Looking Both Ways on Robert
Here’s a couple old photos from back when Robert Street was rowdy. The Ryan Hotel features prominently in both.
Captain Louis Robert was born to French-Canadian parents in Carondelet, Missouri in 1811. The name was probably pronounced “Row-bear”. He spent much of his youth in the fur trade on the Upper Missouri River. He came to St. Paul in the fall of 1843 with goods to sell and became one of the most successful traders of the period. Robert purchased part of the original townsite and named this street in 1844. A couple years later he was appointed County Commissioner for Ramsey County, and was also elected to the Territorial Board of Building Commissioners. In 1850 his real estate holdings were valued at $5,000. By 1853, he was engaged in the steamboat trade, and at various times owned 5 different steamers.
Robert was at Fort Ridgely during the Souix uprising and took part in the defense. He was an old Indian trader, familiar with the Sioux and understood their language. On his way from Fort Ridgely to go to New Ulm he found himself in the midst of a large number of Souix warriors, who were marching to the attack of the fort. Robert concealed himself in a slough, where he remained till night, when he finally ventured out he was discovered and beat a hasty retreat to the slough, where he remained, standing in the water, holding his gun above his head, the remainder of the night. While in this position, he reported seeing not less than one thousand warriors pass him in the early dawn on the way to New Ulm. In 1862 Robert was awarded a medal for defending Fort Ridgely. Robert attended St. Paul’s Catholic Church, where he contributed the bells. Robert Street and the Robert Street Bridge were named after him. He died in 1874.