On this page you'll be introduced to historic sites in the South
Saint Paul area. Some of them are simply interesting points of
local interest, but many have a unique place in the history of
Minnesota or have even been deemed of National significance. Each
is well worth the trip to see in person and, hopefully, this page
will help you understand these sites and the role they played in
our rich history.
||Indicates a site that is of National historic significance and
has a marker in place from the National Register of Historic
Location: 200 N. Concord
"No handsomer live stock Exchange is to be
found in the West than this one at South St. Paul," the South St.
Paul Reporter noted in 1887 after the Stockyard Exchange Building
opened. Built by the recently formed Union Stockyards Company, the
Exchange Building housed commission firms and other businesses
associated with the adjacent stockyards, which became the largest
stockyards in the United States.
Initially, the building served other functions as well: the
town's first post office occupied it, the city council presided
before the construction of the city hall in 1890, and the city's
first bank, Stockyards National Bank, held space.
Architect Charles A. Reed designed the Exchange Building. Reed
graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before
coming to St. Paul in 1881 where he later went into partnership
with A. H. Stern. Reed and Stern gained national prominence
primarily through their design of railroad stations which
surmounted 100 in the United States. They worked with Warren and
Wetmore on Grand Central Station in New York City and designed the
striking Union Station in Tacoma. Locally their best-known work is
the St. Paul Hotel, completed in 1910, a year before Reed's
The Stockyard Exchange Building continued functional until the
mid-1970s when a new building was planned. In 1976 the South St.
Paul City Council gave the city housing and redevelopment authority
(HRA) the okay to purchase the building, although some council
members protested fearing the purchase a "white elephant." Some
suggested restoring it as an "interpretive center" to tell the
stockyards and the immigrant movement into the city.
In October 1979 Colonial Properties purchased the Exchange
Building for $10,000 and agreed to spend $1.2 million to turn the
building into private office space and a restaurant. Two month
later, in December, vandals caused major damage to the building by
turning on two firehose hydrants in the attic. Damage estimates
In 1980 the Exchange Building was placed on the National
Register and remains the only South St. Paul structure with such
status. Colonial Properties, owner of the building, could not
accomplish the work originally intended and Morris Kloster bought
the building. The city HRA notified Kloster in 1986 that he was in
default on his contract by failing to complete the renovation
project as scheduled and his letter of credit was forfeited.
Currently the Exchange Building is still owned by Kloster and is
In 1998, Duane & Martha Hubbs opened the renovated Exchange
Building as the Castle Hotel, which they operated for a year before
closing. Negotiations are underway to redevelop the site.
Location: 400 Third Ave. S.
South St. Paul's ethnic diversity is noted
in the National Register by the inclusion of the Serbian Home.
Built in 1924, the brick two-story building served as a gathering
place for the many Serbians who settled in the industrial town,
attracted by the need for labor in the packing plants. After
witnessing hundreds of weddings and funerals, the building closed
in the 1980s, unable to pay its back taxes.
The building's fervent supporters, most notably Ted Trkla,
worked tirelessly to reopen the hall in 1996 as a museum honoring
the many ethnic groups which settled in the city.
The building was elevated to the National Register in 1992,
making it only the second historic site in the city of South St.
Location: Intersection of Chicago Northwestern Railroad crossing
and Central Avenue
This was the village of the Kaposia band
of the Mdewakanton Sioux, from which came Chief Little Crow V or
Taoyateduta (meaning "His Red Nation"). Accommodating to white men
and frequently wronged by them, Little Crow had a predominant role
in the Sioux Uprising of 1862.
Early explorers observed Kaposia, missionaries occupied it, and
the Native Americans, whose settlement it was, passed through a
period of cultural interactin which led to their relocation after
the Treaty of Mendota in 1851, and then in 1862 to War.
Historians differ in opinion about the village's location prior
to 1837, althogh it is believed to have been primarily on the
Mississippi River's East Bank near Pig's Eye Lake. The Treaty of
1837 ceded Dakota lands east of the Mississippi to the United
States and so removed Kaposia permanently from the East Bank
location. It may have been moved to present-day Saint Paul (on the
site of the old Union Depot) after the construction of Fort
Snelling, and then moved again to the South Saint Paul location. It
is likely the village had many locations in the area depending upon
flooding, hunting and gathering cycles, and timber depletion. The
village was situated in low land when Lt. Zebulon Pike met with
seven Chiefs (including Little Crow III) for the signing of the
Sioux Treaty of 1805. Later, in 1817, a Maj. Stephen Long was sent
to investigate the territories purchased and noted the village -
with one of the 17 buildings situated "so near the water that the
opposite side of the river is within musket-shot range." Long
claims this was done so the Chief could occasionally "exercise a
command over the passage of the river."
In the Spring of 1834 Samuel and Gideon Pond came to the village
as missionaries, reportedly showing the Dakota villagers how to use
the plow and oxen they had acquired. Three years later a Rev.
Brunson established the Kaposia Mission at the South Saint Paul
location. A mission house, school house, and store were built. The
Mission was left in the care of a Rev. David King, who also learned
the Sioux language to better tend to his duties. By the next year
the land was producing crops and the school was successful with the
Dakota children, one of whom was Little Crow V. Because of his
education at the school he would be able to sign his name to the
Treaty of 1851. However, Little Crow V was not yet the Chief. That
office belonged to Little Crow IV, also known as "Big Thunder," who
journeyed to Washington D.C. with 37 other Sioux Chiefs for treaty
negotiations which ultimately led to the sale of roughly five
million acres of land.
Through the 1830sand 1840's the Sioux were feuding with the
Chippewa. Big Thunder had reportedly told a US Indian Agent at Fort
Snelling that he didn't know what had started the feud, but it had
been an ongoing hostility since before his time - likely related to
language differences or land encroachments. This feuding and poor
relations with the new superintendent of the Kaposia Mission made
it an unsettled place. The new superintendent eventually moved
across the river to Red Rock, leaving the Mission open for Rev.
King to continue teaching untl the Mission closed in 1843. A post
office was established at Red Rock named "Kaposia" that year (then
in Wisconsin Territory, while Little Crow's village was in Iowa
Territory). Thus leading to some confusion as we had two places
across the river from one another, both named "Kaposia." Eventually
Little Crow's village was called "Kaposia in Minnesota Territory"
to distinguish which it was.
In 1845 Big Thunder died of an accidental
gunshot when he tried to prevent a loaded rifle from falling off a
wagon. On his death bed he passed his chiefdom to Little Crow V's
half-brothers. Little Crow V had lived at Laq qui Parle for about a
decade and his half-brothers discounted his right to become chief.
Little Crow V returned the next year to become chief, which led to
an armed confrontation with his half-brothers on the shore near the
village. Little Crow V was shot in the arms by his sibling and
taken to a doctor at Fort Snelling, who recommended amputation.
Little Crow V refused, and although he kept his arms, he suffered
permenant disability from the shooting. Little Crow V became Chief
and ordered his half-brothers executed, which they were. Little
Crow V was shocked at the rampant alcoholism in his village and
requested the local Indian Affairs Agent send a missionary. An old
friend of the Chief's, Presbyterian missionary Dr. Thomas
Williamson, and his sister arrived in 1846 and took charge of the
school. When Little Crow signed the Treaty of Mendota in 1851
Kaposia was home to 300 people. The next year that land was open to
white settlers and the Mdewakanton began their migration to the
reservation on the Minnesota River shortly afterward. Jane
Williamson (who'd come to take charge of the school) laid claim to
the Mission grounds. Franklin Steele, brother-in-law to Henry
Sibley, paid her $3000 for the Kaposia area. Steele's company,
though, failed to meet legal time limits for improving the land and
his development venture for Kaposia was abandoned.
Dakota County organized in July of 1853 and Kaposia became the
county seat. The Kaposia post office continued service until Fall
of 1854, after which the county seat was moved to Mendota (on the
Western side of Dakota County). The Native Americans were removed
to the reservation in 1854, however many returned to the area
during the Spring and Summer until 1862.
An actual town site wasn't laid out until August of 1856 due to
land disputes. 42 blocks were platted out with streets, and
although some sold nobody was willing to move into an empty
townsite. More land disputes forced the few settlers to vacate
their plots in 1878. The land was then sold, in 1886, to a Saint
Paul real estate developer. He subsequently donated a portion of
the land to the Chicago Great Western Railway that same year. With
no easy access to the remaining townsite, the land was absorbed by
the railway before 1909. By 1919, what had been the Sioux burial
grounds near the village were sold and became a sand pit.
Arrangements were made to preserve bones and relics and have them
reburied later in the same spot.
In 1931 ten thousand acres of land along the Mississippi River
were flooded by the new Hastings Dam - including swamps, cranberry
marshes, and islands around the old Kaposia village site. In 1941 a
historic marker was placed on the site of the old Indian village of
Kaposia in South Park (now part of South Saint Paul).
[Little Crow V was shot and killed by Chauncey Lamson in the
Summer of 1863 in a raspberry patch outside Hutchinson. His damaged
wrist-bones later helped identify his body. This passage is adapted
from an article by Frances Miller, a Dakota County historian and
South Saint Paul native. The full article with pictures appeared in
the November 1986 issue of "Over The Years" which is available for
FREE as a PDF file under "Publications" in this section]
If you know of a local site in this area that you feel should be
acknowledged for its historic significance we'd love to hear about
it or help you to investigate and document the site. Please contact
the us at:
Dakota County Historical Society
130 Third Avenue North
South Saint Paul, MN 55075
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