Born in Sweden in 1854, John Lind came to America in 1868. His family settled in Minnesota. Shortly after, he suffered an accident and his left hand was amputated. Because of his injury, he applied himself in academic pursuits. He graduated from Red Wing High School in 1872. He later moved to New Ulm and taught school. He earned a law degree and opened a law office in New Ulm.
In 1886 Lind was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was 32 and the first Swedish-born American to be elected to the House. He served three terms.
He and wife Alice build the Lind House in 1887. The house was the center of social and political life in New Ulm at the end of the 19th century, and it was quite an honor to be invited to the congressman's home for dinner party or a reception.
After serving for six years in the House, Lind returned to New Ulm in 1893 to resume his law practice.
In 1898, he served as a lieutenant in the Army during the Spanish-American War. The fact he was accepted into the military as an amputee shows how persuasive he was and the clout he had as a former congressman. He received special permission from President McKinley to enlist. He remains the only person to be accepted in any branch of the U.S. military as an amputee.
When the war was over, he returned to New Ulm, ran for governor in 1898, and was elected. When his term was over in 1901, the family sold the house and moved to Minneapolis.