Ramsey County History – Fall 2014: “Expanding Our Understanding of the Past: The Sod House and Dakota Kin at the Gibbs Museum”

Priscilla Farnham

Expanding Our Understanding of the Past: The Sod House and Dakota Kin at the Gibbs Museum
Author: Priscilla Farnham

In this article, Priscilla Farnham, the retired executive director of RCHS (1991–2011) focuses on the history of Gibbs Farm in Falcon Heights, which is owned and operated by Ramsey County Historical Society (RCHS). Beginning in early 1994, she and the board of directors hired a team of archaeologists to locate the remains of the sod house in which Jane and Heman Gibbs had lived between 1849 and 1854. The results of the archaeological dig spurred other changes and developments at the museum, which included building a replica sod house and a Dakota summer bark lodge, converting farm acreage to prairie, and publishing a book for young people about Jane Gibbs’s early years with the Dakota in the 1830s (1998). Thereafter, the society bought the land it had been leasing at Gibbs from the University of Minnesota (1999) and developed an interpretative theme at the farm that promoted both farm and Dakota life on the site. In 2006, RCHS purchased 1.5 acres of land immediately adjacent to the museum from a private seller. RCHS now owns almost nine acres of original Gibbs land and is in the process of developing plans for expanded programming at the site.
PDF of Farnham article