Archive for May 2007

Hire a Reenactor

May 30, 2007

reenactorsI just learned about a couple of resources that will help you celebrate your historical event or sesquicentennial:

  • Shadows of the Old West travels across America performing reenactments and wild west shows, with or without livestock, and portrays a wide variety of historical personas and old west characters.
  • Midwest Mounted Reenactors brings cowboys and horses to your events or films. Actors are trained and ready to go. Sesquicentennials are their specialties.

I had an opportunity to email with Carrie Preston from the organizations. I hope she doesn’t mind but I’m going to share her experience:

I think one of the best things about performing at these 150th anniversaries is that every performance is different. In Shakopee , Shadows of the Old West will be doing a reenactment of a stagecoach robbery. In Melrose, the Midwest Mounted Reenactors will provide a reenactment on the parade route and stage a scenario after the parade incorporating local names and history. The Midwest Mounted Reenactors will also be part of Murray County’s 150th in July with the reenactment of a courthouse battle. Murray County has actually built a replica of the courthouse for this event!


Sesqui Banner at Mesabi East High School

May 29, 2007

Mesabi East High SchoolThanks to Jim Weikum for the most recent update on the Sesquicentennial Banner:

The photograph was taken on Friday, May 25 at the Mesabi East High School in Aurora, MN. In the picture, from left to right is Mr. Arnie Nellis who teaches, among other things, a course in Minnesota and Iron Range history; in the middle of the photo is student Dana Koponen and on the right is student Stephanie Rodgers. Both students are members of Senior Class at Mesabi East.

Banner & Journal #2 have now moved on to the Aurora Public Library.

Sesquicentennial Banner in Biwabik & Aurora

May 26, 2007

Banner in BiwabikAs part of its journey through northeastern Minnesota, on Thursday, May 24, Minnesota Sesquicentennial Banner #2 was presented at a meeting of the Biwabik City Council. At right is a photograph taken at the event. The people in the photos are, from left to right: Councilor Dan Berg, Mayor Michele Woods, Councilor Jim Weikum, Councilor Roger Licari.

This morning, Banner #2 is supposed to make a brief visit to the Mesabi East High School in Aurora, MN. The banner & journal will be presented to Mr. Nellis, the instructor for a course in Minnesota & Iron Range history. Later in the day, Banner #2 moves on to the Aurora Public Library for a visit.

May 23, 1857 – another significant day ahead for Minnesota!

May 22, 2007

On this date in 1857, the Minnesota Territorial Legislature appropriated $30,000 for the expenses of a constitutional convention of 108 delegates, about $650,000 in today’s dollars. The convention was another step towards statehood.

Anoka County Celebrates its Sesquicentennial; some lessons learned

May 20, 2007

Anoka County, Minnesota is celebrating its Sesquicentennial this year, and this weekend, May 18-20, is one of their major event times. (See  I was fortunate enough to be at the County Government Center on Friday afternoon when the Wagon Train arrived. I was standing next to an Ox-cart, an antique replica of one of the original Ox-carts of the Red River Ox-cart Trail, which ran hundreds of miles, from St. Paul to Winnipeg, to support the  trading network into Canada. It ran down the main street on Anoka, old Hwy 10.

I found myself thinking how hard our ancestors worked to build the communities and businesses we often take for granted today. I was struck by what one of the speakers said, that when Anoka became a county, it was because citizens resolved that they had reached a point of development where they needed to contribute their own funds (taxes), to pool them together to support infrastructure. They realized that even though business was booming, that common infrastructure — schools, roads, public safety and law enforcement — were needed to ensure that the community could support and sustain the businesses that were growing, and the citizens that were settling.

It reminded me of my own great-grandfather’s story, himself an immigrant to Minnesota in the 1880s from Sweden. He worked on the James J. Hill railroad, laying down track, and was a lumberjack in central MN, and was one of the laborers who helped build the Minneapolis City Hall, before settling down to farm in Mille Lacs County where he served also as a justice of the peace and on the school board.

He said he was so proud to be doing well enough financially to be able to pay his taxes to support the community.  You don’t hear that much these days — that people are proud to have the right and responsibility to pay taxes to support their communities and their democracy. But those are the lessons you learn when you pay attention to our ancestors stories.

There will be many more stories ahead, of sacrifice and ambition and community vision. Stay tuned…..

Sesquicentennial Banner in Arrowhead Libraries

May 18, 2007

Arrowhead Library SystemThank you to Jim Weikum, Director of the Arrowhead Library System, for sending us the following update on the progress of the Sesquicentennial Banner on its voyage across Minnesota…

I thought that you might want to know that on Monday evening the Sesquicentennial banner I brought back here with me was unveiled (unfurled?) at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Arrowhead Library System. The first two people to sign the journal were Dr. Loriene Roy, the incoming President of the American Library Association (she is a Carlton, MN native, professor at the University of Texas in Austin, and a member of the White Earth band) and Suzanne Miller, State Librarian for Minnesota. Today the banner is on the ALS bookmobile visiting communities in Itasca County including Trout Lake, Deer River, Swan River, Pengilly, and Nashwauk. We’re putting together a schedule for the banner to visit all or most of our 29 member public library communities spread across the 17,000 square mile service area of ALS.

Sesquicentennial Blue Book Unveiled Today

May 17, 2007

Hi everyone. This is Jane, your Sesqui Director reporting from St. Paul that today Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and his staff unveiled the Sesquicentennial Edition of the Blue Book, the official Legislative Manual of the State of Minnesota. The 2007-2008 edition commemorates the 150th anniversary of Minnesota Statehood and has a great collection of key documents that led to the creation of Minnesota, including the 1787 Northwest Ordinance.

Secretary Ritchie has also written an excellent introductory essay on the meaning of the Sesquicentennial — 150 years of caring for each other.

The book is a comprehensive almanac of federal, state, and local government officials and resources. The Secretary’s office also published a Student Edition of the Manual.

For more information you can go to or call 651-296-2803.

Hello world!

May 11, 2007

Welcome to Jane Leonard’s Minnesota Sesquicentennial blog. (I’m not actually Jane.) We’ve set up the blog by popular demand. There are so many people who are interested to learn more about the Sesquicentennial and to hear Jane’s reflections on Minnesota’s past, present, and future.

I am going to supplement Jane’s posts with more informational (less reflective) posts on what’s happening with planning and events throughout the state.

Sesquicentennial banner at SummitYesterday we celebrated the Sesquicentennial Kickoff at the Minnesota Rural Summit. For 10 years the Rural Summit has been an annual gathering place for community leaders in rural areas. The common thread has been to lift up rural Minnesota (and America) through collaboratively building the cornerstones of a strong community: health care, education and creative thinking, economic development, and design. This year we really focused on design. (I invite attendees to share their comments on the Summit and the Sesquicentennial here on the blog.)

This year was the final Summit but as one door closed – another opened with the kick off to the countdown of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial. One idea that emerged from the Summit – Minnesota libraries are going to host the official Sesquicentennial banner (show in the picture above) and an accompanying journal, where Minnesota citizens are invited to add their remarks. Once we have a schedule for the banner we will add it to the Sesquicentennial web site and track its movement in this blog.