Uneventful and Prosaic


In January, 1853, the county Commissioners created the School Districts in Hennepin County. District # 1 was located in the village of Minneapolis, District #2 included nearly the whole northern section of the county. Mr. John Dow was notified of the fact by Colonel John H. Stevens, Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners. A school, taught by a Miss Smith was opened that same summer in a claim shanty, with less than a dozen pupils. This was the first school north of Minneapolis in Hennepin County.

Considered the father of Minneapolis, John Harrington Stevens was the first resident on the west bank of the Mississippi River in what would become Minneapolis. Stevens served in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War and was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate. His modest dwelling has been moved several times, but the house is still standing near the falls in Minnehaha Park.


Colonel John H. Stevens describes the history of the township as being “as uneventful and prosaic as that of any new community could possibly be. The settlers simply came in and took claims and made farms with little to annoy or trouble them, or to make them afraid, excepting the grasshopper raid of 1857. These pests did not make a total clean-up in Crystal Lake Township, as they did in some of the other new communities, and the people, fore, had something else besides ginseng to keep the wolf from the door during the long cold winter of 1857-58.”

But it is impossible to dismiss the pioneering days so quickly. The story of a few of the first settlers is suggestive of the industry and vision of group.

This post is the second in a series based on the book Robbinsdale Then and Now by Helen Blodgett