Samuel Pond (1808-1891) and Gideon Pond (1810-1878) were born into a mostly rural United States comprised of 17 states with a population of slightly over 7 million. These brothers from Connecticut were two of the most influential persons interacting with the Dakota Indians on the 19th century Minnesota frontier. Gideon and Samuel served as missionaries, language translators, agricultural instructors, carpenters, farmers and ongoing advocates for fair treatment of American Indians. By the time of Samuel's death in 1891, the United States had matured into a nation of 44 states with a population of 63 million and was an emerging global power. Minnesota, which was organized as a Territory in 1849 and became a state in 1858, grew from a population of approximately 7,000 in in 1850 to 1,300,000 in 1890.
Steady change was characteristic of all aspects of American life in the mid to late 19th century. The Industrial Age was transforming city and rural areas through science and technology. Native American Indians no longer roamed free but were confined to reservations and prohibited from practicing their religion. Other American religions had become more numerous and diverse because of immigration and Christian churches were becoming more independent than their European counterparts.
1808 - 1833 Early Years
1810: Samuel W. Pond and Gideon H. Pond are born in New Preston, Connecticut.
1819-1823: Fort Snelling is built at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi River.
1823: The first steamboat arrives in present-day Minnesota.
1820s: Samuel is apprenticed to a clothier and later teaches school. Gideon is apprenticed to a carpenter and later becomes a skillful farmer.
1831-33: Samuel and Gideon are spiritually reborn and feel a strong call to the ministry during revival meetings in their hometown of Washington, Connecticut. Samuel travels to Galena, Illinois to seek a mission field for Gideon and himself. While there, he develops an interest in working among the Dakota in what is now Minnesota.
1834 - 1842 Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, and Lac Qui Parle Missions Period
1834: Gideon and Samuel travel to Fort Snelling by steamboat. They begin teaching Euro-American farming to Chief Cloud Man's village by Lake Calhoun in present-day Minneapolis and create the "Pond-Dakota" alphabet.
1835: Gideon and Samuel join Rev. Jedediah D. Stevens at a mission at Lake Harriet. The Pond brothers, Dr. Thomas S. Williamson, and Henry H. Sibley start the Church of St. Peters at Fort Snelling, the first Protestant church in what is now Minnesota.
1836-38: Gideon assists Dr. Williamson in constructing the Lac Qui Parle Mission and helps translate the Bible into Dakota. Samuel returns to Connecticut to become an ordained minister. Gideon marries Sarah Poage and Samuel marries Cordelia Eggleston.
1837: Signing of the treaty in Washington D.C. in which the Mdewakanton Band of Dakota cede all their land lying east of the Mississippi River to the U.S. Government in exchange for annuities.
1839-42: Gideon, Samuel and their families are reunited at the Lake Harriet Mission. Cloud Man and his people are forced to leave the area due to battles with the Ojibwe (Anishinabe) and move to the Minnesota River Valley. Gideon and Samuel move to the Baker House at Camp Coldwater near Fort Snelling and serve as itinerant missionaries and government-paid farming instructors to the Indians.
1843 - 1852 Oak Grove and Shakopee Mission Period
1843: Gideon Pond and Eli Pettijohn build a two-story log house near Cloud Man's relocated village along the Minnesota River in present-day Bloomington. Gideon and Samuel establish the Oak Grove Mission here on this site.
1847: Samuel accepts Chief Shakpe's invitation to build a mission at his village in present-day Shakopee.
1848: Gideon is ordained.
1849: Minnesota becomes a territory. Gideon serves as a representative in Minnesota's first territorial legislature.
1850-52: The Dakota Friend, a bilingual English/Dakota newspaper, is published by Gideon.
1851-52: Signing of the Treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota (Gideon is interpreter and signer of the Mendota Treaty). Convinced that the system of annuities would continue to undermine the Dakotas' self sufficiency, Samuel and Gideon leave the Dakota Mission to form churches for white settlers. Gideon builds the preemption house to stake a claim to this land. Gideon's wife Sarah dies, leaving him with seven children. Samuel's wife also dies and he marries Rebecca Smith. Publication of A Grammar and Dictionary of the Dakota Language.
1852-1860: More than 160,000 settlers, many of whom are immigrants, arrive in Minnesota.
1854: Gideon marries Agnes Johnson Hopkins, former missionary to the Dakota in Minnesota and widow of Rev. Robert Hopkins.
1855 - 1864 Oak Grove and Shakopee Church Founding Period
1855: Gideon organizes the First Presbyterian Church of Oak Grove. About the same time Samuel founds and erects a building for the First Presbyterian Church of Shakopee.
1856: Gideon builds the brick house with the help of his children and five hired masons and carpenters.
1858: Minnesota enters the Union as the 32nd state and Bloomington becomes a township.
1861-1865: U.S. Civil War.
1862: Broken treaty promises, late annuity payments, a conflict between traditional and farmer Indian factions, and an incident in which four young Dakota men killed white settlers near Acton, Minnesota, triggers the Dakota - U.S. War in which some Dakotas try to drive the whites out of the Minnesota River Valley. This war claims the lives of more than 500 white settlers and an unknown number of Dakota. Almost 400 Dakota warriors are imprisoned in Mankato. Thirty-eight of the warriors are hung in the largest mass execution in U.S. history. About 1600 Dakota prisoners, mostly women, children and elderly who are "neutrals" and "friendlies," are held in an internment camp near Fort Snelling where many die of measles and other diseases during the winter of 1862-63. U.S. Congress passes The Homestead Act, opening millions of acres of land in the West for settlement and the first railroad begins operation in Minnesota.
1863: Gideon Pond and Dr. Williamson baptize nearly 300 Dakota prisoners at Mankato, prior to them being sent to a prison at Fort McClellan at Davenport, Iowa. The people in the Fort Snelling Internment Camp are banished to the barren wasteland of Crow Creek, Dakota Territory in present-day South Dakota.
1864: The Oak Grove Church building is moved to its present location at Penn Avenue and Old Shakopee Road. Gideon's son, Edward, and wife, Mary, serve as missionaries at Crow Creek until 1866, then relocate with the Dakotas to Nebraska.
1865 - 1893 Growth and Change
1865-1866: Gideon Pond is appointed Overseer of the Poor for Bloomington Township.
1869: Two years after it had been passed in Minnesota, suffrage is extended in the U.S. to "all males" 21 and older, including former slaves. The right of citizenship is still denied to most Indians. The first transcontinental rail service is completed.
1871: Gideon serves as Justice of the Peace for Bloomington Township.
1873: Gideon retires as pastor of Oak Grove Presbyterian Church.
1876: Telephone is invented by Alexander Graham Bell. Lakota, Dakota and Cheyenne Indians defeat General George A. Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in Montana.
1877: Gideon preaches his last sermon at House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul. Phonograph is invented by Thomas Edison.
1878: Gideon dies of pneumonia at his home on January 20 at age 67. Many Dakota come to pay their respects saying, "We have lost one of our best friends."
1879: Light bulb is invented by Thomas Edison.
1880: Minneapolis receives the title "Flour Milling Capital of the World."
1880s: Samuel writes his definitive ethnographic study, The Dakota or Sioux in Minnesota as They Were in 1834.
1890: The Wounded Knee Massacre of the Dakota by the U.S. Army.
1891: Samuel Pond dies of pneumonia at his home in Shakopee.
1893: Samuel's son, Samuel W. Pond Jr., writes and publishes a memoir of Samuel and Gideon Pond in the volume: Two Volunteer Missionaries Among the Dakotas.