When driving through the populous township of Mankato, take note of the numerous historical sites and markers. When passing through “Old Town” you soon recognize by the lightly weathered, but articulately constructed buildings that Mankato is avidly concerned with preserving its vivid past. Mankato is famous for many things including the Historic Hubbard House, its involvement in the Dakota Conflict, Sibley Zoo, and many other specific landmarks. It was originally a hub for resources, characterized by its close relation to the Minnesota River, and its abundance of resources such as clay.
The first railroad to come to Mankato was the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha line. One of the deciding factors that brought the railroad to town was the city’s promise to build a depot. When the first train arrived in October 1868, the depot, on the corner of Fourth and Washington, was there to greet it. As more railroads came through Mankato, a second depot was built on the corner opposite of Mankato’s first depot with two more on Mulberry and Hickory Streets.
The lot located at the corner of Broad and Mulberry Streets in Mankato has been called home by more than just the office buildings that occupy it today. In 1855, the very first Blue Earth County schoolhouse was erected. Built of logs, the simple, yet handsome building was used not only as a school, but also as a church and an opera house. The same year the school was built, the first school district was organized by three elected trustees; James Thomson, Theron Parsons, and A.D. Seward. The district decided to name the school “Union”.
The Dakota and Winnebago tribes had a great influence on the naming of not only Blue Earth County, but also many of the townships, towns and villages throughout the County.
The Northwestern Telephone Company came to Mankato in 1880 with the first telephone lines in city hall, Hubbard Mill and the Mankato House hotel. Northwestern remained the only telephone company for almost two decades, with coverage expanding to a larger area in Mankato, as well as to Lake Crystal, Amboy, and Rapidan.
March 1965 was a very snowy month in Mankato! The first of two blizzards arrived on March 3 and dropped over 12 inches of snow on Mankato. The second blizzard, often referred to as the St. Patrick’s Day Blizzard, began on March 17 and ended the following day. Because of the timing with the Irish holiday, more people remember this March storm, although the accumulation of 9.3 inches was less than the first blizzard. The storm started early in the morning on March 17, but it didn’t stop people from their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that evening.
While several American Indian tribes called Minnesota home, two tribes called Blue Earth County home, the Dakota and the Winnebago, also known as the Ho-Chunk. The Winnebago came to Blue Earth County after a treaty was signed between the U.S. Government and the tribe in February 1855. This reservation land extended into Waseca County and covered six townships in Bue Earth County. Due to the lack of wild game in the area, the “Indian Agent” of the time decided to build a house and farm to provide food for the over 2,000 Winnebago who resided on the Reservation.
St. Theresa’s church in Mapleton has Irish roots in this Scottish community. The church began in 1857 as an organization of people from Ireland that has settled near Mapleton. Early services were held in the home of one of the members or on the second floor of Lucas Troendle’s business. It wasn’t until 1876 that a Catholic church was constructed in Mapleton. This building stood until 1902 when it was taken down to make way for a larger church. An addition was added in 1922 and the building remains the Catholic Church in Mapleton today.
Beer is an everyman’s drink. It came from a region of humble pursuits, like so many of our ancestors. Beer’s homeland had many of its residents emigrate to the U.S. during the later half of the 19th century. They carried their brewing culture with them across the Atlantic. Beer quenched the thirst of these newly arrived immigrants pursuing the American dream. Some of these transplants settled in southern Minnesota and chose to continue the cultural exchange by founding breweries in Mankato.
Jamestown Township was originally given its name after the English colony in Virginia. When first settled, the Township of Jamestown was cleared for farmland, hence its appearance today. But before 1858 it was better known for its expansive timber and factories. It contained Volksville and Madison Lake village.