rice county historical society
Tamara Gruhot, Townsquare Media

Did you know that Mark Twain and Ralph Waldo Emerson had visited Faribault?

Rice County Historical Society Executive Director Susan Garwood will be visiting with us by telephone due to the icy roads and we will discuss this fascinating fact.

The Historical Society is hosting a program tonight at the Rice County Historical Museum in Faribault with County Surveyor Michael Fangman as the special guest. Fangman will talk about how land was divided up and sold when the first settlers go here.

Susan will give details about the event so make sure you tune in or go to www.youtube.com/user/KDHLRadio later today. About mid-afternoon the show will probably be uploaded.

One of our staff members at KDHL came upon a article written by David C. Smith about Minneapolis park history where he talks about seeing two letters written by Ralph Waldo Emerson to his daughter in Massachusetts while visiting in Minnesota.

In the letter dated January 31, 1867, (about 150 years ago) Emerson seems to like our young state. Emerson was on one of his yearly lecture tours to the west, but it was his first trip across the Mississippi River into Minnesota.

In the letter he says Minneapolis was, "said to be of admirable climate."

An account of his visit published in Minnesota History, June 1930, Hubert J. Hoeltje wrote that Emerson traveled from La Crosse to Winona in an open carriage on a day when the temperature was 20 below zero. Emerson elected not to frighten his daughter by mentioning this in his letters to her.

The letters indicate Emerson had cousins in Minnesota and Hoeltje observes in his article that Emerson had purchased property in Wisconsin in 1856.

According to the Smith article, Emerson reassured his daughter in his January 31 letter from Faribault that he was "in good new country with plenty of robust people who take kind care of me." Still he felt it "a little pathetic" that people "born to be delicate and petted" had "removed into this rough yeomanly lair of the giants."

Writing from St. Paul the next day, he recounted for his daughter Ellen his meeting with cousin Hannah Ladd Meyer and her children who lived in Northfield, and wrote, "was as good and almost as handsome as in her youth."

Emerson said his host in Faribault was the grandson of the founder of the town and had taken him to visit eight "Sioux Tepis (conical tents)" near the town. He noted that the small village included only older men, women and children because the warriors had been "removed to Nebraska."

With Faribault, who "spoke Indian," Emerson had visited the tents and in one had listened to two girls sing, "quite prettily."

Thanks to David C. Smith, minneapolisparkhistory@q.com, for writing about this.

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