Minnesota Historical Timeline

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Minnesota, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: minnesota us_history
This page has been accessed 447 times.



This space was created for genealogists in Wikitree to assist in researching persons born in Minnesota.

Timeline of Minnesota


  • 1659-1660 - French fur traders Médard Chouart and Pierre-Esprit Radisson explore western end of Lake Superior and environs.
  • 1673 - French explorers Marquette and Joliet discover the upper portion of the Mississippi River.
  • 1679 - Frenchman Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Luth meets with Dakota native Americans near Mille Lacs.
  • 1683 - Catholic Missionary Father Louis Hennepin returns to France after exploring the area that later became Minnesota and being held captive by the Dakota to write the first book about Minnesota, Description de la Louisiane.


  • 1745 - The Ojibwa Indians defeat the Dakota Indians at the Kathio, driving the Dakota into southern and western Minnesota.
  • 1763 - Spain receives Louisiana Territory (includes Minnesota west of the Mississippi River) from France in compensation for its loss of Florida during the Seven Years War. Great Britain wins claim to what is now eastern North America (east of the Mississippi River) and Canada.
  • 1770-1804 -
    • Grand Portage (Minnesota) evolves into the western fur-trading headquarters of the British Empire in North America.
    • British troops stationed in Minnesota act as only military force in Minnesota during the American Revolution.
    • Fur trading continues to be the main source of commerce in Minnesota through the early 19th century.
  • 1775-1783 - American Revolution
  • 1783 - The newly formed republic of the United States of America wins the eastern portion of Minnesota (from the Mississippi river east) from Great Britain in the American Revolution.
  • 1787 -
    • Eastern Minnesota officially designated part of the American Northwest Territories of the United States of America.
    • David Thompson, working for the North West Company (fur-trading) completes the first formal mapping of Minnesota.


  • 1800 - France acquires Louisiana Territory from Spain.
  • 1803 - The United States of America purchases Louisiana Territory from France, gaining ownership of the western portion of Minnesota. Boundary disputes with British Canada keep British fur companies in Minnesota until 1818.
  • 1805 - Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike leads the first United States expedition through the Minnesota country.
  • 1812-1814 - War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain with their Dakota, Winnebago, and Ojibwa allies.
  • 1815 - Peace treaty negotiated between the Dakota Indian nation and the United States government. First American fur traders enter Minnesota.
  • 1818 - Northern boundary of Minnesota fixed at the forty-ninth parallel. Boundary negotiations with British Canada continue until 1931. Lawrence Taliaferro instated as first United States Indian agent at Fort Snelling.
  • 1819 - Begins construction of Fort St. Anthony on land purchased from the Dakota Indians for $2000 US.
  • 1819, Aug 24 - Colonel Henry Leavenworth and the Fifth Infantry arrive in Mendota to build what will become Fort Snelling at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers
  • 1820 -
    • Colonel Josiah Snelling of the Fifth United States Infantry arrived, and, on taking command, changed the site to where Fort Snelling now stands.
    • Virginian Lawrence Taliaferro becomes the Indian agent at Fort Snelling. Respected by the Indians for never making promises he could not keep, he works hard for 20 years to rid the fur trade of whisky and cheating. At last, in poor health and tired of the government's broken promises, he resigns
  • 1823 -
    • The Virginia is the first steamboat to reach Fort Snelling. Needed supplies are missing from the cargo, though the boat does carry the umbrella-wielding Italian count Giacomo Beltrami
  • Abigail Snelling starts a Sunday School at Ft. Snelling for the children.
  • 1825 - The post continued to be called Fort St. Anthony until 1824, when, upon the recommendation of General Scott, who inspected the fort, it was named Fort Snelling, in honor of its founder. Here, where traffic could be controlled on two major rivers, Fort Snelling was completed in 1825
  • 1827, Aug 25 - Minnesota's first post office is established at Fort Snelling.
  • 1830 - Seth Eastman comes to Fort Snelling as a captain. In his spare time, he learns the Dakota language and observes details of their lives. His subtle sketches, watercolors, and paintings become an invaluable record of the scenery and Indian life around the fort.
  • 1832 - Henry Schoolcraft credited with finding the source of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca, Minnesota with his Ojibwa guide Ozawindib.
  • 1836 - Creation of Wisconsin Territory which encompassed Minnesota.
  • 1837 - Land-cession treaties negotiated with the Dakota Indians and the Chippewa Indians for United States rights to a portion of land between the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. This new land stimulates the lumber industry in Minnesota.
  • 1841 - Chapel of Saint Paul built. Later it would serve to name the state capitol which sprang up around it.
  • 1838-1848 - St. Paul, St. Anthony, and Stillwater (Minnesota's first towns) founded.
  • 1848 - Wisconsin admitted into the union as a state, leaving residents of the area between the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers (current day eastern Minnesota) without a territorial government or legal system.
  • 1849 -
    • Minnesota Territory formed with present day eastern and southern boundaries set. The population amounts to less than 4000 people, not including persons of pure Native-American heritage.
    • Law provides for free public schools to be open to all people between four and twenty-one years of age.
    • Minnesota Historical Society formed to collect, publish, and educate people about Minnesota history.
    • James Madison Goodhue begins publishing Minnesota's first newspaper, the Minnesota Pioneer.
  • 1850 - Treaties concluded at Traverse des Sioux and Mendota with the Dakota Indians whereby the Dakota ceded their lands east of the Red River, Lake Traverse, and the Big Dakota River and south of a boundary line between the Dakota and Chippewa in 1825. In return the Dakota received $1,665,000 US, $1,360,000 of which was set into a trust fund, of which the interest would be distributed to chiefs partly in cash, partly in supplies, and partly in education and civilization funds. The vast majority ended up being used to pay off Indian debts to white traders. Wheat becomes a major crop in Minnesota.
  • 1851 - Charter granted to the University of Minnesota, the first collegiate institution in the territory.
  • 1853-1857- Population explosion occurs in Minnesota from 40,000 people in 1853 to approximately 150,000 people in 1857.
  • 1854 - St. Paul becomes a city with a total area of four square miles.
  • 1855 - Die Minnesota Deutsche Zeitung (The Minnesota German Newspaper), Minnesota's first non-English newspaper, rolls off the press for the first time in St. Paul.
  • 1857 - The Dred Scott Decision is rendered by the United States Supreme Court, where a Missouri slave, Dred Scott, sued for his freedom based in part upon his residence in Minnesota. Amidst the sectional and racial animosity sweeping the nation, the court ruled Scott remained a slave. The residents of the Minnesota territory ratify the state constitution almost unanimously. The Panic of 1857 sends prices skyrocketing. Banks bust and businesses fail. Depression lingers until 1861.
  • 1858 - Newspaper promotion of the Minnesota Territory prompts over one thousand steamboat arrivals in St. Paul, filled with settlers. On May 11 Minnesota becomes the thirty-second state admitted to the Union of the United States of America. State seal adopted by the Minnesota Legislature.
  • 1858-1859 - Henry Sibley instated as first governor of Minnesota.
  • 1859 - First Minnesota State Fair held.
  • 1861 - Civil War of the United States begins. Minnesota volunteers one thousand men for service in the Union Army. Minnesota eventually provides 24,000 men for service in the Union Army for fighting in the Civil War or the Indian Outbreak.
  • 1862 - The Dakota Conflict sweeps across Minnesota with a series of attacks motivated by hungry Dakota enraged by the failure of land treaties and unfair fiscal practices of local traders. By the end of the conflict 486 white settlers would be dead. On December 26 thirty-eight Indians were hung at Mankato. Minnesota's first railroad is completed, connecting Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
  • 1863 - At the Battle of Gettysburg the First Minnesota Regiment makes a heroic charges, losing 215 of 262 men.
  • 1865 - Civil War of the United States ends.
  • 1868 - Mankato receives a city charter. The Minnesota Legislature authorizes establishment of the 2nd State Normal School in Mankato (now known as Minnesota State University, Mankato).
  • 1873 -A three-day blizzard hits Minnesota in January, killing seventy Minnesotans.
  • 1878 - 68.98% of tilled land in Minnesota devoted to wheat production, the high point for wheat farmers in Minnesota. After five consecutive summers of devastating infestations of Rocky Mountain Locusts (called the great Grasshopper Plague) which thrived on wheat, farmers decided to diversify, and wheat production was slowly replaced by other crops and dairy farming. A massive explosion in a Minneapolis flour mill kills 18.
  • 1880 - Telephone communication begun between St. Paul and Minneapolis.
  • 1881 - St. Paul is destroyed by fire.
  • 1883 - Mayo Clinic founded by Dr. William Worrall Mayo in Rochester, Minnesota after a tornado sweeps through Rochester, killing 35. With his two sons, Dr. William James Mayo and Dr. Charles Horace Mayo, he begins a clinic world-renowned for its dedication to the latest advances in medicine and surgical procedures.
  • 1884 - Minnesota iron ore begins to be exported heralding the dawn of iron mining in Minnesota. Over the next two decades mines spring up on the Mesabi, Cuyuna, and Vermilion iron ranges, spurring the rapid growth of mining cities such as Evelyth, Chisholm, Virginia, and Hibbing, Minnesota as well as the port cities of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin.
  • 1886 - Sauk Rapids is flattened by a tornado. Seventy-nine people die. St. Paul holds its first winter carnival.
  • 1887 - St. Paul hosts the first ski tourney in the Midwest.
  • 1888 - Western Minnesota receives a major blizzard on January 12 which takes 109 lives.
  • 1890s - Electric streetcars become commonplace in large Minnesota cities.
  • 1893 - The Minnesota state flag, designed by Amelia Hyde Center of Minneapolis, is accepted by the Minnesota Legislature. Virginia, Minnesota destroyed by fire.
  • 1894 - A massive forest fire caused by clear-cut logging debris encompasses Hinckley, Minnesota and several other nearby communities. Over four hundred die.
  • 1898 - The Spanish-American War begins. Minnesota, the first state to volunteer, raises four regiments, one of which serves in the Philippines. Disease proves to be the biggest killer, with combat fatalities accounting for only four Minnesota soldier deaths. Farmer Olof Ohman finds a stone tablet with runic carvings on it in his field near Kensington, Minnesota. The runes indicate a party of Viking explorers passed through that area in 1362. Initially considered a hoax, it was accepted by the Smithsonian Institution in 1948. Opinions differ, but most academic sources today doubt its veracity.
  • 1899 - Minnesota's lumber industry reaches its peak. By 1930 only 1/3 of the state would remain forested, with very little of that virgin growth.

Formation of Current Minnesota Counties

CountyCounty SeatEstablishedCreated FromName Origin
Aitkin CountyAitkin1857Pine County, Ramsey CountyWilliam Alexander Aitken (1785-1851), early fur trader with Ojibwa Indians
Anoka CountyAnoka1857Ramsey CountyDakota word meaning "both sides"
Becker CountyDetroit Lakes1858Cass County, Pembina CountyGeorge Loomis Becker, former state senator and third mayor of Saint Paul (1856–1857)
Beltrami CountyBemidji1866Unorganized Territory, Itasca County, Pembina County, Polk CountyGiacomo Beltrami, Italian explorer who explored the northern reaches of Mississippi River in 1823.
Benton CountyFoley1849One 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 CountyOrtonville1862Pierce CountyBig Stone Lake, a lake located in the county
Blue Earth CountyMankato1853Unorganized Territory, Dakota CountyBlue Earth River, a river that flows through Minnesota
Brown CountyNew Ulm1855Blue Earth CountyJoseph Renshaw Brown (1805-1870), member of Minnesota territorial legislature (1854-55) and prominent pioneer
Carlton CountyCarlton1857Pine County,Rueben B. Carlton (1812-1863), early settler and state senator (1857-1858)
Carver CountyChaska1855Hennepin County, Sibley CountyJonathan Carver (1710–1790), early explorer and cartographer of the Mississippi river.
Cass CountyWalker1851Dakota County, Pembina County, Mankahto County, Wahnata CountyLewis Cass (1782–1866), senator from Michigan (1845–1857) and United States Secretary of State (1831–1836)
Chippewa CountyMontevideo1870Pierce County, Davis CountyChippewa River, a river that flows through Minnesota
Chisago CountyCenter City1851Washington County, Ramsey CountyChisago Lake, a lake located in the county
Clay CountyMoorhead1862Pembina CountyHenry Clay (1777-1852), Kentucky statesman and ninth secretary of state of the United States (1825–1829)
Clearwater CountyBagley1902Beltrami CountyClearwater River and lake, both features located in the state
Cook CountyGrand Marais1874Lake CountyNamed for Civil War veteran Major Michael Cook of Faribault, who was also a territorial and state senator 1857-62
Cottonwood CountyWindom1857Brown CountyCottonwood River
Crow Wing CountyBrainerd1857Ramsey CountyCrow Wing River
Dakota CountyHastings1849One of nine original counties.From the Dakota language, after a local tribe Dakota, meaning "Allies"
Dodge CountyMantorville1855Rice County, Unorganized TerritoryHenry Dodge (1782–1867), twice governor of Wisconsin.[9]
Douglas CountyAlexandria1858Cass County, Pembina CountyStephen Arnold Douglas (1813-1861), former United States Senator from Illinois (1847-1861)
Faribault CountyBlue Earth1855Blue Earth CountyJean-Baptiste Faribault (1775-1860), early settler and fur trader
Fillmore CountyPreston1853Wabasha CountyMillard Fillmore (1800-1874), thirteenth president of the United States (1850-1853)
Freeborn CountyAlbert Lea1855Blue Earth County, Rice CountyWilliam S. Freeborn (1816-1900), member of the Territorial Legislature
Goodhue CountyRed Wing1853Wabasha County, Dakota CountyJames Madison Goodhue, the first newspaper editor in Minnesota.
Grant CountyElbow Lake1868Stevens County, Wilkin County, Traverse CountyUlysses S. Grant (1822-1885), eighteenth president of the United States (1869-1877)
Hennepin CountyMinneapolis1852Dakota CountyFather Louis Hennepin (1626-1705), early explorer of the Twin Cities area in the 17th Century
Houston CountyCaledonia1854Fillmore CountySam Houston (1793–1863), the second and fourth president of the Republic of Texas and seventh governor of Texas
Hubbard CountyPark Rapids1883Cass CountyLucius Frederick Hubbard (1836-1913), ninth governor of Minnesota (1882-1887)
Isanti CountyCambridge1857Ramsey CountyDivision of the Dakotas called the Izatys, meaning [those that] dwell at Knife Lake, after where they resided.
Itasca CountyGrand Rapids1849One of nine original counties; formed from residual La Pointe County, Wisconsin Territory.Lake Itasca, source of the Mississippi River (located in northwestern Minnesota).
Jackson CountyJackson1857Brown CountyHenry Jackson, member of the first territorial legislature and the first merchant in St. Paul
Kanabec CountyMora1858Pine CountyFrom the Ojibwa language Kan-a-bec-o-si-pi (Ginebigo-ziibi), meaning Snake River, which flows through the county
Kandiyohi CountyWillmar1858Meeker County, Renville County, Pierce County, Davis County, Stearns CountyFrom the Sioux language for "buffalo fish"
Kittson CountyHallock1879Pembina CountyNorman Kittson (1814-1888), businessman and mayor of Saint Paul (1858-1859)
Koochiching CountyInternational Falls1906Itasca CountyFrom the Ojibwa language Gojijiing (Place of inlets), which was the Cree name for Rainy Lake and Rainy River.
Lac qui Parle CountyMadison1871Redwood CountyFrench phrase meaning "lake which talks".
Lake CountyTwo Harbors1856Itasca CountyLake Superior, which forms one of its edges
Lake of the Woods CountyBaudette1923Beltrami CountyLake of the Woods, a lake located within the county.
Le Sueur CountyLe Center1853Dakota CountyPierre-Charles Le Sueur (1657-1704), fur trader and early explorer of the Minnesota River Valley
Lincoln CountyIvanhoe1873Lyon CountyAbraham Lincoln (1809-1865), sixteenth president of the United States (1861-1865)
Lyon CountyMarshall1871Redwood CountyNathaniel Lyon (1818–1861), United States Army general killed during the Civil War
McLeod CountyGlencoe1856Carver County, Sibley CountyMartin McLeod early pioneer and member of the territorial legislature (1849–1856)
Mahnomen CountyMahnomen1906Norman CountyOjibwa word meaning "wild rice".
Marshall CountyWarren1879Kittson CountyWilliam Rainey Marshall (1825-1896), fifth governor of Minnesota (1866-1870)
Martin CountyFairmont1857Faribault County, Brown CountyMorgan Lewis Martin (1805-1887), delegate to Congress from Wisconsin Territory
Meeker CountyLitchfield1856Davis CountyBradley B. Meeker (1813–1873), Associate Justice of the Minnesota Territorial Supreme Court (1849–1853)
Mille Lacs CountyMilaca1857Ramsey CountyMille Lacs Lake, a lake located within the county.
Morrison CountyLittle Falls1856Benton CountyWilliam & Allan Morrison, fur trading brothers[11]
Mower CountyAustin1855Rice CountyJohn Edward Mower (1815–1879), member of the Minnesota territorial legislature in the 1850s
Murray CountySlayton1857Brown CountyWilliam Pitt Murray (1825–1910), Minnesota statesman and member of the territorial legislature (1852–1855) and 1857
Nicollet CountySt. Peter1853Dakota CountyJoseph Nicolas Nicollet (1786–1843), early explore and cartographer of the Upper Mississippi River
Nobles CountyWorthington1857Brown CountyWilliam H. Nobles, member of the Minnesota territorial legislature in 1854 and 1856
Norman CountyAda1881Polk CountyEarly Norwegian, also known as Norman, settlers.
Olmsted CountyRochester1855Fillmore County, Wabasha County, Rice CountyDavid Olmsted, first mayor of Saint Paul and member of territorial legislature (1849-1850)
Otter Tail CountyFergus Falls1858Pembina County, Cass CountyOtter Tail Lake, a lake located within the county
Pennington CountyThief River Falls1910Red Lake CountyEdmund Pennington (b. 1848), executive of the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad
Pine CountyPine City1856Chisago County, Ramsey CountyGiant forests of Eastern White Pine and Red Pine that flourish in the county
Pipestone CountyPipestone1857Brown CountyName of a sacred Dakota quarry of red pipestone found in the county
Polk CountyCrookston1858Pembina CountyJames K. Polk (1795-1849), eleventh president of the United States (1845-1849)
Pope CountyGlenwood1862Pierce County, Cass County, Unorganized TerritoryJohn Pope (1822–1892), United States Army general during the Dakota War of 1862
Ramsey CountySaint Paul1849One of nine original counties; formed from residual St. Croix County, Wisconsin Territory.Alexander Ramsey (1815-1903), second governor of Minnesota (1860-1863)
Red Lake CountyRed Lake Falls1896Polk CountyRed Lake River, a river that flows through Minnesota.
Redwood CountyRedwood Falls1862Brown CountyRedwood River, a river that flows through Minnesota.
Renville CountyOlivia1855Nicollet County, Pierce County, Sibley CountyJoseph Renville (1779-1846), interpreter for early explorations of the Louisiana Purchase
Rice CountyFaribault1853Dakota County, Wabasha CountyHenry Mower Rice (1816-1894), former United States Senator from Minnesota (1858-1863)
Rock CountyLuverne1857Brown CountyLarge rocky plateau located within the county, known as "the mound."
Roseau CountyRoseau1894Kittson County, Beltrami CountyRoseau River and Roseau Lake, both of which are located nearby
Saint Louis CountyDuluth1855Itasca County, NewtonSaint Louis River, a river that flows through Minnesota
Scott CountyShakopee1853Dakota CountyWinfield Scott (1786–1866), United States Army general who served from (1808–1861)
Sherburne CountyElk River1856Benton CountyMoses Sherburne (1813–1873), Associate Justice of the Minnesota Territorial Supreme Court (1853-1857)
Sibley CountyGaylord1853Dakota CountyHenry Hastings Sibley (1811-1891), first governor of Minnesota (1858-1860)
Stearns CountySt. Cloud1855Cass County, Nicollet County, Pierce County, Sibley CountyCharles Thomas Stearns (1814-1888), early settler of St. Cloud and member of the Minnesota territorial legislature (1849-1858)
Steele CountyOwatonna1855Rice County, Blue Earth County, Le Sueur CountyFranklin Steele (1813-1880), early settler of Minneapolis and developer of Saint Anthony Falls
Stevens CountyMorris1862Pierce County, Unorganized TerritoryIsaac Ingalls Stevens (1818-1862), first governor of Washington Territory (1853-1857)
Swift CountyBenson1870Chippewa CountyHenry Adoniram Swift (1823-1869), third governor of Minnesota (1863-1864)
Todd CountyLong Prairie1855Cass CountyJohn 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 (1869-71)
Traverse CountyWheaton1862Pierce County, Unorganized TerritoryLake Traverse, a lake located in the county.
Wabasha CountyWabasha1849One of nine original counties.Named after M'dewakanton Dakota Indian Chief Wabasha III
Wadena CountyWadena1858Cass County, Todd CountyWadena Trading Post, in turn for a Ojibway word meaning "a little round hill".
Waseca CountyWaseca1857Steele CountyDakota word meaning "rich and fertile"
Washington CountyStillwater1849One of nine original counties; formed from residual St. Croix County, Wisconsin Territory.George Washington (1732-1799), first president of the United States (1789-1797)
Watonwan CountySt. James1860Brown CountyWatonwan River, a river that flows through Minnesota.
Wilkin CountyBreckenridge1858Cass County, Pembina CountyAlexander Wilkin (1820-1864), Minnesota politician and soldier killed in the Civil War
Winona CountyWinona1854Fillmore County, Wabasha CountyNamed after Wee-No-Nah, Sister or Cousin of Chief Wabasha III
Wright CountyBuffalo1855Cass County, Sibley CountySilas Wright (1795-1847), former United States Senator from New York (1833-1844)
Yellow Medicine CountyGranite Falls1871Redwood CountyYellow Medicine River, a river that flows through Minnesota.


  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Private Messages: Send a private message to the Profile Manager. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.