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.
Brett’s department store was one of downtown Mankato’s largest and most popular destinations during its long lifetime from 1868 until 1991. George E. Brett came to Minnesota from Maine in 1863. Five years later he opened George E. Brett, Inc. on the corner of South Front and Jackson Streets.
The Mankato Fire Department dates back to 1860 with the Mankato Hook and Ladder Company. The company began with about two dozen men and a hand drawn cart to carry their ladders and water buckets. In 1886, a hand pump cart was purchased. Cisterns were strategically placed around the city. By using the hand pump and hose with the cisterns, firemen no longer had to cart buckets of water. Soon, other hook and ladder companies began forming throughout Mankato, so when there was a fire, there was a quick response.
1936 was an unusual year for weather. January and February are on record as one of the coldest winters in Minnesota history. February alone had 15 days where the daytime high did not break zero. When the temperature did climb above zero, it snowed.
by Grace Webb
The Saulpaugh Hotel, once located on the corner of Front and Main Streets, opened in 1889 to a grand affair. The festivities include a banquet and ball with many influential and famous people in attendance, including Minnesota Governor William Merriam. Another famous guest was President William Taft, who stayed at the hotel during his 1911 visit to Mankato. It was also rumored that gangster John Dillinger spent a night at the Saulpaugh in the 1930s.