Skip to main content

St. Cloud's newest park honors the area's first slaves

Mary Butler was a slave brought to St. Cloud in 1857.

St. Cloud has a new park, and it honors the area's first known slaves.

Located on the Mississippi River at the end of a recently completed trail, Mayor Dave Kleis held a dedication ceremony for Butler Park on Saturday morning.

It's named for Mary Butler and her family. She and her 2-year-old son were slaves in Tennessee. They moved with their owner to St. Cloud in 1857. According to MPR and a plaque at the new park, the child didn't survive the trip.

The website says Mary was pregnant when she arrived and gave birth to another son later that year and named him John. He's believed to have been the first African American baby born in St. Cloud.

Chris Lehman, a St. Cloud State University professor who's studied the history of slavery in Minnesota, says that while slaves did exist in Minnesota, there was generally a lot of opposition. So slaves and slave owners often didn't stay in the area for long.

That was the case with the Butlers. Less than a year after moving to St. Cloud, they moved back south with their owner.

"It's important to have these reminders so we're motivated even more to do what we have to do to build community," the mayor told the St. Cloud Times. "These are reminders of the sacrifices of individuals like Mary and John Butler."

You can read more about the Butlers and the history of slavery in St. Cloud here.

The park is located north of downtown St. Cloud at 300 Fifth Ave. N. It's the city's 96th park.

Next Up

Mats Zuccarello

Zuccarello scores twice, Wild win third straight

A team effort helped Minnesota dispatch the Ducks.

Rep. Tou Xiong

State lawmaker Tou Xiong apologizes after driving under the influence

The state representative was pulled over on the night of Jan. 8.

St Lukes Duluth GSV Pro

Duluth hospital requiring visitors to show vax proof, neg. test

The health care system is also tightening visitor guidelines.

ridgeview urgent care facebook

Ridgeview halting urgent care at a Twin Cities site 'until further notice'

The organization cited "growing emergency medical needs" at the facility.

polley freeborn county jail roster jan 2022 resize

Charges: MN high school counselor sexually assaulted student

The 16-year-old victim had regularly gone to him for academic help and other support, authorities say.

Proctor football

Proctor investigation: Senior charged with sexually assaulting teammate

The criminal charges come after a monthslong review of the allegations.

Screen Shot 2020-04-28 at 9.07.41 PM

Ordway will require vaccinated audience members also be boosted

If someone has not gotten a booster shot, they will have to show a negative COVID test.

Gophers basketball, Williams Arena, Gopher fans

U of M to require vaccine or negative test proof for large events

The policy doesn't go into effect until late-January.

Lauri Anne Deatherage

Man indicted for first-degree murder in ex-wife's death

He's accused of killing her days after she remarried.

Jackknifed semi I-94 Sauk Centre Jesse Grabow

Crashes, spinouts piling up as snow blankets southern MN

Snow is expected to continue throughout the day.

Related

St. Cloud's newest park honors the area's first slaves

Mary Butler was a slave brought to St. Cloud in 1857.

See that hijab-wearing Vogue model? She's a teenager from St. Cloud

From the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, to Kanye's runway, to the cover of Vogue.

See that hijab-wearing Vogue model? She's a teenager from St. Cloud

From the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, to Kanye's runway, to the cover of Vogue.

St. Cloud sports show will still display live bears despite flak from PETA

PETA says the animals are suffering, but sports show organizers say they'd notice if anything was wrong.

Goats will feast on a St. Paul park this summer to keep it groomed

Take a picture and carry on – these adorable goats have work to do.

Goats will feast on a St. Paul park this summer to keep it groomed

Take a picture and carry on – these adorable goats have work to do.

Apartment boom reaches St. Cloud area

Roughly a dozen new apartment projects are adding hundreds of units in central Minnesota, the St. Cloud Times reports. It is part of the nationwide trend of more people turning to multifamily housing.

Costco has St. Cloud in its sights for its next Minnesota store

It wants to open a 150,000-square-foot location in St. Cloud.