Thursday, June 22, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: June 22

June 22, 1905 – There was a commotion at the Hennepin County poor farm in Hopkins late this morning when Betsy Carlson “the sorceress” was seen entering the yard in charge of an officer.

The inmates knew that she had come back to stay and that they might throw away their rusty horseshoes and pocket buckeyes for rheumatism, for they would never work when Betsy was around. For more than two months, since Betsy escaped from the farm, the inmates have breathed in peace and now all their hopes of living to be 100 years old have been put in doubt.

Betsy was committed to the poor farm two years ago. Quietly but surely she convinced the other inmates that she possessed supernatural powers and that unless they toed the mark she would have ghosts cut capers in their rooms at night.

Many of them believed it and it was not long before Superintendent Colburn had his hands full. Old men who had stood their full height for 80 years came to him with stooped shoulders and said that the dried potatoes and buckeyes had failed to work and that their joints had finally stiffened with rheumatism. Others who had in some unknown way offended Betsy more seriously, swore they had pins stuck into them at night and had seen strange shapes on the white walls.

There was a general sigh of relief when Betsy ran away after saying that she was going into a larger field. For two months she kept out of sight, but last night she became bolder and tried her charms in South Minneapolis.

She was brought into police court today and put up a plucky fight for her freedom, and when she was ordered back to the farm she threatened to bring ruin to the place.

The county poor farm is a gloomy place today and Betsy has told the officers that she intends to keep it so.

The Minneapolis Journal; “’Betsy the Witch’ Back at Poorfarm. More Trouble Ahead for Superstitious Inmates.  When She was There Before She Convinced Her Associates That She Possessed Supernatural Powers and Really Made Life a Burden for them—Recaptured After Long Absence.”; June 23, 1905; p. 5.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain June 22, 2017,
as long as acknowledgement included.


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