Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 49, Number 2: Summer 2014
The Stork Family in St. Paul, 1914–1916
Author: Rebecca A. Mavencamp
William E. and Grace C. Stork moved to St. Paul from western Minnesota in 1903 along with their children, Florence C. and Norman Clinton. They built a home in the western part of the city near the Mississippi River in what was then farmland. Surviving family documents, letters, and diaries (1842–1975) are the source for this lively account of the Stork family members as they dealt with routine and exceptional events in their lives on the eve of the entry of the U.S. into World War I. Excerpts from Stork diaries give immediacy and insight to these four personalities, their friends and neighbors, and the world in which they lived.
PDF of Mavencamp article
The History of the Mississippi River Boulevard
Author: Donald L. Empson
In 1872 the Saint Paul City Council decided to build public parks in the city and soon thereafter hired landscape architect Horace W.S. Cleveland to prepare a plan for where this should be done. One park that Cleveland proposed the city build was along the Mississippi River from the bridge at Fort Snelling to the downtown. Other events and financial issues intervened and the Saint Paul Park Board did not even survey the land that would become the Mississippi River Boulevard until 1887. Land acquisition and approval of plans took more time. The city finally built a roadway along the river in 1902 with work continuing to 1909. The growing use of automobiles and the construction of the Ford Motor Company’s assembly plant in the mid-1920s brought additional changes and improvements to the Boulevard, which closely approximates today’s scenic roadway along the river.
PDF of Empson article
“A Banner with the Strange Device:” Longfellow and Saint Paul
Author: Moira F. Harris
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is widely known as the poet who wrote “The Song of Hiawatha,” which was inspired by reports of Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. Although he never visited Minnesota, Longfellow wrote the poem “Excelsior” in 1841, which included in its lines a reference to a ‘banner with the strange device.” This particular Longfellow poem has taken on a life of its own over the years with the “Excelsior” motif being used in marketing all sorts of products and even a satirical look from writer Bret Harte. In St. Paul Andrew Keller used the poem’s title as the name for his brewery. When Theodore Hamm acquired the Excelsior Brewery in 1864, he kept the name for the beer he brewed, but he named the business Hamm’s. Although there is no evidence for why Excelsior was chosen as the name for a beer, the author speculates that Longfellow’s poem captured the spirit of striving and persevering in the face of multiple setbacks that was important to Americans of that time.
PDF of Harris article