Dr. Thomas S. Williamson

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As one of the first medical doctors to arrive in Minnesota in 1835, T.S. Williamson brought the earliest medical care to the Dakota and to many soldiers, trappers and their families over the years. He, along with John Renville, Stephen Riggs and Gideon and Samuel Pond, created the first written alphabet and grammar of the Dakota language. In the weeks and months following the 1862 Conflict, he wrote letters to President Lincoln and others seeking pardon for the Dakota whom he believed were innocent of any wrongdoing. After the December execution of those condemned to death, he went to Washington, D.C. and pored over the trial transcripts seeking the details that made it possible for over 300 Dakota men to be pardoned three years later, making it possible for them to leave prison and return to their families. T.S. Williamson spent his life translating the Bible into Dakota and devoting every effort to making sure the Dakota people were brought to safety when most of Minnesota's settlers wanted them completely destroyed. If it had not been for Thomas Williamson, his wife Margaret, his sister Jane, John Williams Thomas and Margaret's son, the Dakota may have all been massacred. In terms of their faith, it was the Williamsons who numbered among the first missionaries to encourage and implement the ordination of Native clergy to lead Native churches, making Minnesota the earliest and only place where Native American churches flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries.
~Lois Glewwe, South St. Paul, MN


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