Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 31

December 31, 1979The Hastings Foundry-Star Iron Works building is historically significant as the location where the first steam engine in Minnesota was built (1860). In 1861, the engine for the Stella Whipple was manufactured here as well. Iron for bridges and engines for railroad elevators, automobiles, and river boats were manufactured in this earliest surviving industrial site in the state. This building in Hastings, Minn., was placed on the National Register of Historical Places on this date.

Hastings Foundry-Star Iron Works, Hastings, Minn.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Dec. 31, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 30

December 30, 1915 - Minnesota Governor Winfield Scott Hammond died expectedly this morning in Clinton, La., where he was inspecting land. Hammond, Minnesota’s first bachelor governor, was 52 years old and governor for only 18 months. It was later determined that he suffered from ptomaine (food) poisoning while on his trip south and died of a stroke.

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Governor Winfield S. Hammond Drops Dead at Clinton, Louisiana. Minnesota Executive Dies While Inspecting Lands In The South. Succumbs While in Company With J. A. Newell, Land Man of St. Paul; Was Not Known to Have Been Ill; Expected to Return to St. Paul Next Week. Death is Big Shock to Country; Was Leader in Democratic Circles; Governor Since 1914. Prominent in National Affairs; Formerly Congressman From Second Minnesota Congressional District; Lieutenant Governor J. A. A. Burnquist of St. Paul Next Executive.”; Dec. 30, 1915; p. 1.

Minnesota Governor Winfield Scott Hammond

Monday, December 29, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 29

December 29, 1903 – Early this morning in Wheaton, Minn., a fire broke out in the Sorenson & Mork furniture store, burning it and the printing office of the Weekly Footprint, Carlson’s millinery establishment and the Corey Land Office across the street.

The Citizens’ State Bank was partially wrecked and other small buildings burned. Total losses are estimated at $32,000.

A strong wind was blowing from the north, and with little or no water at their disposal, the firemen were unable to check the flames. Absolutely nothing was saved except the papers in the safes and a few of the fixtures in the land office of P. B. Corey.

Owing to the amount of snow on the buildings and around residences, a most disastrous fire was averted.

This is the most extensive and costly fire in the history of the town. From what can be learned at this time, all plan to rebuild. The origin of the fire is unknown.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Loss of $32,000 at Wheaton. Four Business Places Burned Last Night. State Bank Partly Wrecked and a Few Other Small Buildings in Ruins—Fire Was the Worst in the Town’s History.”; Dec. 29, 1903; p. 1.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 28

December 28, 2010 – Riverside Plaza apartments in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, formerly called Cedar Square West, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on this date.1

Riverside Plaza is composed of six buildings and has 1,303 residential units. “Each building has a different height, intended to reflect the diversity of its population. Designer Ralph Rapson was inspired by the time he spent in European cities, where people of different ages and levels of wealth coexisted in close quarters. The area was developed with support from the U.S. federal government's New Town-In Town program, and was originally planned to be part of a utopian design that would have seen 12,500 units spread across four neighborhoods housing a total of 30,000 people. Cedar Square West was the first project in the country to receive Title VII funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and it is the larger of only two New Towns-In Town that ultimately qualified for that program. 2

On Season 6 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the episode “Mary Moves Out” first aired on Sept. 20, 1975. Mary moves from her old apartment in Phyllis’ (Cloris Leachman) house into Cedar Square West high-rise apartments.
“Mary continued to be a resident of the building throughout the remaining two seasons of the series, which ended in 1977.”4





Riverside Plaza apartments in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Dec. 28, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 27

December 27, 1960 – “RB Tommy Mason of Tulane was taken with the 1st overall choice and the first-ever draft pick utilized by the Vikings. Also selected that year were QB Fran Tarkenton (3rd round) and DB Ed Sharockman (5th round).”

Fran Tarkenton

Friday, December 26, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 26

December 26, 1914 – Actor Richard Widmark was born in Sunrise Township, Minn., on this date. “Widmark was one of the movies' all-time great tough guys.”

Richard Widmark's Birthsite, "Hollywood Legend!"

In the summer of 1914, Carl and Ethel Mae left Braham, MN to take clerk jobs at Elias Nordgren's Mercantile Store. It was here on December 26, at 12:26 AM, Carl ran over to the neighboring house and announced to Harry Wolleat, they had a son named Richard Weedt Widmark. He would go on to movie stardom, starring in such films as: 1947's "Kiss of Death" playing the infamous Tommy Udo, "Don't Bother to Knock", with Marilyn Monroe in 1952, and "The Alamo" with John Wayne in 1960. From 1947-1991 he made 74 films and in 1949 his hand prints were cemented in the Hollywood Walk of Fame to solidify his legacy permanently. He passed away on 3-24-08 at the age of 93 in Roxbury, CT.

This historical marker is located in Sunrise, Minnesota, marking the place where Richard Widmark was born.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 25

December 25, 1805The area that would become Brainerd was first seen by white men on Christmas Day, 1805. LT. Zebulon Pike, U.S. Army, camped in the area for a day of rest and relaxation while exploring the source of the Mississippi River.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 24

December 24, 1898 – A well-dressed, respectable looking young woman, giving the name of Mrs. May Smith, was locked up at the Minneapolis central police station today on the charge of shoplifting. She is accused of stealing several books of poems from the St. Paul Book and Stationery Company. It is alleged that the woman was caught taking the books by a clerk.

The prisoner declined to give any information about herself other than that she lived in Minneapolis and was married.

Detective Werrick and Mr. Holcomb, the manager of the Book and Stationery company, went to Minneapolis this evening and recovered 15 books valued at $14.50 in the prisoner’s room on Fourth Ave. S. Detective Werrick says Holcomb identified the books as property of his firm.  Forty-five other books were found in the woman’s room, but couldn’t be positively identified tonight. Their value is estimated at $135. In searching the room, Warrick says $159 worth of silks and other articles believed to have also been stolen were found.  All of the property, except the 15 books identified by Holcomb, was taken in charge by Minneapolis authorities.

Warrick says the prisoner’s real name is Mrs. L. E. Brown. She is said to be a member of a prominent Minneapolis Episcopal church. Many of the books recovered were prayer books, hymnals and Bibles.

St. Paul Globe; “Stolen Hymn Books. Detectives Found Religious Works in a Minneapolis Woman’s Room.”; Dec. 25, 1898; p. 5.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 23

December 23, 1921 – Emma F. (Gruetzke) Brunson became one of the first women architects in Minnesota on this date when she registered with the state in response to a Minnesota law requiring registration for architects and engineers. “Nothing is known of her education or training, but she worked as a drafter and specifications writer with Augustus F. Gauger for 15 years before establishing her own office. She continued to operate a one-person practice until her retirement in 1968. Most of her commissions were for dwellings.”1

One of the homes she designed was for St. Paul dentist Dr. Wilton B. Stone, Morton and Delaware Streets in St. Paul.2



Homes Emma F. Brunson designed was for St. Paul dentist
Dr. Wilton B. Stone

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Dec. 23, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Monday, December 22, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 22

December 22, 2006 – President George W. Bush awarded Vadnais Heights native Sgt. John Kriesel the Purple Heart while Kriesel was recovering from injuries suffered in Operation Iraqi Freedom at Walter Reed Medical Center. Kriesel lost both of his legs “after a couple hundred pounds of explosives blew his Humvee off a dirt road in Iraq.”1


Sunday, December 21, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 21

December 21, 1940 – Minnesota native and author F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a massive heart attack in Los Angeles, Calif., on this date.  He was 44 years old.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Saturday, December 20, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 20

December 20, 1979 - Construction on the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome began on this date and “was funded by a limited hotel-motel and liquor tax, local business donations, and payments established within a special tax district near the stadium site. The Metrodome itself cost $55 million to build—significantly under budget—totaling around $124 million with infrastructure and other costs associated with the project added.

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome

Friday, December 19, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 19

December 19, 1909 – West bound passenger train No. 3 on the Minnesota & Iowa division of the Chicago St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha railroad, which left St. Paul, at 10 a. m. today, collided with a freight train at Blakely, Minn., about noon. Fireman Joe Zinnelil and Mail Clerk F. Torgerson, both of St. Paul, were killed. None of the passengers were injured seriously enough to need medical attention.”,-mn-train-wreck,-dec-1909

Thursday, December 18, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 18

December 18, 1905 – The Supreme Court of the United States today upheld the validity of the Minnesota state law holding railroad companies responsible for injuries done to employees through the carelessness of other employees.

The case was that of the Minnesota Iron Company vs. Mark M. Kline. Kline was the engineer of a train on a road in St. Louis County, owned by the iron company and was injured through the failure of a brakeman to set a switch. The jury in the trial court brought in a verdict for $5,000.

The court, however, took the case into its own hands, and ordered that the verdict be set aside on the ground that the state law awarding damages to the servants of corporation because of carelessness on the part of their fellow-servants was unconstitutional. The state supreme court reversed this finding and ordered that the verdict of the jury be carried into effect. That decision was affirmed today.

The Minnesota Iron Company was formed by Charlemagne Tower in the early 1880s.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Kline Wins From Big Iron Company. Verdict of 5,000 for Injury Caused Thru Fellow Employee’s Carelessness Is Upheld.”; Dec. 18, 1905; p. 1.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 17

December 17, 1916 – With 300 heavily armed policemen spread throughout Minneapolis in a bandit dragnet and orders to “shoot to kill,” three bandits still managed to shoot and wound A. V. Duncanson in a holdup attempt this morning.

One bullet passed through his right forearms and the other through his right thigh. Duncanson was taken to the city hospital and later to his home. He will recover.

Duncanson was accompanying Miss Blanche Lewis to her home on Duncan Ave. S. They had just left a street car when the three bandits accosted them. One covered Duncanson with a gun. Miss Lewis screamed and the other two bandits beat her. Duncanson attempted to protect the girl and was shot.

The bandits secured no money, but escaped.

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Holdups Rampant in Winter Crime Carnival”; Dec. 18, 1916; p. 1.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Dec. 17, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 16

December 16, 1864 - First Lieutenant and Adjutant Thomas Parke Gere of the 5th Minnesota Infantry was presented with a Medal of Honor on February 24, 1865, for his extraordinary heroism on this date. He was recognized for his capture of the 4th Mississippi flag during action in Nashville, Tenn. Gere died on January 12, 1912, and is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

First Lieutenant and Adjutant Thomas Parke Gere

Monday, December 15, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 15

December 15, 1904 - Cool-headed action by Principal Nettie Waite and prompt obedience by 34 kindergarten students of the old Lincoln School, Sixth and Washington Ave. North, Minneapolis, prevented a panic when the building caught fire this morning and probably saved several lives. As it was, every child got out of the school without trouble, and few knew the building was burning over their heads.

Shortly after 10 a. m., Miss Waite smelled smoke in the schoolroom. Looking up, she saw flames creeping across the ceiling, apparently coming from a vacant room above.

Realizing the safety of her students depended upon her, Miss Waite walked to the piano and struck the signal chord for every pupil to rise.

“Now, walk out into the yard,” commanded the schoolmistress, “and don’t wait for your wraps.”

Then to the cheering music of a march, the students obediently proceeded into the yard. They were soon joined by their teachers, who had remained behind to collect their wraps. By that time, the upper story was blazing merrily and many of the children learned why they had come out of the building only when they saw the flames and smoke.

“The obedience of the children undoubtedly saved them from injury,” said Miss Waite. “Most of them were between three and five years of age and not one of them had ever been in a fire drill. My assistants, Ruth Whittlesey, Agnes Rice and Bessie Cook, aided me in getting the children out.”

The building was abandoned for general school purposes about a year ago and has been for sale. The room that held the kindergarten class was the only part of the building in use.

Lincoln School is the oldest school building in the city still standing and was one of the first erected after pioneer days. The main part was built in 1867. A wing was added in 1871 and another in 1883.

The fire started from the furnace in the basement and followed an airshaft to one of the vacant rooms on the second floor, where the flames spread to all parts of the building.

It is unlikely that the school will be rebuilt. The board wants to sell the property as the location is not desirable. The only value of the property is in its frontage on the railroad tracks.

Minneapolis Journal; “Tots March From Burning School; Implicit Obedience to a Quick-Witted Teacher Prevents Panic at Lincoln Building.”; Dec. 15, 1904; p. 1.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain December 15, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 14

December 14, 1916 – Ernest G. Strand, Socialist mayor of Two Harbors and representative-elect of his district, was arrested this morning by Sheriff Emil Nelson and brought into district court to answer to indictments returned against him by the grand jury for accepting bribes.

It is alleged that on two occasions Strand accepted “hush money” from P. L. Fullerton, proprietor of the Two Harbors Commercial Hotel, who is alleged to have operated a “blind pig,” or speakeasy. It is alleged that in May 1916, Strand, while acting in the capacity of mayor, accepted $25 and a similar sum on July 7, 1916, making a total of $50. He was arraigned before Judge Dancer and pleaded not guilty to the charge. The judge fixed his bond at $500 to appear in court Monday morning, Dec. 18. He was released on his own recognizance.

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Socialist Mayor is Accused of Bribery”; Dec. 14, 1916; p. 1.

Commercial Hotel and Boat Landing, Two Harbors Minnesota, 1910

Saturday, December 13, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 13

December 13, 1905 – The shoes of Minnesota Gov. John Albert Johnson were stolen sometime last night from under his berth on a sleeping car, as his train was approaching Spokane, Wash. The mercury in the thermometer was hovering perilously near the zero mark when the governor sat up this morning. But he was forced to remain in his stocking feet for several hours before the porter had an opportunity to purchase substitute footwear.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Our Governor’s Shoes Stolen as he Slept”; Dec. 13, 1905; p. 1.

Minnesota Gov. John Albert Johnson

Friday, December 12, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 12

December 12, 1905 – Theodore Loranson, living near Pelan, Minn., Kittson County, is reported to have killed his father, John Loranson, today by cutting him with an ax.

Almost three years go Loranson was with his brother Albin when he was killed with a shotgun. Theodore and Albin were driving to the threshing field, and had placed a gun in the vehicle, intending to do some chicken shooting. They had gone but a short distance when the gun was discharged, the charge striking Albin in the head and killing him instantly. The shock was too much for Theodore, who immediately afterwards developed symptoms of insanity.

Loranson has been sent to the insane asylum at Fergus Falls five times and each time has been released on parole.

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Pelan Scene of Murder. Report Is That An Insane Man Killed His Father.”; Dec. 15, 1905; p. 4.

The Minneapolis Journal; Minneapolis, Minn.; Sept. 19, 1902; p. 17.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 11

December 11, 1979 – “In 1872 a newspaper called the Big Woods Citizen began to lend an influence to the [Delano] community.  For many settlers this paper brought the only news of the state, national and international events.  It contained local news, serialized fiction, and a healthy dose of editorial opinion.  In 1881, the name of the paper was changed to the Delano Eagle.  This paper has served the community continuously since its inception in 1872.”

“In 1883 the Delano Eagle moved from a little frame building on Third Street into the brick building on Railroad Avenue.”
Its offices are now located in Osseo, Minn. The Eagle Newspaper Office in Delano was added to the National Register of Historical Places on this date.

The Delano Eagle office building on Railroad Avenue, Delano, Minn.
Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Dec. 11, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 10

December 10, 19701University of Minnesota alumnus Norman E. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his research on wheat improvement, “adapting the new wheats to new lands” and “gaining acceptance for their production.”2



Norman E. Borlaug

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 9

December 9, 1971 - Duluth's Union Depot was built in 1892, served seven different rail lines, and accommodated 5,000 passengers. In 1973 it re-opened as the St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center, housing the Duluth Art Institute, Lake Superior Railroad Museum (which operates the North Shore Scenic Railroad), St. Louis County Historical Society Museum, a Veteran's Memorial Hall, and five performing arts organizations.

It was listed on National Register of Historic Places on this date.

Photos taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Dec. 9, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Monday, December 8, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 8

December 8, 1910 – Deputy D. Patten of Akeley and Deputy James M. Quinn of Brainerd, under order of William Eugene “Pussyfoot” Johnson (an American Prohibition advocate and law enforcement officer), have closed Brainerd’s 27 saloons. No disorder attended the closing. In giving the saloonkeepers orders to close Deputy Patten said he was a United States officer; that the saloons should close; keep out all patrons; lock the doors and box up and ship the liquor supply as quickly as possible to the wholesale houses. The saloons expected the closing and had only small stocks on hand.

Ten Strike and Turtle River saloons were also closed by government agents, which leaves Bemidji the only town in Beltrami County affected by the Indian treaty that still has saloons.

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Brainerd Saloons Closed. Federal Deputies Order All Liquor Be Shipped Away.”; Dec. 8, 1910; p. 1.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 7

December 7, 1923 – Dedicated on this date, the Franklin Avenue Bridge, officially the F.W. Cappelen Memorial Bridge, carries Franklin Avenue over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minn.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Dec. 7, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

It was designed by Frederick William Cappelen, assisted by Kristoffer Olsen Oustad, both of whom were among four important Norwegian-American engineers working in the region at the time. The reinforced-concrete open-spandrel arched structure was completed in 1923. The bridge's overall length is 1054.7 feet (321.47 m), with a central span of 400 feet (122 m). It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Nov. 28, 1978, along with several other area bridges as part of a multiple-property submission.

The current bridge replaces one built in 1889 and its pilings and foundation can still be seen to the south of the current bridge. During planning of this original bridge there was consideration and debate concerning its possible interference with river navigation.

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

Saturday, December 6, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 6

December 6, 1939 – December heatwave in Minnesota. High temperature hits 62 in New London.

Friday, December 5, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 5

December 5, 1970 – “The Vikings defeated the Bears, 16-13, at Metropolitan Stadium to clinch their 3rd straight division title. Minnesota hosted San Francisco in a divisional playoff game but lost, 17-14. For the 2nd consecutive season, the Vikings had the league’s best record with a 12-2 mark.”

Thursday, December 4, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 4

December 4, 1867 – Oliver Hudson Kelley, considered the "Father" of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (more commonly known as "The Grange"), helped found the organization on this date in Washington, D.C.

The Oliver H. Kelley Homestead in Elk River, Minn., is maintained by the Minnesota Historical Society as a living history farm with interpreters giving people a taste of what Oliver Kelley's life was like on the farm in the 1850s frontier.

Grange Shrine at Oliver Hudson Kelley Home in Elk River, Minn., reads:

The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry was founded in Washington, D.C., on December 4, 1867. This date marks the birth of organized agriculture on American soil. Oliver Hudson Kelly first advanced the idea of a farm fraternity. As first secretary and one of the founders of the National Grange he maintained official headquarters here until 1870. This farm has been preserved in honor of our founders.

“Guide to historic markers erected by the State Highway Department cooperating with the Minnesota Historical Society”

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 3

December 3, 1920 – Three masked men boarded the mail car of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul train, No. 6, at Hopkins, Minn., early this morning, held up the three mail clerks, and then systematically looted the registered mail pouches. They leaped from the train before it pulled out, and escaped in an automobile.

It appears the bandits were specifically looking for registered mail from Mobridge, S. D., as they opened a number of mail sacks, but carried off only the two that were placed aboard at Mobridge. Officials there have been notified.

Railroad mail service estimates the loss at less than $10,000.

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Bandits Rifle Mail Train at Hopkins Today and Make Haul. Officials Firmly Convinced that They Sought Registered Mail from Mobridge. Only Two Mail Saks Are Taken From Car. As Train Pulls Out, Bandits Leap Off and Escape in Automobile.”; Dec. 3, 1920; p. 1.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Nov. 27, 2014,
 as long as acknowledgement included.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December

December 2, 1910 – This afternoon, government men closed the saloons in the railroad stop towns of Big Falls, Kelliher, Margie and Houpt.

During the past 24 hours, saloons in every town in the dry district on the M&I have been closed; 42 in all. A special “Pussyfoot” train (named after William Eugene "Pussyfoot" Johnson, an American Prohibition advocate and law enforcement officer) will be required to haul the liquor back to wholesalers.

There are no agents in Bemidji, and it is not known when the saloons there will close.

Reports from St. Paul today say that 50 liquor dealers in northern Minn. have sworn out injunctions to restrain the government from closing their places of business.

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “42 Saloons Closed; Dealers May Fight”; Dec. 2, 1910; p. 1.

Monday, December 1, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 1

December 1, 1882“The Minnesota Iron Company was incorporated with headquarters in St. Paul and Charlemagne Tower as president. On December 20, Tower transferred all of his holdings to the new company. Tower, Minnesota was named for him though he never set foot in the place.”