Sunday, May 14, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: May 14

May 14, 1913 – Alleged to have set fire to the Gedney Pickling plant in Plainview, Minn., on April 26, George Cramer of Minneapolis today entered a plea of guilty to arson in the third degree in district court in Wabasha.

J. S. Gedney, owner of the plant, was also indicted. He plead not guilty, and will go to trial.

On May 19, Gedney, 42, was sentenced to an indeterminate term in the state prison at Stillwater; Cramer, 27, was sentenced to an indeterminate term in the St. Cloud reformatory in district court in connection with the burning of the Gedney Pickling plant in Plainville last April 26.

Factory employees fill bottles with vinegar at a Gedney pickling plant
in the 1900s.

 The jurors had been summoned and the court was ready to begin the trial that promised sensational developments, for the prosecution had worked up what they declared to be convincing proof of the statement contained in Cramer’s confession.

Through his attorney, Gedney changed his plea to guilty. The defense asserted the evidence was too great to warrant the holding of a trial.

Both men said drink was directly responsible for their downfall. Gedney’s attorney explained that his client had financial reverses at Minneapolis, his home, in connection with a brokerage firm, and concocted the arson plot as a means of settling with creditors.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Pleads guilty to Arson. Cramer Admits setting Fire to Pickling Plant at Plainview, Minn.”; May 15, 1913; p. 1.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Minneapolitans Sentenced for Firing Pickling Plant. J. S. Gedney and George Cramer Given Indeterminate Terms, After Pleading Guilty. Jurors Had Been Selected and Trial Promised to Be Sensational.”; May 20, 1913; p.  1.



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