Category Archives: From the Archives

From the Archives: 25th U.S. Infantry at Fort Snelling

Many people today have heard of the famous African American Buffalo Soldiers, but did you know that the Buffalo Soldiers were based here in Minnesota during the 1880s?

This photograph, part of Hennepin History Museum’s archival collection, shows a group of men from the 25th U.S. Infantry. The 25th Infantry was an African American regiment then based out of Fort Snelling. These soldiers were among the “Buffalo Soldiers,” a term referring to the United States’ segregated African American Army regiments. The soldiers shown here were musicians and NCOs (non-commissioned officers).

Army historians describe the time spent at Fort Snelling as “the most uneventful in the regiment’s history,” and suggest “the soldiers probably spent more time practicing, drilling, and parading than ever before.” Meanwhile, in contrast, Hennepin County was changing rapidly around the Fort; the city of Minneapolis was one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation during this period, and the downtown skyline was changing and expanding rapidly.

In 1888, the 25th was transferred from the the Minnesota to Montana.

In July 1948, President Truman signed Executive Order 9981 mandating the integration of the armed forces and promising “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

Sources

Historic Fort Snelling 

“Buffalo Soldiers.HistoryNet 

Executive Order 9981

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, A Historic Context for the African American Military Experience. 1998.

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John Gund Brewing Company, 1885

Are you thirsty for history? How about for beer history? This week’s featured photograph depicts the local distributor for the La Crosse, Wisconsin-based John Gund Brewing Company.

John Gund was a German immigrant who began  his brewing career as an apprentice in Germany. He brought his skills with him to the New World, and started his career in the United States working at breweries first in Iowa, then in Wisconsin. After several decades of working in, owning, and selling, breweries, Gund opened his John Gund Brewing Company in 1880. The company was wildly successful for more than thirty years, weathering such ups and downs as  a major La Crosse fire in 1897 and the 1901 death of founder John Gund. In the early 1920s, however, the combination of Prohibition and labor conflicts put the brewery out of business for good.

In 1882, one of Gund’s sons, Henry, founded this distribution center in Minneapolis. Located on Twelfth Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets, this early distribution center is shown here in 1885.

Sources

Historic Beer Birthday: John Gund, Brookston Beer Bulletin

“The Best of Partners, the Best of Rivals: Gottlieb Heileman, John Gund, and the Rise of the La Crosse Brewing Industry.” Immigrant Entrepreneurship.com

Photo of the Week: Street Scene, c. 1925

This street scene, photographed circa 1925, was taken on 6th Street looking towards Nicollet Avenue (now Nicollet Mall) in downtown Minneapolis. Visible at the intersection is the corner of the Donaldson’s Department Store’s famous Glass Block building.

One of the things that struck our eye are the modes of transportation visible in this photograph. We have a new exhibition opening at Hennepin History Museum this week: the Cycling Museum of Minnesota has curated the ever-fascinating High Wheels! exhibition looking at biking in 19th century Minneapolis. This photograph post-dates the high wheels, but if you look closely you’ll see there’s foot, car, streetcar, and yes, bicycle traffic.

A Dog’s Life in Minneapolis, 1896

This 1896 certificate, documenting the legal licensing of a black and white dog named Sport, gives us a glimpse into the lives of Hennepin County dogs 120 years ago.

Highlights from the City’s ordinance:

  • All “dog or animal of the dog kind” required a license; male dogs cost the owner $1 per year, female dogs $3.
  • The City Clerk was to provide owners with a metal dog tag, with costs to be capped at five cents each per tag.
  • The City Clerk transferred money each month to the Police Department Relief Association; they in turn used the funds to operate the city pound.
  • The mayor had the right, following three days of public notice, to mandate that all dogs running at large in the city be muzzled.

When an unfortunate dog did end up at the pound, they had a grace period of at least three days, and pound staff were to be kept with “kind treatment and sufficient food and water for their comfort.”

To learn more about the history of pets in Hennepin County, please visit Hennepin County Wags its Tail: 150 Years of People and their Pets, an exhibition opening March 26.

Photo of the Week: Elmo Apartments, Hopkins

Hopkins, like the rest of the Twin Cities, changed dramatically in the decade following the conclusion of World War II. In addition to the many new single family homes built in this period, the city’s first rental apartments were constructed. The Elmo Park Apartments opened their doors in 1950. Located on the north side of Highway 7, these apartments still stand today, now known as Brentwood Park Townhomes.

Notice the boy on the bicycle on the right, and the tricycles on the sidewalk on the left: signs of the post-war baby boom.

 

Milling Monday: Palisade Mill Inventory

For today’s Milling Monday post, we’ve pulled an inventory from our Archives. Labeled the Pillsbury-Washburn Flour Mills Company inventory of Palisade Mill, March 1893, the book  is filled with page after page of data. It is a snapshot of one month in history, a glimpse into the operations of a mill, a company, and a city and county that owed much to the rise of the Minnesota flour industry.

The Palisade Mill was built in 1872 by the Leonard Day Company, and was later purchased and expanded by the Washburn-Crosby Company. It was a Pillsbury property at the time of its closing and dismantling in 1932; eight years later, in 1940, the final remnants of the closed mill were destroyed in a fire.

The Palisade Mill may be long gone, but photographs, documents, and other materials from this and the other mills that played such an important role in local history remain at Hennepin History Museum and other local repositories such as the Mill City Museum and Hennepin County Library’s Special Collections.

To access this or other archival materials from Hennepin History Museum’s archival collection, please contact our archivist, Susan Larson-Fleming. Our reading room is open to the public five days per week, and with advance notice we can have your research materials awaiting your arrival.milling ledger

Humphrey for Mayor

If you’ve lived in the Twin Cities for long – or even if you’ve just passed through the MSP airport frequently – you’re likely aware of our local Humphrey connections. Those not originally from here are more likely to associate Hubert H. Humphrey with his position as Vice President of the United States under Lyndon B. Johnson, or with his 1968 presidential run, but here in Hennepin County he also left his mark as, among other things, mayor of Minneapolis.

Humphrey’s first run at mayor, in 1943, proved unsuccessful,  but he regrouped and won the office in 1945. He served as mayor until 1948, at which point he launched his political career into national politics when he successfully ran for a U.S. Senate seat.

This piece of political ephemera documents those Minneapolis mayor days. And what good is any campaign without a song? If you want to sing along but aren’t familiar with that Irish song, “Harrigan, That’s Me!” you can find an online version here.  Warning: it’s a catchy tune (ideal for any campaign, of course), so don’t blame us if you find yourself humming a little H-U-MPH-REY for the rest of the day.