Saturday, October 20, 2012

Captain Dodd

William Dodd
Dodd Road may be a familiar thoroughfare for many folks South of the Minnesota River. It is a road that I have traveled well over the last 8 years, as it is a leg of my journey to and from work. I had always thought it was a bit of a peculiar stretch, since it is the only portion of my trip that does not travel North/South or East/West, but rather at a diagonal Southwest/Northeast path.

​Not giving it much attention for years, I happened to be traveling a bit off the beaten path on my way back from a visit to my parents house in southern Minnesota, when to my surprise I came across a road sign in the small rural town of Kilkenny. The sign read: "Historic Dodd Road 1853". Piquing my curiosity, I wondered if this could be the same Dodd road south of my home in Apple Valley. I hurried home, and did some quick research to soon find out that it is indeed the same road, and that it was built by a gentleman named William Dodd in 1853 and that it extends from St. Peter, MN all the way into West St.Paul.

​Why a road from St. Paul to St. Peter? Well I soon discovered that Dodd seemed to be quite a speculator, and his speculation was surrounding the site of what he believed would be the future capitol of the state. William Dodd was one of several white men to attend the signing of the Treaty of Traverse Des Sioux in 1851, a treaty in which several native american bands signed over ownership of a large swath of land making up most of the southern half of what is now Minnesota. He made claim to a large portion of this land near the treaty site where St. Peter now stands. Less than two years later, he was working on his road.
Joseph Rolette

Unable to get financing from the federal government, he reached out to local businessmen in St. Paul and was able to get some investment from several men including a businessman named Larpentuer. With this money he hurried away and finished the road by the fall of 1853.​

With his road in place and his claims staked the last remaining task to Dodd's fortune and fame would be the relocation of the capitol to St. Peter.​ In 1857, this plan was set in motion with a bill to remove the capitol from St. Paul. The bill had support from the house and senate and only required that it be signed by the governor. The governor too was in support of the bill, but unfortunately for Dodd, the governor never had the opportunity to sign it. A dissenting senator named Joseph Rolette, stole the bill and went into hiding for two weeks until the legislative session was over, thus preventing it from being signed into law.

​Bad news for Dodd, his road, and for the city of St. Peter.

To add to Dodd's misfortunes, he was killed in 1862 during the Dakota Uprising. He was the captain of the militia that was sent to defend the city of New Ulm from Indian attack, and was shot in the head while riding his horse.