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This issue: Contents
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: Warden’s House Holiday Event
  • WCHS News: Winter Ice Cream Social
  • Photo of the Week: District No. 21 – Lakeland School
  • Old News: A Bit More Involved Than Kraft
  • Featured Article: The First People of the Valley

Editor’s Note

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are still enjoying the fourth day in a row of leftover turkey sandwiches. Toss some questionable mashed potatoes and another helping of turkey in the microwave and settle in for today’s Historical Messenger!

Apparently folks are starting to realize that shopping on Black Friday is sort of miserable. Why wait in the cold at 4:00 AM just so you and a dozen strangers can trample over each other? Check out our first News Story to learn about our much more pleasant and personal gift shopping opportunity.

And don’t be too sad that 2014 is almost over – that just means the 2015 WCHS event season is just starting! Learn about the first event on our 2015 Calendar in our second bit of News .

From the 1850s to the 1950s, children’s education in Washington County was handled by 79 loosely organized rural school districts. We’ll take a look at one of these districts in our Photo of the Week.

Head down to Old News for an early 20th century take on a modern-day college student dietary staple.

Finally, we’ll read some interesting and surprising facts about the original inhabitants of the St. Croix River Valley.

And one correction from the last e-newsletter: the photographer who captured that beautiful image of the Post Office desk is Marilyn Rau and can be contacted at

Want to learn more about the history of Washington County? “Like” WCHS on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Sean Pallas

Historical Messenger editor and Warden’s House Site Manager


Warden’s House Holiday Sale

On Saturday, December 13th, the Washington County Historical Society invites the public to our Annual Holiday Event at the Warden’s House Museum, which runs from Noon – 4:00 PM.

Avoid the aggressive department store crowds and instead have a truly unique holiday shopping experience while enjoying Caribou Coffee, meeting local authors, and listening to live holiday songs provided by local student musicians at our book sale. Not to mention that some of our most popular titles will be up to 50% off their normal price!

Our books and DVDs cover a wide variety topics such the histories of various Washington County communities, notable historical figures from the area, Minnesotans in the Civil War, and of course, the Old Stillwater Prison and the infamous Younger Brothers.

This year’s featured authors Robert and Nancy Goodman (In Their Own Words, The Last Rafter, and more), Nicole Helget (Stillwater), Ken Martens (The Perilous St. Croix River Valley Frontier), and Brent Peterson (Stillwater: The Next Generation) will be on hand to chat about their newest works and sign copies of their books. This is the perfect personalized gift for the lover of history in your life!

The Warden’s House Museum is located at 602 Main Street N. in Stillwater, MN.

Please contact Sean Pallas at 651-439-5956 or for more information on this event or to arrange a tour of the museum.

WCHS News 

Winter Ice Cream Social

On Saturday, January 17th, the Washington County Historical Society you to a Winter Ice Cream Social, which runs from Noon – 4:00 PM.

Why on Earth would we hold an ice cream social in the middle of January??

Well, first off, the ice cream doesn’t melt. Secondly…um…I guess that’s really the only advantage. But trust me! It’s fun!

Join your neighbors and fellow hearty Midwesterners for some free Leo’s Malt and Grill Shop Ice Cream, Root Beer from Lift Bridge Brewing, Hot Chocolate from Pub 112, and Coffee while we scoff at Father Winter’s best efforts to keep us indoors!

Photo of the Week

District No. 21 – Lakeland School

Originally created in 1851, District 21 extended from the St. Croix River to just north of St. Croix Beach and surrounded the Lakeland community.

For its first decade, the school district didn’t actually have a school. Classes were held in various generous community members homes. Obviously, a long term solution had to be devised.

In 1869, the two-story wooden building in the photograph above was constructed for a cost of around $6,000. Grades 1-4 were held downstairs and Grades 5-8 were upstairs. At it’s height, Lakeland School had around 100 students and each grade was held in a different classroom. However, as cities and population centers became more established, by 1938 only 42 students attended Lakeland School regularly.

In the fall of 1948, the school burned to the ground and the district was absorbed by the nearby Afton district.

Over the years, WCHS has been fortunate enough to collect a few memories of this extinct school district from its former students.

“There was no electricity in the schoolhouse when I started. There were kerosene lamps in side brackets on the walls near each window. When a suggestion was made to the school board [for electricity]…Andrew Nelson addressed my father with a strong Swedish accent and said ‘Sixty years ago when I went to school we didn’t have ‘lectric lights. If your girl needs glasses, take her to the doctor.’ I did get glasses at age eleven and District 21 got electricity!” – Peggy Wolter

“The teachers rode to school on the school bus from old Stillwater Motor. This bus returned to Stillwater with the high school pupils. The teachers then returned from Lakeland to the old Stillwater Motor Garage.” – Marcella Schrank Fisher

“The huge coal stove with the ornate jacket that kept us warm in winter…the ice slide we made and tore down on our feet or on chunks of cardboard. It’s a wonder we didn’t break our necks.” – Mavis Smart Johnson

Old News 

A Bit More Involved Than Kraft

I probably still have food on the brain because of Thanksgiving …but doesn’t this sound delicious?!

Macaroni With Cheese – Stillwater Messenger – December 2, 1911

Wipe a nice quantity of macaroni with a clean, dry cloth, break and throw it into boiling, salted water. Let it boil until it yields easily to pressure between the fingers. Drain it in a colander and rinse it thoroughly in cold water. Put into a saucepan 1 ounce each of butter and flour, and stir them together over the fire until they form a thick paste. Heat a cup of half milk and water to the boiling point and stir gradually into the butter and flour, season to taste with pepper, salt and a dash of nutmeg, add the macaroni; grate two ounces of hard, dry cheese and when the macaroni is quite hot stir in the cheese. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, add a few bits of butter and stand in the over just long enough to brown.

Featured Article

The First People of the Valley

by Bob Goodman, from “A History of Washington County: Gateway to Minnesota History

Humans have lived in the St. Croix and Mississippi River valleys for about 12,000 years. The earliest prehistoric tradition was that of Paleo-Indian nomadic people who hunted big game such as mastodon and bison. From 10,000 to 3,000 years ago, Archaic tradition people, makers of stone tools, may have lived or hunted here. Woodland culture people of about 2,500 years ago produced the mounds that are still visible in parts of the county. These people made pottery and also began to raise crops.

Grey Cloud Island was an important place for the Woodland mound-buildings (c.600 B.C. to 600 A.D.) and for people of the Late Mississippian culture around 1000 A.D. These people used the Mississippi River as a conduit for trade and settlement. By the nineteenth century the Mdewakanton Dakota had moved into the area.

The Dakota, called Sioux by Euro-Americans, originally lived in central and northern Minnesota around Mille Lacs Lake, which is where Father Louis Hennepin found them in 1680. Their name, Mdewakanton, means “people of Spirit Lake.”

By settlement times the Dakota had been pushed south by Ojibwe people known to early settlers as Chippewa. Dakota and Ojibwe had a history of conflict and keep some distance between their settlements, with the nearest Ojibwe villages on Pokegama Lake in Pine County and the Dakota mainly on the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Washington County was in general a no-man’s land, home only to hunting and war parties.

The United States established an agency for the Dakota at Fort Snelling in 1820. In 1825 the rival groups were persuaded to sign a peace treaty and accept a U.S. government-surveyed dividing line between them that followed approximately the northern line of the county. It did not really keep them apart, as both Dakota and Ojibwe came to the Indian Agency at Fort Snelling. Both groups continued to use the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers as a highway to the fort.

By the early 1830s a splinter group of about 40 families from the Kaposia Dakota band headed by Medicine Bottle had moved to Grey Cloud Island. Their village of bark houses was on the northwestern part of the island. No other Indian villages appear to have existed in the confines of the county at this or any later time.

Dakota Treating Signing – 1837

The St. Croix River was included when Wisconsin Territory was established in 1836, but the land between the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers was still unceded Indian land. Lumbering interests put pressure on the U.S. government to purchase the pine lands of the St. Croix. In July of 1837, Governor Henry Dodge of Wisconsin Territory met with the Ojibwe at Fort Snelling, where a treaty was signed ceding all lands of the Chippewa between the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers up to the 46th parallel to the United States. Another treaty was signed in Washington D.C. that September with the Dakota, who had claimed the lands now included in Washington County. The treaties were ratified in 1838. The few Dakota living in the county moved into unceded land west of the Mississippi.

The two nations still clashed. After an altercation in 1839, the Dakota pursued the Ojibwe to a camp on the St. Croix River in the ravine north of Stillwater and fired into theirs midst, killing more than 20. The ravine, later the site of the Territorial Prison, became known as “Battle Hollow.”

Wisconsin Territorial Governor James D. Doty negotiated a treaty with the Dakota in 1841 that would have opened all of southern Minnesota to settlement. But Congress did not agree to the terms, and it was another 10 years before the press of settlement necessitated the purchase.

In July 1851, Alexander Ramsey, Minnesota Territorial Governor, and Luke Lea, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, signed treaties with the Dakota at Travers des Sioux and Mendota that opened the vast “Suland” of southern Minnesota to settlement and consigned the Dakota to reservations along the Minnesota River, opening the floodgates to immigration.



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Preserve the Past, Share in the Future!

Become a member of the Washington County Historical Society!

Membership is one way that you can help support the Washington County Historical Society. Your membership helps us collect, preserve, and disseminate the history of Washington County for county residents and visitors in the belief that a historical perspective enhances our understanding of community and sense of place.

Benefits of membership:

  • FREE admission to the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater and Hay Lake Museum Complex in Scandia
  • Discounts on purchases in the museum gift shop (10% Individual & Family members, 15% Patron & Sustaining members)
  • FREE use of WCHS library and research center
  • Subscription to Historical Whisperings, the society’s quarterly newsletter
  • Discounts on tickets to membership meetings
  • Knowing that your membership dollars support the preservation of our treasured past for generations to come

The Washington County Historical Society has depended on membership ever since it was formed in 1934. Please show your support for the organization by becoming a member today.

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Washington County Historical Society

Mission Statement

Washington County Historical Society collects, preserves, and disseminates the history of the county and state of Minnesota.