Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 3, Number 1: Spring 1966
Colorful and Handy With the Pistols: St. Paul’s Territorial Editors
Author: Berneta Hilbert
Early newspapering in St. Paul was competitive and rancorous. D.A. Robertson of the Minnesota Democrat wrote that James Goodhue of the Pioneer was “a moral lunatic … [whose] transparent wickedness would excite only the pity and compassion of the community.” Though still a comparative village, the city in 1855 had five dailies, and they battled each other in print and out, for readers, advertisers, and contracts. Conflicts sometimes even became violent, as when Goodhue and a favorite target, Judge David Cooper, wounded each other in a knife and pistol brawl. Along the way, these early editors wrote some memorable prose and left an invaluable record of St. Paul’s pioneer era.
PDF of Hilbert article
Minnesota’s Early Libel Laws
Author: Henry H. Cowie Jr.
Early Minnesota libel laws put a brake on the excesses of early journalism. The first state Supreme Court libel decision, in 1860, held that accusing an editor of stooping low enough to “steal children’s diapers from the clothes line” was libelous. An 1884 case ruled it libelous to call a lawyer a shyster. An 1885 statute made certain libels criminal, while an 1887 statute made retractions a partial defense. These and other legal developments moved Minnesota journalism toward its modern era, but “undoubtedly led to lowering reader interest in the editorial pages by raising the standard of their contents.”
PDF of Cowie article
Box Stoves, Cipher-Downs, Sleigh Rides: Memories of a Rural School
Author: Frank Paskewitz
The author, a member of the Ramsey County Historical Society Board of Directors, attended a one-room school in Todd County in the first decade of the 20th century. He recalls that school in detail—its appearance, the wood stove, traveling to and from by sleigh, lunches carried in old sorghum buckets, writing on slates, cipher-down competitions, and swimming in the nearby creek at lunchtime. “The one-room rural school is passing from the American scene, but it is leaving behind it memories of a more simple, less complex and, as I remember it, a happier way of life.”
PDF of Paskewitz article
Forgotten Pioneers: Justus Ramsey
Justus Ramsey (1823–1881) was Alexander Ramsey’s brother. He came to St. Paul in the late 1840s, engaged in various business ventures, served in the Minnesota Legislature, and was carrying the treaty payment to the Dakota when the 1862 Dakota Conflict broke out. At age 58, wealthy, unmarried and in ill health, he took his own life.
PDF of Forgotten Pioneers
Corn-husking and Sweeping Out: 1901 Graduate Recalls the Early Years of the St. Paul Campus
Author: Coates P. Bull
The author attended the University of Minnesota School of Agriculture in the 1890s, shortly after its creation. He recounts the school’s founding, dormitory living, and anecdotes about his professors. In 1902 Bull joined the faculty and stayed there nineteen years. He recalls highlights of his teaching work and identifies agricultural leaders who were in the early classes at the school.
PDF of Bull article
A Pioneer Farmer and the Civil and Indian Wars
Excerpts from Coates Bull’s letter describing how his father was caught up in the Dakota Conflict and an uncle’s service in the Civil War.
PDF of Pioneer Farmers