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Notes from the Paynesville Historical Society. . .

English were attracted to area
By Dolores Hislop

This is the third in a series of articles giving a brief history on how people were enticed to come to Minnesota from Europe.

This week we are taking a look at two ethnic groups, the English and the Irish.

The English were in America for many years before Minnesota became a state. The earliest English people in Minnesota came as explorers, as Jonathan Carver, a native of Connecticut who came up the Minnesota River in 1766. He was instrumental in establishing fur trading posts along the river systems. Other English people came as managers of these posts.

The first Minnesota immigrant to whom naturalization papers were issued was William Willim, born in England who became a United States citizen at Stillwater in 1847. He was a building contractor there and among other things, built the first kiln in the state.

The foods associated with the English are fish and chips, meat pies, scones, shortbread, fruitcake, and plum pudding.

The most memorable person in Minnesota history of English birth was Dr. William Worrall Mayo who came from Manchester, England. He first came to St. Paul and later moved to Rochester in 1883. He is the father of Will and Charles Mayo, builders of the Mayo Clinic.

The noted people of Paynesville history are: Edwin E. Payne, the agent and secretary of the Paynesville Townsite Company. Paynesville is named for him he arrived in 1856 and became a permanent settler of the area.

Two other English people who were involve with early Paynesville history are Smith Flanders and Samuel Roach.

The Irish people came to America because of the potato famine in 1845-46. It was a mass emigration and many settled in cities and towns, and later became involved with the railroad building of America.

Bishop John Ireland working with Dillon O'Brien, began the Catholic Colonization Bureau of Minnesota. The concept involved the cooperation of church, railroads, and incoming settlers who would occupy railroad lands. Bishop Ireland arranged contracts with five different railroads for 369,000 acres. He sponsored settlements to help the Irish people get a start in our state.

The Irish people who settled in the East were for the most part, small farmers, miners, shopkeepers, and laborers. These people who came to Minnesota were successful in their trade.

Foods associated with the Irish are potatoes, soda bread, and oatmeal. Tea, coffee, milk, and honey were served with the meal.

The notable Irish person of Minnesota in the field of farming is Oliver Kelley. He was the founder of agriculture societies and the primary organizer of the Granger movement.

I searched for early Irish settlers in the Paynesville area and found names that I thought would be Irish. I could not find any reference to settlers from the country of Ireland, specifically, therefore I will make no reference to names at this time.

I do have a correction to the German article Joseph Peters who was listed as German is of English birth.

We invite you to the historical museum to see the exhibits.