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The ACGS Time

The Anoka County Genealogical Society Newsletter

Volume 29  Issue 1 January February 2007

President's Message

Happy New Year!  May 2007 bring you peace, joy and lots of success in your genealogy research.

2007 marks the 150th Anniversary of Anoka County. There are a lot of displays and activities planned for the year.  In conjunction with this celebration, Anoka County Genealogical Society will be focusing on Anoka County records. Our monthly meeting will be held at other locations in the county .

February 5, 2007, 7:00 PM. We will be learning about Mortuary and Funeral Records from Rick Salhus of Washburn McReavy Funeral Chapel.  We will be meeting at Coon Rapids United Methodist Church, 10506 Hanson Blvd NW, Coon Rapids.  (Just south of Coon Rapids Blvd)

March 5, 2007, 7:00 PM. Early Anoka County Records. Meeting at the Fridley Historical Society, 611 Mississippi St, Fridley (between Central & University)

Other topics in the planning stages: Church Records, Cemetery records, Early Pioneers.

Watch for more information on the 150th Anniversary of Anoka County at their web-site:  There will be a lot of exciting things happening throughout Anoka County.

Don’t miss the Anoka County Sesquicentennial Wagon Train May 15, 2007 through May 20, 2007

 Cathi Weber, President

Anoka County – The Early Years

Anoka County, organized on May 23, 1857, almost a year before Minnesota became a state, is located in the eastern part of the state, about midway between the northern and southern boundary limits.  It is bounded on the north by Isanti County, east of Chisago and Washington Counties, south by Ramsey and Hennepin Counties and west by Hennepin and Sherburne Counties, and southwest by the Mississippi River. The first white men known to have trod the ground that became the County of Anoka were (about 1680) Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan monk, and two companions.

According to the record kept by Father Hennepin and still preserved, a band of over 100 Indians captured them near Lake Pepin and planned to kill them, but finally decided to keep them for slaves.  A few miles below St. Anthony Falls the canoe of the white men was destroyed and they were compelled to walk the long weary miles to Mille Lacs Lake where the villages of the Sioux were located.  They remained with their captors. Father Hennepin gave the river, along whose full length they traveled, a more beautiful name than it now bears. He called it the St. Francis (from which St. Francis Twp. took its name), but it later became known as the Rum.

Anoka County lies on both sides of the Rum River which enters the county about 20 miles north of where it enters the Mississippi.  The first house in Anoka County was built in 1844 on the east bank near the mouth of the Rum River by Joseph Belanger, a fur trader in the employ of William American Fur Company on the upper Mississippi.  This building was abandoned as a fur post after a couple of years but it was used many times, temporarily, by new settlers as one after another came, established his own home and left the old building for someone else's use.

Other traders came to the post in 1846 and 1847 and a community started to grow as early as 1850 in the neighborhood of Anoka in what is now Ramsey Township.  A wooden bridge, the first over the Rum, was built in 1853 and this activity brought people to Anoka.  That same yearThe Governor, Samuel Medary, appointed as the first board of commissioners for Anoka County E.H. Davis, J.P. Austin and Silas O. Lum, with George W. Putnam as clerk.  These commissioners met at Anoka and appointed the following county officers:  Sheriff, James C. Frost; Treasurer, James M. McGlauflin; Coroner, Jos. C. Varney.  Eight townships were created:  Anoka, Watertown, Round Lake, Bethel, Columbus, St. Francis, Oak Grove and Centerville.  The name Watertown was soon changed to Dover and a little later to Ramsey.  There were only three voting precincts, Anoka, St. Francis and Columbus.  Round Lake Township was later changed to the Town of Grow.


"History of Anoka County" copyright 1905

1.  First explorer - Louis Hennepin, 1680

2.  First mention of Rum river - By Jonathan Carver, who visited it in 1766.

3.  First white residents - Joseph Belanger and associates, 1844

4.  First house - A trading post built by Joseph Belanger and associates for William Aitkin, 1844

5.  First road - The Red River trail, crossing Rum river at the Upper Ford.

6.  First potato crop - Raised by Capt. S.P. Folsom, 1848

7.  First corn crop - Raised by William Noot near King's island, 1848

8.  First breaking for permanent cultivation - Six acres in front of I.W. Patch's house in the town of Ramsey. Broken by Cornelius Pitman, 1850.

9.   First ferry across Rum river, 1851

10. First ferry across the Mississippi at Anoka - Launched Sept. 11, 1855

11.  First bridge across Rum river - Built by Orin W. Rice, 1853

12.  First bridge across the Mississippi - Built by Horace Horton, 1884

13.  First sermon - Preached at the funeral of Mrs. Penuel Shumway, Jr., in July, 1851

14.  First resident clergyman - Rev. Royal Twitchell, who held services in the old trading post where he lived in 1852

15.  First religious organization - A Methodist class organized December 10, 1854

16.  First Church - Built by the Congregational Society in 1857. It stood on the present site of St. Stephens church.

17.  First school - Taught by Miss Julia Woodman in the "Old" Company Boarding House, winter 1853-54

18.  First school house - The "Third Avenue School House" built just south of the present Library building, fall of 1855

19.  First dam on Rum river - Begun about August 1, 1853

20.  The first saw mill - Began running in August, 1854. The power was supplied by the Anoka dam. The same year Charles Peltier built a saw mill in Centreville.

21.  First flour mill - Begun about June 1, 1854; completed in January, 1855; burned Feb. 24, 1854

22.  First store - That of Edward P. Shaw, built in the spring of 1854. Mr. Shaw sold goods to some extent, however, at his father's house in the fall of 1853

23.  First advertisement of a business concern - That of Edward P. Shaw's store, printed in the St. Anthony Express, June 17, 1854

24.  First singing school - Taught by Josiah F. Clark in the winter of 1855-56

25.  First Cornet Band - Organized in 1861. Included in the membership were James Miller, W.W. Waterman, Harvey F. Blodgett, J.F. Clark, C.H. Houston, L.H. Hubbard, Elias Pratt, N.W. Curial and W.J Miller

26.  First Library Association - Organized about May, 1859

27.  First newspaper - Anoka Republican, published by A.C. and E.A. Squire. The first issue appeared August 25, 1860

28.  First white child born in the county - Fernando Shumway, born March 22, 1851. Died March 25, 1900

29.  First post office - Established at Itaska in May 1852

30.  First post office at Anoka - Established in the winter of 1853

31.  First wedding - Harvey Richards and Laura Nichols, in the winter of 1855-56

Anoka County Genealogical Society

(at History Center)

2135 – 3rd Ave., No.

Anoka, MN 55303

(763) 421-0600

Hours:  .

Tuesday – 10:am-8:00 pm

Wed-Fri - 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Every Saturday-10:00 am-4:00 pm



 Anoka County Genealogical Society


Cathi Weber                           



Barb Thurston                       



Marilyn Anderson                



Lois Love                               

Debbie Robb                         

Mary Pierce                           

Jim Johnson                          
Jim Marsolais.                      



Cathi Weber                           

The Anoka County Genealogical Society Newsletter is published six times a year.