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Revised 27 December 2010


The first thing that comes to mind when Minnesota is discussed is its many beautiful lakes, its wildlife and the greatest food in the world.  Minnesota is the home of numerous Scandanavian settlers, who began arriving in the area around 1851.

One must lament the removal of the earliest residents of this beautiful state, the Dakota Indians, who were the sole occupants of the Minnesota lands from early day.  They were placed in competition for the territory with the Ojibwa Indians, who had been chased from their own lands further east.  In 1679, the French fur traders began arriving in the territory.  The first known was Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Duluth, after whom the city of Duluth was named.  Greysolon claimed the area in the name of Louis XIV.  Shortly after, in 1680, Louis Hennepin of Belgium, a Catholic missionary,  arrived and began exploring the upper Mississippi River.  Hennepin was captured by the Dakota Indians, who took him to an area near present day Minneapolis.  Hennepin was the first white man to see (and name) the Falls of Saint Anthony, a 50-foot waterfall on the Mississippi River.

In 1783, The United States acquired Minnesota from Great Britain as part of the Treaty of Paris and it became a portion of the land included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.  Fort Snelling was founded in 1819 as a military post at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers.  Minnesota came into United States possession with the Louisiana Purchase .  The area was opened to settlers after treaties were negotiated between the Dakota and Ojibwa Indians.  In 1832, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft discovered the source of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca.   In 1837, the land between St. Croix and the Mississippi river was ceded by the Sioux and Chippewa tribes.   Although the cost for the territorial purchase was high, the settlement of the area was disappointing. Minnesota became a U. S. Territory in 1849, but was still having Indian troubles.  By 1851 the United States failed to live up to its promises and the Dakota Indians declared was on the United States in 1862.  By the end of the war, more than 500 settlers were left dead and the remaining Dakota were banished from the area.   The Indian uprisings continued and in 1862, thirty-nine Sioux were executed as a result of rebellions.  

Minnesota became the home of Slavs, People from  Lithuania and the Balkans.  More prominent, however, were those settlers from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Canada, Finland, Poland and Russia.  One of the most remarkable historical finds in this area is said to be the Kensington Rune Stone, which records a Viking Visit as far back as the 14th century.  Minnesota achieved official statehood as our 32nd State on 11 May 1858. 

Those searching in Minnesota in the earlier days will find mention of a town called Pig's Eye Landing--this rather unusual name was later changed to the more dignified name of St. Paul.

Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Aitkin 1857 Cass, Itasca Aitkin
Andy Johnson 1858 created as Toombs, renamed to Andy Johnson same year, then renamed to Wilkin in 1868  
Anoka 1857 Ramsey Anoka
Becker 1858 Indian Lands Detroit Lakes
Beltrami 1866 Unorganized Territory (records may be in Becker Co.) Bemidji
Benton 1849 Original County Foley
Big Stone 1862 Pierce (unorganized until 1881) Ortonville
Blue Earth 1853 Unorganized Territory Mankato
Breckenridge 1858 renamed Clay in 1862 (see also Toombs & Wilkin)  
Brown 1855 Nicollett, Blue Earth New Ulm
Buchanan 1857 or earlier discontinued  
Carlton 1857 Pine Carlton
Carver 1855 Hennepin Chaska
Cass 1851 Original county Walker
Chippewa 1862 Pierce Montevideo
Chisago 1851 Washington Center City
Clay 1861 Breckenridge Moorhead
Clearwater 1902 Beltrami Bagley
Cook 1875 Lake Grand Marais
Cottonwood 1857 Brown Windom
Crow Wing 1857 Cass, Aitkin Brainerd
Dakota 1849 Original County Hastings
Dodge 1855 Olmstead Mantorville
Doty 1855 divided between St. Louis and Lake counties in 1855/56  
Douglas 1858 Todd Alexandria
Faribault 1855 Blue Earth Blue Earth
Fillmore 1853 Wabasha Preston
Freeborn 1856 unknown Albert Lea
Goodhue 1853 Wabasha Red Wing
Grant 1868 Sterns Elbow Lake
Hennepin 1852 Dakota Minneapolis
Houston 1854 Fillmore Caledonia
Hubbard 1883 Cass Park Rapids
Isanti 1857 Anoka Cambridge
Itasca 1850 Original county Grand Rapids
Jackson 1857 Unorganized Territory Jackson
Johnson   See Wilkin  
Kanabec 1858 Pine Mora
Kandiyohi 1858 Meeker Willmar
Kittson 1879 Unorganized Territory Hallock
Koochiching 1907 Itasca International Falls
Lac Qui Parle 1863 Formerly Tooms Madison
Lake 1855 Formerly Doty Two Harbors
lake of the Woods 1922 Beltrami Baudette
Le Sueur 1853 Unorganized Territory Le Center
Lincoln 1873 Lyon Ivanhoe
Lyon 1871 Redwood Marshall
McLeod 1883 Carver Glencoe
Mohnomen   Becker Mahnomen
Mankahta   Discontinued  
Marshall 1878 Kittson Warren
Martin 1857 Faribault, Brown Fairmont
Meeker 1856 Wright, Stearns Litchfield
Mille Lacs 1857 Kanabec Milaca
Monongalia 1860 or earlier discontinued 1870 or later  
Morrison 1856 Benton, Stearns Little Falls
Mower 1855 Fillmore Austin
Murray 1857 Lyon Slayton
Nicollet 1853 Unorganized Territory Saint Peter
Nobles 1857 Jackson Worthington
Norman 1881 Polk Ada
Olmsted 1855 Unorganized Territory Rochester
Otter Tail 1858 Pembina, Cass Fergus Falls
Pembina 1850 or before discontinued 1870 or later  
Pennington 1910 Red Lake Thief River Falls
Pierce abt 1857 disorganized after 1860  
Pine 1857 Unorganized Lands Pine City
Pipestone 1857 Murray Pipestone
Polk 1858 Indian Lands Crookston
Pope 1862 Pierce Glenwood
Ramsey 1849 Original County Saint Paul
Red Lake 1897 Polk Red lake Falls
Redwood 1862 Brown Redwood Falls
Renville 1855 Unorganized Territory Olivia
Rice 1853 Original County Faribault
Rock 1857 Nobles as the Unorganized County of Brown Luverne
Roseau 1895 Kittson Roseau
Saint Louis 1855 Doty (Now Lake) Duluth & Hibbing
Scott 1853 Dakota Shakopee
Sherburne 1856 Anoka Elk River
Sibley 1853 Unorganized Territory Gaylord
Sterns 1855 Indian Lands Saint Cloud
Steele 1855 Unorganized Territory, Dodge Owatoona
Stevens 1862 Pierce, Big Stone Morris
Swift 1870 Chippewa, Unorganized Lands Benson
Todd 1856 Stearns Long Prairie
Toombs (See Lac Qui Parle & Wilkin    See Andy Johnson and Wilkin--disorganized  
Traverse 1862 Toombs Wheaton
Wabasha 1849 Original County Wabasha
Wadena 1858 Cass, Todd Wadena
Wahnata   disorganized after 1850  
Waseca 1857 Steele Wasea
Washington 1845 Original County Stillwater
Watonwan 1860 Brown Stain James
Wilkin 1858 Cass, Toombs, Johnson Breckenridge
Winona 1854 Unorganized Territory Buffalo
Wright 1855 Hennepin Buffalo
Yellow Medicine 1871 Redwood Granite Falls