Monday, October 20, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: October 20

October 20, 1869 – Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1848, Henry G. Nabers later immigrated to “the United States and, under the alias John Tracy, enlisted as a private in the United States Army in St. Paul, Minnesota.”1,3 “Tracy was one of thirty-two members of the 1st and 8th Cavalry cited for [‘Bravery in action with Indians’] in [a] major battle in the Chiricahua Mountains [on this date].”2

“On October 5, 1868, a band of Apache Indians attacked a stage coach en-route to Tucson under escort by four soldiers, killing the driver, passenger, and all four soldiers. Within hours of this attack, Cochise and his Indian band encountered a group of cowboys in the Sulphur Springs Valley. The Apaches attacked, killing one of the men and stealing the cattle. One man of that group managed to escape and fled to Ft. Bowie to ask for help. Lt. William H. Winters took a troop of Cavalry in pursuit of Cochise, and was joined en-route by additional soldiers under Capt. Reuben Bernard while Cochise fled into his stronghold between Red Rock and Turtle Mountain, above Rucker Canyon. There the Cavalry encountered Cochise's warriors on October 20, 1869, in what became known as ‘The Campaign of the Rocky Mesa.’”2

Tracy received his Medal of Honor on February 14, 1870.1


John Tracy is buried in Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo.2

Minnesota Medal of Honor Recipients Registered in Minnesota Memorial;
Minnesota State Capitol grounds; St. Paul, Minn.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Oct. 20, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: October 19

October 19, 1902 – Jim Younger, the hero of a hundred dime novels, committed suicide this morning in his St. Paul hotel room. This dead shot in bank robberies and skirmishes with sheriffs’ posses, fired a gun for the first time in 26 years, but this time he was his own victim. Aiming at the side of the head above the ear, he killed himself instantly.

The belongings of the dead man had been neatly arranged in preparation for his intended death. His clothing, including his kid gloves, were folded upon a chair. A table bore his watch and chain and his red leather purse, which was empty, with a single dime lying atop it. A large brown envelope beside the purse was filled with messages and papers. It is believed that Younger’s injuries—bullet wounds in his back and mouth from his previous criminal exploits—were beginning to wreak havoc with his thoughts and mental health. A failed romance, however, was suspected to be the main reason for his actions.

A wounded Jim Younger after his arrest in 1876

Jim and his brothers Bob and Cole, entered Stillwater prison on Nov. 20, 1876. Bob Younger died in prison of tuberculosis on September 16, 1889. Cole and Jim were paroled on July 10, 1901. Soon after Jim’s release, it was announced that he was going to marry Miss Alice (or Alix or Alexis, depending on the account) Mueller, a young woman closely related to one of the most prominent families in St. Paul society. Another member of the same family labored for years to further Jim and Cole Younger’s release. During this period, Jim became intimately acquainted with Miss Mueller. She was a writer for St. Paul newspapers and other publications. But the marriage was not to be, as authorities declared that as a paroled life prisoner, Jim Younger could not participant in such a civil contract unless he received a pardon.

After his release, Jim was employed by a manufacturer of headstones. The unique suggestions of this employment attracted too much public curiosity, and Jim obtained a clerkship at Schoch’s grocery store, Seventh and St. Peter Street. He lived for a while at Miss Mueller’s home, but when gossip of their intended marriage became general knowledge, Younger left the house. While Miss Mueller’s relatives had worked to gain Younger’s parole, they were not happy about the her intensions to marry the former criminal, and after much discussion and persuasion, Miss Mueller left St. Paul six months ago and is now said to be living in Boise, Idaho.

Subsequently, Jim began working at Elwin’s cigar store on Washington Ave. S. in Minneapolis. Several weeks ago, Younger resigned his position and returned to St. Paul. He has had no situation since, but he would have found no difficulty in securing work once more. His industry, his steady habits and his genuine dislike of notoriety were recognized by every one that knew him.

The prospects for a full pardon have not been discouraging, although the state board of pardons has held that the Youngers should be satisfied to remain on parole longer than one year. As soon as he was pardoned, Jim would have been enabled to contract the marriage he so looked forward to.

Younger’s body was brought back to Missouri and buried in the family plot in Lee’s Summit, MO.

James Younger

  As he looked in 1889                  As he looked in 1899

The Minneapolis Journal; Oct. 20, 1902; p.1.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Jim Younger’s Tragic Finish. The Famous Bandit of Years Ago Makes an End of It With a Revolver. He Leaves Incoherent Letter Evidently Prompted by Hopeless Affair in Love. Warden Wolfer and Cole Younger Both Believe That His Mind Was Unbalanced.”; Oct. 20, 1902; p.1.

The Saint Paul Globe; “Love of James Younger for Alix Mueller.” October 26, 1902; p. 30.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: October 18

October 18, 1984 – “American alpine ski racer with the U.S. Ski Team,” Lindsey Vonn was born in St. Paul [on this date] and raised in Burnsville, Minn. “She has won four overall World Cup championships – one of only two female skiers to have done so.”

Lindsey Vonn

Friday, October 17, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: October 17

October 17, 1965 – Duluth native David Wheat, Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) aboard an F4B Phantom fighter jet, was shot down over North Vietnam during “a day strike mission on the Thai Nguyen bridge northeast of Hanoi. Before rescue helicopters could reach the scene, both Wheat and his pilot had disappeared from sight and enemy troops were seen in the area. David R. Wheat was confirmed to be a prisoner of war”1 of the North Vietnamese.

Wheat was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander during his “2,675 days in captivity.”2 He was released during Operation Homecoming in 1973. One of his co-prisoners is now Ariz. Senator John McCain.



Duluth native David Wheat

Thursday, October 16, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: October 16

October 16, 1999 – “On October 13, Jean Weaver told friends that she had told her husband she wanted a divorce. Three days later her body was found in their burning home [in White Bear Lake, Minn.]. At first Gordon Weaver [claimed] the fire began while he was at work or at his son's soccer game. But the autopsy showed that Jean suffered traumatic head injuries and multiple skull fractures and an open wound on her head. The fire was started in two separate places, on Jean Weaver's body and on shelving in the room where she was found and traces of the flammable liquid used to start the fire were found on Gordon Weaver's shoes and socks. He [was] charged with second-degree murder and first-degree arson. Gordon Weaver fled Minnesota and was a fugitive hunted by the FBI. In May 2004, Weaver was captured in Florence, Oregon, where he had been living under the name of David Carson for several years.”1

Gordon Weaver was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. But that verdict was overturned on appeal [in 2007], largely due to questions about lab testing used by prosecutors in their case.”2

Weaver was [again] found guilty on February 18, 2010, of unintentional Second-Degree Murder and sentenced April 16, 2010, to 18 years and nine months in prison. A Ramsey County judge heard the case without a jury at Weaver’s request. [In July 2011] the Minnesota Supreme Court denied a defense petition seeking review of Weaver’s conviction for the murder of his wife, Jean.”3




Gordon Weaver 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: October 15

October 15, 1990 – “Just three weeks before election day, [Elizabeth] Mulay accused Republican gubernatorial candidate Jon Grunseth of trying to molest her when she was only 13. The alleged incident took place nine years earlier at a 4th of July pool party. Speaking with Minnesota Public Radio News at that time, Mulay said there were three other young girls in the pool with her and Grunseth.

‘Jon Grunseth and a couple of his friends came out and tried to coax us into taking off our suits and all go skinny dipping. When I went up, somebody commented that I still had my suit on, and I still refused to take it off,’ Mulay said. ‘Jon Grunseth started chasing me and blocked me in the edge of the pool, and went to pull down my strap with one hand and the other to grab my breast.’

Grunseth denied the allegations, but he eventually dropped out of the race. Arne Carlson took his place on the ballot and won.” 

Jon Grunseth

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: October 14

October 14, 1890 – Thomas O’Connor, the life convict recently pardoned from Stillwater penitentiary upon the condition that he leave the state forever, was arrested today near Elysian, LeSueur County, and is now lodged in the LeSueur County jail. O’Connor was sentenced to prison for life about ten years ago for the cold-blooded murder of Larry Vaughn, of Marysburg, and was then and there and has ever since been considered a vicious and dangerous man. There was no just cause for his pardon, but certain influences were brought to bear that resulted in the conditional pardon.

The arrest was made upon a complaint of Michael Vaughn, a brother of the murdered man, who visited Gov. Merriam last week to protest the pardon. Gov. Merriam told Vaughn, however, that if O’Connor was seen about this state after his release he might arrest him as an escaped convict and have him returned to prison. Mr. Vaughn took the governor at his word and caused the arrest to be made.

When picked up, O’Connor brandished a heavy revolver and a box of cartridges, and also a heavy pocketknife. While the officer who arrested him made the pursuit O’Connor brandished the revolver in the air, but did not use it. There is considerable feeling in the vicinity of O’Connor’s old home over the action of the governor, and many there accuse Merriam of having granted the pardon upon political grounds, , claiming that he hoped thereby to capture the Irish vote. This feeling is quite general there, and will act as much to Merriam’s disadvantage.

St. Paul Globe; “Violated His Parole. Ex-Convict O’Conner Proves Himself Unworthy of Gov. Merriam’s Clemency. Instead of Quitting Minnesota, He Returns Home and is Jailed.” Oct. 15, 1890; p. 1.

Minn. Gov. William Rush Merriam