By David Schleper
Dan Eddings was born a slave in one of the southern states. William Weiser, a Civil War soldier, bought and liberated Dan and 11 other slaves during the war, and brought them up north in 1864 and put them to work on a farm in Eden Prairie. According to the Shakopee Tribune in 1919, “All ran away except Dan and another boy. Dan had lived in and around Shakopee ever since.”
The Shakopee Tribune also discusses “our sole citizen of color.” According to the article, Dan was “quite harmless, although possessing only indistinct ideas of the philosophy of meum and tuum, especially when in the vicinity of a hen roost.” Meum et tuum means mine and thine, and is used to express rights of property. In other words, he was a lady’s man. “In earlier days, before race prejudice had spread through the north, Dan often was present at social functions, and there may be those still living who have stepped off a quadrille with him.”
In the August 29, 1919 Scott County Argus, “He had spent his entire life here and was well known among the farming community, having worked on many of the farms hereabouts.”
J.A. Reitz, a Shakopee photographer, took a picture of Dan Eddings in 1915. It is a studio portrait, where Eddings is sitting on a wicker chair covered with a fur pelt. He is wearing a button-down shirt, vest, jacket, and trousers. On the back of the photograph is written “Niger—Dan Eddings 1915.”
In the August 29, 1919 Shakopee Tribune noted, “Dan Eddings, better known to Shakopee people at ‘Nigger Dan,’ died at the county poorhouse Wednesday morning, and was buried that evening.” The Scott County Argus noted, “Dan Eddings, the only local negro resident in this community, died Wednesday morning at 9:45 o’clock at the county poor house where he was taken about five weeks ago. The cause of death was cancer of the stomach.” He was buried in the Valley Cemetery.
(Some information from Dan Eddings Dies, Scott County Argus, August 29, 1919; Dan Eddings, Shakopee Tribune, August 29, 1919.)