Rich in history, Waconia’s roots are planted deep in the lake and land we call home!

The first inhabitants of the Waconia area came from New Orleans, up the Mississippi River, over the Minnesota River to Carver’s Landing at Carver, Minnesota. From there, they followed Carver’s Creek to Burandt’s lake, and found their way through heavily wooded area to what is now Waconia.

The actual settlement of the area where Waconia is now located began as soon as the Indian title to the land was extinguished and a government survey made. Ludwig Sutheimer and Michael Scheidnagel are claimed to have been the first permanent settlers.

In 1857, a group of German settlers arrived to the fertile lands of Waconia Township and many remained permanently. Additional nationalities settling in the area were Bohemians, Swedes, and Swiss.

First Church

The first church in Waconia was St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church which was organized in 1857 by Rev. Father Bruno Riss. The first services were held in private homes but in 1858 a frame church was built at a cost of $600.

Indian Tribe & Uprising
While white settlers continued to move into the Waconia area, in 1862, a Dakota Indian tribe settled on a reservation along the upper shore of the Minnesota River. The settlers had to pay the Indians for the land they now lived on. With the start of the Civil War, times were tough for the settlers of this region. The harvest was bad that year, and many of the men that normally farmed the land were sent off to fight in the war. This sparked the so-called “Sioux Uprising.”

During the uprising, most settlers were forced to flee their homes and properties. Many women and children buried their belongings in their backyards and fled to the Island (what we now know as Coney Island). They holed up there for 14 days surviving by hunting the wild game provided by the then heavily forested island. Those settlers who had stayed behind made barricades around an old log house and fired at their attackers through holes they made in the barricades.

At the end of the fight, the Indians left the area and scarcely returned. Those that were killed during the fighting were buried in 2 mounds on the north shore of the lake and the settlers were able to return to the farm land they had left behind to begin to rebuild.

Paradise Island
Paradise Island, later changed to Coney Island in 1884 by Lambert Naegele , was considered the paradise of the northwest. Development on the island started after Naegele’s purchase with the first full season at the resort in 1885. This was a successful season and sparked further growth on the island.

After the ice melted on the lake, construction of another resort started along with a boarding house, several cottages, and a boathouse. Two large steamships traveled back and forth to the island. Many of the residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul were frequent visitors to the resorts.