Saturday, August 24, 2013

On this Date in Minnesota History: August 24

August 24, 1922 – The barn built in 1902 by M. W. Savage to house Dan Patch, the world’s greatest pacing stallion, burned down late this evening in Savage, Minn. Also burned was Dan Patch’s famous covered race track, believed to have been the first of its size and kind in America.

The Weekly Valley Herald; “Famous Savage Barns Destroyed by Fire”; Chaska, Minn.; Aug. 31, 1922; p. 4

Dan Patch

Friday, August 23, 2013

On this Date in Minnesota History: August 23

August 23, 1934 - At the corner of Marion Street and University Avenue in St. Paul, [Dillinger pal Homer] Van Meter was confronted by four police officers, including Chief of Police Frank Cullen, former chief Thomas Brown and two detectives, all heavily armed. The officers later claimed Van Meter ignored their command to stop and fled into a nearby alley, where he opened fire on the officers, at which time the officers returned fire, killing Van Meter. He was 27 years old.

The number and severity of Van Meter's wounds (50 bullets in all, and several of his fingers were shot off) would cause some to label the incident an ‘ambush’ or an example of ‘police execution.’ Van Meter's family would later say their kin had been used for ‘target practice.’

The four officers reported $1,323 found on Van Meter, although his friends and associates claimed he was carrying at least $10,000 on that day. In 1939, the FBI announced that it believed St. Paul gangster Harry Sawyer had set up Van Meter to get at his money, splitting the take with the four ranking officers who did the shooting.

Homer Van Meter is buried in Lindenwood Cemetery, in Fort Wayne, Indiana.”

Homer Van Meter

Thursday, August 22, 2013

On this Date in Minnesota History: August 22

August 22, 1948 – The Minnesota Department of Conservation erected a memorial to Italian explorer Giacomo Constantino Beltrami near the site in 1823 where he ended his search for the source of the Mississippi River.1 He named the place Giulia (now Lake Julia) after a departed friend, Giulia Spada dei Medici, and named eight other nearby lakes after her children.2


“Giacomo Constantino Beltrami
At a point near this site in 1823, Beltrami, an Italian explorer, ended his search  for the source of the Mississippi River. His long, difficult journey across wilderness spaces terminated on the shore of the nearby lake, which he named “Julia.” His observations here convinced him that this lake was the most northern or true source of the river. Lake Itasca, now known to be the true source of the Mississippi, Beltrami called the western source.”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On this Date in Minnesota History: August 21

August 21, 1891 – George “Bugs” Moran, the Chicago Prohibition-era gangster, was born in St. Paul, Minn., on this date.

“He moved to the north side of Chicago when he was 19, where he became affiliated with several gangs. He was incarcerated three times before turning 21. On February 14, 1929, in an event which has become known as the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, seven members of his gang were gunned down in a warehouse, supposedly on the orders of Moran's rival Al Capone. He has been credited with popularizing the act of driving by a rival's hangout and spraying it with gunfire, now referred to as a drive-by shooting.”

George “Bugs” Moran

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

On this Date in Minnesota History: August 20

August 20, 1892 – “On St Paul's East Side, a five-story building [collapsed] into Swede Hollow. The structure, home to 12 stores and 25 families, was built on a landfill. All managed to evacuate before the slide.”

Swede Hollow, St. Paul, Minn.,_Phalen_Creek_2.jpg

Monday, August 19, 2013

On this Date in Minnesota History: August 19

August 19, 1922 – Dr. John J. Eklund, a prominent and well-known Northland physician, was shot and killed in his office downtown Duluth on this date by John Magnuson, who then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.  Magnuson was being examined by Dr. Eklund’s son, Dr. W. J. Eklund, who shared an office with his father. As the junior Eklund walked Magnuson out, the killer opened the door to the senior Eklund’s consultation room and shot the doctor and then himself. Both men died instantaneously.

Dr. James McAuliffe, deputy coroner, said Magnuson was a victim of mental derangement caused by a form of Bright’s disease. Police are still looking for a motive.

Duluth News-Tribune; “Crazed Invalid Murders Duluth Surgeon in Office, Kills Self, Motive is Mystery”; Duluth, Minn.; Aug. 20, 1922; p. 1.

Dr. John J. Eklund (Image: Duluth Public Library)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

On this Date in Minnesota History: August 18

August 18, 1980 – The Virginia, Minn., home of Albert B. Coates, “Virginia’s best known citizen,”1 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on this date.2  The house was built in 1912.

Born in Ohio, Coates came to Virginia for his health in 1897. Under the tutelage of William Rockefeller, he had his first actual mining experience at the Franklin mine as chief clerk. During his first year in Virginia, he became interested in small timber deals and branched out into using drills to explore all corners of the ranges.3 

He and his partner Morton Miller of Duluth found the first paying ore property at Old Mesabi, which is near Aurora. His discoveries also included the Miller mine in Sharon, near Buhl; the Utica mine southwest of Hibbing; the Julia mine at Virginia; and the Madrid mine, which boarders the Virginia City limits.3

Duluth News-Tribune; “Hibbing Expresses Sorrow on Miller, Coates Death”; January 12, 1922; p. 8.
3Duluth News-Tribune; “A. Coates, King of Range Mining Men Succumbs”; January 11, 1922; p. 1 

Virginia, Minn., home of Albert B. Coates

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain August 18, 2013,
as long as acknowledgement included.