Tricounty News

History Matters: Celebrating a statehood sesquicentennial

Frankly, our state's celebration of its 150th birthday has been disappointing. It takes considerably effort even to track down information on the sesqui activities, rather than having promotions that flow attractively to the public. There have certainly been fun and educational events (such as the History Center's great MN150 exhibit) and some activities that have been just plain fun (such as the celebration at the state capital). But even that BIG event celebrating the state's birth - delayed a week so as not to conflict with the fishing opener - was poorly promoted. While at the capital that day, I had people stop me to ask what was going on; they hadn't a clue. It is not all the fault of the Sesquicentennial Committee; the resources given by the legislature and the public were totally inadequate, and we are all the poorer for it. Now, you know this comes from a history buff, and my sentiments are not shared by all. A friend in Kimball asked me recently why I invested all of this time and effort in history. He couldn't image any value to it at all. So, let me make my case - briefly. The study of our history provides insights into who we are as families, communities, states, and nation. Those insights give us direction for how to make decisions and how to remedy wrong decisions of the past. History provides models and examples, as we are drawn to appreciate the ingenuity of inventors, the bravery of revolutionary leaders, the selflessness of humanitarians. It reinforces these values, and many more. It broadens our understanding and makes us sensitive to human nature, allowing us to be less judgmental of others when we see it all in perspective. Such has been the case, for instance, in my own study of Indian relations in Minnesota. But our celebration of history brings other rich rewards. Our celebrations bring a sense of pride and belonging, giving meaning to life the same way that other life celebrations do, such as graduations, weddings, funerals, and birthdays. And, of course, some of the study of the past is also just plain FUN. It provides enjoyment, just as other entertainment does: lectures, concerts, museums, and art galleries, or a quiet evening under the stars. Our history can be every bit as suspenseful as a modern movie thriller. I couldn't put down the accounts as I read the stories of pioneer captives and of Indian warriors as they remembered the Dakota War. For those reasons we are planning to celebrate history a bit this summer and fall. The way we will do it is to move back to 1958, our centennial year, when the Tri-County News was filled with a focus on statehood and its centennial celebration. And while we are doing it, we'll also look at life in 1958 itself, a very special year for me. But of the reasons why, more in future columns. Come join the celebration. This week, enjoy this quiz on our Minnesota History from the April 1958 Tri-County News. Remember, the questions were asked fifty years ago. Minnesota Centennial Quiz By Todd Hunt U of M journalism student 1. Minnesota became a state in 1858 on (a) January 1, (b) May 11, (c) July 4, (d) Bastille Day. 2. News of Minnesota's Statehood did not reach St. Paul until (a) May 11, (b) May 12, (c) May 13, (d) May 14. 3. One of Minnesota's Centennial themes is (a) Looking Ahead, (b) From Arrows to Atoms, (c) Frontier to the Future, (d) 10,000 Lakes. 4. One official event of Minnesota Statehood Day will be (a) judging of beards, (b) a massed planned sky-writing exhibition, (c) first day issuance of a U. S. postage stamp commemorating Minnesota's Centennial, (d) a sunbonnet sewing contest. 5. All of the following vehicles will be used in celebration of Minnesota's Centennial except (a) a showboat, (b) a submarine, (c) a train carrying exhibits, (d) Red River oxcarts. 6. Minnesota became the (a) 32nd of the United States, (b) the 21st state, (c) the westernmost state at the time, (d) the largest state. 7. Minnesota's name comes from an Indian word meaning "Land of Sky-Tinted Waters." The word was that of the (a) Chippewa, (b) Dakota, (c) Navaho, (d) Blackfoot tribe. 8. The foreign words on the Great Seal of Minnesota are  (a) "Alt for Norge," (b) "E Pluribus Unum," (c) "L'Etoile du Nord," (d) "Minnesota Hail to Thee." 9. Selective Service records show that Minnesotans (a) have the lowest percentage of rejections in the nation, (b) have the highest percentage of rejections, (c) meet the national average, (d) are automatically draft-exempt. 10. Minnesota's many lakes (more than 11,000) are the result of (a) footprints by Babe, the blue ox, (b) meteors, (c) cave-ins, (d) glaciers. 11. Du Luth, a French explorer, came to Minnesota to rescue a man held captive by the Sioux at Lake Mille Lacs. The captive was (a) Father Hennepin, (b) Nicollet, (c) a Dakota chief, (d) Paul Bunyan. 12. The site for Fort Sneliing was chosen by (a) Sioux Indians, (b) Henry Schooloraft, (c) General Josiah Snelling, (d) the same man for whom Pike's Peak was named. 13. St. Paul was known first as (a) Pig's Eye, (b) Mendota, (c) St. Anthony, (d) Minneapolis. 14. Minneapolis was first named (a) Winona, (b) Upper Pig's Eye, (c) St. Anthony, (d) Hennepin Landing. 15. The first STATE governor of Minnesota was (a) Alexander Ramsey, (b) Henry Sibley, (c) Henry Rice, (d) F. William Stohr. 16. A bill passed by the Legislature in 1857 would have moved Minnesota's capitol to St. Peter except for the action of a colorful lawmaker who stole the bill and remained in hiding until adjournment to prevent the governor's signing it .into law. The fabulous theft was the act of (a) Joe Rolette, (b) Ignatius Donnelly, (c) Cass Gilbert, (d) Maria Sanford. 17. Minnesota was the youngest state in the nation at the outbreak of the Civil War and (a) was the first to volunteer troops, (b) did not enter the war, (c) was the scene of several battles, (d) seceded. 18. Minnesota ranks first in all the following except (a) iron ore shipping, (b) sweet corn processing, (c) the world's largest open pit mine, (d) potato production. 19. Minnesota's state tree is the (a) Elm, (b) Oak, (c) Norway Pine, (d) Maple. 20. Volunteers working on Minnesota Centennial projects this year number more than (a) 75, (b) 1,958, (c) 4,500, (d) 11,000. Answers 1. b; 2. c; 3. c; 4. c; 5. b; 6. a; 7. b; 8. c; 9. a; 10. d; 11. a; 12. d; 13. a; 14. c; 15. b; 16. a; 17. a; 18. d; 19. c; 20. d. ********** An evening with Dr. Bendix's Family program June 24 was so well attended. It was near "standing room only" and comments like "one of the best programs ever" were echoed. Those who were there know what a great night some may have missed. Thank you for finding enjoyment in the excellent events and programs our members recommended. Thanks to John Bendix and the audience for sharing decades of "Dr. Bendix moments" that endeared him to so many people. ********** Thanks for membership reneewals and welcome to several new members June 24. The strength of our organization grows greater, even when the grants we need are requested from the state, if our society membershp maintains and grows. Whether you can be extremely active or not, your participation through membership has great value. ********** Restoration moves indoors: If you haven't already done so, please make your gift of pledge now for Phase 4. All donations are doubled by a state grant and fully tax deductible. Your name could be next on the placques hung in the historic Kimball City Hall being restored and preserved, at age 100! Thanks to your donations, the progress is fantastic. Phase 4 grant deadlines soon end. ********** Saturday, July 19: Compliments of this society "A Journey in the Past" afternoon bus tour is planned and you're invited to join us, leaving Kimball City Hall at 12:30 p.m. to enjoy an escorted tour especially arranged for us. Whether you've been there before or not, Minnesota Pioneer Park has been preserving pioneer history for more than 36 years, is one of the only open-air museums in Minnesota. Recently adding more items, the historic train depot was their first display, now on 26 acres of land, home to 20 exhibit buildings - 1800s log cabin, barn, country schoolhouse, church town hall, "Main Street" includes "turn-of-the-century" store, dentist's office, funeral parlor and numerous sites we'll visit before catching our bus back to Kimball. All we need to know is you're coming to have the right size bus. Just call one of the numbers at the end of this column to reserve a spot by July 15. Hope to have you included in this fully-historian-escorted event. ********** For more information, a place on the July 19 tour, membership and city hall tax deductible donations, The Kimball Historical Society can be reached at Box 100, Kimball, Minn. 55353, or phone (320) 398-5743 or (320) 398-5250 or toll-free for out of the area (800) 252-2521. ********** "Handing down history for future generations."