Ramsey County Historical Society

Ramsey County Historical Society The mission of the Ramsey County Historical Society is to preserve our past, inform the present and inspire the future of the residents of Ramsey County and beyond.

The RCHS Mary Livingston Griggs & Mary Griggs Burke Research Center:
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 12:30-4:30pm
Basement, Landmark Center
RCHS Offices:
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:00am-5:00 pm
Third floor, Landmark Center
RCHS Exhibit Gallery
Open during Landmark Center hours, located on first floor, North end

The Ramsey County Historical Society preserves, presents and publishes the stories of Ramsey County, and

The RCHS Mary Livingston Griggs & Mary Griggs Burke Research Center:
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 12:30-4:30pm
Basement, Landmark Center
RCHS Offices:
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:00am-5:00 pm
Third floor, Landmark Center
RCHS Exhibit Gallery
Open during Landmark Center hours, located on first floor, North end

The Ramsey County Historical Society preserves, presents and publishes the stories of Ramsey County, and

Operating as usual

Heman and Jane built an addition to the original house in 1867 which included four bedrooms on the second floor. When th...
09/13/2021

Heman and Jane built an addition to the original house in 1867 which included four bedrooms on the second floor. When they started School District #17 they hired a teacher who was offered a room as part of her pay. For the first two years she taught the children in the parlor and when the schoolhouse was completed, classes were moved to the new school. The teacher, Mary Lake, stayed with the family for many years. Typical of the schools of the era, Mary was responsible for teaching math, social studies, art, writing, reading and music to first through eighth grades. Mary also acted as the school’s principal, janitor and librarian. Students worked on their lessons throughout the day, and although books were supplied to the school, they were each responsible for their own supplies, including slates and chalk for lessons.
The photo shows the students and their teacher outside the Gibbs school, around 1900 to 1901. Two of the children are identified on the back: Front row, left to right: Ida Anderson (Olson) born 1889. Theodora Anderson (Solsted).

Heman and Jane built an addition to the original house in 1867 which included four bedrooms on the second floor. When they started School District #17 they hired a teacher who was offered a room as part of her pay. For the first two years she taught the children in the parlor and when the schoolhouse was completed, classes were moved to the new school. The teacher, Mary Lake, stayed with the family for many years. Typical of the schools of the era, Mary was responsible for teaching math, social studies, art, writing, reading and music to first through eighth grades. Mary also acted as the school’s principal, janitor and librarian. Students worked on their lessons throughout the day, and although books were supplied to the school, they were each responsible for their own supplies, including slates and chalk for lessons.
The photo shows the students and their teacher outside the Gibbs school, around 1900 to 1901. Two of the children are identified on the back: Front row, left to right: Ida Anderson (Olson) born 1889. Theodora Anderson (Solsted).

Join us tomorrow evening for an Irvine Park Architectural History Tour! Tour of Irvine Park with Illustrator Jeanne Kosf...
09/13/2021
History Revealed: Irvine Park Talk & Tour - Ramsey County Historical Society

Join us tomorrow evening for an Irvine Park Architectural History Tour! Tour of Irvine Park with Illustrator Jeanne Kosfeld and Architectural Historian Dick Kronick on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 5:00-6:00 pm.

Registration required, registrations are limited. To register and for more information, see our webpage at https://www.rchs.com/event/history-revealed-irvine-park-talk-tour/

Tickets: $30.00 (RCHS members receive a 10% discount). Price includes the tour and 1 copy of "Neighborhood Architecture: Irvine Park, Saint Paul – a coloring book", which may be picked up at the start of the tour.

Ramsey County Historical Society presents Irvine Park Architectural History Tour Tour of Irvine Park with Illustrator Jeanne Kosfeld and Architectural Historian Dick Kronick September 14, 2021 Tuesday, 5:00-6:00 pm Please meet at the Irvine Park gazebo at 4:45 pm Tour begins promptly at 5:00 pm and....

Trained as a teacher in Vermont, Heman Gibbs was particularly concerned with education. At the time that his children Ab...
09/09/2021

Trained as a teacher in Vermont, Heman Gibbs was particularly concerned with education. At the time that his children Abbie and Frank were starting school, the closest schoolhouse was on the corner of present day Larpenteur and Snelling, a difficult walk for the children in winter. In 1871 the Gibbs sold land for a schoolhouse. While the schoolhouse was being constructed, the Gibbs family would hold lessons in their parlor. Once the schoolhouse was completed Abbie, Frank, and Lillie attended the Gibbs school along with their neighbors. This schoolhouse remained in operation until the 1960's, but was falling into disrepair, so RCHS decided to move the Stoen Schoolhouse to the site in 1968. The Stoen schoolhouse was built in 1882 in Milan, Chippewa County, Minnesota. It was used as a public school until 1965.
The photo shows the interior of the Stoen schoolhouse as it is at Gibbs Farm today. The schoolhouse has a globe on a pulley to allow the globe to be lowered for a lesson and then raised when it is not in use.

Trained as a teacher in Vermont, Heman Gibbs was particularly concerned with education. At the time that his children Abbie and Frank were starting school, the closest schoolhouse was on the corner of present day Larpenteur and Snelling, a difficult walk for the children in winter. In 1871 the Gibbs sold land for a schoolhouse. While the schoolhouse was being constructed, the Gibbs family would hold lessons in their parlor. Once the schoolhouse was completed Abbie, Frank, and Lillie attended the Gibbs school along with their neighbors. This schoolhouse remained in operation until the 1960's, but was falling into disrepair, so RCHS decided to move the Stoen Schoolhouse to the site in 1968. The Stoen schoolhouse was built in 1882 in Milan, Chippewa County, Minnesota. It was used as a public school until 1965.
The photo shows the interior of the Stoen schoolhouse as it is at Gibbs Farm today. The schoolhouse has a globe on a pulley to allow the globe to be lowered for a lesson and then raised when it is not in use.

This Thursday, Aug. 19, join us at 7:30 for a special History Revealed presentation, "A Private Wilderness: The Journals...
08/16/2021
History Revealed: A Private Wilderness - Ramsey County Historical Society

This Thursday, Aug. 19, join us at 7:30 for a special History Revealed presentation, "A Private Wilderness: The Journals of Sigurd F. Olson" with David Backes. The program explores personal diaries of one of America’s best-loved naturalists, revealing his difficult and inspiring path to finding his voice and becoming a writer.

Written mostly during the years from 1930 to 1941, Sigurd F. Olson’s journals describe the dreams and frustrations of an aspiring writer honing his skills, pursuing recognition, and facing doubt. Author of Olson’s definitive biography, editor David Backes brings a deep knowledge of the writer to these journals, providing critical context, commentary, and insights along the way.

The presentation will be live on Zoom, see https://www.rchs.com/event/history-revealed-a-private-wilderness/ for more information and to register. Free.
In partnership with Ramsey County Libraries-Roseville.

A Private Wilderness: The Journals of Sigurd F. Olson with David Backes History Revealed Series August 19, 2021 Thursday, 7:00 pm Live presentation on Zoom Register in advance for this meeting: Registration Link Registration is limited. You will receive a confirmation email after registering. For re...

Building off the log cabin (that we now call the “Original Room”) that Heman constructed after the Soddy, and with a gro...
08/11/2021

Building off the log cabin (that we now call the “Original Room”) that Heman constructed after the Soddy, and with a growing family and thriving market garden business, Heman and Jane decided to enlarge their house in 1867. The new addition included a formal parlor, a downstairs bedroom/office and four bedrooms upstairs. Heman made the final addition to the Gibbs Farmhouse in 1873. Included was a summer kitchen with cross ventilation, and quarters for his seasonal workers (6-15 hired hands per year). The addition was a story and a half, and the sleeping/loft space was called the "pen" because the studs were covered with horizontal boards, like an animal pen. Originally there would not have been a doorway that led into the main house on the second floor.
Image: Photograph on a postcard of the Gibbs farmhouse that daughter Abbie Gibbs wrote and sent to her nephew Harrold LeVesconte, sometime from 1912 to 1916.

Building off the log cabin (that we now call the “Original Room”) that Heman constructed after the Soddy, and with a growing family and thriving market garden business, Heman and Jane decided to enlarge their house in 1867. The new addition included a formal parlor, a downstairs bedroom/office and four bedrooms upstairs. Heman made the final addition to the Gibbs Farmhouse in 1873. Included was a summer kitchen with cross ventilation, and quarters for his seasonal workers (6-15 hired hands per year). The addition was a story and a half, and the sleeping/loft space was called the "pen" because the studs were covered with horizontal boards, like an animal pen. Originally there would not have been a doorway that led into the main house on the second floor.
Image: Photograph on a postcard of the Gibbs farmhouse that daughter Abbie Gibbs wrote and sent to her nephew Harrold LeVesconte, sometime from 1912 to 1916.

When Heman had expanded his market garden business, he was able to sell off some of his unnecessary land to begin buildi...
08/09/2021

When Heman had expanded his market garden business, he was able to sell off some of his unnecessary land to begin building a new log cabin next to the Soddy, completed in 1854. The one-room cabin had a limestone foundation and log walls built of milled tamarack, which Heman likely purchased. As the children got older, they slept in an uninsulated loft constructed above the main room. Frank, Jane and Heman’s son, recalled that it was freezing cold in the loft – ice would form on the beams and snow would sometime sift in through the roof. The original cabin, (now called the “Original Room” at Gibbs Farm) continued to be used as the main living, cooking, and eating space by the family even as additions and expansions that developed into the current Gibbs Farmhouse were built, until the sale of the home in 1943.
Image: Painting of the original log & sod Soddy at Gibbs Farm, possibly either by Lillie Gibbs or adapted from a drawing by her.
From the RCHS Collection.

When Heman had expanded his market garden business, he was able to sell off some of his unnecessary land to begin building a new log cabin next to the Soddy, completed in 1854. The one-room cabin had a limestone foundation and log walls built of milled tamarack, which Heman likely purchased. As the children got older, they slept in an uninsulated loft constructed above the main room. Frank, Jane and Heman’s son, recalled that it was freezing cold in the loft – ice would form on the beams and snow would sometime sift in through the roof. The original cabin, (now called the “Original Room” at Gibbs Farm) continued to be used as the main living, cooking, and eating space by the family even as additions and expansions that developed into the current Gibbs Farmhouse were built, until the sale of the home in 1943.
Image: Painting of the original log & sod Soddy at Gibbs Farm, possibly either by Lillie Gibbs or adapted from a drawing by her.
From the RCHS Collection.

Log and sod cabins (Soddys) were common on the prairie in early Minnesota. Sod was used as a building material when ther...
08/06/2021

Log and sod cabins (Soddys) were common on the prairie in early Minnesota. Sod was used as a building material when there was a lack of trees for building cabins. Readily available, the closely packed root system of the sod added stability and insulation to the structure. To build the Soddy, Heman dug a 4' deep hole that measured 10’x12'. Logs were used to make short walls above ground and support the roof, which was constructed from wood planks and sod. Heman and Jane Gibbs spent five years in the Soddy, from 1849-1854. Despite the coziness and steady temperatures that the Soddy provided, Jane had to hang oil cloths on the walls to prevent dirt from sifting into the living quarters, and had to constantly watch for rats, snakes and other prairie creatures who also thought the Soddy was a good home!
For more on the Soddy, we have a new video: "The Lost Gibbs House," which gives visitors a glimpse into life in Jane and Heman's Soddy. While the original structure no longer exists, a replica based on drawings, descriptions, and an archaeological excavation was constructed at Gibbs Farm. YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/o7-rpsyDx_s

Log and sod cabins (Soddys) were common on the prairie in early Minnesota. Sod was used as a building material when there was a lack of trees for building cabins. Readily available, the closely packed root system of the sod added stability and insulation to the structure. To build the Soddy, Heman dug a 4' deep hole that measured 10’x12'. Logs were used to make short walls above ground and support the roof, which was constructed from wood planks and sod. Heman and Jane Gibbs spent five years in the Soddy, from 1849-1854. Despite the coziness and steady temperatures that the Soddy provided, Jane had to hang oil cloths on the walls to prevent dirt from sifting into the living quarters, and had to constantly watch for rats, snakes and other prairie creatures who also thought the Soddy was a good home!
For more on the Soddy, we have a new video: "The Lost Gibbs House," which gives visitors a glimpse into life in Jane and Heman's Soddy. While the original structure no longer exists, a replica based on drawings, descriptions, and an archaeological excavation was constructed at Gibbs Farm. YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/o7-rpsyDx_s

In 1849, Jane and Heman Gibbs arrived in St. Paul which had a population of about 900. Heman purchased 160 acres of land...
08/02/2021

In 1849, Jane and Heman Gibbs arrived in St. Paul which had a population of about 900. Heman purchased 160 acres of land, for which he paid $1.25 per acre, just north of town. Like many frontier farmers, Heman grew wheat and corn to mill into flour, as well as for animal feed. Heman kept meticulous business records, noting sales of vegetables at local markets and to Fort Snelling. In time, Heman realized that market gardening was more profitable and could be accomplished with less land. By the 1870s, Heman’s market garden business was doing very well and he hired workers to help him plant, w**d, harvest and take the produce to market. Some were day laborers, who came to work on the farm in the morning and returned to their homes each night. Others were seasonal workers who boarded at the Gibbs' home. Many of these hired hands were boys from neighboring farms who had only recently finished school (8th grade); some gave a portion of their earnings to their families. While we don’t have any photos of Heman’s market garden, we continue that tradition with a vegetable garden at Gibbs Farm. Image from RCHS’s Gibbs Farm.

In 1849, Jane and Heman Gibbs arrived in St. Paul which had a population of about 900. Heman purchased 160 acres of land, for which he paid $1.25 per acre, just north of town. Like many frontier farmers, Heman grew wheat and corn to mill into flour, as well as for animal feed. Heman kept meticulous business records, noting sales of vegetables at local markets and to Fort Snelling. In time, Heman realized that market gardening was more profitable and could be accomplished with less land. By the 1870s, Heman’s market garden business was doing very well and he hired workers to help him plant, w**d, harvest and take the produce to market. Some were day laborers, who came to work on the farm in the morning and returned to their homes each night. Others were seasonal workers who boarded at the Gibbs' home. Many of these hired hands were boys from neighboring farms who had only recently finished school (8th grade); some gave a portion of their earnings to their families. While we don’t have any photos of Heman’s market garden, we continue that tradition with a vegetable garden at Gibbs Farm. Image from RCHS’s Gibbs Farm.

Corn was grown by the Dakota and Ojibwe people in Minnesota, and archaeologists have found evidence that ancient indigen...
07/30/2021

Corn was grown by the Dakota and Ojibwe people in Minnesota, and archaeologists have found evidence that ancient indigenous Mississippian communities grew corn and other crops near Winona. After European immigration began, corn became a staple in the territory, but not as much of as cash crop as wheat. Mechanical planters and plows were developed in the mid 1830s, but weren’t widely used until after the Civil War. These devices saved farmers the immense labor of planting by hand, but corn was still planted as single seeds until the 1970s. As of 2020, Minnesota ranked as second in the nation for corn production, exporting it as animal feed, and frozen, fresh and canned for human consumption.
Image: Black and white postcard for the Minnesota State Fair, with a red message urging readers to buy canned corn from one of 14 canning companies. Unused. Circa 1905. From the RCHS Collection.

Corn was grown by the Dakota and Ojibwe people in Minnesota, and archaeologists have found evidence that ancient indigenous Mississippian communities grew corn and other crops near Winona. After European immigration began, corn became a staple in the territory, but not as much of as cash crop as wheat. Mechanical planters and plows were developed in the mid 1830s, but weren’t widely used until after the Civil War. These devices saved farmers the immense labor of planting by hand, but corn was still planted as single seeds until the 1970s. As of 2020, Minnesota ranked as second in the nation for corn production, exporting it as animal feed, and frozen, fresh and canned for human consumption.
Image: Black and white postcard for the Minnesota State Fair, with a red message urging readers to buy canned corn from one of 14 canning companies. Unused. Circa 1905. From the RCHS Collection.

Photos from Gibbs Farm: Pathways to Dakota & Pioneer Life's post
07/28/2021

Photos from Gibbs Farm: Pathways to Dakota & Pioneer Life's post

An account in “King Wheat” by Merrill Jarchow (Minnesota History published 1948) says that perhaps the first wheat grown...
07/28/2021

An account in “King Wheat” by Merrill Jarchow (Minnesota History published 1948) says that perhaps the first wheat grown in the Minnesota Territory was grown on an island at the junction of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers in about 1820 by Jean Baptiste Faribault. But soon after that small crop, wheat became the major cash crop in the Minnesota Territory – the state produced over 2 million bushels of wheat in 1860. In 1873, Red Wing MN led the way as the world’s largest wheat market, exporting 1.8 million bushels. But, as accounted in Laura Ingalls Wilders’ “On the Banks of Plum Creek,” grasshoppers devastated the wheat crop for several years in the early 1870s; and in the late 1870s a blight ravaged the wheat in the southeastern portion of the state so wheat production moved to the Red River Valley. Farmers created huge “bonanza farms,” exclusively growing wheat to feed demand. Wheat from Minnesota farms was shipped throughout the US and even to Europe, contributing to the railroad boom and to the creation of mills in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Images: Grain conveyors, "Shepard Road, Omaha R.R. Property Looking Towards River From Grain Elevator Showing Conveyor, Photo Taken June 9, 1958". Stamped on back "Schawang Studio, 95 W. 7th Street, St. Paul 2, Minn." From the RCHS Collection.

An account in “King Wheat” by Merrill Jarchow (Minnesota History published 1948) says that perhaps the first wheat grown in the Minnesota Territory was grown on an island at the junction of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers in about 1820 by Jean Baptiste Faribault. But soon after that small crop, wheat became the major cash crop in the Minnesota Territory – the state produced over 2 million bushels of wheat in 1860. In 1873, Red Wing MN led the way as the world’s largest wheat market, exporting 1.8 million bushels. But, as accounted in Laura Ingalls Wilders’ “On the Banks of Plum Creek,” grasshoppers devastated the wheat crop for several years in the early 1870s; and in the late 1870s a blight ravaged the wheat in the southeastern portion of the state so wheat production moved to the Red River Valley. Farmers created huge “bonanza farms,” exclusively growing wheat to feed demand. Wheat from Minnesota farms was shipped throughout the US and even to Europe, contributing to the railroad boom and to the creation of mills in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Images: Grain conveyors, "Shepard Road, Omaha R.R. Property Looking Towards River From Grain Elevator Showing Conveyor, Photo Taken June 9, 1958". Stamped on back "Schawang Studio, 95 W. 7th Street, St. Paul 2, Minn." From the RCHS Collection.

Address

75 5th Street West, Suite 323 (Landmark Center)
Saint Paul, MN
55102

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 5pm
Tuesday 9am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 5pm
Friday 9am - 5pm

Telephone

(651) 222-0701

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Equity & Inclusion Statement:

History informs us, inspires new choices, brings people together, and builds community. Likewise, it can be mis-used to inspire fear, create division, and perpetuate racism and other injustices. We resolve to present history in accordance with our values of Authenticity, Innovation, Inspiration, Integrity, and Respect. We believe that by doing so our community will be more informed, more engaged, and will become stronger.

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  • Authenticity: We strive for historical accuracy in all our programs and activities.

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    13th Annual West End Neighbors Garden (and History) Tour Saturday, September 12, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Take an open-air, sidewalk-stroll along gardens and history one of Minnesota’s oldest neighborhoods on Saturday, September 12, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Settings for the eight gardens are three-blocks of bluff and nineteenth century (and one modern) homes. (Houses are not on the tour.) Visitors must follow careful guidelines of the CDC and MDH: masks and social distancing. Gardens and the unique housing can be viewed from sidewalks though a few gardens can be entered/exited by postings at strategic points. Tour is free as is the history of 104 pages including over 100 images documented by 138 end notes. The narrative is the origin story of Fort Road/West Seventh Street, the Township/City of Saint Paul, and Territory/State of Minnesota, 1840-1940. The Upper Landing and Seven Corners illustrate tales of development highlighting German, Czech and Italian immigrant contributions. The history and garden-guide are distributed free only the day of the tour at Keg and Case Market, 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.. As for twelve-years past, local business and organization display advertising make the tours possible! Free-will donations are appreciated to support our neighborhood council, the West Seventh-Fort Road Federation in these challenging times. Join us!
    I am wondering if anyone has any pictures(or info) from a fire that gutted much of The Angus Hotel in St. Paul during the mid to late 1960's. Thank you in advance.
    Join us for an evening with journalist and historian Curt Brown. He will share tales from his 2008 book, So Terrible a Storm, which chronicled a 1905 gale that smacked Duluth. He will then cover his latest book, Minnesota 1918, which retells the human stories of the year when the flu pandemic, WWI and wicked fires in northern Minnesota all converged on the state. Details are online. http://bungalowclub.org/events/ St. Mary’s Episcopal Church 1895 Laurel Ave., St. Paul www.saintmarysepiscopal.org
    Hello to whoever does your media releases..I didn't get an announcement that Moira's program had been cancelled. If we hadn't been fact checking it would have been in the paper and readers would be unhappy with us and you. Please be sure to follow up on any releases sent to us. thanks. Mary Ann Grossmann
    If you have an interest in Genealogy and vintage photographs or documents I'd like to invite you to join our groups "Family Treasures Found" and "Forgotten Faces, Forgotten Places" on facebook. "Our Mission is to rescue vintage photographs, letters, etc., from languishing on dusty shelves and long-forgotten boxes. Through research we strive to reconnect long-lost ancestral history to descendants AT NO CHARGE." The groups, have been formed to display "lost" Identified/Unidentified Photos & Documents so they may be returned to their descendants (or an appropriate historical society, library, etc). Our hope is that, as more people join the group, they will identify our unmarked photos by comparing them to existing photos which they may have in their possession.
    Hello, just a note to inform you of a 1905 photo album with lots of Ramsey County photos in it. Thank you
    Didn't Abraham Lincoln hang 30 native Americans on this day?
    Does anybody have, or can tell how to obtain, photos of the Roseville library in the 1960s?
    Hi! My name is Viveca Andersson and l live in Sweden. My paternal grandmother's grandmother had a brother, LOUIS JOHNSON, who left from Landskrona for America in 1882 with his wife and children. He was christened Lars Jönsson, b. 21 Jan 1847 in Sireköpinge. He and his family settled in Saint Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota. Louis Johnson died there on 11 Oct 1915. His wife's name was Karin/Karen. Their children were: - Ellida (a k a Elita), b. 2 May 1872. She married Edward J. Oswald and they had two sons, Edward Joseph and Adolph Thomas - Johan/John, b. 16 Feb 1874 - Herti, b. 2 July 1876 and - Lina, b. 1 Mar 1882 I wonder if there might be anyone who knows of now living descendants of Louis and Karen Johnson? My email address is [email protected] Thanking you in advance.