Minnie T. Farr

Lincoln School Faculty, 1900. Photo Credit: Minnesota Historical Society

Lincoln School (built in the 1870s and demolished in 1973) was where most children who lived in Swede Hollow attended public school. Looking for an interesting person to feature in the drawing of Lincoln School, I ran across Minnie T. Farr. She is in the photo above: middle row, fifth from the left. Turns out she graduated from my alma mater, Saint Paul Central High School. This is her story:

Minnie was born in Minnesota July of 1861. Her parents were Joseph and Sara Farr, who relocated from Washington D.C. While her father worked as a barber, he was a member of the underground railroad. Check out this great article on Joseph Farr: http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/57/v57i03p123-129.pdf

Minnie was the first Black person to graduate high school in Saint Paul. In 1881, she delivered the Salutatory address in French at the Saint Paul Central High School graduation ceremony at the Opera House in Saint Paul. Sat, Jun 25, 1881 – Page 2 · The Saint Paul Globe (Saint Paul, Minnesota) · Newspapers.com

Minnie was also the first Black school teacher in Saint Paul. She taught at Lincoln School for 19 years. She paved the way for her younger sister, Bessie, who also taught school in Saint Paul.


The Farr family lived at 59 East 11th Street. The 1900 census lists Minnie (teacher – 38), Elizabeth (teacher – 37), and Richard (railroad porter – 34) living at home with Joseph and Sarah. Like all women school teachers at the time, Minnie never married. This curious article “JC Martin will not annoy Minnie Farr Hereafter” describes unwanted attention from a prospective suitor: Wed, Aug 12, 1896 – Page 2 · The Saint Paul Globe (Saint Paul, Minnesota) · Newspapers.com More to research there.

Minnie T. Farr passed away on July 12, 1905 after a long illness. She was only 42. Sat, Jul 15, 1905 – Page 3 · The Appeal (Saint Paul, Minnesota) · Newspapers.com

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