Ramsey County History – Fall 1989: “A Pioneer Writes Home: Alexander Wilkin and 1850s St. Paul”

Ronald M. Hubbs

A Pioneer Writes Home: Alexander Wilkin and 1850s St. Paul
Author: Ronald M. Hubbs

Alexander Wilkin was an important early resident of St. Paul. Lawyer, speculator, politician, adventurer, he sought fortune and glory on the frontier. He got both, plus an early death in battle. Letters he wrote to family in his hometown in New York were recently found and provide a valuable insider’s view of St. Paul and Minnesota in the 1850s. They are excerpted here, with author comments. A Whig who had won appointment as Secretary of the Minnesota Territory, Wilkin knew the uncertainty of office. He sought his fortune in many ventures including insurance, railroads, and newspapers. The Panic of 1857 financially wounded Wilkin, but he survived better than many. The Civil War gave him a chance for glory. He commanded Company A of the First Minnesota and died in combat.

PDF of Hubbs article