Saturday, November 23, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: November 23

November 23, 1910 – “On [this date], Pennington County was split from Red Lake County with the county seat at Thief River Falls."1

The county was named after Edmund Pennington, general manager and vice president of the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie railway company.2


2Upham, Warren; Minnesota Geographic Names, Their Origin and Historic Significance; Minnesota Historical Society (St. Paul, Minn., 1969); p. 406.

Friday, November 22, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: November 22

November 22, 1910 – “Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, a Minnesota-born British spy known as ‘Cynthia’ was born in Minneapolis [on this date]. She has been described as World War II's ‘Mata Hari.’ Family and friends called her Betty. William Stephenson, who ran Great Britain’s World War II intelligence activities in the Western Hemisphere, would one day give her a code name—‘Cynthia.’ She reputedly was one of the most successful spies in history.”

Amy Elizabeth Thorpe

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: November 21

November 21, 1977Founded in 1949, Minneapolis-based “Medtronic was first incorporated April 23, 1957 and became a public company as the result of a convertible debenture offering. The first shares were issued under these debentures on December 17, 1959 to [the] company founders, Earl Bakken and Palmer Hermundslie. Medtronic shares were traded Over-the-Counter (OTC) until [they] were listed on the NASDAQ in 1964.

Medtronic began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on [this date] and continues to be traded on the NYSE under the ticker symbol MDT.”

Medtronics Headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: November 20

November 20, 1903 – A bloody stiletto with a broken tip was found this morning under the Franklin avenue bridge in Minneapolis. It is believed to have belonged to Tony Calderone, now being sought by police for his participation in the Nov. 18 murder of Salvadore Battalia.

A bloody handkerchief, with Calderone’s initials, was picked up in Prospect Park.

A broken bowie knife, smeared with blood, believed to have belonged to Battalia, was found beneath the bridge.

Indications about the scene of the murder point to an accomplice, but Calderone appears to be the only Italian missing from the two cities. Neither has there been a man found suffering from wounds such as the murderers of Battalia must have received in the struggle.

St. Paul Dispatch; “Search for Murderer, Police of Opinion That Tony Calderone Killed Italian on Franklin Bridge, The Man is Missing from Usual Haunts, Discover of a Stilleto and Bloody Handkerchief  Under the Bridge.”; Nov. 20, 1903; p. 19.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain November 20, 2013,
as long as acknowledgement included.

The fact that police could count the number of Italians in Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1903 is fascinating to me. Obviously, there were ethnic communities, but to be able to know that one individual is unaccounted for shows how much the Twin Cities population has grown.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: November 19

November 19, 1903 – The body of Salvadore Battalia was found lying in a pool of blood on the Franklin Avenue bridge in Minneapolis shortly after midnight this morning by J. D. Donahue, a miller, who was crossing the bridge. Donahue notified the police immediately.

Battalia was hurried to the county morgue, where an examination showed 21 vicious knife thrusts in the body. It was evident that the murdered man had engaged in a ferocious fight for his life, and had at last fallen beneath the vicious knife blows of someone determined to put him out of the way.

Robbery was clearly not the motive, as Battalia still had $65 in his pocket.

The police believe it was a murder purely from motives of revenge.

A receipt was found on the victim’s body, showing that he had recently applied for membership in the Masonic order.

Was It the Mafia?

The instigation of the Mafia is suggested by the authorities as a possible accounting for the murder.

One of the most brutal and sensational murders seen by local police, it is said that unless the assassins have covered their tracks well, and the affair was carefully planned, it is thought that this murder will be solved without much difficulty.

Antonio Cesto, a shoemaker at 2389 University avenue, St. Anthony Park, is being held at police headquarters under suspicion that he knows something about Battalia’s murder. It is not believed he was connected with the actual murder, as he had an established alibi, but a trail of blood leading from the side of the murdered man lead directly to his door, and the door knob was smeared with blood.
St. Paul Dispatch; “Foul Crime Discovered, Horrible Murder of an Italian on the Franklin Ave. Bridge in Minneapolis, Twenty-one Wounds on Head and Body, Man is Identified as a Fruit Peddler in the Mill City.”; Nov. 19, 1903; P. 1.

Franklin Avenue Bridge Today
(New Bridge Dedicated Dec. 7, 1923)

Photos taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain November 19, 2013, 
as long as acknowledgement included.

Monday, November 18, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: November 18

November 18, 1983 – Larry Race was sentenced to life imprisonment for the death of his wife Debbie. The State had accused him of staging a boating accident on Lake Superior to kill his wife. Her body was found May 12, 1982, on a Duluth shoreline; she had died of hypothermia in the 35-degree water after the inflatable rescue raft she was on sunk. The prosecution contended Race punctured holes in the raft to kill his wife for $108,000 in insurance and to get out of his 14-year marriage.

Race was released from prison in 2005. His children still believe him to be not guilty.

Duluth News-Tribune & Herald; “Race convicted of murder”; November 18, 1983, p. 1.

Larry Rice

Sunday, November 17, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: November 17

November 17, 1917 – “A most serious mistake was made by a Cloquet [Minn.] boy, Otto White (or LaBlanc), aged 20, who [on this date] deserted from the Thirty-sixth U.S. Infantry stationed at Fort Snelling. He came to Cloquet [on] Saturday [December 8, 1917] and on Tuesday was arrested by Chief of Police McSweeney and turned over to the military authorities. According to his statement he left the fort and went to Minneapolis, where he discarded his uniform and was married, and then he came here to see his father and other relatives.”

The Pine Knot; “Cloquet Boy Deserts”; Cloquet, Minn.; December 14, 1917; p. 1