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Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Special Studies: M.S.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Rob Mann

Second Advisor

Mark Muniz

Third Advisor

Rob Galler

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

U.S. Dakota War, 1862, Minnesota settlers, fort, Fair Haven


The goal of this thesis is twofold. The first step was to perform archaeological test excavations on the Fort Fair Haven site in order to confirm that we had, in fact, located the 1862 historical site of Fort Fair Haven. Once we successfully determined that it was indeed the fort, then the second step was to analyze these findings and use them in conjunction with archival research in order to better understand what kind of actual defensive function it could have provided. A specific way of doing this is to compare the civilian fort’s design with those of military fortifications of the period.

The data recovered strongly suggests that we did indeed successfully locate Fort Fair Haven. Because of the somewhat haphazard placement of the posts and their overall lack of uniformity, however, the so-called fort may have better been considered a makeshift barricade. With this in mind, the structure contrasts greatly with contemporary military fortifications, though it does share some similarities with other frontier outposts and palisades of the same period. The fort’s structure may have therefore served some practical function of slowing down—if not entirely repelling—potential intruders.


I would like to thank the many individuals and organizations who have helped me prepare and revise this project. First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my committee members, Dr. Mark Muñiz, Dr. Robert Galler, and my committee chair, Dr. Rob Mann. Without their time, dedication, and commitment, this project would not be half of what it is now. I would also like to thank David Vavreck, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Stearns County History Museum, the Brown Historical Society, and the Paynesville Area Historical Society Museum for their assistance in locating and retrieving various records, photographs, and more. I would like to extend a special thanks to the Kjaer family for both their cooperation and enthusiasm throughout the excavations, and for so willingly allowing us to dig up their backyard. I am also especially grateful for the constant encouragement, love, and support I have received from my wife, my parents, family, and friends throughout this endeavor. Thank you!



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