Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 44, Number 2: Summer 2009
Pith, Heart, and Nerve,
Truman M. Smith: Horticulture as the Way Back
Authors: Barry L. & Joan Miller Cotter
The second article on Truman Smith—the first was in the Fall 2008 issue. This article reports how, after financial difficulties and the economic crash of the 1850s, Smith transformed himself into to a successful market gardener in St. Paul. Smith’s “Fruit Garden” was located in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood and he was involved in what is now called “fringe farming.” Part of Smith’s goal was to convince outsiders that fruits as well as vegetables could be successfully grown in Minnesota’s northern climate. As such, he kept careful records of all his experiments. Using correspondence, newspaper accounts, and census data, the authors describe Smith’s experiences, successes as well as troubles, as he bought and sold nursery trees, made wine, and sold at the Farmer’s Market. Smith comes across as content with his new role and he made a decent living at the endeavor. His personal philosophy of “ethical mutuality” eventually led him to become involved in the nascent Grange Movement in Minnesota after the Civil War.
PDF of Cotter article
Food for a Good Life:
John J. Ryan and the Minnesota Grocers Association
Author: Mary Jo Richardson
This article, written by his granddaughter, is the story of J. J. Ryan who made his mark both on the state and nation as a spokesman for retail grocers. He was born in 1863 and came to St. Paul in the late nineteenth century. Ryan started out as a grocery clerk and eventually became a partner in the business. In 1892 Ryan was elected president of the St. Paul Trades and Labor Association. He was also a founder of the Retail Clerk’s Union and even when he became executive secretary of the Retail Grocers Association in 1903, he remained involved in the labor movement. As the leader of the Retail Grocers Association (1903–1915 and 1930–1935), Ryan spearheaded many reforms for the Association, including lobbying the legislature for passage of the Minnesota Pure Food Code in 1905. Between 1915 and 1919 he also served as secretary to the national grocers trade association. Ryan died in 1935.
PDF of Richardson article
Jacqueline Nasseff Hilgert, The Bond Between Brothers: From Lebanon to America: An Immigration Story (Minneapolis: NFR Communications, Inc., 2005).
David M. Grabitske, Six Miles from St. Paul: The Family and Society of Sarah Jane Sibley (Mendota, Minn.: Friends of the Sibley Historic Site, 2008).