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Rise of Industrial America
Immigration to the United States
Minnesota as it is in 1870

Minnesota As It Is in 1870, by John W. McClung, is a detailed piece of promotional literature intended to attract settlers to the state of Minnesota. It is typical of many such publications that circulated during this period of Minnesota's development. Following are excerpts from Chapter 18 of the book and clippings on immigration from local Minnesota newspapers, which McClung included in a section called "The Immigration of 1869." What kind of settler was McClung trying to attract to Minnesota? Why? What qualities did McClung describe in order to attract immigrant settlers? According to the press clippings, where did the immigrants settling Minnesota come from? Why and how do states still market themselves today?

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Cost of Living, --At St. Paul (November, 1809)(?) beef, by the quarter, costs 7 and 8 cts.; steaks and roasts, 15 to 18; pork, 81/2 to 10; steaks, 18 to 20; mutton, 15 to 20; hams, 20 to 25; venison, 8 cts., by the quantity; steaks, 18; chickens, 121/2 to 15; turkeys, 15 to 18; fish, 5 to 15; lard, 20 to 25; flour, $5 per barrel; meal, 4 cts; buckwheat flour, $1.50 per sack; butter, 25 to 30 cts.; cheese, 20; eggs, 35 per dozen; potatoes, $1 per bushel; ruta bagas, 35 cts.; onions, 75 cts.; beans, $1.45 to $2.50; cranberries, $1.75 to $2.50; sugar, 14 to 16 cts. per lb.; coffee, 22 to 28; tea, 90 cts. to $1.80; wood, $6 to $7.50 per cord. Rents, $3 to $15 per month for cottages; $15 to $50 for larger houses. Board, $1 to $3 per day; $4 to $6 per week, day board; $4 to $10, board and lodging; lower in smaller towns.

Dry Goods. --Calicos, 8 to 121/2 cts.; brown sheeting, 121/2 to 16, bleached cotton, 13 to 18, brown shirtings, 10 to 14; domestic ginghams, 14 to 17; blankets, $3.50 to $9 per pair; grey, 50 cts. per lb., &c.

Cost of Building. --Comfortable and neat frame cottages, 4 or 5 rooms, $600 to $800, and upwards; houses, 5 to 10 rooms, $1000 to $3500, and upwards, according to style and finish. . . .

Cost of Opening Farms. --(See page 177.) Fencing is generally dine with posts, and 3 rails thinned at the ends and nailed.

In the prairie districts the townships require hogs to be "fenced in," so that 3 rails make a fence against cattle. A fence around 40 acres takes 1700 rails, 550 posts and a keg of nails--costing 22 days' work for the rails and posts and $6 for the nails. Instead of digging holes the posts are generally sharpened and driven with a maul or sledge. Two men will do this work with great rapidity.

Teams, Utensils and Stock. --Cost of oxen, $125 to $150 per yoke; horses, $100 to $175; cows, $20 to $50; wagon, new $75; plow, $12 to $20; breaking plow, $35.

The Farm House. --The new comer is always welcomed by the neighbors, and the rearing of the new home made an easy task.

"Bees," on the principle of the old time "quiltings," bring out a large force, and whether a house is to be raised, or plowing, or husking, or any "emergency" is to be met, it is a courtesy of the woods and prairies of Minnesota to go to the rescue and give the needed help free--a keg of beer, or other spirituous consolation, or a dance and liberal fare, paying all expenses. In the absence of money--a very common circumstance--work pays for work, and is the only currency required except in a busy season. . . .

Do you ask if there is an opening for your business?

Whether there is to-day or not, the next wave of immigration will make an opening. Enough people come to our large cities every year to make a good lively town of themselves.

Our farmers have not the capital to raise stock. A large stock farm among our fine meadow and lands would make a fortune to a man of capital. We import our beeves from Illinois. We have a home market. See pages 103 to 114.

Capital is scarce, and in demand. Two per cent. per month is freely paid on the frontier, and amply secured. It can be loaned indirectly, or used so as to net far more than this. It is loaned freely in the largest towns at 12 per cent., free of commission, by responsible agents, secured by productive real estate, worth double the loan.

To Immigrants of all Classes. --We say, finally, come and see for yourselves. It will not do to believe disparaging reports you may hear from the interested agents of rival States and land-jobbing monopolies, nor even the croaking account of some disappointed visitor, whose dyspeptic views are often due to the fact that he could not enter government land in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minneapolis, or Winona; or that he found himself among a people too intelligent and shrewd to promote him to honors or positions for which he was unqualified; or that the climate was not sufficient to clothe his dead bones with new life, after he had "had his day," and while he persisted in the violation of every law of health.

It will cost but a trifle to come and see for yourselves, and to this test we confidently commit "Minnesota as it is in 1870."

News Clippings

...Minnesota Leads the World. --"Minnesota has fairly gobbled the brains, muscle, and capital of the world. The steady rush of immigration from Europe and from the older States of the East, and from the populous portions of the Central and Western States into Minnesota, has assumed such proportions as to remind us of Pat's growing potatoes, which were overhead as they spake one to another--'move along--make room;' for the tide of incoming life has vaulted over the old barriers and limitations that the most sanguine of early pioneers had established for the bounds of civilization and settlement,"-- La Crosse (Wisconsin)

The Floor Tide of Immigration. --The news in the columns of our State exchanges, and from the highways and byways, is all to the effect that we are having a flood tide of immigration such as has not swept over Minnesota for the last twelve years. Thanks to the efforts of Col. Mattson, our State immigration agent, who has been on a visit of months to this home in Sweden, and to the documents sown broadcast by the wise and liberal provisions of our Legislature, the Scandinavian swarms of the North, the hardy Germans of Central Europe, and the sons of the Green Isle,--all are rushing, filled with eagerness and hope, to the free homesteads and healthy climate of Minnesota.

A large proportion of the tide that is daily pouring through our State to the beckoning fields beyond, are Americans; farmers of Wisconsin and Iowa. Wisconsin is fairly moving into Minnesota. The owner of a prairie schooner, who seemed to be an intelligent man, declared yesterday that one-fourth of the whole population of the State of Wisconsin was coming to Minnesota this summer. This statement was, of course, an exaggeration, but it serves to indicate the strength and volume of the current that is setting into our borders. Push on the column! The unclaimed wheat lands of Minnesota, rich as the richest, are still numbered by the millions of acres. No wonder the world is coming to Minnesota, where, under healthier skies, a farm can be had for the taking.-- Mankato Union, June 15th.
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View the entire document from Pioneering the Upper Midwest, ca. 1820-1910. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.