Tuesday, September 18, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 18


September 18, 1918 – One hundred years ago today:  one of six aliens with first citizenship papers reported by Duluth draft boards as renouncing his citizenship rather than be inducted into the U.S. army, Olli Kinkkonen was taken from his lodgings this evening by men purportedly from the draft board. Instead of going to the draft board’s office, Kinkkonen was driven to Congdon Park, where he was tarred and feathered by members of a group called the Knights of Liberty. As of midnight, Kinkkonen had not returned to his home, whereupon his landlord called Duluth police headquarters to report his disappearance.

The Knights of Liberty also called upon the other five declarants who had renounced their citizenship for similar reasons, but none were found.

Duluth’s Vigilantes

This is the lesser known Duluth lynching, which took place in September 1918; the victim, a Finn named Olli Kinkkonen.

WWI was nearing its end, and patriotism was at an all-time high. After all, our boys in Europe were dying fighting for our freedom, and anyone not willing to fight was publically called a slacker, a term “
commonly used to describe someone who was not participating in the war effort, especially someone who avoided military service, an equivalent of the later term draft dodger.” 1

Duluth draft boards reported that Kinkkonen and five other aliens with first citizenship papers had renounced their citizenship rather than be inducted into the U.S. army.2  Kinkonnen, who had immigrated to the U.S. in 1907, had signed his first papers on Sept. 28, 1912, and canceled and surrendered his first papers on Sept. 11, 1918,* a week before his kidnapping.

His landlord was the first to raise the alarm.

On the evening of Sept. 18, 1918, Kinkkonen was
taken from his lodgings by men claiming to be from the draft board. Instead of going to the draft board’s office, Kinkkonen was driven to Duluth’s Congdon Park, where he was tarred and feathered by members of a group calling themselves the Knights of Liberty. As of midnight, Kinkkonen had not returned to his home, so his landlord called Duluth police headquarters to report his disappearance.2

The Knights of Liberty also called upon the other five declarants who had renounced their citizenship for similar reasons, but none of them could be found.2


The next day, the Knights of Loyalty (the group couldn’t seem to decide on its own name) mailed a circular to the Duluth News Tribune claiming the group had more than 2 million members across the country, including 2,000 members in Duluth. The notice said the group would continue its attacks against slackers, as they had proven themselves to be enemies of America.3

A Google and Bing search turned up a group in Tulsa, Okla., using the name Knights of Liberty in 1917 that tarred and feathered men during a labor dispute, which may be where the Duluth mob got their name and the tar and feather idea.4 Otherwise, I have been unable to find anything about this supposed large national group organized to attack slackers.

For several days, the Duluth newspapers ran short notices saying Olli Kinkkonen was still missing. After renouncing his citizenship, he had been planning on returning to Finland, and yet his luggage still sat in his room. His landlord had not heard from him.

Finally, around 5 p.m. on Sept. 30, Kinkkonen’s body was found hanging from a tree one-half mile north of Lester Park. Duluth Coroner McAulliffe determined the hanging to be a suicide, believing Kinkkonen had tried to remove the tar from his body with his handkerchief, but was unsuccessful (seriously?). According to McAuliffe’s theory, Kinkkonen had been so humiliated by the tar and feathering that he had killed himself, although none of his friends or fellow Finns believed that. Kinkkonen appeared to have been hanging there for some time. His death certificate lists his date of death as Sept. 18-22, 1918.5


Lester Park, Duluth, Minn.

 http://www.lakesuperiorstreams.org/streams/images/historic/lester/58_lester_big.jpg


Who were these men who felt that killing a man in such a horrifying manner was justified? No one was ever charged with the kidnapping or the tar and feathering. Whenever a heinous event like this is found in a family tree, it should be viewed within historical context.

Many Finn men had immigrated to America to avoid being drafted into the Russian Army. It’s possible Kinkkonen was one of them, although at 38, it’s more likely he had already fought for the Russians and didn’t want to go to war again. As noted earlier, this was a very unpopular view at the time.





Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain August 15, 2013, 
as long as acknowledgement included.


“Kinkkonen was buried in an unmarked grave in [what was] a poor people's section of Park Hill Cemetery, just a few rows away from the graves of the three victims of the 1920 Duluth lynching. The Tyomies Society, a Finnish cultural group, placed a marker on Kinkkonen's grave in 1993. It reads, ‘Olli Kinkkonen, 1881 to 1918, Victim of Warmongers.’"6

1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slacker

2
The Duluth News Tribune; “Tar Coat Given Alien; Renounced U.S. Rights. Landlord complains to Police of Olli Kinkkonen’s Involuntary Trip with Knights of Liberty”; September 19, 1918; p. 1.

3
The Duluth News Tribune; “Tarred Alien Disappears; One Recants by Default. ‘Knights of Loyalty’ Issue Circular Addressed to Those Who Renounce Citizenship.’”; September 20, 1918; p. 8

4
http://libcudl.colorado.edu/wwi/pdf/i73704829.pdf

5
The Duluth News Tribune; “Victim of Tar Party in Duluth Suicide, Belief; Body of Olli Kinkonnen Found Dangling From Tree Near Lester Park, Covered with Paint; Federal Probe, Hint; Kidnapping Charge Suggested by County Attorney Richard Funck. President’s Order Violated.”; October 1, 1918; p. 1.

6
http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/projects/2001/06/lynching/olli.shtml
http://zenithcity.com/september-18-1918-olli-kinkkonen-abducted-tarred-and-feathered/

*Written on his WWI draft registration card and his intent papers

               __________________________________________________________

If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.

                                                         


Discover your roots, and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.


Website:  TheMemoryQuilt.com > click on Family History

Contact me at:
pjefamilyresearch@gmail.com







Monday, September 17, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 17

September 17, 1961 – “In a stunning upset, the Vikings defeated the Chicago Bears, 37-13, at Metropolitan Stadium in the Vikings’ first NFL regular-season game on [this date]. Kicker Mike Mercer scored the first points in team history with a 12-yard field goal. Bob Schnelker scored the team’s first touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Fran Tarkenton. In his NFL debut Tarkenton came off the bench to complete 17-of-23 passes for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns.”  

http://www.vikings.com/team/history/timeline.html


Fran Tarkenton

http://www.nndb.com/people/145/000024073/

               __________________________________________________________

If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.

                                                         


Discover your roots, and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.


Website:  TheMemoryQuilt.com > click on Family History

Contact me at:
pjefamilyresearch@gmail.com






Sunday, September 16, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 16


September 16, 1902 – Nellie Davis was committed by Judge Finehout today to the state training schools for girls at Red Wing. The application was made by her brother, William Davis, who on Monday told the judge that the girl, who is only 16, had been away from home for more than three months, and was fast becoming an incorrigible.

The hearing on the case was resumed this afternoon when Mrs. Catherine Schoendorf, who keeps a boarding house, testified that the young woman had come into her place about two weeks in company with one of the drivers at Bromley’s Livery Stable, who said she was his wife.

Alexander Davis, the girl’s father, told of the efforts he had made to keep his daughter out of mischief. She had been sent to a school in Illinois, and good places had been found for her to work in private families, but from all of these she had run away and taken to life on the streets. Davis said he believed nothing could be done for her but send her to a state reform school.

The Saint Paul Globe; “Davis Girl Is Sent To State Reform School. Brother and Father Both Ask That Wayward Maiden Be Sent Away.”; Sept. 17, 1902; p. 2.



Red Wing Training School for Boys and Girls

http://temposenzatempo.blogspot.com/2012/09/

               __________________________________________________________

If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.

                                                         


Discover your roots, and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.


Website:  TheMemoryQuilt.com > click on Family History

Contact me at:
pjefamilyresearch@gmail.com





Saturday, September 15, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 15


September 15, 1919 – Oscar Lindgren, C. J. Winton’s gardener, was taken into custody this afternoon for further questioning, and an announcement was made that evidence gathered so far would be placed before the grand jury tomorrow in connection with the search being conducted by Sheriff Oscar Martinson and members of the county attorney’s office for the murder of Madeline LaCount Friday at her cottage home on the Winton estate, Northome, Lake Minnetonka.


Oscar Lindgren, gardener at Winton estate1


It was Lindgren who gave the sheriff’s force information that a stranger in an automobile asked him about the LaCounts Friday afternoon. Trailing the stranger is one of the strongest clues in the case according to Sheriff Martinson, and a careful description of his appearance and actions is being sought through Lindgren.


Questioning of Lindgren was in progress this afternoon and will be continued tomorrow morning. Meanwhile Ralph LaCount, husband of the murdered woman, also is being held at the county jail while the investigation goes on.



Ralph LaCount, murdered woman’s husband2


The grand jury will be told details of the investigation tomorrow, it was announced through the county attorney’s office, and a shirt and a pair of trousers 
believed to contain blood stains, will be introduced as evidence. The garments were found a short distance from the Winton estate by Tom Gleason and John P. Hoy, special investigators of the county attorney’s office.

Today Sheriff Martinson’s deputies were busy following several clues that were believed might lead to the identification of the mysterious stranger seen near the LaCount home. Anonymous telephone calls and an unsigned letter were received during the day and the information offered was run down.

One telephone call claimed that a former sweetheart of Mrs. LaCount lived in Stillwater, and that an automobile answering the description of the one Lindgren says he saw Friday was seen there. Several deputies went to Stillwater but found no grounds for suspicion there.

Late in the afternoon another telephone call to the sheriff said the stranger probably lived in a certain town in Wis. This clue will be investigated tomorrow.

This evening a special delivery letter was received that said if authorities would interview a man at a certain address on Nicollet Ave., they might gain valuable information. This tip will also be traced tomorrow.

It was learned last night that late Sunday night a man, considerably excited, hailed a cab on Cedar Street, St. Paul, and urged the driver to take him to “Randolph and Clark Streets, Chicago.” This is another possible clue that is being tracked. A careful examination of grounds surrounding the LaCount cottage was made again today, and at the conclusion of the investigation, William M. Nash, county attorney, said the authorities had reached the conclusion that the murderer left the home either by an old Indian trail passing between the cottage and the Winton garage and reaching the main road alongside the Winton estate, or by boat.



Map showing LaCount cottage on Winton estate2



The shirt and trousers thought to contain blood stains are being examined by the city chemist. It was said by the county attorney’s investigators that one pocket in the trousers showed suspicious stains. The clothes were found a short distance from the Winton property.

A community funeral, attended by 300 friends and acquaintances of Mrs. LaCount and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Covell, was held at the Covell home in North Hudson this afternoon. Ralph LaCount, by special permission from Sheriff Martinson, motored to Hudson to attend his wife’s funeral, accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Archie Buck and his sister-in-law, Miss Beatrice Covell.

The Rev. R. W. Shaw, pastor of the Baptist church at Hudson, conducted the services. LaCount frequently broke down during the services and later at Willow River Cemetery near Hudson, where burial took place. He returned late this afternoon to his cell at the county jail.



Madelin Covell La Count’s family says her family life was a happy one,
and yet she was buried under her maiden name.
3


Other garments found near the LaCount cottage, and thought to have contained blood stains, on examination proved to oil stains.

The sheriff’s office gave more credence today to the theory that the murderer of Mrs. LaCount left the vicinity at the Deephaven station. Stains in the grass and gravel road, which the investigators believe might have been blood stains, were traced toward the station yesterday.

Residents in this vicinity had asserted that a stranger had been seen going toward the Deephaven station the day of the murder.

In his cell in the county jail LaCount said today that he was glad he was under arrest.

“If I were not questioned now,” he said, “people would be likely to suspect me 20 years from now.”

Dr. E. T. Robertson, professor of pathology at the University of Minnesota, and an expert on autopsies, who assisted county authorities in conducting Mrs. LaCount’s autopsy, believes it would have been possible for the victim to have lived for several hours after being slashed in the throat by the bread knife and hit over the head with the baseball bat.

Dr. Robertson told the county attorney the knife wound received by Mrs. LaCount would not have caused immediate death. It was possible, he said, that the blow inflicted by means of the baseball bat may have caused instant death, or it may have been inflicted in such a manner as not to have caused instant death, and the woman may have rolled about the floor and moaned after having been struck.

This is statement coincides with a neighbors assertion that sounds were heard in the LaCount cottage after Ralph LaCount is said to have left home to drive Miss Helen Winton, his employer’s daughter, from the Winton estate to Minneapolis.

W. L. Meyers, proprietor of a restaurant that LaCount patronized before his marriage and where he occasionally brought his wife, told the county authorities today that LaCount ate his lunch there Friday. Meyers said LaCount did not seem nervous or excited, and that  LaCount frequently talked to him about Mrs. LaCount.

Meyers also told the authorities of a strange incident that happened in his restaurant Saturday morning. He said that while patrons in his restaurants were discussing the crime, one of them, a stranger to the proprietor, suddenly cried out, “I did it!”

The man, according to Meyers, then ran out of the café and, hailing a passing taxi, jumped in and was driven away. No one in the restaurant that morning recognized the man, but the authorities have been furnished with a good description.

Miss Covell said she had visited the LaCount home recently and also when Mr. and Mrs. LaCount recently were in Hudson to visit their parents, that their home life seemed a happy one.

“I can’t believe that Ralph had anything to do with my sister’s death,” Miss Covell said today. “He made Madeline a good husband and they seemed so contented.”

With her father stunned by the murder of his daughter, and the mother, prostrated at home in Hudson, the brunt of the task of clearing up the mystery of the tragedy has fallen on the shoulders of Miss Covell, and she is aiding the authorities in every way possible.

1The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Oscar Lindgren Is held for Murder Investigation. Evidence Gathered in LaCount Case Goes to Grand Jury. Stained Shirt and Trousers Found—Many Clues Trailed.”; September 16, 1919; pp. 1 & 2.

2The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “LaCount Held; Wife’s Murder Still Mystery. Husband Under Fire of Questions By County Officials. Another Man May Be Taken Into Custody Today. Knife Used Before Baseball Bat--$500 Reward for Slayer. Photograph of Man Believed Implicated Found Near Cottage.”; Sept. 14, 1919; pp. 1 & 2.

3https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/115193041

Brutal murder in 1919 near Lake Minnetonka; see Sept. 12, 2018 blog.

Ralph LaCount, whose 16-yer-old bride was murdered, was taken into custody this afternoon and “held for investigation.”; see Sept. 13, 2018 blog.

               __________________________________________________________

If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.

                                                         


Discover your roots, and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.


Website:  TheMemoryQuilt.com > click on Family History

Contact me at:
pjefamilyresearch@gmail.com



Friday, September 14, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 14

September 14, 1805 – “Lieutenant Zebulon Pike left Fort Bellefontaine on August 9, 1805, with orders to find the source of the Mississippi. On [this date], he reached the Mississippi Valley near island number 72 (on his map), which would one day be Winona, Minnesota, and recorded his impressions in his log.” 

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/274770




Zebulon Pike

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lieutenant_Zebulon_M._Pike_-_History_of_Iowa.jpg
               __________________________________________________________

If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.

                                                         


Discover your roots, and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.


Website:  TheMemoryQuilt.com > click on Family History

Contact me at:
pjefamilyresearch@gmail.com




Thursday, September 13, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 13

September 13, 1919 – Ralph LaCount, whose 16-year-old bride of eight months was murdered yesterday, was taken into custody this afternoon and “held for investigation.” Sheriff’s operatives this morning also took a second man into custody.


Ralph LaCount


 At 8:30 this evening questioning of LaCount began, continuing through
2 a.m.


Other developments in the case during the day included:
- Inability through post-mortem examination to place probable time of murder
- Finding a photograph believed to be that of mysterious stranger seen in the vicinity of the LaCounts’ cottage at noon Friday, and information that he was seen on a boat riding from Deephaven to Cottage Grove.
- Sheriff Martinson offered a reward of $500 yesterday for information of the murderer’s identity.
- Failure to photograph fingerprints because they were marred by handling before authorities reached the crime scene.
- Autopsy established that Mrs. LaCount was first attacked with a knife, her throat slashed, and then pummeled with the baseball bat until the weapon broke in two.

LaCount was detained after Mr. Hoy and Sheriff Martinson had questioned him a few minutes shortly before 6 p.m. The questions dealt largely with LaCount’s friends, his past actions, and particularly in reference to a young woman employed in Minneapolis hospital, with whom LaCount is alleged to have been intimately acquainted.

According to Hoy, LaCount replied by asking what connection the questioning had with the murder case. Hoy said the husband’s answers gradually became more incoherent and that he frequently said “give me time to think.”


After a conference with Sheriff Martinson, LaCount was detained and taken to a cell to await the formal examination conducted by Mr. Nash.

Madeline LaCount was found murdered by her husband late Friday afternoon when he returned to their cottage on the state of C. J. Winton at Northome. LaCount is a chauffeur employed by Winton and had been in Minneapolis and St. Paul driving Miss Helen Winton since 11 a.m. that day.

Sheriff Martinson learned from Miss Winton that about 10:15 Friday morning she had talked to Mrs. LaCount on the phone about making sure her husband would be ready to drive Miss Winton to town. No additional evidence has been unearthed that Mrs. LaCount was seen alive after that.

A search for the well-dressed stranger who inquired about LaCount and his wife at noon Friday is being made by the sheriff’s force and it was announced this evening that an arrest is imminent. George Strand, deputy sheriff, returned from Wayzata this evening with a photograph said to match the description of the stranger who passed the Winton place in an automobile at noon and inquired of gardener Oscar Lindgren about the LaCounts. The photo was found in the LaCount cottage and is considered a valuable clue.

According to Lindgren, the stranger, after making inquiries, drove on around a bend in the main road that runs from the Northome station to Deephaven.



Another connecting link was furnished by Erle Savage, a neighbor, who said his 11-year-old son, Jean, and Edith Chapman, a playmate, observed a large touring car standing for 20 minutes at the foot of the lake road directly in front of the LaCount cottage between and 1:30 yesterday afternoon. The children further said they saw a man leave the cottage and drive away. Yesterday morning tracks of a large car were found in the sand near the cottage.

The man sought by the sheriff is believed to have been arrested early in summer on a charge of speeding on one of the roads in the Lake Minnetonka district. About 1 yesterday afternoon, he was said to have been seen boarding the ferry boat at Deephaven, acting nervously and displaying a roll of bills. He left the boat at Cottage Grove. Both stations are close to Northome.

Sheriff’s operatives are hunting for a man believed to have been a former lover of Mrs. LaCount, whose home is said to be in Wisconsin. LaCount today could give no information about the man except he thought he was engaged in the land business, and was about 35 years old. This man, LaCount said, probably is the one his wife mentioned some time ago when she said she had run into a former sweetheart.

The fingerprint clues faded today when Irving Jones, Bertillon expert of the Minneapolis police department, found most of them smeared beyond recognition. The murder weapons had been handled by persons visiting the cottage before authorities arrived and the marks found on the kitchen door also were beyond use.

The autopsy this afternoon led Coroner Gilbert Seashore to believe that Mrs. La Count’s assailant first attacked her with the bread knife. He said that nearly all the blood in her body had left her and this is probably due to the blows struck with the baseball after her throat had been cut. The former theory was that the baseball bat was first used in the murder.

The autopsy revealed that five distinct blows had been struck with the bat before the weapon broke. The victim’s left jaw also was broken and several teeth were knocked out. The bat was thrown behind a wash stand and the bread knife stuck through the oil cloth on the kitchen table after an attempt had been made to remove blood from the blade by passing it between the table top and the covering.

Mrs. LaCount, who was pregnant, was believed to have been in bed when the intruder appeared. The sheriff thinks it must have been a former sweetheart and that an argument started over the question of whether she was married. The marriage license showing she was wedded to Ralph LaCount Feb. 26 by Judge Waite was found lying on the floor near the dresser. An open drawer indicated it had been taken from there.


The license was unstained by blood, lead the sheriff to believe it had been shown to the assailant, then thrown aside when he started to attack her.

Martinson thinks the murderer dealt his first blow without warning, and that it was thoroughly effective. The rest of the slashes with the knife and the blows with the bat are believed to have been results of fiendish rage. A cut on one of Mrs. LaCount’s fingers indicated to the sheriff that she had made one attempt to grasp the knife.

The movements of Ralph LaCount from 10:30 a.m. Friday until nearly 6 p.m. were detailed to the sheriff again today by Miss Helen Winton, who corroborated LaCount’s story of where he was all day yesterday.

LaCount himself gave Deputy Sheriff Strand the only apparent clue to the possible identity of his wife’s assailant today when he told of her meeting a former suitor downtown either in the later part of June or early in July of this year.

LaCount said his wife, at the time, mentioned the name of the man, saying that he was a returned soldier whose home was in a small town in North Dakota. She had first met him, according to LaCount, about the same time as LaCount, and said that he had called on her a few times.

When she met this man earlier this past summer, his wife told him the man tried to make an engagement with her but she told him she was married. The man refused to believe her, and was extremely displeased when she insisted that she was married and told him the name of her husband. While his wife told him the name of the man at the time, LaCount said today that it was a peculiar name and that he could not remember what it was.


The Minneapolis Morning Tribune
; “LaCount Held; Wife’s Murder Still Mystery. Husband Under Fire of Questions By County Officials. Another Man May Be Taken Into Custody Today. Knife Used Before Baseball Bat--$500 Reward for Slayer. Photograph of Man Believed Implicated Found Near Cottage.”; Sept. 14, 1919; p. 1.


https://www.zillow.com/deephaven-mn/


Brutal murder in 1919 near Lake Minnetonka; see Sept. 12, 2018 blog.

               __________________________________________________________

If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.

                                                         


Discover your roots, and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.


Website:  TheMemoryQuilt.com > click on Family History

Contact me at:
pjefamilyresearch@gmail.com





Wednesday, September 12, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 12

September 12, 1919 – Murdered with a baseball bat and then slashed with a bread knife, the body of Mrs. Ralph (Madeline) LaCount, the 16-year-old bride of a chauffeur employed by Charles J. Winston, was found at 5 p.m. this afternoon by her husband in the cottage the couple occupied on the Winton estate at Northome, Lake Minnetonka.


LaCount Cottage1

A motive for the killing has members of the sheriff’s force puzzled. No attempt was made to rob the cottage and there was no evidence of a struggle. The only clue is information obtained by Sheriff Oscar Martinson that an automobile driven by a man was seen on the road near the cottage at noon. Later it left the scene, and about 1 p.m. a man was seen walking along the road near the cottage.

LaCount told Sheriff Martinson he left his home at 11 a.m. to drive Miss Helen Winton to Minneapolis. He did not return to Northome until 5 p.m. and went directly to the cottage where he found his bride laying on the floor of the living room. Her skull had been broken by the blow from the bat, which was also broken. A knife had been thrust into her throat and was found stuck through the oil cloth covering the kitchen table.

LaCount notified members of the Winton family. A doctor was called, who said after examination of the body that Mrs. LaCount had been dead two or three hours.

The cottage in which the LaCount couple lived is on a blind road leading to the lake, a short distance off the main road. Between the cottage and the Winton’s garage is a path known as “the old Indian trail.” Mrs. E. B. Savage, who lives near the Winton place, told Sheriff Martinson this evening that she had passed within a few steps of the cottage at 12:15 and heard someone moving about inside, but heard no unusual commotion.


Map of LaCount Cottage2

According to Sheriff Martinson, the crime probably occurred between 1 and 2 p.m.

Oscar Lindgren, a gardener employed on the Winton estate, said an automobile stopped on the main road near him at noon and the driver approached him.

“He asked me,” Lindgren told the sheriff, “if this was the Winton place. I told him it was, and then he asked me if a man named LaCount was Mr. Winton’s chauffeur. He then drove down the road.”

About 15 minutes later, Lindgren said a man appeared on foot and went down the road toward the LaCount cottage. Lindgren did not know if it was the same man.

Mrs. LaCount, before her marriage last February, was Madeline Covell. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Covell, live in North Hudson, Wis.
A brother, Roy Covell, was notified of the murder by Sheriff Martinson late this evening and will reach Minneapolis tomorrow morning. LaCount met his wife in St. Paul where she was a nurse.

The LaCount cottage has two rooms, one used as a kitchen and the other as a living room. Adjoining the living room is a small bedroom contained off.

LaCount told the sheriff that when he left home this morning his wife complained of feeling ill. She had not dressed by the time he left and when the body was found she was clad only in a night gown. She was, her husband said, in a delicate condition.

Assisting Sheriff Martinson in the investigation tonight were Deputy Sheriffs George Strand of Wayzata and William Carney of Hopkins.

The body of Mrs. LaCount was brought to the Hennepin County morgue this evening. A post mortem will be conducted tomorrow, according to Coroner Gilbert Seashore.

Sheriff Martinson said it appeared Mrs. LaCount never had a chance to defend herself. There are cottages within 100 feet of the scene of the murder, but no one heard any cry or unusual noises from the LaCount cottage. The sheriff said he believed the blow was struck from behind by a powerful man who crept up behind her. That it was a large man with unusual strength seemed assured by the fact that the blow—and the sheriff believes there was but one strike with the bat—broke the bat. The murderer, apparently crazed as the bat broke and intent upon the death of the woman, ran to the kitchen, where the large bread knife lay on the table.

The knife had been run through Mrs. LaCount’s throat. The wound would have been fatal but physicians say the woman was dead before it was inflicted. Her skull was crushed in by the bat blow.

“It is the work of a fiend,” said Sheriff Martinson. “In all my experience in police work, I have never known of a case more brutal, more baffling. Apparently the man slunk into the house and away again so quietly that no one saw him. The sheriff was without a good description of the man who walked by the house, and had no evidence that this man might have had anything to do with the murder.

“It is a blank tonight,” said the sheriff, “but every man of my office will be assigned to the case if necessary.”

La Count was questioned at length by Sheriff Martinson and the deputies at Wayzata tonight in an effort to throw some light on the mystery but was unable to give any motive for his wife’s death. He returned to cottage, waiting for his brother-in-law, Roy who, he was told, was on his way from Hudson.

To be continued…

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Bride, 17 Years Old, Slain With Baseball Bat. Ralph La Count Finds Wife Dead in Cottage on Minnetonka Estate. Pedestrian and Autoist Who Accosted Gardner Give Only Clues. Husband Says Girl Was Ill—Body Clad in Nightclothes When Found.”; Sept. 13, 1919; pp. 1 & 2.

1The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “LaCount Held; Wife’s Murder Still Mystery. Husband Under Fire of Questions By County Officials. Another Man May Be Taken Into Custody Today. Knife Used Before Baseball Bat--$500 Reward for Slayer. Photograph of Man Believed Implicated Found Near Cottage.”; Sept. 14, 1919; pp. 1 & 2.


Ralph LaCount, whose 16-yer-old bride was murdered, was taken into custody this afternoon and “held for investigation.”; see 
Sept. 13, 2018 blog.

               __________________________________________________________

If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.

                                                         


Discover your roots, and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.


Website:  TheMemoryQuilt.com > click on Family History

Contact me at:
pjefamilyresearch@gmail.com