Ramsey township, now City on the south and west border of Anoka County has a rich and interesting history that includes a period when it contained the first permanent settlement in this area. Although nothing remains to remind present generations that the almost forgotten town site of Itasca (or Itaska) was once considered a contender for the Minnesota territorial capital, the fact is well known to those interested in local history. In the more than 125 years of history, Ramsey has many times been on the verge of developing into a large urban center and this has never been more true than at the resent. Industry, commercial development and considerable residential building have come during the past years and will continue. Its location on railroad, highway and river makes it one of the more desirable places for future growth.
Ramsey is located in the southwestern part of Anoka County. It had an area of 21,000 acres, now reduced to 19, 851 acres following the annexation of part of Ramsey by the City of Anoka. The Mississippi River borders the south of Ramsey, the Rum River is on the east. Trott Brook flows in an easterly direction across the northern part. Several lakes still exist, others previously in existence having disappeared.
During 1852-53 settlers began to arrive in the vicinity of the trading post and among these were J.C. Bowers, William Vincent and Thomas Miller.
In 1852 the town site of Itasca was laid out on sections 19 and 30 in Ramsey, near the trading post. The proprietors were Hatch, Beatty, Wilkinson and Ramsey, whose name was later given the township. One of the famous old buildings built by the group was the Itasca Hotel. Itasca also boasted besides the hotel, several houses, trading post, stage coach barn, railroad station and post office. The first government wagon road which was established in 1852 passed through Itasca, coming from Point Douglas, St. Paul, St. Anthony and Anoka then further north to Fort Ripley. The stage coaches traveled this trail and in mid-July 1855, 300 Red River Ox Carts passed through here on their way to St. Paul with their loads of furs and pemmican.
The township was organized in 1857 and named Watertown but changed by the Anoka County Commissioners to Dover, Nov. 15, 1858 and later that year changed to Ramsey for the man who was Territorial Governor.
Ramsey Township was incorporated as a City on November 12, 1974. The first colony settled in Anoka County was Itasca in Ramsey. the first white child born in Anoka County was in Ramsey. The first marriage of a white couple in Anoka was in Ramsey. The first sermon preached in Anoka County was in Ramsey. It has been said that the first post office in Anoka County was at Itasca in Ramsey, but there is claim now to one at Manomin (now Fridley) 20 days earlier.
One of the first schools was in Ramsey. The first breaking of land for farming was in Ramsey.
Ramsey: The Early Years, an essay by Daisy Porter Bradley, January 1935