The Naming of Blue Earth County

Blue Earth County Courthouse, 1889

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.

Blue Earth County got its name from the Blue Earth River and the blue-green clay that was in the banks along the river. This clay was used by local American Indian tribes for dyes. Pierre LeSueur, in his trip down the Minnesota River from the Mississippi River, discovered this blue clay and thought it to be copper ore. Having sent samples back to France, LeSueur and his company continued to mine the clay at what he called Fort L’Huilier. The clay mined was sent on boats back down the Mississippi River, however, it is unknown if they ever made it to France.

The next time that non-Native people came to Blue Earth County was in 1852. In late January, Parson K. Johnson and Henry Jackson, along with a few other men, set out from St. Paul and landed at the conjunction of the Blue Earth and Minnesota Rivers. Johnson and Jackson, with six other men made up the first settlers in Blue Earth County.

It was not until March 5, 1853 that the territorial legislature passed an act that created Blue Earth County.  The legislature appointed the first county commissioners: James Hanna, John Hinckley and Joseph Babcock. Blue Earth County covered most of Southern Minnesota at this point except for the where the counties of Wabasha, Dakota, Goodhue, Rice, Scott, Fillmore and parts of Le Sueur are today. In April 1853, the first registrar of deeds was appointed: Edwin Perking. Perking did not stay in this position long and Parson Johnson took the post.

Many of the towns and villages have names from either the Dakota or Winnebago Indians that once called this land home. Mankato translates to blue earth in Dakota. Beauford, Decoria, Good Thunder and Medo have connections to the Winnebago tribe and their language. 

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