Mendota nestles among hills and bluffs at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. The are is so historically significant it hosts two National Register Historic Districts: the Mendota District from the village to the Mendota Bridge, and Fort Snelling District from the bridge to Fort Snelling. The name Mendota comes from the Dakota Indian word "mdo-te," meeting of the waters.
A History Making Heritage
The Dakota looked upon Mendota's setting as the center of the earth and the tall hill overlooking the rivers, Ohe-ya-wa-he, a sacred burial place.
Mendota's American history began in 1805 when President Jefferson sent Lt. Zebulon Pike to the upper Mississippi to acquire a site for a fort. Pike purchased a military reserve which included the Mendota area.
Construction of Fort Snelling began in 1819 with materials assembled on the Mendota side of the Minnesota River. By 1819, Jean Baptiste Faribault, the US government fur trade factor, was farming on Pike Island. By the 1820s a government ferry crossed the Minnesota River to the Fort. After suffering two floods, in 1826, Faribault moved to Mendota.
In 1825 the American Fur Company opened a Mendota post under Alexis Bailly. In 1834 Henry Sibley, a partner, arrived to manage the post. He built a stone warehouse and stone home. Sibley became the civilian host for visiting explorers, statesmen, writers, artists, and international guests.
In 1842 Father Galtier, assigned to the Mendota French-Canadian flock, built a log church calling it St. Peter's. Eleven years later Father Ravoux built today's Church of St. Peter atop the bluff.
By an act of Congress in 1844, called the town site act, Mendota was incorporated. The city was then located in Iowa Territory.
Henry Sibley was elected to Congress in 1848 for the orphaned Wisconsin Territory between the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers. Mendota was still Dakota land. He returned home in 1849 with a new Territory of Minnesota extending from the St. Croix to Missouri River.
Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, the Minnesota bill sponsor, including Mendota as the capital. Sibley proposed and won the capital for St. Paul which was open to settlement.
In 1849 Dakota County was created including Mendota. Mendota became Dakota County's second county seat from 1854 to 1857.
When Dakota County fully organized in 1858 the village of Mendota became part of the newly formed Mendota Township.
In 1858 Henry Sibley was elected to be Minnesota's first state governor. The Sibley house became the governor's residence.
In 1887 Mendota again incorporated as a Village.
In 1974 Village of Mendota became the City of Mendota under a Minnesota statute making all incorporated communities cities.
Mendota's United States
May 30, 1803
Mendota acquired in Louisiana Purchase
March 26, 1804
In Indiana Territory
March 29, 1804
In District of Louisiana
March 3, 1805
Renamed Louisiana Territory
July 18, 1805
Lt. Pike buys Fort Snelling Military Reserve-Mendota area from the Dakota
June 4, 1813
Renamed Missouri Territory
August 10, 1821
Orphan Missouri Territory
June 28, 1834
In Michigan Territory
April 20, 1836
In Wisconsin Territory
June 10, 1838
In Iowa Territory
December 28, 1846
Orphan Iowa Territory
March 3, 1849
In Minnesota Territory
May 11, 1858
In State of Minnesota