The Ramsey Family

Anna Jenks Ramsey

Anna Jenks Ramsey

Anna Jenks was visiting her father, Rep. Michael Jenks, at the capitol building in Washington, D.C., when she first met Alexander Ramsey, an up-and-coming congressman from Pennsylvania. The couple married in 1845 and lived in Washington and Pennsylvania until Ramsey was appointed Minnesota's first territorial governor by President Zachary Taylor. Upon hearing of her husband’s new position, Anna responded, “Minnesota? Where upon earth is it? Denmark?”

The Ramseys arrived in Minnesota territory in 1849. Although Anna Ramsey initially wrote she "would never want to winter again in St. Paul," the Ramseys spent most of their lives in Minnesota.

Their second child, William Henry, was born a year later. Only four months after that, their first child, Alexander Jenks, died at age four. William Henry lived for only 19 months. Their third child, Marion, was born in 1853.

Anna Jenks Ramsey greatly aided her husband’s career, overseeing the couple’s social lives, and participating in many civic and philanthropic organizations. Upon her death in 1884, the Pioneer Press wrote that, to Anna Ramsey “is due the city's religious and charitable as well as social development.”

Marion Ramsey Furness

Marion was the only one of the three Ramsey children who survived to adulthood. While Ramsey served in the Senate, Marion attended boarding school in Philadelphia.

In 1875 Marion wed Charles E. Furness of Philadelphia. The young couple moved to Philadelphia and had four children — Anita, Ramsey, Charles Jr., who died in infancy, and Laura.

After her husband was hospitalized indefinitely due to mental illness, Marion and the children moved back to St. Paul to live with her parents. Taking up her mother’s role as one of Saint Paul’s leading socialites and public citizens, Marion lived in the mansion until her death in 1935.

Ramsey grandchildren

Anita, Ramsey, and Laura Furness grew up largely in their grandparents' home. The busy household also included several domestic servants who lived and worked at the home. 

Grandson Ramsey Furness eventually married and moved to Missouri, where he owned and managed a syrup manufacturing business. He and his wife Berenice had no children. Anita and Laura Furness stayed in Saint Paul, where the two were very active in various political and cultural organizations, including serving as founding members of the Minnesota League of Women Voters. Neither Laura nor Anita married, and they remained in the home throughout their lives.

In their wills, the sisters left the property to the Minnesota Historical Society, along with family letters, numerous photographs and more than 14,000 original furnishings.