Sheldon Aubut's Saint Paul History

Photos and historical information


From the Margaret Marriott Collection


From "The History of Minnesota:  from the Earliest French Explorations to the Present Time.  by Edward Duffield Neill, Secretary of the Minnesota Historical Society, 1858":

The year that the Dahkotahs ceded the land east of the Mississippi, a Canadian Frenchman, by the name of Parant, the ideal of an Indian Whiskey-seller, erected a shanty at what is now the principal steamboat landing in St. Paul.  Ignorant and overbearing, he loved money more than his soul.  Destitute of one eye, and the other resembling that of a pig, he was a good representative of Caliban. (a savage and deformed slave from Shakespeare's The Tempest)

In the year 1842, some one writing a letter in his groggery, for the want of a more euphonious name, designated the place as "Pig's Eye," referring to the peculiar appearance of the whiskey-seller.  The reply to the letter was directed in good faith to "Pig's Eye," and was received in due time.

In 1842, the late Henry Jackson, of Mahkahto, settled at the same spot, and erected the first store on the height just above the lower landing; and shortly after, Roberts and Simpson followed, and opened small Indian trading shops.  In the year 1846, the site of St. Paul was chiefly occupied by a few shanties, owned by "certain lewd fellows of the baser sort," who sold rum to the soldier and Indian.  It was despised by all decent white men, and known to the Dahkotahs by an expression in their tongue, which means, the place where they sell Minne-wakan. ...

Dr. Williamson came to St. Paul in November of 1846 and wrote:  "My present residence is on the utmost verge of civilization, in the north-western part of the United States, within a few miles of the principle village of white men in the territory that we suppose will bear the name of Minnesota, which some would render 'clear water,' though strictly it signifies slightly turbid or whitish water.

The village referred to has grown up within a few years in a romantic situation on a high bluff of the Mississippi, and has been baptized by the Roman Catholics, by the name of St. Paul.  They have erected in it a small chapel, and constitute much the larger portion of the inhabitants.  The Dahkotahs call it Im-ni-ja-ska (white rock), from the colour of the sandstone which forms the bluff on which the village stands.

This village has five stores, as they call them, all of which intoxicating drinks constitute a part, and I suppose the principal part, of what they sell.  I would suppose the village contains a dozen or twenty families living near enough to send to school. ...


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