John Pillsbury (John Sargent Pillsbury)

John Pillsbury

John Pillsbury was born in Sutton, New Hampshire of English descent, the son of John and Susan (Wadleigh) Pillsbury. He was a descendant of Joshua Pillsbury, who emigrated from England to Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1640. In 1851, he opened a store in Warner, New Hampshire, partnering with Walter Harriman, a future Governor of New Hampshire and Civil War general. John Pillsbury came to Minnesota from the Eastern U.S. in 1855 and settled in St. Anthony (now part of Minneapolis). The entrepreneur tried his hand at several different types of businesses (after his business with Walter Harriman) including hardware, real estate, and lumber, though his greatest success came when he co-founded C. A. Pillsbury and Company along with his nephew Charles Alfred Pillsbury, for whom the company was named. Pillsbury attended the University of Minnesota, where he joined Chi Psi. After the American Civil War, Pillsbury was elected as a third class companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. Pillsbury served in the Minnesota Senate for several years before becoming the eighth Governor of Minnesota. He served as governor from January 7, 1876, until January 10, 1882. During the Grasshopper Plague of 1877, Governor Pillsbury called for a day of prayer on April 26, 1877. A subsequent sleet storm killed all the grasshoppers. In Cold Spring, Minnesota, a chapel was built to honor the miracle. Pillsbury was a noted philanthropist and often anonymously donated funds to causes he favored. In particular, he helped the University of Minnesota recover from debt in its early years, and later served as a regent. Since then, he has become known as “The Father of the University.” Pillsbury Hall at the University of Minnesota is named in his honor. John Pillsbury died on October 18, 1901 and is interred in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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  • July, 29, 1827
  • USA
  • Sutton, New Hampshire


  • October, 18, 1901
  • USA
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota


  • Lakewood Cemetery
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • USA

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