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See $1,000. House on 15th Ave. – Phineas Phelps built houses after Civil War service

Beginning  June 5, 1886, Phineas Phelps  built a $400. wooden barn at 2800 15th Ave. So. Mpls. and this $1,000. house. The vinyl siding and windows along with the metal door and satellite dish are probably more recent changes.

By Sue Hunter Weir

One hundred and fifty years ago, on April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant and our four-year Civil War was over.  By the time that the war ended an estimated 630,000 to 750,000 men had been killed and another 1,000,000 injured.  It seems like that war happened so long ago but if you know where to look there still are some small reminders in the Phillips Community of the men who fought it.

Phineas Phelps was born in Canada on December 2, 1831.  He enlisted as a private in Company F of the 25th Massachusetts Infantry on September 24, 1861.  A little over three years later, on October 25, 1864, he was discharged for disability.  He headed west and was living in Minneapolis in 1865 where he initially found work as a teamster and later as a carpenter.  He married the wonderfully-named daughter of another carpenter—her name was Francavilla Fogg and she was 13 years younger than her husband.  They were married on July 4, 1871.

Their first child, a boy, died on July 2, 1874, when he was two days old, and he was buried in what at that time was called Layman’s Cemetery.  Their second son, Harry E. Phelps was born in June 1876 and survived to adulthood.

Despite the fact that Phelps was awarded a small pension for his disability, he was able to work as a carpenter.  On June 5, 1886, he filed for a permit to build a wooden barn at 2800 15th Avenue South.  The barn cost $400, a significant sum of money back then.  A few days later, he filed for a permit to build a wooden house at a cost of $1,000.  Less than a year after that, he filed for a permit to make some alterations to the house and to build an addition.  He spent another $100 on wood for the barn.  Phelps did not build the house for himself and the original owner’s name is not on the permit.  It was probably one of many houses that he worked on in Minneapolis but it is one that has endured.  The barn was demolished some time ago but one hundred and twenty-nine years later the house that Phineas Phelps built still stands on the southwest corner of 15th Avenue and 28th Street (across the street and just south of St. Paul’s Church).

Phineas Phelps died from heart disease in Britton, South Dakota on October 7, 1904; he was 73 years old.  It is likely that he and Francavilla moved to South Dakota to be with their son.  Phineas was brought back to Minneapolis for burial and is buried in Lot 29-34, Block F not far from his infant son who died in 1874.  Phineas Phelps’ grave is marked with a military marker.

Join us in honoring Phineas Phelps and all of our other veterans on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2015, at Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery at 10 a.m.  The Seward Concert Community Band will provide the music.  And the next time you walk, ride or drive down 28th Street, tip your hat to the house that Phineas Phelps built so many years ago.

Memorial Day

Monday, May 25, 2015

Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery at 10 a.m.

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