Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: March 11

March 11, 1920 – A preliminary trial was held this afternoon in Alexandria, Minn., before Justice of the Peace J. P. Wright regarding yesterday’s fatal shooting of Joseph Middleton by Anders Gustaf Nelson (Nelson), son-in-law of Sen. and former Minn. Gov. Knute Nelson (Sen. Nelson). Charged with murder in the second degree, Nelson was acquitted after the court heard testimony from neighbor Herbert Jacobson, the son of Oscar Jacobson, Mrs. Knute Nelson’s nephew, and H. F. Proehl and Charles Beltz who witnessed the confrontation from the road on the east side of the farm.

Since Middleton’s death, Nelson has been in the custody of the sheriff. There had been previous animosity and quarrelsome encounters between the Jacobson family and Nelson, who had married the Senator’s daughter Ida slightly more than six months earlier. It appears that the Jacobsons were not the only people in town that did not care for Nelson.

A crowd assembled outside the justice’s office after Nelson’s acquittal, clearly unhappy with the verdict. As Nelson stepped onto the sidewalk he was dealt a blow that knocked him over.  Nelson returned inside the building and remained under the sheriff’s protection all night. Mayor H. E. Leach finally had to be summoned, and after he had promised that other charges would be preferred against Nelson, the crowd of approximately 40 people finally dispersed.

Alexandria Citizen; “Middleton Dies After Shooting; Shotgun in Hands of Gustaf Nelson is Discharged with Fatal Results to Joe Middleton”; March 11, 1920; P. 1

State vs. Anders Gustaf Nelson, March 4, 1921; Minnesota Reports, Vol. 148; Minnesota Supreme Court; pp. 285 – 300.

Alexandria Citizen; “Nelson to be Tried by Jury; Hearing on Modified Charges Results in Accused Man being Bound over to Dist. Court”; March 18, 1920; p. 1.

Statue of Gov. Knute Nelson at Minn. Capitol

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain March 11, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain March 11, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included. 

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