Traders such as Alexander Faribault and the
Dakota of the area lived side-by-side during the years of fur
This pattern continued through the first years of Faribaults
settlement as a formal town and expanded to include well-educated
settlers from eastern states, such as Mary Whipple and Bishop
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.
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 Faribaults first hotels to serve these
travelers. Plans were also made for a railroad about this time,
although the first train didnt 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 Faribaults 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 Faribaults
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
land) much longer than was typical in other growing towns, and
even after 1862. But white
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
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.
Faribaults 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
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
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
An early settler named Charles Davison wrote
to his cousin in 1856 about the many different people emigrating
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
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
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
this balance, and the limited tolerance for Faribault's Dakota
population, for many years to come.