This issue: Contents
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
  • Editor’s Note
  • WCHS News: “Save the Boutwell House!” Townie Tuesday
  • WCHS News: Last Chance to Hunt Ghosts with the Pros
  • WCHS News: Pro Wrestling in Minnesota Program
  • What Is This Thing?!
  • Old News: A Skeptical View on Movies
  • Featured Article: Making Minnesota
Editor’s Note

Ahoy! Welcome aboard the S.S. Historical Messenger!

We’re expecting clear skies and smooth sailing this afternoon. Activities Director Dan will be hosting a shuffle board tournament down on Deck 3 in a few hour, but until then, why not grab a lounge chair, toss on some sunscreen, and enjoy a little bit of history and WCHS news?

…you know, every-other-week for the last three years I’ve been writing a little greeting for each these e-newsletters. Today’s might be the worst. Luckily, you can come tell me how bad it was in person tonight at Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater at the “Save the Boutwell House!” Townie Tuesday fundraiser. Check out the first News story for more information.

The cooler weather we’ve been having is a harsh reminder that summer will soon be replaced by autumn here in Minnesota…but that does mean we’re getting closer to our ever popular Paranormal Investigations event! And this year, you can get in on the all the supernatural-action in an interesting and unique way. Scroll down to our second News story to find out how.

Did you know that August is Professional Wrestling Month in Minnesota? You can continue to celebrate turnbuckles and spandex short-shorts on September 13th when we’ll be hosting a couple very special guests at the Warden’s House. Our third News story will let you know the rest of the details.

Of course, we also have another mysterious item for you to try to identify in our “What Is This Thing?!” section.

Down in our Old News section, you’ll read a note from a newspaper editor who seems pretty unimpressed by “moving pictures”.

Tomorrow is the 167th anniversary of the 1848 Stillwater Territorial Convention. Sixty-one self-appointed delegates met in Stillwater and began a process that would bring forth the Territory, and later State, of Minnesota. It is from this meeting Stillwater rightfully calls itself the “Birthplace of Minnesota”. In today’s Featured Article, you will read the delegates’ own words on how and why Minnesota came to be.

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

WCHS News 

“Save the Boutwell House!” at Townie Tuesday

Raise a glass to historic preservation!

Tonight, Tuesday, August 25th, The Washington County Historical Society and Lift Bridge Brewing Co. are partnering together to raise funds for the Boutwell House preservation fund!

The event will be held at the Lift Bridge Brewery Tap Room located at 1900 Tower Drive W., Stillwater, MN.

For every beer sold from 5:00 – 9:00 PM, Lift Bridge will donate $1 towards the Boutwell Project.

We will also be selling t-shirts and for a $100 donation, you can ring Rev. Boutwell’s actual church bell in the name of historic preservation!

Come together with your neighbors and let’s preserve our history together!

WCHS News 

Last Chance to Hunt Ghosts with the Pros

“Are ghosts real?” Now you can find out for yourself.

The Washington County Historical Society is raffling an opportunity to join the Johnsdale Paranormal Group on a paranormal investigation of the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater.

The drawing will be held Saturday, September 5th at 2:00 PM at the Warden’s House located at 602 Main St. N, Stillwater, MN. Need not be present to win.

Tickets may be purchased until an hour before the drawing for $10 per entry.

The raffle winner, and one guest of their choice, will participate in an overnight investigation of the Warden’s House.

The Johnsdale Paranormal Group will explain their techniques and theories and the guest investigators will gain hands-on experience with their state-of-the-art evidence gathering equipment.

The Johnsdale Paranormal Group has captured what seem to be disembodied voices and unexplained flashes of light in their previous investigations of the museum.

For full contest rules and consolation prize information see Please contact Sean Pallas at or 651-439-5956 with any questions regarding the raffle or the museum in general. Proceeds benefit the Washington County Historical Society.

You must be 18 years or older to enter this contest.

More Information

WCHS News 

Pro Wrestling in Minnesota Program

Join former American Wrestling Association (AWA) commentator Mick Karch and George Schire, author of “Minnesota’s Golden Age of Wrestling” on Sunday, September 13th, 2015 at 2:00 PM at the Warden’s House Museum for a free program covering the long relationship between Minnesota and pro wrestling.

Minnesota’s professional wrestling history can be traced back to the 1950s with the founding of the AWA. Mad Dog Vachon, Verne Gagne, The Crusher, and of course, Jesse Venture are just some of the Minnesotan names to impact the pro wrestling world.

Whether you are a current pro wrestling fan or have cherished childhood memories of screaming at your television, this program will be filled with rich history and stories from the “Golden Age” of Minnesota wrestling.

This free and open to the public presentation will be held at the Warden’s House Museum which is located at 602 Main Street N., Stillwater, MN.

Please contact Sean Pallas at or 651-439-5956 with any questions regarding this event or to schedule a tour of the museum.

More: Events

What is This Thing?!

What Is This Thing?! (Round 15)

Last issue’s What Is This Thing?! was definitely a tricky one! In fact, for the first time ever, everyone was stumped! One of the reasons why this particular item may have been difficult to identify is because its modern equivilent isn’t terribly commonplace. Unless you work in a post office, you probably don’t see a whole lot of these around in your day-to-day life.

That’s right, the last item is a document tube! It was used to transport and store important papers safely in the days before fax and emails.

As always, thank you everyone for participating and even though no one was able to name last challenge’s mystery artifact, there’s always this week’s!

Can you identify the WCHS artifact photographed above? If you’d care to venture an answer, you can send an email to me at, tweet @WCHSMN, or post your guess on our Facebook page.

Good luck!

Full Image

Old News

A Skeptical View on Movies

Is this a prime example of the old guard disrespecting a new wave? “Oh, movies will never catch on,” “Oh, the Internet is just a fad”.

They say that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat the past’s mistakes. Well, sometimes the past’s mistakes come from not being able to read the future.

Afton News – Stillwater Messenger – August 25, 1906

A traveling show tent has been giving moving picture entertainments in the village [of Afton] of the San Francisco horror. Ten cents was the entrance fee for children and adults twenty cents. They had full houses every evening as the people seemed to take delight in the process of being skinned at 10 and 20 cents per head.

Featured Article

Making Minnesota

from “1848 Stillwater Convention Meeting Minutes” recorded by William Holcomb and David Lambert, Secretaries

The meeting began at 10:00 AM on August 26th, 1848 in the top floor of John McKusick’s store on the corner of Main and Myrtle Streets in Stillwater. Among the sixty-one in attendance were lawyers, farmers, a ferry operator, a doctor of medicine, fur traders, and businessmen from all areas of industry. Earlier in the month, a similar meeting had been cancelled when too few representatives materialized.

After selecting a governing body for the convention, Joseph R. Brown was selected to chair “a committee of seven members [to] be appointed to draft a memorial to Congress for the early organization of the Territory of Minnesota”.

Four and a half hours later, their petition was presented before the convention:

“Whereas by the admission of Wisconsin and Iowa into the Union with the boundaries prescribed by Congress, we the inhabitants of the country formerly a portion of the said Territories, are left without a government or officers to administer the laws:

And whereas by the omission of Congress to organize a separate Territorial Government for the region of country which we inhabit we are placed in the unparalleled position of being disfranchised of the rights and privileges which we guaranteed to us under the ordinance of 1787; and without any fault of our own and with every desire to be governed by laws, are in fact without adequate legal protection for our lives or property;

And whereas having patiently awaited the action of Congress during its late session under the full hope and confidence that before the adjournment of that honorable body a bill would have been passed for the organization for a Territorial Government to embrace our section of the country, we have been disappointed in our hopes, and cannot believe that the omission of Congress to act in the premises can proceed from any other cause than the want of an adequate acquaintance with the position in which we are placed, the character of the country, its population and resources”

In the most diplomatic manner, Brown and his committee had decided that the only reason Congress had not already created Minnesota is because they simply didn’t know enough about this particular frontier land. The delegates offered the following paragraphs as enlightenment on the subject.

“That this region of Country is settled by a population of nearly 5000 persons who are engaged in various industrial pursuits; that it contains valuable pine forests, excellent arable land, mineral treasures, almost unequalled facilities for mills and manufactures, and possessing an exceedingly healthful climate, is capable of sustaining a dense and prosperous population; that its population is now constantly and rapidly increasing, and is characterized by industry, energy, and sobriety.

That having once enjoyed the rights, and privileges of Citizens of a Territory of the United States, they are now, without fault or blame of their own, virtually disfranchised. They have no securities for their lives or property but those which exist in mutual good understanding. Meanwhile all proceedings in criminal cases, and all process for the collection of debts, are suspended; credit exists only so far as a perfect confidence in mutual good faith extends, and all the operation of business are embarrassed.

Your Memorialists [the Delegates] would respectfully represent that even in a well ordered and law abiding community such as they feel pride in declaring their own to be, such a state of affairs is fraught with evils and dangers. Its continuance will tend to prevent the immigration of the more valuable class of Citizens of the United States, while it will open a door of invitation and allurement to the lawless and desperate. It will foster dishonest and disorderly principles and actions among their Citizens, and if suffered to exist for a long period will bring ruin upon a prosperous and fertile region.”

Because of these reasons, the resolution finishes with this plea:

“They now most respectfully lay their case before the highest Executive authority earnestly asking that your Excellency will call the attention of Congress to their situation at the opening of the next annual session, and recommend the early organization for the Territory of Minnesota.”

The petition was unanimously approved by the remaining delegates, who in their next unanimous decision selected Henry Sibley as the man to travel to Washington, D.C. to champion their interests.

Six months later, on March 3rd, 1849, the Delegates’ prayers were answered. Their home was officially recognized when Congress created the Territory of Minnesota. The St. Croix River was established as the eastern border and the new territory extended westward to the Missouri River.

At the time of it’s founding, only one county government had been organized. Naturally, it was Washington County – the Gateway to Minnesota History.

Upcoming Events

More information: WCHS Events >>>

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.

More: WCHS Membership >>>

Mission Statement

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