Friday, December 25, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 25

December 25, 1905 – Mrs. Stella Brennan, on trial for the murder of three of her stepchildren, is a closely guarded prisoner in the hospital room of the Hennepin County Jail, but she is not deprived of some Christmas recreation. The pretty prisoner did not hang up a stocking, but she received a beautiful locket from her husband James Brennan, and today she sat down to a sumptuous dinner of turkey and suitable Christmas delicacies that many of her free sisters would envy.

This morning Jailor Nels Clausen, assisted by some members of the newspaper fraternity, gave Mrs. Brennan a gramophone concert. The defendant was not wearing the long veil and black suit that makes her stand out in the court room. Instead, she wore a gingham dress with the sleeves rolled up and the collar turned in. The gramophone repertory included humorous and sentimental tunes and the prisoner suited her expression to the music.


But beneath the smile, there was plainly heartache. The mask of indifference she so consistently wore in the court room was missing, and when she thought no one was looking, her face would change, a far-away and sad expression would come into her eyes and several times she bit her lips as though at the thought of her trouble and perhaps to keep back tears.

Stella Brennan2

The jurors in the Brennan case are enjoying Christmas at home today. Never in the history of local murder cases have the jurors been allowed their liberty during the trial. Judge H. D. Dickinson cautioned the Brennan jurors several times against reading the papers or talking to anyone about the case during their vacation.

The trial will be resumed tomorrow morning and will undoubtedly last throughout next week and possibly longer.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Mrs. Brennan’s Holiday. Accused Woman Centre of Celebration in Jail—Jurors Freed for the Day.”; Dec. 25, 1905; p. 6.

2The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; Dec. 31, 1905.

Murder of three Brennan children while they slept; oldest son and stepmother shot; see Nov. 4, 2015 blog

Stella Brennan indicted by coroner’s jury for murder of stepdaughter; see Nov. 9, 2015 blog

Stella Brennan indicted by Hennepin County grand jury for murder of her three stepchildren; see Nov. 21, 2015 blog

County Attorney outlines the state’s theory of the Stella Brennan murder case in his opening statement; see Dec. 19, 2015 blog


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