Founding Lanesboro 1869

Stories of Lanesboro on the streets of Lanesboro
Two weekends Sat-Sun September 21-22 and 28-29, 2019
Gather in front of
Sons of Norway Lodge for 1pm and 3pm shows

Lanesboro, Minn, September 10 -- This September History Alive! Pop-up Plays will feature Founding Lanesboro 1869 in honor of the 150th anniversary of Lanesboro and other Minnesota towns experiencing their own 150th birthdays. It is the fifth year of the annual Pop-up Plays who boast “Stories of Lanesboro on the streets of Lanesboro” as their motto. All plays use original scripts by Lanesboro writer Jane Peck, also artistic director of the productions.

A brass band, a stagecoach, a zany traveling “medicine” show, and a mini-Wild West scene with Buffalo Bill will fill the streets and Sons of Norway of Lanesboro the last weekends of September! 1869 was a time when many small towns in Minnesota were beginning. Audiences will meet some of the people that these towns share: immigrant farm families like the Belles, displaced Native Americans like the Winneshiek family, land investors like James Thompson, Civil War veterans, visiting speakers like Frederick Douglass and early suffragists like Elizabeth Stanton, and visiting snake oil charlatans from Chicago! Dakota and Hochunk communities had been banished from Minnesota by 1869 (but not from this show!) Telling this story will involve over 40 performers and countless behind-the scene-volunteers.

Guest performers and musicians include native actors Larry Yazzie and Sean Sokkala, Irish fiddler and jigger Danielle Enblom, Hardanger fiddler Drue Fergison, singers Sister Luv, banjo player David Anderson, and brass band players from across S.E. Minnesota!

Southeast Minnesota had a prominent place in Minnesota in 1869. It was the most populous area of the state at that time, and thus attracted state and national attention (good and bad) that was later reserved for the Twin Cities area. It was a tumultuous time. The country was recovering from the Civil War, the Dakota War, adjusting to newly freed slaves, woman suffrage fervor, and westward expansion. Playwright Peck has researched the era from 1869 Lanesboro newspapers with their colorful accounts, as well as countless character obituaries and photos, all available at the Lanesboro History Museum.

Families represented from 1869 include the Bergeys, the Winneshieks (Wisconsin), the Grignons (Trempealeau), the Stevens (Rushford), Burger Stearns (Rochester/Duluth), The Knutson Belles, the Mahoneys, the James Thompsons, the Enrights, the Scanlans, as well as Union Prairie Church, all originally of the Lanesboro area. If you are a descendent of these families, please let Director Peck know.

Pop-up Plays: Founding Lanesboro 1869 will be in the streets of Lanesboro on two weekends this year: Sept. 21 and 22, Sept. 28 and 29. The 1 and half hour walking tours (two blocks) to the play locations begin at Lanesboro Sons of Norway 200 Parkway Ave. So, Lanesboro MN. Handicapped can easily view the first scene indoors and outdoors scenes are accessible.

All are invited to this free event, with donations suggested at the door (cash or check please). History Alive Lanesboro, a nonprofit organization, is producing the event with the goal of not only entertaining but sharing important stories of our mutual past and heritage families with other residents and visitors. For further info contact Jane Peck at


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

Andrzej Zalasinski, Jr.