Saturday, January 4, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 4

January 4, 1916 – “Glen Lake Sanatorium, a tuberculosis treatment center serving Hennepin County in Minnesota, opened on [this date], with a capacity of 50 patients. In 1909, the Minnesota State Legislature had passed a bill authorizing the appointment of county sanatorium boards and appropriating money for the construction of county sanatoriums. Glen Lake Sanatorium was the fifth of fourteen county sanatoria that opened in Minnesota between 1912 and 1918. The sanatorium had its own post office, and the mailing address was Glen Lake Sanatorium, Oak Terrace, Minnesota, until the surrounding area was incorporated into the City of Minnetonka.”

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Jan. 4, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Friday, January 3, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 3

January 3, 1900 - Running at a high rate of speed, a Great Western passenger train leaving Minneapolis at 7:35 this evening crashed into the rear of a Northern Pacific extra stock train a short distance west of Trout Brook Junction (near what is now Oakdale) a few minutes before 8 p.m., completely demolishing the caboose, one stock car, and badly damaging the Great Western engine, while six persons in the Northern Pacific caboose were dangerously hurt.

Both trains were going in an easterly direction, though the stock train had almost come to a stop. The big Great Western engine struck the Northern Pacific caboose with a terrific crash, and ploughed its way through the stock car. The caboose was almost cleanly cut out between the engine and the stock car hurled bodily, with those inside, down a 15-foot embankment, where it lay a shattered mass of broken timbers and twisted iron, among which the imprisoned persons were struggling to escape. 

With its impetus and the force of the seven coaches behind it, the engine tore through the stock car as if it had been made of paper, literally grinding it to pieces. With the first impact of the collision the car was ripped open and fifteen head of stock within were hurled down the embankment into the wreckage of the caboose. The horses were all maimed or killed, their slaughtered carcasses presenting a revolting sight in the ravine.

There were seven persons in the caboose, six stockmen and Conductor Marks, of the stock train. All were standing near the rear of the caboose, the stockmen with their stachels in their hands, ready to get out when the train ran into the siding. When the crash came without warning they were thrown violently toward the front end of the caboose, while tearing over their heads was the roof of the stock car, like a huge sickle cutting through the caboose. As the caboose went down the ravine, the stove was overturned and the car caught on fire. Fortunately, the fire did not spread rapidly, and all of the injured were removed before suffering harm from the flames.

As soon as the passengers on the Great Western train learned that half a dozen men were pinioned beneath the wreckage of the caboose, a rescue party was formed and set to work liberating them.

The financial lost incident to the wreck will be considerable. The Great Western engine was badly damaged, while the caboose and stock car were totally demolished. The value of the horses killed is estimated at $1,000.  The passenger train was the regular No. 2 Chicago Great Western train that leaves St. Paul at 8:10 p.m., carrying two Kansas City sleepers that are cut off at Oelwein, while the stock train came through from Montana.

St. Paul Globe; “Caboose Ground to Pieces; Great Western Passenger Train Crashes Into A Northern Pacific Extra; Six Persons are Injured; Engineer and Firemen Stick to Their Posts and Thus Escape; Number of Horses Killed; Passenger Train Tears Through the Caboose as if It Had Been Made of Paper—Had Fire in Car Spread Rapidly the Fate of the Passengers Would Have Been Horrible—Officials Disinclined to Fix the Responsibility at Present—Wounded Sent to St. Paul on a Special.”; Jan. 4, 1900; pg. 1.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 2

January 2, 1863 – Jack Williams was discharged from the Union Army on this date after being wounded during the Battle of Stone River in Murfreesbo, Tenn., and discovered while in the hospital to be a woman.1

Williams was in fact Frances Clalin Clayton, a farm wife from Minnesota and mother of three, who along with her husband Elmer Clayton had enlisted in a Missouri regiment to fight in the American Civil War. 

Clalin as as a soldier and in female dress

According to a St. Paul Daily Press article dated May 26, 1863, Frances’ husband wanted to join the army, and she was determined to go with him (there is no mention of who took care of their children). “Elmer Clayton procured her a suit of men’s clothes, a false mustache and goatee, and the two were mustered in Co. A. 13th Missouri Cavalry.”A disguise was necessary as “both the Union and Confederate armies forbade the enlistment of women.”4

“It was not that hard for Clalin to convincingly play the part of Jack Williams. She was tall and masculine, and had tan skin. She had also worked on perfecting manly activities such as smoking, drinking, chewing tobacco, swearing and gambling. Clalin was quite fond of cigars as well. By doing these things, Clalin increased her manly character so that she would fit in and others wouldn't see past her disguise.

Clalin was also reported to be a good ‘horse-man’ and ‘swordsman’, and the way she carried herself in stride was soldierly, erect, and masculine. She was well trained and knew her duties well, but was also a respected person who commanded attention in the way she acted. It was said of Clalin in one report that she did her duties at all times and was considered to be a fighting man.”

Frances and ”Elmer served side-by-side until he died during the Battle of Stones River (or Murfreesboro) on December 31, 1862. He was only a few feet in front of Frances at the time, but some sources say that she didn't stop fighting - she stepped over his body and charged when the commands came.”5

“After being discharged Clalin tried to get back to Minnesota to collect the bounty owed her and Elmer, as well as to get some of his belongings. It’s also speculated that she wanted to reenlist, but was unable to. Her train was attacked by a Confederate guerrilla party and she was robbed of her papers and money. She then went from Missouri to Minnesota, to Grand Rapids, Michigan and on to Quincy, Illinois. In Quincy a fund was created to aid her quest for payment by former soldiers and friends. Frances was last reported to be headed for Washington, DC.”5


A Curious Incident—A St. Paul Girl in Rosecran’s Army…[Mr.] Clayton determined to join the army and his wife avowed her intention of accompanying him. He procured her a suit of men’s clothes, a false mustache and goatee, and the two were mustered in Co. A. 13th Missouri Cavalry…She was in the battle of Shiloh, and was twice wounded…and again, at the battle of Murfeesburo, in which her husband was killed on the third day. She saw him fall, being in a skirmish, rode three times past the body before she had the opportunity of picking him up…She arrived in the city on Sunday morning…She says there are a number of women in the service. She could recognize them, though the men could not…She avows that she is not afraid of anything that lives. We believe it.

St Paul Daily Press, May 26, 1863. This is one of several description of Frances Clayton, a Minnesota woman said to have served in a Virginia, Ohio or Minnesota regiment. Historical and current accounts conflict on almost every major point—dizzyingly so.  Was she misquoted?

3Minnesota History Center Civil War Exhibit; March 2–Sept. 8, 2013

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 1

January 1, 1937 – “At a party at the Hormel Mansion in Minnesota, a guest won $100 for naming a new canned meat-Spam. SPAM was originally called Hormel Spiced Ham in 1936 without much success.”

Today, Spam comes in a variety of different flavors

Spamville at the Minnesota State Fair, established 1937

Photos taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Jan. 1, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 31

December 31, 1974 – The home of Minnesota’s 14th governor, John Lind, was placed on the National Register of Historic Homes on this date. It is located on the corner of Center and State Streets in New Ulm, Minn.,_Minnesota

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Dec. 31, 2013,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Dec. 31, 2013,
as long as acknowledgement included. 

 "John Lind Home

This home was built by John Lind in 1887 and was a significant cultural, social and political center built on a prominence above early New Ulm. Swedish born Lind came to America and Minnesota in 1867 at age thirteen. While very young he was a rural teacher in the area until 1874 when he came to read law with a lawyer in New Ulm. He was admitted to the bar here in 1877 and resided here almost continuously until 1901 when he moved to Minneapolis.

During his residence in New Ulm Lind was a Congressman from 1887 to 1893. In 1899 he was elected Minnesota governor for one term. For a time he also was a land office receiver while retaining his New Ulm law practice. In the Spanish-American War he was a quarter master with the 12th Minnesota Regiment in 1898 – this despite the loss of his left hand from a childhood accident.

The Lind Home in New Ulm was stately and elegant when built and could accommodate a great number of people. The graceful porch served as the governor’s reviewing stand for many state and local events. The Queen Anne style house, designed by F. Thayer cost $5,000; though structurally altered, the home retains in 1973 the essential exterior details of the original design."

 The marker was erected in 1973 by the Brown County Historical Society with a memorial gift for Henry N. Somsen, an early law partner of Lind.

Monday, December 30, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 30

December 30, 1879 – On this date, Charles P. Ingalls of Redwood County, Minn., (yes, that Charles Ingalls) “deposited in the General Land Office of the United States, a Certificate of the Register [No. 7410] of the Land Office in New Ulm, Minnesota, whereby it appears that full payment has been made by the said Charles P. Ingalls according to the provisions of the Act of Congress of the 24th of April, 1820, entitled ‘An Act making further provision for the sale of the public land.’”1
For his entire life Ingalls had a strong case of wanderlust. He is quoted by [his daughter] Laura in her Little House series of books as saying: ‘My wandering foot gets to itching’. He loved travelling and didn't like living among big crowds of people, so with his family in the early years of his marriage, he traveled a great deal and often changed homes. From their original home in the woods of Wisconsin, he moved his family to Indian Territory in southeastern Kansas, then back to Wisconsin, then to southern Minnesota, then for a year to Burr Oak, Iowa, then back to Minnesota. Presented with a job opportunity in Dakota Territory, he longed to move yet again, as the family was struggling in Minnesota. Caroline agreed, but extracted a promise from her husband that this would be their last move.2


 Charles and Caroline Ingalls

Sunday, December 29, 2013

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 29

December 29, 1906 - The articles of incorporation of a new Minnesota railroad company, the Big Fork & International Falls railway, were filed with the secretary of state’s office on this date. E. W. Backus, W. F. Brooks and C. J. Rockwood, all of Minneapolis, are listed as the incorporators and first board of directors.

Once completed, the new line will make it possible for a business man or tourist to take the evening Northern Pacific passenger at Minneapolis and by a continuous night trip of 320 miles over the Northern Pacific, its branch, the Minnesota & International, and the new Big Fork extension; arrive at International Falls in time for breakfast without change of cars.

The Minneapolis Journal; “New Minneapolis Link to Canadian Boundary, Great Traffic Outlet Certain, Railroad Will Link Minneapolis and International Falls This Year. Short Line to Port Arthur, Fort William and Nipigon Country. Clog on Wheat Terminals at Duluth Removed and Great Section Opened.” Dec. 30, 1906; p. 1