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John S. Pillsbury, who moved to St. Anthony from New Hampshire in 1855, was a successful businessman and a member of the family that founded C. A. Pillsbury and Company. As a Republican politician, he served as state senator and governor (1876-1882). A very wealthy and generous man, he supported the University of Minnesota and other civic and cultural institutions. Between 1870 and 1930, St. Anthony Falls was the flour milling capital of the world, the home of both General Mills and Pillsbury. Flour milling was the economic engine that drove the development of Minneapolis and linked the city to the wheat farms of the Upper Great Plains. The Falls that Built a City
The Falls of St. Anthony, the only true falls on the Mississippi River, is where Minneapolis began. Drawing on the enormous power of cascading water, sawmills and flourmills created the greatest industrial center of the Upper Midwest. From 1870 to 1930 these mills produced more flour than any other place in the world.
Conflict in Minnesota over slavery came to a boil in August 1860 when abolitionists helped the slave Eliza Winston escape from her owner, a Southerner on vacation at the Winslow House in St. Anthony.