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History Break: Amelia Ullmann’s Amazing Adventure – Her 1857 travels to Red Wing and Other Exotic Places

August 18 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Join us in person or virtually for this month’s history Break. Remote, rugged and little known, Minnesota Territory in 1857 lay on America’s northwest frontier, its scattered villages housing settlers longing to make their distant outpost the 32nd star on the United States flag. U.S. officials had pried open the door to regional development after purchasing millions of acres of Dakota and Ojibwe heartland during a half-century of contentious negotiation.

Meanwhile, St. Paul merchant Joseph Ullmann and his unconventional wife, Amelia, labored to keep their business afloat. Cut off from the rest of the nation each winter by the frozen Mississippi— Amelia said it was “like a line of cold steel”—Joseph planned to outhustle his competitors by making an overland March buying trip to ice-free downriver ports. When Amelia asked to come along, Joseph explained, “It is impossible for a woman to make such a trip,” and, “men undertake it with fear and dread.” Joseph’s statement was undoubtedly correct but he still lost that argument.

Success of the Ullmann plan hinged largely on Minnesota winter, revealing they had a limited understanding of that phenomena. The Ullmans hoped the Mississippi would be free of ice by early April, thus allowing a steamboat cruise back home.

Upon their engagement in 1852, 20-year-old Amelia had promised Joseph to “go with you to the end of the world.” If Minnesota in 1857 wasn’t the end of the world, it was not far from it.

Join author-historian and Red Wing native Frederick Johnson for an August 18 history break and details about Amelia Ullmann’s journey, coincidentally made at a pivotal point in Minnesota Territory history.

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August 18
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm