Monday, October 16, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: October 16

October 16, 1903 – Mrs. Laura Wagner, wife of Jacob Wagner, of Spring Park, has disappeared with her three-year-old son, and the husband and father is anxiously searching for a clue to the missing ones. Hoping to find a trace of them, he today advertised in the St. Paul papers and offered a reward of $25 for information that will lead him to locate them.

South St. Paul, one mile south of where the hamlet of Spring Park is located, is wrought up over the mysterious disappearance of mother and son. A diligent search of the surrounding country has failed to reveal a trace of the woman and child, and the father is greatly distressed.

According to her husband, Mrs. Wagner was last seen Wed. morning (Oct. 14) when she drove her husband in a buggy to South St. Paul as usual, where he is employed in a packing house, and no one has seen her since. As the boy accompanied her on the trip, the first thought of Mr. Wagner, on missing his wife and son, was that the horse had run away and that the mother and child had been thrown out along the road.

South St. Paul Stockyards1

With the assistance of neighbors, he searched the road for several miles, but no trace of the team or woman or child was found. Inquiry at the home of Mrs. Wagner’s parents in West St. Paul, failed to elicit any information, and Mr. Wagner is now at a loss to know which way to turn.


The following day, Mrs. Wagner was located in St. Paul, where she and her son were staying with her sister Anna and brother-in-law, Seth Isham.

Isham said that Mrs. Wagner had left her home and did not wish to continue living with her husband because he treated her badly, and that she had come to his home two months ago, not last Wed. During that time she had secured employment with a private family on St. Anthony Hill (now known as Cathedral Hill*). In addition, she had made an application for divorce, alleging cruel treatment by her husband.

Mrs. Wagner has been married 14 years, and has four children, the youngest of which she had taken with her.


On learning through the newspaper reports that his wife had been staying with the Ishams, Wagner called there demanding to see his wife. He was told that she was not there, and insisted upon searching the premises. Upon being refused, he is charged with assaulting his brother-in-law.

Isham was struck over the left eye with the heavy metal handle of an umbrella and sustained a cut necessitating several stitches. Although half stunned, he recovered sufficiently to eject Wagner from the house. Isham called at the office of the city prosecutor and demanded a warrant for his assailant.

The woes of Jacob Wagner of South St. Paul came to a climax in police court when he was sentenced to 90 days in the workhouse, with the option of a $100 fine, for assaulting his brother-in-law. He was later committed to the workhouse in default of the fine.


The Saint Paul Globe
; “Mother and 3-Year-Old Boy Missing. Mrs. Laura Wagner and Child of Spring Park, Mysteriously Disappear.”; Oct. 17, 1903; p. 2.

The Saint Paul Globe; “Mrs. Laura Wagner and Child Not Missing. She is at Home of Her Brother-in-Law—Has Applied for a Divorce.”; Oct. 18, 1903; p. 3.

The Saint Paul Globe; “Wagner Assaults His Brother-in-Law. Latter Refuses to Allow Him to Search Premises for Mrs. Wagner.”; Oct. 20, 1903; p. 2.

The Saint Paul Globe; “Wagner’s Woes Cause Him to shed Tears. Court Taxes Him $100 for Assaulting His Brother-in-Law.”; Oct. 22, 1903; p. 2.


2Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Oct. 16, 2017, as long as acknowledgement included.

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