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The fifth largest city in Minnesota, Mankato is mostly situated in Blue Earth County, for which it is the county seat, although a portion of the city is in Nicollet County, and a small, non-contiguous part of the city is in Le Sueur County. Mankato completely encompasses the town of Skyline. Mankato was founded on a large bend in the Minnesota River, at its confluence with the Blue Earth River. It is across the river from North Mankato. US Highways 14 and 169, and Minnesota Highways 22 and 60 are the chief routes through the city. Besides North Mankato and Skyline, other nearby communities include Benning, Eagle Lake, Garden City, Judson, Kasota, Lake Crystal, Madison Lake, Marysburg, Nicollet, North Star, Oshawa, Rapidan, and St. Clair. When Europeans and European-Americans began coming into the area, it was inhabited by four divisions of the Dakota Sioux. The first settler in the area that became Mankato was Parsons King Johnson, who came in 1852, and was shortly joined by others, and Mankato was organized as a city by Henry Jackson, Parson Johnson and others in 1858. In 1862, the U.S. Army carried out the largest mass execution in United Stated history at Mankato, hanging thirty-eight Dakotas who had taken part in the Dakota War of 1862. Three hundred and three Dakotas had been sentenced to die by a military tribunal, but President Lincoln pardoned all but thirty-eight of them, persuaded that they had acted in defense against military forces. Although Mankato is not mentioned by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her Little House books, it is the trading town that the people of Walnut Grove often visit in the Little House on the Prairie television series. The Western outlaws John Sontag and George Contant, were brothers, and natives of Mankato.

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