building in his home town, Bustleton, a suburb 
of Philadelphia. Mr. Grimshaw was responsible for many of 
the larger early buildings, including the Harrison Block, at the 
corner of Washington and Nicollet avenues, the First National 
Bank, and Vogeli's drug store on the opposite corner, which 
were recently razed for the Gateway Park, and the four Harri- 
son residences, which are still standing. 

In my childhood recollections Mr. Grimshaw was notorious 
for his leading connection with a debating club, *'The Liberal 
League," abhorred by the good church people, but kept much 
alive each Sunday afternoon in Harrison's Hall by Mr. Grim- 
shaw, S. C. Gale, C. A. Widstrand, 0. C. Merriman, Dr. A. P. El- 
liott and others. 

That Union School House was my first, and it brings back 
many recollections. It seemed to us very palatial. A broad 
central hall led through the building to rooms on either side, 
cut off from the hall by sliding glass partitions, so that the 
four rooms of each floor could be practically thrown into one 
for general school exercises. A huge wood-burning stove, long 
enough to receive four-feet cordwood, heated each room; and 
each stove gave more radiation by having a long, hollow circular 
sheet-iron drum above the fire box. This school house, with its 
lively assemblage of some 250 children, was the scene of as many 
epoch-making events as any of the seventy school buildings in 
the present city. We were likewise ''Good, bad, and indiffer- 
ent," as nowadays. 

The second principal, who shall be nameless, was a powerful 
man, of a very fiery temper. Two brothers of Scotch descent, 
living not far from the school, were to him especially exasperat- 
ing by their breaches of discipline. He so far forgot himself 
one day as to kick these boys down the stone steps. The boys 
went home, nursing their bruises and their temper, and through 
their parents moved for the principal's dismissal. He was a 
good teacher and disciplinarian, and was kept in his position by 



EARLY DAYS IN MINNEAPOLIS. 503 

a lenient community because good teachers were scarce. The 
boys could not forget and one night in 1864 the Union School 
went up in smoke. Shavings saturated with kerosene were 
seen burning on each floor, so that there was no doubt as to the 
incendiary origin of the fire. The Scotch family suddenly dis- 
appeared from the community, and the board had to house their 
children in temporary quarters while a new building was being 
constructed. 

Although the ambitious citizens of Hennepin county held 
their first fair in 1854, a year before the United States gave 
them clear title to their claims and enabled them to record a 
plat of Minneapolis, the first State Fair was not held until 1860, 
being then in the old quadrangle at Fort Snelling. Governor 
Lewis Cass of Michigan, whose name was given to nine counties 
in as many states and to two towns in Michigan, was the orator 
of that occasion. To Fort Snelling we took all eastern visitors 
and strangers, where *'The Old Lookout" gave a truly magnifi- 
cent view of the valleys of the Mississippi and Minnesota. The 
removal of that old round wooden platform, in the modernizing 
of the Fort in the 90 's, was a distinct scenic loss to the vicinity 
of the Twin Cities. 

Minnehaha Falls, known as Brown's Falls until made famous 
by Longfellow's ''Song of Hiawatha" in 1855, has done more to 
advertise Minneapolis than any other one thing, for no one can 
come here without seeing the supposed scene of his legends. 
This waterfall and the beautiful Minnehaha Park surrounding 
it are one of the most familiar and valuable assets of the city. 

The first daily paper at the Falls was The Falls Evening 
News. From Volume I, No. 1, September 28, 1857, I select the 
following interesting and instructive advertisements in the 
separate Minneapolis columns, 

*'W. D. Washburn, Attorney & Counselor at Law, Cor. of 
Helen & Second Sts., Collections, to invest and loan money, enter 
and locate lands, pay taxes, examine titles, and attend promptly 
to all business entrusted to him." Here follow in full fifteen 
references to eastern men and firms outside of the territory and 
five in St. Paul and elsewhere, as the humble beginning of the 
business and fortune of the future United States senator. 

Edwin S. Jones, afterward Judge of Probate and president 
of the Hennepin County Bank, has a similar card ; also Cornell 



504 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

& Vanderbergh, who became judges, one of the Supreme Court ; 
Sherburne & Beebe (the late Judge Franklin Beebe), with some 
twenty references ; Henry Hill, Parsons & Morgan, Cushman & 
Woods, Carlos Wilcox, etc., all in the real estate and legal lines. 
I think it was David Morgan of the above firm, whose funeral 
five years later in the old Plymouth Church, at the corner of 
Fourth street and Nicollet avenue, was the first I ever attended. 
It was an awesome occasion, with a large attendance, for Mr. 
Morgan had gone out among the first volunteers in the Indian 
outbreak, and was brought home with an arrow through his 
heart. 

C. A. Widstrand, advertising his ' ' Music & Stationery Store, ' ' 
was an independent and notable figure on the streets of those 
days, much beloved by all who knew him. 

Thomas Hale Williams, Minneapolis Bookseller and Sta- 
tioner, Minnetonka street (next south of the Suspension 
Bridge), became, upon the organization of the Minneapolis 
Athenaeum two years later, in 1859, its librarian, and was for 
years the uncompromising custodian of this really excellent 
book collection, the nucleus of our present Public Library. It 
may be of interest to note here that the original stockholders in 
the Athenaeum, in lieu of their former legal rights given up to 
the public, have the privilege of demanding the purchase by 
their permanent librarian of any line of books they may see fit, 
with the further understanding that the original Athenaeum 
Library is always to be kept intact. 

To go back to our advertisements : George H. Keith, M. D., 
dentist, was afterward postmaster ; commemoration of his wife 
was recently very beautifully manifested by her son-in-law, 
Mr. E. A. Merrill, in the gift of the Free Baptist church prop- 
erty, on Fifteenth street and Nicollet avenue, to the Young 
Women's Christian Association. A. L. Bausman, dentist, min- 
istered to nearly all the early citizens of prominence, and was 
always an important political factor. 

C. L. Anderson and W. H. Leonard, my father, physicians, 
were partners and friends ; M. R. Greely, M. D., adds to his card 
this unique offer, ''Surgical operations performed either with 
or without the use of chloroform or ether, ' ' an offer that would 
not attract nowadays. 

On April 5, 1860, the first Plymouth Church building, a 



EARLY DAYS IN MINNEAPOLIS. 505 

wooden structure of some pretensions, facing Fourth street on 
the southeast corner of Nicollet, burned to the ground, having 
been set by incendiaries. The fire was thought to be the re- 
sult of the church's drastic action in a very stirring temperance 
movement. It was late in the afternoon, as I have reason to 
remember distinctly, for a certain small boy had been sent to 
bed early for punishment and found it a most exciting diversion 
to watch the fire from the upper back widow of his Second 
street home, just north of Hennepin avenue. As the flames 
lighted up the sky, the few intervening buildings were brought 
into bold outline, especially the original First Baptist Church, a 
brick building facing Third street between Hennepin and Nicol- 
let avenues, the most ambitious of the churches of that day. 
Plymouth Church was rebuilt larger than before, on the same 
site ; and it was removed in the 80 's, to make way for the present 
buildings, to Seventh avenue north and Third street, where it is 
now a crowded tenement building. 

The Plymouth Church quintette in those early years con- 
sisted of Harlow A. and S. C. Gale, brothers, Mr. and Mrs. C. 
M. Cushman, and Mr. Joseph H. Clark. They were in demand 
not only on Sundays, but for many funerals and concerts. Mr., 
S. C. Gale, Mrs. Cushman, and her brother, Mr. Clark, still sur- 
vive, the latter living in Santa Monica, California. 

Refugees from the Sioux massacre, in 1862, came even to 
Minneapolis, more than eighty miles from the scenes of the 
slaughter. Scores of the frightened settlers and their families 
came, generally in the covered farm wagons or ''prairie schoon- 
ers'* in which they had journeyed forth only a few years before. 
On the wagons were all the household goods they could crowd, 
with the family ; and behind were such cows, calves, colts, and 
dogs, as could travel. Every home was opened to them for the 
days of the scare. They flocked into our side of the town from 
Bottineau prairie, in Wright county, as the unwooded stretch 
from Buffalo to Monticello was called, and from the northern 
part of Hennepin county, wild, tired, and hungry. I remember 
how our big house served as barracks for a time, even the halls 
being occupied by women and children. 

It will always be the glory of Minnesota, that she was the 
first to respond to the call for troops in the stirring first months 
of the Rebellion. But, as elsewhere, the burdens fell doubly 



506 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

upon those left behind. Men were actually scarce. It was 
impossible to get work done, and women and children were 
pressed into the service for unusual labor. Many physicians 
went into the army, leaving more than double duty for those 
left behind in a community rapidly increasing by immigra- 
tion. Dr. Philo L. Hatch used to tell how for one week he 
never had an opportunity to sleep in bed, but went from one 
call to another, day and night. The mails were never more 
eagerly sought. "We small boys had the regular duty of going 
for letters, and in doing so had to either wade throiigh or skirt 
a small frog-pond at the lower end of the present Gateway 
Park, where the City Hall stood from 1887 to 1912. 

The post office of war times was in various locations around 
Bridge Square, at First street and Hennepin avenue, later at 
the Pence Opera House corner, and for years in Center Block 
(recently razed), in a building known as 216 Nicollet avenue, 
owned by R. E. Grimshaw; and later still it occupied the first 
floor of the City Hall, until the present Post Office Building 
was completed, which again is soon to be succeeded by the 
new building now in progress of construction. 

Everybody lived ''down town" in those days, for there was 
no strictly residence portion of the city. All were neighbors 
and friends, greeting each other with a "Good morning," and 
going home to dinner (not lunch) at noon, closing their shops 
for an hour or so. 

The Gale brothers, S. C. and Harlow A., lived near Third 
avenue south and Third street, in a white wooden house long 
since torn down. Judge E. S. Jones lived on Second ave- 
nue north, between First and Second streets,, in a two story 
brick dwelling, now a hotel for Icelanders. B. S. Bull lived 
across the alley from Judge Jones ; 0. M. Lara way and Thomas 
Gardner, over stores on Bridge Square ; J. B. Bassett, in a very 
substantial brick dwelling on the river bank in the present 
Omaha freight yards. My father. Dr. William H. Leonard, and 
Mr. Schuyler Johnson, Mrs. Andrew Rinker's father, lived on 
the south side of Second street near Hennepin avenue, in build- 
ings which are now a hide store and the headquarters of the 
Volunteers of America ; and I might recall many other familiar 
names of early citizens, whose homes were down on Fifth and 
Seventh streets toward the old Court House. 



EARLY DAYS IN MINNEAPOLIS. 507 

Dr. Alfred E. Ames, whose large and splendid home (for 
those days) was on the corner of Fourth street and Eighth 
♦ avenue south, had the first greenhouse in the city and employed 
William Buckendorf, a young German, as his gardener. In the 
very stringent times of 1857, William received a letter from 
the old country on which was due fifty cents postage. He 
knew it contained money and asked Dr. Ames for the change. 
The doctor replied, ''William, I know I owe you for several 
months' wages besides, but I have not seen half a dollar in 
many days. I'll tell you what I'll do, you take this deed to 
lot so and so, on Seventh street, next to William Washburn's 
house, and see if you can raise some money on it." Just what 
William got for a lot, now worth thousands, the story does 
not tell, but he paid his postage ! 

The second schoolhouse stood on the corner of Helen street 
and Washington avenue, where the Post Office is now being 
built, and where the Windonl Block stood for years. It was 
used while the new Washington School was being built, in 
1864-67. It was a rambling wooden building, owned by Mr. 
Loren Fletcher, housing all the scholars of the city only by 
considerable crowding. Back of it, near the center of the 
block, was a low wet spot frequented by the pigs belonging to 
the owners of the shanties between there and the river along 
First and Second streets. On warm afternoons, when lessons 
lagged and we were anxious to be out of doors, we boys on the 
front seats, while the teacher was in the back of the room, by 
a skill acquired by long practice outside, would call those pigs 
so enticingly that they actually came up to the back door and 
would stick their fore feet and heads into the room. One day, 
when quite engrossed in this pastime, a resounding whack on 
the side of the head reminded me that I was guilty of a serious 
breach of discipline. The Russell brothers, sons of R. P. Rus- 
sell, sat behind me and aided and abetted this scandal. 

The close of the war brought back the veterans and their 
accompaniments. In my father's case, these included two 
horses, one of which, a big white charger known as ''Charlie," 
had carried him as surgeon through the siege of Vicksburg. 
A colored woman servant was also included, "Aunt Hester 
Patterson," who had been his cook for a year or more in that 
and other campaigns. "Aunty" proved a notable darkey char- 



508 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL. SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

acter, a stalwart ex-slave from Mississippi. She arrived in true 
southern fashion, with all her earthly belongings tied in a huge 
sheeted bundle on top of her head. As she strode over from 
the East Side stage office across the bridge to my father's house 
on Second street, she literally swept down with her bundle all 
the loose store goods hanging to the low wooden awnings of 
those days. Her path through Bridge Square was strewn with 
wreckage, making her coming notable for days. Her destina- 
tion was '*Dr. Leonard's mansion," for that was her sole idea 
of the unfamiliar North. Aunty lived to become a well known 
figure among her own and the white people and finally died in 
the 70 's, in a shanty built for and given to her by some of the 
lumbermen on Hennepin island, who operated their line of saw- 
mills, known as the ''East Side platform," burned in 1870 and 
never rebuilt. 

Minneapolis became a town by act of legislature in 1856, 
but it was not until 1867 that she obtained a city charter. In 
the beginning of this last corporate existence she had essen- 
tially the limited boundaries of the old town, being bounded 
on the east by the river, north by Sixth avenue, west by Lyn- 
dale avenue, and south by an irregular line from Lyndale and 
Hennepin avenues to Cedar avenue and to the river. Only five 
years later, in 1872, Minneapolis absorbed the older town of 
St. Anthony, had a population of about 20,000, and began to 
expand in all directions. 

In July, 1906, a half century as town and city was celebrated 
by the Hennepin County Territorial Pioneers and the Native 
Sons of Minnesota, with a procession across the city and 
speeches on Richard Chute Square, at the same time establish- 
ing the * ' Godfrey House ' ' in that little park as the oldest dwell- 
ing in St. Anthony and a repository of local historical memen- 
toes. 

June 22, 1862, the ''William Crooks" was the first railway 
engine to haul a train up to the Falls, arriving on Main street 
in St. Anthony at the east end of the bridge from Nicollet 
island. The depot was soon removed to Second avenue north- 
east and Fourth street, and for a year all west side people had 
to go over there to take or meet a train. Our first Minneapolis 
depot was on Third street and Third avenue north, that of the 
St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba railway, earlier the St. Paul 



EARLY DAYS IN MINNEAPOLIS. 

& Pacific railroad, which was in some ways a better name than 
the final one, the Great Northern railway. 

In 1868 the value of the manufactured product of the new 
city of Minneapolis was $5,000,000. The next year St. Paul 
and Minneapolis sent out the Northern Pacific railroad survey, 
starting from Washington avenue. 

Our ambitious town got a great scare in 1869, when a sec- 
tion of the limestone ledge under the Falls fell into and 
wrecked a tunnel that Mr. William W. Eastman was building 
under Hennepin island. ''Save the Falls" was the cry heard 
in Washington, and the United States government proceeded 
to spend over a million dollars to construct a concrete barrier 
from shore to shore underneath the limestone, a dam of solid 
masonry some twenty-five feet high, fifteen feet wide at the 
base and four feet at the top. 

Washington avenue was the main street of those days. 
Some notable houses were the leading dry goods store, of Bell 
Brothers (J. E. and D. C. Bell), at the corner of Nicollet ave- 
nue; Charles M. Cushman's book store, and George Savory's 
drug store; and lastly Bond's restaurant, the only good place 
for ''a spread" in town, except that of Cyphers, a later rival, 
which stood next to Deshon's livery on Nicollet avenue below 
Washington avenue, where the Miller-Davis printing plant is 
now. All of the University eating functions in the early years 
were held in one of these then palatial parlors, but there were 
strict regulations as to being away and at home by ten-thirty 
o'clock! That would seem strange nowadays. 

By 1867 the Washington School was completed and occu- 
pied, on the site of the Union School and of the Court House. 
It was a fine substantial building of four stories and basement, 
built of limestone from Minneapolis quarries. There were four 
grade rooms on each floor, except that the third story had at 
its north side one large room devoted to the High School. 
Recitations were held in the upper French-roof story. The first 
principals managed the whole from an office in the basement, 
and taught classes in the High School at certain hours. Other 
ward or grade schools multiplied as the town grew, but this 
building was the headquarters for years. 

The first Superintendent of Public Schools was George B. 
Stone ; W. 0. Hiskey in 1868 reigned over twenty-seven teach- 



510 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

ers; but to Orson V. Tousley, who was superintendent from 
1871 to 1886, should be given the credit of putting the school 
system on its feet. During the early part of his administration, 
indeed from the opening of the Washington building, there 
stood on the corner of Third avenue north and Fifth street, in 
the extreme corner of the school yard, a wooden bell-tower or 
''Pagoda," perhaps two and a half stories high, the bell of 
which not only summoned to school, rang for recess, etc., but 
for years rang the alarm for all fires in the city, day or night. 
The fire alarm duties extended to James Bulger, the janitor of 
those days, and it was certainly a privilege to a boy to live 
within one block of that tocsin and get warning of all fires! 
The habit of responding to fire alarms is sometimes strong with 
me yet. There was no mistaking its warning, when in August, 
1872, it rang for the destruction of my father's residence and 
five other dwellings in the block where the Security and Mc- 
Knight buildings now stand, while the firemen, through some 
mistake in cut-offs, stood by helpless without water. This bell, 
with its too frequent clangings, was soon afterward superseded 
by a fire-alarm telegraph system. 

Superintendent Tousley was a noted character whom many 
of us remember well. A graduate of Williams College and a 
lawyer, he came to us from a school in Ohio, tall, stern, a bril- 
liant speaker and teacher, but rather given to bullying his 
pupils. He occasionally met his match, as, for instance, when 
Miss Lillie Clark (late Mrs. Fred C. Lyman) flashed back, '*You 
are talking to a lady. Professor!" At another occasion he sur- 
prised George H. Morgan (now a major in the U. S. army) and 
myself in the coat room, when we should have been in our seats. 
''What are you boys doing here?" he roared; "Swapping jack 
knives, unsight and unseen, ' ' was our truthful answer. ' ' Who 's 
getting the best of it?" he asked, with a relaxing smile; "I 
am," promptly answered the lucky one, disclosing the knife 
in his hand. The humor of the situation appealed to him, and 
he laughingly dismissed us to our seats without further com- 
ment. 

One day, in the midst of the lessons, a little boy timidly ap- 
peared at the door and stood trembling, awaiting recognition. 
"What do you want?" roared Tousley; "I want to see Pro- 
fessor Toosley," stammered the boy. "Who sent you here?" 



EARLY DAYS IN MINNEAPOLIS. 511 

he roared back across the long room; "Miss Cruikshank from 
Room A," was the answer. ''You go back to Miss Cruikshank, 
and tell her that the 'ou' in my name is pronounced like 'ow' 
in ' cow, ' ' ' and the boy disappeared as though shot from a gun ! 

He was appointed a Regent of the University and served 
one term, when federal duties took him from the city. Return- 
ing on a visit some years later, he told some of us grown-up 
boys that he could not believe we dreaded and hated him so, 
and endeavored to correct the earlier impressions by a cor- 
diality of which he was very capable. After most excellent 
service in compiling the official records of the Chicago Exposi- 
tion of 1893, for the United States government, he died in 1902, 
at the age of sixty-eight years. 

On August 26, 1865 (the date I find in "Mrs. Abby Men- 
denhall's Diary"), Gen. U. S. Grant visited Minneapolis. I 
well remember how my father lifted me above the crowd in 
the Nicollet House lobby, to look at the grim, gray warrior, in 
whose command he was for three years, and who was then be- 
ing groomed for the presidency. My impression is of a retiring 
man, short in stature, weary of the vociferous attention he was 
receiving, but a man of iron strength and will. 

In those days after the war, the Athenaeum gave each win- 
ter a "star course" of lectures in the old Pence Opera House, 
among which I recall (for they were real treats even to small 
boys) Anna Dickinson, on "Breakers Ahead;" Wendell Phil- 
lips, on "The Lost Arts;" and Richard Proctor, on "Astron- 
omy. ' ' 

The Academy of Music, on the site of Temple Court, was 
built in 1869, and there the lively growing town heard opera by 
Adelaide Phillips and many others ; Robert G. Ingersoll, in ' ' The 
Mistakes of Moses;" John G. Holland, who used to stand in 
the lobby and study his audience as they filed in ; and, of local 
talent. Rev. James H. Tuttle, and many others. The Academy 
was burned on Christmas Day, 1884, when the thermometer 
ranged away below zero. 

In the 70 's were held "Bill King's Fairs," in a now thickly 
settled territory south of Franklin avenue from Twenty-third 
avenue south to the river. Great wooden buildings displayed 
the merchandise and stock, and a really fine race course brought 
the best horsemen of America. Col. William S. King was a 



512 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

wonderful impresario and manager and always kept things 
lively, while his secretary, Hon. Charles H. Clark, was a most 
efficient aide. On one occasion Horace Greeley, of the New 
York Tribune, was the orator and received from the manage- 
ment the finest pair of blankets the North Star Woolen Mills 
then made, valued at $50. 

IiL 1875 the second Suspension Bridge, with its fine stone 
towers and broader dimensions, superseded the one of 1855, to 
be itself torn down, giving place for the present stone arch 
bridge, in 1890. 

May 2, 1878, in the early evening, six great flour mills were 
blown up by an ignition and explosion of flour dust, and eigh- 
teen lives were lost. Over in Lakewood cemetery, on the knoll 
overlooking Lake Calhoun, is a fine granite shaft commemorat- 
ing the event with the names of the victims; and a similar 
memorial tablet is placed on the north side of the rebuilt 
"Washburn A" mill. Each of these memorials bears the in- 
scription; ''Labor, wide as earth, has its summit in Heaven." 

On the East Side, a place of much repute in the early times 
was ''the old Chalybeate Springs," on the river bank just be- 
low the site of the Pillsbury "A" Mill. The city of St. Anthony 
built wooden steps and a long platform at these springs, for 
strangers and the public generally; and in the palmy days of 
the Winslow and Tremont hotels, before the Civil War, the 
walks were thronged with people who came down on summer 
afternoons and evenings to enjoy the scenery and the health- 
ful iron water. Later, in my student days at the University, it 
was a resort for those who would walk together and alone ! 
Only a few weeks ago, my daughter and I found the springs, 
with the red-stained ground and the old iron pipe, still flow- 
ing as of yore, but with no steps nor walks and an outlook 
badly damaged by the debris of new channels and by the city 
ownership of Hennepin island with its pumping station. The 
water still smacks of iron, and is still therefore ' ' chalybeate ; ' ' 
and just above, as it has stood since 1855, was the old limestone 
shop of E. Broad, the first iron worker, where the broad-axes 
and logging tools of that day were made. 

Instead of the Minikahda, Interlachen, and Athletic and 
Boat Clubs of today, society of long ago resorted to the Lake 
Calhoun Pg,vilion, a large summer hotel, where Mrs. Foreman 's 



EARLY DAYS IN MINNEAPOLIS. 513 

fine residence now stands. Hops and functions were held there, 
it being reached by carriages, and by sleighs in the winter time. 
This Pavilion was destroyed by fire within two years and was 
never rebuilt. It is worthy of note that it stood on the site of 
the fir^t dwelling of white men in this city, as commemorated 
by the tablet on a boulder beside the Lake Calhoun parkway, 
bearing this inscription: ''On the hill above was erected the 
first dwelling in Minneapolis by Samuel W. and Gideon H. 
Pond, Missionaries to the Indians, June, 1834. Dedicated by 
the Native Sons of Minnesota, May 30, 1908.'' 

The University Coliseum, a huge wooden structure seating 
more than 3,000 people, the forerunner of the present Univer- 
sity Armory, known irreverently among the students as ' ' Pills- 
bury 's Barn," was the place for University commencements, 
balls, military drilling, and gymnasium work, from 1884 to 
1894, when it was burned quite to the ground. It stood just 
southeast of the present Sanford Hall, the women's dormitory, 
on the triangle of ground added to the campus from the home- 
stead of Mr. George W. Perkins, the late father-in-law of L. S. 
and George M. Gillette. 

The first street car in Minneapolis, horse-drawn of course, 
was started in 1875 ; but the first electrifying did not take place 
until 1888. Many will remember that just before this change 
for using electricity the Minneapolis Street Railway Company 
had spent many thousands of dollars in placing a cable line out 
First avenue south (now Marquette avenue), and was ready to 
put it in operation when electric power was shown to be far 
more economical. 

This paper may well be concluded by noting the names for- 
merly borne by the streets (now called avenues) which run 
transverse to the course of the Mississippi. These were re- 
named numerically as avenues within the first year after the 
union in 1872 of St. Anthony and Minneapolis, to distinguish 
them canveniently from the streets which are parallel with the 
river, being therefore intersected by the avenues. Washington 
and University avenues are exceptional, being parallel with the 
Mississippi, so that more properly they should be called streets. 

Under dates of 1873 and 1874, maps of the enlarged city show 
in their order southeastward from Nicollet avenue and parallel 



514 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

therewith, running thus transverse to the river, the following 
streets : Minnetonka, Helen, Oregon, California, Marshall, Cat- 
aract, Russell, Ames, Rice, Smith, Pearl, Huy, Hanson, Lake, 
Vine, Clay, Avon, and Lane streets, these being respectively the 
First to the Eighteenth avenues south, lying between Nicollet 
and Cedar avenues. Both the old names as streets and the new 
names as avenues are given on these maps, which belong to the 
time of transition from the old to the new. 

East of Cedar avenue on these maps are Aspen, Oak, Wal- 
nut, Elm, Maple, Pine, Spruce, Willow, Birch, and Orange 
streets, being respectively the present Nineteenth to the Twen- 
ty-eighth avenues south. 

In the order from Hennepin avenue to the northwest and 
north were Utah, Kansas, Itasca, Dakota, Nebraska, Harrison, 
Lewis, Seward, Marcy, Benton, the next unnamed, then Moore, 
Fremont, Clayton, Bingham, Breckenridge, Cass, Douglas, Bu- 
chanan, Christmas, Howard, Clay, Mary Ann, and King streets, 
these being renamed respectively as the First to the Twenty- 
fourth avenues north. 

On the St. Anthony side. Central avenue had been earlier 
called Bay street; and thence southeastward were Mill, Pine, 
Cedar, Spruce, Spring, Maple, Walnut, Aspen, Birch, Willow, 
Elm, and A, B, etc., to G and H streets, now respectively the 
First to Nineteenth avenues southeast. 

Passing northwest and north from Central avenue, in the 
northeast part of the city, were in succession Linden, Oak, 
Dakota, Todd, Dana, Wood, St. Paul, St. Anthony, St. Peter's, 
St. Martin, St. Genevieve, Prairie, Grove, and Lake streets, 
which now are, in the same order, the First to the Fourteenth 
avenues northeast. 

Evidently the confusion arising after the two municipalities 
were united as the new and greater Minneapolis, through the 
several duplications of street names west and east of the river, 
was one of the chief reasons for their renaming as avenues and 
under numbers for the four main divisions of the city. What 
was lost in the historic origins of the former names, dating from 
the first surveys and plats, seems to have been more than offset 
by the increased convenience, local significance, and systematic 
definiteness of the present nomenclature. 



14 



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