Wednesday, September 08, 2010

City of St. Vincent - Older Than We Realized

From Minnesota Place Names:  A Geographical Encyclopedia by Warren Upham
I just found out today that St. Vincent was incorporated twice. No one knows why, but I have some theories.1 The first time in 1857, the second time in 1881. This was brought to my attention by current resident and St. Vincent City Council member Kris Baldwin Ohmann, whom I worked with earlier this year in reclaiming the Red River Valley website. I greatly appreciate Kris letting me know about this odd situation. To be honest, it makes a lot of sense that the town would have been incorporated much earlier than 1881 because it has a very old history in the region.

For purposes of organizing a community celebration of my hometown, I am hoping that everyone I will eventually be working with (I'm trying to organize a committee as we speak...) will agree to work with the earlier date - May 23, 1857 (and yes, it is verified by historians...) To keep my sanity and give us a wee more wiggle room to get things properly organized, we're likely gonna move the original, tentative date of August 6, 2011 (when it was going to be the 130th based on 1881 date) up to August 4, 2012 for the 155th based on the newly-discovered older date.

1 - For the first incorporation:  Athough it didn't become a state until 1858, Minnesota's constitution was drawn up and ratified in 1857. In fact, in February 1857, the U.S. Congress passed the Enabling Act for the State of Minnesota which allowed for it to organize and become a state.  I think St. Vincent's timing for this initial incorporation was in anticipation of the territory in which it was currently a part of, becoming a state in the very near future.  A mere week after St. Vincent incorporated that first time, an election was held to select delegates for the future state's constitutional convention on June 1, 1857.  The convention itself met in July and August 1857, and the constitution was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1858.  St. Vincent was positioning itself for the future!  As for the second incorporation, I have yet to find anything definitive as to the reason, but I shall continue to research this - my working shot-in-the-dark theory is, maybe they reincorporated 24 years later to absorb another nearby settlement - if it's one thing I'm learning since starting this local history blog the past several years, it's that there is a LOT more to learn about my hometown than I ever imagined...