This house was home to two of the most influential families of Minnesota history: the Mayo family of the Mayo Clinic, and the Cosgrove family of the Green Giant Company.

About the house

Dr. Mayo hand-built his Gothic style Le Sueur home in 1859 and set up his first medical practice in a small room upstairs. In August 1862, during the height of the US-Dakota War of 1862, Dr. Mayo volunteered to go to the relief of besieged New Ulm, where he helped care for the wounded. His wife, Louise, remained in Le Sueur and opened her home and barn to 11 refugee families.

The Mayo family stayed in the house until 1864, when they relocated to Rochester, MN, to establish what would become the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. Ten years later, in 1874, Carson Nesbit Cosgrove and his family moved into the Mayo House. Cosgrove served as the head of the Minnesota Valley Canning Company, which became the Green Giant Company in 1950. Three generations of the Cosgrove family lived in the home through 1920. Seven children from the second and third generations of the family were born in the home, including two Green Giant Company presidents.

Dr. W. W. Mayo

Dr. William Worrall Mayo was born in England and traveled to America in 1845. He practiced as a chemist in New York and later served as a chemistry and physics instructor at the Bellevue Hospital Medical College. He completed his medical studies in 1854 at the University of Missouri, then traveled to Minnesota where he served as the first county commissioner of St. Louis County before relocating to Le Sueur.

In December 1862, following the US-Dakota War, 38 Dakota men were hanged in Mankato and their bodies were buried in shallow graves nearby. Several doctors in the area, including Dr. Mayo, unearthed some of the bodies for medical study and demonstrations. Dr. Mayo gained possession of the body of Marpiya te Najin (Stands on a Cloud or Cut Nose), a Dakota warrior, which became an object of study for the younger Mayos.

In 1864, Dr. Mayo moved his family to Rochester, where he served as an examining surgeon for the Minnesota Civil War draft board. During the 1880s, Dr. Mayo’s two sons, William and Charles, joined his practice, and St. Mary’s Hospital was built with the Mayos as supervising physicians. Soon other non-family members joined the practice, revolutionizing the medical field with the concept of medical teamwork. By the early 20th century, the hospital had become known as "Mayo’s Clinic."

Read more about the history of the Mayo Clinic.

Read more about the history of the Green Giant Company.