Alexander Faribault's story: 1855
Before the story
After the story
In his tracks

Mary Whipple's_story: 1862
Before the Story
After the Story
In her tracks

Taopi's story: 1864
Before the story
After the story
In his tracks

Bishop Henry Whipple's story: 1867
Before the story
After the story
In his tracks

Settling the Town
Events in Common

Traders such as Alexander Faribault and the Dakota of the area lived side-by-side during the years of fur trading. This pattern continued through the first years of Faribault’s settlement as a formal town and expanded to include well-educated settlers from eastern states, such as Mary Whipple and Bishop Henry Whipple.

Even before the arrival of these New Englanders, however, Alexander Faribault built a frame house at 12 First Avenue NE in 1853. This was a sign that he wanted Faribault to be a permanent settlement.

Alexander Faribault built his frame house near the Straight River and the town's developing business district. Today the house is flanked by a gas station and a metal warehouse.

By 1854, a rough trail that had been used by traders and American Indians to pass through the area was developed by the government into an offical road. It was used by stagecoaches passing from St. Paul to Dubuque, Iowa. This meant more people, goods and information passed through Faribault. In 1855-56, Horace Baron built one of Faribault’s first hotels to serve these travelers. Plans were also made for a railroad about this time, although the first train didn’t reach town until 1865.

Although the settlement had already begun, the streets of Faribault were officially platted in 1855. Town founders were required by state law to file a plat with county officials before they could sell lots. Like many early plats, the town of Faribault was laid out on a north-south grid that still exists today.

Map of Faribault, 1875. The darker yellow blocks in the center of the map show the town's original plat. Courtesy of the Rice County Historical Society.

Alexander Faribault’s relationship with the Dakota resulted in an early town that was made up of both settlers and American Indians. Although the Wapkeute had officially been removed to a reservation in 1853, many remained on Alexander Faribault’s land south of town. This explains the unique sight that greeted early settler Frederick Frink when he came to Faribault in April, 1855. He saw evidence of two cultures in the settlement, including both tepees and frame houses.

The difficulties of the Dakota meant that they continued to live in tepees and houses near town (on Alexander Faribault’s land) much longer than was typical in other growing towns, and even after 1862. But white settlers, particuarly from New England, continued to develop their vision of a town. Soon frame buildings far outnumbered the Dakota dwellings. By the fall of 1856, there were more than 250 buildings in town. By the spring of 1857, the town of Faribault had grown to include twenty-three stores; four hotels; five wagon shops; blacksmith and shoemaker shops; two livery stables; two meat markets; and several steam mills.

Unlike many other proprietors in new towns in Minnesota, Alexander stayed in town. He tried to help it grow. He donated money and land for things he thought would help the town and its citizens. He also invited people he knew to live in the town.

Faribault’s earliest immigrant group was made up of French-speaking Canadians, like Alexander Faribault. By 1857, 364 Canadians had settled in Rice County. After the fur trade declined, these settlers worked as stone masons, carpenters, brickmakers and quarry men. They formed two French-speaking neighborhoods in Faribault. One was on the north side. The other was on the east side, where French was spoken regularly until the 1940s.

Irish immigrants came to American and to Faribault in the 1850s as well. They were escaping the potato famine and the anti-Catholic environment in Ireland. Soon, the Irish outnumbered the French-Candians. These immigrants worked as stone masons and carpenters, and served as mill laborers, hoteliers, gorcers, railroad builiders, teachers and lawyers. Many settled on the north side of town.

Later in the 19th century, Germans came to Faribault too, although in smaller numbers than previous groups. In addition to stone cutting, they worked as brew masters, shoemakers, and wagon builders.

An early settler named Charles Davison wrote to his cousin in 1856 about the many different people emigrating to Faribault:

“Society is forming out of all classes, nations and tongues. The [mixed bloods are a] wealthy...and influential class... Canadian and Parisian French are our taylors and dry goods clerks. Irish as well as Americans are out shoe makers... New England Yankees are our aristorcrats..."

These "aristocrats," such as the Breck, Whipple, and Cole families, founded churches and schools, and formed government and civic organizations. Some were members of literary clubs. Members organized lectures and discussions on important issues of the day, including slavery. Many other immigrants also brought traditions with them, forming musical groups and other ethnic clubs.

Although the Dakota were noticable town members, there is no evidence that they participated in these new ventures. Interestingly, during the early years of the town, mixed blood citizens such as Alexander Faribault were likely accepted by “white” society, as long as they did not “show” their mixed heritage through dress, behaviour or language. But the events of 1862 were to change this balance, and the limited tolerance for Faribault's Dakota population, for many years to come.

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