by Win Grundmeier
Of the original founders of Mankato, two names stand out in prominence: Parson King Johnson (called “P.K.” by all his associates) and Henry Jackson. P.K. Johnson was the first actual settler, butJacksonsoon followed. Johnson and Jackson, along with other members of the founding company, arrived at theBendof theMinnesota Riverin February 1852.
Henry Jackson married Angelina Bivins in 1838 atBuffalo,New York, and next year the couple came toGreen Bay,Wisconsin. By 1843 they were living inSt. Paul. Henry became postmaster inSt. Paulwhile Angelina became known as “the pioneer American lady ofSt. Paul.” Possibly this sobriquet derived from the generous hospitality proverbial to this lady. A year after Henry came toMankatoin 1852, Angelina joined him. Henry died inMankatoin 1857, and in 1864 Angelina married John S. Hinckley. She met with all the rugged experience that belonged to wives of the pioneers. Henry seems to have been the proprietor of a general store inMankato. Some of the items Henry was known to stock in his store are interesting: barrels of varieties of whiskey, sardines, oysters and tobacco. Apparently he had an epicurean taste for the pioneer community.
P.K. Johnson haled fromBrandon,Vermont, born in 1816. His mother was a descendant of Jonathan Carver, English traveler, who claimed to have purchased from the Dakota Indians in 1767 a tract of land from the Falls of St. Anthony toLakePepin. In spring 1837, P.K. emigrated to the newWisconsinTerritory. He was appointed Deputy Sheriff and Notary Public in 1841, then in 1846/1847 he set up in business inSt. Paul. P.K. took an active part in the organization ofMinnesotaTerritory and was a member of the first legislature. He married Laura Bivens inSt. Paulin 1850. From 1853 to 1856, P.K. served as the first Register of Deeds and first Postmaster inBlueEarthCounty. In 1856 and 1857 he represented this County in the State Legislature. For over 14 years he was village and city Justice of Mankato. In spring 1865 P.K. moved to Kasota in an unsuccessful attempt to engage in business with a Mr. Babcock. Finally, in 1894 he moved to Brainerd.
Image is of P.K. Johnson