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Harriet Bishop, First Years of Minnesota

Historical sketchesof the early years of Minnesota


The lure of land and adventure brought many pioneers to Minnesota before the Civil War. This database is a brief history of these early years by Harriet Bishop, a pioneer from New England. She came to the territory in 1847 and established a school in St. Paul where she taught English and French, among other subjects. Researchers will find brief narratives of the first white settlers, the establishment of Fort Snelling, and the growth of the state in the 1850s. It is intended to aid researchers in understand the larger context in which ancestors may have lived and can be a helpful source of information.

Extended Description

Harriet E. Bishop (1817-1883) emigrated to Minnesota from New England in 1847. She was recruited by Catherine Beecher's Board of National Popular Education to establish a school in St. Paul, Minnesota and to serve as its first formal teacher, reaching students of French, English, Swiss, Sioux, Chippewa, and African-American backgrounds. Her book, Floral Home, is divided into three components: "Early Sketches," "Later Settlements," and "Further Developments." "Early Sketches" provides accounts of the earliest known white explorers and settlers to the region and discusses the source of the Mississippi River as well as the establishment of Fort Snelling. "Later Settlements" encompasses the period from about 1835-1850 and includes her own arrival. "Further Developments" covers the period after 1850 that saw an explosion of growth in Minnesota. Bishop describes the region's culture, its varied population, its geography and land-use, its natural resources, and the development of its religious, educational, and governmental institutions. There are comments upon the progress of St. Paul, St. Anthony's Falls, St. Croix Falls, Stillwater, and Minneapolis and Minnesota's formation into a territory. Bishop also relates many encounters with the Chippewa and the Sioux [Dakotas] and offers insights about how vastly different cultures co-existed on the frontier. She includes several poems about topics of local significance, some without attribution.

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