Thursday, November 10, 2016

On This Date in Minnesota History: November 10

November 10, 1914 – William Sauntry, millionaire lumberman, shot himself in a room in the Ryan Hotel, St. Paul, this evening and died a few minutes later; he had discharged a pistol into his mouth.

William Sauntry1

Sauntry was 61 years old and for more than 40 years had been identified with the lumber industry of Minnesota. Mrs. Sauntry, at her apartments at the Angus Flats, Western and Selby Avenues, St. Paul, said after the shooting that she could not think of a reason for her husband’s suicide. She said he left home early in the afternoon and registered at the Ryan Hotel at 4 p.m., giving his address as Stillwater. Shortly afterwards, he was found dying in a chair in his room.

Sauntry came to Stillwater when he was 20 years. He entered the lumber industry as a river driver and for a time drove oxen in the lumber and logging camps, which then were the most prominent industry. His business ability brought him rapidly to the front. After being employed by lumber firms for five years, he formed a partnership with Albert Tozer, and their company grew rapidly. Later he bought out his partner and for a time was the sole owner of the company. He was later identified with the Frederick Weyerhaeuser industry, and became one of the most prominent figures in the Minnesota lumber industry.

Sauntry was one of the moving spirits in the Anna River Logging Company, and his capital was behind the construction of the Nevers Dam, a short distance above Taylor’s Falls, where serious log jams hindered the movement of logs down the river. This dam overcame that objectionable feature.

1915 view of Nevers Dam2

When the lumber industry began to wane, Sauntry invested his money in coal mines and became particularly interested in the iron fields of the northern part of the state. In this industry he made the bulk of his money and at one time was rated at nearly two million dollars.

During the past ten years, he met some business reverses in bad investments. According to the statement of his son, these reverses have been overcome and there was nothing of a business nature that would indicate a condition serious enough to have caused his act.

Shortly after his first business on the St. Croix River, he married Eunice La Feugy. Until the last four years, they made their home in Stillwater where they had the most ornate residence in the city.

William Sauntry’s house in Stillwater, now a beautiful bed and breakfast.3

For the past four years, Mr. and Mrs. Sauntry have lived in St. Paul and have traveled. His health began to fail during the summer.

Did You Know?

Sauntry was a first cousin once removed of crooner Bing Crosby. They shared common ancestors Dennis Harrigan (1781-1869) and wife Catherine Driscoll (1791-1864) of Ireland. Sauntry’s mother, Ellen Harrigan and Crosby’s grandfather, Dennis Harrigan, Jr., were siblings.1

Bing Crosby4

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Millionaire Lumberman Kills Himself in St. Paul. William Sauntry, for Forty Years in Minnesota Timber Industry, Takes His Life. He Began Career as River Driver and Became One of Foremost Lumbermen.”; November 11, 1914; p. 1.



3Photos taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Nov. 10, 2016, as long as acknowledgement included.


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