Location: Stillwater, Washington, Minnesota, United States
History of Stillwater, Minnesota
Stillwater is considered the Birthplace of Minnesota. In 1848, the first territorial convention that began the process of establishing Minnesota as a State was held in Stillwater. It is also one of Minnesota’s oldest towns, preceding Minneapolis by years. At the time of incorporation as a city in 1854, Stillwater was the largest city in the Minnesota Territory (Minnesota gained statehood in 1858).
- Discover Stillwater https://www.discoverstillwater.com/things-to-do/historic-sightseeing/
- Wikipedia-Stillwater https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stillwater,_Minnesota
- Washington County Historical Society https://www.wchsmn.org/stillwater/
- Britannica https://www.britannica.com/place/Stillwater-Minnesota
- Stillwater on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DiscoverStillwater/
- Archive of Stillwater City Council Minutes, from 1854 to 2018 https://public.ci.stillwater.mn.us/weblink/Browse.aspx?startid=175080&cr=1
- Stillwater Neighborhood Histories https://www.ci.stillwater.mn.us/community/around-town/neighborhood-histories
Logging & Lumber
The lumber industry made Stillwater famous. At the height of the log boom, Stillwater’s lumber mills were the largest in the country making Minnesota one of the largest lumber markets in the world. This boom brought wealth, railroads, steamships, gas lights, and grand homes.
- Lumber Industry in Minnesota https://mndigital.org/projects/primary-source-sets/lumber-industry-minnesota
- Lumber Baron Isaac Staples
St Croix River Crossings
Stillwater’s lift bridge was built in 1931 and spans the St. Croix River between downtown Stillwater and Houlton, WI. It is one of a few remaining operating lift bridges in the U.S. today. The lift bridge has been taken out of service as the motor vehicle river crossing for the city, but it still serves bicycle & foot traffic. The new St Croix river crossing bridge was put into service in 2017, about a mile south of the old lift bridge.
- Minnesota Dept of Transportation - Stillwater Lift Bridge https://www.dot.state.mn.us/historicbridges/4654.html
- Historic Stillwater bridge photos https://www.lensflarestillwater.org/liftbridge-of-stillwater
- Stillwater Bridge project photos https://www.discoverstillwater.com/loop-trail-lift-bridge-open-june-1st/
- Wikipedia - Stillwater Lift Bridge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stillwater_Bridge_(St._Croix_River)
- Wikipedia - St Croix Crossing (the new Stillwater bridge) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Croix_Crossing
The Stillwater area has been home to a prison since before Minnesota was a state. Over 160 years ago, Stillwater was chosen as the site of the first Minnesota Territorial Prison. It has grown, reformed and changed location over the decades, but it still serves to the present day.
- Minnesota's First Prison https://www.startribune.com/minnesota-territorial-prison-stillwater-history/600199594/
- Historic Stillwater Prison information https://libguides.mnhs.org/prison/stillwater
- Current Stillwater Prison information https://templeton1.org/minnesota/state/minnesota-state-prison-stillwater/
Stillwater has had good newspaper coverage over the years, including the Stillwater Messenger, the Stillwater Republican, and The Prison Mirror. The St Paul Globe also covered the larger stories too, as they were only about 20 miles distant.
- The above named newspapers are all searchable using the Minnesota Historical Society Digital Newspaper Hub https://www.mnhs.org/newspapers/hub
- The Stillwater Lumberman was published from 1875 to 1883, and is searchable on the Library of Congress newspaper archive "Chronicling America" https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85025608/#tab=tab_newspapers
- The current Stillwater newspaper is the Stillwater Gazette https://www.hometownsource.com/stillwater_gazette/
Stillwater Public Library
- Stillwater History Resources https://www.stillwaterlibrary.org/explore/st-croix-collection
- Stillwater Genealogy Resources https://www.stillwaterlibrary.org/explore/st-croix-collection/genealogy
Stillwater Area Cemeteries
- Fairview Cemetery, over 10,000 graves searchable. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/668214/fairview-cemetery
- Fairview Cemetery https://projects.wchsmn.org/name_index/sources/6/
- Salem Lutheran Cemetery, over 700 graves. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/83538/salem-lutheran-cemetery
- Salem Lutheran Cemetery https://projects.wchsmn.org/name_index/sources/97/
- Rutherford Cemetery, almost 300 graves. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/83211/rutherford-cemetery
- Rutherford Cemetery https://projects.wchsmn.org/name_index/sources/109/
- Bradshaw Columbarium and Memorial Gardens. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2613046/bradshaw-columbarium-and-memorial-gardens
- Episcopal Church of the Ascension Columbarium. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2404417/episcopal-church-of-the-ascension-columbarium
- Boutwell Cemetery. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/81974/boutwell-cemetery
- Boutwell Cemetery https://projects.wchsmn.org/name_index/sources/115/
- Small, lost and abandoned cemeteries https://projects.wchsmn.org/name_index/sources/112/
City & County Directories
- Stillwater City Directory, 1882-83 https://collection.mndigital.org/catalog/spl:2555#/image/0
- Stillwater City Directory, 1887 https://collection.mndigital.org/catalog/spl:2930#/image/0
- Stillwater City Directory, 1890-91 https://collection.mndigital.org/catalog/spl:13347?pn=false#/image/0
- Stillwater City Directory, 1892-93 https://collection.mndigital.org/catalog/spl:14004?pn=false#/image/0
- Stillwater City Directory, 1894-95 https://collection.mndigital.org/catalog/spl:13665?pn=false#/image/0
- Stillwater City Directory, 1896-97 https://collection.mndigital.org/catalog/spl:14329#/image/0
- Stillwater City Directory, 1898-99 https://collection.mndigital.org/catalog/spl:14732?pn=false#/image/0
- The Farmer's Atlas and Directory of Washington County Minnesota 1912 https://collection.mndigital.org/catalog/p15160coll6:161#/image/0
Maps & Land Documents
- Plat Book of Washington County, Minnesota, 1901 https://collection.mndigital.org/catalog/spl:2062#/image/0
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM), General Land Office https://glorecords.blm.gov/
Military Service & War Veterans
CIVIL WAR - Many local men served for the Union in the US Civil War.
The US National Park Service hosts this site that allows you to search for your soldier by name. Filter the many results by clicking "union", "Minnesota" and by battle unit if known (such as "Infantry", "Heavy Artillery", etc.). Make note of the details, and use the next resource to look up the roster for your soldier.
- US National Park Service soldier search https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers.htm
This book lists the "Military forces of the state of Minnesota from 1861-1866". I have found no Index for this 800 plus page book, so good luck.
- Minnesota military forces 1861-1866 https://archive.org/details/annualreport01minn/page/n3/mode/2up?view=theater
- Minnesota Military Records FamilySearch page. https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/Minnesota_Military_Records
- Stillwater Minnesota Veterans Memorial https://stillwaterveteransmemorial.org/
- War Memorial Registry https://www.nationalwarmemorialregistry.org/memorials/stillwater-veterans-memorial/
Many good photographers have done business in Stillwater. The best known of these is probably John Runk. He was active from about 1900 to the 1960s, taking not only studio portraits, but also documenting the city, town life & events, architecture, and the scenic St Croix river valley. This J.M. Kuhn photo captured the Younger outlaw gang...on film at least. https://www.cowanauctions.com/lot/younger-family-stillwater-minnesota-prison-cabinet-photograph-3226966 There are some wonderful portraits taken at the Halmrast studio in Stillwater, as evidenced by the embossed design on the lower right. This list of other photographers could help date photos you may have:
- Halmrast brothers who worked in Stillwater until about 1900.
- Several Kuhn brothers, John, Louis, William and M.M. Kuhn who worked from about 1882 to the 1930s.
- Sarah Eldridge arrived in Stillwater in 1846 as Sarah L. Judd, married Ariel Eldridge 1849, she made Daguerreotypes from 1848-1850.
- A.W. Andrews in the 1870s.
- John Foley, 1880s & 1890s
- Einar Edwards had a tintype gallery in 1906-1907
- Carl Ermisch, 1940s & 1950s
- Jack Anderson from the 1940s to 1970s.
A comprehensive list of Minnesota photographers can be found here: https://mnhs.gitlab.io/archive/photographers/www.mnhs.org/people/photographers/index.html
Locally notable persons with a connection to Stillwater
- John Runk Famous local photographer, as mentioned above.
- Isaac Staples Wealthy lumber baron.
- Ellen (Glenn) Mandeville Stillwater’s most infamous madam was known as "Red Nell".
- This will be an ongoing project that will be added to periodically. If you have something to add, or a particular facet of Stillwater not covered here, please add it while conforming to the general style, Thanks.
- This Profile is meant to be used for general information when linked to WikiTree profiles of people with a connection to Stillwater. It may also be used as a guide for WikiTree members to locate resources available to enhance your people profiles.
- Originally created by Cliff Parnell 22 Oct 2021
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