Q&A: Who was Judge Charles Flandrau?

Q&A: Who was Judge Charles Flandrau?

Charles Eugene Flandrau was born in New York City in 1828.  As a young man Charles sought to join the navy, but eventually went to law school.  In 1851 he passed the bar and joined his father’s law firm.  In 1853, he relocated to Traverse des Sioux, near present day St. Peter, Minnesota, to practice law.

Charles E. Flandrau, 1862

Charles Flandrau quickly became a prominent citizen in the growing territory.  He served on the Minnesota Territorial Council, in the Minnesota Constitutional Convention, and on the Minnesota Territorial and State Supreme Courts.  In 1856, he was appointed as an Indian Agent at the Lower Sioux reservation.  As an Indian Agent, he played a leading role in events precipitated by the Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857.  He organized a recovery expedition, he helped ensure the rescue of two captives, and he organized a Dakota led expedition to pursue Inkpaduta and the instigators of the massacre.

At the time of the U.S. – Dakota War, Judge Flandrau was called upon to act as the military commander in defense of New Ulm.  He helped defend the town from attack on August 23 and led the evacuation of the city two days later.  For his role in the war, Governor Ramsey put him in charge of the defense of the southwestern frontier of the state in which he served as Colonel for two years.  In 1867, Charles Flandrau ran as the Democratic candidate for governor but was defeated by William Rainey Marshall.  Judge Charles Flandrau died at his home in St. Paul in 1903.

Read a full biography of Charles Flandrau – page 187-190

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Mary Hawker Bakeman, Ed., Legends, Letters and Lies:  Readings on the Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857, (Roseville, Minnesota:  Park Genealogical Books, 2001).


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