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Monument Honoring St. Cloud Founder Dedicated – On ‘This Date In Central Minnesota History’

John Wilson Monument (Stearns History Museum)

ST. CLOUD – June 28th, 1956 – Wilson Monument dedicated in Eastman Park (Lake George)

John Wilson (Stearns History Museum)

An impressive granite monument to John Lyman Wilson, the proclaimed “Father of St. Cloud” was unveiled and dedicated June 28, 1956 in Eastman Park.

The new monument served as a gift to the community by granite producers of the city who donated the three types of granite used in the statue. All the granite firms within a five mile radius of St. Cloud participated in its construction and the labor was contributed by union workers.

St. Cloud Red, St. Cloud Gray and Minnesota Pink granite all compose the nine foot long memorial to John Wilson. John L. Wilson’s name and portrait are inscribed on the vertical block and a brief biography of the Maine pioneer is engraved on the horizontal slab.

Wilson earned the title of “founder of St. Cloud” as the owner and platter of what then was called Middle Town and now constitutes downtown. He named the town after St. Cloud, France and gave away many land plots to German immigrants on their way to the Sauk Valley. John Wilson urged these immigrants to settle here as he did years before building the earliest community of St. Cloud. This monument that was dedicated on this date in 1956, the year of St. Cloud’s Centennial, now marked the estate of John L. Wilson and remembered not only his sacrifice to promote its progress but to the first 100 years of community life and to all who had contributed to it.

The monument was the city’s first memorial to its founder apart from two markers inscribed to John Wilson in the city. One is a simple footstone at Wilson’s grave at North Star Cemetery and the other a bronze plate affixed to the Stearns County court house. Present at the dedication was Carol Grewe, the president of the Granite Manufacturer’s Association, R. J. Quinlivan, the main speaker of the event, James Gammel, the Centennial chairman, L.K. McLeland, E.L. Stockinger, master of ceremonies, and Mayor George Byers.

Erected and dedicated during the city’s Centennial observance 55 years ago, the John Lyman Wilson memorial stands as a tribute to the city’s founder, its pioneers and the granite industry.

Thanks to Stearns History Musuem intern Brittany for her help with our series, This Date In Central Minnesota History” on WJON.

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