Saturday, July 21, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: July 21

July 21, 1921 – Marcenia (Toni) Stone, the first of three women to play Negro league baseball, was born in St. Paul, Minn., on this date.  “The first female player in the Negro Leagues, Stone was not met with open arms. Most of the men shunned her and gave her a hard time because she was a woman. Stone was quite proud of the fact that the male players were out to get her. She would show off the scars on her left wrist and remember the time she had been spiked by a runner trying to take out the woman standing on second base. ‘He was out,’ she recalled.

Even though she was part of the team, she was not allowed in the locker room. If she was lucky, she would be allowed to change in the umpire’s locker room. Once, Stone was asked to wear a skirt while playing for sex appeal, but she would not do it. Even though she felt like she was 'one of the guys,
' the people around her did not. While playing for the Kansas City Monarchs, she spent most the game on the bench, next to the men who hated her. ‘It was hell,’ she said.

Toni Stone became one of the first women to play as a regular on a big-league professional team in 1953. In 1985 Stone was inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation’s International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 1990 she was included in two exhibits at the Baseball Hall of Fame, one on 'Women in Baseball' and another on ‘Negro League Baseball’. In 1993 Stone was inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Sudafed International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: July 20

July 20, 2011 – Canterbury Park reopens “when the 2011 Minnesota government shutdown” ends.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: July 19

July 19, 1847 – The first schoolhouse in Minnesota was opened [by Harriet E. Bishop] in a former blacksmith shop. It “was a ‘mud walled log hovel... covered with bark and chinked with mud’ at what is now St. Peter Street and Kellogg Boulevard in the relatively isolated fur trading post of Saint Paul. Of the seven students in her first class, only two were caucasian. [Bishop] had to rely on a student who was fluent in French, Dakota, and English to translate for her classes (which she taught in English).”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: July 18

July 18, 1989 – It’s one of those songs that once you hear it, you can’t get it out of your head. "Weird Al" Yankovic’s song “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” was recorded on May 24, 1989, and released on this date. It tells the story of a family driving for three days and three nights on their vacation to Darwin, Minn., to see the biggest ball of twine (rolled by one man) in Minnesota. Catchy tune!

"Weird Al" sing the song on YouTube:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: July 17

July 17, 1907 – “Seven hundred and fifty ore trimmers on the Duluth, Missabe & Northern docks struck for an increase in pay. The day men want $2.50 in place of $2.25 and the night men want $2.75 in place of $2.50.”
Tower Weekly News; “Duluth men on Strike, 750 Ore Trimmers Demand Increase in Pay”; July 19, 1907; p. 3.

Monday, July 16, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: July 16

July 16, 1936 – “The largest baby ever born alive in Minnesota – as far as a day’s check of doctors and records shows it” – “was Baby Boy Schmitz, weight at birth 15 pounds, 15.2 ounces, height 24½ inches, head 16 inches, chest 17 inches, across shoulders 8 inches,” born this day in Graceville, Minn.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Would the Queen invite your family to tea?


The British tabloids and TV continue to go on and on about how the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s great-grandfather was a coal miner, as if the fact that her ancestor worked hard in a dangerous, back-breaking profession is a bad thing. Yes, they are commoners, but Kate’s family had a work ethic that was passed down generation after generation, to where her parents are now self-made millionaires; and yet British society still makes snide comments on Kate’s family’s coal mining heritage.

In the U.S., Kate’s family’s pull-themselves-up-by-their-bootstraps, Horatio Alger story would be a publicist’s dream. Think Abraham Lincoln, who was born in a log cabin; Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant whose first job in America was a telegraph operator;1  Earl Bakken2 and Steve Jobs3, who began their behemoth corporations – Medtronic and Apple respectively – in their garages; or American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson4 and Oscar-winner Hilary Swank5, who were both living in their cars for a time before their big breaks.

No aristocracy in my family tree

My paternal great-grandparents were both dairy farmers in northern Minnesota.

One of my maternal great-grandfathers was an entrepreneur; he owned a bar, then a 3.2 bar during prohibition, and finally a gas station. My other great-grandfather on my mother’s side was a laborer, first in a lumber mill and then on the docks in Duluth.

My paternal great-grandparents were immigrants; my grandpa’s parents came from Sweden, my grandma’s parents from Finland.  They came to America to own land, which was difficult to do in their homeland, and for a better life, one with more and expanding opportunities. 

My maternal great-grandparents were born in the United States; their parents or grandparents were immigrants from Germany, France, England and Ireland; all of them started out in America as farmers.

Hard work vs. Gentry

While the British press obviously wouldn’t think much of my family either, I’m very proud and amazed by them: enduring lengthy, steerage-level ocean crossings; hand-clearing raw timberland in order to start farming; digging wells, building homes and barns, and basically starting their lives over from scratch.

Would the Queen invite your family to tea?

Discover your roots and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.

For more information on my Family History Research services, visit  and click on Family History Research.


On This Date in Minnesota History: July 15

July 15, 1951 – Minn. Governor Jesse Ventura was born James George Janos in Minneapolis.