August Louis Larpenteur, or A.L, as he is known to us, was one of the first settlers of Minnesota and the St. Paul area. Born in Baltimore, he arrived in St. Paul in 1843, by way of St. Louis. He was then in the employ of William Hartshorn and Henry Jackson, and one of the first merchants to do business in the state. He interacted and established trade with the Native American population in the area, spoke French, and learned the local Native language as well. Together with some of the more well-known figures of the day, A.L. established commerce in Minnesota and also was involved in the early government of the region. In 1847, after the official establishment of a land office in St. Croix Falls, together with Henry Sibley and Louis Robert, he was selected to officially convey the land to the residents. He was quite proud that no significant disputes occurred during this process. He also was involved in the selection of the land for the Capitol building. He built the second frame house in the City of St. Paul in 1847 on Third and Jackson. He was one of the first elected trustees of St. Paul, elected on May 8, 1850. He ultimately built a home on the corner of Rondo and Dale in St. Paul, known as the Anchorage, which stood until I-94 was constructed. His business fortunes rose and fell with the economic times, starting merchant businesses three times before retiring in the late 1870s. He and some of his family traveled extensively (unusual for the time), to California, France (his ancestral home and home of some relatives), Germany (his wife's ancestral home) and London. In 1889 he was a delegate to the Catholic Congress in Baltimore and was a delegate to the World's Catholic Conference at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. He died in 1919, and Larpenteur Ave. is named for him.
While he was not the only merchant of his day, and probably not the most well-known historical figure, his life and work are representative of those early settlers of the state and of St. Paul who shaped the future of the city and the state. He also leaves a personal legacy, perhaps of most importance to me and many other Minnesotans, of 10 children, numerous grandchildren, and many more descendants. Of those, many still reside in Minnesota, including my family. My father is his great-grandson.
~Jacqueline Urban, Evanston,IL