Saturday, May 5, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: May 5

May 5, 1915 – James J. Hill, empire builder and financier, was falsely reported in the East to have died suddenly this morning at his home in St. Paul.

J.J. Hill House1

At noon today Mr. Hill attended a director’s meeting in the First National Bank. He ascended the steps as vigorously as he ever did.

Starting from an unknown source, the report regarding Hill’s sudden death spread throughout St. Paul and Minneapolis and was conveyed to many points in the Northwest. As a result, the Great Northern Railway office, his home and the First National Bank were deluged with telegrams and telephone calls asking for confirmation. Denial was sent broadcast.

James J. Hill2

Hill was at the breakfast table when inquiries started coming regarding his death. Later, following repeated denials by his bank associates, J. J. Toomey, Hill’s private secretary, gave out a statement. He said he could not see how such a report could have gained circulation. He said that Hill was at his office somewhat earlier than usual this morning.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Hill Reported Dead, But He’s Not Even Ill”; May 6, 1915; p. 4.

1Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain May 5, 2018, as long as acknowledgement included.


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