RCHS Facebook Posts from June 2019 – Immigration
Explore history with these snippets from past Facebook posts from the RCHS page.
Posts, event announcements, etc. have been edited for clarity and relevance.
The philanthropic organization known today as Guild Incorporated grew dramatically in just a couple of decades, from 32 members in 1906 to 800 members in 1923. Back in 1906, Caroline Beaumont and Mrs. Judson W. Bishop, out of concern for the welfare of new immigrants in their community, organized a group of thirty women from St. Luke’s Catholic Church, thus beginning the once-named Guild of Catholic Women (GCW). The organization helped meet the basic needs of newcomers to St. Paul by distributing clothing and food baskets. GCW later formed the Travelers Aid Bureau, expanding GCW’s services, providing temporary shelter and loans to new arrivals. Now known as Guild Incorporated, the organization provides a range of community-based services, from housing assistance to health care and mental health treatment to a wide spectrum of clientele in Ramsey County. You can find more about the Guild @ http://bit.ly/2HQGvpt.
Image: The Delancey Apartments, opened by Guild Incorporated in 2009 to support those experiencing homelessness and other challenges. Photo by Matt Schmitt.
Step inside the International Institute of Minnesota and enter a vibrant, diverse, international world, buzzing with conversations in languages from around the globe. In one room, students from Mexico, Somalia, Egypt, and China throw a baby shower for a classmate, and the instructor turns the celebration into a learning opportunity: students write congratulatory messages in their own languages and quiz one another over baby-related words in English. Upstairs, in a pseudo hospital room, students practice nursing skills on mannequins. Elsewhere, staff help clients prepare for citizenship exams. The Institute has assisted immigrants and refugees from all over the world for a century. That’s something to celebrate! For more in the International Institute see the article here.
Image: Christmas Party and Hmong Potluck at the International Institute of MN.
John Rachac Sr. was one of many who had a hand in building our beloved Capitol. He was one of a wave of Czech immigrants to St. Paul in the 1870s, starting work as a carpenter at age 24, and building a number of houses in the West Seventh Street neighborhood for other Czech immigrants. He then worked as a carpenter on the James J. Hill mansion on Summit Ave. Eventually he worked for the firm of Butler Bros. Co. which was contracted to build the State Capitol. He was a member of the Carpenters Union, which went on strike in 1902 for better wages and a shorter work day, although we can’t confirm if John was one of the strikers. After the Capitol was built, John Sr. was hired on at the Capitol as a full-time maintenance carpenter until he retired at the age of 76 in 1925.
In 1902, a young couple left their homeland in Norway to settle in St. Paul. Their names were Olaf Sundgaard and Borghild Pehrson. Borghild was a servant’s daughter, so Olaf’s prominent Norwegian family wasn’t pleased with their marriage and they had to leave. Olaf worked in St. Paul as a mechanic, and in 1918, with five children and two more to come, they moved from the city to what is now North Clarence Street in Maplewood’s Gladstone neighborhood. Their son, Albert, eventually left to work in entertainment with actor Bing Crosby, children’s author Eric Carle, and others. Some Sungaard descendants still live on Clarence, next to the original home where Olaf and Borghild once watched trains pass each evening. More about the family @ http://bit.ly/2JDJF3b. Information and photograph courtesy of Brenda Rudberg, Maplewood Area Historical Society.
When St. Paul’s Fourteenth Street was home to a large community of Jewish immigrants it was not a single street – rather it was a collective name for about a dozen streets that all lay in the shadow of the Minnesota State Capitol. Between 1882 and the 1950’s, the area was a place where people of the Jewish faith lived, worked, prayed, prospered and raised their families. Today, the neighborhood around Fourteenth Street no longer exists. It lies buried beneath U.S interstates 35E and 94 and the grounds of Regions Hospital. Bill Hoffman, author and historian of St. Paul’s Jewish community on the West Side flats, called Fourteenth Street a “city within a city.” So much more to read and discover @ http://bit.ly/2YKrZXd.
A significant chapter, yet one of the lesser known ones in Minnesota history occurred 200 yrs ago when the largest expedition to enter present-day Minnesota launched the development of an American military establishment – now known as Fort Snelling – near the meeting of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. This expedition proved to be a great turning point in Minnesota history. Among the 128 members were the first non-Indigenous women and children to enter present-day Minnesota. The expedition was led by a former New York lawyer, politician and war hero– the “polished gentleman” destined for fame but also misery – Commander Lieutenant Colonel Henry Leavenworth. Read more on Colonel Leavenworth and more early Minnesota history here in a Ramsey County History magazine article.
Swede Hollow History
Saint Paul rapidly expanded from around 400 residents to over 1000 in approximately 9-11 years in the mid-1800’s. Swede Hollow was an immigrant neighborhood on the East Side of St. Paul which grew rapidly, starting in about 1865 when 3 families of Swedes arrived. Having no homes and with their luggage detained by the railroad, they camped out in a number of abandoned shacks, formerly owned by Ed Phelan, who was the first white settler in the area. Eventually more immigrants from Sweden moved in and a community was built, based on traditions of Swedish villages, and giving the area the name of Swede Hollow, which still sticks to this day. In the late 1800s, a few Polish families had joined the Swedes in Swede Hollow. Most of the Swedish families had moved out by 1900-1910, with many settling on the East Side. Read more on Swede Hollow @ http://bit.ly/2HXOu4q.
Beginning in about 1881, Irish immigrants were urged to come to St. Paul through the efforts of Archbishop John Ireland. 300 or so immigrants were brought in to become farmers on the western prairies of Minnesota, but the people recruited had no experience in farming and were not successful. Ireland paid for them to come back to St. Paul and got jobs for many of them as workers on the railroad. These Irish workers settled in a neighborhood about 4 blocks south of Swede Hollow in St Paul, dubbed “Connemara Patch.”
Image: Swede Hollow in the snow, circa 1910.
From about 1905-1915, Swede Hollow was mostly occupied by Italian families, who arrived by train instead of steamboat. The Yarusso family was one of these. The Italian families began leaving in the 1920’s, following the pattern of moving up to the East Side, and establishing businesses, just as their predecessors had. After over 100 years of various cultures coming and going, Swede Hollow came to be unfit for residents and was burned by the Fire Dept in 1956. East Side residents eventually succeeded in creating Swede Hollow Park and Nature Center. Discover more history on Swede Hollow @ http://bit.ly/2HXOu4q.
The last group to arrive in Swede Hollow were Mexicans, who began arriving in the 1920’s. Their story began much earlier in 1886 with Luiz Garzon, an oboist from Mexico City that traveled to perform with an orchestra in Minneapolis. He chose to stay in the area, opened a grocery store in St. Paul’s West Side Flats, and slowly the Mexican community grew up around his establishment and also in Swede Hollow. One of the driving factors of the influx of Mexican-Americans was the growth of the sugar beet industry. Anti-immigrant laws in the early 1900’s restricted immigration from Europe and Asia, so sugar beet growers began recruiting new workers from the south. In 1931, the Guild of Catholic Women, the Archdiocese of St. Paul, and area Mexican families worked together to create the first Mexican mission in Ramsey County and Minnesota. This chapel was created out of an old boxcar and the Mexican community worshiped here for many years. Find out more about their journey @ http://bit.ly/2VZIPVi.
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