Anoka County history: More firsts for Anoka County

Farming was big in Anoka County.

June Anderson
June Anderson

According to Albert Goodrich in his book, “History of Anoka,” the first potato crop was raised by Capt. S.P. Folsom in 1848.

Folsom is reported to have saved the peelings from the scarce, expensive potatoes he had purchased at Mendota and planted them for a bumper crop of his own.

Other farmers followed suit and the abundance of potatoes in Anoka County gave rise to another industry, the starch factory.

While Cornelius Pitman broke the first ground for permanent cultivation, six acres in front of I.W. Patch’s house in the town of Ramsey in 1850, William Noot had already raised the first corn crop in the county near King’s Island two years earlier in 1848.

The first white child born in Anoka was Fernando Shumway on March 22, 1851.

Sadly, the first sermon preached in the county was for the funeral of his mother, Mrs. Penuel Shumway, Jr. in July, 1851, probably before the first resident clergyman, Rev. Royal Twitchell held services in the old trading post where he lived in 1854.

I wonder if Rev. Twitchell was the one to officiate at the first wedding in Anoka, that of Richard and Laura Nichols, which was performed in the winter of 1855-6.

Even though the first religious organization, a Methodist class, was organized on Dec. 10, 1854, the first church in Anoka County was built by the Congregational Society in 1857.

It stood on the site that is now occupied by the Anoka County Government Center.

The first school was taught by Miss Julia Woodman in the Old Company Boarding House during the winter of 1853-54, and the first school house, the Third Avenue School, was built during the fall of 1855.

The first Library Association was later organized sometime in May of 1859.

Anoka must have been a musical town even back then for the first singing school was taught by Josiah F. Clark in the winter of 1855-56.

He also played in the first Cornet Band which was organized in 1861.

Along with Josiah Clark, included in the membership were James Miller, W.W. Waterman, Harvey F. Blodgett, C.H. Houston, L.H. Hubbard, Elias Pratt, N.W. Curial and W.J. Miller.

Josiah Clark went on to serve as principle musician in Company A, Eighth Regiment during the Civil War.

His fife and drum music book is in the collections of the Anoka County Historical Society.

In addition to the milling industries and potato starch factories, Anoka had what was to become a thriving business community.

The first store, that of Edward P. Shaw, was built in the spring of 1854, although Mr. Shaw had formerly sold goods to some extent at his father’s house in the fall of 1853.

And, of course, the first advertisement of a business concern would be that of Edward P. Shaw’s store.

It was printed in the St. Anthony Express on June 17, 1854 since there was no newspaper in Anoka at that time.

The first issue of the first newspaper, the Anoka Republican, published by A.C. and E.A. Squire, didn’t appear until Aug. 25, 1860.

I wonder if the newspapers were delivered by the first post office in Anoka which had been established in the winter of 1853.

Editor’s note: June Anderson is a volunteer/member of the Anoka County Historical Society

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