Saturday, December 22, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 22

December 22, 1869 - William Watts Folwell was inaugurated as the first president of the University of Minnesota on this date.

William Watts Folwell

Friday, December 21, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 21

December 21, 1975 – Lake City, Minn., Mayor Willmer (Tony) Strickland, 58, and his wife Verona, 52, were found shot to death in their home around 3 p.m. on this date. Investigating officers confirmed that the slayings were a double murder. Mayor Strickland was shot five times, while his wife was shot once in the head.1 It would be 20 years before this murder was solved.2
1Lake City Graphic; “Mayor, Mrs. Strickland Shot To Death”; December 25, 1975; p. 1.
2Sun-Journal; “Neighbor confesses to mayor’s murder 20 years ago”; Lewiston, Maine; November 30, 1995; p. 8A.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 20

December 20, 1979 – Construction began on the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 19

December 19, 1985 – In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mary Lund became the first woman to receive a Jarvik VII artificial heart. Lund received a human heart transplant 45 days later; she died October 14, 1986.”

Jarvik VII artificial heart

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 18

December 18, 1984 – Bud Grant was re-hired as the head coach of the Vikings. He replaced Les Steckel who guided the team in 1984 after Grant retired following the 1983 season.”

Vikings Coach Bud Grant

Monday, December 17, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 17

December 17, 1974 – The “Warden's House Museum was built in 1853 as the residence of the Minnesota Territorial Prison warden. Over time there were thirteen wardens that lived in the house until 1914 when the prison moved to its present site in Bayport.

After 1914 a Deputy Warden or Superintendent of the prison used the old Warden's House. In 1941 the State of Minnesota sold the house to the Washington County Historical Society and it was opened as the second house museum in the state in June 1941.

The Warden's House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places [on this date].”

Warden's House Museum 

Photos taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain December 17, 2012, as long as acknowledgement included.  

In 1849, the Governor of the new Territory of Minnesota, Alexander Ramsey, urged the Territorial Legislature to provide for a "proper and safe place of confinement" for prisoners of the territory. Because of Ramsey's request, the Legislature appropriated $20,000 for the erection of a penitentiary.

The site chosen for the penitentiary was in a ravine at the north end of Stillwater. This ravine is known as "Battle Hollow" because of the battle fought there in July of 1839 between the Dakota and the Ojibwe. It was a good location for a prison because natural cliffs bound the ravine on three sides.

In May 1851, the territory chose the firm of Jesse Taylor & Company to construct the prison building out of stone. By early 1853, the three-story prison building was completed. It contained six cells and two dungeons for solitary confinement, a workshop, and an office. The Warden's House, which sits just outside the ravine, was completed at this time also.

Francis R. Delano, the first warden, assumed office and moved into the house on April 4, 1853. A total of thirteen wardens administered over the prison until 1914, when the last of the prisoners were moved into new facilities.

In November 1876, three notorious convicts entered the Minnesota Prison. The Younger Brothers, Cole, Jim, and Bob were sentenced to life imprisonment for their roles in the famous Northfield, Minnesota bank robbery in which several people were killed and others wounded.

After the prison was moved south of Stillwater, the old warden's house housed deputy wardens. In 1941, Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen signed the house over to the Washington County Historical Society. Since that time the Society has operated the house as a museum.

In December 1974, the Warden's House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and today stands as a testimony to the history of Washington County and the State of Minnesota.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 16

December 16, 1977 – “Eight female employees of the Citizens National Bank in Willmar Minn.,” went on strike over charges of sex discrimination. The Willmar 8, as they were called, “were protesting unequal pay and unequal opportunities for advancement” of the bank’s female employees.

“In the summer of 1979 the National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling on the complaint. The NLRB declared that the bank was guilty of unfair labor practices, but those practices did not cause the strike. The NLRB ruled that the strike was ‘economic.’ As a result of this decision there was no back pay and no guarantee of the women recovering their jobs.”