Monday, January 2, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 2

January 2, 1901 – John Swanson, a lumberman, whose home is believed to be in Mich., was shot and instantly killed this afternoon while attempting to escape from the Northern Lumber Company’s camp, three miles from Sparta, Minn., in an endeavor to flee from smallpox.

The disease appeared at this camp, which employs 150 men, today, and the foreman at once armed 20 of the men with rifles and instructed them to allow no one to leave the camp as he did not want to spread the disease.

Ever since smallpox appeared in this part of the state, the lumberman have been half wild with terror, and have protested vigorously against being placed in quarantine, which means a loss of wages  during the time they are idle.

Swanson was the hardest objector in camp, and announced repeatedly that he intended to escape. He ventured out several times during the day, but always returned when one of the guards pointed his rifle at him.

Late in the afternoon, when it appeared that almost every man in camp might catch the smallpox, Swanson again ventured beyond the camp. He was ordered to return, but refused and began to run. As he did so, the rifle of one of the guards cracked and the fugitive fell dead, with a bullet in his heart. At the same instant, several other guards fired at him.

The dead man was removed to one of the camp buildings, where the body was cared for. The man supposed to have done the shooting at once surrendered to the foreman, and will remain in camp until the smallpox epidemic has subsided, when he will be turned over to the proper authorities.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune
; “Shot Dead While Fleeing From Smallpox. Armed Guard in a Minnesota Camp Uses a Rifle on a Terror-Stricken Man Who Wanted to Escape the Plague.”; Jan. 3, 1901; p. 1.

Sparta Depot


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